This is February 26, l994, I'm speaking with Mr. Howard Heldman about his experiences as a high school principal.
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Q: Would you begin by telling us about your family background, childhood interests, and developments including your birthplace, elementary and secondary education, and family characteristics you would like to share with us.
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: I was born in Struthers, Ohio and I went through the Struthers School System. I was a l934 graduate from high school. I went to Miami University in Ohio from l934-38. I got a job in Port William, Ohio, as soon as I graduated and I taught there for one year and I came to Struthers in l939-40. Incidentally, at Port William I taught eight classes, I rang the bell, I was the homeroom teacher of the Junior and Senior class - a total of 13 students; 6 in the Senior class and 7 in the Junior class. When I came to Struthers, I came as a track coach and as a physical education instructor. Eventually, I became the football coach, basketball coach, and track coach. I've been guidance counselor, assistant principal and then the high school principal and retired in l980. I worked in the sheet and tube part-time for 33 years. I'm now presently in charge of security at Astro Shapes, an aluminum company in the City of Struthers.
Q: Would you discuss your college education and preparation for entering the teaching field. How many years did you serve as teacher, principal and when did you retire?
A: I taught for a total of 41 years. I've been an assistant high school principal from l960-l970 and from l970-l980 I've been a high school principal. I came on the board of education beginning in l982 for twelve years for three terms.
Q: I wonder if you would discuss those experiences or events in your life that constituted important decision points in your career?
A: I love sports and I also wanted to coach so this is probably one of the reasons I went to college. Since I love kids, I was interested also in the physical fitness. I believe everybody should be in pretty good condition so I knew that a physical education teacher could play some part in developing kids into physical fitness and I had some friends that were in school and they were in the same field. And incidentally, in the training we got in Miami in regards to a physical fitness major, we took the premed course. They gave us the premed course instead of the little easier course so it was quite interesting. We had to take kinesiology and all those courses and at that time they weren't doing so it was quite interesting.
Q: Would you describe your personal philosophy of education and how it evolved over the years?
A: Well that's a good hard question. Well, I always thought that the teacher should be a dedicated teacher in the classroom, should be fair with every student and not be afraid of asking the opinion of his students. In my classroom, as I taught at Y.S.U. for a number of years as a part-time instructor, I always told the kids or the students in that class, remember this, your going to have a democratic class room but it's going to be autocratic. You're going to let them figure out what they want and what they're going to do but you're going to direct them in that thinking because you're the boss in the classroom and you're going to make them think that it's their way of thinking but you're the autocrat, you're the boss.
Q: Would you describe the instructional philosophy of your school, telling how it was developed and how it evolved over time?
A: Well that's a pretty good question because it probably had been developed when I went there because we certainly had some good principals and some good teachers. Again, I know that when I taught classes at Struthers I thought the best principal that was every at Struthers was the name of Polumbacy and he was an autocrat and he was the type of fellow that his idea was the one that always went through. But if you would go in and tell him that you had mentioned this one day that this was a pretty good idea he would give you anything you wanted just as long as he got the credit for the new innovation or the new thing you wanted to do. We at Struthers, where I taught, we had a lot of freedom as teachers to do whatever we wanted to teach and the administrators expected us to do the job in which we all tried to do. I think that times have changed now and the teachers are not as dedicated as they have been in the past.
Q: What experiences or events in your professional life influences your management philosophy or your management technique style?
A: Well, I don't know if anything ever happened to make me change that but I always thought that there has to be, I hate to say boss, but one person who is in charge but that person has to use common sense, that person has to use some fairness in his dealing with everybody. But he's got to be in charge of what's going on and he's got to be fair and honest with whoever he's dealing with, whether it's his superiors or his students. He's got to be fair.
Q: You already talked a little bit about this but you might want to add some comments. What techniques did you use to create a successful climate for learning? Can you describe any successful or unsuccessful experiments you were involved with?
A: Well my philosophy of education as a principal, I think the principal is there to create an atmosphere where learning is going on. That is his job. I don't think a principal can tell the science teacher, the math teacher, the social science teacher how they should teach, what they should be doing because he is not qualified to teach all those subjects but he is to create an atmosphere where that expert who was hired by the board of education to do that teaching in that field where the atmosphere is conducive to good teaching. That is my philosophy that the administrator should do.
Q: Along with that question, can you give us some ideas or some characteristics that make an effective principal. In your opinion what would make an effective principal?
A: A good effective principal, he's got to be on time, he has to be prompt. I think a principal's got to go to school on a school day very early in the morning. He should walk through his building to see how everything is because I'm not sure the custodians walk through the rooms every morning when they come. So I think the principal should walk through his building to see how things are. I think that he is there early enough where he should do his paperwork before the students come into the building. I believe that all that paperwork is finished and then when school takes up he spends very little time in the office, he's out in the hallways, out checking on the things. I also believe that every principal, if possible, knew every boy or girl by their first name. I know that I did and if I forgot that boy or girls first name it was always Miss or Mr. because they should show or the principal should show them respect as we assume respect from them.
Q: Those who argue that, more often than not, central office policies, hinder, rather than help, building level administrators. Can you give us your views on this issue?
A: There's no question about that, because that central office is not on the firing line. He's not out there where the things are going on. He should be out there in the firing line once in a while to see what's going on instead of sitting in the ivory tower where he's there and everyone looks up to him. He sends out his directives, but how are those directives going to be put in effect and be worthwhile. In many times, the directive that is sent out by the higher office is not as good as it is intended to be.
Q: If you were advising a person who is considering an administrative position, what type of advice would you give that person.
A: Well, first he has to be dedicated, he has to know the kids, he has to know his teachers. He may dislike that teacher but while he's teaching he has to be fair to him or her and give him or her as much break as there is. I think a principal should go into the classroom once in awhile and teach. If a teacher there isn't feeling too good, even though she is at school, go in the restroom or lounge and just lay down for this period, I'll take over your classroom for you. You create that goodwill among the teachers. I also think that the principal should be out in the hall. I know that many times, I'd crack a kid in the arm and he would enjoy that because he was getting some attention from the principal. He would enjoy that and he should speak to these children. I also think that the principal, if the teacher has an appointment at 2:00 and schools out at 3:30, fine go ahead I'll cover your classes for you, but we also expect 50% from that teacher if we want you to do something for us in an emergency that we expect you to return the favor. But many of them won't do that they'll count that as your personal day or half-day personal day which I think is wrong.
Q: Would you describe the ideal requirement for principal certification and discuss appropriate procedures for screening those who wish to become principals.
A: That's a pretty tough question. He should be knowledgeable of the items of how to get along with people, that is the first thing. He's got to be fair, he's got to be able to be strong enough to support his teacher 100% whether it is in front of the student, whether it's in front of the parent. If the teacher is wrong that principal has to support that teacher in front of the public, but after that person leaves then he can do whatever he desires to be done with that teacher, which happened many times with me. I believe that he's got to support the teacher and the kids. And he has to be tough, he can't be an easy washy wishy guy and give into the parents or give into the kid or give into a little pressure on him. He has to stand on his own two feet and I think you can find that out from that candidate that's being interviewed, if he's that type of a guy or that type of a women. I think that there are women who are stronger than men as principals and I think they do a better job than men but I think that you can see that in the interview. Personally, I think that the principal and the superintendent when they have an opening in the school system, I think they both should be there to interview the person because that teacher is going to be dealing with the principal and not with the superintendent so he should be knowing what he's getting and I think he should have the courage enough to say I don't want that person as a teacher or if your hiring an assistant principal he should be there because there are many times he has to take over, whether you have to go to a meeting or what not. He has to take over and follow your policy.
Q: It is often said that a principal should be active in the community. Could you discuss your involvement with and participation in any groups or community organizations.
A: Yes, I'm a firm believer in that and I'm also a firm believer that he should live in the community where he is teaching. I think that he should get involved in the church, he should get involved in the clubs as rotary, as the other types of clubs. He should go to athletic events not only at the schools so people who are athletically inclined in the community see that he is interested in that sport. He goes not only to the school but also to other sports that are not connected to the school. If he is asked to serve on a committee, he should be willing to serve but I think the main thing is he should live in that community where he is going to be in charge of the high school. So many of them aren't, they're afraid to move which is wrong.
Q: Would you describe your approach to teacher evaluation and give your philosophy of evaluation or any other ideas you want to share on how to evaluate, good evaluations, bad evaluations?
A: I'll say this, that maybe a lot of people would not like the way I would evaluate a teacher. I think a layman could come into a classroom and see if there is any learning going on. I'm quite sure that anyone can walk into that classroom and observe and see if there's any teaching, any learning going on. Of course, the contract with the teacher that you must go in and evaluate and sit down there for so many times during a class period and then you may not interview that person for the next two years. After you interview that person, which I have known on a number of cases, the teacher becomes lax because you may interview them in October or November and for the rest of the year he loafs or she loafs because he or she has been evaluated and now they're not coming in any more so I can relax and take it easy. That's the way the contract reads. Well I don't like that idea. I think a teacher can be evaluated by a principal by sticking his face in the room and just look around as if you are looking for a kid or go to the window and look out the window and the teacher still continues talking with the kids. Now you can tell whether there is any learning going on and I think you can do that a number of times in the school year in which I have done that because he doesn't know when I'm going to come in or she doesn't know when I'm going to come in and I'm not going to be that critical where your not doing your job. Now if you sit in there for the class period the kids freeze, maybe that teacher freezes and you know that teacher's a good teacher but due to the fact that he or she knows that his superior is sitting in there taking notes he's going to be afraid and he's going to tighten up. That's a great majority and he's not going to do a good job, and neither will the kids do a great job because they're not free, there's a stranger in there, there's a principal of the whole high school sitting in there, there going to be a little tight. I knew of another principal how he evaluated, he took the pay checks to the teacher but he didn't tell them what day or the time he was coming into the classroom, so he evaluated them every two weeks that way, which I think is good. I thought that was a good idea but that's the way that I would like to evaluate and I did a lot of times and the teachers knew it. The teachers knew because sitting gown there for 30 minutes or 45 minutes and he's good for two years for three years, well heck with that. I think he should be evaluated four or five times a year when your not expecting him to come in.
Q: Speaking of evaluations, in your years of being a principal have you ever had to deal with a teacher who you felt was a poor teacher, was getting poor evaluations or had to make corrections with that teacher or recommend letting go of a teacher, and how did you deal with that?
A: Well, I think that if the teacher is not up to snuff in three years you better get rid of him because he's going to be on tenure and you've got a poor teacher on tenure. So of course, you go in the first year a couple of times, you bring him in and give him give suggestions. Now again here comes a math teacher, who teaches a higher math, the principal is not a math instructor, he's something else, now how can he advise what he's doing wrong, well the only think that he can do is give him the general things that he may be doing such as how to handle a kid in class, he should be standing up instead of sitting down, he should be doing those things because it would be very difficult to go in, you don't know anything about math, you don't know anything about science, and he's talking there and it's over your head you don't know what he's talking about, honestly now, how are you going to improve the instructional thing. I think it's very difficult but you can help him on the other things, like you will you have some children who aren't paying attention to you, so you better be observant on that, you know. Those are the things that I think are difficult to do and then after he's finished if he doesn't improve on those things then you're going to do a second year and you're going to have to tell him if it isn't improved then you're going to have to say we're going to have to dismiss you. Because we had an illustration that this teacher, he's been there for 18 years and he didn't get his certificate where he became on tenure, a very poor teacher, so he was there for about ten years when I became the principal and so I knew he was a poor teacher so I gave him a subject that would least hurt the kids where he could teach. He was a very poor teacher and I'd walk in to him and you couldn't help but like him and the kids loved him and what de did which I thought was so important, every night there were about 25 to 30 kids that would walk into his room and sit around and talk to him and he would tell them things. And I thought that was more important that he was meeting with these kids than in the classroom that what he was teaching wasn't effecting the kids that much. So being there 18 years, this new superintendent we had, he had an occasion to scuffle because one of the kids in the hall had done something to the teacher, he called him a funny name, and the teacher banged him up against the wall and brought him into the office. Well I suspended the kid for three days for being disrespectful to the teacher. Well, this family was a good friend of the superintendent, so he was upset, and I said hey, you don't do that here, because he was just a new guy, and you don't do that at all so after the superintendent was there the second year he called me up and said would you recommend for this teacher not to be rehired. I said, no, he's been here 18 years, if you didn't find out he wasn't worth keeping after the second or third year I'm not going to tell the guy not to go, well he didn't recommend him and the next year he asked me the same thing. No, I will not recommend him to be fired. I am recommending him to be rehired because he does so good for these kids after school every night 25 30 kids would drop in and he would just talk world affairs and everything with them and I just thought that was tremendous. He recommended to the board not to be hired and that was the time when the superintendent did not go to the procedure of the contract of the union. So he was fired and the union took him to court and he even went to the Supreme Court and he cost the Struthers Board of Education $150,000.00. They had to pay his back salary and everything else. Yes, that's what happened, so if this teacher is not going to improve, if he improves his second year, give him another chance his third year. Give him another chance to improve but be on him all the time, but if he doesn't then you're going to have to get him because he can get on tenure then he's there and if he's teaching some of those subjects that are so critical, you know for the youngsters today, then you better get a good one in there.
Q: I know it's probably tough if you ever had to ask for a teacher's resignation or asked to have someone removed from your building. Did you ever personally have to ask for a teacher to be removed?
A: I've sent teachers home. I'm a firm believer, that a teacher sits on one side of a desk and a students sits on the other side of the desk and your not even with the student. I believe in a dress code and I believe it should be strictly enforced. At that time, we had the teachers wear skirts or dresses, no slacks, and this teacher came with a slack this one day, I saw her and said go on home you better change into a skirt or dress. Go on home, I won't dock you as long as your back by period end, so she came back with a skirt or dress. But as time has changed that the day of wearing slacks, but if you observe today that many of the teachers that wear slacks, I know I've noticed it so many times, they wouldn't sit like a lady should sit, they wouldn't sit, you know, if you had a skirt or dress on like a lady, their posture and so forth would not be the same and of course, being and old timer, I didn't like that one bit. I believe that the teacher is on one side of the desk and the student on the other and that rule of difference between the two. You don't become palsy palsy as they do today. You can be friendly and everything else with them, but you don't come palsy walsy, which they do today, which I think is so wrong.
Q: We talked a little bit about contract and grievances, a good deal is said today about teacher grievances, would give your views on the desirability of such procedures and describe your approach to handling teacher dissatisfaction?
A: Well, some of the grievances that a teacher brings into their principals are idiotic, there so little and I think if the principal's fair and if he's a straight shooter or she's a straight shooter, I think he'll have very few grievances. In regards to sizes of classes and so forth, a teacher's got to realize that there are better teachers than other teachers and your thinking of the student and if this teacher is a good teacher I don't think that teacher will complain if they got 3 or 4 more students than the other teacher. I think that the grievances today are silly. We had a grievance once and the OEA representative came in and I didn't know she was coming in, and I was out in the halls most of the time during the school day and so I walked in the office and there was this OEA representative sitting there. I said can I help you and she said, yes, I'm such and such representative from the Ohio Education Association and I would like to meet with you. I'm sorry I can't meet with you. She said why not? I'm paid by the tax payers of Struthers to take care of the children from 8:00 to 3:30. You are an outsider, you are not paying taxes so I can't see you, but I will meet with you at 6:30 in the morning and I'll meet with you at 5:00 in the evening. She looked at me very funny and got up and walked out, never saw her before. If that were a Struthers resident, certainly, certainly, but outsiders I would not meet with them because they are not paying the taxes of the City of Struthers and she was coming in on a grievance and that made me mad. I think that if principals do that on a representative, and they can do it anytime, they don't have to meet them during a school day because I'm being paid to take care of the kids. We had an occasion where I suspended a boy that was chewing snuff, so I suspended him for three days. The mother got one of the lawyers to come in, you know, so he called and I said fine and dandy 6:30 in the morning I'll meet with you. What! Yea, I said 6:30 in the morning I'll meet with you. He said O.K. so I had a couple of our teachers come in that early because they had trouble with the kid too. He came in at 6:30, and I think we talked about two minutes and he got up and said goodbye. He didn't want any more cases. I think if these principals would meet with these outsiders, not during school hours, they'd have less troubles. I'm a firm believer in that.
Q: What in your view should be the view of the assistant principal?
A: Well they all say that the assistant principal is a disciplinarian of the school and he would know that he had the support of the principal in what he is doing as long as he follows the guidelines. If he ever called the principal in then the principal should sit in and if he every asked him what should about this in closed doors, well then the principal would give him some idea. He should be out in the halls a lot since he's going to be the disciplinarian. He should know the curriculum, there's no question about that, he should know that if any new students come in he should be making up their schedule, it shouldn't be left up to the guidance counselor. I didn't think that was their responsibility, so he would make up that person's schedule and of course we didn't have the transcripts from the other schools so he would have to ask the student what are you taking, until we got the transcripts then the next year we would help him out. He is the disciplinarian and the principal has to support him; he's got to support him whether he thinks he's wrong or right.
Q: Would you describe the most effective assistant principal who you have had the opportunity to work with and what became of that individual?
A: John Santillo, he's a Campbell man, he lives here, he was assistant principal and a very good employee. He took care of the discipline, he knew the curriculum, he knew what's gong on. The teacher would bring a student in and he supported the teacher, he did not support the student. He became the principal of the high school after I retired, so he stepped up.
Q: In your view, what characteristics are associated with most effective schools?
A: Well, I think the cleanliness of the school is important. I think the custodians should do their jobs after the students leave. I think that is so important because it is just like they're at home because these students are going to spend more hours in school than they are at home. After school they're out playing or out going some place, so they want to go home to eat their meals and sleep, that's all they do. So they are going to spend the majority of their waking hours in school, so it should be a clean place so I think the custodians should have a big responsibility to keep the place clean. I also think that the teachers have to be very cheerful to the students, be happy, and no clicks, where the high school students, especially, will notice right away that there are clicks. I don't think there should be clicks. I think to be an effective school, the teachers have to be in the classroom when that bell rings, they can't be out in the hallways after the bell rings, they've got to be in that classroom. The teacher will have to know that he has the support of the principal if anything should happen. I know that we also told our teachers that we expect you to handle your discipline problems, but if you can't handle them, then we'll take over for you. But that's part of your job, because some teachers have the feeling that all they have to do is teach and the office will take care of the kids. No, no, no, that's your job, that's the whole job not just part or half of it, you take care of your discipline but if you think it's getting beyond your control you let us know and will take over for you. The principal has to be seen, there are too many of our present days principals that stay in his office all the time and shuts the door. And I know when that principal shuts that door that many of the teachers and many of the noncertified people are around and they have in their mind - who are they taking about now, what are they doing now, are they talking about me, or they setting up something you know, that's the attitude that teachers want to have. So I think that the principal, to have an effective school, must have an open door policy. That door is always open unless there is a serious occasion where that door has to be closed, parents are coming in or something and then the door is closed. I really think those are the most characteristics.
Q: What are some of the characteristics that make a poor school or less effective school?
A: In a poor school, let's face it the principal will not support the teacher, will not support the teacher. That is the biggest draw back today, I think. They're afraid. They're afraid of the kids, they're afraid of the parents, and so they give in to the kids an then you lose the respect of your teachers. That teacher will say the heck with you, I don't care what you do, whether they tear off the doors, whether they do anything, I don't care. That is, I think, the most important think where you have a school that's not right.
Q: Most systems presently have a tenure or continuing contract for teachers, would you discuss the situation from the time you entered the profession and comment on the changes from the time you entered until the time your left or to the present day?
A: As a teacher, I went in there when there was no tenure at all and I don't believe in tenure. I do not believe in tenure because tenure protects the poor teachers, it doesn't protect the good teacher. Oh, there's going to be occasions when a little politics are going to be played, where a board member gets mad at a teacher because he failed his kid or did something and he wants that teacher fired. I suspect that there would be a union but I don't think that the union should be strong because the unions are taking over the policies and the duties of the board and the superinten-dent and I don't think that should be allowed. They want to run the school. But I do think that tenure is not good because it protects the poor teacher and I think that's wrong. The good teacher does not need protection. Now, I do believe in merit pay but here's the point, how are we going to base it on, who's doing the best work, who's dong the poor work. I don't think you can base it on test scores because you might have a group of students this year who are excellent, fine, no problem, next year you're going to get a group that's low, you're not going to show that because that's the kid and no matter how bright a teacher you are those kids will not perform like the previous year. So I like the merit system but it's difficult to determine who's going to get the best pay increase.
Q: Would you discuss your general relationship, pro or con, with the board of education before you served on the board, when you were a teacher or principal and comment on the effectiveness of the school board operations in general? And if you want to give any examples you can.
A: Well, I'll you what, I always got along with the board of education, because there were members of the board of education when I was a principal I had them in school and so I never had any problems with the board of education when I was a principal. And as a teacher, I had no problems either because I thought I did my job. And, incidentally, if I may say, (I hate to put his on tape because I hate to pat myself on the back and I don't mean it that way) but when I became football coach I was junior high coach, in Struthers at that time had a new coach every year for three years, a new football coach in three years. So the kids, when this coach this last year, when he quit, the kids went to the board, this is very interesting, the kids went to the board and they said you have hired a coach the last three years and they have left after every year, will you take our choice? And the board of education said, yes, who is your choice? Howdy Heldman, and so that's how I became varsity coach because I never applied for the job, and so that's how I became the football coach, and head basketball coach. And that's a true story. I think the board of education is the policy maker. They just make policy and it is up to the superintendent to see that the policy is carried out among the teachers and the noncertified. I think that a board member, I know that they get calls from their friends, I think that the board member should say see your superintendent that's what he is getting paid for. We set the policy, it's up to him to make the decision. Now I know that a lot of board members don't do that. I think that's the way it should be. And maybe I was guilty sometimes because I never did it either, but I tried to do that because that was his job. The school board is the policy maker because we only hire two people, the board, as you know, we only hire two people that's the superintendent, but theoretically we hire everybody because he must have the approval on his recommendations. So theoretically we do, but I think that they should let the administration run the school and abide by the policy that the board has follows.
Q: Along the same line, can you discuss your relationship with any of the past superintendents you have worked under, it doesn't have to be by name, pro or con and any altercations you may have had on certain issues (he believed or you believed in something and he didn't was opposite).
A: Well, the superintendents, except one, who I worked under, we had excellent relationships, excellent relationships. But there was one, he was showing favorites among teachers and what he did to upset me was the fact that he ordered, he had a basketball team that he was playing intramurals, he ordered some equipment and he charged it to the athletic department. And this was for an outside team that he had, so I went to the athletic, I got the bill, in fact the treasurer brought the bill up to me, the high school treasurer brought the bill and said that' not our bill not for our basketball team (jacket, suits) that's our bill and the treasurer said, oh no, that's the superintendent's bill. I said what, she said I don't know what to do with it, I said I would take care of it because I didn't want her to go to the superintendent because he might threaten to fire her. I went over to him and said, superintendent this is your bill, this is not the athletic department's bill, this is your private bill and I'm not paying for it and incidentally, from that point on in, he and I didn't see didn't see eye to eye on anything. He only stayed in Struthers two years, and that's the point, which I was very happy. Through my own experiences, I think that you can sit down with superintendents and talk and talk to them because I think the next important man outside the superintendent is the high school principal because he's got so many activities and it's his job to see that these kids graduate, and that they get into colleges and so forth that he's the next man in line so they must cooperate and must work together.
Q: In the schools today, over the country, a lot of people are complaining that the parents are not involved enough. There's not a very good school/parent or school/community relationship. Can you discuss the relationship between the parents and the teachers and the parents and schools when you started and when you left or to the present day?
A: Well when I started there were very few parents who got involved with the policy makings and the things they thought should be in the school. But as time went on, more parents wanted to get in and I am a firm believer that the schools should not bring in parents on committees to do whatever in the school. You don't see the law firm, you don't see the dentist firm, you don't see the architects bring in the public. Now, were going to bring in, especially, now you tell me how were going to operate on these people, how were going to do this, laymen don't know anything about school, they don't know a thing. But, the superintendents, in order to take the pressure, they like to have the parents come in on committees and so forth. I'm against that, I am firmly against that because these people don't know how to run the school. They hire the board to run the school, and they hire the principal, they hire the superintendent, they know it's the case, we don't tell the parent how to bake a cake, how to bake a pie. So you let us run the school, if you don't like it change the board of education and because they have hired us and they can get rid of us if they want to. If you don't like it get rid of the board and put yourself in and see what you're going to do. But I'm a firm believer because professional people in business don't bring a laymen to tell them how to build a bridge and what we should do and so forth. I don't know they can come in and tell us how to run the schools.
Q: Along the same line, what about parental involvement with their own children like homework, discipline problems with going to the parent. A lot of times, now, with one parent families it's tough the parents really don't care what their kids are doing or they give the teachers a hard time with teacher discipline. Can you give us a little bit of background on how you saw a few changes for the time you started until now.
A: Oh yes, as you know, there certainly are a lot of one parent families now, some of them have tough problems, but still that person is responsible for the actions and the behavior of his or her child. But then to help that person, I think the principal should help and it's more and more today, in the past it wasn't that great of a problem. But I would like to say this, a principal likes to see when you have the parents in, mother and father in, not only mother. Mother and father because the father is more understanding, now a lot of people would disagree with me on that, but the father is more understanding and many times the father will say this is the way the rule is and this is the way it's going to be. He tells his wife that, that's the way it's going to be. Because you'll have mothers lie for kids, right and left in front of the principal and the kid is there. I had many occasions when the kid would tell mother, mother you know it's not true, and the mother would say, yes that is true, your wrong, and so many things like that. If the father would come in with the mother there were really be less problems I think. It is a problem with a one parent family that's taking care of everything and the principal should bend over backwards to help those people if they want help. Now, if they don't want help there's nothing you can do. This is what were going to do, and we'll help your any way you want us to help you but you have to play ball with us. It's a 50/50 job, it isn't 75/25 or 95/5, you have to cooperate with and help us because were interested in your kid too.
Q: What are your views on, speaking of discipline and problems with children, what are your views on after school detentions, morning detentions, versus in-school suspension or Saturday school or anything that has t do with discipline?
A: I'm a firm believer in paddling, firm believer in that because in my time as principal, the kids had to get a paddling, let's say, or if we were going to send them home, they say paddle us. I have kids say paddle me everyday for three weeks don't send me home. Because I think if they are suspended that they will lose a grade. There grade will go down, which I think is right, because the kids know it, it's in the handbook, they know if they are suspended this is it and these kids think if there having a little trouble in a certain class and they know there going to drop a grade in a nine-week period or a six-week period there going to think twice about going home. They'll do anything in the world for you. I am against, rather our morning detention was in the morning, we would always take office detention but the teachers had to take their own detentions. We would take office detention if they were late in the morning of if they did something. And, of course, we always had a ruling if you miss your detention three times in a row there you're automatically suspended for three days because you got yourself in trouble with your no showing up. But in regards to in-school suspension, I'm against that %100 percent, were becoming babysitters right now, many schools have thrown in-school suspension out. Howland through it out four years ago, they don't have it any more. I had a niece that taught down in Cincinnati, down near Princeton, Ohio, and they had in-school suspension, she said every kid in school suspension because you had a status if you didn't get into in-school suspension there was something wrong with you. So they through it out after the second year. And then it is a cost to the school system because you have to have someone to be in there to watch those kids. My philosophy is mother and dad were taking over too many of your responsibilities, you have to accept some responsibility in raising your kid, don't leave it up to us. So I don't believe in-school, you go home. Alright, now how we did we told the kid, you can't come to any extracurricular activities until your through, you stay at home during the school day, after school then that's your business but during the school day we'll be calling you up to find out if your home or not. We did, we called maybe three or four times a day, at different times, and if the kid didn't answer we could consider he was out so we could mark him three days, he was in trouble again. A lot of people may think it's tough, but let's face it our schools today are run by the students, are run by the kids, and the teachers are so afraid that you've got to have some people as administrators to start getting tough and don't be afraid to get a key job on your car. Don't be afraid when they say your in the job now, how about the doctors they're afraid today for malpractice, but they go and they do their job and you're going to go to them. And how about a lawyer, he goes and he's afraid he can get sued too, so I think that the in-school suspension's out because those kids are interfering with kids that want to learn. I am a firm believer, let's keep the kids in school that want to learn, these kids that don't want to learn get out.
Q: I guess the last question, or one of the last questions, what do you see is one of the biggest changes, either in students or in overall in the schools or education today from the time you started until now or the time you left school.
A: Lack of discipline is one of the main things. Another thing, I think is that our teachers today are not putting standards high enough in our classroom for the students to meet. I think that we want to get them out of school as soon as possible and whether the student can't make the grade we'll give you the grade in order to get out. Another thing that I think is wrong, is that were giving into the student, giving into the parent too much and I don't think we should do that. Before you know it, the parents will come in and say I live only one street over from you to pick up the bussing how about go over there. I think that for many board of educations that there afraid if we clamp down on the parents to much, there's no way to pass them, so we've got to cater to the parents a little bit. But, I think, most parents if you are fair and if your explain your point to them, they'll go along with you. But I don't think so many of them are not fair, they'll do this because my friends are over there so I'll send the bus over there or something like that. But discipline is the main thing, I think that kids have lost respect because there's many teachers that don't show them respect and I think that it's a 50/50, that they've got to do. Also, I think that the computerized schedules is so wrong because many of the principals don't know the kids names, and I think that the principal, I'll use a personal opinion, I scheduled every kid in school and there were over 1,200 kids. I scheduled every one of them, the guidance people they took their sign ups, what they wanted and during the summer I scheduled everyone of those kids. I got to know the kids better, I got to know where every teacher was every period. I got to know a kid, if he was going to take an easy subject because he had enough credits and enough tough subjects to go to college, he was taking an easy subject, I would call the parent up and say know your son is taking a real easy subject and I think it's a waste of time and so forth and that kid came in and took another subject and so those are the things I think have been and the principal sitting in his room is bad. Now, I don't know about you but so many teachers don't even see the principal during the day and I think that's wrong, he should be out during the day and the kids should see him and don't be afraid of the kids. I think that is so important.
Q: What do you think was one of the most controversial issues in the schools during your tenure in education?
A: One was the power of unions, that was very controversial, that was one of them and then the other is that the teachers feel that how we going to get finances from the schools is through taxation of the parents or the property and that was a real controversy. And another, in which I think is wrong, many of the teachers say I want my class limited to so many students, 15 students or 20 students or 25. I think that is so wrong, because I as a parent would rather have my daughter or son be under a good teacher with 30 students than under a poor teacher with 20 students or 15 students because that teacher, that good teacher will see to it that those kids learn, so I think those our the things that I see controversial.
Q: Any other comments or generalizations or advise that you would like to give the prospective administrators?
A: I think that principals have to support the teachers. I'm a firm, firm believer in that, they've got to support the teacher and if they don't you're not going to have respect for them and your school will go down discipline wise, as well as academically, because the teacher won't care. They will not care and I don't blame if I was a teacher I would feel the same way. Hey, I want support from you and if they don't get that support the heck with you. And I think that you ought to be fair to the kids, I have to see a person call another person by the last name, I think that's disrespectful and so many of the teachers, so many of the principals call their students by their last name. I think you ought to be able to know what the kids first names are, I think it wouldn't hurt you to find out what subjects they're taking, I think that they should be doing that. It's not just a job that you're going to have some problems, don't be afraid to put a twelve hour day in. And if the teacher has a problem, go ahead help them out, if he needs to go home early go ahead, we'll cover your class for you. I know the teacher will go to bat for you if any thing bad happens because I'm quite sure that when you teach you knew some principals that you wouldn't go to bat for period. They won't fair to the group and so forth, so I think you honest, and you've done it they will stand criticism. You have to let people stand up on their own belief. I also think that this is important, when you're going to have a teacher's meeting you have to have a certain time to start and a certain time to end, whether you have everything finished or not. We had a teacher's meeting that started at 3:30 and ended at 4:00 whether all the business was taken care of or not. You were here all and you should be going home at 3:30 instead of that we stayed over a half hour, 4:00 we're through, no matter who is talking when I look at my clock and it's 4:00 we're through and we're going to interrupt you and say the meetings over with and I think that it's important.
Q: One more question I thought of, I knew you were in education the whole time you were in education basically, and you still live there now and a lot of the students who have had you as either a teacher or principal and they're problem grown up and have kids or grandkids now, could you just give us some feelings of you towards them and them towards you when you run into them now.
A: I have had a lot of the parents and I have had their kids and when I meet them, they all come up and say Howdy, how are you, how you doing, and what's up and so forth, and I do the same thing to those parents because I show respect to them. What makes you feel good, and you're not going to get rich teaching, or in the education field, even though at my time the salaries were very, very low, but I have had kids come up to me and say thank you for being tough on me in school and I'm going to be tough on my kids and that give you a good feeling. Gives you a good feeling, now when you are tough on the kids in school, and there kids they're going to hate you, and they all hated me, but that make me different. But it was worth everything when they can come up to you and thank you for being tough on me, you should have been tougher. It just makes you feel good, and the same with the parents and they'll tell me what their kids are doing now. It's a good feeling to know that they still know you and they appreciate you.
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