Interview with Thomas E. Hawks


Today is July 27, 1998. This is an interview with Mr. Thomas Hawks in his home on Evergreen Street in Hillsville, Virginia. We're discussing his experiences as a principal.

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Q: Mr. Hawks, if you would just begin by telling us a little bit about your family background, maybe your childhood interests, and your education as a child.

hawks audio (Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)

A: Well, I was one of nine children that grew up in Lambsburg, Virginia, the southern part of Carroll County. Uh, my elementary and secondary education was all at Lambsburg School. Uh, course family ­ uh, I was the fifth child of the nine children. Course, uh, there were eight that grew into adulthood and course, one member of the family died in infancy. So, really, uh it was a family of eighth. Uh, father was, uh, not totally blind but I guess uh would be considered industrially blind for all of his adult life. Uh, course, at the same time, it didn't seem to deter him a lot in the work that he felt he had to do as a farmer uh, and as an uh, owner of a sawmill, two sawmills at one time. And, he also operated a commercial cannery, uh, that, where we did a lot of canning of blackberries, green beans, tomatoes, apples. Uh, during canning season, I guess it was nothing uncommon, to can like two hundred bushels of apples in one day. Uh, and the quantity of blackberries ­ uh we ran trucks pretty much all over the area in picking blackberries. Course this was during the forties. Uh, when, course, uh we were made to feel we were doing a service for our country in providing. And we're told most of the can goods went to the armed forces. So, uh, I know that we took pride in, in that endeavor. Educational. Uh, I graduated from high school. Uh, eleven years of school. Which meant there was only four years, including the eighth grade. Uh, in 1947, I was the class, in the class of three. In the upper third of my class! And, I went from there to uh. Of course, it seemed like that it was always assumed that members of our family would go to college. We weren't ever sure how because with the nine children, the income was such that, uh, - my father just felt like that if you wanted to go to college you can go. And, that's pretty much the way that uh, - I enrolled in Milligan College. And, uh, with working all four years during college, not only on the campus but off campus as well. Uh, I managed to get through without uh, uh, accruing a large debt. Course, it was a large debt after, I think I owed probably over three thousand dollars. And, in 1953, that was a pretty sizeable amount of money. Uh, I received from Milligan a B.S. in physical education, with minors in biology, French, and Mathematics. I guess that'sŠ. Of course, my senior year, I was the president of the student body. Uh, I played baseball. Baseball was the sport of Lambsburg, and uh, this carried over into college. Uh, I was a three-year letterman on the baseball team, and I also played tennis. Uh, and that was primarily because they just didn't have enough. Though, I did play third man on the tennis team. And, I did manage to go to class enough to get through, to graduate.

Q: Where is this college?

A: Johnson, or, it's Milligan College, Tennessee, is the address, and it's between Johnson City and Elizabethan, Tennessee.

Q: When you left college, did you go into teaching?

A: I was scheduled, I'd already been examined for the army. And I was scheduled to go into service. And I made no effort to try to find out if there was anything available in the teaching profession. I was wanting to coach and teach. Uh, so, I, uh, I already had my induction papers, and uh, it wasŠ I was to go in August, to report to the induction center in August. And, I guess, about two weeks before I was playing baseball and sliding into home plate, and the plate, uh, it came up. And the spike on it clipped my elbow. And, course, I knew there was a chipped bone in the elbow. But, at the same time, I didn't think it was any major injury. But, anyway, when I reported to the induction station, they said they was going to send me back home, and I thought well maybe it will be two weeks and uh, when can I expect to report again. And, they said, that was something you got to check with your draft board. Well, I never did getŠ. Seem to me like it was a year before the draft board ever gave me a uh, classification. But, in the mean time, they said well, you just go ahead and do whatever you feel like you need to do. And I was expecting to be called back at anytime. Uh, but, they never did call me. In fact, the classification wasŠ I forgot what the classification was, but, anyway, they weren't calling those people at the time. In '53, they, uh, there was just not that big of demand on or need for young men in the service. It seemed like they pretty well had their quotas. But, anyway, I, uh, never did go into the armed services, and, uh, I was just helping out on the farm during the summer. And, uh, uh, the principal from Fries came into the hayfield where we were putting up hay, and wanted to know if I wanted to teach at Fries. And, uh, I told him I was certainly interested. I went toŠ Uh, course an interview was set up and I was hired as a coach. I think at that time was the assistant football coach, and the eighth grade coach, football, and assistant coach in baseball, and taught at Fries. I taught there two years. And uhŠ Then, I became aware of the principalship at Laurel Fork. And, they, uh, I was hired in 1955 as principal at Laurel Fork School. Laurel ForkŠI don't think they called it Junior High, but anyway, it was first grade through tenth grade. And, so, after two years of coachingŠ. Course, my second year of coaching I was head basketball coach, and uh, course assistant in football and baseball at Fries. And after that went asŠfour years as a principal at Laurel Fork Junior High, I believe they called it at that time.

Q: Were there things in your college education that prepared you to be a principal or was it just based on your experience and your personal qualities?

A: Well, the, uh, I think maybe some of the leadership role that was assumed maybe gave me some preparations for the administration. But, uh, course wise, there wasn't. Course, it was then, course, a master's degree was not required at that time for the principalship. But, at the same time, I knew that I needed the courses in school administration. And it was then, I'm not sureŠwell, it was after I got married, which was in '56, that I started uh, working toward my master's degree in school administration.

Q: Where did you do that?

A: I did it at Radford, but it was then VPI, a division of VPI. And I did all of my course work on the campus at Radford and received my masters degree in school administration from, uh, VPI. Uh, that was in 1960. And, course, at the same time, I'd never taken a course on the campus at VPI. It was all done at Radford.

Q: So, you were at Laurel Fork for four years?

A: Four years, yes.

Q: And, from there you wentŠ.

A: I went as a principal to Independence High School in Grayson County. And, course, that was quite a jump. TheŠcourse, that was principal over a 800 enrollment school, first grade through twelve grades. And, uh, course, I had an assistant principal that helped out in the elementary. But, that was, uh, there were no guidance directors. There wereŠ in fact, I think until I went as principal, secretary was half time. And it was soon thereafter that I think I convinced them that uh, there was a little more secretarial help was needed. Uh, but that wasŠthat was a real experience. Uh, the, uh, course, I can say that that was when my courses really started taking effect because I, pretty much, in all my classes, uh, I think one of the first things we did was to set up a schedule. And it was a schedule for students at Independence High School. And, course, the, the, uh, the principal that I followedŠI don't know how best to put itŠ but, he wasn't a school administrator, he was a football coach. And, he gave attention toŠI think they had pretty good football teams, but the school, uh, administratively, was left in disarray. And, uh, there was no information on preregistering students. Now you can imagine what it is to go into a school and the onlyŠno guidance Š the only thing you had to determine where students might be, were, uh, from the teacher's registers. And, you know, to say what different students were planning to go into and what their course of studies wereŠ there was just, there was just absolutely no information. And so, it was a matter of just constructing the best you could just to get started. Well, needless to say it was probably December before we, before we had a schedule developed. And, another example of the disarray was the finances. Uh, I, now I don't know, I, uh, I'm not sure my figures, but, uh, it was in the area ofŠI think it was one bank account for lunch room and for uh all general school finances, of a balance of a hundred and seventy two dollars. And, there were, uh, there were clubs and different ones that had said, uh you know, that had their own budgets, such as the Beta Club, the FHA Club, all the different clubs, that there should have been better than six thousand dollars in the budget. So, it was a matter of trying to generate finances, and trying to pick up and do what you could with the school. And that was a tremendous challenge. There is nothing I've ever done that was any greater challenge than that. I certainly, I was green from the word go, as far as school administration was concerned. Laurel Fork required no major administrative work. Uh, you know, I, I guess most of Carroll County schools were not too far removed from one room schools. Uh, the, most of the teachers that you had in the school came from one room schools, and they were a pretty independent group to start with. And, it required very little, uh, well it required some organization, but, uh, it required very little administrative work. In fact, I was a teaching principal. I taught math and some physical education, I think, and coached basketball and baseball at Laurel Fork. But, that was a pie job! Going into an 800 school, and uh, the, I don't, it, the, I think the school, uh, generally had the reputation of good school people, but at that time, it seemed like some things happened that just caused a lot of problems for the school. And, just needless to say, everything was at a rather low ebb.

Q: How long did you work at Independence?

A: I was there six years.

Q: And from there you went to?

A: Let me say this about Independence. I, eh, you know, I think my first two years were pretty difficult, but after that, I felt like thatŠ Of, course, the main thing that I felt like that helped me was that I could claim kin to a lot of the patrons in Grayson County. And, no question, but what that uh that helped you out. Because, if anybody looked at you from a standpoint of what background you had or what your stock was, it was Grayson County. They just uh they put a lot of stock in family. And most of the people were from that area. Course, in addition to that too, they had just consolidated. I think I was the second principal and there were onlyŠ that was in the third year of uh consolidation from Elk Creek School, and certainly there were those who thought that it ought to have been consolidated at Elk Creek rather than, rather than Independence. And working through that was an added responsibility.

Q: Issues of consolidation are stillŠ

A: yeahŠ

Q: Šdifficult to deal with.

A: Right. And, it, that, that one wasn't too easy either. And another thing that happened while I was there is uh that was the time that they started uh saying that uh blacks couldŠthe blacks were going to school in Wytheville. And no black students were going to any Carroll County, Galax, City of Galax, but, it was during that time that it was determined that they should be integrated into the local schools. And of course that was another issue that had to be faced, but was really was one of the minor problems that I had to deal with as far as school administration was concerned.

Q: From Independence, you wentŠwhere?

A: From Independence, I wentŠuh, I felt like it was still in educational business, but, in that was '65. In '65, I became the executive director of what was then called the Carroll, Grayson, Galax Economic Development Program, wasn't programŠCorporation, I believe. Which was the first community action program in this area. And, from '65 to '68, I was the executive directorŠto '69Š'65 to '69, I was the executive director of that program. And, you know I was dealing with such programs as Head Start. I was the one that got the first Head Start programs in the area, Neighborhood Youth Corps, Upward BoundŠand all of those different programs that supposedly were designed to involve the lower income. And, uh, so for four years I was very much involved in that, certainly the developmental stages of that program in our area.

Q: And following that position?

A: Uh, I came to Carroll County as the director of a Title III program. I think the fact that I, you knowŠthe community action program was primarily involved with federal funds, and Title III was an incentive program, incentive funds, federal funds that were made available to localities for innovative programs. And I became director of that, which was a curriculum study and revision program. ThatŠthis is what it eventually developed into. [showing Project Score brochure] But, before we got into that, we developed curriculum guides. We looked at the curriculum pretty much throughout the whole spectrum of the first through twelve and developing guides for that. Course, this was, it was a pretty strong program. We got a lot of VPI help and a lot of state department of education help in giving attention to Carroll County Schools. I know on my staff, at one time I think I had four doctorate, doctorates in education. So, we did some pretty innovative sorts of things.

Q: And you've shown me a brochure called Project Score.

A: I rushed things a little. That was not a part of the Title III program. That immediately followed. Project Score is a cooperative program. The Title III curriculum revision program was just Carroll County.

Q: O.K.

A: Though there were lot of things we were doing, we began sharing with a lot of other school divisions which got us into the cooperative mode of working with other school divisions. And, then Project Score was developed that involved four school divisions.

Q: Is this the next position you took on?

A: Yes.

Q: Project Score?

A: Yes.

Q: And this brochure shows that it serves four school divisions, including Galax, Carroll, Wythe, and Bland.

A: Right.

Q: And this dealt with special education?

A: Uh, now this, yeah, that did primarily special education. Uh, you know, this began in '74. No, wait, '69, probably began in '71 and went to '74. And, this program hired the first speech therapist in the area, the first school psychologist, first learning disability teachers, to serve our immediate area. Now, Helping Hand did some similar type things, but, it was uh, and Carroll County participated in it a while. But it wasŠ I think it was shared withŠI'm not sure how many school divisions. But, this was directly administered by the four school divisions. Project Score went from '71 to '74. Now, I Šdon't pin me down on these dates exactly. Because Project Score evolved into what became the Cooperative Centers for Exceptional Children, which involved eight school divisions. And, I was not the original director of that, Dr. John (------) through Appalachian Regional Educational Studies began some work with other school divisions. But, I think maybe, that was in effect for maybe two years at the same time that Project Score was going on. And then this was combined into eight school divisions that the Cooperative Centers for Exceptional Children. It wasn't originally called that. I think it was Appalachian Regional Center for Education or something to that. And, it was not just designed for working in the special education areas. It was designed to do a lot of, uh, survey work in determining what school divisions could do as a group, that they couldn't do, or that they could do better than they could do individually in separate school divisions. And we did a lot of teacher training, and a lot of other kinds of activities. At the time that they were doing that, I was project director of that program. And then when it became Cooperative Centers for Exceptional Children, then I became the director of the co-op that involved eight school divisions. Uh, that's the school divisions from Bristol ­ these four plus Smyth, Washington, City of Bristol ­ need one more, what's betweenŠoh, well City of Galax included here ­ Grayson, Grayson, which made eight school divisions, four counties and two cities. And, that's something I worked on until '83.

Q: And from there what did you move to?

A: From there I became a principal again.

Q: Back to principalship?

A: Yeah. Course, all the time that I was in the other activities I was dealing a whole lot with the principals. And those that I worked with, they were always saying that, "Well, you got out just in time. You just don't know what school administration is now."

Q: And you chose to return?

A: And I chose to return. In fact, I did it just to find out for myself how much, how much different that it was. And I, I had the opportunity to go to a number of school divisions. There were principalships available. But, I particularly, I guess one reason because I started out in Fries, and another reason was that Fries was, uh, they were going through hard times. And uh, they were, the mill was closing down, and the finances were drying up. Fries was really a separate school division. And, uh, I, you know, they said well if you want a challenge, go to Fries. I guess that's one thing that gave me an incentive to go there. And, uh, I was there from '83 to '90, to '90. And, of course, during that time, they consolidated with Independence. And, I was there one year after it became a middle school. That - Fries was quite an experience. It really was. I, to some extent, could identify with the principals who were saying that schools had changed, you know, you just can't do, the discipline had changed, the respect for schools, and this type thing. But, I felt like that with the good administrative leadership, that you could have a good school. You know you could have good discipline within your school. You could have good programs in your school. And, of course, I felt pretty strongly that that could happen. But, there's no question that it was more difficult to do that. Just for the respect, the difference in the, the way the school was viewed. You know I felt like, like at Laurel Fork and Independence, they wanted you to do good. You had strong parental support. And I always felt like I had strong parental support. Uh, well that wasn't as evident at Fries. Uh, particularly in the first two or three years. But then it seemed to build. Up until the community thought that I was giving support to the consolidation effort. And, uh, the parents couldn't support that very much.

Q: In thinking about your experience in principalship, I'm going to ask you about some things that would be expected of the principal. I guess the first one would be what kinds of things did the teachers expect you to be able to do. Um, what did it take for you to be able to work effectively with the teachers?

A: Well, uh, IŠIt's been said and I felt I was a teacher's principal. And I say that from a standpoint that uh, I always felt like that the major action of a school was in the classroom, and the best thing I could do would be to make that environment and give support to the teacher that is in the classroom with the student. I'm sure there are a number of teacher's would not agree with that, I gave that kind of support. But, at the same time I, that was something that I felt comfortable. And, another thing too, I always, I was an advocate of decisions being made at the local level. Always that the decisions be made closest to where the problem was. And, I was a part of that, uh, seemingly the eroding, the erosion of the decision-making being taken out of the school more and more. Not only from central office, but from State Department of Education and even in state legislature. That so many of the school decisions were made so far away from where I thought the problem was. And, and, I really feel like that's what's happening now. And it's to the detriment of education.

Q: SomeŠ

A: I'm not sure I answered the question.

Q: You did. Some principals hold the view that teachers and their other staff members are, in general, well motivated, they're self-starters. Other principals might feel that they have to closely monitor their employees to ensure that they are performing to standard. What approach did you use as the principal?

A: The first thing I did I think was to identify which one that was the self-promoter, did you say, and give all the support in the world that I could to that individual. Because, and I felt like that there were others that required the pretty close supervision. I honestly think that I was blessed to have a good core of teachers in every school that I was involved with. Uh, there's no question but what there's some that I felt were less desirable. But, I can honestly say that out of my, the teachers that I had supervision of, that there's only two that I couldn't recommend. I believe that's right. There may have been three or four that I couldn't recommend. I always took some responsibility to uh, make- to determine what's happening with a teacher that wasn't successful. And there's no question but what I feel like there's some teachers that shouldn't be teaching. And, uh, but, that was not the general rule that I found.

Q: May I ask how you worked with those teachers you felt weren't being as successful?

A: I, well, the, certainly I, the, there were some areas, particularly in elementary, that I just thought, just up front would say, well now I do not have the expertise that I think you need for the supervision within your class. Then it was myŠ I always felt free to go get the supervision that was needed. And, generally, had good success in calling on other people to provide that supervision. Uh, but at the same time, to recognize the fact and be, be very open, that you do need help, and try to determine the areas where the best help could be given. Uh, I, I think that by and large, I developed the atmosphere that teachers were able to give and take in a manner that, uh, they felt they could come to me with problems, even though it may not be in my expertise, and that I could get some help. I feel like by working in the regional program, it let me, this is later on, but it helped me to know where some of the best help was, and uh, I wouldn't hesitate to call on somebody from another school division to, to highlight the exemplary teachers, and in that manner try to improve.

Q: What expectations, and you've alluded to this a little bit already, were placed upon you as the principal by the community, by the parents, and other interested persons?

A: Well, I think, I think they expected a lot. And that was brought to me in a lot of different ways. They expected you to be at the school all the time. Uh, they expected you to handle the teachers. And, they expected the teacher; they expected you to see that the teachers treated their children fairly. And, uh, the uh, ŠI don't, I'm not sure what's the best way to answer that. But, I do feel like that they certainly looked upon the principal as the one managing the school, particularly discipline, that anything that involved discipline, that it was pretty much the principal's responsibility.

Q: Do you think that the expectations are any different today than they were in your times as principal?

A: I don't know that it is to any less degree, but it may be with different emphasis. Particularly with discipline. I feel like, I, I, I think I experienced in my latter years as principal, that a lot parents couldn't handle their children. And they didn't really want you to handle them either. And that puts you in a difficult position. Uh, I certainly feel like you ought to do all you can to get the support of parents. But, truthfully there's, uh, there's some children whose parents are detrimental to them, discipline wise, and development wise. And, I found that I was doing a lot of parenting. Uh, my last few years as a principal.

Q: Would you describe your relationship to students in your school? What did you see as your most important role in regard to the students?

A: I'll tell you a little incident that helped me, I think. Uh, and this happened at Laurel Fork. Out at Laurel Fork, uh, course, I was teaching like eighth, ninth, and tenth graders. And, there were a group of, er, I'd say like four or five young girls that, they were attractive, they were neat, and uh, they were, they were there to learn. And they were just a joy to be around. And, uh, I can remember thinking, well, you know, yeah, they are, they're very attractive and you would be prone to, you know, give attention to these students. And, uh, I can remember saying to myself that, you know all the students are going to get attention in my class. And, thought that I was doing a good job with it, until one time as the little girl came into my office and she was all disturbed about something that happened. And, it was probably in relationship to the class. But, anyway, she was in tears and very disturbed and she says, "Mr. Hawks, everybody knows who your pets are." And she proceeded to name those students. And I mean, to my just complete surprise, that how in the world would she ever know that? Well, it seemed to me, you know that I had my biases and they showed, you know. And, I just, there were times that I had to say, " There's certain things I look for and that I expect and you find favor with me when that happens, and it, that doesn't mean that I don't want to help you." But, it is something that, it's, you have to be very careful. And, uh, I, I think that uh, I became, I know that its come back to me in a number of ways, that students that were having a pretty hard time in school, that I could motivate them in ways that uh, that I think some other teachers and school administrators found it difficult. Uh, I, and have been told that I was a principal that looked after those less fortunate students. Uh, I felt that. Uh, I don't know, maybe it's growing up in Lambsburg, that sort of gives you that. That feeling.

Q: You've already indicated that you had a lot of experiences with different kinds of programs and special groups of students. Um, are there any other things that you would like to tell me about your work with special student services, like children with learning disabilities or gifted and talented.

A: Well, as I noted in Project Score, the, of course, now one thing that I think I felt I could have stayed at Independence and retired there. I mean, you know, I just felt. But, I felt like that I wanted to do something ­ there were so many students, you know, there was not anything for certain types of students in the school. And, uh, I felt like I wanted to be a part of a program that would develop some instruction for different types of students. You know, there, it's, when I was at Independence, there were a whole lot of students that were just told I'm sorry, we just don't have anything to offer for you at school. And without you met certain specifications, you couldn't come to school. And this was true for certain special education, education, or retarded students or handicapped students. And, that's something that bothered me. And, uh, I, I think I went into community action program with the idea that I could do something in that area, that I could help develop programs that would give attention to it. And, I felt very good about being a part of Head Start because I felt like that that was starting where you needed to, to address those kinds of problems. But, then working in with Project Score and working with Cooperative Centers for Exceptional Children, I think I was in the forefront of all that was going on in the state to develop programs. Uh, we worked with VPI, University of Virginia, special education people and uh, I, I think I had some pretty exciting individuals that were interested in developing programs. In fact, at one time, of course I noted that, that our program was accepted as a model program for the state. And that meant that we were involved in development at the state level and even national guidelines uh, as it related to special education. So, that was pretty exciting. You felt like you was on the cutting edge of what was going on and uh, I'll always value that experience. I'll tell you what; I probably have the distinction that very few people have. And that is that I, I figured it one time and I know for a fact, that I've worked under the direct supervision of thirty-seven different superintendents. Of course now, some were acting superintendents, they were notŠ But, the, you know, there was a time I had eight superintendents as my governing board in the Cooperative Centers and I had to meet with them and deal with them on a regular basis and certainly they, uh, what went on in their school division, I was under their supervision. So, you know I got to the point where I knew where the power was. And I knew, I got to the point to, thinking about evaluating teachers, I got to the point where I felt like I could evaluate superintendents pretty good, you know. And it all was dependent on how they used the power that they did have. And there's no question but what the superintendent at one time had a tremendous amount of power. They were, at one time, the most powerful people in any given uh, county or political subdivision. And, it was just nothing short ofŠI at one time thought I'd do my doctoral program on the superintendency and how different superintendents deal with the tremendous responsibility that they do have.

Q: What do you see in the superintendent's role now? You alluded to the fact that they did have such an extreme amount of power. How do you see it being different now?

A: Well, a, they're going to have to work hard toŠI, I feel like they need to uh, work to determine what their shared responsibility is. Uh, the, I think it's so very difficult because of the political implications. That uh, that's always been true, but I think now is to even within the uh, influence of uh, political, ah, directions, that they still got to establish, - well, not establish. I think in some cases it's already happened. But, they've got to show that they are the professional people that has an understanding of what's happening within the school division. Uh, and keep insisting that the decisions are made close to where uh, where the problem is. I don't know if you read, I think maybe two weeks ago, about the school board member that was concerned about the special education class in the Cooperative?

Q: I did not read that.

A: Well, it's, it's one school board member felt like that there ought to be a review of what was happening in the special education class. Now, I feel like it's perfectly legitimate for a school person to have a concern. But, for them to initiate a review for the school board? It seems to me that there ought to be, particularly in this situation, there ought to be four or five levels that it would go through before it would get to a school board member making those kinds of decisions. And I think that was truly brought out. But, I feel like again, this is where the superintendents has got to say, "Well, you know, these are some of the professional responsibilities that you hire school principals and supervisors to, to take care of. And, let's give them a chance." And the decision uh, decision-making on that basis. I don't think there's anything disturbs me any more than to hear the politician to say that uh, "I'm going to see that we have better discipline in the school." Now, he might be able to do

Q: Back to what we were saying about superintendents, school boards, and politicians.

A: Right. Uh, I had aspirations of being superintendent. In fact, I was on the certified list for a long time and made applications for the superintendency and was offered positions. But, there were just certain things you had to go through. Well, to give you an example is that I was approached by a city manager and saying, asking, would I like to be superintendent. And course my response, and I knew what I was saying when I said it, was that if the school board were asking, "Would I like to be superintendent?" I would like very much to be superintendent. Well, needless to say, I was not ­ there was no further progress in it. And I knew that city council was the one that was hiring the superintendent. Was pretty much hiring the superintendent. Well, I, it just seems to me like you are making a commitment to a particular group and that's at the expense of a whole lot of other people you have to be superintendent over. And it would appear you would be sort of hog-tied before you start. And I feel like there's a lot of superintendents very much in that position. And I, there's, I, course, my father was on the school board for a good number of years and uh, my aunt was chairman of the school board, and I learned the political ramifications of what you needed to do to be a superintendent. I mean, you know, it's, uh, there's no question that in the majority of my tenure as a school administrator that there were certain people that you needed to talk to, to put yourself in line for superintendency. And, in my estimation, they had no business dealing with education ­ well, they, they could be concerned, but they, they had no business in the decision-making process of who became superintendent. That's my estimation.

Q: Um, thinking about the role of the principal, there are some who think that the principal should be an instructional leader, should be concerned with curriculum, leading the instruction. There are those that suggest that realistically, the principal has to be a manager. Based on your background, what do you feel you are more of ­ and instructional leader or a manager?

A: Uh, I think definitely a manager. Uh, I don't know. Certainly, I got involved in instruction a whole lot. But, uh, I feel like that the ­ I always had problems evaluating teachers. I mean using an evaluative instrument. I felt like I evaluated teachers daily through my contact with them. And I tried to put myself in a position where a teacher didn't mind me coming into a classroom and that I was not there particularly for the purpose of evaluating, but to give support to the instruction. And from that standpoint, I feel like I was involved in the instruction. But, from the standpoint of looking at you, looking at a teacher in how well they're dealing with instruction and uh, the areas where they are particularly weak, or that they - I felt like I was sort of weak in that area.

Q: Could you describe a typical workday? How didŠ

A: Let me add to that too. I think that those that can do it certainly have the advantage over people like myself. You know, that see themselves more in the managerial role because I think certainly there is place for the instructional ŠI, I don't know. I still see it difficult for the principal to be the instructional leaders. Uh, because I feel like there's just so much that goes into instruction that uh, that it's hard to keep a finger on it. But, anybody that can, my hat's off to them.

Q: Well, along those lines, describe your typical workday. How was your time spent? Um, what was the typical number of hours you spent a week?

A: I, uh, at one time I was chastised, called before the school board, for not spending enough time on the school grounds. And it just so happened that that week I was involved in just a number of activities that required my attention. And I, I think that it was determined thatŠ I mean I could honestly say that I spent over eighty hours uh, at the school or with activities that were related to school activities. The number of hours ­ uh, I was always at school before anybody else was. And I've got, somewhere, scattered around, uh, legal pads where usually every day was dated and I would write down before anybody ever got to school those things that, that I wanted to accomplish that day. Uh, you know I knew there was going to be a whole lot of other things, but these were things that needed to get done. And uh, I always felt that I was the one that should be there the first and the last to leave. And I think I pretty well did that. And I never felt like I had it ­ had to make apologies for that. Even though, you know, you had meetings you had to go to and a lot of things that did take you away from the campus. And uh, that was perceived as just not being there by a lot of people. And I knew that. Uh, the uh, I know it was real funny and this is the, uh after my first year of going back to Fries ­ the, uh, the principal was supposed to be at all school board meetings and there was one meeting where there was a conflict. That I should have been at another meeting. And course, I asked the superintendent if the school board would excuse me for not being at that meeting. And gave the reason why. Well, the, when I came back, or the next day I think, the superintendent presented me with a list of complaints that the school board had against me, or about me [phone rings] as principal. And on it was ­ not enough time on the, at the school; uh, inconsistent discipline; uh, lack of attention to teachers, or not considering teacher's concerns. And just, uh, there's one or two other things. [Mrs. Hawks calls Mr. Hawks to the phone. He asks here to have the person call back. You hear this interaction on the tape.] There were some other complaints. But, they were all things that I considered my strengths. And you know it was one of those things where I had no inclination that this was a concern of anybody. And this is where all of the school board members lived on Main Street and the teachers had a rapport with the school board members ­ that they talked to them and wouldn't talk to me. And it, it really irritated me because, number one, that they would entertain complaints without saying, "Well, have you talked with Mr. Hawks about this particular concern?" And so I asked for a meeting with the school board members and proceeded to say that if you will ­ any teacher that comes to you with a complaint about what I'm doing or how I'm doing it, ask them, have you talked to Mr. Hawks about it. And if you would encourage them to do that, and then, if after having done that, they come back to you, then I feel like that it should be the school board contention. Well, of course, the chairman of the board, he proceeded to let me know right quick it's something I couldn't pay any attention to, that you had things like that. But, uh, I didn't get anymore complaints, and uh, it's just so many times a matter of communications. And it's a matter of being able to resolve it. You know if I'm responsible for certain people's actions, then certain things have got to go through me. I need the responsibility. If I have the authority to do it, I need the responsibility. And take the responsibility to do it. And I need the chance to do it. And that's sort of what sometimes gets sort of confused, I think.

Q: I have some questions just about your style of leadership in the principalship.

A: How much longer do you want to, do you think you need to ŠPardon?

Q: Not too much longer. I know you've got a meeting.

A: Do you think we can finish by six?

Q: Yeah.

A: O.K. Let me call Frank, and then we'll do itŠ

Q: In talking about your leadership style, it's been said that good leaders encourage their subordinates or their peers by staging celebrations of success, no matter how small the success might have been. To what extent did you engage in this practice as a principal and did it improve morale and effectiveness?

A: I, you know, I'd say that that was probably an area that was lacking with me, of any special recognition or celebration. I certainly always, uh, made it a point, or wanted to give support to those who were doing good work. Uh, and I know that I, I certainly tried not to pass up opportunities within teacher's meetings or other places to do so. But, to make special events to do that, uh, I certainly think it's a good practice. And, I didn't write enough thank-you notes and, or memos giving recognition for the good things that had happened. And I've always felt like that was a shortcoming of mine. But I recognize the fact that it is a good practice.

Q: I think we've talked about this a bit when we talked about teachers either being self-starters or needing more monitoring. Some writers recommend that principals adjust their leadership styles to meet individual needs of their staff. How do you feel about that idea? Did you practice?

A: Well, I thought I touched on it. But, I definitely feel like that the principal should adjust to the teacher's condition, a lot more so than the teacher should adjust to the principal's position. I just always felt like that they're closer to the action and if they're getting the job done, you give them support. And you, uh, you encourage that the best you can. And I've always felt it was the principal's responsibility to do that more so than the teachers, in trying to adhere to all of the directions from the principal.

Q: One model of leadership describes people as either assertive, supportive, or contemplative. Would you categorize yourself and give reasons for yourŠ

A: Give those

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