Mr. Haley is a retired principal from Chatham High School, in Pittsylvania County.
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Q: Mr. Haley would you begin by telling us about your family background, your childhood interest and development.
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: Most certainly. Well I was born in Danville Virginia, and of course Danville is closely geographically connected with Pittsylvania County and it is hard to separate the two. Of Course both of them are under different municipalities of government. I was born, as I mentioned, in Danville, and raised in north Danville, which is a section of Danville in the old mill community. My family were hard working people and back in those days, in the early thirties, we were just getting over the depression time, you know. I don't recall that too much but I was what you call a depression baby, I was born in 1930. My father did not have any formal training in education, probably out of the seventh grade, you know, in those days they don't stretch it as much as they do now, and my mother was probably in the same category, raised a family of four children, and of course with my mother and father, that's a total of "six" and they worked in the Dan River Mills. It's amusing to think back over all those years, because when I first came up, I was just a big rolly-polly kid, you know. I went to Belvue School, which is now closed, it was the oldest school in Danville. But some fame took place over there. The world known preacher, minister, head of the First Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia, lived next door to us, Charles Stanley. You've heard of Charles Stanley, and Charles and I use to play cowboys and indians together. Charles was a very scholarly young man, I remember him well. But anyway, back to myself. I finished at Belvue School and we then we moved to South Danville and I went to George Washington High School. and I was a fairly decent student in school when I applied myself. Many times I did not apply myself like many kids we have today, but I got real interested in school and was there just about every day. When I was in the eight grade, I never will forget this, I tell people this now and it's very hard for them to believe, I weighed about 230 pounds. I was a just a big kid. I looked like a bowling ball. So I became very interested, you know, in athletics like most young kids do. I was too large to play in the little league of my age category, but, some how or another I fitted in very nicely in the eight grade because they didn't have any weight category. So I went on to play a lot of sports there at George Washington High School in Danville. They seemed to have a dynasty at that point of having a real winning football team. So I really got interested in it on that level, and by the time I was in the ninth grade, which was a year later, you would have thought I was a twelfth grader because I was fitting in so nicely because of my size. I was a large kid for my age. So one thing led to another, and first thing you know, in the tenth grade, through just shear luck, or desire just to be a kid that loved football, or one that could tell you every kind of car coming down the street, you know, that seemed to be what I could excel in. And I was very lucky and very successful in that, to the point that when I was in the eleventh grade I was high school all state running back, all western and high school all American. You can imagine those days when you're working in the mill and your mama is making $13.00 a week and your daddy is making $21.00 and you're raising a family of four kids. So, I was very lucky with that, I had a number of good offers when I graduated and ended up going to the University of Georgia. I was successful down there, not as successful as I would liked to have been, and not as successful down there in Georgia as I was in high school, but that got me sort of interested in school. I had no idea, EVER, of being a school teacher. That was the furthest thing away from my mind. So, when I graduated from the University of Georgia, I decided at that point...My field was in accounting, I had a B.S. Degree in accounting... but,my father became ill with a terminal illness, so I came back and stayed that one year (that was what the expectancy was for him at that time) and worked, and he had moved to Chatham at that time. Well one thing led to another, I stayed that year. Mr. Elmore who was the superintendent of the schools, who later went on to the State Department. of Education as one of the assistant superintendents there, called me one day. Mrs. Martin, back in those days, you're not old enough to remember this, but in the county we probably had about fifteen thousand students, now we only have nine and a half thousand, ten thousand at the most. Well one thing led to another, and he called me and he said... first thing, I never will forget him saying this, because I can remember it so well now, and I didn't pay that much attention to it at the time he said it, and he said, "You have a degree, don't you?" I said "Yes sir, I have a degree" And I'm here in Chatham staying with my father helping him with his business just marking time, because there's really not many months left at that point, as far as his life was concerned. And he said, "well," said, "you know," says, "I'm really more interested in you because of your football talent." So I accepted a job coaching the Chatham High foot ball team. I don't remember what year it was, it was in the middle fifties, I can remember that. One thing led to another, and I did not have any intentions of staying in the educational field at that point. However in those years, out of, well let's just say hypothetically 800 teachers in the division at that time, probably only 50% of them had degrees. The rest of them were on, what everybody my age in the educational fields knows to be, were on normal professional certificates. I reckon it is possible that there may be somebody teaching in the Commonwealth of Virginia on a normal professional certificate today because they were honored for life, as long, ...the key,... as long as you continued taking courses in college that would lead to a degree. It could be very possible today that there are not any left, but in those days they were. They had a normal professional certificate, emergency certificate thing of that kind. The emergency certificate was only good for that one year. Then you went to the collegiate certificate which meant you had a degree of some kind. That was what I fell into. I had a degree in accounting, but not a teacher. Then if you went to a teacher's college you fell into what they call a collegiate professional certificate, not a collegiate certificate, collegiate certificate was a degree from college, whatever. Collegiate professional certificate was the whole nine yards in the educational field. So by having a certificate that was renewable, I went in, had nine to twelve hours of educational psych, statistics, ect., human growth and development, etc., courses like that. I jumped from a collegiate certificate to a collegiate professional, but prior to that time I did not have intentions of being in the teaching profession. Really it was by accident that I got into it.In those days there just wasn't a lot for an individual young man or young woman to do. If you didn't have your own business, you either had to be a teacher or a doctor or lawyer, or something of that kind, or some occupation like that. So I did, I stayed on. The reason I stayed on, I got married and that kept me in the county. I often wonder what would happen if I had gone to Ohio and pursued what I felt was a real good career. But I stayed on and I was in the classroom five years. Mr. Elmore was still superintendent of the schools and he told me, he said, "Why don't you apply for a master's degree. I was very happy. I wasn't making any money, but the profession of the education profession, you're not going to make money speaking in comparison to others. So, he said, "Why don't you go to work on your master's, and I will assure you if I'm superintendent, I will place you in an administrative job." And it worked out that way. I went to the University of Virginia and worked on my master's, got my Master's, came back, and I was principal of a little school up in the northern end of the county, called Renan, some people pronounce it Renon. But it was Renan Elementary and I stayed there four years as the principal and then I moved from there to a large school in the county, it was the largest high school in the county, Gretna Junior High school, not Gretna middle , they really didn't know what the concept of middle school was at that time, or if they did, I never heard that term. So I went over there as principal, and it had 1500 students, it was a large school and it was a hard job, and I stayed there four years. Four years later, I moved over to Gretna Elementary, which was about an 850 student elementary school, that's large for an elementary school, and I stayed there, I think I was there fourteen years. Then they told me they were interested in my coming back to Chatham. I did, I made the transition to Chatham High School in 1981. But the basis of this whole thing is the fact that, I really didn't care that much about the teaching profession when I first started out. I left the school teaching profession as a classroom teacher and went with Inis Business Forms which really is a mail order catalogue house, located in Chatham, and I was traveling fourteen states for them. I stayed with them four years. I didn't realize it at the time, when I left after that five years in the classroom, I didn't have any Idea that I would miss it. I really, I never...So I got hooked. I got hooked those five years and didn't realize it. So I went back to the classroom and stayed one more year, which gave me six years in the classroom. Going back, I got ahead of myself, I was elevated to principalship up at Renan which I had mentioned previously, and then I went from Gretna Junior High-Gretna Middle School , and eventually to the high school. I was at the high school ten years. But that's more or less my educational background. I've never been sorry, because I've got some great memories, you know.My father was in the theater business. He built the drive-in theater back in the days of the drive-in theater in Chatham. He had the indoor theater too, and of course he had Chatham Hall there and Hargrave. So it was a very lucrative business then, that was before television. You know, television in Pittsylvania really didn't get started until about 1955. A lot of people find that hard to believe, particularly young kids today in the year of '95; "Say you mean you didn't have a television set in 1950?" Well, we didn't, you know. Around '55, He started the theaters there in the late forties, right after the second World War, and so I came back to help him with that business.
Q: What is your father's name.
A: Everett. Everett, didn't have any middle name, it's Everett Haley. He was from the Cascade area here in the county. My mother though, was from Charlotte North Carolina, and my mother is still living. Yes, she is still living, she is 91 years old, in a nursing home. But I have been in the county ever since. I don't think I've ever had but other than little jobs when I was a young man or young boy working in service stations, drug stores, and grocery stores. I've had only really two jobs, in the educational field for thirty-five years, and I was with Inis for four years in the middle of that thirty-five years. But it's been a good life, you know.
Q: What is your mother's name?
A: Ada, A-D-A, Mae, M-A-E Haley (Ada Mae Haley)
Q: You are running for ...
A: Running for the Chatham-Blairs District which makes up one of the seven magistrate districts in the Pittsylvania County. Something I wanted to do for a long time and you've got to feel strongly about it to do that because it's a tough job. How successful I will be, I don't know at this point. I'm going to do the best I know how and hope for the best, but it is a serious thing. It gets more serious each year, particularly when you start talking about whether you're for pro-education or you're talking about whatever issue that you would be involved with, but we'll wait and see. We'll see what happens.
Q: Even though you are retired principal, you never really retired.
A: No, I used the term "retired principal" for about a year after I left the system in 1991. But I never have been one,... there must be millions like myself, I am a self-proclaimed work-a-holic. I get up each morning and look forward to getting involved. I've got a little too much here lately, I'm working several jobs. I've been a tour director for the last three years with Holiday Motor Tours. I just returned from London from fifteen days over there in January, I left on December 28 and came back on January 6, or some proximity of that time. Then last March, I was in Austria and Germany and Italy for almost two weeks, and then I have been traveling all over the country as a tour director for Holiday. You would never think this, I never would have thought it either, but I have worked part time with the local funeral home, Scott Funeral Home, for the last three years doing a little bit of everything. I am not a licensed embalmer, but I do a little bit of everything there; family cars, trucks, grave rigs, planning the funeral, being with the families and seeing that every demand or every request they have is met. In fact, I've got two funerals tomorrow. So, I stay busy, you know. Not so much..., money is nice,. I reckon I could have stayed at home and not participated in any thing and lived just as well financially as I do now. But I feel good, you know, the lord has blessed me in many ways. I like to think of looking 65 but feeling 42, and so far I have been able to do that. I move fast for my age. And I have... I've been blessed, and I am very conscious of the fact that there are many other people that haven't been as fortunate as I have. But I think a lot of that goes back to being a junior high school and high school principal. You have to stay with kids, and if you don't stay with kids, you'll know it real quickly. I use to have a favorite saying with the high school kids, they knew I was kidding with them, I'd say, "Son, can't you walk any faster than that?" We'd be walking down the hall, and I would be ten steps in front of them. I would say, "Gee Whiz, I'm old enough to be your grandfather and I don't think you're going to make it up to the office". I'm serious about that Ms. Martin, I've been very blessed with that, still doing it. I hope that I will continue to be able to do that. So I feel pretty good, I've got a lot of days I don't feel good. I think the whole thing revolves around the educational field. I would advise anyone, if you've got a positive attitude, you can do anything, but if you don't have a positive attitude, you're in trouble to begin with. You "really" are. You are either a part of the problem or you're the answer to the problem. I believe that.
Q: Mr Haley, can you tell us your philosophy of education, and how it evolved over the years?
A: Yes, I'd be glad to Ms. Martin. Of course there are so many ways you can answer that question. That is a real broad question. If I interpret it right, I can only tell you how it applies to the years I spent in the school system. The most basic thing of my philosophy with the public school sector today is the fact that you've got to meet the demands of the community. All communities are different. Let me expand on that a little bit. If you live in an area that is highly industrialized, and highly mobile; comes to my mind we're talking about counties like Fairfax, Henrico, Falls Church, then you've got an entirely different educational philosophy there. If you're talking about educational philosophy of Pittsylvania County which is very rural (It's not as rural as it was). of course not any county is rural now because of the high technology, that brings us closer together. But what may be perceived as educational objectives by the school board in Henrico County, or Falls Church or McGlean, would be basically intact of what we would want to do here in Pittsylvania County. But at the same time, the parents that make up your community, perceive the objectives to be some what different. By that I mean, here in Pittsylvania County, you may have a number of people that were perfectly happy with their own personal life, or whatever their mother or grandmother did. Well, what was good for grandma, was good for Josie in 1985 or '86. End result is, there is not a lot of motivation for continually formal educated young people. Of course there's always a large percentage that doesn't apply, it doesn't matter where you live. So I really think what I'm really saying here is, that in your larger industrilized area of the state of Virginia, for that matter I would think where ever you are, the goals are, you know, you go into college- you become a professional person. You go into a field there is a high demand for. I think that's the goals of Pittsylvania County, but I don't think their stretched as much, their not emphasized as much. But basically, you must meet the demands at all times of what your state curriculum would be, but still at the same time the emphasis is not put quiet as strictly even by the administrators and the teachers in implementing that requirement. I'm not sure I'm getting across what I'm trying to say, it's a feeling . You encourage students to excel well, and achieve, but in many instances, in our county that we live in, the expectations of many parents would not be, and I don't like to use the word "higher" expectations, but the expectations- period- are not what they would be in your larger metropolitan areas. I think the education philosophy of our county... You know, you start reading all of these things that you want to do, and they sound so good on paper but they are tremendously hard to implement. And we are dealing with good Christian people, whether they be from a highly industrialized area or you're dealing with a rural area like Pittsylvania County. But believe me, there is a difference, basically for the majority of people. And we are not dealing with the mobile type students in Pittsylvania County that you would be doing battle with in your larger areas. It reminds me of the Metropolitan Readiness Test, how much exposure you get as a student in the early grades, the early years of schooling, verses that of areas like we live in to the exposure they receive. I never will forget, one of the questions on the Metropolitan Readiness Test, I remembered, ...how something sticks in your mind,... we asked many times, by showing a picture of a lady with a thimble on the end of her finger, and you would be surprised how many people in this area didn't know what that was. Yet there was a large turn out of people by statistics on a norm, well not people but students, who knew what that was in larger areas, you know, they had been exposed to it.
Q: Today there would probably be a lot of people who would not know, because it is not being used any more.
A: It's not ever used, that's exactly right, in those days it was. So I think, you know, you've got to meet the demands of what you're working with and hopefully, you know, that you can reach them on that level. And also, the philosophy, the number one thing, is the students. I get a little upset when, people are running for public office or they ask citizens on professional levels, what is the most important thing in our school system that we need to do at this time? And it always flabbergasts me when they come around and say, well, we need to build new buildings. And they don't mean anything by it, these are all highly educated people, but their not looking at what the students are doing. We're far from what we should be doing as far as meeting minimum standards in this area. I am tired of hearing about the standards of quality. To me the standards of quality sounds like you're going to take away social security, you know, it just sounds so "stuffed shirt". But we do not allocate enough money to our students, to our students, let me reiterate, to our students. And we are putting it in all kinds of directions that I'm not sure that we're moving in the right directions as far as meeting the needs of those students, and that's certainly educational philosophy.
Q: So you would probably support "site" based management?
A: Yes, Absolutely. But, our philosophy at the high school was to work with individual students, and at all times. It sounds good to make statements like that, but it's true,... it's true, you don't stay there long. And you know, I have some hang-ups, with no criticism intended, I have some real hang-ups from the state department of education on down, of what we're suppose to be doing and there's not any funding for it, and what we actually are doing. It's a real frisco, and I'm not sure of the answer to it. We seem to have a lack of dedication that I once detected on educational philosophy that we no longer, well, I won't say "we no longer have" because we do. I think the best way to put that would be, and this sounds like I'm being very tough and critical of our young teachers, they come out well prepared in many instances, but their philosophy, and I think that is what we're talking about, is totally different from a teacher of thirty years ago. And I'm not saying their philosophy is all wrong, I'm just saying, you know, why bother, this is larger than I am, I'm not sure I can make a difference. And the end result is, it becomes a problem. I use to laugh and be sad at the same time when I looked and I saw, you know, the kind of discipline that we have in our schools and I don't blame that on the school totally. But, you know, we have a tendency now to say, "well you know, in 1995 this is acceptable. In 1973 it was not acceptable. And I'm not sure that 1973...It may be just because I'm retired from the system that I take that stand. Certainly I'm not,... I'm trying to be very fair about it. I do not have any intentions of going back into the school system as a teacher or as a principal or what ever the case may be, so I'm not "bucking" for anything, but if I have to make a comparison,... and I don't like the word "dedicated" but I have to use it for lack of a better term, I just don't think that a high percentage of our people in the system today, whether it be in this county or wherever, really take teaching as a twenty-four hour a day job, and I think you've got to do it. You've got to be with them in the good times, the hard times and the sad times, and if not, you're going to loose them.
Q: What major differences do you see in teachers today and teachers twenty years ago, as far as attitude, working with the system, and working with students individually.
A: Well, I think now, we have too many teachers that just simply get burn out, and it works on them after they have been there several years to the point, you know, I'm not sure that I made the right decision in being a teacher. And this is unfortunate because, I don't think it's because they are not getting backing from the school system. It could be, but, I don't think that's the case. I think its the situation where teachers are not being respected, as they were years and years ago. There is not any lead way to make good common sense decisions without being on a threat of being sued. And I think our teachers have gotten gun shy. They don't want to really get involved. I think their eyes gleam up when they see a child for the first time really learn something. We do have those teachers still. But that's about as far as it goes. They do not want to get involved in domestic problems, and... they shouldn't. I don't know how you can teach today without getting involved to some extent. Because the frame work of the law has you grounded. If you see child abuse, you've got to report it or you've violated the law. Whether it's an accurate report or not, it must be reported. So I see so many things that are happening now that add to the teachers load of not only teaching, with the number of students they have and the responsibility they have, but needless, not needless, but just time that you have to spend doing reports, and it's grown with leaps and bounds. Our school board manual, in Pittsylvania County, use to be a total of about fifty pages, and now you have to have binders for it. And I'm told it's the same way with lawyers. They started out with twenty-five law books, and now they've got four book cases full, and they change every year, so it's sort of like the same way with teaching. So it's a tough job, it's a tough job. I've always been a very strong advocate of merit pay, but the fallacy lies in who makes that determination. I would have felt comfortable with that, I really would have. I made that statement thirty years ago, but it doesn't exist in this area.
Q: You made the statement that teachers today do not get the respect they did years ago. What is the major difference in students behavior and their academic learning today compared to twenty years ago?
A: Oh that's monumental. Students today...I don't know the real answer, I actually don't know the answer. I have to blame it on society. A great percentage of the blame would have to fall to the parents. Students today receive so much more tangible things. Their mannerism is not shown in the area of respect. They are easily tilted to believe anything that comes along that would be fun to participate in whether they believe it or not. They do not show respect to the system itself. The end result, that's one of the leading things, as you well know, we all know, working in it, the resentment to the teachers. Very few teachers... it is really gratifying when you see one, that is really respected by their students, and I don't know why that is. We can say things like, parents supervision of the most precious possession they have is their children. But, Some where down the line something went wrong in the middle 60's, and we were not conscious or cognitive of it at that point, but it did. Then we have, a double problem on the flip side of it, we've got teachers which I pointed out a few minutes ago, they say, "what's the use". But you still have administrators and teachers that, if I may say, can still bluff a little bit and have certain standards that beyond those standards anything is not acceptable by them. I like to think of myself as being one of those people. I can't see punishing the students today who are doing a good job. And believe me or not, we've got more of those students than, what I call, "stampeders". But you can't punish the good students to get to the stampeders. And there are ways of seeing that those good students, and they are large in number, are still motivated, excel very nicely and still at the same time safe-guard them against those who are just there. Of course we all know this by talking to any lay citizen that, you know, back in those days when you were sent home from school, mama and daddy paddled you. And now... the next thing, they can't wait to get to school to defend you and tell the principals and the teachers how badly they are doing. So I don't know. But it's definitely...I don't know why it's that way. I ended up, the last four or five years I was a principal of a high school, we had about a thousand students, I was in court about twenty times a year at least. You name it, for everything from child abuse to assault and battery, truancy, it just...you know... And you've got to take your stand. You've got to stand up and be counted. I'm afraid we've got too many administrators now that are not doing that. It's easy for me to say that in retirement, but, I've only been gone for three years and I just can't believe in three years it's changed that much. I reckon I was somewhat lucky.
Q: What role do you think special education has in the school system today, as far as the children's behaviors and academic learning.
A: Oh, I think it has a tremendous role. I go back with special education a lot of years, I know the first time that I was involved in special education I was principal of Gretna Elementary School and we had about 850 students. And we took the, that was the old high school building and we took that building, the school board did, and we made a pilot project out of that, and we received funds from the state. That was in... for all practical purposes, say 1970. We had a shop teacher, home economics teacher and we had three academic teachers. All of this was on the EMR level. That was when they first started coming out with what they call the individual education plan (IEP). We had a large number of students over there, in fact, we were the..., using an old army term in the service, we were what they called the rebo-debo place. Children from all over the county were bused into that particular school. I had something like about 75 students. That's a lot of students in that category. I had TMR's, EMR's, and ED's. We worked real hard with the parents and psychologists of the county and formulated the IEP's which was subject to review, and I don't remember now, being gone for three years, .... anyway... we had to do that. Then we started the year that I left Gretna Elementary, we put a new area in there, the LD's. Now of course, if you want to go back to the fifties, when I.... the first twenty years I spent in the system, and I was in it thirty-five years, I would say the first fifteen or twenty years, we didn't have any LD program. A lot of people don't know that, but that's not really that old. So, if properly organized, and properly implemented, and properly funded, and of course you always get back to the most important ingredient, you've got good qualified, here we go again, "dedicated" people in that, a lot can be accomplished. And if it's not accomplished we always get back to that point that we're suppose to provide the best educational program for the category particular student falls into. Or if we can't, then we must look to alternatives of funding locally and state, percentage wise, for an institution that they can benefit from. I think it's unfortunate sometimes that we do have those students and we keep them in the programs too long before we come to that conclusion. It's going to cost money to put them elsewhere. But... when you start talking about money, all kinds of things happen. And that's sad, really, because money doesn't make it better, but it does open gates to provide, up the road somewhere, a better environment for that particular student, whatever the problem that child has. But, I am amazed at how many children we have in our county here that fall into that category.
Q: Mr. Haley, I understand that they are going to combine the four high schools into two new high schools to serve all the students in the county. What are your thoughts on that?
A: Well, Ms. Martin, at the present time, of course as I say, I've been gone three years, it is my belief on this interview, that they still have that on blue print to go ahead and combine the high schools. When I first started out at Pittsylvania County, there were nine high schools, nine high schools. We had Brosville High School, we had Dan River High School, we had Whitmill High School and Gretna High School, then we had five small schools that were high schools. We had Callands, Climax, Chatham, Renan, and Spring Garden. So there were nine high-schools in the fifties and sixties. They were small schools. It was not unusual to have only twenty-five in the graduating class. They were closely knitted communities within this largest county in the state of Virginia. I really think they produced a great student. I really do. Over all they were doing a beautiful job. But, ... but,but, ... they were not offering many of the courses the larger high schools could offer, so when they consolidated, the flip-side to it was, that I think they were getting a better education curriculum. But to the other side of it, they lost a lot of their identity. The community lost a lot of their identity. If you are even talking about basket ball games, you know, we've got twenty-five kids in our school in the senior class, so everybody knew everybody. Now unfortunately, and I think this is world wide, the larger you are, the less identity you have, with what you're dealing with, unless you're one of the leaders of the pack so to speak. I do believe that this county would be better off educational wise with two high schools, two consolidated high schools. Because you can imagine what you're going to be putting under those roofs, coming together with the talent, and the facility and the curriculum , but the flip side to it is going to always be, that a child who goes into that high school and becomes a young man or young woman when they graduate is going to really have to be on their own; not taking anything away from the family that supervises for them to be there, they're going to have to want it. And if they don't want it, they're going to have some problems, you know. So I reckon, really, my philosophy behind it is, I would be very much in favor of the two high school concept. I think it's needed because we are operating now with high schools with 600 and some with 800 . It's not unusual for a high school now to have an average enrollment of 2000 students. Now, I see some bad things there too, and I'm not saying that it's going to be the panacea, but I think if you take the negatives and the pluses and add them together, with what we are expected to do in 1995, that you just about have to have it that way. Four million dollars is not a lot of money for education, but you would have people in this county that would argue that, that it's more than enough, and that's what's sad. That gets right back to the beginning of this interview when you asked for expectations. What do you expect for your children to do? What would be your opinion of what you would like to see them accomplish? And you would be flabbergasted at some of the answers that you will get. You don't get those answers written on paper, but they will verbally tell you. And they won't put it on paper because they know they're wrong. They don't want it ...you know... it's easier to say I didn't say that then it is to say I signed a piece of paper saying that.
Q: As long as minimum standards are provided...
A: They're happy with that. It's sad, it really is. It's a loosing battle many a time.
Q: Mr. Haley, what experience or events in your professional life influenced your management philosophy?
A: That one is dear to my heart. I think when I first started out in school as a school teacher, I had to have been probably one the most , gullible, terrible, first year teacher that's ever been in the system. I believed everything the students said. End result was you know, discipline was on a zero to ten-was a five. And I said you know, I was sort of ashamed of it, but I liked it. I liked being with the students. Lucky for me it was in the early fifties, so I could. We didn't have the problems we have today. But I became very dogmatic, you might say, my second year because I saw so many mistakes I made the first year. I could relate to them, because I was raised right after the second World War, everything got real peaceful at that time, the country, the tranquility calm was good, and everything was nice and smooth. I came up in a pretty rough neighborhood. I had been friends with a number of people - by playing a lot of football in college, you know. I wasn't wild at all, not by the stretch of the imagination of what young people encounter now. The temptations were not there and we didn't know what drugs were, and if you got caught smoking a cigarette or drinking a beer, you know, that was the end of the world. So I came up, pretty much in a rough neighborhood. And I found that, you know, that in order to have good discipline within a school, you had to be fair about it but you had to be very strict with it too. I think people are borne with a talent to be good managers, I really do, when you talk about discipline or whatever the case may be. I probably, as I mentioned, was not very good in my management the first year. But, in comparison, I think back, and I answered this question the other night to a group of my people in my immediate family, we talked about it-the kids at home from Charleston South Carolina and down around Virginia Beach, and they were talking about their school systems down there. I really believe that I was a better administrator than I was a teacher. I think one of the biggest mistakes that the school boards today makes, one of the biggest mistakes they make, because most of them are made up of business men in our county, farmers and professional people, is they think that if you are a good teacher that you will be a good administrator, and I say bologna, mustard, and catsup, you're not. Some of the best administrators I've ever worked with were not good classroom teachers, and some of them in reverse of that, you know. Some of the people that I didn't think were up to snuff in administration were excellent teachers. So I think we have a tendency sometimes, because you do an excellent job in an academic discipline that automatically qualifies you to be an administrator, and it doesn't work that way. It really doesn't work that way. It's almost two sets of rules, and bless that person who can be both. I've seen very few of those. Now that's my personal opinion. I can look back after 65 years of being in this world, that I was a person and I know what my weaknesses were, and I know what my assets and strengths were. I was able...I always had a positive attitude. I'm not trying to put myself up high, because I look back, and I'm just telling you how I perceive myself. Because sometimes you perceive yourself one way and the people do not perceive you that way. But I've been out long enough to know now that pretty much the way I perceived myself was pretty much the way the majority of the people viewed what I was doing. I was always able to get along with people, and I was always professional with them. I never, at anytime ever intentionally, in front of people, would embarrass them. But at the same time I was a geo-jack-rabbit in my office when it came one-to-one, and I had a philosophy that "you teach" you're not out in the halls, and my disciplines with students were that way . I used all kinds of little quints to have good discipline. I think one of the strongest disciplinarians that you could have today in the public schools, in management, is that administrator, principal, head master, or what ever that utilizes his good students. It has one of the most positive effects of anything I've ever worked with, and I'm basing that on maybe twenty years of working with it that way. I use to have students in school that weighed 260 lbs and 6 foot 6 inches, all district football players that made fairly decent grades- a good "C" student, and were just nice kids. And I would have one that weighed 250 pounds and you didn't know whether he was going to be in school one day or on the city farm the next day. And I used, indirectly, those good students who met his physical ability to correct the others, and gave them many privileges that I didn't give other students. And I'm not ashamed to admit that. And they had a greater impact, as the old cliche' says, "their own peer group" then they did with I as a principal. And it worked. I tell you, I am a witness to that, I've seen it work. There are ways to manage teachers the same way, you know. If we've got a problem with a teacher, or I had a problem with a teacher, there's got to be some solution or it's going to have to terminate. You can't keep going this way. And I think the biggest problem we got,... and I'm very critical of this, and I'm sorry, I am. We've got too many principals today, that do not set down and talk privately with that teacher, or two teachers, or three teachers, on the problem that exist and say's, "the first thing we've got to decide at this point is - is what is best for this school, what is best for this child." You're not being criticized, you're not being ostracized, in any respect. In fact, after this meeting, if we can get this thing going, why don't we go down to Hardee's and have a hamburger together and break bread. I am not holding any personal vendetta against you, it's forgotten about. But now you are the problem, and there is no excuse for this problem to exist. And it hurts for a little while to tell a teacher that, but it's amazing, you sleep well at night when there is no misunderstanding. And I found that works. And I would like to think that I had the ability to do that. I think I've got the reputation of that. But, on the surface, in the hallway, or in the classroom, I don't think I ever exhibited that. You know. But there was no misunderstanding about it, that we had to do what was best for the child and for that school. That must come first, no matter who it was. I think we need more talented administrators in management; that doesn't necessarily mean they are good teachers. It really doesn't, it is, there's a vast difference. I enjoyed the management part,and you could go in, and you could go on and on this.
Q: Mr. Haley, could you share with us some of the events during your principalship at Chatham High School that you were very proud of?
A: Yes, I would be more than happy, in fact, I ramble on that a lot. I went over to Chatham High School in 1981, retired in 1991. I was offered the job in 1980, and I was a little afraid of being a High School Principal, because it was so much different, some what. People have asked me a lot of times, "What's the difference between being a ...... I was a primary principal, an elementary principal, a junior high principal, and a senior high principal, so I had the privilege of being all four categories of the structure, infra-structure of the school over those years. And I always had a lot of fun with it. Well the difference between being an elementary principal and a senior high principal, in 1990's and late '80's was the difference in a row boat and a battle ship, and it fits. It really does. Some of the things that happened at Chatham High School,... and I will be the first one to tell you, I was lucky, absolutely, without a shadow of the doubt, I was lucky. I went into a situation and took over for a real fine gentleman there at Chatham High School I grew up with in Danville, by the name of Max Little John. Max was one of the finest Christian young men I had ever met. By the time 1989 rolled around, not '89, but 1979 or '80 rolled around, Max had reached that time of thirteen years as a senior high principal. He was tired. And we had a lot of transitional time there in 1979, '80, and '81, peoples attitudes were changing, as they are today. So Max, the last couple of years he was there, he asked to be relieved of that job. He said, "I want to stay in the system, but I would like to be considered as a candidate for an elementary school." Well later on, they moved in that direction and I was moved over from Gretna to Chatham High School in 1981. When I arrived at Chatham in 1981, I had the luck of having an outstanding group of parents, particularly in the eighth and ninth grade, of course that's better than having a group of outstanding parents in junior and senior years, because you're not going to retain most of those parents after their children graduate. We took a survey, not knowingly, we took a survey, mentally took a survey, not of a meeting type thing but just...we had so many things that we needed that we simply did not have. That later led on to the building of the science wings, at Chatham High School and also a Gretna, Tunstall and Dan River. We did not have any facilities... Chatham High School today is sort of land-locked, if you look it there's not anywhere to go, north east south or west. So we didn't have any facilities so to speak of to implement programs that revolved around the curriculum. We needed up-dating the library, the books, the rooms themself. We needed to expand in the areas of the yearbook. We didn't have a dark room, we didn't have even a proper closet to put our students in who were on the yearbook staff, and certainly you don't hand them a piece of paper and say work yourself to death and you're not going to get any recognition whatsoever. We didn't have a yearbook. It had gone so low that we did not even have a yearbook. There was two years,....the last year that Mr. Little John was there, there was not a year book. The first year I came in, there was not a yearbook. I promised the parents at the PTO meeting, I said, "If you will live with me this year, I promise you faithfully that this year that I will enact a yearbook staff, a yearbook sponsor, but you cannot walk in September, produce a yearbook when you don't have anything in place, and you had not had a yearbook the year prior." So we did that. We were able to do that. It worked out very nicely. We were lucky in many respects. We did not have a baseball field, it looked like a cow pasture. Our football field was terrible looking. The bleachers in the gym were just shot, they were roll away bleachers. Within eight years, of '81, in the '80-'89 time lot, we had put new lights on the football field, now this is not money from the school board. We put new lights on the football field. We put new lights on the baseball field. We put new fences around, which was rather expensive. We had regraded the fields. We put up new bleachers on both sides, baseball and football. Through the help of Pepsi Cola and Sovran Bank we put in new score boards which were about $4,000 a piece. We put in new electrical motor bleachers which would come in from out of the wall. We put in a new press box. We built a highly expensive weight room, carpeted, with all the new nautilus equipment. We put in tremendous number of library books. We upgraded our academics by having formulated an academic booster club, which the parents really loved and participated. Anytime there was money available through the board of supervisors, our parents for some reason or the other found out about it and they went up and asked for it, and was very successful at getting money, not even through the school board. We put new lockers in the school. When it all ended and the year before I retired, money from the county board of supervisors through the school board, was appropriated for all four high schools to put a new track in. That was the last thing that took place when I was there. Those tracks cost $86,434.58, I remember it just like it was yesterday. Each one of them cost that. Now, you say, well, it looks like a greater emphasis was put on athletics than it was on academics, not true, it was a pretty joint thing. But these were some of the things that we needed. I would say the parents there, from those eighth and ninth graders, we would have meetings whether it was on an academic level or a booster club level for the athletics would meet, at night, for a very long hours at a time. And there would always be a lot of disagreement of what we wanted to do. But when we walked out of there, everybody was sort of walking by the same drummer. And it was a paradise for a principal, because I had a patch speech, I said, "Well look, we are going to do this, if I get in trouble with the school board on this, I expect you to show up to defend me." I always laughed when I told them that. But in those seven or eight years we had probably over $150,000 given to the school and raised by the parents. That's a tremendous amount of money. In those days, it was a lot of money. We had a crazy philosophy at Chatham High School, that I would probably, if I was there today, would be considered to be fired for having that kind of philosophy, but I'll tell you what it was, it's the craziest thing you ever heard of. And I don't know that anybody would be interested in knowing this, but I'm not ashamed of it. Our philosophy was this, that we look at Notre Dame, we look at Michigan, we look at Ohio State, we look at the University of Miami, we look at Florida State, we look at Carolina basket ball. You name them. These big schools that everybody reads about and everybody cheers for, one of those schools, Southern Cal. whatever. Now why are those schools so highly accepted? Is it because they are better academically prepared than those schools who you never hear of? No. We don't believe that. We didn't believe that, and I still don't believe that. But the thing that made them was the recognition they received in the extra curricula activities. And all of a sudden we started motivating kids to do the extra curricula activities. Don't sit there like a bumpkin on a log. Get involved, whether it is FFA, FHA, Home-economics, debate, forensics, band, numbers of things that slipped my mind now that I didn't mention just get involved. If you can't participate in this and excel, get involved in this. End result was ..yearbook, the newspaper.. what ever it was, get involved in something, and we didn't let it rest. We emphasized it to the classroom, and we emphasized it to the teacher. Now the end result was, the first year I was principal at Chatham High School, and this is a true story, we were beaten by everybody in football. I don't think we won a game. Everybody wanted to play Chatham High School. Because we were patsies. I took more pictures of home coming queens, everybody wanted to play us at homecoming, because they knew they could whip us. Did you know, after we started this with the parents, for the next seven years in a row, we won five regional championships in baseball. We won the state championship, which had never been heard of in baseball, won the whole state. They brought them in on a fire truck that day and honored all the kids that were on the team. We had a ferocious football team. Every kid that came down the hall if he weighed 215 pounds, we grabbed him by the arm and put a suit on him. It almost got to be funny. But the end result was, we could go into our school, on the first day of school, and it motivated the kids who didn't have that ability, but who were working on the newspaper, the yearbook, the FFA...everything revolved, just like a library, revolved around that library. And the spirit you had, and the dances that you had after the games, they looked forward to that, and they knew, that if they didn't behave themselves that some of those privileges were going to be cut out, and they were at times, and it motivated them, Chatham, all of a sudden, from being a patsy, became number one because they beat Tunstall 28 to nothing, you know. Now they say, well, there's too much emphasis being put...listen...let me tell you something...the worst concept we have today in the public schools of Pittsylvania County and the surrounding areas, is your middle school concept because it has left out one rich ingredient. Your curriculum is great, I wouldn't change it for nothing in the world, but they're not giving them any extra-curricula activity and they are getting bored. And they say, well you're suppose to emphasize academics. No, no, no, that's wrong. You emphasize academics, you never make any mistake, it's the most important issue of the school. But you're going to tell a kid in a middle school that all they're going to do is study, and you're going to loose the war. And that one ingredient has made Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State attractive to recruitant, and they are getting your best students because they are motivated by the fact that I'm proud of this school and I want to be a part of it. That's it. I believe that. We are actually loosing sight of that. This is some of the problems that administrators are coping with now, because they think if they do some of these things they are going to be criticized, and they don't know that if they would do some of these things properly organized, that they would be ahead of the game. It's the same thing. I feel so strongly about that I could just holler. Oh, that's one of my pet peeves.
Q: Mr. Haley, Administrators presently spend a good deal of time complaining about the amount paperwork and bureaucratic complexity with which they are forced to deal. Would you comment on the situation during your administrative career and the problems you encounter with your perceptions of situation at this time?
A: Well I think, definitely, what ever line of work you're in, I really can't speak with any accuracy on other works of professional, whatever level you'd be on as far as additional paper work, but it certainly has been true in the school system. I know that when I first started out as a principal, we had very few reports to do. With the offset of just directories themselves, of attendance, daily attendance, Most money was based on in those days on whether you are present or not, but now I think it's based on, there's a term for it, if you're on roll you're still reimbursed. But, yes, now there is a tremendous amount of paperwork that filters down through the superintendent's office from the State Department of Education for administrators and teachers to be responsible for and to be held accountable, and definitely we want to be accountable of what we do. But it makes one believe that there is just too much of that, it seems to be a trend that, if you're a superintendent of public instruction in the state of Virginia, or for that matter, whatever state, you have vast numbers of people under your supervision and everybody has got to make their mark. End result is, that every department within the hierarchy of the educational system requires certain accountability papers. And the end result is, we spend too much time and we have to safeguard it, particularly on the firing line. I call it the firing line, being there in the school with the students, we have too much of that going on. And I don't know how you stream line it, you know because, so much that we put down on paper is important if ever challenged for accountability, but 95% or higher, is never really, anyone ever looks, to see what's on it, you know. You've heard that cliche' of the man that turned in a report, he just wrote down the pledge of allegiance, what ever question it was, and nobody ever read it. It went that way for 15 yrs. before anyone ever read the pledge of allegiance, it wasn't even pertaining to the question. You know. So I don't know, yes it's grown. It's a pretty general statement I'm making now that some of it is necessary, but it just seems that it could be less than what it is. It's gotten so bad now we have to safe-guard the teachers in the classroom. We took the register away from them to help them. We took away, really, basically their grading book, because now they do the grading, reporting by computer, which makes it easier for them. It's hard for them to get use to the system, but I haven't met one yet that used it that didn't like it after they became familiar with it. Everything is paperwork now, even with the teachers. We use to write everything on the board, now we print everything, we duplicate everything, so I don't know. It is a burden, it is burdensome to do it.
Q: Mr. Haley, given the presence of the administrative complexity, if there were any areas of administration that you could change in order to improve the efficiency in effectiveness of administration, what would they be?
A: Well, in the area that I dealt with as a high-school principal, and also elementary, Jr. high and primary, I would say actually we try to overlap too much in our school administration. I'm speaking of the school itself, I'm not necessarily speaking of the central office, superintendent's office, because I never worked in a central office. I have some ideas that could be streamlined too, but particularly in the area that I worked in that I relate so well to, I feel in high school, we had....basically high schools usually have three principals, they have two assistants and a principal. Really, tax payer's wouldn't like it, but we really need four. It's almost physically impossible, it's almost an impossibility, for any one of the three principals in a high school in our area that I worked in to handle each order of the day. It's just not possible. So we had to make changes within the infrastructure of the administration of the high school, to where we allocated time in prime duty of one of the principals to work mostly with curriculum which was the most important thing. It was the most important thing, but it was not the thing that happened everyday. Under the standards of quality, and under the accreditation standards in the commonwealth of Virginia, it says that every principal shall spend at least forty Percent of their time on instructional time. Now, whoever wrote that statement, had to be a moron, and forgive me for saying that, because there's no way you could spend forty percent of your time, and they know that, the man that wrote the sentence knows that you can't spend forty percent of your time in a high school on curriculum. Using bad English, "ain't no way" you can't do that. But yet when time comes, every high school principal will check that, yes, I've spent.....Well -you know, he has to put that down because it becomes a deficiency if he doesn't, but we know that that's not possible. Now having said that, we usually assigned our principals, one principal was assigned to basically, curriculum. Realizing that during the day there may be three days in a row that that principal would never get an opportunity to work on curriculum until after school hours. Then we had to assign one principal,....now curriculum would include scheduling, books, text books, supplementary books, the whole nine yards, that's by itself is a job, it takes a great deal of time. Then we had to assign teachers in particular rural areas like Pittsylvania County, one had to be in charge of buses. And one had to be, under the new mandate of the state, the athletics directors, can no longer be a coach, it had to be an assistant principal. And that by itself required $300-$400 telephone bill a month, just talking to schools,... it snowed,... we can't play you, you know, not anything to do with academics what soever. An the end result is that principal spent a great majority of time taking care of bus problems, and they were numerous. Athletics was another assignment they had plus discipline. Then your head principal had to take care of the total structure Plus the hard core discipline which was demanded, plus the PR. Of course the two assistants are going to do PR too. So you didn't have enough people to do that. Because In the standards of Quality, it specifically said that the administrator would do this. It didn't say guidance counselor, it didn't say teacher aid, it didn't say head of a discipline within the school, like the government, or the science department or math department. So we needed to reramp that under the guidelines that did not conflict with state mandates and it was difficult to do it, so my thinking is they should, somewhere, lift, that word "administrator", from the integration of the statement itself. We could have teachers help us with that, because we did have some good teachers, if we plan right during in the summer, that we could have them an assignment We don't have the time to really give the time to do certain jobs within the school, and it was sad. I don't care whether people believe this or not, I had a lot of days in school I never had time to eat lunch. Never had time to eat lunch. Never got to the cafeteria, you know. And it's hard for anyone to imagine how demanding a job of an administrator is in a large school. It's bad enough in some of these smaller schools, but you do have more time. So, we do need to reramp, and I'm not sure I'm hitting on exactly what the question is, but I think I have. We do need to reramp some of the wording of the criteria for accreditation, and if we were able to do that, then I think we would move much smoother.
Q: Mr. Haley, would you describe your relationship with the superintendent in terms of his general demeanor toward you and your school?
A: Most certainly. I have worked under nine different superintendents, and I am sure that there are principals my age who are retired, as I have, that would have a completely different philosophy. I worked in a division here in Pittsylvania County where we had approximately nineteen schools that would average out year in and year out, and if the principal of a school doesn't have a close relationship with the superintendent, I don't know how he functions. It's a must. Now, that's not to say that it's always got to be rosy and, you know, you got to agree with the superintendent on everything or he's got to agree with you on everything, but you must look at this fact, he is the superintendent, you know. And my idea of superintendent, and I've worked under some good ones, I really don't remember many bad ones, if any. I've worked under some that were better than others. As I say, I've worked under nine different ones, and if you've got that close relationship that you feel free to call him, and I think all superintendents want to know, certainly, I would think they would. If you have that close relationship, a lot can be accomplished. If you are hesitant on calling him, and I think all principals, they don't want to call the superintendent, and I don't think he wants you to call, I don't care whether he's superintendent of where, You're there to do a job. But there are times that you must have the input from the superintendent of what you can do and what you can't do, and he has the authority beyond what you have there as a school building principal. It's very important that you have that closeness of contact with him at all times, and if not his designee, because problems do occur that have to be ruled on. I have always been very lucky, I've always had a good relationship with the superintendents, I made sure I did, you know. I didn't always agree with them, but in the final say so, but he is the superintendent and he makes the final decision on many of the issues.
Q: Mr. Haley, out of the nine superintendents that you worked under, which ones did you feel have the most influence, and what was their character like?
A: Well, under all the superintendents I worked under, I thought, the most knowledgeable superintendent I ever worked under, and I think the state recognized him as being, he was chairman of the finance committee of the state superintendents office, Mr. Combs, James Combs. He was a brilliant man. He's the one that got all the money for building the planetarium and the new administrative offices in Chatham. He's the one that picked up the tail end of the new consolidation when they built the four new high schools. He was, every superintendent had good traits, but one of his strongest traits was that he was a genius when it came to finances with a pencil. He could bring it down. He was not only good, but he was appointed by the state superintendent of public instruction to head the finance committee of the superintendents in the state of Virginia. So he was very well thought of, and I worked under a lot of other superintendents that were even better than he was in certain areas, but as far as overall performance, I thought he was the strongest that I worked under.
Q: Mr. Haley, would you discuss your participation in handling the civil rights situation, integration and describe your involvement in bussing?
A: Sure. Ok, I go back to the very beginning of the school system here in this county. We had two high schools that were all Black and we had nine high schools that were all White. Right down the road here from your office, was South Side High School, which is better known as Blairs Middle School now. Then we had North Side which was in Gretna. I was principal at North Side for four years, but the time I was principal, it was after the high school had left and they made it a junior high. And I think really the transition of Pittsylvania County, into integration went very smoothly, I really do. I can't remember any bad hassles we had. I remember, I was what they call an "associate principal." You've never heard of an associate principal probably. I was sent to Gretna Jr. High school to serve with two other principals. And I was principal of my own school and very proud of it at the time. Mr. Combs, superintendent of the schools, asked me, "Would I go to Gretna Jr. High School," he didn't demand I go, he said, "Would you go?" He says, "I think you're the one," in this previously all black school, which is totally integrated now, 50/50, " would be the one, particularly with strength in discipline for the school." So I did, I went with Mr. Harrison and Mr. Trent, both of them are black gentlemen, fine gentlemen. Mr. Trent has passed on since that time, Mr. Harrison is still living. I went in as an associate principal and they gave me the title I reckon because it would have been a demotion to go in as an assistant principal. My salary stayed the same, but I went as an associate principal because the black principal had been there all along. And the end result was, he supervised the building and wrote the checks, and I took care of the curriculum and the discipline, and Mr. Trent was the assistant principal, which he already was. In civil rights itself, that would seem like a fair way to do it. We didn't demote anybody, white or black. I remember the first year, the Whites walked one side of the hall way, and the Blacks walked the other side. Mr. Harris and I were standing in between them, but we had very little trouble. I think we had more problem from the parents than we did students. The students seemed to get along pretty well, you know. That was before they really became cognitive of each other and just what kind of problems they may have, they were just young kids. They adapted well to the situation, so we didn't have a lot of problems. We did it a little backwards, I thought, at the time. We integrated the high schools before we integrated the elementary school. Did you know that? I'm not saying it wasn't right, but it just seemed like it might have been better if you'd had time to integrate your elementary before you did your high school. But we didn't do it that way. And maybe that's the answer, that it was best to do it that way. I'm not critical either way. But we integrated the high school first, and a year after we did the elementary school. But I had some great experiences with the black students, being a white man, I would say I was lucky, you know, I always treated them, to the best of my knowledge, fairly. I think they respected that after a while. So I really didn't have any problems with integration, other than what people said, you know. I never will forget one time I went into a general store out in the country, up in the Climax area. And the people knew me, and we were sitting there you know, and they were telling me all kinds of problems we were having at school, with racial problems. And I knew that wasn't true. And I told them, I said,... and they laughed, that I think I solved that problem. And I said, "Well, I don't know where you all have been for the last three or four years. I must be at the wrong school because, I don't see these things. It would be important to me, and I would be more than happy to finance it, If you would come to our school, unannounced, and just tell the secretary you're here to have dinner with us. And break some bread with us, and I'll go around with you. I don't want fifteen of you up there at one time, we've got enough daily problems without talking about integration to contend with, and I don't have that time, but I said, Any time, I left it unlocked, anytime you want to come, just come up there. Don't listen to people talk about some of these things going on. If you want to call me and ask me if such and such a thing happened, I give you my word as a Christian gentleman, I'll tell you whether it happened or not. I won't tell you all involved in it, I won't share with you a lot of names. Did so and so get stabbed, did so and so wreck his car, did so and so come to school drunk? I'll tell you whether certain people did, but I won't mention names, and then you'll know it's true, but this stuff you're talking about isn't true." As I say again, we were lucky on a lot of that stuff. I had very little trouble with integration. The biggest problem I had with integration on the infrastructure was the buses. It was hard to supervise some of the buses and that got rough at times. And quiet honestly, prior to integration, we had too many students on the buses particularly in the black schools. It was so crowded, so they some legitimate complaints about that. I'm sure today, as we talk, that there are bus problems all over this country. We're no different, we're not any different.See you don't have those kind of problems, per se, in your large metropolitan areas because they don't furnish that many buses- and it's public transit systems. But that is a problem. I noticed just recently, they are putting monitors on the buses now, TV cameras, you know. But in all the years that I was a principal, thank the Lord, knock on wood, I never really had any serious problems, but I had a lot of problems I never could solve, because one family didn't like another family, and another family didn't like another family , and I couldn't solve those problems.
Q: Mr. Haley, it has been said that the curriculum has become much more complex in recent years, could you comment on the nature of the curriculum during the time you were principal and compare it to the situation in today's schools, citing positive and negative aspects of the situation then and now.
A: Well, I'm not exactly certain, Mrs. Martin, how to answer that question. I understand the question fully. Curriculum, in the public schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia which my experience lies, has definitely changed. The curriculum is broader, it's broader in base content, students are expected to know, be able to in an alert moment to recite, it's just more demanding. I saw a great significant increase in technology in the schools now. One thing that just comes to my mind, and probably after this interview, can think of ten other things. I saw a great change in the commercial department of the schools . There is not a lot of change you're going to see in the English curriculum of change. Certainly the emphasis has to be there, but I didn't see as much there and I didn't see as much change in your physical aspects of the curriculum, but when you look at science, social studies, the social sciences, everything has changed. Textbooks, the demand, quick information data, the computer itself and what it can do is almost unlimited. What is the demand, no matter what school system you're in, of that community, as we pointed out, is the need of the day for being able to become productive citizens after you graduated. And that's the "cardinal principle" of the school, is to become a productive citizen, not to be a liability. So there was tremendous transitions. One that sticks in my mind, to give an example for the whole overview, would be that, we use to teach short hand. In school now short hand is a thing of the past. A lady that could do short hand was almost assured of a job. Now they don't even ask you, can you take short hand? So, you know, it's not anyway in a few minutes to describe the magnitude of the changes in curriculum. It's had it's impact and still going and where it's going to stop, we don't really know.
Q: What about the curriculum that's added by the state department such as family life?
A: Family life, yea, that's certainly an integral part of it. And, unfortunately, here in the county, unless they've changed it since I retired, we do not have enough people qualified to do that. So they have to take so many schools this month, and so many schools the next two months, because certainly you don't want to put that in the hands of a... I can see where, and know of a situation where you have very competent teachers in a different discipline, but they are not qualified, or trained, in family planning. They may be doing a very beautiful job with their own family, but their not... That's a very risky thing.
Q: Mr. Haley, There are those who argue that more often than not, central office policies hinder rather than help building level administrators in carrying out their responsibilities. Would you give your views of this issue?
A: Ok, I can only base it on my experience. In the first place, you cannot have a school board policy that conflicts with the state policy. You can have a deviation, and you can make it flexible enough to adjust to your area, but you cannot have it in direct conflict with the mandates of the state. Now that we assume that to be true, and it is true, or your out in left field without a paddle, I think too many times, our local school boards, and it may sound like I'm coming down hard on them, and I reckon in one respect I am, but it's not my intent or my character to ostracize any individual school board member, or pick on them, or their qualifications or what ever it will be. Whether you have an appointed system, which our county's had for 50 years, or your going to elect a school board member, which they will do this coming November at the poll. I think they all, whether selected or appointed, what we need to strive for is people who do not have a personal vendetta against the school system, or have some radical idea we should do away with all free lunches, or we shouldn't introduce any kind of new program into the school, what was good for my father is good for me, 40 years later. But I do think we have a tendency to have a popularity contest where we vote the "good old boy" in or "the good old gal in", and they really are not schooled in what they are jumping into. It's a very serious very complex matter. And, I reckon that's one reason that the commonwealth of Virginia has not given school boards the power to tax, although the power to tax would be a very good thing if everything was set in place and you had an idea panacea type operation. Too many times, our school board people will be working with a superintendent who probably is not progressive, or if he is progressive, that's good. With good sound judgement, they will vote in things. Let me give you an example. Our county school board manual is about, I'd say, four inches thick. That's a lot of paper. If you read the discipline section, that's just one that I'll comment on, section of the school board policy manual. It would take some one with a law degree to fully interpret, what they give you they take away in small print. We have too much of that going on whether you're talking about the category of discipline, or you're talking about leave of absence by a teacher who is starting a family, or you're talking about sick days accumulation, or you're talking about dress code, or whatever you might be talking about. It's so involved, that when you end up, you hope and pray you made the right decision and you're sticking under the guidelines of the school board policy. I think it could be condensed. It's going to take a long time to do that. Probably sole searching a good year to revise the policies, and I say revise, not repeal, to revise to where the average administrator can really feel comfortable with it. We have so much unnecessary wording of regulations, that it closes out the true meaning of what you really trying to do to begin with. So I really think, What I'm really saying here is, as I mentioned before, it's normal to have intelligence, but it's not common to have common sense. Ok? And the end result is, we live in frustration, we live in a situation where principals sometimes, administrators who are working with students, and teachers, and we should include teachers, really are not sure of just what they can do, if they would do it in a very conscientious way, they're not sure. Not including what's good for me as a teacher to make less load for me to have deal with. So I do think there is a direct relationship between how effective our school board people are and most certainly how they are geared in by the superintendent to pass common sense law that's not in conflict with the state department of education. And our state department of education do not seem to be quiet, I don't know the word I'm searching for, they seem to be a little bit more basic in their demands of their regulations then we seem to be on a local level. I don't know if I've described that, I know it's most difficult when you have a school board, made up of fine Christian people who want to do the right thing, but just simply have not had the experience and the talent for dealing with some of the kind of problems they have to deal with in 1995.
Q: Mr. Haley, If you were advising a person who was considering an administrative job, what would your advice be?
A: Well, I've had quiet a few teachers to come in and want to map out,... which I had no authority whatsoever, ... what do you have to take to get into administration, you know. I can remember, I won't call any name, of a young man, still there at the high school where I was principal, has not yet gone into administration, but he's taken everything to be qualified on paper. I think you know, that if you've been in the system, and you've gone through the classroom procedure, and you've been an active teacher, and you really enjoy it, I say go for it, you know, I really do. Because most people know, even in administration, the salaries are not that high, so you really can't be looking at a great monetary accomplishment after spending all that money to get qualified. But it is better, it's getting better. I would actually say, you know, If you love to work with children, and particularly teachers, if you really feel that strongly about it , you should try it. I have no objections to any young person doing that. But I would reserve the right to say that you really need to really look at yourself closely. Is this really what I want to do? If I was principal of this school, and you being there in that school as a faculty member, or whatever school you might be considered for, is this really the thing that I want to do? Would I feel comfortable in making those kinds of decisions that would effect the lives of our young people. And that sounds very noble to make that kind of statement, but you've really got to like it, and it goes with the territory. It's a very difficult job for the amount of money you get. Of course, I think most teachers that are doing a good job are not there because of money, you know?
Q: Mr. Haley, How did you first go into principalship?
A: Well, as I mentioned earlier, I was the football coach there at old Chatham High School, and I was here while my father's last months of his life-with a terminal illness, and I had a degree, went back and took my professional courses and recieved by professional teaching certificate. But, I became qualified with a master's degree, and in the early 50's in Pittsylvania County, we didn't have-40-45 master degree teachers in the county, they just didn't exist. So with nineteen schools, you can imagine, when openings would come open and you were qualified, they would certainly look at you closer then they would be in 1989 or 94 when when they had 350 people with master's degrees, or 400 or maybe 600 people. I was very lucky, I was appointed principal of a school with in three days after I applied. Well actually, that's not exactly what happened, but I was told within three or four days after I applied, that the job was mine if I wanted It. Because we simply did not have any applications. We had plenty of applications, but they were not qualified. You know.
Q: Mr. Haley would you describe the idea requirements for principal certification and discuss appropriate procedures to screen those who wish to become principals.
A: Well, again here, I can only base it on the number of years I was in the system and working with assistant principals and working with teachers who wanted to be principals or in administration of some kind. A good principal, in my way of thinking, would be that individual who has been in the classroom setting itself. And one, from working with them, whatever criteria you have would be that person who really enjoys working with young people, and teachers, and parents, and it should be a person that certainly should have expertise in one field. This is not to say you can't be very competent in more than one field. But a good principal to me would be one who would at least be extremely competent in one subject matter content or more than one, simply because, if you are on that level, then you're not expected to be competent in every field that the teacher works in like in special education. I had no previous education or schooling to be considered a principal of a special education school or whatever discipline within the special education category. But I became involved in it by being a principal in a school when it was initiated into the school itself and sort of got drowned with it you know, and learned from people who were highly respected in that system like Mr. Ed Ramsey years ago. I don't know whether you remember him or not, but he started the special ed program in Pittsylvania County Schools. He was given as the father of it here, and he was principal over at the old Hurt School. There needs to be an some kind of apprenticeship for principals. Many school divisions have apprenticeship for principals that actually carries them through administrative duties, and they are not paid any additional money, but they are given the responsibility of having liability insurance, tart insurance and stuff that the school board would fund. But they are not paid any additional money, but it's understood that they are taking apprenticeship with a principal for future consideration within that division. Most systems stay within their own infrastructure in hiring principals, although, in my life, I was offered a school, William Flemming High School. Had it been feasible on moving, and not having to sale my home, there just wasn't anyway I could recoup, and pay the amount of money, and it was later on in my life after I had been principal for a number of years. But, most systems have their own infrastructure apprenticeship, that you're promoted within. I think it's extremely important that the criteria be set up, you know, not the "good ole' buddy" style of who you are and this kind of thing, but more or less of what you're doing. It's awfully hard to get away from that, I don't know the answer to that. I've seen it happen both ways. I've seen people promoted to principal ship who really wanted to be principal that really deserved it and ended up doing an excellent job. Then I've seen people who didn't do well with it. But that's life, you know. I don't reckon there is any sure, safe way of doing it. But there should be people, I hope I was that way, that people respect. There's an old saying you know, well, you may not like me, and you may not agree with me, but you really don't have anything against me either. I think you've got to look for that kind of person whose respected, most of the time that is on an even keel in their mannerism, just able to deal with people. I think a good principal criteria would be a...a thing that I hoped that I've achieved, being a "people's person", being able to talk to people without offending them, being able to get you're point across and not waiver on the extremely important things that you know would absolutely be wrong just for the sake of agreeing or getting something out of the way. It takes a person who is willing to give a lot of time, to a problem, but, we need to have people in there that first of all has got to have that competency in some subject matter content that can overflow into the other disciplines, and one that...we use the term in base ball..that's not a "hot dog", you know what I mean by a "hot dog"... it's one that fires quick, makes rapid decisions and ends up apologizing all the time. I think a lot of people, when you talk about principals and you talk about management, it's a God given talent. They may be the worse teacher in the world, but they are just able to get along with people.
Q: Mr. Haley, would you describe your approach to teacher evaluation and give your philosophy of evaluation?
A: Yes. Of course that's something that all principals must do. We had so many different stages of it the last few years that I was principal of the school. We were doing a twelve week evaluation at the time I was there, then we would do one twelve weeks later, which was six weeks into the second semester. What actually happened is, we divided it into one-third three times. Teacher evaluation can really be tricky. I didn't always agree with teacher evaluation, the instruments particularly. The instruments we were using for teacher evaluation, I thought many times, was too lengthy. too...Just not common sense. In one category, you might have five areas you would be evaluated on in one area. I think we needed to keep it simple, the basics. And I think we needed... and I think too many principals go through the evaluation and get pressed for time, and they may have seventy teachers and they try to do twenty-five a day. That's ridiculous. You can't do it. I know I was one of those. I tried to do that, and it doesn't work. So, the last ten, fifteen or twenty years that I was a principal, I set aside a time, even if I had to do only five or six a day. That's what I tried to hit for, that was a good number, to do about five a day. And these people you know pretty well, you know, unless they're bran new teachers in the first six weeks, the first twelve weeks. Any time a teacher went down below a certain point level, we had a point levels, I tried my best to put that down, but I always tried to give them the benefit of the doubt rather than Annie-doodle. If I wasn't sure of something, then I'm not going to comment on that particular item within that evaluation. I didn't put anything. If I felt strongly about it, really strongly about it, I not only would check it as not being satisfactory, or it could be something that was great, I would, in writing, I would put it on the side. That's what they had space for. If it was a teacher who I felt strongly after conferences with the teacher, was not improving in that area, then I would down-grade her or him on it. And then, down at the bottom of the page, on our evaluation, no matter which one we used, it always had, you know, the teacher has the right, and they do, by law to challenge this, you know. And I had a lot of them to challenge that. And I cannot remember a single time out of all those years that I ever had one taken to the school board to challenge my evaluation. Now that didn't mean that maybe they should have, they just didn't. But I did have a number of them to challenge the statement, and then after we talked about it, you know, most of the time, there were a few times it didn't exist, that they didn't come back. But there were times you know, we would say, look, why don't you try this, and let's see how it works. I'm not saying I'm a hundred percent right, but as I perceive this, this is not taking place. And we talked. And neither one of us were the problem, we were the answer to the problem. And that seemed to work pretty good, and they seemed to appreciate that. It just took time. When you put something negative on an evaluation form, then certainly the principal should have the courtesy to give that teacher time to explain it. And there have been some instances when I put something down on the evaluation form that after I talked to the teacher, I erased. But if I had one that I had documented, and the elementary or secondary supervises documented that it was not taking place, then it was our responsibility to help the teacher. If that didn't take place, then they were put on special evaluation at that point. I know the first year I was,...the second year that I was a high school principal, I had twenty-seven changes. I wasn't sure I was going back the third year. That didn't mean that twenty-seven lost their job. But we changed some of them around to different positions that they were certified in, some of them were moved to other schools. I'm not sure that was a good idea, to do it, as I think back over the years, but anyway that was the way we handled it. Teacher evaluation should be left....one criteria for it, it should be a simple evaluation. It shouldn't be turn to page two and go to page three after this. Did you do this and did you do that. It just should be good common sense. Is this teacher motivating her children? Does she stay on time-task with her students? Is she in her classroom teaching, or is he holding good discipline with the students? It doesn't have to be twenty-seven things when you can probably consolidate it down into about five. And comment on what part of that one big one you don't feel they are doing well or they are doing great. And they need to be praised. A teacher needs to be praised. They're not going to get a lot of that and they need to be. I found that out.
Q: Mr. Haley, principals operate in a constantly tense environment. What kinds of things did you do to maintain your sanity under these stressful conditions?
A: Oh, I went through a lot of that. I had all kinds of things I use to do. I would normally go in at 7:00 O'clock. The teachers had to be there at 8:15 a.m. You know that was a habit, and I was in my office at 7:00 O'clock, and I was doing the kind of little things that popped up after school or during the school day that I didn't get a chance to do before. You're under a lot of tension and stress, there is no question about it, because you are constantly dealing with... you might make a decision on fifteen things in one day, from suspension on down to the overhead projector and where it goes, or what kind of desert you're going to have in the cafeteria. I use to have a lot of little things. I was so involved in the activities of the school that I could go in to the yearbook room and watch the kids laughing and having a big time putting the yearbook together, or I could go in the band room and set down for thirty minutes and listen to them play on the instruments. Which music always had a way of infiltrating or just straightening me out a little bit. Or for that matter, I would go out on the field and just set down and watch them play P.E. Or for that matter, I had lunch very seldom with the students and teachers. I always had lunch after it was all over with you know. Just getting away from it, and if I had a serious problem, that wasn't life or death at that moment, many times I would just leave it laying on my desk but constantly think about it. If I went out to dinner at Holiday Inn that night, I was constantly thinking about it. I felt, one of the greatest things, and you will laugh at this, to get rid of tension and stress, was, I would go in early in the morning, seemed like I could do so much better in the early hours of the morning, say from 7:00 to 8:00 O'clock. Just that one hour. It was amazing how many things I could think of to be a solution to a problem that I couldn't think of at 5:00 O'clock in the afternoon when I had a basket ball game that night. I had to go home and eat a hamburger real quick and come back and stay till 10:00 O'clock and watch a basket ball game, or a football game, or a band concert, or forensic, or debate, or an FFA meeting, you know. But I got rid of tension and stress simply by going out of my office. I never was in my office. I moved all the time. And talking to people, not specifically calling names, just talking to people, you know, what do you think? You know. You would be amazed at some common sense decisions sometimes, not this "hot dog" answer, you know.
Q: Mr. Haley, since you have now had some time to reflect on your career, I wonder if you would share with us what you consider to be your administrative strengths and weaknesses.
A: Well after that many years in the system, Ms. Martin, the thing that I am positive of now, I was not positive of this, as I mentioned earlier, it is hard sometime to perceive yourself as others perceive you. But I am fully convinced after being out going on four years now, one of the greatest strengths I had, particularly since we had all this integration and everything was that I treated people fairly. The reason I know that is because I get a lot of kids now and families that share that with me. You know, they will come back and talk to you a little bit about it. And one of the other successes was I believe in awarding achievement. And I was tough. I was tougher than I thought I was. I thought at one time that I wasn't tough. I've gone home many nights and said "Oh boy, I blew that, God, did I blow that." and I would get down on myself. But after a good night's rest, I would go back, but the way I perceived it was not the way the parents, the others perceived it. The greatest strength that I know I had when I went to the high school was the time that I put in, and there is no substitute for that. I was there. Good and bad, I was there.
Q: All the time Mr. Haley, because I remember when I taught there. You were always there. I wandered sometimes if you ever went home.
A: Oh yea. No, I don't miss that work, that was long hours, but that was the greatest strength I had. Looking back on it now, I was there, good times, bad times, I think that's important and I think it takes you a while to ever figure that out as an individual situation.
Q: Mr. Haley, would you discuss the circumstances leading up to your decision to retire at the time you did, giving your reasons and the mental processes you exercised in the reaching the conclusion to step down.
A: Yea. It's hard not to remember that. I had been thinking about it for a year or two before I did. I wanted to get in thirty-five years. I had worked it out on my retirement. It was a better situation financially for the remainder of my life to wait for that. But one of the big things that really influenced me on my retirement, and it worked perfectly the way it happened, was the fact that, I felt at that time, our school was in great shape. Financially, when I retired, we were just doing great with our finances in school. We had money to spend on curriculum, and anything the teachers wanted, it had built up over a decade of time. The morale was good. The discipline on a zero to ten, was about an 8.5 or a 9. Not anyone's perfect. The parents felt good about the school. They had the philosophy that the school was a part of the community, the community was part of the school, you couldn't separate the two. It was a time I had more or less reached. I was tired. Loved it. No complaints. It was just that time to leave. And there is no better time to leave then when you're ahead. More or less, you know. But anyway, it was a good experience, and now it was the time to go.
Q: And now you are still very active in everything.
A: Yea, yea. Try to stay that way.
Q: Would you give us an overall comment on the pros and cons of administrative service and any advice you would wish passed along to today's principals.
A: Well if I interpreted the question right, its a pretty general question. I would say in reference to the overall comment on the pros and cons of administrative services, I'm not sure what that engulfs. What you would tell a new principal or an incoming principal today, sort of has to lap back to what I was speaking to a few minutes ago. You are a principal of a school and you must be a role model. It's hard to be a role model, but you've got to be and you've got to serve the community in which your school serves, I mean, the people themselves. And its not just students, its parents and what they perceive their school should be. Its simple as that, you've got to strive to be with them, you've got to be in charge of those programs, you've got to be a good listener, you've got to be a jack-of-all trades, and most of all you've got to have a lot of common sense, and you've got to be a people's person. And if you don't possess those things, you're going to know it real quickly. You're going to know it real quickly and you're going to wander what's happened.
Q: In asking all these questions, I'm not real comprehensive in everything that I know of all the knowledge that you have after thirty-five years of being a principal, so, at this point in time, is there anything that you specifically would like to comment on.
A: Well not really Ms. Martin. We've sort of integrate philosophy in most every question that's been asked today. It's a great profession, but if you plan on getting rich, you might as well for get it. If you're planning on a good life that has a lot of rewards, it's great.
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