Interview with Mrs. Margaret Gillespie Joyce


This is March 25, 2000. I am speaking with Mrs. Margaret Joyce at her home in Bluefield, West Virginia, about her experiences as a public school principal.

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Q: Mrs. Joyce, would you begin by telling us something of your family background?

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

A: I was born in Boissevain, Virginia, Tazewell County, to George W. Gillespie and Ida Mathena Gillespie. I attended Boissevain Elementary School, which was grades one through six, and seven through twelve at Pocahontas High School. My family believed in education as my oldest brother attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Also one brother was a graduate of the Medical College of Virginia and became a well-known doctor. He passed away with an inherited illness. Now do I go on?

Q: Would you please discuss your college education and your preparation for entering the field of teaching. How many years did you serve as a teacher? And as a principal?

A: Sixteen years as a teacher and I guess that would have been twelve years as a principal and an administrator.

Q: I believe you told me that you were a supervisor for approximately ten years?

A: Unh uh. Now do I go on? Also I served six years of that time as a principal at Abbs Valley Elementary School and transferred to Pocahontas Elementary School as a principal in grades one through six. My principal encouraged me to attend Radford College. After attending several years, I decided to go to Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, in the summer months and pursue a MA Degree in Elementary Education. At the end of my teaching career the new gymtorium in the Abbs Valley School was named in my honor. It is now known as the Margaret Joyce Gymtorium.

Q: That’s quite an accomplishment. Thank you. Would you describe your personal philosophy of education? And, if you would, explain how it changed and came about over the years. Your personal philosophy of education.

A: I repeat, my personal philosophy of was always a part of my adult life. It gives me great pleasure to recognize many of my former students, and have the feeling that perhaps — you know, this is hard for me. I repeat, my personal philosophy has always been a part of my adult life. It gives me great pleasure to recognize many of my former students and I have a feeling that I have played a part. At the time of my teaching we did not have special education classes in our school and we taught all of those in the regular classroom. It was difficult at times to meet the needs of the children and to recognize those who were especially gifted. I am not informed on curriculum trends today. However, my great-great granddaughter, a student at Radford University, keeps me up to date on what’s going on in her classes.

Q: Does it sound familiar to you when she talks to you?

A: Yes, oh yes.

Q: It’s nice to know that some things don’t change.

A: Uh-uh.

Q: What kinds of things do teachers expect principals to be able to do? If you would, describe what it takes to be an effective principal. In other words, what’s your understanding of a good principal from your experiences?

A: Teachers expected principals to be very supportive and perhaps teach for them should they be absent from their duties. Principals do not usually care to do this, saying they are not prepared. I believe it is very important for a principal to be trained in the field that he hopes to supervise. It is difficult to help a teacher if you are not sure what she is trying to teach.

Q: One of the greatest compliments I’ve heard paid to you from your former teachers is that you just stayed so well-versed, so knowledgeable about guidance issues and testing issues. You came to observe and you brought out the best in your teachers.

A: Yes, I think that is important.

Q: For future advice that I may use, speak a little bit about the difficulty of getting a teacher to change or conform or improve — because I think that would be very hard.

A: Well, it is very hard, and uh…. sometimes the teacher thinks it’s criticism when you attempt to maybe change some rules or change some curriculum things that from experience you may think may help the situation. And sometimes they think it’s being critical which it wasn’t intended at all, but I always tried to have a good repore with my teachers.

Q: And from a teacher’s standpoint, I can certainly appreciate that. That would be a wonderful characteristic, in my opinion, of a good principal.What suggestions would you offer to those who are in higher education as ways of helping them to better prepare candidates for administrative positions?

A: Let’s see — do I have that here? Yes. I see a definite weakness in preparing candidates for administrative positions. Many times these positions are filled with personal friends. There is a definite need for the training of administrators. They should be knowledgeable in their field and should be able to work well with others.

Q: Do you feel like you received, during your personal formal training in education, do you feel that you received the best that higher education had to offer at that time?

A: Yes, I think I did. I was so impressed with Peabody. After I taught all year, I went three straight summers at Peabody. I lived on the Vanderbilt campus and did observing there, but I didn’t have any classes at Vanderbilt but I think it was a real experience for me to go to Peabody because I met teachers from everywhere and principals from everywhere and it was an experience that I’m glad that I didn’t have to miss.

Q: That’s great. What about your time in the field, like now we have classes early on in teacher preparation that put us in the field, the classroom. Did you have a lot of that?

A: No. I did not at that time. I did not. I was just encouraged by my principal to go to Peabody and it was by accident that I had a room at Vanderbilt and I learned so much there. And the Peabody experience was just wonderful. I’m really thankful.

Q: Well, that’s very interesting. Did you have student teaching as we know it today? Was that like the last part…?

A: I had that at Radford, the student teaching at Radford.

Q: OK. There are those who argue that standardized testing can provide a way to improve instruction. Would you please discuss your experiences with such testing and provide us with your views on its effect in the quality of instruction.

A: I am not sold on standardized testing for the simple reason that many students do not test well for various reasons. I believe that if students are exposed to quality instruction they may not need standardized testing. I’m definitely opposed to standardized testing that keeps students out of college. At the time of my career, it was very frustrating to have wide range of abilities in the classroom and very little time to meet those needs. I believe that we must administer standardized testing especially for the college bound, since colleges seem to rely on them somewhat. The first day I was enrolled Radford College I was given a series of tests, and I was never told the results.

Q: That would be very discouraging, I’m sure.

A: Uh-uh.

Q: I’m sure that it was. What’s your opinion of the testing now that children, like the SOL testing and we had the Literacy testing, that are actually prohibitors from graduation if you don’t pass. I’m interested to know that if a child has passing grades in the teacher’s grade book, yet they don’t pass a standardized test, they can’t graduate. How do you feel about that?

A: Well, I think it’s very discouraging to a previous administrator to know that a child can be kept out of college if they really want to go. And, the test, in my opinion, is really..I’m not sure, a test of knowledge. Some children get nervous, maybe they were sick the night before, maybe mamma and daddy were not very happy at home. There are reasons for children to fail on tests and I think teachers and administrators should be aware of that.

Q: Thank you. Did you find, with your teachers, were they discouraged about the standardized testing? I know sometimes today it’s just — that I don’t feel like I enjoy my children in the classroom because we push and push to try to get an objective covered. Did your teachers experience that, or do you think that’s something…

A: I don’t think it was as prevalent in my day as you are finding it today because when my granddaughter, great-granddaughter, talks to me today about Radford she tells me some things that are a pressure for her that when I went to Radford as a student, I didn’t have that. But they do have it today. She is conscious of the fact that her parents expect her to do well, and I think she does do well. But it’s very different from when I went to Radford.

Q: I’m curious to know if she is thinking about education — your granddaughter, is she interested in going into teaching?

A: Yes, yes. She is interested in being a teacher.

Q: Does she ever speak about her high school preparation? Did she feel that she was adequately prepared?

A: I think feels that she was. She is a graduate of Graham High School, and she did real well. And I think that she feels that she did well and she’s at Radford now.

Q: Well, that’s encouraging to me to know that she feels that way.

A: Uh-uh.

Q: As far as testing procedures, did you find that when you were principal, you felt a responsibility to stay on top of the upcoming tests and see that they were administered? I know that now days, most of the guidance counselors do that. Was it handled that way when you were principal?

A: Well, it was left primarily to the principal.

Q: Primarily to the principal?

A: Uh-uh. And at that time, when I was teaching, we didn’t have guidance counselors.

Q: OK.

A: So it was left primarily to the principal.

Q: Was it maybe once a year? Twice a year that the children were tested? Certain grades.

A: Well, certain grades were tested. And we didn’t try to do much before the 4th grade.

Q: That’s interesting — since there are 3rd grade tests now for the Standards of Learning. That’s interesting. OK. Would you just comment on the pressures as a principal that you found that you felt? Surely there were days that were more trying than others. How do you feel you coped with that?

A: Well, in the first place, some of the beginning teachers, a good many of the beginning teachers, were assigned to Abbs Valley, and I thought it was very stressful to give me as many as they did. They compensated by telling me that they thought I was doing a good job.

Q: Well, that was a compliment certainly. Can you think, from over the years, can you think of a really tough decision that you had to make during your tenure, whether it involved a teacher or policy. Something that you really had to deal with that you would rather not have?

A: Well, I think, uh, if there happened to be a teacher in the school that was not going to be returned, that they would expect me to tell the teacher that we weren’t planning to have her back the next year. And I sort of resented that because I thought that if the administration wasn’t going to rehire her, that it was up them to tell her and let me give her the reasons. I could have given her the reasons that I would not recommend her but, as far as hiring her was concerned, I felt like it was up to the supervision in the main office.

Q: So you actually had to say to this person for the first time, "You won’t be back"?

A: That you won’t be back. And that was very difficult to do and I felt like it was up to the county division.

Q: Can you recall that this was changed during your tenure, or…?

A: Well, somewhat. Somewhat it was changed, and of course, it’s altogether different today. You have to be extremely careful if you let a teacher go today because of lawsuits and various other things that could happen. But it was very difficult for me to tell a teacher that she or he would not be back.

Q: I can understand that. I’m curious about Abbs Valley. I hear so much, have heard over the years so much good about Abbs Valley. What was it like in your day? Mr. Crist, that we spoke of earlier, said he can remember when there were four hundred students. Can you tell me just a little so that I can get a picture of what Abbs Valley was like?

A: Well, it was wonderful school — one of the best schools in the county. But then after the coalmines began to close down, many of the young couples with children moved because they had to for employment. And it cut down really on the number of students in the school. And I felt that the curriculum was not as strong at that time because we lost some of the good students.

Q: That’s unfortunate.

A: Yes.

Q: And in this entire area. Very unfortunate.

A: But it was a good school.

Q: About how many teachers, like when the enrollment was four hundred, about how many teachers do you remember having?

A: Well, we had two per grade.

Q: Two per grade. And that was…

A: When John Crist was there, there were two per grade.

Q: And it was K through 6. Is that right?

A: Uh-uh.

Q: How was lunch duty handled and that sort of thing?

A: Well, back then we tried to give them thirty minutes for lunch and I encouraged the teachers to go to the cafeteria and sit with the children because they were better behaved and they ate better.

Q: That’s certainly a consideration. I wouldn’t have thought about that.

A: But now teachers did not always want to do that. You know, they wanted that as a free period. And I thought we needed to arrange a free period at another time in the school day.

Q: Right.

A: During the school day.

Q: I believe that that is something that hasn’t changed. I think most feel that most feel that way today. As far as the facility itself, was there outside equipment, playground equipment?

A: Well, we had some and the PTA usually took care of that. We had wonderful parent-teacher organization and you could just tell them things that you needed and they would take care of it. It was really a good situation as far as parents were concerned.

Q: That’s wonderful — a real plus. It has been said that good personnel managers encourage their teachers by staging celebrations of their successes. Do you feel that when you were a principal, that teachers were recognized and celebrated and made to feel good about their daily duties?

A: I think so. I think so. I tried to put them at ease because I think that if a teacher is ill at ease and insecure, that the children are going to suffer for that. So I tried very hard to recognize them and to talk to the PTA about things that teachers were doing in the classroom that parents would not know. I think it is very important for a principal to support his teachers.

Q: Did you consider at the time that morale was good?

A: I thought so.

Q: Would you say better than it probably is today?

A: I’d say so because the circumstances are so different today.

Q: Right.

A: And the things that Jessica tells me today that even go on at Radford today, when I was a student there, they’d send you home for it. They’d send you home! And Jessica will tell me, "Well, so and so didn’t spend the night in the dorm last night." And I said, "Now Jessica, we don’t do what other people do. We do what we know is right." But she’s a wonderful girl and she’s a good student and I’m proud of her.

Q: I’m sure she’ll do well. What about today, you going into a classroom and teaching?

A: I wouldn’t consider it. I think I would be a complete failure because things are so different today. The children are different, the parents are different, teachers are different, principals are. I would not consider it today because I don’t think I would be effective.

Q: Well, that’s interesting. You seem like a very flexible person to me. If you were giving advice to someone who is going in to administration, can you tell me things that, above all, you think that person should consider before investing the time to be an administrator in today’s world?

A: Well, first of all, I think they should love children because there will be many, many situations that will question how you deal with children and you will have some problems. And I think it is very important to work with teachers. I think the principal needs to respect the teachers, and the teachers need to respect the principal. And if we don’t do that, then I think children pay for it.

Q: Thank you. I think that is an excellent comment. If a perspective administrator has reservations about being effective, can you suggest places to go, people to talk to. I appreciate what we’re doing because I’m learning from you. It’s just amazing to me the wisdom and knowledge you have after these years. Who do you think is out there as resources for people who may need help as an administrator?

A: Well, I would discourage anyone from going into administration if they are insecure in any way because there is something that builds up between an administrator and his teachers. If the teachers know more than the administrator then I can see where that would be a problem. I can certainly understand where a teacher would not respect the administrator like they should.

Q: Did you find that Central Office, during your time, provided assistance or help very much or somewhat?

A: Somewhat.

Q: At that time, was Mr. (Lester) Jones superintendent?

A: Yes and I had taught for him as a teacher and he was very good, very effective and I respected him.

Q: Can you recall the positions that were available in Central Office? Like today we have an elementary supervisor and a secondary supervisor, someone who administers testing procedures for the county.

A: Well, now….at one time when I was at Radford, they talked to me about coming to the Central Office but I turned it down.

Q: You just weren’t interested?

A: I just didn’t want to go into the Central Office. But I think the experience I had at Peabody College and Vanderbilt strengthened me as an administrator more than anything — more than anything else was the experience I had.

Q: Some principals believe that teachers and other staff members are well-motivated and reliable self-starters. Other people believe that it is real necessary to monitor closely those that work under you. How did you handle that? Did you find that you scrutinized heavily, or you just had this rapport with your teachers that they knew what you expected? I’m curious to know about that.

A: Well, I think they knew what I expected and the Central Office, for the most part, gave me good teachers at Abbs Valley. I thought they gave me too many inexperienced teachers, and they’d tell me, "Well, it’s because you’ll train them. And we’ll send them somewhere else." But that didn’t satisfy me and I didn’t like that because once they would stay in Abbs Valley and become a good teacher then they’d move them somewhere else. And I thought it was unfair to the children.

Q: Well, I can understand that. Were they basically easy to work with, the new teachers?

A: For the most part, they were.

Q: Were they mostly right out of college?

A: Yes. And occasionally you would get inexperienced teachers that would do things from inexperience. And that would happen to them. And I felt like they gave Abbs Valley more inexperienced teachers than Abbs Valley deserved because by the time you’d get them trained they would move them somewhere else. And I thought it was unfair to the children in Abbs Valley.

Q: And I can certainly understand that, as well. What do you consider for yourself to be — I’ve heard so many good things about you, what would you consider, looking back over the years, your strengths? What do you think Mrs. Joyce was doing, during all this time, training the teachers that possibly others weren’t?

A: Well, sometimes when we’d get an inexperienced teacher who had not taught before, I’d go in the classroom and teach for her. But now they don’t advocate this. They say that if you do it, why, teachers begin to depend on it every time you come in the classroom they’d want you to teach for them. But I didn’t find that in Abbs Valley. I thought that if I had an inexperienced teacher and I thought that she needed help, I’ve gone in and taught for her — especially in reading.

Q: So mostly you did it just to provide a role model?

A: Yes

Q: That’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. I’ve never heard of that.

A: I thought it was important to do this. Anyway, I felt it was hard to expect a teacher to do something that you couldn’t do yourself. So, I went into the classrooms and taught classes.

Q: Well, I think what you’ve just shared, comes to mind at my school real often. If administrators will just learn with us, or help us to learn from them, it just improves so much — so much school climate is improved and is just so much more pleasant.

A: Sometimes the principal is so insecure when he knows that the teacher knows more than he does, and consequently, they stay out of the classroom and they don’t build up the rapport with teachers because teachers are smart. They weren’t born yesterday.

Q: We appreciate you saying that!

A: And they know if principals are capable of coming in and helping them.

Q: What about teacher observations and evaluations? I’m sure you had a lot of that to do.

A: Uh-uh.

Q: How did you handle that? What is a good way to handle that?

A: Well, I don’t know that there is a good way. But I kept a record in the office. If I went to see Mrs. Jones today, I put that under her name and how long I stayed and what classes I saw. And then when I would go back as a review, then I would know what I was looking for — looking for improvement, changes in attitude, and that sort of thing. And being a principal is not an easy job. I found supervision much easier.

Q: That’s interesting. One of the things that Mr. Crist told me, he said, "There have been two people in my life who were ever to come and observe and evaluate me, and I got real nervous. And," he said, "it was because I had so much respect and knew that they were so knowledgeable that just the thought would just make me nervous." You were one and Bobbie Jo Peters (Cutlip) was the other one. And he said when Mrs. Joyce came, she didn’t come in for a few minutes. He said she watched the lesson and she watched the children.

A: Uh-uh.

Q: I thought that was a real compliment. Did you go over the form with the teacher? And then….

A: After.

Q: Afterwards.

A: I not sure that I always handled it correctly. I didn’t always tell them I was coming because sometimes I didn’t always know. Sometimes things would come up maybe with parents in the office, a sick child would have to be sent home. And I didn’t always know to inform the teacher. But I think, I think it’s good to tell them that you are coming.

Q: OK.

A: But I enjoyed John Crist. He was an excellent teacher.

Q: Well, he still is and we really appreciate having him at our school. Were the observations and evaluations maybe just like it is now, with ever so many years you’re on full evaluation? But with so many new teachers, maybe you had more than your share of that. Just once a year? Or ever so often. About how many times did you observe a teacher in one year?

A: Oh, quite a bit. I’d say maybe once a month.

Q: Oh my goodness. That’s certainly a lot more often than we have now. That’s interesting.

A: I think if you go in once a year, it’s unfair to offer criticisms with one visit. You don’t always see what you’re looking for.

Q: Mrs. Joyce, I want to ask you about the recertification of the teaching certificate. How was handled? Is it similar to the way it is today?

A: The way that it is today.

Q: Still had to do that? Were classes offered through the school system or did you have to find those on your own?

A: Well, they were offered — night classes. But I didn’t take any night classes. I just went on to Peabody and had mine done there.

Q: Was that at the teacher’s expense? The teacher had to pay for the classes or some were maybe offered?

A: Well, some were offered but not all of them. And if you took a class that wasn’t offered, then you were responsible for the pay.

Q: Now do you ever remember taking anything that would be comparable to the National Teacher’s Exam or any final examination before you were given any certification?

A: No.

Q: OK. Can you tell me a little about the discipline issues? I know in K through 6, it probably wasn’t a real big part of your day. What were the issues — like what would children be sent for? What did you have to deal with?

A: Well, for the most part, if you have good teachers, they take care of it themselves. And like John Crist, he never sent a child to the office. He could take care of it in the classroom and there were other teachers there just as good — that took care of it. But now occasionally, usually the problems that we’d have would be from the bus. Children didn’t get along and if they had a disagreement with a friend over in another room, they wanted to settle it in — on the bus when they’d get out of school. Sometimes, those would be discipline problems and… But they weren’t major.

Q: So I guess that was a very good thing because you told me earlier that you did not have the benefit of an assistant principal.

A: No, I did not have an assistant.

Q: Did you ever have one?

A: No.

Q: Were there, during times when you had to be away from school, like for principals’ meetings, was there someone left in charge?

A: Yes. I would designate one of the teachers in one of the upper grades. Now I taught with John Crist and I tried to encourage him to become a principal because he works well with children, but he wasn’t interested. He said he’d like to stay in the classroom and teach — he really wasn’t interested in administration. Now I don’t know if he has changed.

Q: Mrs. Joyce, I don’t think that he has because when he and I were going over some memories he has of working for you, I told him that you had told me that you encouraged him and he said, "Well, she did, but I looked at Mrs. Joyce and I just couldn’t have come close to that." So I guess you are just a person he really admires and looks up to. So maybe he felt he couldn’t be as effective as you were. So he said, "I thought about it very short term then I just decided that I would stay with the kids."

A: Uh-uh.

Q: And that’s such a blessing for those of us who work with him and for the children. We have many, many dedicated teachers.

A: John was a very dedicated teacher.

Q: What, having come through just a bit of a winter bout, when you were principal, was a lot of result from bad weather, snow days? Did you make up the time?

A: We always made up the time. But the Central Office had the authority to close the schools, and the principals were expected to go on to school.

Q: Just the principal?

A: Uh-uh, if the school was closed.

Q: And you shared with me that that wouldn’t be much of a problem for you because you lived in a house that…

A: That belonged to the school board.

Q: Belonged to the school board?

A: Uh-uh. But again, I tried to encourage John Crist to become an administrator. I think he would do an excellent job. And he gets along well with people and he’s smart. But he wasn’t interested saying he would rather stay in the classroom.

Q: Well, that’s a plus for children and for us at Graham Middle. We really appreciate having him there. OK. Would you tell me about some of the circumstances leading up to your decision to retire at the time? Did you have some reservations? Or what did you go through as a person when you first thought about retiring?

A: Well, once I had made up my mind that I had done about all that I could do as a principal, that it was time for me to move on and let some younger person take over the job. And it wasn’t an easy decision.

Q: And at the time of your retirement, how many years had you given to education?

A: Thirty-eight.

Q: Thirty-eight years.

A: But, you know the problem is that a lot of good teachers don’t want to be administrators — like John Crist. I thought John would be an excellent one but I could never talk him into it. He was a good teacher, and he was good to children.

Q: Do you think, possibly, that those people are so much aware of the trying times now?

A: Yes, yes. Yes, I think they are.

Q: I think it is a scary thought, and I can see that you are a strong person, or you would obviously not have enjoyed your thirty-eight years that you did.

A: Part of that was in supervision.

Q: And did you prefer one over the other? Did you like the principalship better…..

A: Well, I thought there were more problems as a principal than as a supervisor. Because the principal is right there in the school with the children, and sometimes there are teacher problems, sometimes it’s parents, and sometimes it’s disruptive children. But in supervision, you see, you don’t have that. You are primarily concerned with improving instruction.

Q: What were some of your duties as a supervisor? I mean I don’t know all that they do. I know that we have one in secondary and one in elementary now but I don’t really know their job. Can you tell me how it tied in, what you had to do as a supervisor to directly affect our schools?

A: Well, Mr. Jones (superintendent of Tazewell County schools for many years) and I went into supervision together. And he worked the upper grades and the high school, and I took the primary grades.

Q: And did you just visit the school periodically or go in to monitor if there were problems?

A: Well, we’d do that too.

Q: I am curious about the textbook selection. Was that part of the supervisor’s responsibility?

A: Well, we’d set up committees in the Central Office of teachers and principals to do that. I served on many of those. But that was done through the Central Office.

Q: What about, like today, we have been through the self-study phase and, I guess that sounds familiar.

A: Uh-uh.

Q: Now we have either school improvement or school renewal where we have, as a school, objectives or goals that we set, and we work toward reaching those. Is that something that you also had to deal with, more so as a principal or supervisor?

A: Well, I think it’s more intense today than when I was on the job.

Q: As a supervisor, did you find that you had issues to deal with that basically no one else could? Were there things like you had the say-so, or you had the responsibility for or control over, that maybe a principal or group of principals wouldn’t? Did they come to you often?

A: For advice.

Q: OK.

A: And then we had principals’ meetings in Tazewell once a month when Mr. Jones would bring in all the principals. He’d do elementary at one time and then secondary at another. And discuss problems.

Q: OK. Can you remember any of the problems? Just issues…

A: Well, sometimes it was teacher problems rather than children and you would discuss that in a group. Now, if Mr. Jones transferred a teacher, when I was principal, you had to really know what you were doing and why you wanted it done. But now he’d listen to you and most of the time he would do what the principal recommended. He didn’t want to do it without real reason because sometimes a teacher did not want to be transferred because of driving. They pooled their rides and they didn’t want to do it.

Q: Right. Have you been through a time that you really regretted that you retired when you did?

A: Well, I’d been it thirty-eight years and I felt like things were changing so rapidly that I thought it was time to let another principal take over, and I’ve never resented it or regretted it because I did what I could do while I was there. And I think my body told me that it was time to retire. And sometimes you see a teacher that just hangs on and hangs on and hangs on. It isn’t good for the children, and it isn’t good for her ‘cause it can really take a toll on your health. So I knew that it was time for me to retire.

Q: I’m just curious, having spoken to Mrs. Webb (former Tazewell County administrator), I’m curious to know if there are a group of you who keep in contact, still talk?

A: Well, Irma and I go to the same church.

Q: Oh, OK.

A: But I’m on one side of the church and she’s on the other one. And I’m really not that close to her now. But now there are a couple of teachers there in Abbs Valley that I’ve been close to over the years. Pam Cannoy….. I believe she’s still in Abbs Valley, and Gloria French is here in Bluefield, Virginia. I believe that she’s at Dudley.

Q: I know Mrs. French but I don’t know Mrs. Cannoy. Now did they start with you?

A: Yes. Uh-uh.

Q: And they were able to stay at Abbs Valley through your time?

A: Uh-uh. I believe that Mrs. Cannoy is still out there. Her husband is a teacher at Pocahontas High School, too. And I think Gloria and her husband have moved and live in Bluefield, Virginia, now. But we were close and we were good teachers.

Q: It’s nice to keep the camaraderie there and the relationships….

A: Uh-uh.

Q: …I’m sure make good memories. Can you, in closing, can you think of anything that you’d like to share with me that I haven’t asked? You’ve talked, mentioned your granddaughter several times, and the fact that she is interested in being a teacher, and I look at that as a tribute to you because I’m sure that she’s admired and listened to your experiences. Do you feel good about her becoming a teacher?

A: Yes…and no. I think a beginning teacher going into the teaching profession now needs a great deal of help and support. I’m not sure that they always get it.

Q: OK. That’s very interesting.

A: Because sometimes, when principals get these jobs, they just stay and stay and stay. And I’m not sure that a beginning teacher can profit from all of that.

Q: It’s so wonderful, and I had this experience, to have a few teachers who are there to help you.

A: Uh-uh.

Q: Because I think sometimes administrators just assume that you have your certification and credentials…

A: …and that everything is all right. And that isn’t always the case.

Q: No it isn’t. Even at my age, in my 30’s, I was nervous about being with children, about teaching children. But I didn’t think anyone expected me to say that. I wanted someone to know and help me and be there for me. Hopefully, Jessica will have the same experience.

A: Well, I hope so.

Q: Right..

A: Because it can ruin a beginning teacher and really drive her out of the profession. And that first year is so important. And they should be careful where they assign beginning teachers.

Q: Do you feel that your teachers bonded together? Because Abbs Valley sounds like such a nice community.

A: I think they did.

Q: Supported each other?

A: Uh-uh.

Q: That probably had to make your job….

A: Made it easier. It was a good school. Abbs Valley was a good school when I was there, and I’m sure that it still is.

Q: I do continue to hear good things about it. I appreciate so much your sharing with me and talking with me. If there is anything else that you’d like to say that I haven’t asked you…

A: Well, I think you’ve done an excellent job, and you’re enjoying this class at Radford, aren’t you?

Q: I am. I’ve learned at lot, and I look forward to putting it to use and helping public education. Thank you so much. I do appreciate it.

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