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Q: Tell us a little bit to begin the interview about your family background and childhood interest, for example birthplace and your educational background.
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: Born on a general livestock farm, rather large farm, near Elk Creek in a little community called Corner's Rock in Grayson County. I was born on the farm that was settled by ancestors and had never out of family from the time it was settled. It was a rather unique situation in that I could observe the farm journey looking in several directions and see grave sites of revolutionary ancestors including 3 or 4 great grandfathers, however many greats, etc. The community isolated until the turn of the century and the coming of the car and of course the opening of the roads US 2l which was built shortly after my birth was the first highway traverse the county and of course this brought more outsiders to the area which made it a community in which the way to own land it was always said that in the country was to inherit or marry it. Actually, the community was educationally minded because of the early settlers who were my ancestors who came directly from England and most of them were fairly well educated and perpetuated the Latin grammar type school and established an academy at Elk Creek shortly after the civil war and that latter became the Elk Creek High School which I attended and graduated in l94l. From there I went to of course, VPI and pursued my profession and as a result of that training and so forth received at VPI & SU, the University of Virginia.
Q: Would discuss your college education in preparation for entering the field of teaching and your years of experience year as principal or superintendent.
A: Early on I somehow wanted to become a teacher. Teaching of course, was in the family- several relatives were teachers and had been as the result of the old academy at Elk Creek, in fact, and one of the ancestors buried on the farm was the head master. The mother and dad talked about education and then he early decided to be a teacher and was fortunate in having outstanding teachers who took a great deal of interest in me and during the high school. I developed a special interest in agriculture and as a result followed the field of science and agriculture to VPI and during the early days of my teaching here in Blacksburg, I was more or less drafted into the principalship. As a result of the principal having a stroke. At this time during the early 40's and 50's there was very, very a definite shortage of teachers and administrators. Therefore I was pulled rather green into principal of B.H.S. and saw very early that it was necessary that I pursue graduate work in order to be better qualified for that position. As a result of that I continued on after the masters degree to advanced degree at the University of Virginia was not until I became director of instruction in Montgomery County that I seriously pursued that however I did pursue the graduate work to obtain the certification of advanced graduate study but not the doctorate. At this time I was drafted to be Superintendent of Schools because of the Superintendent becoming ill and they had another person coming to the county for about a year and he left at that point the School Board said you are going to have to take it. It was forfeited opportunity for me to finish my doctorate and I was plunged directly into a 20 millon dollar building program which of course at this point in time would be well over a l00 million dollar building program. That gives you some idea of the expanse of the growth that took place in the county and the necessity to do a lot of catching up for leadership to provide facilities for increasing the population during the late 60's and 70's in Montgomery County.
Q: Give me some dates along with some of these progressions when became principle, dates you taught, and dates you were the superintendent of schools.
A: I started the Fall 1948 teaching and at this time I taught returning veterans for short time and then vocational agriculture two classes of high school students. At the end of the year I started teaching science and vocational agriculture to similar schools and this continued for about 3 or 4 years and I took over teaching some students in 7th grade as part of the elementary school and helped the principal. At this point the school had about 1,400 students grades 1 to 11. This was before the 8th grade and I continued in this position for a couple of years and in 1953 when the principal had a stroke and was drafted as acting principal and was principal for 2 years of this sizeable school and of course had only a part-time assistant which was tremendous undertaking for a beginning principal who at this point had not finished although in the master program had not finished my program in administration so I had round a clock job also trying to attend college during the summer and finish my masters degree. It was not till the following 1954 that I was appointed principal and from that point on I continued as principal until 1961 when I went to well during the meantime the elementary school and high school was separated in meantime, and a Mrs. Addington who was one of teachers in high school took over as principal of the elementary school. She had been a former elementary teacher so that helped a great deal. Of course the school was growing during this time. I believe the enrollment of 8 to 11 at this point the 4 years of high school were over something of 600 in the high school itself, but the year of 1961, the superintendent insisted that I come and help him as director of instruction and so a new principal appointed and I was there as director of instruction and assistant superintendent and continued in that job until l968 and because of the superintendent's feelings I was made superintendent in 1969. and continued in job in building program (I spoke about previously) until 1974. And at this point in time at the completion of the building program I was very retired and asked for a leave but the politics at that point were very difficult to deal with and I was not granted a leave so I resigned and took job at VPI teaching school administration in the summer of 1974.
Q: Could you describe your personal philosophy of education and let us know if it evolved over year the of the change in your career.
A: Well I don't know that it changed a great deal over the years. I am sure of many experiences that helped me to formalize a great deal or substantiate many of my beliefs. As far as education is concerned, I felt it was essential for each child to learn in order to make the most of his life and I always felt that there was some good in each child regardless of his ability or his attitude and it was up to me to help make that policy as a teacher and I always felt that more was caught than taught. A great deal of what you were able to convey to your students had to do with the example set. Your thirst for learning has to be catching to them so it was necessary to try to motivate them necessary to do their best in what they undertook. Of course the philosophy, as such, was a belief in each child and belief that he could learn and that you were the instrument where by he had that opportunity in the public school. This is something that I am often critical of teachers and others in public school work in that they somehow fail to see the challenge in each student and see the necessity for helping each child to learn. Far too many teachers I found want to help those who are perceived as easy learners and fail to realize that many many children learn in spite of the teacher and it is only the good teachers that are able to get others to learn. Of course those who have difficult in learning are really the ones who need the teacher. Of course others with a little motivation and direction can learn on their own.
Q: Describe instructional philosophy in your school to get this accomplished.
A: The instructor's philosophy was believing in individual worth of each child and the necessity to try to organize activities and experiences in the classroom that would, in which a child could be successful. In other words, nothing succeeds like success I believe someone said and at least Dr. Kinear repeated that in our education philosophy courses at VPI and I found that to be true if you can find something that a child can do well and congratulate him on that he will tend to be more receptive to your help and will soon progressive other things assume other things on which you can help him with. Of course if he is successful which you have to create the kind of atmosphere and activities in which he can be successful regardless of what the subject is and as a result of that he gradually becomes easier to teach and easier to help. That is what I as principal, as superintendent and director of instructor tried to help teaches with this idea and in order to better understand the students and if you understand the student it is much easier to teach him.
Q: Could you relate the experiences in profession life that influenced your management philosophy.
A: I suppose the thing that influenced my management philosophy more than any other of course was some of the things that you observed while you were in school, yourself growing up in community where there was a relatively small high school and the team effort of the faculty in providing wholesome activities for those of us at who were students at the high school at that time and being thrown into principalship with very few years of teaching experience probably caused me to as a result of a certain amount of insecurity in the decision making process and exercising leadership I solicited early on the help of the faculty and particularly the wide experience of the various departments and all that had at the high school and the long years of experience that many of those faculty that I had to give and as a result of this I created at that point probably a 5th story management style and there was a great deal of collegiality in all of the decisions and faculty were involved in, a lot of meetings and committee meetings and this sort of thing and decided on what we were going to do and we did them. As a result of bringing all these faculty into the decision making process they were very supportive and dedicated to carrying out what we did. I doubt that that it is much more difficult to get teachers today to extend the time necessary to accomplish this to the degree that I did back in the 50's and 60s. I find in my visits to high school faculty in general are not willing to spend this much time in committee and faculty meetings in order to be as involved in the decision making process even though they talk about it a lot and talk about having the opportunity to make suggestions they generally don't seem to want to spend the time in the atmosphere and meetings long enough to do that.
Q: Describe your approach to teacher and the for your evaluation. Mention current and past each.
A: Any time that in the involvement of the teaching it is pretty easy to have help from the teachers themselves as to whether they feel they are doing a good job. So frequently, the ones who are doing a good job are anxious to do better. Where as those who are not often seem to think they are doing a good job. So this is very very difficult area for an administration to get into. So I feel you have to establish a helping relationship in order that they can be receptive to anything you may suggest or trying to deal with problems you perceive or help them to see in connection with their teaching. The ...I think the principal and certainly the school administration. is obligated to help anyone who they have on board to succeed. So often now more so than previously it appears to be that the evaluation gets into the kind of bogged down with the idea that the teacher who is having difficulty that they are being evaluated in order to fire them if they don't correct any of the problem. Really, if a teacher is gone to school and has pasted through all the processes of qualifying to teach then the school system has an obligation if they employ them from their credentials to see they are successful. Of course, I feel they need to assign them a successful teacher who can be more or less a mentor for them and someone who they can go to for help and also make sure that they can do some of the cooperative work together in order to see in order the beginning teacher will have the opportunity to observe the techniques of the early teacher with the older teacher. There is a definite obligation in pairing and so on but as far as evaluation as far as that I think that it is good to have an instrument for self-study and for the teachers themself to judge against and also have opinions of others. But evaluation should not be an administrative instrument just for the business of continuing or dismissal of a teacher. That should have been decided when they were employed if they were going to be a successful teacher and unless there is some sort of which often happens and usually the teacher knows themself if there are subject to the evaluation instrument will make the decision to design on their own if they are not being successful and find it will work. The big mistake is often when the beginning teacher is brought in and is not given the help that should have. In fact often the opposite is done. The beginning teacher is given the largest load I have found in some schools because of other faculty say that they should not have to take the class -- this is the slow class -- I should not do this or that because of seniority let this teacher have it and often beginning teachers are thrown into situations experienced could not handle because by designing and giving them an overload and as a beginner putting all of the students discipline problems into the same section or same class and this kind of thing. A lot of the administrative are committed in helping the beginning teacher.
Q: When you did evaluation were they periodic or up to the discretion of administration?
A: During the time that I was principal it was pretty much left up to the discretion of the individual and the principal. Of course it was moreoften the kind of thing that was paired off to the teacher. Carried with the teachers who had few years of experience. In my case, I was evaluated by supervisor and the principal and of course we continued this pattern for the first two or three years but they were successful there were few evaluations taking place because unless the teacher asked for themselves was more or less left up to the teacher and the principal usually as to how frequent there was a check list and discussions and in connection with what they wanted to do in future years and had to do with a lot of time it had to do with their professional plan at that point. Unfortunately, I have not seen that taking place recently in the school system. In the school division I've been associated with seems to leave professional planning to the individual not participation by the principal. In fact, teachers may be more expert than the principals. We have gone through a period of having quite a few principals in positions because of political aspirations rather than as the result of ex-coaches who had no place to go.
Q: In recent years more and more programs for special groups/special/non english programs. Your experiences with special student services or was there such a thing?
A: Yes, I helped to start the first special education class that was for education of the mentally retarded pupil at the elementary level this was way back in the early 50's and of course we have had various periods of growth to this approach to try to deal with special students however I have found and my opinion is that the student should never be separated from the general run of students except for short periods of time for certain classes even the multi-handicapped should have exposure to the entire group of pupils. This in other words your talented exceptional students so to speak need to have that contact with those who are handicapped be it mental or physical and I am very much opposed to the segregating of these students are removing them from the general school atmosphere. I am appalled at the Magnet school thing to take all those students out of the high school to special schools. I think this kind of specialized training is a little too early and these students this is what I thought the college and colleges and universities were for and a more mature level of course I feel strongly that as children and high school students elementary and high school secondary level they need time to be children and don't need to be pushed into the adult world entirely. There is plenty of activities and information for them to gather without being carried away to a specialized kind of atmosphere. To do so not only do they miss in my opinion these students miss the contact with the other students but the other students are denied the privilege of the leadership and then there opportunity to exercise it by not having them with them during those growing years. I am of the feeling that most students and in my experience would indicate through the year many ways by being involved in what might be perceived as the general abilities of the general population in public school settings to have an opportunity to learn both ways there. These, I counseled a particularly gifted student throughout his secondary career and he took additional classes, participated in sports and so forth and I helped his parents to make the decision that he should go away from Blacksburg for a year at another university setting or attend VPI this would give him a year away from home in special setting, similar to in the state of Virginia at another university limited students have the opportunity now to go to a foreign country. But he returned to VPI and became VPI's first Rhoades Scholar. I know and can site many instances of this opportunity for gifted and I don't believe the so called governors magnet school of segregating them out from others is a proper approach. Many other special programs are within the setting of the elementary or high school for special students of one nature or you can afford them or there is no reason to have them within the setting of the individual school, letting those students who are interested in them pursue them just like we do, art and music and another others. If they are interested in foreign language they have the capability then we should provide teachers for them and those who are to justify the expenditures. Unfortunately, we are only limited by our imagination and failure to secure the resources to do what ought be done.
Q: Administrators presently spend a good deal of time complaining about the paperwork of the bureaucratics they are forced to deal with. Give us background on what you had to deal with as far as principal/etc. about bureaucratic problems.
A: So much of the paperwork I think is essential I think to our accountability is on trial and therefore I mean we have gotten caught up in a lot of additional paperwork in order to justify our existence. If the job is being done the way it should been done then I don't believe and the time is being spent on instruction then I don't believe the paperwork really involves that much time or is as much of a burden because it is part of the planning and the general process. I have not noticed that it increased all that much we have always had a lot of it and I mean for the most part with the computers and so forth the data is more readily available than it was previously. You use to have to sit down and work out all your accounts and all your attendance and registers and everything with calculators or adding machine by hand. Now if you keep the records daily all of those summaries can be generated for you quite readily so people have more time for other things. For one who was involved in it for 4l years I did not see the paperwork grow all that much I mean in fact I think it stayed about the same in all it was individuals obligated to do. Certainly we have access to a lot more data now and have it available to decision making more readily than we did previously.
Q: Would you discuss general relation pro /con with board of education.
A: That has change a great deal and school board in general the growth pattern as political changes and so forth and it appears today that I did see a great deal more interference of school board members into the administrative aspect and management aspects of the school system. It used to be that the selection of personnel was left, in my experience as a teacher, a principal and a director of instruction and my first superintendent the employment of personnel was left to the professional judgement of the educators, namely the principal the supervisors and the superintendent. Today, we get more political interference, people find that even the school boards are not accepting superintendents recommendations and giving the jobs to whomever they wish often not as well trained and in some cases industrial are not qualified for the job when they had qualified applicants. Actually there are too many educators who are unwilling to fight this sort of thing because they are afraid of their jobs and if they do the political appointment of school board members and so forth have to do with the operation of the school I have seen this change! It used to be that during my early experiences school board members left the educational decisions to the school administrators and of course dealt mainly with policy making trying to get money for the school board who are involved in pursuing those things that were their business that of trying to provide adequate facilities, deciding upon policies that had to do with the operations in the schools and there depending upon the recommendations of the professionals in doing so. We have deprivation of all kinds of policies some not very understandable, some of them have alterer motives, all kind of controls the child and the parents don't understand why they are there..that way and yet it is often someone just trying to gain political advantage or recognition by deciding promotion policies you name it things that really are a responsibility of the professionals and of course in many cases a responsibility of the state board and the state superintendent.
Q: Describe the Christiansburg Institute and take us a walk, tell us what it was like, your involvement with the Christiansburg Institute.
A: I was the last director of instruction or assistant of the Christiansburg Institute. It was closed as a result of desegregation during the year I served as Director of Instruction or superintendent in Montgomery County Schools. The school was established shortly after the civil war by the Freeman's Association and Booker T. Washington was the dedication speaker. I mean somewhere floating at the probably at the Chaffer Memorial Church is a picture of Booker T. Washington giving his speech at the dedication. Actually it was a school to train blacks to be productive citizens and give them an opportunity for an education in the south. There was in this area because there were a considerable number of blacks in the area who had been involved in farming and coal mining and other operations as slaves prior to the civil war and the school was of course patterned after the regular high school concept Latin grammar. It was a boarding school for those who lived too far away to access the school and taught everything from blacks smithing to hair dressing of the hair or various trades that it was expected at that point in time that blacks would have an opportunity to break into do things and the cosmetology and many other food service, carpentry, as well as the standard carnegie units for high school graduates, history, english so forth and foreign languages and most of the subjects survived somewhere along the line the training the farming fell by the way during the 30's and I believe then of course industrial arts and mechanical training took over during the 50 and 60's. More students involved in those. But we did have barbering, food service and those kinds of things continuing until the closing of the school. In fact many blacks at the closing at this point in time in Montgomery County had not fully developed their vocational programs and many blacks felt they would be better off to stay at the Christiansburg Institute because no high school in Montgomery County offered barbering or cosmetology or some of those other subjects that were offered at CI so many, many of the black population were reluctant to close until the coming of a more complete vocational. schools in Montgomery County. Of course, CI through the years was operating as a regional school and had its own board of control with representatives from the various counties and of course at some point, don't remember the exact date, Freeman's assoc. turned the school over to be operated as a public school by the counties and this board of control with representatives of the county did continue to operate up until its closing at that point the property was sold and divided between I believe Pulaski County, Radford City and Montgomery County, Floyd County did sent some students to the school but they were on a tuition basis much the same way that a student attends school at another county at this point in time. We had an outstanding faculty, the quality of which is second to none there because many of the faculty-all of faculty, almost all had masters degrees products of Virginia State College, Hampton Institute, a number of them had studied at Columbia University and other northern schools, northern university including one or two who had gone to Rudgers and other northern univ. where they accepted blacks at that time. Unfortunately we did not have any who had advanced degrees from any of our advance degree institutions in the state. Masters degrees only from Virginia State College and Hampton only. This was a wonderful experience professional experience for me to have the association and be able to work with these outstanding black teachers. They were assimilated into the point of desegregation the high school of Pulaski County, Radford, and Montgomery County in many cases filled great needs for people of their kind of training and exercise in the white schools. In fact some took over as the heads of the departments in very short times.
Q: Can you describe campus at Christiansburg Institute?
A: It was a 200 acre farm, had large barn, had cattle, horses, and swine operations and poultry operations for the students to participate in but at some time in the 50's these operations closed down but they continued to have those buildings there. During the 50's the dormitories were more or less closed down and most of the people transported there was a few on up until the school was closed in the late 60's, don't remember exactly (l966?-somewhere along there). Consisted of several buildings, a large gymnasium, auditorium, the facilities were more than adequate in terms of space and quality of the space as well equipped laboratories this kind of thing. I have a feeling that a great deal of money was generated from private foundations initially to help finance it and then as the public school system took over operating by a board of control the money was available there to keep it on the quality of what was taking place elsewhere because of the threat of desegregation and that fact may have contributed to the quality of it under it's closure and it wasn't until a few blacks decided they wanted to go to a white school but the transition and desegregation was carried out very very smoothly because of little or no problems because the excellent leadership of their principal, of Mr. Banks, and other during that period and the quality of the faculty involved. They were given assurance of a good job in their other schools so this...a rather difficult thing for them to do. I mean there were a lot of tears shed over by the black community but of course the day had come that it should be and most students assimilated into other schools near their homes. There were many of them had to ride 30 miles or more to access the schools.
Q: Describe a typical work day there at Christiansburg Institute. How you spent your time.
A: I served as director of instruction in Montgomery County and so at that point I had 5 high school and one of them was CI so I'd see only about a fifth of my time was spent in Christiansburg High School and I of course would go and help with instruction program, science, math, and work the library to get more media materials into the library and this kind of thing. A great deal of my time was spent in making sure that the business operation was carried out to get for them the actual instructional materials, textbooks and all that kind of thing during my tenure and also shop equipment and shop materials and things for that as well as the music program, the band, the football, all those things and of course I worked with individual teachers who had concerns or wanted help from central office with their problems. A very rewarding experience and definitely a learning experience for me because I had never had the opportunity to work with blacks before except back on my home farm growing up in a different relationship. I had the ability to communicate and get along with blacks very well because of the background, earlier experience in life, in different setting and the fact that my parents were not segregationists. They were inclined to feel that it was wrong and in fact when most of the other people in the community in the time when I was growing up would have any blacks working for them they were usually to eat on the back porch or waited till everyone else was finished but my mother always said "if you work for me, you work with me" so we sat at the same table. But that was not the style that was in vogue in most of south during my growing up. I also had the experience of in Grayson county they did not have the wherewith to provide separate buses so they were contract buses, and in many cases because of the distance they were not obligated to haul the blacks (during the 30's) to school but their school was fairly close at Elk Creek I attended and our bus driver would pick up blacks and that was absolutely against the law in Richmond but the bus driver said he would not pass them up and fortunately no one complained and he was not reported. So I did in the l930 I did ride, the Jim Crow law it was definitely against laws but in Grayson we rode on the same bus.
Q: Tell us some of your experiences with some of your principals, as far as leadership and management problems that came up.
A: Of course there are a lot of experiences that have to do with the operation of the schools and of course one of the things that we need to be so aware of is that the principal is the responsible head of the school and I always tried to give them the benefit of that freedom to make the decisions at the school level as much as possible rather than come from the central offices so to speak. I'll go back and talk a little about the relationship with the principal at C.I. during my time as a fellow principal in the same county and then later on as his director of instruction or supervisor. Many of our professional meetings were held together in other works he attended principal meetings with us even in the 50's. And of course we had professional meetings with teachers, however we never ever ever arranged for any of the meetings, they were always scheduled so that we broke for lunch and everyone went their separate ways. We didn't arrange to eat at the school or to eat at a particular restaurant the way they did today. Because the blacks had to go their ways and us ours. Often we would go to state meetings with Mr. Banks and of course when time came to eat we had to leave each other even on the road even to Richmond if we were hungry it was necessary for us to go to a restaurant he would have to go one place and us another. I recall distinctly Maudes which is down near Appomattox, Virginia. where civil war ended the whites of course could go into one side of the restaurant and the blacks into another side. There were a number of restaurants which only served blacks as today weknow as drive in's. In other words blacks had to go to a separate window behind or back door and be fed very much the way we get food from a drive in today.
Q: Curriculums were more complex in years. Please comment when you were principal.
A: Curriculum goes according to the needs of society and I certainly many things did come into this because society looks to the public schools. The public school has been so successful in alleviating many of the ills of society and actually the public school is the salvation of our democracy. There is no questions about that ... it freed society in general and of course when information was available to all pupils who were interested. The medical, engineering fields developed so we tend to not give credit I think quite frequently to the growth that has taken place since the concept of the public schools came into being. Private schools and churches had charge of education for thousands and thousands of years and up until 200 years ago. Look at the difference in Thomas Jefferson concept of public schools brought about and in Virginia the schools just over l00 years. Thomas Jefferson was dead and gone. I really don't think we had a true public school until our last public school was in 1971 because a great deal of expenses had to be bore by those who went to school in forms of creation etc. Even today, we still have to pay for our textbooks quite often so the public school has evolved. But look at how much knowledge has grown and what has happened during the last l50 plus years in that the public school system has been into being. Those who have freed society and of course I feel the public school is the father and mother of the modern world that we live in today otherwise we would still be in primitive circumstances very much they are in several of our underdeveloped countries throughout the world and several that are developed.
Q: If you had it to do over again, what kinds of things would you do to better prepare yourself for your role as principal?
A: Of course The circumstances dictate what one does and if I had planned to be a school administrator and so forth I would have wanted to pursue that early on as part of my background and training. However, as I pointed out, I was through into it by chance and perhaps the learning experiences necessitated the mother of invention so we improvised and did a lot of things right in the beginning and the background. It would be difficult with the lack of tolerance on the part of the public and the political atmosphere we operate schools today will not allow one to go into the principalship the way I did in 1953.
Q: What suggestions would you offer to universities as a way to help candidates to better prepare? Candidates for these positions?
A: I feel like they do a fair job of the coursework. Probably a little more activities in providing internships and this kind of thing and some kind of financial assistance in seeing that these training program are carried out. So that a candidate for administration can observe some of the different kinds of administrative style and some of the different philosophies of operations that we have in the public schools. They do vary a great deal from principalship to principalship even within the same school division and of course the way that school divisions themselves operated with different kinds of administration, style, some by board of education others by the administrations has more say. It is very, very difficult for a superintendent today to adjust in some of the political situations and have to go into and they need to be able to recognize those things before they accept the position. I always say a superintendent can't afford to be a superintendent unless they can afford to be fired because that may well be applied if they do the job as it needs to be done of course it could be in a dictoratoral type of position unless he is able to subordinate himself to that situation then he should stay out of it. He or she! Some she's have gotten caught up in the same sort of thing recently.
Q: Please share or reflect on your career. Let us know what you consider your strength and your weakness.
A: I think my strengths ... Most of it was in the area of personal attention to detail as well as the broader concept of it. Knowing enough of the details to be able to share experiences with subordinates not in my ability to assign the responsibilities to others and be willing to give that responsibility to them. I, in terms of weaknesses, I think probably one of the weakness points if that I do have a little bit of a short fuse of tolerance for those who aren't willing to give of themselves and the give best to the welfare of the child and when I see negligence of duty involved I have a great deal of difficulty in holding my temper in trying to get to the bottom of the problem and get it resolved and of course another weakness that I have is that I felt little toleration for some of the obvious political kinds of purposes that are carried out by politicians that misrepresent the facts and have often have as their purpose the starvation of schools rather than the help them grow and become better. There are still a lot of people working serving in the political offices that are not for the school and really don't believe in the public schools in terms of giving their support. In fact, we have members on the state board of education and members of school boards occasionally, many local politicians in local supervisors or local government agencies that send their children to private schools. Some of those tend to float to the top in the political arena because of their resources and much of their effort is protecting those resources from taxes that should go to support the public schools both at the state level and local level. Unfortunately the public is dumped into electing these people are allowing them to be appoint to public offices that relate to public school operations and because they are astute politicians and able to finance campaigns, the public tends to be mislead on that part. I can't conceive why one would be on the state board of education when they send the improvement and the help of the public schools when they send their own children to private schools what do they need about the public schools operations. What can they offer public school education when they have no first hand experience themselves of public schools.
Q: As administrator is there any advice you would like to pass on to today's principals?
A: Don't do it unless you love people and unless you want to help them. You really have to love kids and be willing to spend their time with them/people to get the kinds of things for children that they need so certainly unless you are fully committed to make things better and fell you can make better for children don't ever consider taking a leadership position of principalship. It is important that you care for kids even the ribble and the rude. I mean you take them as they are and try to do good and if you don't see that as part of the challenge if you don't you have no business in the public schools. After all if you can't offer them better than some of them have at home and you are not willing to do that you have little business in trying to operate in the public schools anyway.
Q: Tell us your key to success as principal and superintendent.
A: That's a hard one. I suppose one of the things that contribute to my success was the outstanding people I worked with. Outstanding faculty and I had wonderful superintendents during the years that I was principal who was a great inspiration in many ways and had true commitments to public schools. By way, he was a graduate of Columbia University, masters from Columbia, and a lot of what I learned and I may have learned from him as it related later on as it related to my superintendency. What was his name, Evans King who is still living in Christiansburg and is now I believe past 80 years old. I understand, still plays golf and is going strong.
Q: If you had a chance to interview yourself is there anything left out I should have asked you?
A: When you start talking about public education and all the background of it and all the experiences one has in 41 years you can talk forever and you can tell stories and still feel you leave out important facts, feelings, and experiences that contribute to your success or lack of success. Much of what happens I think is that you have to be a man for the times according to the occasion up to it and the changing curriculum and the coming and going of the shortages and of oversupply of teachers and administrators and affect who you work with for the most part ones success has to do with who his co workers are and how is is able to get along and work with them. I guess your if you were to ask me would I do it again I would say yes! I don't go with the idea of career education so much in the same but you have to make a decision early on what you are going to do I think you have to make a decision on what you are going to do in accordance with the way the opportunities present themselves. Certainly children who are in school right now can't know what they are going to do because a lot of the jobs and a lot of the job opportunities that are going to be out there for them are not even on the drawing boards now. So the unknown is still out there. When I first started as a principal we had never heard of a computer but look what happens today the whole data gathering operation of administrating of schools changed during those 20 years I worked with in I believe 26 or 28 years as a school administrator at the principal level or some other level so what questions would I ask (pause)...it is hard to tell it all when you have been through so much.
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