The following is an interview between Mr. Walter Kane and Mr. James Dumminger. The interview was held on a very snowy Monday (January 26, 1987) at 4:00 PM. The setting was the den of Mr. Kane's Newport News home.
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Q: How many years were you in education as a teacher? As an administrator?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: I was in education for a total of 38 years. I was in 20 years as a teacher. As an administrator, I'll kind of have to divide it. I was in central office for four years, and that comes to 24. Fourteen years I was principal, an elementary school principal.
Q: And in which schools?
A: In Newport News, all of my educational experience was in the Newport News School System. I worked at a school, James Lee Elementary, which is no longer there. I-664 destroyed it on its way through.
A: John Marshall Elementary, Sedgefield Elementary, and I also, worked as a. . .it was, also, like a principalship or supervisor. I was the coordinator for Title I at its inception.
A: In fact, I left the classroom to go into that position, as the coordinator of Title I programs for the city of Newport News.
Q: In the last school that you were principal of could you kind of give a description of the physical plant?
A: Oh, it was on Todds Lane. It was Sedgefield Elementary School. A lower-middle income community. However, children were bussed in. It served approximately 10 apartment complexes that I had to deal with. I would say lower-middle income children, also. Basically we had about, oh in the neighborhood of about 23-24 teachers depending upon the type of curriculum that we had, along with a chapter I program. We qualified for chapter I because approximately 38% of our children were from low income families in the school.
Q: That's similar to the schools that I have worked with, Prince Edward and Surry. Definitely they qualified.
A: There's no qualms about that. In fact, every school that I have ever worked in has been a Title I school, that is it qualified for Title I. I have worked in the ghetto area, if you can call it that, the east end of Newport News and of course, Sedgefield busses children in from a number of subsidized apartment complexes.
Q: I know that you enjoyed your years as a classroom teacher. . .
A: Yes, I did.
Q: What made you decide to get out of the classroom and go into central office and then. . .
A: Money. I mean I have to be quite frank with you because I was in, I was in coaching and teaching and physical education and I was coaching, also. I was getting some extra money, but in the mean time I went to Indiana University to get my masters and I had three children and what I made in the classroom was not sufficient to support three children. It wasn't then and it's not now.
A: I moved on into administration and I found that I could make ends meet a little bit.
Q: Ok. What was your. . .in your last school or any school that you want to talk about, what was your school's philosophy and how was that philosophy developed?
A: Anything that you develop in school you develop in concert with the teachers. Ah, you don't go in and say that this is the way that I feel things should be done, so fourth and so on. It's got to be done in concert with teachers and I dare say when you come up with a philosophy, that we said the same thing in every school that I've ever been in. We used different vernacular, but ended up saying the same thing. Basically, children are what schools are all about. That's basically, what it comes out to be. You can dress it up and say it in many different ways, but that's basically what it comes out to. I would tell teachers everywhere I worked--I would tell teachers if you don't think students are uppermost, the most important thing in the school, then you don't need to be in education. You know, it's best for your mentality, for your survival to get out of it if you don't like children and feel that they're the most important thing we have here. Basically, that's what it boils down to.
Q: In your school how did you create a climate for learning?
A: Climate for learning, first you have to create. . .find. . .I always had a premise when I would go in first of all I would always try to make teachers feel that they are important, and they are. They are the most important ones in the school. They are the ones that deal with these 22, 23, 24 children everyday; 5 and 6 hours a day, especially at the elementary school. And you create a climate for a teacher and if that teacher has any ability whatsoever the children will learn. The teacher has to have. . .it's almost the same way if you ask me about a child. You can almost tell when a child comes into a classroom, as a teacher, whether that child is going to have a good experience because you know his background. You look and get a sense of his body language and how he feels that day and you know whether or not he's going to have a good day that day. I get that same feeling with teachers and teachers have to feel good. I have a basic philosophy of life. If you can't give me some of yourself you can't impart anything else good to anybody else.
Q: Ah ha.
A: You know. And the same thing goes with children. If the child can't feel good about himself, he's not going to like anybody else and he's going to become a problem for you.
Q: What specific things did you do to help your teachers feel good and your students?
A: To help the teachers feel good, first of all--and with my long experience--and to recognize where some problems are and to work with the teacher on an individual or collective basis depending upon the type of problem that it is. To say, "Hey, you got my support. I'm going to help you. I'm going to do whatever I can to help you." It could be in terms of a teaching problem and I was not adverse to going into a classroom and doing a demonstration teaching lesson. I had no qualms about that. We were in the program for "Effective Teaching" in Newport News and we spoke the same language. And we knew--actually all of us knew--what a set was and we knew how to state the objective at the beginning of a lesson and to give all of those components of the lesson that are necessary. So we spoke the same language. So, whether it was in instruction, whether it was in the affective area--I like to call it--I tried to demonstrate my support for the teachers as much as possible and do those things, deal with those problem areas, problem children that we have. And as you well know, in an educational setting they come to us with wide and varied problems. And try to help them deal with the emotionalities that we have with these 500 odd children that are in the school. When you do that the other things, you know, as far as instruction is concerned, of course we had regular sessions where I would go in and observe a teacher in the (inaudible) of instruction and we would sit down and talk with each other not in a threatening manner. I would take all kinds of notes during instruction and I would have a long legal pad and I would just write and write, but I was observing teacher behavior. And we would have little things that we could talk about and once it was over with I would take the legal pad and give the papers to the teacher. She could look at them. I didn't put them in some secret drawer in my office and say, "Hey, you didn't teach a good lesson. I got this over your head." It wasn't done in that manner. So that's basically, that along with determining at the beginning of the year--determining what it is that we needed to work on in the school, specifically, and having workshops and so forth. For instance, when I left--the last two years before I left--we found there's a definite need in schools all over for writing. Writing is the "pits" as far as children are concerned. Knowing how to write a--to have a topic sentence and how to put a concluding sentence, knowing how to develop a paragraph, and to say what you've got to say. We used, not through our own, but through some books that we read and we had this girl to come in from Arlington, Virginia. They had a program there. We established what we call, "Power Writing". P-O-W-E-R which is an anachronym for Pre-writing, Organizing, Writing, Editing, Re-writing. We use that from grade three-up. We didn't do it with the little ones because they are just learning--they're just learning how to form letters and, you know some other things; but when they got into sentence work, beginning at the third grade level, we used that approach. That's a definite need and to work--we worked with the teachers. The teachers kept samples of the children's writing with the teachers. The teachers keep samples of the children's writing on a weekly basis. They had a little folder for each child. We looked it over and noted progress. We did a pre-test at the beginning of the year with samples of children's writing and a post-test at the end of the year. And we graded it.
Q: Uh ha.
A: We did it on an analytical scale and we found out on it that children showed vast improvement, but you would have to know where they started to appreciate where they came to and where they came to is still not enough to say, "Hey look, you're a terrific writer." If you get my drift.
Q: If you keep on building on it, eventually--hopefully, you'll get to a point. . .
Q: When you were talking about the climate that one of your leadership techniques is cooperative administration.
A: Yes, cooperative administration.
Q: Can you think of any other leadership techniques that you used, specifically?
A: No, I can't. I can't give you the educational jargon for it. At the moment, that's left me. You can call it what you may, but I would say--I would go back to say--creating a climate in the school so that the teachers know you are--you empathize with their situation. You're there for support either instructionally or otherwise and doing--you can call it whatever you may. If I achieved that goal (Chuckled) then I thought that was the leadership that was needed.
Q: Were there any techniques that you used that you felt were not successful and that you had to switch around?
A: That happens all the time in education. Of course the thing is I did it more than teachers because teachers don't want to change. Basically, teachers are very conservative and when they do things one way they are going to say that they've been doing it for years and it's been helpful to me. It's difficult to go in and say, "Let's change and do it a different way." There is nothing in education--and I would tell teachers this--poured in concrete. And if we start on it and we find out--and it's happened many times--that what we're doing is not working we have to change horses in middle stream and say, "Hey look, that's not working let's do it another way." We had to do it with all kinds of things. We've had to do it in the behavioral area and some say, "Well, we need to do this to improve behavior in the cafeteria."--for instance. We do that and it doesn't improve. We say, "Hey look we can't do that let's do something, else." So, we try something else to improve it until we find something that's going to work. So that's basically--I'm not adverse to changing.
Q: Try something new just to try something new. (inaudible)
A: All within an educational frame, of course.
Q: Ok. And what I was thinking about, is what is your personal opinion of--let's say the "new math" that came out a few years back?
A: Alright, I have a little truism. The more things change the more they remain the same. It boils down to, two plus two is four. Alright?
A: I had a personal experience with that. My son came out. He came along--my oldest boy came along when they were first starting "new math". He brought a worksheet home and it took him an entire sheet of paper to add 25 plus 25. He regrouped about two or three times there and I had to try and figure out what he was doing in terms of "new math". So, the thing about it "new math" made a running cycle and we are going to come back to old math or whatever you want to say. We're going to try something, to do it a different way. The thing about it when you boil it down, when you get right down to it, the very bottom line is, is the child learning what you want him to learn, regardless of whatever the technique is? So, I think it is more the climate and the dynamics of the teacher, and also what the teacher is dealing with. That's how much learning that is going to take place. And I also must say this much to my chagrin and I have this personally, there are some children--I don't care what you do you can't help them. Now the teachers, they have this biblical basis, I call it, because they want to be the saviors of the world. If they have 25 souls in there, they want to save 25 souls. You're not going to do it. You're not going to do it. If you save 23 of them (Chuckle)--but the thing about it and this is another thing, teachers will spend 50% of their time on those three that she can't save or he can't save. And those other 20 children who are learning fine, sometimes are neglected to a degree because these three or four who cannot learn--teachers give a great deal of time and in the end, the child shows very little progress. It's almost a predictor to say, "Hey look, you're headed to be a dropout in high school or you are headed to have a baby or you're headed to end up in jail, or you're headed to. . ."--and I've made many predictions and my predictions are as good as the "Greek", when it comes to predictions--now really in terms of what a child is going to do and how he's going to turn out.
Q: After working with kids as long as you did, did you know that. . .and in what I'm hearing it's something that you had.
A: Oh yes, I'm not being a braggadocio, but I had a kind of a--I came to be a pretty good predictor. And the thing about it you've got to realize that this school is not exclusive. Why is M.I.T. such a great school?
Q: Its reputation.
A: Reputation and the people who get in there. The people who get in there have scores of, about what on the SAT? What is it to enter?
Q: I know that 1600 is the maximum score. . .
A: Alright whatever, it's way up there. . .you let me pick and choose the children in Newport News that I'm going to have in my school. I'm going to have the best school in Newport News. I'm going to have the highest scores, the highest everything if you let me pick and choose the children.
A: But I can't pick and choose the children I get. I got to take what's given to me and what's given to me--and I say this to teachers, I say this to parents--this is one of my tenants, one of my beliefs towards parents. I can't do with the child 10% of the time what you haven't done 90% of the time. So, don't expect miracles. If you're not doing anything 90% of the time I'm not doing anything. It's going to be difficult for me to do anything or for teachers to do anything 10% of this child's life (inaudible).
Q: With experience at both ends of the spectrum, on the secondary and on the elementary. . .
A: Yes, I've had both of them.
Q: With the students--let's say the ones that you couldn't get to--would you treat them the same at both ends of the spectrum, elementary and secondary?
A: Yes, but in high school I think that you would try to direct them in areas where they could possibly meet some successes, if you could. And you know, that's necessary regardless of the person. Every one's got to have some success. For their hierarchy of needs they got to have some success, regardless. That's why I tell teachers to send a note home saying that Johnny sat up in his seat like he has never sat up in his seat before. That's something that he did. Maybe that's the only positive thing that Johnny will ever do in his life. But everybody has their need. But in high school you have a better chance to direct the child into certain areas. We know that he's not going to Harvard or Yale and to become a scholar of any kind and you're going to have to be there to direct and, of course, to coach him. The first one that the boys use to come to was their coach. I ended up being as much of a counselor at the high school level as I did anything else.
Q: You know, I think today it's still the same way. The football players, the baseball players. . .
Q: All athletes. . .
A: Go to his coach.
A: Yes, first.
Q: I think that the coach as well as the principal has a lot to do with public relations. How important did you feel that your role at both levels (co and principal). . .what were some of the things that you did to improve public relations?
A: Public relations--it is more difficult in coaching because, see, you are in front of the public every week, sometimes twice a week or three times a week depending upon what you're coaching. And that's why coaches have such a difficult time, today. Classroom teachers are not reported publicly unless the public comes into the classroom. They are not there before the public, you know, on a weekly basis. That's why you get so much criticism, but again coaches deal with what they are given, especially in public education. We are talking about public education. You can only deal with what you are given and you try to develop it to its best. Now if its best means that it's going to have an 0-10 season the public is not going to be satisfied. Tough luck public, you gave us this. This is what we're working with. We're doing the best we can with it and the best they can do is 0-10. The same thing holds true in the classroom. You work your buns off with a kid and come test time you give him a test and his three favorite words are "I don't know" or his two favorite pronouns, "who me?" and it goes on in that vain. I don't know the answers to, believe me. (Chuckled) I never did. Maybe that's the reason I retired early. I have a few more years. I could have worked a few more years, maybe that's why I got out of it.
Q: That's one of the questions that I want to get into later on. . .were there any techniques that you used to publicize to the community the good things?
A: We had of course the usual things that you do, I guess, in every. . .like I said you don't need the publicity in athletics because the reporters are going to be there. They're going to make sure that its going to be on the printed page, but if you are doing things within your school you have to have a newsletter, particularly to the parents. One of the biggest things that. . .the worst compliment you can get at school is for parents to come to a P.T.A. and say, "Well, I didn't know that you were doing that here." And in essence, you've got to communicate to the parents and you've got to do it, not always through the child. You've got to do it in written form. You've got to do everything within your power, stand on your head, put on a (inaudible) sack and whatever you can to get the parents in to the school to see what is going on. Because one of the things that happens all the time is I get complaining phone calls from parents or I used to get rather. They would make all kinds of complaints and come into the school and the next thing they would say, "I didn't know these things were going on." They didn't know because they hadn't been in the school. So, you have to do everything you can to get the parents into the school. You have to do everything you can--in written form to the parents in the way of newsletters, even if you feel that they are not going to be read. You've done your duty when you have informed them, as best as you can. If they still don't know--it's just like teaching, well tough luck if you didn't read it. This is what we're doing and you were informed. The reason you can't depend on children, is children are always going to tell parents--they are always going to make themselves appear good in the eyes of parents. And regardless of what they've done--and one of my tenants that I would tell parents when they came in--if you don't believe everything that your child comes home and tells you then I won't believe everything that your child comes and tells me. And because when you get the confidence of children and the children know that you have their best interest at heart the children will talk to you and tell you a lot of things. Sometimes, you don't want to hear, but you listen anyway.
Q: The younger they are the freer they are.
A: Oh definitely--when you have kindergarten through grade 5 that's what I had, they would tell the world. At high school the total opposite is true you can't drag anything out of them because of the peer pressures and the things that are important to them.
Q: When you decided to go into administration you went to central office first. . .
A: You can call it that, that's when I was coordinator of Title I.
Q: . . .then you went to elementary. Why not secondary?
A: Why not secondary? Because Title I at that time was geared toward elementary. It was geared toward elementary and in fact if I had to do it over again, in retrospect, I would have gone elementary all the way. I would have majored in elementary education. I would have worked in elementary administration right from the git-go because there is where I feel that I can make a difference. I know that I have made a difference with some children at elementary. At high school I didn't make much difference with many children because the children's ways are set. You are not going to change a child's emotionality in the high school. You are not going to change the way a kid thinks about things in high school. He might alter his behavior for you because of you if you are good to him and you do those things. . .he might alter his behavior and act proper as far as you're concerned, but when he gets out there. . .it is very difficult to alter the behavior of a child once he gets in high school. I felt that I could make a difference more so at elementary.
Q: I know that you mentioned some things about, you know, what your teachers expected of you as a confident.
A: That's right.
Q: Are there any other things that you would like to go into about what your teachers wanted you to do or to be?
A: Well, they expected me to be all that I could be. That's a cliche'. If you listen to teachers talk, if you listen to them in their conversation in the hallway or in the teachers' lounge or whatever you get the feel of what they expect an administrator to be. An administrator is talked about quite a bit. He is the topic of conversation in many areas and how that conversation flows can determine a great deal what the teachers' expectations are of you. First of all, you have to be a terrific problem solver. Be very adept at solving problems and foresee problems before they occur. I mean try to look into the future and think if we do this, this is going to occur and it's going to create a problem. If you can foresee that then you can delay some of the things that are going to happen. Because let me tell you something, it has been my experience, long experience, if we come into a school year and we sit down with our teachers and we do this thing scientifically by survey or whatever and determine that this is the biggest problem that we have in this school. We work together on how to solve this problem. We do everything with our means to work on that problem, collectively. I'm not talking about me as administrator. We're working on this together. We solve that problem. What do you think is going to happen? The next day we're going to have another problem that is the biggest problem we ever had in this school and you solve it. Th next day we have another problem that is the biggest problem that we ever had in the school and problem solving--if you're adept at problem solving or adept at dealing with problems you're going to be pretty successful because teachers are going to say that you can always depend on Mr. Kane because when you have a problem he's going to be there to help you. They don't realize that they're going to have a problem of some type.
Q: In education you never know what that day's problems are going to be.
A: No, you do not. I think that one of the things that bothers me about education is that you give me these children from all backgrounds and you say, "Teach them." You want them to learn. You not only want me to teach them, but you want me to counsel them, you want me to counsel you as a parent. These are things that I've had to do. You want me to feed your child. If he didn't have enough food you want me to feed your child. You want me to deal with child abuse, oh yes child abuse. You want me to deal with child abuse, to prevent child abuse whatever the case might be. You want me to deal with all of these things in the affective area. It has nothing to do with this child learning and every year you put more and more--you put on the school to say, "Hey, now what are we dealing with." Now at the high school level we have to deal with aids, setting up clinics, and big arguments as to whether we should have clinics that are school based or not. We haven't said one thing about--you know if we were to get as excited about--if the community were to get as excited about this child learning as they are about this child catching Aids we would have the smartest children on the face of the earth. When you talk to parents you talk to them about what they are upset about. They get upset because their child doesn't like a teacher, because their child doesn't get enough food or this teacher hit my child. The child has gone home and told his version, of course.
Q: Of course.
A: They get upset about those things, but it's very difficult to say to some parents, "Your child is not learning and you need to help your child." And if I could deal with some things in instruction--the other thing is that as a result of having laws that have been passed in the area of special education I spent virtually half of my time in the child study process. I've got child study backed up--scheduled from before school starts in the morning until after school is closed. How am I going to get into the classroom? It's impossible and the child study process is, I feel. One of these days that all we're going to need in education would be qualified special education teachers--LD resource, LD self contained, EMR, TMR, and we'll have a good school system because, eventually every child is going to end up in that process. I've seen it--it's been a progressive thing from my entrance in administration until I got out of it. That more and more time is spent in the child study process determining if this child has a special need.
Q: I agree, it does tie up a lot of an administrator's time.
A: The thing about it you have to schedule it around the psychologist, psychometrists, and all of these other people that have to study the child--the visiting teacher. And you have one visiting teacher for ten schools--that's an exaggeration. But you have to schedule it so you can have her, the psychologist, and you, and the parent, and everybody there on the same day. Let's see what we can do to help this child. And it gets to be quite an involved process. It consumes so much time.
Q: How many parents actually show for a child study?
A: I would say, in my case at the school that I worked in, I would say about 50% of the parents.
Q: That's a pretty good percentage.
A: About 50%, of course I would kind of coerse. If the parent--I had many parents who did not have transportation--I would find some way to get the parent there. I'd tell the school bus (driver), "Could you stop by and pick them up?" or I would have someone. . .or sometimes I would go and pick them up myself to make sure that they're there.
Q: Great. That definitely shows. . .
A: Or even go into my little general fund that we keep to give them money to catch the bus if I couldn't find them a ride. "Here some money, catch the bus." I had to do that.
Q: That sounds great. Very few administrators would go all out like that. . .
A: If a child had an emotional problem I was not adverse to putting the child in my car and taking the child home and sitting down in that parent's living room, on their turf, with that child. Virtually the conversation always ends up, "Well, I have a hard time at home with him. I don't know how you're doing with him at school." That's generally what it gravitates to.
Q: Right. You mentioned earlier that we, as educators, are doing more and more for the students, you know. .
A: We are doing more things that are not related to 2+2.
Q: Do you feel, as a K-5 administrator, that 4 year olds should come into schools, you know, like the program recommended by the commission on excellence?
A: I would not be adverse to having four year olds coming into school. In fact, it would be--under Title I, I had the first five year olds to come into the schools in Newport News. And when they came in it was under a special program, see we didn't have kindergarten. When the five year olds came in the superintendent at that time, and I will not call his name, didn't read the application as it was written. He just signed it. We had a program for five year olds. When we started he said, "What is this? You got five year olds. We can't have that." But we had it, we ended up with a pilot program for five year olds. The first five year olds we had in the City of Newport News. Children, based upon what I see some of them getting at home, give them to me once the mother births them.
Q: Ah ha.
A: Some of them, because a lot of them are not parenting. They're having children but they are not parenting. If we're going to have to deal with them for all these many years in a public education, the sooner we get them the better we're going to be. If we can have an influence over what's going to happen to that child in terms of learning, if I know that a child is not going to be exposed to anything that's of a learning nature at home I would rather have him as a four year old where I can expose him to these things. . .Yes give him to me. And when you get all the four year olds, then we'll start with all the three year olds. Ok?
Q: Ok. At what point--you're talking mainly about those who do not have a parent support system at home?
A: I'm talking about those who do not have a parent support system at home. And you got to realize--maybe I'm coming from a different background because I'm looking at a situation where if you look at the demographics of the last school that I worked in. Fifty percent of my parents had a woman at the head of the household and no man in the house. Ok?
A: Now do you see where I'm coming from?
A: And the mother having to deal with survival, making a living, and giving this child the time needed for learning and so forth. Give them to me right out of the cradle for some of them. Of course we've got to realize that a number of parents give the child all the support that they need. But there are, so, so many that do not get (pause).
Q: Now, a lot of the things that you said are about the positive strokes for teachers. Occasionally, all of us have to run into a situation where we have to send into the central office an evaluation of all the teachers under our direct supervision.
A: Yes, we do.
Q: Ok now. How did you do that? How did you evaluate your teachers?
A: Basically on their instruction. At one time, depending upon the form--of course, I was in the school system 38 years and in 38 years the evaluation form changed about 15 times. So you have to delineate almost, what you want me to evaluate. One time I couldn't wear a moustache. And one time I had to determine if a teacher was properly attired. What's properly attired? Tell me, what is properly attired? Now when I get into objective things like instruction, areas of instruction I know when you give a proper set and proper conclusion to a lesson. I can deal with those things in a better context than I can with some of these superfluous things that we try to deal with in evaluation. Another thing about it, I know for a fact and I'll be willing to bet my life, that in the next two or three years Newport News is going to change its evaluation form. They might be in the process right now.
Q: Is it based, right now, on the lesson line?
A: The lesson line that's basically what Newport News--it's a long thing. It goes on for pages. Did the teacher, in instruction, use many examples? Did she give a proper introduction to the lesson? All of those kinds of things. But as far as evaluation goes this is something that's been discussed in education ever since I've been in it. And two things that have never been done to meet every bodies satisfaction. One is evaluation. And the other is the report card. (Chuckle) We can't agree what we're going to give the kid. An A is going to be 95-100. We get into big arguments over no it should be 90-100. No that's too loose. Or whether you should give satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Or whatever. And we end up changing--Newport News just changed its report card. Just changed it this year. They made it much smaller, more compact for elementary. I dare say that within the next two or three years the evaluation form for teachers will change.
Q: The lesson line, didn't it start about 10 years ago?
A: It started with our program for effective teaching. When we're talking about that, we're talking basically Madeline Hunter's philosophies of teaching which was California based. And we had the fellow who ran the program, Earnest (inaudible), to come in and run some workshops. And we had people in our division to study. Bill Ethridge, I don't know if you know him, and Bernie Freedman went to California. Stayed out there and got the essence of it. We had breakdown workshops with all administrators where we became proficient in evaluating what went on in the lesson and what we were looking at was teacher behavior. What was the teacher doing in the lesson? What elements did she include in her lesson and what elements did she leave out of her less? This is basically what the evaluation was about. Tell me, now I can ask you, when is the evaluation form, when is it used after it is signed by the teacher? What happens to it?
Q: It is filed in the teachers folder.
A: When is it ever brought out again?
Q: Every two or three years. . .
A: Only if there is incompetence or something of that nature. If you're gung ho you don't have to worry about evaluations. You're doing your job. Only when there's incompetence you pull it out. Here look, back in 1980 you did so and so. You got an unsatisfactory, you didn't do this right. When do you use these things?
Q: You said that when you observed instruction in the classroom you took a lot of notes. . .
A: A whole lot.
Q: I assume that you meant scripting.
A: Scripting. I had my own little code. That would indicate things so that I could do a sort of shorthand. There was always a great deal of writing. We're talking about 20-30 minutes of writing. I always kept legal pads with me. One of the things that was most difficult with this was that the teachers felt threatened by the legal pad and pencil. That was something different. We've never done this before. So when we started bringing legal pads in and writing--they felt a little bit better when we would take what we had written, fold it up and give it to them.
Q: That was going to be my next question, "What did you do with the script notes?"
A: Yes, we would rip it off the legal pad and fold it up and give it to the teacher.
Q: Before you mentioned how you made your teachers feel important. They were always part of a decision.
A: Yes, decision making. You've been in education long enough. What kind of complaints did you get? I wish they would talk to teachers and get our opinion about how you should run the school system; things you should do. They don't ever ask me, what you should do. They just go ahead and do it which means that you resent adminstration coming from a power base which says, "You do this." Instead of come and let us reason together. (Chuckle) Ok?
Q: Ok. I have three questions connected here. What is your philosophy of education? What is your philosophy of teaching? What is your personal leadership philosophy?
A: Did I talk about that?
Q: You did briefly.
A: My personal philosophy of education to go back to what I said earlier--in the fact that having children to develop what is necessary to have each child to develop to his capacity, whatever that capacity might be, as far as learning is concerned. Overall in education, if you could reach that goal of just having a child to be all that child can be. We realize with some children that, that is not going to be very much and with other children it's going to be a great deal. So, I guess what I'm saying is that we need to deal with individual differences of children as best as we possibly can in education. Now, if we talk about a philosophy of teaching I'll always have to go back to climate. Climate, to me--maybe that's my hang up--climate is the most important thing--one of the most important things--the climate the teacher provides for the child. If that climate is of a negative nature very little learning is going to take place. Teachers don't sometimes realize that the children are the first ones to know how that climate is. When I say that--they come in and say, "Oh oh. Mr. Kane's not in a good mood today. You better not ask him questions." They know that and what you're doing by the way that you address them, by the way. . .by the climate that you created you said, "Don't bother me because I have problems of my own that are far more than the problems that I have to deal with, with you today." So, when I say climate you got to develop a positive climate, a positive climate in the classroom. Now, what was the last one?
Q: What is your philosophy as an instructional leader, principal, which ever?
A: An instructional leader. First of all as an instructional leader it has to be just like, it has to be as a parent. You can't say, "Don't do as I do. Do as I say do." You cannot operate a school in that vane. You cannot be a successful parent in that vane. You cannot ask of teachers things that you don't model as an administrator. You got to model behavior. As a teacher you got to model--a child doesn't know how to add and subtract. You have to go to the board and model subtraction and addition the way that it should be done. So, I have to model the behavior that I would expect teachers to have. As an instructional leader, I figure that if I model the behavior--if I give all the support that I can give to teachers I have a better chance of most of the teachers doing a better job. Some, just like I said, "I can't save all of time."
Q: Just like with students.
A: Just like with students. Sorry, no matter what I do.
Q: As an administrator and as a teacher you ran into a lot of pressure situations. I know that you went through integration, through busing. . .
A: Oh yes, Lord yes I came through all of that. I've been through a lot of pressure situations.
Q: Would you care to go into a couple of them?
A: Oh well, lets see. One of them was back when I was coaching. Dealing with facilities and can you believe I was given a bus to drive from Newport News to Hampton Institute because that was the only place where we could practice track and field on the peninsula? Right across the bridge, Newport News High School had a track and field and they practiced every day and we didn't even have a track. We had to take hand me down books, and hand me down chairs, and hand down whatever. We always got books marked Newport News High School. That was one of the early things concerning pressure working in a segregated situation. There were separate meetings for black teachers, separate meetings for white teachers. (There were) separate associations really. Dealing with the whole bit of segregation, and dealing with the who bit of segregation. I was right in the middle because one of my years in administration I was in charge of desegregation affairs. When we first desegregated in 1971 I became head of desegregation affairs and I dealt with all of the problems that deal with both the black and white communities. And I was right in the middle of them. There were so many false things that were said and done and got into the paper, and otherwise that did not have a factual basis. You know, exaggerated things like a black and a white boy got into a fight on the second floor of Warwick High School and the black boy threw the white boy out onto the street and broke his collar bone. You know, things like that. Or people would say they saw the fire truck--the ambulance going by Ferguson High School. They're having a riot over there. The ambulance was on the way to somebody's house, somebody had a heart attack. You know, those kinds of things. Running down to Ferguson saying, "What's going on?" Nothing's going on really. All kinds of false statements were made about what was going on. If it was left up to the children everything would have been fine. We had to stick adults in there and once we put them in there then they got their feelings into it, and then we got problems. (Chuckled) Having to deal with that and of course, later on--let me put it this way--when I first became principal of a school when a child was in my office, that meant the child was in trouble. Later on when a child came to the office it meant that I was in trouble as principal. Oh yes.
Q: My goodness!
A: You expel a child or send a child home or do something like that--do you want to deal with some mad parents? My child doesn't do that. This child, my child doesn't act that way. This child that I got is the best child that has ever been born. He cannot do any wrong. You mean to tell me so and so. Having to deal with--in one instance--having to deal with the accusation of sexual abuse of a child.
Q: That would be difficult.
A: Yes. It was a difficult situation because the child went home--the child was mentally disturbed and was under the care of a psychiatrist, who had been under social services, who had been taken out of the home, who had been raped by an uncle earlier. After all of these things for the child to go home and say something for somebody to believe.
Q: How did you calm that situation?
A: (hesitation) It was one of those situations wherein you know--I didn't feel great, but I knew what I had done. The teachers and the whole administration knew what I had done. It is almost like--it falls into the category of this too shall pass. You know, this too shall pass. You got to realize this, also, you got to be very careful in education. If you are going to be an educator you are going to have to be very careful. I'm out of education and I still have to be very careful because if I go out here tonight in this snow and go down here to some bar, saloon, and maybe get kind of high, and wreck my car in this snow. And maybe someone has to go to the hospital. Do you know what the head lines are going to say?
Q: Retired principal. . .
A: Retired principal, ex-principal arrested for drunken driving. It could be ten years from now. I mean, that illness is never off my back.
A: Because that makes for good reading. Ex-principal, you do it as an ex-teacher. The latest one that we had was ex-teacher was arrested for rape or something. The person wasn't a teacher; he was a substitute teacher. But the headlines said, "Ex-teacher did such and such thing." Do you understand?
A: That's good reading.
Q: I think that if I saw that I would get to that right away.
A: You will. Sure you will. You are going to read it. In a position of authority you have to be very, very careful in these areas. I would say having to deal with--and it's getting to be more and more of a difficult situation to deal with those things as time goes by because--I'm going to tell you why--because school is merely a microcosm of our greater society. And whatever goes on in our greater society goes on in schmo. More things go on in our greater society now than went on in our greater society 20 years ago.
A: More things are going to go on--happen in the next five to ten years. Consequently, those children bring to school all of those values, all of those things that they have observed in life and you're going to have to learn to deal with those things in a school setting as an administrator. See?
A: I mean what are you going to do? What are you going to do when you have a little boy who tells me that he woke up in the middle of the night and his brother was defecating in his face? What are you going to tell me when a little girl tells me that she had an experience with her father and that was the first time that she had one? What are you going to tell when a child comes to school and makes all kinds of excuses for his parents because he has all kinds of welts on his head and the side of his face? He tells me he fell and hurt himself. And we know that the parent beat him with a belt buckle. What do you do with these situations? What do you do when you have a sixth grade girl come to school pregnant? What are you going to do with that situation? What are you going to do when that child runs away from home?--when they come to you and ask you, "Will you talk to my mama and tell her to quit beating on me?" What are you going to do when a child comes to you and tells you, "My daddy drinks too much whiskey and can you do something because when he gets too drunk he's going to beat me up?" Not one time have I said anything about 2+2 and how do you conjugate a verb. Not one thing have I said and these are the things that are taking over the educational process and we're going to have to do something drastic to sway or to turn it around. Otherwise we won't have to worry about kids scoring so high on the SAT, on the SRA's, whatever. I mean that's great too--that's fine--that's where our goal is, but there are some other things in this life that count, that we're going to have to deal with in education. And society's going to have to deal with them because schools just reflect what goes on in our society.
Q: Uh, ha.
A: If it goes on out there it goes on in our school.
Q: If a young man or young lady is being beaten at home, or if he is not getting enough to eat at home he is not going to be able to learn at school until something is done about. . .
A: Until something is done about that situation. That is why I said that there are some things that are far and above--that is why I told teachers that said that this child is not getting enough to eat, I said, "Ok, you buy some food and feed him, and then he'll learn." I say that I'd say it, but I'm being funny here. (Chuckle)
Q: I know. (Chuckle)
A: But that's the only way that child is going to get it. Understand?
A: And if he never gets it--if he doesn't get enough sleep are you going to take him home to make sure that he gets enough sleep? If he doesn't get enough sleep he's going to sleep in your classroom. And if he's sleeping in there I say, "Let him sleep." That's probably the only sleep that he's going to get in his life.
Q: I know that with all the problems that you run into as principal can you think of a way--How can you have better prepared yourself for the principalship before you got into it?
A: How can I better prepare myself?
Q: Ah ha.
A: Maybe if I lived the example that Jesus Christ lived when he was on earth I could have been maybe a better principal and he was crucified. so, I don't know what there is in the way of preparation. You can learn all there is to learn. You can learn all the methods of instruction. You can have a terrific philosophy. You can have all of these things and still it depends upon the child and where he's coming from as to whether he's going to learn. Teachers have the mistaken idea that they teach children. I don't think so much that teachers teach children in so much as teachers provide a climate for children to learn. Do you understand where I'm coming from?
A: Ok. That to me is the important thing, to provide the climate for the child to learn. If you can do that and do it successfully then you've done your job as an educator.
Q: Sometimes we all, as administrators, have teacher grievances. Not everybody does, but a lot of administrators have at least one teacher to file a grievance. Sometimes we have to let a teacher go or recommend that teacher be let go. Did you in your experience as an administrator have such experiences and if so. . .
A: No, not in my experience did I ever let a teacher go. I had many teachers let themselves go. Do you get the difference?
Q: Sometimes you have the setting, let's say, be uncomfortable. Is that what you're saying?
A: You work within the frame-work of the teacher. A child knows when he is not learning. Right?
A: A child knows--you can't just say that you are the smartest little boy or girl in this class. The child says, "No, I'm not. I'm the dumbest thing in here." The child knows that. Teachers know when they're not doing a great job. They know when they're not doing a good job. They know when they're faking it. Administrators know when they're faking it. We know when we're faking it. When you have so many negative experiences in a given situation you want to do something else. I worked with many people who have gotten out of education because they were not right for education. They didn't have--number one, the child at the top of the rack. Something else was up there.
A: And you can't blame it on experiences. Teachers would say that this child was not learning. Then I would say, "I beg to differ with you. The child is learning." There is never an instance when a child is not learning. The child is not learning what you want him to learn. He is learning something. Ok?
Q: Ok. I know that you have gone into some ways to improve education and teachers already. Is there anything else that you would like to add on ways to improve the educational process?
A: Well, I don't know if I can add anything that I haven't said already. The one thing that I said, "If you don't have the childs uppermost in your thoughts, if you have other--shall I say--ulterior motives for getting into it, then I would suggest that you follow some other field of endeavor. And sometimes at the sacrifice of money and those things in life (Chuckle) that in life count--do you understand what I'm saying?
A: If I really want kids to learn math and I know my math, and I'm a terrific math teacher, and if I have children as my primary concern, I'm going to stay in education and I'm going to do everything I can. Maybe I might not be a teacher, I may be a coordinator of math. I might do things to improve the math program. But you see, the thing about it when IBM, General Electric or somebody else throws that little thing out there and says, "Here's the money," I'm gone. We say, "Well, maybe I didn't have children as my primary interest at all. I had my livelihood."
Q: A lot of teachers are leaving education. They are torn between what they would like to do in life and their own families.
A: That's right. As much as I love children I have to realize that I have a wife and a family. I raised three children who are now adults by the way. Thank the Lord! They got there without too many problems, but there were some along the way. You just don't know. You're going to have to do--you are going to have to do a better job of keeping people in the educational field and I don't know how you're going to do that. I really don't because we just can't compete with industry, some phases of industry. Maybe we have to deal more with the intrinsic values that are gathered out of education. Because there are a lot of them. . .
A: That are intrinsic in education. I've had many, many. There had to be because when I was coaching I figured my time out and I was making 10 cents an hour. There had to be some intrinsic value there. And if you can develop this intrinsic value--the satisfaction of seeing a child grow, bud, coming up to be a flower, and to see it blossom, and to say that I had a part of that. I had something to do with that. Whatever we can do in education to improve the lot of teachers and whatever we can do to influence society to say, "Hey, you can't place that entirely on teachers. We've got a responsibility ourselves." In society, as I said earlier, "School is a microcosm of our greater society." So you don't sit on the side over here and say, "What is it they're doing in that school?" They're doing the same thing as on that street, right down from the corner, or right there in your house and you don't know it. So don't put the illness on us as educators for all the ills that befalls our society and especially our young people.
Q: We briefly went into how you handled civil rights issues, you were coordinator. . .
A: Coordinator of Desegregation Affairs. Now that was interesting. I got some of the basic prejudices of both blacks and whites. We had to man telephones and so forth. I can remember being on the--I had telephones for informational purposes. People would call in, finding about about schools, where their children would be going. I had people to call in crying. All the words that they could say were, "Niggers, niggers, niggers." Others would call in and say, "That honkie over there so and so." You know?
Q: Ah ha.
A: . . .You don't care about black folks. We all, both blacks and whites, some of us have this four-legged philosophy. When I say four-legged philosophy, it says that a dog is a four legged animal. Therefore, all four-legged animals are dogs. This person does this, therefore, everybody does that. Do you understand what I'm saying?
A: This black person does this; therefore, all black people do that. This white person, does this; therefore, all white people do that. I call it (Chuckle) the four-legged philosophy.
Q: That's unique. I like that.
A: You like that? That's the way we operated and it created--I don't know--we'll overcome that. It'll take many years, many years. We are better off than we were. Again, the problem was not with children, so much as it was with the parents, grandparents. Once these generations have passed I think that we might see less. Let's hope. Unless society creates a situation where there's an increase of this racial bigotry on both parts. Then if there's an increase in our greater society, then there's going to be an increase in school. If whatever happens in Forsyth, Georgia, blossoms into something else and both sides--there we've started the whole cycle again. If somebody up in Hate Ashbury decides that they're going to burn something, again, tear down something, then we start right over again from the same basic tenant. We got to do some re-building again.
Q: In listening to the news there have been some flare-ups here and there I hope to goodness that it stays out there.
A: I do to.
Q: The next area--what procedure should be used before a person is selected to become a principal?
A: Before a person should become a principal I think--generally you find in most situations you have some other administrator or superintendent or some director of personnel or somebody who supervises to sit down as a committee or to sit down and interview this person. Do you know what bothers me about that process? I've been in rooms--I've been interviewed for a job and I looked around at everybody that interviewed me--none of them have been in a classroom in ten years. They haven't been in schools in ten years. And they're going to interview me for the principalship of a school. Ok?
Q: I see exactly what you're saying. They don't have the experience of what's going on.
A: That's right. It's alright because they're in charge. I would prefer a couple of teachers to be in on the process. Teachers are knowledgeable of what the needs are as far as principalships are concerned. That's what's important. You asked me what my philosophy of education is. It's good to have a philosophy of education. But in my overall workings, that is what one of the first questions that's going to be asked me, if I was going to take over a job as an administrator. What is your philosophy of education? How many times am I going to have to stand in front of somebody and spout out my philosophy of education in administering a school? I don't have to stand up and put it into words. When we get to talking to parents a parent is not going to come into my office and say, "Now, Mr. Kane what is your philosophy of education?" They don't want to know that. They want to know some concrete things like what are you going to do when my child does so and so? My child is the smartest thing that ever entered this school. What are you going to do to meet his needs?
A: Those are the kind of questions that they'll ask and want answers to.
Q: Many times when we get into an interview there are very few of those practical questions asked.
A: We know that--they know that. We get into basically philosophy of education and what is your style of leadership? And some of those things.
A: Sometimes, I don't believe that I stopped to analyze those items. I just do. Sometimes I do the incorrect thing. Sometimes I make a mistake. I'll make a decision. You got to make a decision and I'll make the wrong decision. I don't feel badly about it. I'll make it because I know before it's over with I'm going to make another bad decision. But I guarantee you, that based upon my experience and the things that I know about education I'm going to make more good decision than I do bad decisions.
Q: I think that all of us have to learn from our mistakes.
A: Yes, we do.
Q: That's right. You better believe it. In Newport News was there any grooming grounds or did they groom teachers for administrative positions?
A: Well, if you call grooming--I think that if we see someone that is meeting--that we would say is a gung ho teacher then I would say that the first area that they would go into would be that of assistant principal and we do have assistant principals at the elementary level as well as the secondary level. To me, that's where you get a lot of grooming.
Q: How did you handle or groom your assistant principals?
A: I'm going to tell you how I groomed my assistant principals. I gave them responsibility and I let them know that was their responsibility and don't come to me asking me what should I do? Do it and tell me what you did. The only way that you can do something is do it. Don't come and ask me. I tell--well let me use an example of a teacher. "Well, Mr. Kane, what must I do in the classroom in such and such a situation?" I would say, "I don't know. But I'll tell you what to do. You grew in education and you know educational procedures. You do what you think is educationally sound. Then we can sit down and see if you did the right thing." Don't ask me what the solution is because I don't have it. When grooming, you have to be in situations when you have responsibilities and believe me principals. . .give them (assistant principals) responsibilities that have a lot of negativity about it and it's good that you do that because that's the real world. I don't want you to be a principal and suddenly realize--hey look, does this really go on in the school?
Q: At times it seems that some principals, not all, give the dirtiest duties without having any of the positive duties.
A: You got to have both. It can't be all syrupy and all of the nice things to do. You can't just count all the books in the bookroom. That can't be just your job and make sure that teachers have enough writing paper, enough books--no, you can't. You got to go beyond that. The only way that you can get that experience and be supportive of him in the decision making process. I'd rather for him to come and say, "I decided that we needed to do so and so." (I would reply), "Great let's observe it and see how it's working." Do you understand where I'm coming from?
Q: If it flies. . .
A: If not then you. . .
Q: Learn something.
A: You learn something and if it doesn't fly we'll try something else.
Q: Right. You mentioned a number of concerns and headaches that you had. What would you say was your biggest concern as an educator?
A: My biggest concern as an educator is society and what society is doing to our young people. I think that I stated it in many different ways in our interview. When society does a better job of dealing with our young people then I'll do a better job in the school of dealing with them.
Q: And your biggest headache?
A: My biggest headache in education is how--and it goes back to society and how society views--it's almost like we're at both ends of the spectrum. The headache is you want me to do this terrific job with the children in our society. Yet, you do not give the money, the supplies, all of the expertise that is needed to do this job. I really feel that it's the perspective that society has in education that has a great deal to do with whatever success that we're going to have. When it improves its perspective then educators are going to get more.
Q: What do you think of career ladders or merit pay?
A: I guess my feelings are contrary to what the trend is. You see--the people--this might not be viewed--people have different opinions. People who run education are not educators. People who run education are members of school boards, members of the state department--board of education. School boards have very few educators on them. Most of them are lawyers and business people and people out here in our great community. In some of these professions--merit pay--if you were to line up say, in this room,---I'll use this room as an example. I want you to make some lamps for me. For every lamp that you make over there, that's in perfect shape just like the one over there, I'm going to give you $50. Then I'm going to make some lamps and I'm going to make them just like the one over there. If I make 10 lamps then I'm going to get $50 times 10. If you make 15 then you will get $50 times 15. Now, that's merit pay. Don't give me a child that I had nothing to do with. I didn't bring that child into the world. I don't know the mentality of the parents or the genes or the chromosomes in that child. Don't bring me that child in the classroom and tell me that you want me to make that child a genius or to make him--to say that I'm going to be graded on that child and if that child doesn't show any improvement, then I'm not going to get a raise in pay. There might be so many things involved in that child's life that might cause that child not to achieve. That no matter what I did that child would not achieve. We're looking at inanimate--we are looking at things that, to me, cannot be put on a concrete basis. We do a better job now of making things more concrete in education. But the point is there are so many things that are not concrete in education. Out here in industry things are concrete. You build me a ship over in the ship yard and you do a good job of it I'll give you another contract.
A: I'll give you another contract. That is merit pay. But sometimes transferring it to teachers based upon what you do--and I can ask you. Suppose that you and I are in a classroom and contract time, we are both teaching the same subject. I end up higher on the ladder, making more money than you do next year. We are teaching the same subject. Give me your inner feelings on that. I'm making a switcheroo here. How would you feel about that as a person?
Q: What you are saying is that there is no concrete definition of teaching or learning that we can judge people by.
A: Because we have said--it runs contrary. It's a dichotomy because we say children have different learning styles. Children learn differently. Some of them have problems and some of them don't. Yet, you're saying that I'm going to pay you based on how well your children learn. We already have a premise that some of them are never going to learn.
A: We know that up front. And I just have some misgivings about that unless a great deal of study has been done to it than what has been done.
Q: Connected with that would be the standardized testing of kids. And what is--everybody in the State of Virginia must take the SRA test.
A: Right. At grades 2, 4. . .
Q: 4, 8, and 11.
A: 2, 4, 8, and 11. We have our own CRT test that we give in Newport News--Criterion Reference Test that we give at every grade level. Standardized test--testing is fine because it gives you a premise. You can set goals for your school based upon how children score on these things. You can--the thing about it I don't think we can judge a school too harshly on SRA scores or judge a child too harshly on the SAT score and say that the school is responsible again for the scores that these kids made. Yes, it's a shared responsibility. Yes, we are responsible in part because these are our children, but again I'll put it this way. You give me the children that I want in my school and they'll score fine on a standardized test. They're going to do great, but you're going to let me pick them. You're not going to send them to me randomly. You're going to say, "Hey, you can't come. You stay home." I'm going to pick the ones that I want. I'll do fine.
A: I'll have great scores.
Q: Just like MIT.
A: I'll have people coming from California to observe this school, to see how these children are learning.
Q: Right. I think that here--the kids in Prince Edward versus the kids in Newport News. These are two totally different groups of kids, two totally different situations.
A: Yes, you're right. You got that right.
Q: It is very difficult to compare.
A: Yes, it is very difficult to compare. Don't compare me in Newport News where I got all these inner city kids that I'm working with and kids coming from deprived homes and homes where both parents are not in there, and now one out of every four families is divorced and you have one parent that is at the head of the family. Parents are fighting over the custody of the children and all of those kinds of problems. Don't compare me with this suburban school system where everybody has a $75,000, $100,000 home and both parents are in the house and everybody's giving the child all of these educational things around them. Don't compare me with those schools. Don't do it.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in terms of how you spent your time?
A: I would say--if I could spend on a typical day 40% of my time on instruction I felt good. The goal was 60%, but I could never get to 60%. Once we get beyond 15-20 buses coming into the school and all the problems involved with those buses, along with the settling down process, along with the reports from the central office, and all of the other things that are needed to be done before I can say, "Let us sit down and learn." She's got to send me all the money that she collected and she has to make sure that she sends all the children are sent to the bookstore--make sure that all the excuses are in for the children who were absent the day before and do all of that stuff. She doesn't have time to teach the children then. She's got to get all of that stuff straight first. (Chuckle)
A: Get all my money in here. Get all the attendance in here and get all of this stuff straight before you think about teaching. Then when you start teaching and you have a problem you send that child out. If each teacher sends one kid out, you multiply that times 28. I got 28 kids in the office. Right?
A: Do you understand what I'm saying?
Q: Ah ha.
A: If I can get 40% in instruction, actually visiting the classrooms, observing instruction I feel good about that.
Q: You mentioned earlier that you decided to retire early.
A: Yes, I decided to retire early.
Q: Could you go into why you decided to do that?
A: I can tell you and it doesn't have anything to do with dissatisfaction with education. I love children. It had nothing to do with the fact that I was so fed up with the whole educational process that I wanted to get out of it. It has to do with the fact that for thirty-eight years as an educator in Newport News I had to deal with things that other people's priorities were at the top and if there was a personal thing at the top I had to sometimes subdue that in order to take care of the needs of the school system in order to do what was required of me. I liked doing that, don't get me wrong. I liked doing that, but for the first time in my life after 50 some years I can make up my own agenda. I haven't made up my own agenda since I was--in fact before I started school, my mother was making it up. When I started school, when I was five my teachers were making it up all the way through elementary, high school, college, graduate school and into teaching. I went into the army briefly and they made up my agenda for--they really did make up my agenda for a couple of years and then I just wasn't able to make up my agenda. So I said, "Why don't I get out while I can and make up my own agenda for a while?"
Q: On Sundays when you mentioned to me that you were very tied up are you involved with a church group?
A: Oh yes, definitely. My wife and I are very active. We both sing in the church choir. We have for over a quarter of a century. We enjoy that tremendously. I am the treasurer. I am working with the building campaign. All of those little things. Plus, I got a lot of recreational things that I want to do. I'm in a bowling league for retired people. I love to play golf. I never played enough golf in my life. I now have a chance to play golf once or twice a week. I enjoy that. I just want to set up my own agenda. Some people ask me in retirement, "Well what are you doing?" My answer to that is, "As little as possible." (Chuckle)
Q: Is there anything that you would like to add that I haven't asked already?
A: No, I would like to thank you for selecting me to be interviewed and I hope that maybe some of the things that I said--I haven't been too negative--I've given some people who are going into administration some insight into the realities of the principalship, the realities of administration, and the realities of education. If I had to talk about my philosophy it would have to be more of a practical as opposed to a theoretical style of leadership in my dealings with all of my co-workers as I call them.
Q: I think that you can be called Humanistic.
A: Well, I think that I was more of a humanist type of principal. I was not a dogmatic type of principal and I think that anyone who has ever worked with me in a school can attest to that.
Q: And I thank you a whole lot for the time that you have spent.
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