This is December 21, 1989. I'm interviewing Mr. Eugene Krejcarek at the school board offices of Manitowoc public schools.
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Q: I wonder if I could get you to start off by saying somethings about your family background and how you grew up and where you grew up and what your interests were and maybe some thngs about your elementary and your secondary education.
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: Okay, first of all, I'm a native of Manitowoc county, I've been at Manitowoc county all my life. I lived in the rural part of the Manitowoc county out near Countersville in that area, town of Franklin. My mom and dad, there were five of us in the children, three sisters and two brothers, we had a small farm and dad was always kind of a laborer and a carpenter. I went to rural school through the eighth grade and then came to Manitowoc to Lincoln for high school education and I guess I was always interested in education because I remember the teacher we had in that rural school, Highland, it was called and I must've been about seventh or eighth grade and she wanted us to kind of indicate what our careers or what we were thinking of in jobs and I remember saying that I wanted to be a superintendent of a school, I never really got that far but I got to be an elementary principal. After reaching that I figured that was the best job in education anyways having the elementary principalship, but back my education, I guess I went to county normal school it was called here in Manitowoc at that time probably because that was the closest school that I could've gone to. It was one year program, so after one year, they said I was qualified to go on and teach, that was back in 1934 when times were pretty bad and I didn't get a job the first year, I worked on a farm as a member for five for six dollars a week and the next year, I did apply for a job and I got it and the pay at that time, that was 1935, now 34, 35 I was not able to get a job, I graduated in 34 in one year county normal, didn't get a job in the first year 34, 35 but I did get a job 35, 36 in Elmview school grades 1 through 8, 65 dollars a month and the contract was a handshake. I though a math class for two years and I thought I was ready to, we only had eleven children there but they were spread over the eight grades and I guess I'll never forget that winter of 35,36 because it was a horrid one. I lived at a room and board at home, they had their daughter in school, but I lived in there for a entire month, part of January and most of February cause the rooms were blocked almost totally. Plowed through the snow, waist deep every morning start at the old fire at the school and nobody came so the whole month of February we had to makeup so we went into June, I remember because the weather there was so terrible. There was also another incident that I remember was kind of funny because one time I only lived about four miles away but I stayed at the farm house for the less part of the winter because it was kind of severe and the kind of transportation that we had was about horses and that was about all that you could depend on. One time it was at home and it was kind of an ice storm and I remember putting on my skates and skating four miles to school which was kind of unique. Well then anyway, after the two years, I thought maybe I was ready for a bigger school then I applied for a job of town by the rivers, a school named Crystal Springs school, that's a pretty name itself and they had something like 23 or 24 children again in total through eighth grade.
Q: Elmview was a one room school, right?
A: Yeah, it was. So was Crystal Spring school and I was hired there for a ninty dollars a month, big increase from sixty five, while I was there, I didn't get any increase but sixty-five for two years and I think I have done a successful job. I guess one of the criteria of these rural schools was whether or not you might be rehired was the kind of Christmas program that you had. If you had a good Christmas program and the parents would come to the building and they would fill the place up, if you had a good Christmas program then you were pretty certain to be rehired and after I was there for two years for $90.00 month, I wanted an increase and of course you would have to talk to the director and the clerk, the tresurer that was board of education at that time and they finally agreed to pay me $95.00 a month on one stipulation that was I would buy them eighth beer for their annual meeting, you know they couldn't drink beer at the school property so they had to take the eight beer to someone's home to drink it, but that was part of the contract, part of the handshake, $95.00 a month and you buy us an eighth of a beer. I got married in 1940 and I got married to a woman who my wife, Grace and we're still together married 49 years now, who wanted me to get my degree and she said, "Let's take off a year." And so we did and I have accumulated a lots of extra credits summer wise, going to summer school and even some extension courses, so I was able to take a year off and go to Osh Kosh University of Wisconsin and get my degree taking a full load of 18 credits and then when I graduated, that was 1941 I was hired 42 because I was hired at Manitowoc here for fourth grade teacher for $1450.00 and before school started I was given a sixth grade job in this building in McKinley school. So that's the background and I was here about six years before they began looking for a principal for the Madison's school and I was selected to be the principal at Madison's school which was kind of a half time job, I teach half time and service pricipal half time. During the half time that I was teaching, or half time that I was serving as a principal, someone was coming into take those classes for me so that I could do the administrative work and then I moved through the, we had a parent group at Madison school that thought it was an old building, 1892 or something like that, it was a three story building with a gym on the third floor, kind of hazardous when you think of a couple of hundred kids in the building and the parent group, like the PTA decided that they should do something about it so we began to pressure the board of education and the board of education began to pressure the council that a new school was needed, this was a dangerous building for little kids. Three stories, long stairs, several coats of paint and varnish that would've gone up as tender if we had a fire, with the gym on the first floor which was a no place for the gym anyways and the council, the board of education agreed that a school should be built so we moved into a new building, Madison school, which is still running today in 1957 that was. At the same time, our city population was growing, children population was growing so we had another school needed in the northwest part of the city, Jackson school. We began building that one and superintendent that time was Mr. Angus Rotwell suggested that I supervise for an administrable schools, I was at one building half time and the other building at half time beginning 1952, I was serving the old building up until 1947 and serving the new school out here in the Jackson at 1952 and the only problem with serving two schools was that, well, a couple of them. You were always in the wrong building when something happened. When something happened at Madison, I was at Jackson, and I had good secretaries so they could handle quite a bit of the administrative work, over the phone or whatever and it seemed as I was always in the wrong building, of course having two buildings you never got to really know the kids or the parents and I guess my philosophy from early on, an elementary school principal must ensure know every child in the building by first names so he can talk to them just as he would to a long time friend and that was difficult when we had two schools and then the population began to grow again in 1956, they added on to the Jackson school and Mr. Rotwell said to me, "Maybe we should assign you to one building, which one would you like?" Well, I lived in the Jackson school area, so I thought maybe that would be it so I could walk to school. So we agreed and after that I was a full time principal at Jackson school and I stayed for 20 years then I was trasferred to Monroe school way over in the far south side for another 8 years. Jackson school was a large school, one time we had over 700 children, that's too many for an elementary school, Monroe school, we had 350 annually and you got to know because after being in a building for 20 years, I've got to know every parent and every child and I knew the whole family and it was kind of hard to leave Jackson school after being there for 20 years, maybe that change was the best thing that I still contend, moving from one building to another is very good, not only the teachers but also the principal. It was a challenge, really to get into this new other building, Monroe school to get to knew the staff, to get to know the parents, to establish a completely a new operation from what I had because they were differnt backgrounds than Jackson school kids, where the most part came from, upper level professional parents where as Monroe was a pretty good mixture across the board, I should say to that Madison school was pretty much at the lower level economic level, so you have to learn that an elementary principal to have to work with all level groups and I think that was a good experience also for myself. Now that gives you a quick background, well, I should say more about my family. My mother was a very optimistic kind of a person, I don't know if I know anyone who was optimistic as she is. She would always say, "Why don't you try it?" That was her philosophy. I guess maybe I caught some of that philosophy, I hope I have because I would say to the teachers, "Why don't you try it, what do you have to lose? If you think you have a good reason to work, let's try it." If it didn't work, we didn't do it anymore, then so I guess I attributed them that philosophy. Let's try it. My mother's philosophy, go ahead, you don't have much to lose and I think that some how was still in me. My dad was somewhat more on the pessimistic side, he said always be cautious with the things that you do, so maybe that idea was transferred to me.
Q: A big family? A lot of children?
A: There were five, three brothers and a sister. And one of my other brothers also became an elementary principal and my youngest brother is a retired naval academy. And my other brother is stone mason who takes a lot of pride at his work and he's good at it. And I have a sister who's a farmhouse wife with five boys herself and four of her boys went to college. Maybe some of that optimistism brushed off my brother being a principal and my sister's four sons who all got degrees.
Q: You retired in 84?
A: No, in 83, spring of 83 I retired.
Q: Well, you've already kind of got into it but I wonder if maybe you might say a word about the circumstances surrounding your entry into principalship. You've already said you took half time position for a while. What kind of mental processes did you go through and how did that all come about?
A: Okay, as I indicated, I was here at Mckinley school as a sixth grade teacher for six years, 1942 to 1948 and the principalship opened at Madison school, and the principal I had here promoted my thinking on trying to get that job. He said, "You could do it, you could handle it." And his office was right across from the sixth grade room, I guess he had a lot of confidence in me and if I had any success, I owe some of it to him. In the mailbox, if he had read an article about something new in education, it's in my mailbox and I would look at that and say, "What do you want me to do with this?" And you had to take it for that kind of meaning because he wouldn't have put it in my mailbox if he didn't want someone to try it and I guess he figured I'm willing try things. So, I have so attribute some of the success to the principal who knew how to subtly say to me by just putting it into my mailbox. "Try this, if you think if it's worth the try." or something of that sort and he knew I was the kind of the person who would say, "Yeah, why don't we?" And so maybe that was the kind of seed that was planted in me where here I was a sixth grade teacher and he always stuffing my mailbox some of the newest things that he had been reading and I guess from looking back, I think that was another kind of an important person that was in my life. I didn't always agree with everything but I gave it a try if he felt that I should try. He was a long time principal and he helped me. He was the kind of a person that, well, someone got hurt and you couldn't find him, and of course it's the principal that you should turn to, but everybody knew that I was there in case he wasn't. I guess I had with the rest of the staff, a good recognition of being able to handle such matters as that maybe that's what he saw and recommended or suggested that, hey, apply for that principalship, so I did and I could remember going to that old building saying, oh, gosh, I'm going into this building which's almost a fire hazard itself but again, when you get into a building like that and you meet the staff and you meet the kids and you meet the parents, that's the life that brought up the school, what the hell is a building, you know. It's what's in the building that people are going to be there and that you're going to be responsible for them so I guess I have to say inspite of whatever I thought at first, building as old as it was, I had some good years at the Madison school and I could reflect back some happy memories.
Q: You said your last building was Monroe school. Let's take that for a minute. I wonder if I could get you to sort of take me a walk through the building and maybe describe the halls of how it would be laid out and what we would see as we walk together.
A: At this building or at Monroe school?
Q: Well, I tell you what. It might be interesting to know more about this one since we're sitting in the monument here.
A: Okay, in this building the year I was a principal, the office was right across from the sixgrade room. There was another sixth grade room, but it was way down yonder and somehow, I guess they felt that because usually men were hired for sixth grade position, there's no particular reason for it except that they felt as sixth grade kids need somebody who's a little stronger. I don't know, but that was a policy pretty much although we did have, I remember a couple of sixth grade teachers, women there and so a lot of times if the principal wasn't here they would turn to me. "You're next to the office, you take over what needs to be done." Now coming down the hall ways, we had two kindergarten rooms and again, maybe that was another reason for having sixth grade next to the kindergarten room so that you could help the kindergarten teacher with the little boys. And we had four year kindergarten in the afternoons and five year old kindergartens in the mornings. We had a two year kindergarten program, oh way out into 56 or a 57 in the city of Manitowoc, you know at that time, it was important to have these young minds in school as today we're looking back and saying that this is the most important time, so kindergarten rooms then the first grade rooms, then upstairs, they had third and fourth, fifth and the other sixth. And the gym was far off over there. There was a time when we had sixth grade teachers do our own music with the music specialist sitting in the back of the room just to see how we're doing, the same thing with art, and the same thing with physical education. Now that was kind of measured by, or either changed by depending on the superintendent's philosophy. One superintendent would say, well, that's the way it's going to be, the expert would be observing you doing it. Then the next superintendent, I remember Mr. Rotwell, who's the expert? You or the art teacher or the music teacher? Well, they're the experts, so they should teach the classes and you should watch them and if you have to teach the class sometimes, you know how they did it, and you can do the same. Well it was kind of fun, I've always enjoyed music, I don't know if I did a good job but basically if you keep on singing, that's the whole idea of what music is all about, and the same thing with art and same thing with physical education, so I guess I never had any basic problems with that but I think this is important that it depended on the philosophy of the superintendent and since that time, I guess, the philosophies of the experts, they do the teaching and that's what we had in Manitowoc and I think that's better because all the expertise to do the job in better fashion most of the music teachers play the piano, I always have it marked my middle C next to the key hole on the piano keyboard because I knew that was the C and I could write C-D E-F-G-A-B-C and I knew where the keys were and I could plunk out myself but it's better to have someone with better expertise. Now then somehow, because I was a sixth grade teacher, we had an intermural program, of course that was the job that I took over beginning with fourth and fifth grade boys and it was expected. There wasn't any extra pay as there is today for all there jobs. Anytime a teacher gets any extra job, they expect extra pay and I guess we didn't expect that, I used most of my noon hours with Don with working in the gym with group or somebody and it was kind of interesting. We had competition among the sixthgrade teams and the city and there was a group rival and it was a lot of fun, but it was an extra assignment you know, but it was a good way to get to know, here I am a sixth grade teacher and I'm working with fourth grade boys. I got to know those fourth grade boys before they came to sixth grade which had an advantage. In that same light, I think my experience at the rural school because I was working with grade 1 through 8, was the best background a principal has ever had because because I have some picture of what I expect from a first grader and what I could expect from a third grader, a sixth grader or higher up. And that was a big help to me, coming with six years of rural teaching into a city sixth grade and then moving into a principalship. All that was very helpful to me. Then the new building at the Monroe school that I retired from, basically pretty much the same way except that it's a newer building with a gym right in the center, kind of like a focal point, special art teacher, a special music teacher, pretty much set up the same way, more today, I could see a big differences that libraries are much more well stocked today, not only with books but with periodicals and tapes, with video audio-visual equipments and of course we're into computers and things so we have a much better fact in that a public schools have a central library system that works out of this building and that's the only the full time lilbrarian that we have, there's a kind of library assistance but everything's catalog ordered and bunch of them are kept here and then the school supplied. I think sometimes I've felt that we probably had more than we really got to use because we had so much, but what better place to spend the money for materials for kids to work with, including tapes of that if someone doesn't prefer to read, they could listen to a tape or watch a film strip or whatever, so visually, that was a big advantage from a rural one room school to where we might've had a couple of hundred books to come in to a school where had a couple of thousands of books plus all the visual aids that we needed couldn't do that before they consolidated, you know you couldn't supply that kind of material for one room school because it was impossible to get all the tax money together to supply that much when you were in the bigger system, there was a bigger chance to get a revenue to do that.
Q: How was the building of those facilities financed to, was that done by the little board there?
A: Yes, basically pretty much raised their taxes to get that building built. The first school I was in at the old fashioned typed windows on the sides, which was after a while kind of piled upon with lights only coming from one side, of course electricity came in, I think all of the buildings that I was in at that time already had electricity with the electrification . REA, right?
Q: Before that they would've done it with oil lamps or something like that?
A: I presume gas lamps or you wouldn't have done much after it got dark and you weren't there in the evening.
Q: You were kind of sharing your philosophy, and I wonder if you could go on and say a little more about your philosophy on education and maybe say somethings about how it's revolved as through the years as you gained more experience?
A: Well, basically, I've always felt that if you're going to be a teacher or a principal, you better like kids, if yo dont' like kids to start with, don't be a principal or a teacher by any means because you aren't going to do the best job for them, the kids were here saying today that we have to show that you care, well, that was all important when I started. You had to show the kids that you cared and maybe because you were in a one room school, you had everyone of those grades all day long, you had more of a chance to show that you cared, maybe you were out at the noon hour playing flying down the hill with the kids as we used to do as Crstal Springs, you had a closer tie with them, I remember there, we had a nice hill in the backyard and there was fence, and I said to the board member, "Does that fence have to be there all the time? Can't we open it up and take a poster or two out so we can use that for sliding?" And we created one of the best kind of winter activities, we slide all the way down on our sleds to the Crystal Springs and that had never been done because that fence was there, so I said to them to get the fence out of the way so that the kids can bring theri sleds to the noon hour activity and that kind of think, I think we were kind of closer, and the fact that when I got my paycheck at the end of the month, I had to go to the clerk who would issue the order and I had to goto the director who would sign the order and then I had to drive to the treasurer's house who would issue the check and if I did that after school, I was always home not before eight o' clock or later in the evening because everyone of them would want to visit with you awhile. So you had pretty good insight of public relations was being built with all these things that you had to do and there were problems that the time that they would ask you about. You know, "What happened to this kid the other day, did he get hurt? How did he get hurt?" If that happened to be a problem, so you have to explain what happened and it was a bad accident, I'll never forget that either. At one of these Crystal Springs schools, I thought everybody had gone home after school, and I was doing some boardwork or something and in comes this three or fourth grade boy and he tried to tell me what's going on and his mouth was full of blood and when I looked at him, he had fallen on the cement stairway as they were playing and he jammed four or five of his front upper teeth into the gum. He jammed them up. Luckily I had my car that day, and said, "Come on, we're going to take you home right away." So I took him home and showed the parents what happened and they got him a dentist and found out later that, "I had to give him some pain pills but his teeth are going to grow back out again, it'll take a little a time." So it wasn't quite as bad as it looked but he must've been in some terrible pain for a while. That was one of the worst accidents that I would recall and there wasn't much that I could've done about it. I thought they had gone home and there they were playing as they will and I didn't have anybody to supervise there. Today we worry about that you know, kids coming early, I noticed that here at Manitowoc, they're trying to get some people who would be on the playground from say 8:50 until the school opens in the morning so that they could kind of watch the activity that they don't get too rough or something.
Q: Including along from your personal philosophy, how's that tie into your instructional philosophy in education?
A: I think as a principal, far too long, I realized that if I'm going to be the principal, my relationship to my staff must be about I expect the teachers to have with their kids, if I want those teachers to help those kids to learn the best of their ability, then I guess I better have a similar kind of a relationship with staff to help them do the kind of job that'll make that first learning by the kid possible. And I know we talk about evaluation of teachers, maybe some of the things that I might've done in the beginning, I wasn't happy with but simply suggest some ideas to the teachers as to, well, if they did something well, I think I said, okay, that was great, but maybe if I saw something that maybe the quite the way I would've done it myself, I might say, why don't you try this instead of what you're doing and maybe you'll find it easier and it might be more beneficial to kids and sometimes, I would be sure to say, how did that work, because I see what you're doing now, have you changed it little bit, is that going to make any difference? I think what I like to do early on that I announced to the staff probably this year that I would concentrate on reading and I would visit the kidergarten to grade sixth and try to put into perspective of some of the things that I have witnessed and after going through all the classes for several periods or maybe several weeks, I try to put down all of the good things that I had seen that I thought were good things in reading classes, motivation for example or how the other kids responded or were all of the kids treated equally and some of the good readers were doing as well or the poor readers doing as well or better than they could've been and I'd also probably try to least some of the other things that I might have a little bit of question about and then maybe even some suggestions and I try to do that, I guess each of the year that I was at Jackson, I did that with the reading classes, with the social studies classes, not the same year, one year, I would pick the reading, next year I would pick science class, next year, I would do social studies classes and see whether or not there might be something that we could all benefit from and they would all get a copy of a total thing, all of my visitations, whatever reasonable, whatever I thought I might have seen that I thought it was good whether is was kindergarten or grade six or whatever. And all of the things I thought might have been all that great and all of my suggestions and we discuss that whether or not I made a fair judgment or was my judgment not fair and hopefully, some of them benefitted from it. I guess I was hoping that whatever strength they were, we would play on and whatever weaknesses there might've been we woudld try to improve on. And I think from again looking at it from the same point of view, my administrator, you know, the superintendent and it happened to be Mr. Childs who was superintendent at that time who thought that was a heck of a good way to do it, but I wasn't putting anybody on the spot, I was giving all kinds of ideas that I had seen,things that I might've not liked or things that I might've needed in improving and maybe some suggestions for the approval. I should say that in addition to caring, if you're going to be a teacher or a principal, you better be a caring individual. Somewhere along the line, I picked up that maybe this was through some of the meetings that I've gone through. Maybe a national meeting did some of the elementary meetings did go to national meetings, which I've always found very helpful. The philosophy that I really kind of stress is that at least in the last ten years of my life, if not earlier, you make school where kids want to be and I guess I firmly believe that. If you can make an elementary school, a place where kids really want to be, you're not going to have too many problems because they'll want to learn, they'll learn to behave because they like it there and that's the kind of philosophy that I have that everyone, my staff members were feeling. Let's make this classroom where kids want to be. Let's make this building where kids want to be.
Q: Well, this sounds like you're really talking like that organizational climate, creating a positive climate of place for a good learning environment. What kinds of things, since you're talking about it, were you able to do signal your desires and to make this happen?
A: Okay, I made it as a kind of practice pretty often, as often as I could to greet the kids as they came off the buses, maybe it was adorable performance and have a good day or good to see you here, I notice you're not sick anymore, you're looking great and things of that kind, or boy I'm glad you're dressed warm or that's a nice hairdo you have on today, did you get it done yesterday or something to pick out a new brave spot and then I tried something every Friday afternoon, and I did this for many years, even when I was at Jackson, I think it must've been something we did for that I suggest that we do for fifteen years. At one o'clock, we'd have a special program, ten minutes, not anymore start out with some kind of popular song that had a message and then we'd have students there or maybe teachers or I would list the names of something that maybe the kids have their picture in the paper, their name on the paper, I would always pay attention to kids who had their names in the paper because of what he had done or what she had done and let me put them on the bulletin or the board out in the halls so that everyone can see them. At Jackson school, I promoted students that they write their own library books and we have a meet the author hour in the library, say from three o'clock on, the child who wrote the book together and the librarian would help them to put the book together and meet the author and of course, they wrote the story, they wrote the commentaries on their own and the librarian would help put them together and it was a great reading experience and for the little kids to come up and see the third or fourth graders or fifth or sixth graders would put the books with their names on the shelf, so some of those things, and we even try to do those things for teachers. A music teacher, for example, I remember one time went on this city program for church program or something we would congratulate them and put that article on the bulletin board and give them the same kind of credits as we did to the kids and then we would always have a song. Every Friday, we had a special song, "Love makes the world go around." I remember that one, you know, suggesting that hey, you love each other and then some of the kids would bring in their own records and I always said, "Okay, you bring the records but I have to proof it." I didn't want any kinds of language that I hear in some of these records that goes over the p.a. system and somebody wanted an Elvis record so we listened to an Elvis record, the one with "Grace" in the title, I can't think of the name, well Elvis had some good songs and we listened to them once in a while but I tried to steer from anything that suggest other than good values. I guess we carried that into making this school place into our discipline. If you wanted to discipline somebody, you ought to have some kind of meaning, I don't think it should be a discipline to punish somebody. I think it had to have to have some carry over of his understanding or her understanding where I was wrong what might've been better. Yeah, somebody could've gotten hurt, that's not good. If you're going to tease, be sure to take the teasing yourself which's common in elementary school kids, a lot of teasing when someone hurts badly and if the youngster happens to be heavy, some heavy children are teased and I didn't have any room for that. I didn't want that whatever the case maybe. Today, I don't know what happens. Today, every did has to have a Reebok pair shoes, if they don't, I'm sure that they get laughed at. I don't think that's fair. Why should a family spend a lot of money just to have a name brand product, if it's good to wear, let's wear with regardless of what its trade name is. I think elementary school kids, maybe junior high, or even senior high can get pretty harsh on each other and it registers with the kids and if you're going to have a good self image, that's not going to help very much. That's another thing that you have to have in elementary schools, a good self image and that's why I've always felt, I guess I have never been happy with the fact that we, or even on a salary schedule, who gets the highest salary? It's the high school teacher, and then it's the junior high school teacher and coming with the bottom is the elementary principal. I was maintained on it and sometimes I would outspoken on it that if the kid is going to make a progress on that junior high or that senior high, he has to get the good start right here at the elementary and that's where we need the best teachers and that's where we need the best pay for both teachers and the principals but it never turns out that way. I don't know whether or not it's any different to me but maybe that's still is something that we need to take a look at because you can pick out the dropouts in first grade if you want to and we have to something about that in first, second, or third grade to prevent the dropouts when they get the results as they are sophomores, juniors, or seniors and how could we help them down there in first or second grade if you don't become dropouts and maybe it's the teaching or maybe it's this harrasing that kids suffer, maybe it's somebody who showed that they didn't care at the right time. I've always believed in a lot of special help, that kid need some special help even it means that you have to stay after school for a little bit. I don't always see a lot of that in the last couple of years because you know I think it's 4:15, was the time when you could leave the building then you left the building and I've always said, hey, that kid needs some help, could you stay another fifteen minutes and give it to him. I said all you have to do is call the parents and say you're going to keep him after school to give him some special help. Then the parents will thank you forever.
Q: I gues by the time you were closing on the term, you had union contract.
A: I was just going to add maybe this is all I've come about to the union. I've gone through that, oh, very tragic thing I guess, that was strike. You know the first year when I went to the Monroe school, we had a strike and you suffered one time and you never want to go through them again because you know it's hurting the kids most of all and having to try to put everybody together again and some who were striking, some staff who were striking and some who were not and trying to run the school with the teachers who weren't striking and pick up teachers, strikers, good teachers, some of the good teachers because they're both are in your building and out there with a pick up line is a kind of a hard deal. You don't want to go through too many times.
Q: How long did this strike last to?
A: It lasted quite a while. I remember coming to school in the morning and it was dark because teachers who were on strike were there early and some of my, couple of my best teachers were right up against the building in the dark, I would use the flashlight to identify them and I said, "Hey you guys, you're on strike, but you have to go down there on the side walk, not against the building. This isn't where you're going to do striking, way down there, I hate to do this but please go down there, down to the street sight, you can't do it because it's the building." And then you would drive out and you would see them there, you have good teachers in the building who feel obligated to the kids and so on, they're both obligated to the kids but they're taking as a different position. And then trying to get them back together again, you just have to say, "Hey, today, you're just going to come back to school and the kids are the reason that we're here first place, we're going to give them a best kind of education we can whether we were on the line or whether we were not on the line and sooner we can patch this up, the sooner we can forget that we were a different size. Let's do it, for the good of the kids!" And that isn't easy and of course I had some experiences with the union that I can look back and maybe not feel that I handled right because it was kind of a surprise to me that somebody would, we had a one incident that I remember was that we had an electrical problem, I guess through out the city pretty much or was it a water problem. The superintendent announced that the school be closed for the afternoon, the children would be dismissed at noon and teachers could work on some curriculum project or some other kind of work that they would have in their room to get ready for the next day or whatever and I took that to me in that, hey that's not such a bad deal, you get paid for the afternoon and you work on your own personal kinds of activities. Well, I came to the teachers' lounge where four gals were playing bridge and I guess I didn't see that as being a kind of activity that they ought to be doing and I sent them back to their room and I said that I don't think that this is the way to go. I'm afraid that it's not going to be something that I want to forget and I did put on their evaluations at the end of the year because two of them were beginning teachers and couple of others were here for only two or three years experienced teachers. To put on their evaluations at the end of the year, I thought that they should maybe become more professional and of course I was challenged by the grievance committee of the union and at the time, this is one of the grievance activity that I had been up with and I had to handle the situation on my own afterward, I realized that that could've been called on by my superintendent to assist me that I sat through the evening, the grievance committee on my own and stated my position and explained why this had happened and I said, well, maybe I was a little harsh. If you're saying that you thought it was harsh, because it's going to on their permanent record, okay, maybe I'll back down and I'll strike out that statement, so I finally decide, so what? They're going to be with us for another year or two, maybe I better see that they become more professional some other way, so it does change your plans, your strategy. I guess one another time that I felt that there was another problem was when, you know if you make a visit to a classroom and you have the teachers come in to your room into your office at her convenience to talk over what you might've seen good or bad, not bad but the good is questionable, you don't think you need another person viewing the situation presenting the union, the rep and I don't think we've done that but at the time, they were considering that and I would argue hey, this teacher's job is not in the lines because we're sitting and talking what I saw or had seen she might be well able to explain what she was doing in a good reason or he might be doing for whatever the good reason then, I would have to say, okay, that's good. Now that was the whole idea of it anyway, I wasn't going to say you lose your job because of what I saw or you don't lose your job and that part of the thing, I kind of really hope never happens. We can always have this exchange of ideas, exchange points without having the building rip or having a teachers's union rep there and as I started to say earlier you know my first teaching job was a handshake, even on a handshake was the keg of beer. Today, the union, I think sometimes gets a little petty, I think the unions have done a good job, I think that we probably needed a, my wife always reminded me of that. They're important, teachers salaries were nothing. They're getting them now what they're suppose to be, it should've been long time and I agree but sometimes they do get a little picky, you know, and I hope that we don't get so picky that we destroy the whole idea of people, public relations wise and because we still have those tax peers off the tax payers out there looking at this that if we get too minute on some ont the details, those people are going to turn against them. People that they should be supporting the teachers, so those are some of the thoughts that I had on the union. It's a lot different, I look it as a lot different because today, the most of those people that we have as teachers came from homes where at least one of their parents might have been members, they're coming out the middle class most part, and most of the middle class at one time or another, their parents were once were union members, so they heard a lot about the unions as they were growing up as kids and that's permeating their own philosophy. I don't know if I could quote the extreme and say that I think teachers, the union should be bring in PAC money to support one candidate or defeat another candidate, maybe we're stretching that a little too much. But that's my own personal feeling.
Q: Well were the principals members of the union or were they _____________?
A: In that illustration, we would call a management team and that would put us in a different position and of course by the way, in any job, you're the bad guy if you're the boss. That's true of any job you look at. I suppose that teaching is not different from any other job. Every other job has union problems now but I had some experiences and enjoyed it very much, especially the strike, although I have to say that whatever happened either because of the position that I took or because of the staff wanting to get together, which I think was mostly what it was. We got back and the feelings didn't last all that long, you know, they didn't remind each other, yeah, you were on pick up line or you weren't on pick up line, I didn't ever hear that kind of thing. They were respectful to each other which was important, and to me was important.
Q: I want to ask you what kinds of things you perceive teachers as expecting the principal to be able to do and what kinds of values as principals should represent?
A: I guess over the years, one of the things that I felt that the teachers wanted from me was to have a sympathetic ear and listen to their problems and I guess that's the role of the principal that the administration requires that somebody assist them with discipline and I've always, fisrt of all, taken the teachers part unless I felt that there was something that needed attention and that teacher and I could work together on and maybe there was a feeling of dislike for this particular child, I can remember one teacher coming to me and saying, "That girl is wearing slacks to school. I don't think that they should wear slacks." Which puts a long way back because you know, today we accept that, and so I said, "look, it's a cold day outside, it's thirteen below or whatever, if the girl wants to wear slacks, let's not argue about it." And one man teacher came to me and I thought he had a funny lookiing tie but I didn't want to touch that argument with a ten foot pole. "We have boys who wear tennis shoes all day and that's not good for their feet." I said to him, "Today, everybody's wearing tennis shoes, and at back, this was a quite a back a long time already, and I don't think you should be concerned about that at all. Parents are going to decide what shoes they should wear going to school, let that for be parents, not for us to decide. The same with slacks, that's not for me." So, discipline would be one of the things. I think they also wanted help sometimes if we had a question on curriculum. I've always admired Manitowoc schools because we had given, of course as long as I know teachers an opportunity to work on curriculum and they always got paid for it next to their job and even during the summer. So they have some teacher on high school level wanted to develop a new unit a science that was an opportunity for them to do work and to do that summer unit. For same think for elementary teachers could develop a whole new series of maybe to go with a new text, a whole series of activities, both learning and special activities to challenge the talented kids so that everybody would benefit from that new type of text or whatever and they had opportunities to work with the material during the summer to pick out visual aids, to pick out tapes, and put it all down to that if some sixth grade teacher worked on that particular project, the other sixth grade teachers can share and I thought that was real good and we still do that. I think that's a good way to get everybody involved and I would suggest that you know, some teachers would not involve in this activity, and I would reach them to, "Hey, you haven't been programmed for couple of summers. Why don't you get into it, you might benefit from it and I think you should do it and you're going to get paid besides, so give us a four, five weeks for taking the unit, sometimes we pick people, sometimes principal would suggest people to work on the committee. And I think that's a good way to go out and do curriculum so there you have some kind of organization from kindergarten to grade one to grade sixth, like in the social studies and you can't have teachers decide what they're going to teach totally otherwise you might be teaching Europe for fourth grade to sixth grade spread out and cover the whole area but let's do it in a certain way that some other grade take something else and then of course textbook writers always pick up on that so you're pretty much in control by the way you're going to teach it maybe because that's the book they distribute in Wisconsin. I guess we do it in fourth grade now, we do the United States in grade five upon till the time I think in sixth grade, we did Mediterrenian lands and far east then we would wound up in Russia, somehow we never got time for Russia at the end of the year which happens when you have the program depending on teachers ready to move through or wanting to concentrate on one area.
Q: I was thinking as a follow up on that, I want to ask you about teacher expectations of you when you were in school, I wonder if you could talk a little about the expectations that were placed on you by the community and by the people downtown at the central office administrators, the kinds of things you felt coming your way.
A: Well, I think that usually what happens is over a period of years, you get to knowing which teachers seem to be finding parents with parents because whatever the reason is, if you could find out why that particular teachers find that favors with parents and some others are not, then maybe you can help that, a teacher who doesn't always have that some kind of a pour. Or maybe there were some incidents maybe happened were even actually understood. Sometimes, information gets to be misinformation because someone didn't treat the subject the same way or didn't see the background. I think we do have a high expectations in Manitowoc. We do interview very carefully, we send people go out interview candidates in well about five or six state area and try to pick the best candidates which I think it's important if we're going to get good teachers, we ought to have people that are good candidates, I would like to see them to get the kind of write up about their accomplishments as football players do when they're being drafted, if we could just look at all the things that the student did while she was an undergrad, of all the activities as they do for a place kicker or a tackle, you know, a running back or whatever, I don't suppose we would ever reach that point but that would be nice. We do expect good performance and I think again, comes to trying to build teachers' self image. Beginning teachers, I think get a lot of attention because I'm sure they're no different when I was a beginning teacher, you're scared and I think that's another thing that the principal has to come in and say, "You're going to do okay. Everyone of us had to suffer through the first week or the first month. So keep yourself positive all the time and you'll do well." And I've seen teachers who would cry by the end of the day and that's again, your expectations of them where you should be careful that you don't expect a whole lot on the first day. I can remember my first day, I was lying in bed that night and I said, "I could picture that little girl sitting in her desk and I had never had up for class." I don't know how that had happened, but boy, she was up for a class the next day I tell you, because I couldn't, I knew that something was wrong and you know you had to be on your own when you taught that little school, probably the superintendent came once in a while or the supervising teacher came once in a while but the most part, it was you and either you were going to make or break on how well you could survive, how well everybody recognized you survival. I can't say enough of that experience, the other reason that it was valuable was that, it was valuable to the kids and somehow we get back into those pholosophies once in a while, you know, right now, I'm sure that there are school systems that say, "Let's put all the ages 8,9,10 in the same category or 10,11, 12 into the same category." We're not going to identify them as fourth, fifth, sixth graders or in that upper age group and that all goes back to where what a rural school was, you were having first grade reading class, there are some of second graders sitting there and listening, they couldn't help but listen, they didn't get that quite squared when they were first grade, they could certainly pick it up now listening to those first graders, or if on the other hand, you had a very sharp second grader student, who was way beyond other second graders, he was listening to the third, even fourth grade clss, maybe he was already picking up information at that level to challenge him, so back to expectations, there would be a variety of ways that you could get the teachers to recognize, "This is expected of me, let me do it the best way that I can today and tomorrow and the next day and if my principal can help me, I should be asking him to help me." And that's what I'm there for as I said earlier, it should be no different than the teachers' role, working with kids, the principal has to be symbolized, my job is to produce them at the best level they can.
Q: Well let me get into the next question, comment upon your leadership style. There's been a lot of talk in recent years about different approachs to leadership and I wonder if you could just comment further on techniques in which you used to carry out your instructional program and maybe even comment on if you will on something that didn't work so well for you?
A: Well, I suggested earlier that right here in this very building, my principal Mr. Giller by putting things into my mailbox, suggesting that I might try that particular item, which was one way to do it, it was a very subtle way but it was kind of a positive way also because you realized that he isn't doing that just to want you to read something, probably suggesting that it might be a good idea to try it and I think that's a one way to show that you are doing some leadership, I tried in elementary school many times to take over a class, many times I would say, "If you have a dental appointment, go ahead, I'll take over, if you have some other business and want to take couple of hours off for a while, I'll take your class." The kids kind of found that humorous, they thought it was great to have the pricipal to take over the class and I have to admit that many times, I didn't accomplish as much as I know the teacher would've accomplished because we've spent a little more time having fun, the kids thought it was fun but I think that's another way to show. I was a long time, way back in the 50's, we had an opportunity, a several of us to participate in the school improvement program in the University of Wisconsin. (TAPE 2 BEGINS) I was a long time believer that things you could teach to a larger group that you had enough activities to keep everybody's level interest up and that might be a good way to introduce a new subject, maybe some teacher in a team, you had three teachers grade five, six whatever, maybe some teacher was really good at that, he or she could think of ways that it could motivate students to want to learn that particular area of science or that particular area of social studies and maybe that teacher would be the kind of a leader for that activity for that unit, maybe the whose science activity that teacher would be the unit leader and could do the motivating and each of the other teachers could share the next week or the second week's activities and then we would have a combination and again, this would be a good way to bring everybody together for the combination, so we did a lot of experimenting, as a matter of a fact, we built a building, a Jackson school, and I think Stangle school out in Manitowoc, we're built with that kind of idea and mind that you could have a large room or you could put up two hundred kids and have your motivational sessions in that room, maybe combination sessions in that room or even some the other activities that there were science experimentation to go on that would be a place to do it and you could teach the whole group to motivate, to study, to learn, and then culminate brain together all the things that everybody should've or could've learning and so I was a gret believer in that kind of idea. It's not easy to get teachers to do that, teachers will often times say, "Look, I do a better job in math, I like to teach math, I'll take the math classes, you do a better job in reading so you take the reading classes or you take the science classes." That isn't really team teaching but it's kind of departmentalizing and I guess I've always felt that maybe in elementary school, we don't want to do that departmentalizing, if you're going to teach all science, I don't know what you're doing in science if I'm teaching math or if I'm teaching all the math, you're not able to understand what I'm doing if you're teaching all the science and maybe there's enough overlapping so that whatever happens in math or whatever happens in science, I ought to know about, and if we can do this in a departmental way and keep everybody informed of what's happening, then it's okay but if not, maybe we shouldn't be departmentalizing. The kids should benefit from their science learning and learning to apply it to math or to social studies or vise versa. I could see a greater value in team teaching that regard because everybody was working in the science activities, everybody knew what everybody science activities were, they were motivated with same kinds of activites that master teacher wanted to introduce and then we were all brought to pull together what we had studied in that particular unit. And you could see in that area too that the teacher that took the leadership you were expecting that teacher to do a good job because you felt he or she they were ones that were qualified for that position and maybe better than the others or maybe they volunteered because maybe they felt that they were equipped. I don't know if we do too much of that team teaching anymore but that was a new idea and we have a building because they do have a large room upstairs and a large room downstairs in the upper grade level. At the Jackson school which, that was the way the classrooms were built for that team teaching idea and I don't knew across the country if too much of that is being done.
Q: It used to be an idea that comes and goes.
A: I still do it in a sese. I was a great promoter of our school forcest in outdoor education, I don't know if you want to get into that or not.
A: I believe in environmentalist being the environment. The environmental education at the core pretty much of all education but I'm getting a lot of people that I'm not able to convince anyway, I think it's an important segment study for kids and I was a great promoter and able to motivate the right people at the right time so that we have a scool forest which we called the 'RAHR school forest' 255 acre area with that name, RAHR school forest on lake Michigan north of two rivers where which we should be using as a headquarters for environmental education, hopefully each grade from one to five should get out at least one day a year or two days if they have a reasons apply something out there. Sixth graders go out there for camping experience, they stay over night for three or four days. The junior high, I don't know how much they've gotten involved because when you're working with teachers on the upper grade level, they hate to give up their science class or they hate to give up their math class and say, "Where are they going today? They're going to the school forest, how can I teach my math class because half of them are going to be gone." So the junior high at least to my knowledge, I don't think it has changed much since I left, we didn't seem to find a way to work that out but on the high school level, they did. All of the biology classes would go out there for a day of education out in the field, and all the biology classes, so we were happy with that, but anyway back to this team teaching which I still do, I'm called out there and I'm glad to because it's interesting and I'm proud of this school forest because I was the motivator among the couple of others. And when I retired, they asked for my building keys but they permitted me to keep this keys to the school forest buildings that we have three buildings there and one of them carries my name so I'm really proud of that and then they get me up there to help teach classes with sixth graders that are there for three or four days and they want me to teach fire control, what do you do to prevent the forest fire, what do you if you have one, how do you handle it? And I still teach the total group that control fire control and there they are. Sixty or sixty-five kids at one time and I'm teaching the whole class and that comes from my teaching experience I think it's a good way to do it at one time rather than for me to be there twice or three times and do it over and over again, I could do it all in one time because I could motivate them to keep them listening and watching in anxious and we could go out in the field to go put out couple of fires and they could participate in that and we could rotate in that so almost everybody has a chance to participate, and it's the team teaching idea that I think sometimes I get a call and, "Would you come out three times." and I would say, "Look if you want me to, I will do it three times but I would prefer to do it once and I can do a well as good of a job as if I did three times." And most of them agree to that. So as I would get out there and do some teaching in lumbering we do have fine building and I guess you should find out for yourself, but I did promote a collection of lumbering artifacts and commercial fishing artifacts because those are the two big industries of our past. Lake Michigan was famous for it's fishing it is again to be but not quite the same way as fishing compared to the commercial fishing. And I was able to get all the commercial fishing artifacts and we have mounted them up on a wall and we have a building that's named after me. And we have all the lumbering artifacts which was a early industry on early artifacts on another wall so that the kids can see the history of the school forest of background of kinds of jobs that people had there. What if I had born and lived in the 1850's or something or 1870's as a sixth grader, what would I be doing. Well, I might be helping dad with nets on the lake or I might be helping dad make shingles or something of that sort.
Q: This is great.
A: And as I said, I treasure them back that they havn't asked for my keys back so I could go visit anytime I want. And then I do and I guess it's because I realize that one of my basic interest and philosophy was to get the kids to love the outdoors and we can do it out there. Kids love the wild life of the animals and the birds and hopefully we could get all the kids in Manitowoc schools out there at least once a year.
Q: There are some folks who argue that standarized test provide a good way to improve instruction and I wonder what your experiences with standarizing test was and I wonder if you could share your views on these effects, positive or negative on the quality of the instructioal program.
A: Could I go back to my earlier years as both sixth grader and a principal, way back, we used to have sit down, I can recall sixth grader teachers together and having constructing what we call progress test. We had to construct three or four spelling progress test to give all the sixth graders during the year, or reading progress test, or science, or language arts progress test and we kind of use those to measure how we well we were doing for sixth grader, and we had this pretty much on all of the grade levels. Now those aren't standarized tests because we created them ourselves and we knew what the curriculum was so we applied that information to the test and by this time, you should've been upto that point in social studies, you should've been upto that point in spelling or whatever and it was an indicator to the students of how well they were doing but it was also an indicator to the sixth grade teachers or whatever grade level and how well they were doing and you know, some of the things that we entered in the test were the things that we felt important for kids to learn. Now when you talk about standarized tests and I think you're talking about the printed one that we purchase and you try to get a grade equivalent to whatever for a youngster on reading, or language arts, social studies or math or whatever, especially on math and reading and language. It was a good indicator, I don't know if I was disappointed even after retiring and looking back and say that's the way we ought to measure teachers and certainly they don't think so. I think that it's a indicator to the teacher probably whether or not you're covering the basic material although it's pretty hard to say what's the basic material for the standarized test but it's an indicator as to what kinds of information that the kids have and that's the only way that I guess I would look at it as an indicator just as I would look at as an IQ test as an indicator. I don't think an IQ test is totally how I would look at a student because I would want to know what's his creative ability. I think that a creativity is just as important as IQ ability and maybe they go hand in hand but not necessarily, so kid can be very creative but not have very high IQ but he could picture things in his mind very quickly, very mechanically if that's necessary, so I think we have to look at tests as being indicators and I would think that maybe if we have several of these indicators over the year, we still go through that too because I remember they had a city wide kindergarten IQ test and then again in the third grade and we got it again in the sixth grade, we got it again in the ninth grade, maybe having four or five IQ tests you had a picture of this kid's abilities, but how reliable was the one in the kindergarten, not very reliable, how reliable was the Kumon-Anderson's in grades three and sixth which both very heavily based on reading and math, not very good, so you have to kind of look at it tongue in check maybe it's okay, it's an indicator, but we always had to look at that as being not the total answer. I think that's important for teachers always to have it's not a total answer, it's an indicator and at one time we never told the parents what the IQ's were and we went through a different kind of philosophy and kind of said, why shouldn't they know if we can help them understand what it is, while there's some dangers in doing that, but I think for the most part, people can see there's a range of 0 to 100 and you're strictly right in the average somewhere, now that doesn't mean that you're going to stay there permenantly but the chances are that may be the range of you're going to operate in, if it's in the higher bracquet, we can expect more and we ought to have the kids do more and if in the lower bracquet, maybe we should ease off little bit and say, that's great, you got ten right today instead of having twenty right if you know their ability is ten, let's give them the credit for the ten. It's always bothered me that the red pencils always bothered me. You look at some child's spelling paper and it's xxxx in red. And I said, you know what I like to suggest to you as a teacher sometimes, take your red pencil and put cccc correct, correct, correct, correct, and forget about the things that are wrong and count the correct ones once in a while instead of saying fifteen wrong. Let's be positive, let's do the positive of this. Give the kid a chance that knowing that he had ten right and maybe tomorrow he could get eleven or twelve or even keep ten all the time rather than going to five and little things like that testing. When we started, when I used the system, we began working with the faster learners. The kids that could be recognized and you could pick it out, every teacher could pick it out very quickly. Verbally, you could pick it out very quickly and we visited some schools, I remember going to school system to check out how they made the selection and the school system, they based the selection this group that's going into the special study on a IQ test of 132. If you made 132 or better, you got into that class. If you had 131 or lower, you did not make it and they had to admit that sometimes they even got into to the hassle with parents who wanted their kid in that section because they might've had test that administrator was a male and a girl didn't do so well. And some of the parents said, "Well, why don't we let a female administrator test the administrator's daughter? I think she would do better with female." I don't know whether that makes a difference or not but I think that's kind of drawing the fine line when you say 132. We didn't go that way, we used the IQ test as an indicator but only one. We had a way to measure, tried to measure the creativity which's not easy to measure either. Teacher's judgment, parental judgment, you know, do you ever get your children if you have three or four, does this guy really compare with the other's high? The parents can pick them out. This one is a sharp one, he is above the rest of them. The parents know that so I think we have about five or six different criteria, as I remember correctly. I'm sure they still do that to me before we put these kids in the advance groups and I think that's basically true with all the testings, if you just remember that any kind of test is only one indicator, I don't want to make a judgment on that whether this guy should go to college or not or whether he should go into advanced math or not. Let's give him a try. I think our philosophy at Manitowoc is still the same today, even in kindergarten, lots of school systems are misleading before they come into the kindergarten. I think our superintendents, all of them, all of their philosophies, I think certainly of mine and many other elementary principals, I think all of them have always felt that in Manitowoc, give him a chance, bring him to kindergarten. Let the teacher work with the kid for five, six, or eight weeks and then they could judge them. When you take a screening test, a kid has to come in August, whatever the date is, the school is totally new to him, the administrator has he doesn't even know the person, he maybe scared out of his wits and he is not going to respond the way you might expect him to where as if you had the kid for six to eight weeks and that teacher is building some report, the kid is comfortable, the kid is likely through show off what he knows or what he doesn't know in a normal way that he can use and benefit from. I'm sure that that's still the philosophy to me, but it is today, a lot of school system might be abusing devices, which I'm not so sure how all that... and we do the same with speech, if speech problem is going to be, then it's going to be noticeable, we'll work on it when we find if, if it's noticeable to parents, then we do it earlier, and we can get specialist, I'm sure they provide even for pre-school if they have a speech defect or some problem that we can help with.
Q: If I could get you to think with me, describe for the listeners what your work day would be like, how you spend your time, what was the normal hours of day and week that you put in and so forth.
A: Well, I guess coming from the rural school, where I had to do all of it myself, including the maintence, building of the fire and so forth, I've always been a person that felt should be there ample time in the morning, if need me, I should stay until end of the day. You know, you had to do this if you're in the rural school, if the weather's cold as it happens to be today in Wisconsin, I had to build a fire to warm up before the kids got there or maybe thaw the ink in the ink wells or just be sure that the building you didn't just sit there with heavy jacket on all day, and maybe the morning is the best time to get organized before the day. Some teachers may need get ready, you can help them get ready for the day as I said, I try to be there always available to greet the kids when they came. At noon hour, we have lot of youngster bringing lunch since both parents are working, that's understandable. We have noon hour people helping here at Manitowoc with this kind of thing however I've always felt that when I was a principal I should be out there doing the noon hour and whatever the weather was we let the kids to be out even if it was cold, we should be out there with them. We wouldn't want to push them out the door and say okay, and try to hide inside. So I've always made myself available during the noon hours and the lunch hour even if that meant that I had to take an earlier lunch hour so that I could supervise what's happening at noon hour. If there was a problem with their eating habits or their sanitation or whatever, I was there to try to get them to do the kinds of things that they would do at home, good manners, good sanitations, help open their milk bottles, whatever. Sit and visit with them, let them sit and visit each other without chasing all over the place, keeping a kind of a restaurant situation available for them having fun and when it was time to go outside for a while, weather permitting, I would also go out. At first I believed that I could prevent many of the things that could have been problems, yet I take the noon hour and come back at one o'clock and found four or five sitting in the office because the noon hour person said they were misbehaving for this reason or the other. And then you had to work out all the details you didn't know what it was, if you don't know what happened, you can ask the kid what happened. When you're out there, you know what's happening. At one o'clock, I never had anybody in the office because I knew what it happened, therefore I might've been able to prevent it. The same thing during the afternoon with bus duty, when you have a lot of bus people waiting for buses, there's another place for discipline kind of surveillance that you have to provide so that no one gets hurt or get bothered beyond the normal level and I guess I always try to make myself available there waiting for the bus regardless of the weather because it was important that the big guys didn't always say, "I'm first on the bus, and you can push the little ones off the side." I've always maintained the first graders get on first, the sixth graders get on last. Maybe I wasn't popular with the sixth graders about that but I felt that that's the way it should be, let's get the little guys taken care of first. And again because you're schedule with custodians seems to not always coincide with the school terminates or whatever, especially if you have two one works during the day and one comes in later in the afternoon and works at night, I've always tried to make myself available being sure that every door was locked before I left the building, not so much because there's a danger that somebody could come in although that might've been one of the reasons but at least there wasn't any temptations for the kids to say, "The door's opened. Let's go in." You know even though they didn't have any kind of idea that they wouldn't do anything wrong at least they were in the building where they shouldn't be and so I would always try to check all the door before I left and if some teachers were there even when I left, I would stop and visit for a while.
Q: Well, about what percentage of your time were you in the office during the day opposed to hour in the building moving around?
A: I think that try as you might to not spend time in the office than you had to than out in the hallways or in the gym classes or observing other classes or out in the playground at the recess time or whatever. You were lucky if you were 50/50 and especially you know it's like way back to when I was the building principal of two schools, you didn't have much time into get into classrooms and I guess I never wanted the teachers to say well, how can you tell when you're not in the room? If you're going to make any kind of judgment to or provide assistance to a teacher, you better get in once in a while and see how things are going so you can provide some assistance if that's what she wants or needs but you get phone calls and you don't always want to say, well, I'll call you back, but it's much easier for catch that parent or citizen if that's what it is right at that time and maybe that's a faster way to prevent a problem, you could get a information to a particular problem right at that moment. You take the phone call and you leave whatever you might've been doing.
Q: I wonder if you had a lot of contact with parents and others in the community and evening where they called you at home?
A: I never felt that they shouldn't do it. If they had a reason to call me at home, I know some people say well, I don't list my number. But I've felt that was a cop out. There should be something that parents should want to call you about let him call you at school or at home whatever happens to be convinient and if there's a problem, I want to know about it and you know, I've heard some teachers say I wish they wouldn't call you at home as it looks. There's a problem, let's get to it if they can get to it, we can get to it soon as possible, we could prevent it from getting bigger so I never worried about that. If they wanted to call me, that's okay. I might've not been happy with it, but at the same time, I've felt that it was necessary.
Q: Let's change the subject and get you to just for a minute or two about your professional code of ethics and if you could give me some ideas about how you applied it during your career?
A: okay, I think that generally, I'm not just talking about teaching staff or that kind. I think that somehow when I started my teaching profession and principal activity, we might've had a greater committment or greater dedication, maybe we felt a little more responsible for everyone of our kids. I'm not so sure if I could say that continued at that same leve. I think sometimes we might get into the pattern of being too busy or whatever and say, well, I guess, that's the best that I could do, I'll have to terminate at that point and don't try to do anymore. It's a profession and we want to keep it as a profession, I don't know if I always agree with they way some teachers come dressed today, I know that's a big issue in some places. I guess I would prefer to have teachers dress according to the responsible job that they hold, you can't be everybody buddy by wearing blue jeans or a neck chain or whatever it seems to be in fad. I think you have to have a little bit of distance between the teachers and the students. I don't think that they should be on the same level totally. To be on the same level totally, everybody trying to suceed, everybody trying to accomplish the best possible, but somehow, I don't think we need to get into everybody wearing jeans, tennis shoes today, and I'm not so sure that personality looking back at my career year, one time a teacher had a very good activity for the study of Helen Keller and she divides and idea of where one could be blindfold of it and the other can be the leader that guides the blindfold and take him around the school and let them experience blindness, I thought it was a good activity. It didn't turn out that way in this particular case because somehow a guide wasn't alert enough and one boy had to bump into a doorjam and broke a tooth. And what could I tell the parent? I told the parent that I thought it was a good activity that the teacher had, it was unfortunate that it turned out this way, they weren't quite alert enough but it was a good activity comparing to blindness and along with that there was something humorous because they met me in the hall and the guy stopped and the blindfold person said, who is this that we're standing next to and the blind kid touched me and said, "Mr. Kreijarek." And I said, "How did you know that?" And he said, you're the only one that wears a tie. I never forget that , I thought it was kind of funny. None men teachers appeared to them as wearing ties regularly, but I had always a tie, but he observed that, he noticed that. Generally, I think that applies, anymore to anyone kind of occupation I don't think we have quite the same work ethic that we had years ago. The same dedication, as I said earlier, you know everytime you assign somebody next to the job today you probably have to assign the next payment.
Q: If you had to do it over again, what kinds of things would you do to better prepare yourself for the principalship. You pointed out that you started very early and had major responsibilities from the first year so I guess you got a lot training on the job, what would you do now to prepare yourself better?
A: Yeah, I didn't say too much about my training except county normal that I attended for a year and I picked up rest of the credits during the summer and correspondence courses whatever, extension classes to get my degree at Osh Kosh University in Wisconsin and then during that period, I've felt that I needed more education, especially when I did become a principal, I had degree in administration and I went to University of Wisconsin for about six summers but I couldn't get my degree on my administration because they had some crazy regulation that I had been a county normal graduate and therefore I had to get my degree in elementary education which to me didn't make any difference because I wasn't the admistrator at that time anyway and so I got my masters in elementary education rather then in administration and I participated in all kinds of special programs volunteering many times in Wisconsin improvement program through the Ford foundation. I've spend a summer at the University of Conneticut in economics fellowship or scholarship for six weeks trying to get to know more about how I could teach economics. I did some work at the University of Minnesota to prepare in better fasion and you try to get involved in all of these special activities because they think it might help you in some way and lots of times, summer was filled with educational work during the year but that was part of what I thought was part of my improvement toward the job. And I would certainly recommend that to anybody who's aspiring to administrations or advancement. There are a lots of programs that you could do to get involved and the experience of being at another school like University of Connecticut, all of the learning and travels related were beneficial to me. Some of the things that I tried coming from that economics course proved to be real beneficial to the kids. I remember one year, first year after that summer that I had or which one year or two, we in first grade, we create some kind of Jackson's bakery. The kids learn through that bakery process all about the division of labor. Some where they measure, some where the mixers, some were the needers making bread, some were the bakers where they mock at people or the sales people. They all had a perspective vision of what labor was all about and we sold the bread at 25 cents a roll, it was a smaller roll and parents got involved, the kids made some money and they learned that they made a profit and they put the profit in the bank and gained some interest and they had enough money so they had a good party, but it was a learning process and all of that came about because I had volunteered and was accepted at this economics workshop at this University of Connecticut. Another year, we tried the same kind of idea, but on second grade level. Lake Michigan has all kinds of nice pretty stones washed up all the time and we picked up some of the more of colorful stones and laid tied bars, keyrings, earrings, and again different process but the whole idea of division of labor and they made some money and had a party. It was kind of interesting because some of those tiebars got to be pretty big stones and I had to walk like this all the time because my tie bars were so heavy. Things of that kind you feel might in some way improve because we were criticized for not doing enough and I think they still criticize us for not doing enough economics education.
Q: I was going to ask you if you had any suggestions you might had to offer to the university to folks like myself and how we could improve our preparation program to do more help aspiring young people who want to become principals?
A: That was another program that I was involved in University of Wisonsin which we called the internship program and we benefitted because we did get using interns and we begin using them with this team teaching project that I spoke of earlier. We had interns available to University of Wisconsin who were assisting our upper grade, fifth, sixth grade team and the same process, this guy was learning all about he knew this internship teaching whole sememster and I don't know if they still continue that in University of Wisconsin or not but I always thought that that was a great program, not just a sixth or eight weeks student teacher but a full semester and having a full responsibility with three or four teachers in the team teaching set up you're not only learning from one master teacher that a student teacher might be working with but you're learning from all three or four of them and you might be even comparing so that the intern could say that well, I like the way this guy works, or I think she does a better job, therefore, I'm going to steer myself in this direction or the other direction. I still think that the internship program has a lot of value. I've gone through years as I said earlier we had four or five year old kindergartens way back in the 50's and there was a time where we could not find enough teachers and we -- the board of education and finally we had to terminate the four year old program because we just couldn't find enough warm bodies as teachers. So for a long time, we were going through a period of shortage of teachers, I think now we're reaching a point at least at the present time where we have a ample supply but maybe we're going to be hitting another time when we're going to be running low on teachers and I've always felt maybe that internship, maybe even for a year, making a five year graduating program and a full year of internship just like the medical internship does and we used to compare the educational profession with the medical profession, you know, there at least they go through a full year, maybe more year of internship, maybe we should do the same in education and we did it upto at least a sememster, so I don't think enough can be said for getting the students out into the Silverlake college, which is a college of Southside Manitowoc, they start doing some of the earlier doing their undergraduate program so maybe in the sophomore year they're already coming into observe. All they do is observe for couple of weeks, watch what's happening in the classroom. The real value of that is it may some people who might say, "I could never do this, I don't like it that much." That's a good way to get them screened out and then maybe the next year, they could come in and do some observing and do partial teaching. For as I think seniors, they get a full twelve weeks or whatever it is and I think that's a good way to go, to get them into the prgram early on so they can observe it and decide for themselves if this is what their future should be.
Q: How about the internship processes apply to the people who wants to become building principals, is there a place for that?
A: We had, in this system, a person working, the administrative staff right here at the board of education and then he would work with some other schools depending on what his interest was if he was interested in secondary school, he would work in the secondary school. If he was interested in elementary school, he would work in the elementary schools and that gave him a broad perspective of what the chore of administrator was. We did something else here that I never got involved because maybe I was a little older already, some of the younger principals exchanged the elementary consultant who operated in this building in this administrative setting. The administrative consultant at the elementary level became the principal of the building and that building principal exchanged with the adminstrative role for a year and there were several of my fellow principals who went through that program. For the most part, it was the younger groups, I was already in the older segment and felt I was too old to learn any new tricks, but I thought that was valuable and you really get a different perspective. That happens to board members all the time, you get a board member, I can go over the years, I know people who were elected in the board that my superintendent was a little fearful about. They were worried about what position this new board member would take, well, it doesn't take long for the new board member after being at several board meetings really seeing the inside of operation to realize as it's not easy as they thought it was. And we had some mighty good board members over the years that I can recall. I used to be always be happy with the board members we used to have and superintendents for that matter to, even for this school forest project, if we didn't have a superintendent at the time who saw my crazy idea of having a school forest and saying to me, "Well, I believe you, I think we ought to do it but where are we going to get the money." If he hadn't give me that chance, we wouldn't have had it and we found a foundation in Manitowoc that was interested and we approached them and they thought it was a great idea and another principal and I went to look for land. We bought a 40 acres and we got back and reported it to the people at our foundation and they said, I think you need some more land, go out and buy some more and so we went out to buy some more and I remember distinctively in one case, I wrote a personal check as a down payment, not a large one but enough to tell the people that we were interested and coming back to our foundation and the climax of the deal, they provided us with all of the money to buy the land, if you like some detail on that, we have 255 acres, the total amount of money that needed to purchase was from our foundation and about $25,000, which meant that they only paid $100.00 per acre with our quarter mile Lake Michigan frontage. Today, that would be worth a million or a half million. And if you had a superintendent who was willing to say go ahead get somebody if you can find somebody to do this and then the first buildings that we put up there, the same community, the donor of our foundation said, "We'll give you some money if you can get other people in the community interested." Well, that resulted in all kinds of community activity, to get some money made for what they were going to do and here comes the building and I can remember going out to that building on one Saturday and we worked on Saturdays as much as possible, never asking for any extra pay back in those days.
Q: This is when now?
A: This was back in 49, so we started, no probably 59 because the building was dedicated in 55 so it was 58 and 59 and it was remarkable the number of people we had to come out to work to help us. Even two of the women principals came out to put on the roofing and then we had other principals making the new lunch hour, it was real community making committment and I don't think you could do that anymore. As a matter of fact, we didn't think we could do it for that last building we built for there in 72, 71 the one that has my name on it. We put that out on a bidding for contractors because we didn't think we could get the same kind of response anymore. It's pretty hard to do that kind of thing, but boy, that was a good thing for the community, they knew what we were going to have out there and it all started out with a simple Issaac Walton meeting and I was a member. And they grabbed onto it and they launched to buy a board campaign. I'm still a member, it was a great thing for the Manitowoc.
Q: This foundation is R-Y ......
A: RAHR Malting Company, Anheuser Busch Co. And they were very _________. Lots of activities in the city. I was heavy and I still am in the voice county. Maybe that's something we also should talk about, what happens after you retire? Do you ever rid of this job as a principal? You still become, the Rahr foundation they spent money for the voice county project building, it's out there health building that was needed, so they sponsored money for that. They have a museum that carries their name. You know it's that kind of business person in the city of Manitowoc that you're proud to have but do you want something about that? What do you do after you retire? Well, I guess I've always felt that as a principal, I am responsible to get involved in the city activities. I owe the city something, I don't think the city owes me anything, I owe the city something for being here as a principal and having the privilege of working in their schools and so on and I've always taken that as a serious committment, I feel that I needed to do something to better the city of Manitowoc and so I've been in boy scouting, right now I still serve as safety commission as chairman of Manitowoc, it's like a board, get things from the city council, it's just that kind of sounding board -- don't recommend or recommend or whatever. I'm still in scouting and I still to merit badges and I've benn in scouting since I became a teacher, I was a cup master, something that doesn't happen too often today. I became a cub scout master before I had any children, in fact, my wife was only pregnant by the time I was cupmastering this building and I felt that that was the part of the job that I hired out here. Today I don't know if there's same kind of feeling and that was an extra job that I had. I had organized the whole cub scout troops and be sure for a pack meeting, then again, it was a great experience because I had all these kids that were going to be in my sixth grade class someday. So I was building the public reltions right on. I'm very involved in the historical society of Manitowoc county. As a matter of a fact, I just completed the it's at printer right now, the history of agriculture for Manitowoc county, it's going to be a thick book. If I should prepare it with term papers, I have 198 footnotes and 85 pictures. I ought to rate at least on term papers or double A or something. It's going to be available to the public through the historical society, not any payment to me, it's going to be a publication that they will sell and hopefully make some money in it and I went through that whole farmic scene, I know the whole farmic scene, way back when? I used to work on a thrashing crew, so I'm writing a book on my experience on it. So I do a lot of work in the historical society, right now, I don't know how, I have to learn to say no but I haven't leanrned to do it very well. Looking back I used to go to classroom to talk about old toys and antiques, some of my teachers when I was still on the job and I was happy to do it and it kept picking up and picking up until lately, I'm doing a, I don't know how many times I did this past 1989, I must've done it 25 or 30 times to groups showing old toys, toys that I had as a kid then I used the philosophy that we lived with at that time. You heat it up, wear it out, you do it out, since I've had grandchildren, I have seven, and one great-grand child, I was giving them a little toy every Christmas to help them to realize what Christmas was like years ago, you know all of these toys had no batteries. So, those were the two philosophies and somehow they caught on, and I'm getting called on all the time. "Will you do the toys thing for us." "Fine." "What's the charge?" I said, "It's a service, no charge, just let me bring my stuff over and I'll be glad to do it for you." You know I still feel that I should do those things. Here some time ago, they initiated a new program called the V.O.M.P. program. Victim Offender Mediator Program, it's for kids upto seventh or so. It's usually for first offenders who get into vandalism into theft into damage of one kind of the other, fights of one kind of the other, where there's a victim who suffered a loss and the whole idea is to train mediators to go to those homes offenders and I finished a one case for where we had three offenders and one victim where they destroy garage roof. They were sitting up there pulling out the shingles, she had to replace the roof. The whole idea is to get the victim to a mediation table, the victim sits over here, I sit here, the offender sit over here, and they have to have a face to face discussion of this whole thing, what happened, do you have any feelings of what you were doing for this victim and then he would look at me, and I would say, "No, don't look at me, you look at him or her." This is an eye to eye contact thing and I would write up a contract and I would say, "Well, when can you get some of this, make an restitution by when." In this past one that I just finished last week, each boys were responsible for about $26.00. Well, one of them has a paper route, another one is going to do some small shopping jobs, he doesn't seem to have any problems so he's going to do that, a third one doesn't have a job so he may have a problem, so we set up a seperate contracts and then we give them dates by which time they have to finish and this is a simplest level, if you don't have to go through the court process, we get them at this level, we meet their requirements, if they meet their requirements at a satisfactory level, everybody's happy, everybody is off the hooks. They don't even have a record. Now, if they don't do that then they have to go onto the next level which would be on their way to the court system. The whole idea is to get these kids, everybody makes mistakes once in a while, I remember when I broke a window and my dad, "You broke the neighbor's window?" "Yup, I hit the ball and it went through the window." "Come on, go tell the neighbor that you broke the window." That's tough to do, but talk to your victim, that's the way you learn, so hopefully, these kids are going through the process of never to do that again. Now I have another one that I have to start working on after the holidays. And that's volunteerism, it goes through the United Fund, I don't get a penny for this and that impresses people, when I go into those homes, I say to them, look, I'm a volunteer, I'm doing this because I want to help your son to get his life squared away impossible. I tell that to the victim also I get nothing. I'm doing it because I think I can help somebody and I guess maybe because I was a school principal one time and I know that kids make mistakes. I did too, and that impresses people. They always think you're getting paid for everything, I don't get paid for this. My wife says, "You've been out too many times this week doing some of those things ." I guess I feel responsible for that. So you're get yourself involved for the next activity. I do _____________, I love antiques and you better have some of those things if you're not ready to retire, then don't retire.
Q: Have something to do. Nowadays, there's a lot of emphasis put on mentoring where the older principal takes a younger principal or principal to be under his wing and try to provide assistance. What kinds of experiences have you had with those things and what is your view on desirability of it?
A: I haven't had any experience but I think it's a great idea, you don't always have to deal with just a teacher or a principal or internship but they're also beginning to do this with the kids in school, and some older person as a mentor. I think it's a good way to go, it's another volunteering program that we did initiate. There is a program that I had to turn down because I can't do everything, I figured if I'm in this V.O.M.P. program, that's enough for me. We do have some of our people involved in two of our school, they come in once or twice a week and they sit down and what would this kid and help him with his math and kind of serve as a mentor child. If that's what you mean by mentor, and it appeals to me that I can't find anymore time to do that than what I'm already doing right now, but I think the mentor program is a good one because everybody needs somebody that you can trust, say he's my buddy, he's my friend, he's trying to help me, he makes me feel good, make himself have a good self image. If we had a good self image, we would never have the drug problem. I don't think we're ever going to make this drug problem because we have these kids growing up who haven't a good self image. If I have a good self image, I'm not going to engage in cocaine or whatever that they all have it. I'm going to have enough courage to say, "Hey, it's my body, I'm only going to put whatever I want to. If you want to smoke, go ahead, but I don't want to smoke." Of course when you have strong feelings like that that also creates problems. I got involved in a church, I'm an usher in church, I don't know what bearing this has on this kind of interview but one of our church, in five of our catholic churches, we have a bar, a beer bar. Now you justify to me why we have it, so I took that as a issue that I wanted to get rid of, here I was the director of the health at Manitowoc schools and I'm talking alcoholism and so on and somebody says to me, "Look Eugene, you have a bar in your church." So one of the first things that I was able to get on was that I got onto a committee that was going to eradicate the thing. I even wrote to the bishop and said, hey that doesn't make any sense, we have a major problem with drugs and alcihol and we at our own church have an example for our kids, a bar. And he replied. I had to write to him the second time for him to reply and he said, I agree with you in basic principle and I want every one of those churches on their own but I said, well you can issue a mandate and that cuts it off right away. Well, to make the long story short, I found out the other day, and I don't know why someone hasn't told me that all the beer bars are gone in that church that I was associating with. So somebody got the light. The bishop or the priest. And here I am as a retired principal pushing this, and I say to myself, why do you get involved in all these things? I don't know, I guess I feel that I do owe some basic value.
Q: When you were a principal, did you have to get involved in a teacher dismissal? If so, could you talk a little about your approach today.
A: Yeah, this relates to the union again, technically, today, if I were to be thinking of dismissing someone and I better have some pretty good evidence of all period of time then it better be something that I can substantiate and I better have it written day by day whenever and have it all dated so that I know exactly what happened and so that when I read the observation, I can say, look, this person came in smelling of a alcohol. I smelled it again today, if that's going to be one of the reasons I want to get him out or her out or if I want to say, hey, they're never on time, you know, we do have some hours to live by. I better have a pretty good listing of the days when the person was not on time. I have a serious problem, well, it's not that serious, one teacher came to me and said that another teacher was kind of degrating the teacher himself and the building principal from where he was trasferred to our building and she said, well the other principal wasn't doing any job and he's not doing any better in our than he was doing over there. And this teacher was trying to do a good job in our building and came to me and report this incident that happened in the teacher's lounge regarding the other teacher, so I called the other teacher in and I said, "I don't think there's any place for any kind of this destroys the whole professional of what you stand for. You aren't going to degrate another teacher, if you have something that you don't like of this teacher that was transferred to our building, I'm the one to bring it to and not to the other people in the teacher's lounge." So I was trying to defend this young teacher who was being singled out and I called her in one afternoon school one day and I said, "I think I'm going to report this to the superintendent, I know I'm going to have to do this because this involves too many people and it involved another teacher in that building and it involves a fellow principal in another building. And I don't think you had any right to get involved in this kind of thing at all, I will be making the report to the superintendent." And I guess I told her that at noon and she came in after school, I suppose she made a couple of phone calls and she came in after school and said well, if you report to the superintendent, I'm going to file a greivance, You're pretty _________. You can file a greivance like I will be filing. In a sense, I'll be filing agreements too, not am I going to call it that but I think it's important enough to file on your record. So she said, "Well, I'll be filing agreements." So I said, "Go right ahead, I guess we have to go right through that process." But somehow after a while she backed down. We didn't have to finalize it. It could've come through a serious kind of hit but I thought in that particular case, I was in the right position because I had to defend the young teacher who was being maligned who was also being maligned. I wanted that squared away and I didn't want her to continue if she was going to do this, I wanted her to do it with me or the superintendent of schools or the other building principal's directly and not to the teachers in the teacher lounge.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you be a principal?
A: People have asked this of me and over the years, I think I've had enough satisfaction.
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