The date is March 4, 1993. This is an interview with Carole Hooks, a former administrator and principal of the Youngstown City School System. At this point in time, I'll be asking Mrs. Hooks a series of questions in reference to her philosophies and thoughts on administration.
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Q: Carole, would you begin by telling us a little bit about your family background, your childhood interests and development, your birthplace, things along that line?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: I was born in Warren, and I am a product of the Warren City Schools. I'm an only child. My mother was born in Gary, Indiana, and my father was born in Pittsburgh. So, I'm second generation Northerner in my family. My family has always been driven by the steel industry, which is where my father was employed also. And, I was fortunate enough to be the first minority who received a full scholarship from my father's union. At that time, we thought a thousand dollars was all the money in the world. I went and graduated from Michigan State. My desire had always been to be an attorney. But, when I finished my undergraduate work, I was tired of school. I had been in school since I was three years old in nursery school, and I had decided I was going to take break for a year, but my mother had other thoughts, so that took care of that. I was going to go to Washington. Some more girls and I, we were going to go to Washington and wait tables, or do whatever was necessary just to survive, and just kick back for a year. And, my mother was determined I was not going to do that. She actually wrote to the Cleveland Board of Education, secured the application, filled it out, and took me to the interview, which began my first job, and I have been in education ever since.
Q: Which in some degree helps to answer the second question. Would you discuss your college education and preparation for entering the field of teaching? How many years did you serve as a teacher and how many as a principal?
A: Nine years as a teacher, the rest of my time was in administration.
Q: Let me take you back a minute Carole, in terms of preparation, what drove you to seek the major that you did?
A: Well, see, I wasn't really an education major. Mother had insisted I'm a history major, and she had insisted that I also get this teaching degree. I don't know what kind of foresight she had back then, but she had insisted and it A: wasn't that hard at that time to get a secondary certificate, so I went on and got it. I really had no intentions of going into education when I got the degree, none.
Q: Carole, you are familiar with the imprint model. We work with organizations where that has been a cornerstone sometimes in some of the training. In terms of the imprint model, when you think of Massey's Theory, the belief that between the ages of six and twenty, the die is cast, so to speak, in terms of our value system, based on the imprints others leave on us and based on events in our lives. With that in mind, what significant historical events occurred for you, when you were between the ages of six and twenty? What impact did they have on you?
A: Well, school was always very important to my mother. I can never remember growing up and hearing my mother say, "If you go to college; it's always when you go." So, when I came out of high school, I knew I was going to school. School was always very important to my mother. My mother really should have been college educated, because she can wrap rings around me with no problem whatsoever. But, she just didn't have the opportunities that I had, and because she wanted to go so badly she was determined I would go. So, school was always very important in our house. I could get out of doing dishes and doing the housework, whatever had to A: be done. All I had to do was say, "I had to do my homework" and they would say, "Go on and do your homework." And, I learned very early by getting good grades, you receive recognition, and who doesn't like recognition? So, just to be into the books has always been an important part of my life. I think my mother really instilled in me, "Whatever you do, don't be at the bottom of the barrel, I don't care what it is, be among the top if you're going to do it. If you're going to do it, do it well or do it to the best of your ability." Mother's a pusher -- she's still is a pusher. A couple weeks ago on the Oprah Winfrey show they had these mothers and daughters, where these mothers are domineering. And I started to call her and say, "Hey, Mom why don't you watch this show." And, she'd say, 'Of course because what you're going to do, you're going to do it any- way." Probably a lot of my stress, I picked it up from my mother. But she is, even now, I'm fifty-two, she is just as protective of me as she was when I was twelve years old and she's just as bossy, but now I just give her the respect of listening to it and going on and doing what I want to do. But, that's Mom. Momma has always been a pusher to do well.
Q: Carole, in terms of historical events, if I could get you to reflect, between the ages of six and twenty, were there things that happened there that impacted you, and if they did, in what way? Any events that stick out in your mind during that period of time?
A: Well, most of my memories where things really impacted me other than in my home and my family, where I was the center of attention and always protected, it had to be school, because they didn't let me go anywhere else but to school. I can remember when I was in elementary school. I was in fourth grade and we were in music. And, there was a young man who sat behind me, and I had long braids, and his name was Donald Molenax. In fact, he is related to the Molenax's who have the car dealership up in Cuyahoga County now. And, Donald kept pulling my braids, and I told the teacher and she didn't say anything to Donald, and Donald kept pulling them, and pretty soon, I got up and I popped him. And, we started fighting, and we were sent to the office. And, John Sharpe was the principal, and I told him I hadn't done anything wrong. I had told the teacher, and I didn't think I deserved to be paddled. I left school, this was fourth grade, and went home. They called my mother at work, because my mother and my father both worked, and my mother came home; and at that time, we didn't have a car, and we had to live a good mile from the school. She walked me to the school to get my paddling and stay the rest of the day. I got a message right then about school, but it served a very good purpose for me, because I should have known from something that happened previously, that my parents were not going to take my side when it came to something like school. No way. It really worked out to be beneficial for me, because John Sharpe and I became very, very good friends, and he was my saving factor in high school. But, I should go back to the first grade. I actually failed the first grade. I had been in nursery school for three years, and there is another young man from Warren, who currently now is a doctor, a medical doctor. He and I had been to nursery school together. And, the teacher was teaching them their ABC's, and how to count to ten, and we already knew that. So, we would talk and misbehave, and she would put us, they had closets where you pulled the doors down and sat up on a platform, she would put us in the closet when we would misbehave. So, we got so smart that one of us would bring the candy in the morning. We'd eat the candy and then go to sleep after we were on punishment in the closet. And, when the first report card came out, I remember, I went home skipping with this report card. Not dummy, just dummy, not even knowing what the thing said. And, my mother always says that's the best physical whipping I have ever received, because I remember my father saying very well, "You might not be able to learn, but I'll be damn if you're not going to learn how to act." And, my mother said school really had never been a problem for me after that, after my father gave me that message. Junior high I had a teacher and I really, to this day, do not feel that she was fair, regardless of what I did, I couldn't get that "A" out of that English class. And, there was one term when I knew I had earned that "A" and she wouldn't give it to me, and that's the next memory I have of my mother coming to school, because I insisted I would not drop it. Mother came, and I got the "A" and I was satisfied. I had no more problems out of her. That was junior high. I then went to Harding. John Sharpe, at that time, was the Assistant Principal, and there was a Dean of Women, who I did not get along with very well, so I always bypassed her. I learned right then, if I wanted something out of my high school, don't go to her, go to your buddy, John Sharpe, over here. So, I use to be able, when something was already granted to me, I'd be able to go to her and say, "Mr. Sharpe said so and so and so on," which was wrong, but I had learned that and I used it. Experiences like that I remember, and I remember a English teacher that I had in high school who had my mother, and she never called me by my name. She always called me by my mother's name, and I remember the first time I told her that's not my name that's my mother's. And, she told me "It's the same family, what difference does it matter." So, that's basically the things that I remember out of life.
Q: Let me ask you, Carole, between the ages of six and twenty again, and you have answered some of this, what kind of moral messages were you receiving, and how did that impact the way you acted behaviorally and socially? What were the messages that were coming through morally at that time to you?
A: Well, there were things that you knew that you just did not do, period. As for there being any verbal moral messages, um hum, it had to be by actions of my parents, and what my parents expected of me. I did enough that I wasn't supposed to be doing. To be an only child, I probably got more physical whippings than any other only child in the whole world. But I have to say in all honesty, I deserved them, because I was always doing something, always. And, my mother never whipped me, never. She'd be the kind, who when my dad came, she would start (inaudible) at home. That meant sooner or later you were going to get it. But her way of control of me was, she would, my mother is not a howler, but if we were out together, if I was doing something or saying something wrong, she would never say anything to me. She would just hold my hand, and she would dig her fingernails in the palm of my hand. And, I knew exactly what that meant -- straighten up your act and straighten it up fast! No real moral lessons, other than by example and by expectation. One of my physical whippings that I remember was, it was in the summer, and my girlfriend and I, I think I was ten or eleven, we had decided we wanted a barbecue, and I knew how to do it because I would always help my father do it. And, so they were both at work and don't ask me why I was home this day, because they did not leave me at home when they weren't home, but I was home. And, I actually went to the store. We had a bill at the corner store. I went to the store. We got the ribs. We built the fire. We cooked the meat. And, when my father came home, he said "What in the Hell?" And, I'm just smiling, and my girlfriend's is sitting there, and we think we've done something big -- we got dinner ready, you know. He sent my girlfriend home. I got a whipping and I was sent to bed. My parents ate dinner and what was leftover they sent to my grandmother's house. And, to this day I don't think that was fair; but as my mother said, "You could have set the house on fire, your clothing could have caught on fire, a million things could have happened, Carole." But, at ten or eleven years old you, didn't understand that.
Q: Sounds like a good moral lesson to me. Carole, could you describe your value system, let's say between ages twenty-one to thirty? What was that system based on and how did that affect you operationally? In other words, as a result of your value system, did you find yourself to be outspoken, articulate? Those would be examples of the kind of behaviors I'm looking for in terms of . . .
A: I'm not outspoken, unless it's something I feel very strongly and committed to.
Q: Was that at the age of twenty-one to thirty or . . .
A: I was less outspoken then, than I am know. You probably wouldn't have even known I was around at that age, because I didn't. If somebody wanted to know who's the face that goes with this name that we've seen here and here and here, they would have to come find me. I have to be very, very committed to something to be outspoken about it.
Q: Let me ask you this. It's interesting, you said, between twenty-one and thirty, that you weren't very outspoken. I find you to be outspoken now, when you feel strongly about something. Did anything change in your life, anything significant occur that put you in the position that you felt the need to strongly express opinions on certain issues or would you have done that between twenty-one and thirty too?
A: Between twenty-one and thirty, no. I didn't feel comfortable enough that my opinion should have been valued and searched out and set above anybody else. So, no! No, that is something that has come with time.
Q: Okay, what would you attribute that to? The fact that you feel comfortable, and you do it well expressing your opinion about something you feel strongly about.
A: Well, just by what you said, you do it well. From reinforcement from other people, people seeking you out and asking you to do things, because I know when they first, it was when Veringy was here. Well, let me go back a little bit. When I was teaching in Cleveland, I had somebody I considered to be a very inefficient principal and I was very dissatisfied, and that's why I have started I said, Well, if that's how he does it, I can't do it much worse than that." And, that's why I had started working on mine before I had left Cleveland. Female administrators in Cleveland were no big deal, but when I came down here it was a big deal, but I didn't stop, I kept on. And, when I first came, they had the Lighted School Program and I was the principal over at North and I was still in graduate school. The time Vering was here, and he had me do a presentation for the Board, and I did the presentation and I didn't think anything about it. The following week he called me and he asked me to come down and he just acclaimed and acclaimed and acclaimed. Boy I wish I had that on tape so I saw what it looked like because I just wasn't aware of it. But then other things happened when I was at the university. I don't want to say Dr. Carver, but he was a good friend of mine, but, oh, what is his name? Vanaman. This, when I was just about finishing with my degree, Vanaman had gotten me an interview with the Kettering Foundation to be an educational specialist. And, it looked so good, so good, but I would have had to travel. My home base would have been out of Chicago, and I was recently married and there was no way in the world I could take advantage of that opportunity. And, it was just little things like that, that began to give me the confidence, yeah what you have to say does have meaning to somebody other than you.
Q: Carole, in terms of your value system and its influence on you getting into administration, what do you think, you've already articulated some of those things -- you felt more confidence in yourself, you found out you had skills because people told you. Anything else that drove you toward administration? You mentioned the principal . . .
A: Money. Money, to be very honest with you. And, I have said is very, many, many times. If they had paid me the same money to be in the classroom as they paid me to be an administrator, I would have fought the heavy-weight championship of the world for the room. With no question, because I prefer being a teacher to an administrator. I prefer being around kids. I just like being around them.
Q: Carole, those values that we discussed and those moral kind of messages that we talked about, have they influenced your organizational style, leadership style as principal?
A: Mostly, to be honest with you Ben, I don't feel, I don't have a style, because it's nothing I've ever reflected back on. It's just what comes up, comes out. And, I've never really thought in terms of pinpointing it down to a style, but I like to treat people the way I would like to be treated. And, I don't like to ask people to do anything that I wouldn't do.
Q: So, your feeling is, that you just, in a sense, have good instincts about what appears to be appropriate, or is that, maybe, too simplistic?
A: Well, usually there are enough messages out there that you know what's appropriate and what's not. Other than that, it just has to be what I could pick up through instinct and through vibes, what is appropriate and what isn't appropriate in various settings.
Q: And, keeping along that vein, in terms of what is appropriate and what isn't, what kind of biases do you think educators sometimes bring to the profession? What might be the repercussions of those biases?
A: So many of us who come into education have just moved into the middle class, and we bring those middle class biases in with us. Especially right now, with so many of the youngsters we are dealing with are not middle class, and we attempt to pass these biases off on them, and that just does not work. We are too judgemental sometimes with our middle class biases and that's very unfortunate.
Q: What kind of biases might students, or people that you deal with in education, have to deal with? Excuse me. What kind of biases might educators have to deal with, when inter- acting with the students or others that you interact with as an educator? What might be those repercussions?
A: Well, I think a lot of students now a days have the attitude, and some of it's for good reason. When they look at a teacher, let's say initial view, they see somebody who is here to do a job and go home at three-thirty. They don't see somebody who is really interested in me as a person, somebody who is going to be willing to give of themselves to me to help make me a better person. And, I think when you find anybody who is associated with youngsters who are willing to make kids feel that you really care about them, that you will go the extra step for them, then you've got a real educator. Especially for the type of kids that I'm use to dealing with.
Q: Well, when we talk about biases, it often relates to a value system, because many times biases occur because of one's beliefs and value system. Do you think a person's value system influences how they respond to others? If so, what is your opinion on that?
A: It definitely has to have some influence on how people respond. And, how you respond is fine, as long as you take care to show an appreciation and respect for the other person's frame of reference. You just have to do that. You can't fit everybody into your mold. I know a lot times teachers, when they're talking about students and the homes that they come from, maybe it's a one parent home, and maybe it's a home where that one parent hasn't been seen in two or three weeks, they say little things that they really don't know how it makes these kids feel sometimes. For example, "Why isn't your paper done?" And, let's say the teacher goes off in a tirade, and the kid's not going to say, "because the electricity is cut-off in the house or it was too cold to stay at home last night, and I had to go to somebody's house where there was no privacy where I could do the paper." When things like this happen, teachers have very little understanding about that, because they think the kids -- they don't think, they forget that these kids don't go home to homes where there's heat, light, a quiet place to do your homework and somebody encouraging you to do your homework. And, that's not what they go home to. And, they forget about that. So, they don't want to hear any excuses.
Q: Carole, just in talking to you, it comes across that you developed a, and you've always had, a non-judgemental attitude, a degree of empathy for what other people sense and feel. In terms of your value system, how does your value system affect the way you approach parents, kids, and even subordinates, let's say?
A: Ben, I'm not non-judgemental. I'm very judgemental, but I try to keep that to myself. Anybody who has been around me for a while, especially my kids, will know how I feel about things. And, the best example I can give you is, when I was substituting back in October for Ray over at Choffin. One of the vo-ed classes had the showcase, and the teacher was concerned about. It was a Halloween scene they were doing. It was gory. And, she was concern about it, and she asked me to come up and see it, and asked me what I thought. Well, when I came up the stairs, two of the students standing out there, among about eight of them out there, two of them were mine previously from East, and when I looked at it, and the two youngsters saw the expression on my face, they said, "Let's go on and take it down. Ms. Hooks you can go on back downstairs. You don't have to say anything." I said, "Thank you." But, I have always, you know, attempted to make kids understand, I'm not always going to agree with you and most of the time, if I'm in charge, it's going to be my way, and I will make you try to see that if I wanted to go other way other than how you wanted to go, it's what I feel, through experience, is the best thing for you. And, if your around them enough, they get to the point where they accept that. Well, she's not going to do anything that's not going to work out for the best for us, even though we don't like it. We have to take this as par to get to whatever she is trying to get us to. And, that's just something that come with time. But, that also come with time in being wiling to share with students. You have to give of yourself. When I was working, if I was in the building, and the only time you would find me out of my building at lunch time would be when I had to be at 20 West Wood Street. You could never find me in my office during lunch times and lunch time lasted an hour and a half. I was always in the cafeteria, because this is when you got an opportunity to talk to kids and find out what was going on in the neighborhood, and what was going on in the personal lives, what was going on in the classroom. If they wanted to get to you, they could get to you. And, sometimes it was enjoyable; sometimes it was a hassle. And, being there, a lot of times, stopped a lot of things from happening, just by being there. I just enjoyed knowing the kids I had to work with. I wanted to know them other then "John Brown." I wanted to know something about John Brown.
Q: In terms of the imprint issues that I was just describing, and one of the secondary ramifications of an imprint issue is that sometimes we often are imprinted with certain biases and certain values early in our life, and we learn, as we get older, that these are not acceptable imprints to display or articulate and so we mask them. Sometimes, a significant event occurs in our lives that causes us to jump over the area of masking right back to the imprint. I guess I would ask you, have there been instances where you think that? Maybe instances where an administrator's style might be affected in a negative way by a person whose been imprinted in one way earlier and has been in a sense of denial about the imprint and suddenly, was triggered to move back toward the imprint?
A: I don't know, Ben. I really don't know, but I could see it happening. I could see it happening. Especially where a young administrator has an older administrator that he accepts or she accepts as a mentor, and there are some things in the older administrator's style which really aren't conducive to being administrators, in the total sense of the word. I could see a lot of problems caused there in, as long as that style was acceptable. But when a change comes along and that's no longer acceptable, and you've got to change, then it begins a lot of problems. I can see some of that right now in the Youngstown City School System.
Q: Okay. Without naming any names, of course, give me an example of what you consider to be a value conflict of that nature within the administrative ranks. Something you know.
A: Just the attitude that's taken toward black youngsters where expectations are very low. That disgusts me very, very much. Sometimes, you don't have to be imprinted with something to think higher than that on your own. The attitude that they didn't do well on 'X' number of tests is okay, it doesn't matter, because no more is expected than that. And, that had bothered me for many, many, many years. And, when youngsters did achieve, and I have to go back to the time I was at North, and that was my third year at North and when my 8th graders led the City in English, Reading and Math on the achievement test on the junior high level. And, it began trickling back to me, that people said, "Well, they had to cheat, that was the only way." No, we didn't cheat. We did what the testing company allowed us to do, and evidentially that year, we did it very well. And, I knew if you don't expect anything from anybody, you don't get anything. I've always believed that. And, it was just a year when everything just fell into place for us, but a lot of people's attitudes about it. I refuse to let it bother me, because I knew where they were coming from. Yes, and it will make you change. A change in leadership will make your style and what you believe change. And, if you don't change with it, you're going to have a problem.
Q: Do you think that, knowing the imprint model, discussing the part that I just discussed, where a person can be imprinted to believe a certain thing, and then what sometimes happens, they learn over a course of time, it's unpopular to express that opinion and then something happens that triggers them and they begin to express that opinion. They leap over, as I said before, the masking behavior.
A: From what they've learned.
Q: Yeah. Knowing that, do you think it would be important for administrators to be exposed to the imprints like value systems, model. What would be the benefits, if indeed, more administrators could become aware of just how those kinds of imprints and biases play into operational staff?
A: Many of us don't know where we pick up the things that we value and believe in our philosophies as we go through life. And, what I think the imprint model does, it gives you time to reflect, so that you can actually find out. I got that from so and so. I pick this up here. So, in that aspect, yes, because if you know where you picked up a value and you can really have an opportunity to reflect on a value, and think it through, "Should have I imprinted to this or go back to the stage I have evolved to." But, you've got to know the whole process, before you even think of doing that. So, yes, imprinting would definitely serve a value and a purpose for administrators.
Q: In terms of effective leadership, if you were looking through a window, Carole, as an effective instructional leader, what would you see happening behaviorally, school climate wise? What are the behaviors you might see?
A: I would see activity. I would see -- am I looking at the administrator?
Q: Yeah. And, the building in general.
A: I would be looking at an administrator who was involved and busy. I would see an administrator who cared about people on both ends, from the students up and including staff. I've always been a believer that you can catch more with sugar than you can with salt. And, it does work. And, being a building administrator is not easy, so you have to do what works. Sometimes, you don't want to, but you have to do it. Whatever you have set as your personal goals for yourself in caring out that job, then you have to do the things necessary to try to reach that goal in your daily goings-on. You have to be involved. I can't see, on a secondary level, how anybody could be a seven-thirty to three-thirty administrator in this day and age and be effective. Not in terms of the interruptions and the phone calls. When do you have time to do instructional leadership? So, you have got to have time to plan the leadership, even if you have to plan it out on a piece of paper and get it done. So, to me, to be an effective leader, I don't think it's possible to do it in "the regular school day." It takes more in from the instructional, and the real effective leaders that I have known, they have spent the time there, outside of the normal school days in order to become that person. But, your reward comes back in terms of what your able to give to youngsters.
Q: Carole, in terms of teaching, many times there are issues of content and process. In that, I mean content is subject matter, the process is the delivery. Many people will tell you, process often is much more important. Would you speak to that in terms of your opinion?
A: I prefer a combination of the two. Being a history major, I never believed in teaching isolated facts. There's no significance or relevance to them; and I know from my own experience, if you don't use, it you lose it. So, if you've taught them nothing but isolated facts, then what do they have? But, they need a combination of both. As a teacher, there is a certain amount of material you are required or you are expected to deliver to these youngsters, and the process, especially today, that you use to impart it to them, is very, very important. Simply because, when you stand in up in front of the classroom, as a classroom teacher, you're competing against all of this media that has been entertainment in most of these kids' lives. And you're trying to find your niche in there. So, process is very, very important. I don't want to say it's more important than content, but it's equal. It's equal, because it's the correct process, and when I refer to methodology, I'd like to see teachers actively involved. I detest the lecture method. I do not believe it's a good learning situation, and maybe I believe that because it wasn't for me, and for what I've saw with kids when I work with them, it wasn't good for them either. So, I believe in active learning as a methodology for teachers to employ, and involving students in things.
Q: Carole, what would your, if you could start the Carole Hooks Academy for whatever, and you had the money to do it, what would your academy look like, in terms of human resources, other types of resources? What would I likely see if I visited that particular school? Let's say it was a, to make it a narrower focus, a high school.
A: You would see a bright building. I would hope that you would see a happy and proud, and a contented staff and student body. There would be mega-activity going on. Examples of educational experiences and learning would be everywhere. It would be just a very, very busy place and busy with the educational process.
Q: Carole, I'm not soft-soaping you, Carole, but I just want to commend you on one particular aspect, and there are a number of things you do well. I guess, I would ask you, knowing the kind of things that can occur, when you have a staff that's from various backgrounds and has various biases themselves and value systems, how do you think you were successful enough to develop cohesive staffs that seem to have a mission and a purpose that was very positive?
A: I've always felt that if you're willing to work hard, most of the people who are working with you, and notice I don't say under you, they are working with you, will give you top grade stuff, but I found out that educators don't like people who delegate, and everything is delegated. And, I guess, Ben, I would have to say, by example, just by example. My expectations for staff are just as high as my expectations for kids are. And, you lead by example. You lead by example.
Q: One of the things that occurred today, and, of course, it probably occurred in bygone days, in education, is that administrators sometimes spend not a good deal of time, but other issues where complaints arise about the amount of paper work, bureaucratic complexity, you know, that you're forced to deal with. How did you feel about that during the time you were an active administrator?
A: I felt it was a pain, but it something that was required of me as an administrator, so you did it. And, that was all there was to it. There was really only one time that I just out and out refused to do something, and I think the stage in my career had a lot to do with me refusing to do it, because it was the year before I retired. Mr. Jarvis called and said, "Well, Carole, we were expecting," and I said, "I'm not going to do it, Mr. Jarvis. What are you going to do fire me?" And, I didn't do it. I said, "I don't have time to do it," and as I told him, "I was spending twelve hours every day in this building, sometimes sixteen. I just do not have the time, and I'm not going to do it." But, had I been at another point in my career, I knew I would have found the time to do it.
Q: If you don't mind me asking, what was Mr. Jarvis response?
A: Well, it shocked him. He said, "This isn't like you. I've never heard you . . ." I said, "Well, Jim, I'm to that point in my career that I really don't care anymore what anybody thinks." And, that was the end of it.
Q: Given the complexity of administration, are there areas of administration that you would change in order to improve the efficiency, the effectiveness of the service delivery maybe or . . .
A: I'm a strong believer in accountability. I'm a strong believer in everything I hear today in terms of accountability, it makes me feel very good. I think, simply by being human, we need that accountability factor to be our driving force rather than some philosophical idea, because I think we are seeing the philosophical idea does not work.
Q: Why do you think that you, in particular, fell strongly about the accountability issue? It sounds like, what I hear you saying, is you have no problem being held accountable for something that you're given the tools to do. Where did you acquire that philosophy from?
A: I don't know. I really don't know. But, it has to go in line with accepting the idea, that as an administrator, your basic job is to, it's above keeping youngsters safe, which is one of your responsibilities. It's above seeing that instruction is going on in the classroom. I think it goes to the top of the list, to say, to make youngsters better prepared for the world, and make the world a better place for youngsters. If you accept that as a goal or a driving force, accountability has to come in there somewhere. It can't all just happen. It might happen or it might not happen. But, if your accountable, my way of thinking is, it's more subject to happen than if you're not accountable.
Q: Speaking in terms of accountability, staying along that vein for a minute, describe your approach to evaluation of employees, and maybe your philosophy on evaluations.
A: Well, I would always hold the pre-conference before observation, one-on-one, and I would tell teachers what I expected and what I would be looking for. You know, when I came into the room. I didn't believe in coming with any dark secrets, but another thing I didn't believe in, I didn't believe in letting you know when I was coming. I would just make the announcement, generally in staff meetings, that I'm going to begin observations on such and such dates. That was your warning. And, then, I would have you in for your one-on-one conference and that was basically it.
Q: Going back to the question before the one I just posed, which dealt with improving efficiency and effectiveness and so forth, are there any areas of education that you would change, or you would like to see changed in terms of the curriculum or administrative disciplines? Any burning issues, in terms of our present system of delivery in education and administration?
A: Well, I like the vein that's being talked about as the new direction for the Youngstown City Schools. There are a lot of things that I'm hearing out of that, that look excellent to me, and looks like something that will definitely make youngsters better prepared for the world. I like a relevant education. I like an education that students see the value in. I think one of the problems that our students have and why they don't do any more than they do, is because they don't value the product that we are trying to impart to them. So, if they see no value in it, why am I going to bust my head and in trying to obtain it. And, they don't. They totally reject it. But, if we could change the attitude, whereas they see a value and a relevance to their world and what I'm trying to impart to you, I think that will change the whole makeup. I really believe that.
Q: What's your view on the mentoring program for administrators? And, I know, you've had some involvement with that. Do you think it's a good idea and what's been your experience with the mentoring programs for administrators?
A: A mentoring program is good - if somebody is willing to receive assistance or receive advice or seek the advice. It's good. I would have loved to have a mentor. At the time that I came along, I had to find my own out there and call around and asked questions and find out. There wasn't any one certain person I could go to and seek advice from. I think it's excellent, but I think people who are put into this situation have to know not only where you stop giving advice, but the other side also has to be willing to accept being part of the mentorship programs. It takes two for a mentorship program. It takes two willing ones.
Q: Carole, tell me, what do you think your key to success as a principal has been. I have to start out by accolading and saying you have been an excellent exemplary principal. Any reflections or . . .
A: Willingness to work hard. That's it. The willingness to work hard.
Q: Do you think that a principal has to be, important to be open and be willing to avail him or herself to different ideas. Speak to that a moment, in terms of part of a principals responsibilities.
A: I believe it's vital. You have to be open to new ideas. Things are constantly changing, and I know when I became a principal, I didn't know anything about instructional leadership. What I had learned in the university, I had lost it so long ago. But, then I began to go back and I would read. It still just wouldn't be enough for me to put it together to actually become this instructional leader. And, when I became a junior high principal, I use to call Verna Wiley all the time. And, Verna would say, "Well, Carole, why don't you try this and do it this way and do it this way." She would inform me of things that I had never heard of or even thought of or read about. You read your profession journals and you have to always be looking for a way to do it better - until it's perfect. And, as human beings, it's never going to be perfect, so that means you're always looking. You have got to be open in this day and age. You've got to be. You can't survive with being that, if you're going to be effective.
Q: Principals operate, I'm sure you can attest to this, often in a tense environment. What kind of things did you do and to some degree, since your still with the Board on contracted capacity, do you do to maintain your sanity, sometimes under stressful conditions?
A: Go to sleep. I do. When things really become too stressful for me, I just go to sleep, and I say when I wake up, it will still be there, but I'll have a different perspective on it when I wake up. Or if it's a stressful position, you just have to do what you have to do make it go away. But I think the most stressful one I've ever had, I couldn't make it go away, when I was forced to go to East High School. It was very, very stressful. And, it would not go away. I tried to make it go away, because I tried to leave the system, but I was just to close to the end of my career to be leaving, and I just couldn't do it. I had to put selfish reasons above what my head was telling me, and I had to accept the assignment. It was, I wasn't going to tell anybody it was an easy assignment, because it wasn't for me. It was a very difficult and demanding assignment for me. But, when I finished my four years in that building, I have come to love that building. I have come to care a great deal about it. It made me a better person. It made me a stronger person. But, even with all that, if you gave me the choice today to go back. No thank you. I've had my turn with that. I know what that's all about. And, for me, I know what kind of day it demands to run it. So . . .
Q: Let me ask you this, Carole, that's interesting because I guess it goes back to being imprinted and having a value system, because with all the concern of being there, you did an excellent job. What drove you to, in a sense, to set aside or overcome your resistance to being there and do the kind of things that you did over there in that building.
A: Well, I never wanted to be a high school principal. I had the opportunity before I even became a junior high principal, to be a high school principal and I told them, "No, I wasn't interested." And, I really had, I sat and waited on North. After working in that Lighted School Program, I wanted to be principal of North Junior High School. And I sat and I waited till I could get North. And, I was very happy. I was very content. And, then, here he comes down the pike, well Carole, and there's a young man in the school system who had told me my second year at North, he had said, "Get your blue and gold ready." And, I said, "What are you talking about?" And, he said, "Listen to me, get your blue and gold ready." Well, I didn't pay him any attention and lo and behold, if he didn't know what he was talking about, and I was on something I was working on down here, they were interviewing administrative candidates and I was on the committee. And, we had conducted interviews. It was on a Saturday. And, in the afternoon the superintendent had come in to the Board room and he had said Carole I need to see you when you finish here today. And, I didn't think anymore about it. When we were finished interviewing, and I had got up and went to his office and as soon as I walked through that glass door, I knew exactly what he wanted. I don't know how, but then when I walked into his office and before he could say anything, I said, "If you're getting ready to ask me what I think you are, the answer is no." And, he said, "Let me get it out of my mouth first." I said, "Go ahead, what is it?" And, I just sat down right then and said, "I just knew it. I just knew it. I knew it." And, I said, "No, I am not interested." He said, "Carole I'm awful sorry but you have no choice." But, I can't say the day I walked out of there that I didn't have a lot of good memories, that there hadn't been a lot of enjoyable moments, because there were. There were. A lot of the things, coming into administration, I guess I've always been very fortunate. When I became Assistant Principal at South, I had taught in South because I only taught here in this system three years before I went into administration. I had taught. So I just came from the second floor, downstairs so the kids knew me and I knew them. When I went to North, they were junior high, after working with high school youngsters so many years, you know, piece of cake really. When I went to East, I had everybody in that building except the senior class. They were the only ones that I hadn't been exposed to coming from North. And, so that made a big difference. They knew me and I knew them.
Q: Carole, let me just take you back a moment to the issue of values and relate that to young people. Sometimes, today's challenges are greater in dealing with young people. They're dealing with more and expressing more in terms of behavior. What do you think led to some of the changes that have caused kids to possibility display the kinds of behavior they do, as kids in bygone years maybe didn't exhibit as aggressively or as often? Do you want to speak to that?
A: You have to have a stopping place with which you will not go beneath in your actions. How that is imprinted upon you, I do not know, but I believe it's something that family and community have to impart to a youngster. And, you must be able to think beyond today and the immediate moment. And, that's my main criticism for many of our youngsters today. They don't think beyond right now. They have no goals to which they are trying to achieve. It's what feels good or how I feel at the moment that's going to determine how I act or react. So, if I'm not looking forward to anything for tomorrow, tomorrow really isn't important. Today is the only thing that's important. And, if they are constantly being fostered in this atmosphere, where they don't see anybody looking beyond today, then how are they supposed to know to look beyond today. And you know, I can remember the time when everybody would be upset because you stole furniture out of the church, when they didn't even lock churches. Well, we've come to the day now where our society as a whole says, "It's okay, as long as you don't get caught." And, it trickles down. You know you can't say one thing and do another thing. Because that doesn't work.
Q: Often at the age of nine or ten the golden age, that's the age where particularly a young man starts to looks at the societal of dynamics and start to make decisions based upon what they see being accepted and what they are being rewarded for. Is there anything we can do as educators, as administrators specifically, to try and turn some of that around, since we also have those golden moments, as well as parents and community people in the sense of nine or ten where a child is making decisions, and it is very important that a positive role model sometimes be available to emulate. Did you want to speak to that briefly?
A: When I was growing up, and I would say, also when you were growing up, school played a very important part in your life. To, basically the youngsters that we are working with, school does not play a significant part in their lives. And, we must move back to where school plays an important part in youngsters, lives. And, no longer can it be that eight to three o'clock day. Schools need to be open in the evening to provide safe activities for youngsters to channel this authority. We're are always criticizing youngsters for what they are doing and how they are wasting their talents and abilities, but what are the vehicles that we are, as adults, providing for them to channel these activities into behaviors that we considered to be acceptable. We don't. We just sit back and criticize. So, when you leave them to their own and they come up with their alternatives, we aren't pleased, but who do we have to blame? Ourselves.
Q: Okay, so your advocating interventions beyond the school day, particularly at that age range.
Q: Carole, what circumstances led up to your decision to retire? The usual, or any particular significant reasons.
A: I was physically tired. Just tired and drained. When you considered a good day for me was a twelve hour day, when I could go home at five thirty, that was a good day. At least three days a week, I didn't get to go home until eight thirty, nine o'clock, maybe sometimes ten. Your body can only go that pace for so long. So, it was just a matter, I was drained, just drained and physically tired.
Q: What advice, I don't want to be simplistic about it, but what advice would you offer to first teachers and then administrators because, I say that, because you were a teacher first, and my understanding is that you did well at that also. So, I want to tap that resource too. What advice would you offer the teachers coming into the profession right now at this point?
A: Don't do it, unless it's something you want to do. When you walk into your classroom, the thing that can help you more than anything else is just be yourself. Don't be anything else, be yourself.
Q: How about administrators? Those who are aspiring to be administrators coming into the profession in the ranks, what advice might you offer them?
A: Be willing to work hard. Be willing to give of yourself. And, if you're not, don't do it. Don't do that to youngsters.
Q: In terms of university programs, in reference to administration, what can universities do to, I guess, provide the kind of curriculum that's relevant enough that would give an administrator, or prospective administrator a good start? Is the university providing a curriculum that is relevant? Do you have any suggestion as to what might be?
A: They're doing, I feel, a much better job today then when I came along. But, a lot of times, especially with the observation programs that went on through the junior high and the high schools, I think that is something that is very important to the new educator, so that you actually see what it's like and not your picture of what it's like from what you've seen on TV or from what you've heard or from what you have been taught in the classroom, that you can come and actually see it for yourself. One of the things that amazed me was that when we would have observers, who had been suburbanites all their lives, and come to an inner-city building to observe, they could never get over the warmth of the youngsters, and I said, "Yes, you can take that for granted until you do something to destroy it, then it's a whole different ball game." The images that people have of what's in the inner-city is by no means what's there because if it were, nobody would be able to stay. There has to be something awful good there that even people continue to go for paychecks. And, it is. There's a lot of good there. But, you've got to want to do it. Be yourself when you go in that classroom. Give youngsters exactly what you want them to give you.
Q: With all the questions I've asked, Carole, there still may be something that you may have wanted to reflect on, and I didn't give you the opportunity to do so, and if, indeed, you want to make a closing statement or you have some reflections you would like to make, I would appreciate if you speak to it at this time.
A: Well, I really can't think of anything, Ben, as I've never been a reflector. When usually I'm reflecting, I'm trying to plan my action to get out of some hole I've gotten into, and I'm just usually an actor and a reactor to whatever comes up, and I really don't, things you've asked me today, I haven't thought about in years. And, it just has to be the way I feel, it just comes up, off the top of my head, and nope, I can't think of anything that I would like to say.
Q: I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk with me. As usual and always, it was enlightening, and I'll continue to be impressed and to give you the accolades that you deserve as an administrator. Well, thanks, and I'm glad your still with the Board in whatever capacity you are with us, and we'll take what we can get from you in terms of professional expertise. Thank again.
A: Thank you.
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