This interview is conducted on July 21, 1988.
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Q: What we would first like to talk about concerns biography of your background and education.
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: Tom, I went to Carthage College in Carthage, Illinois in 1946 to 1949, 1 did my first four years in three and had a enough time left under the GI Bill to go ahead and get my Masters. I came out to Greeley, got my Masters in Social Studies with the emphasis on Latin American History. I started teaching in Fort Collins September 1, 1950. I was hired as a Social Studies teacher and taught all math in the Junior High School during my first two years. During the 50's, it was not as necessary that you teach in your area as it is at the present time. During the first ten years, I taught English, Math, Social Studies, Science, a course called Conservation, a course called Social Problems. Taught 7th grade reading and 8th grade literature. I enjoyed my first ten years very much. Then at that time I became an Assistant Principal/Counselor. The toughest job that I ever had because on any given day you would have to discipline a youngster as the Assistant Principal and then the next day put your arm around that same kid and say, "Hey pal, is there anything I can do to help you?" Towards the end of those first thirteen years, I was appointed Principal of Lincoln Junior High School and kept that job from 1963 to 1968 when a new junior high school, Blevins Junior High was built. I became principal at Blevins in 1968 and remained principal until I retired in 1985. During those 35 years, I was also very active in local, state, and national professional organizations, particularly Colorado Educational Association. I served on its board of directors 1964, 1965, and 1966 and was president of the organization in 1965. At that time we had about 22,000 members. At that time it included administrators as well as teachers.
Q: Wayne, what I would like to ask first of all is what A led you to become a principal?
A: I think the main driving force behind that was simply the fact that I felt I could have more influence with more kids at any given time as principal than I could as a teacher. I think that probably the fact that I was married and had three youngsters, the economic factor also was present. I think that if I would have been able to make as much money as a counselor as I did as principal, and back in those days, it wasn't a great deal ) I would have remained a counselor. However, the way things turned out I was glad that I took the administrative job.
Q: When you talk about a successful leader what are some aspects that you felt you could be a success as?
A: I think probably the fact that I got along well with kids. I was dedicated to the kid in the middle, to the preadolescent, adolescent in grades 7, 8, and 9 and the fact that I was able to get along well with staff and with parents as well. I think that in order to be a successful administrator you have to be able to get along with each of those three groups. I think that it is the partnership between those three groups that makes for a successful school.
Q: Can you describe some of the strategies you used to promote that positive climate between those three sectors?
A: I think the fact that I was always a good listener, but then was always a good decision maker. That doesn't mean that all the decisions I made were good, but I was not afraid to make decisions. I think that when the staff knew that I was behind them when they were right and that I would back them that was a very important element. I think the fact that the kids saw me as always being fair. It didn't make any difference to me whether it was the kid on the bottom of the totem pole or the kid on the top of the flag pole. When a kid did something that was not right, I always handled it the same way. I think the parents saw me in that light and even though they were not always happy with my decisions they respected me because of the fact that I was consistent in the way that I did things.
Q: What are some of the things you believe the students, teachers, and parents in each of those different areas expected from a principal?
A: I think that they expected fairness. I think they expected consistency. I think they expected good decisions. I think that they wanted to be a part of a good school. I think in order to have a good school you have to have an excellent staff. I think that you have to have kids who respect you, and I think that you have to have parents who respect that the kinds of decisions that you make.
Q: Is it difficult to make a decision when you need to make a decision on your own? Does every principal ever make a decision on their own any more?
A: You can make decisions on your own, but you had better make sure that whatever the guidelines are there set up by the school district, that you are in conformity with those guidelines. If you are going to straighten those guidelines then you ought to talk with your immediate supervisor beforehand, before you make a decision to make sure even though it doesn't confirm to the guidelines, that it is going to be acceptable at the next higher step.
Q: Were you involved in the building of most of the guidelines?
A: I think that I was fortunate because I was on committees that from time to time took a look at the guidelines, took a look.. at the policies. And was a part in making some of the changes in some of those policies.
Q: Can you describe some of the changes you had to make from the 50's to the 60's?
A: I think that probably changes in student dress. You know while in the 50's while we felt that the kids needed to wear appropriate clothing, by appropriate clothing, I mean no mini skirts, no shorts, never had to conform to certain standards. The boys, particularly some of the 9th graders couldn't have any facial hair. We had a pretty strict dress code in the 50's. When that dress code went down the drain, and I think it went down the drain primarily because of parents and student attitudes and even some staff because as we got younger staff members with different kinds of ideas, they had different attitudes toward the existing standards. It was a very traumatic thing for many staff members, particularly older staff members when our dress code went down the drain. But, we survived it and for the most part I think that the kids were reasonable in their acceptance of it. By that, I mean they didn't go overboard in wearing cut-off shorts or something that would be dangerous to them or to others. I think that some of the girls who tried micro minis found that that didn't work for them. I think that some of the boys who were able to grow beards or mustache's or longer hair for the most part, they handled that.
Q: As a principal did you see a loss of education during this time?
A: I don't think so, I think that that was one of the excuses, and I say excuse rather than reasons because I do think it was an excuse. I don't think that educationally there was any suffering. I think that the kids who performed well continued to perform well and those who didn't, didn't improve.
Q: When you interview a teacher, knowing some background, when you did interview, what were qualities that you felt were necessary?
A: First of all, I looked for somebody who was interested in teaching junior high school kids. You can pick that up with little bits, parts and pieces in an interview. I tried to steer away from people who were using the junior high as a stepping stone to get to the high school. I wanted people who were sincerely interested in working with the adolescent kid. I think that people who were using it as a stepping stone did not have the 100% interest of the kid at heart. -They were looking to move what to them was up, what to me would be across to steer away from that. I tried to find people who were neatly dressed, well groomed. People who were going to be a good model for the junior high school age kids. Certainly when I interviewed them, I would have the assistant principal involved, I would get the department head involved. When possible I would get the resource teacher in that particular area involved. I would also involve the assistant principal and the resource teacher in the supervision of that particular primarily in the first year or two. I would use the department head later as a resource for that beginning teacher. If there were areas where the department head could help a beginning teacher I would certainly want them to do that. I also used a system of big brother/big sister when we had a new staff member, why, I'd get somebody within the department to help them get acquainted with the rest of the people in the department and the rest of the people in the school. I think that it is important for a new comer to feel a part of the staff as quickly as they possibly can and I do my level best to match them up with some of their likes and dislikes.
Q: Did you have content people ask content questions in their interviews?
A: Yes, particularly department head and resource person. For instance, in the area of a foreign language, I am not fluent in any of the foreign languages and certainly when they came to hiring a German teacher or French teacher or Spanish teacher, I would depend a great deal on those people as to fluency and their understanding of the foreign language. I used them whenever they were available.
Q: What parts of the background of the teacher were pretty necessary?
A: I think that I depended a great deal on their transcripts. How well they did in college and by that I don't mean they had to be straight A students, but they certainly had to be proficient in their field. I took a look at the extra curricular activities that they were involved in. And if they had held offices in any of those extra curricular activities. I think that the way other people saw them, letters of recommendation were important and before I made a final selection, I would call the principals if it was a transfer or if it was somebody who had previous experience and visit with them about their recommendation. If it was a beginning teacher, I would call one or two of the people who had written letters of recommendation. I found that quite often, people were careful about what they said about a candidate and sometimes through a telephone conversation you could get further insight as to how those people saw a given individual.
Q: Were you able to eventually have personally hired every personnel, all personnel in the building?
A: No, for instance when we opened the building in 1968 we had people in the district who were applicants. We had people outside of the district who were applicants. The people that I got from within the district, I believe that from everyone I got that I wanted, I got one that somebody else didn't want. And that made some of those decisions quite tough, because I know there were people in the district who wanted to come into our building because we were going to have perhaps a little different attitude, and at that same time there was somebody in that building that for one reason or another, principal or rest of the staff would feel much more comfortable if that individual were not there. I did get my department heads hired first and we sat down and talked about some of the people within the district. By the way, our district, if they could see it was posted, and there were people within the district interested in making a move, we did have a responsibility to interview each of those people that were interested in coming. It didn't mean that we had to hire or approve the transfer. I think that probably one of the toughest things for a principal in making a selection when they do have a vacancy is the fact that sometimes for one reason or another there are some forced transfers. Forced transfers, four times out of five do not work out. You are just moving a person who is creating problems in this building into another building and ordinarily a person doesn't change just because they can't or won't I have never been quite sure. I think it depends upon the individual.
Q: In my mind you are famous for producing positive climate for faculty, students. Where are the elements that you feel that were necessary to achieve that?
A: I think the fact that I have always strived to always be a positive kind of individual and we just mentioned forced transfers. If I had a forced transfer I would look for that individual to do something well, and I would immediately give them a pat on the back. Even if it was something small like an individual who habitually would come to the building late and making the transfer got there on time and I would make note of that. I always walked the halls, before school, after school, and in between the classes.' I wanted to be where the kids were, number 1. But number two, by walking the halls early in the morning why you knew which staff members were there early. You knew which ones were on time and you knew which ones were there late. I think that those who were there early and on time knew that I knew that. They also knew if somebody was coming in late I would get on their back for it. I felt that it was only fair that if everybody else was there on time that those people ought to be on time too. And, I think that it is particularly important if a kid gets to school at a given time knowing that the staff was supposed to be there at a given time and comes in with a question that they couldn't get answered the previous night that they be there on time and help that individual. I think the fact that our staff knew that I strived to get staff members recognized whenever possible whether that be through the Teachers Award Foundation, or whether that be through a given professional organization like a reading teacher who was recognized by their state or national organization, and when a teacher was asked to give a presentation at a state or national meeting, why we were able to come up with the funds to send that individual to that meeting. From time to time a principal also received funds outside of the district's budgeted funds and even if it was to give somebody a $20.00 gift certificate to go out to dinner with her husband or wife or to go to a particular music program that they wanted to go to that was out of the ordinary or go to the Lincoln Center for one of their programs, when you got a few extra bucks, and can just give them that little bit of recognition, I think that that means a great deal to a staff member.
A: I think that the fact that the kids know that you are going to be out in the hall, they are going to have a different attitude and they never know where you are going to be, but they know if they are out there and somebody is bullying them, there is going to be somebody else out there to see that. I think the fact that I asked my staff members to step out in the hallway between classes also has a great deal influence of that. And having been a staff member as many years as you have, you know that it is difficult sometimes to do that. A kid stops to ask you a question after class or somebody that is going into your class asks a question and you have to get inside to answer it. But I think that for the most when the kids and parents know that there are going to be people out in the hall why their attitudes and their behaviors are going to be different than they would be if everybody was sitting behind their desks in between classes. Or, if the principal was sitting at his desk in between classes. I guess that I jump up when the bell rings just like everybody else does.
Q: Can you describe what you would like to see your teachers be doing, not only after that bell has rung and how things were processed?
A: I think that the fact when the bell quits ringing to begin a class that a teacher has got to start teaching. I think that there can't be any lull. I think that if it is necessary for them to take roll or something like that, if they have a couple of thought provoking questions up on the board for the kids to be working on during that minute or two of time, something that is going to provoke them into thinking, I think that that is very very important. At the same time, I think at the end of the class period, the last four or five minutes you bring closure to whatever has happened during that day and give the kids something to think about at night and something to think about as they are coming in the next day.
Q: How much documentation can be done now compared to what was done previously?
A: I think that there is a whole lot more documentation going on now than there was previously. For instance, the first five years that I taught I never had a principal come into my class room. How I was evaluated was always a question and towards the middle of the 5th year why I asked my principal to come in and sit down and tell me what I'm doing well, and what I am not doing well. He did come in, after class he walked out and said he enjoyed the class and that was it. During those first ten years, I worked with three different principals and I made up my mind then that there was some things that they did that I wanted to do if I ever became a principal, and there was some things that they did that I did not want to do if I ever became a principal. And certainly, if I had a responsibility for evaluation, supervision and evaluation of teachers, I was going to do a far better job of that than I felt was being done with me. When I became a principal there was another person in the building who had been a candidate for the principalship, and didn't get it of course, and I told them that one of my goals was to do a far better job of supervision than I felt had been done previously. He said you can supervise me all you want just make sure you do it outside my door. So, interestingly, we had an understanding. So I think there is some supervision that you can do from outside of the door. I think that there is supervision that you can do without everyone in the classroom. And regardless of what people say, in addition, to the people who are assigned their responsibility of supervision, I think that kids and parents indirectly, are a part of the supervision and evaluation process. If you have a teacher, and there are lots of kids and lots of parents who way, boy, you got a super teacher there, whatever you do don't let her go. At the same time, if you have a reverse of that happening, if you have many youngsters and many parents saying, I don't want my kid in that class, get my kid out of that class and if you hear the teachers saying you goofed, you made a mistake when you hired that person, you better take a real close look, so I do think that from that aspect there is an indirect role that the kids and the parents play in the supervision and evaluation process.
Q: In terms of responding to some of those things, is it necessary now for an administrator to document that?
A: You bet it is, and you have to do a very, very good job of documentation. You have to have names and dates and places and times. You must put down what you have seen that individual do well, as well as what that individual has not done well. I think that if you have written comments from other people, parents, or even if you have telephone conversations, you had better make a note of the telephone conversation, when it came in and if you are going to use a parent's name, well then you have got to have permission of that parent to do it. You can't just say parent A, parent B, or parent C.
Q: Can you describe some actual situations that you had to deal with that were either retention of a teacher or maybe, even a possible firing of a teacher?
A: That is a tough kind of a question, I am trying to think back. Yes, I think that in one particular case I can think of where we not only knew the teacher, we worked with the teacher for two years. The teacher did not have good organizational skills, and each time we talked about that, it was always after an observation, we would indicate to that teacher in exact terms, just exactly where we saw a shortcoming in his organizational skills and after we got through we would have a copy for him and a copy for us and copy for central administration, we would have him sign all three copies, and we would sign all three copies. At the end of that second year why that teacher knew that we had not done as good of a job of documentation as we could and the teacher even though a non-tenure teacher in our district has more rights than a non-tenure teacher in some other districts. That teacher could have asked for a hearing if he wanted to, he chose not to. Of course, when you see a teacher doing everything right and document all of that, I think that another instance that I can think of, the teacher was very proficient in their field, but looked like she just crawled out of bed each morning when she came to work, even to the point where she didn't take care of the hygienic things that she should have prior to coming to class" consequently this turned the kids off, and when kids are turned off, regardless of how competent a teacher might be in her field the kids can't learn, they don't learn. That teacher is not renewed at the end of the first year at the college level and maybe that is where she would want is at the college level because she didn't have much patience with the junior high kids, and like I say, they didn't have much respect for her.
Q: In terms of the first one, which would be maybe having a objective criteria, on the second one being somewhat subjective, are there more difficult subjective?
A: Yes, and they are much more difficult now than they were twenty years ago. Because you always have the possibility of that you are infringing on the person's rights, and , I would still try even in this day and age if I had that same teacher to not renew that teacher. I know that sometimes its hard to not renew a teacher or hard to get rid of what we feel is an incompetent teacher and that has certainly happened in our district and regardless of how good a job the principal thought that they d id, and I say they because in this case there are at least three principals involved, regardless of how good a job they thought they were doing of documenting, it still isn't good enough. I think that the teachers professional organizations have lawyers that are so good at protecting the rights of the individual that it is very very difficult in some cases to prove incompetency, but I think immorality is something much easier to prove. A person who has been involved in an immoral act ordinarily won't fight it. However, if a person is unjustly accused of something like that they would fight it and I think they ought to.
Q: In terms of getting team work, I find it important at least in your mind that you have been able to hire the best of people. What would you look at in terms of the importance of an assistant principal, or other administrators that you feel should be a part of your team?
A: I think that an assistant principal or as we have added in later years, an administrative assistant the junior high school level, a discussion of the junior highs, our junior high Blevins for instance started out with over 600 students, at one point in time had 1250 and a principal and assistant principal in that kind of a school, even though you are dealing with perhaps 4 or 5% of the students, needed help, and we did in fact have an administrative assistant, that way we also had a male and a female in each, and I think that was important for our youngsters. I think that when you get into administration regards to whether it is an administrative assistant or an assistant principal you have to have someone who the rest of the staff respects, who would be ideal if the rest of the staff would even admire that person. If that staff member was somebody that the rest of the staff could use as a model, I think that you need somebody who is fair-minded, and someone who could work with all three again, staff, students, and parents. If a staff member sends a youngster to an administrative assistant or to an assistant principal, that staff member expects that administrator to do something with that youngster before that youngster is sent back into class. Now that something that is done with the youngster, and I say with rather than to, has to be something that all parties are satisfied with. In other words, if that administrator just simply gives the youngster a slap on the hands and then sends him back, that youngster is not going to have the same kind of respect for the teacher that is necessary for the youngster to perform well in class and for the teacher to be able to teach not only that youngster, but the rest of the class. If a youngster is sent to an administrator for disciplinary reasons there has to be some agreement as to the type of discipline that is going to happen. There also has to be an agreement as to what that teacher has done previous to sending the youngster to the office. We have what we call a discipline ladder and the teachers knew what kinds of steps they take with the youngster and with the parents before sending that youngster to the office unless it is a blatant case of misbehavior. If a youngster has cussed at a teacher or has been in some other way grossly disrespectful, why certainly then an administrator needs to take care of the situation and take care of it right away. It is necessary for the teacher to get that youngster out of the class before things become even more disruptive. But I think that the key to good administration is having people that are respected by students and parents and staff, particularly by staff.
Q: What are some of the most necessary things in handling teacher grievances that you felt?
A: You know, Tom, the closest I ever had of a grievance filed against me was when I hired a new teacher and I always stressed that teachers ought to be professional. They ought not just to belong to the United Teaching Profession but they also ought to belong to their area profession. If you are biology teacher you ought to belong to the National Teachers of Biology, or whatever that organization is. They ought not to just belong and pay their dues, but they ought to be active if they can. I prided myself on the fact that our staff had been 100% United Teaching Profession for a great number of years and when this particular teacher balked at that, I said, well, you are joining a professional staff and I think that you ought to think about being a part of that profession, and that is as close as anybody ever came to filing a grievance for me, they thought I was putting undue pressure. I think that there are other times when things got very very "iffy" particularly in 1976 when we had a great deal of talk about strike in our district. At that particular time I had a professional staff, they, like many other staffs would do extra services. They continued to act professionally and continued to do things that were expected of them, but they came on time and left on time for instance. I had a staff meeting scheduled for a given afternoon and my building representative who I have a wonderful rapport with came in and said, Wayne, at a given time the staff is going to get up and leave. When they had selected a given time when they thought that their professional day was over, and I was glad that I had that kind of professional rapport with our BR because at the beginning of the staff meeting I just simply announced that we were having a staff meeting, that it was part of my responsibility to call staff meetings from time to time, that I would expect everyone to be professional and remain there until the staff meeting was over and that if anyone left before the staff meeting was over I would consider it an act of insubordination, and I would deal with it accordingly. At the given time that they had agreed upon that they would get up and leave, one staff member got up and said, "What do we do now?" Somebody else said that Mr. Linton announced at the beginning of the staff meeting what would happen if anybody left, I think that we are professionals and we ought to stay until the meeting is over, and they did. But, believe me that was a nervous, nervous day for me. I had always preached be professional, get active, and do what you can to provide a better learning environment for kids. And to provide a better economic environment for yourselves, and I still believe that. I still believe strongly in teacher organizations and since that time I have come to believe strongly of administrator organizations.
Q: How are you um able to diffuse yourself, going home, and coming back the next day, what kinds of practices, that is , how did you deal with stress, even though stress is a hard time, we have a hard time dealing with?
A: I have an exercise routine I go through every morning. I always walk a couple of miles sometime during the day, in fact, I walked about 4 miles and I have a great deal of faith in God and in my fellow man. I went in the next morning and even had a couple of staff members come in and say thanks for what you did, we were between the devil and the deep blue sea. We felt a responsibility to do what their organization had suggested that they do, and they also had a feeling of loyalty to me. They were just as torn as I was, I'm sure. But it turned out alright, and we still joke about it when we get together from time to time. It is easy to joke about it now, but that day it was a very very nervous kind of situation. I think another thing along that same area, I had a teacher who I thought was an excellent teacher, an activities type teacher who went to a professional organizational meeting in Colorado Springs and the day she was due to come back she called in very very early in the morning like 2:30 A.M. to tell me she was ill, and about 6:00 o'clock that morning her husband called me to tell me that he had been down to Colorado Springs to surprise her, and did in fact surprise her because she was there with another man. I wrote a letter of reprimand and told her that she would be docked for the day that she did not show up and told her that if that sort of thing would ever happen again that she would be discharged immediately. She came in all apologetic. I was a little hurt, I guess, angry because it was a teacher that I had respected a great deal, and just simply said, "You have your letter of reprimand and that will stand, and should anything like that ever happen again, you will be immediately discharged." And I think that I would have had the backing of the professional organization. They certainly protect the rights of the teachers, but when you have something like that on record, why I think that would be sufficient. I think for the most part other professional teachers don't want that kind of a person working next door to them.
Q: Can you tell me the power that you see and I see your situation as a model of how activities impact kids and how you can build that school climate?
A: I was terribly disappointed this year, because the board, because of financial necessity was going to do away with junior high school activities, junior high school athletics. I think that it is a big big part of junior high school age youngsters life, I think that for the most part, a youngster who is involved in an activity is going to be a better student and a better citizen. I wish that every youngster would find an activity that was suited to them, because I feel so strongly regardless if it was athletics, or music or drama or biology club, or anything else, I think that a youngster needs something in addition to the academic portion of school to really feel a loyalty to that school, a pride in that school and in themselves. I was glad that the school district postponed for at least for a year doing away with those activities. I think that an intramural program is fine for some youngster and if you can get every youngster involved in an intramural activity why that would be great. But I think that there is something about competition that is a part of each of us, regardless whether that is an academic competition or athletic competition or any other type of competition. I think kids want to be on a team where everybody is trying to do their level best, and they all like to be winners, but if a youngster goes out and does their level best in any kind of activity why they feel good about themselves, if they are not #1, I think that the field day is great. I think that the science camps are great. I think that when a youngster competes in an oratorical contest, I think that it is a wonderful, wonderful feeling for them. I think that the athletics where the kids who have those kinds of abilities and even for the kids at the junior high school level who do not have that kind of ability as long they can go out and stay out and not get cut, not have that kind of disappointment at the junior high school level, I think it is wonderful. I think that the kids know that if they go out for football they are not going to get cut, somehow there is going to be apart for them and they are going to get some sort of meaningful participation. I think the girl who goes out for softball knows that same thing and so even if they don't have the skills, I think that if they can participate why that is very very important and I certainly hope that we can continue that sort of thine. It is wonderful to say that we have a 20 game win streak, but just to say, yeah I was out there and I did my best and I got beat, but we still did our best. When Blevins first opened we didn't win a basketball game that first year. We won two football games and had one tie. This is before girls athletics. Laramie came down and beat us in wrestling something like 72 to 2. We had one tie I thin Kids remember things like that, and of course, the coaches remember it and the last time we competed against Laramie we beat them at wrestling and we stopped a 38 meet record that they had, a winning record. You know ' the kids went there but the coaches remember that and some of the kids came back, I see you got even with Laramie. I think the fact that we have had some national competition in mathematics for instance, in social studies, and that sort of thing. I think the kids look forward to that sort of thing, and I think parents look forwards to it as well.
Q: As a researcher on principals and leadership named Tom Sergiovanni, and he is commenting about at the apex of the triangle would be the effect of a principal being symbolic or cultural, and I guess the only way I can understand it is that if I walked into a Wayne Linton school, I would know it was a Wayne Linton school, could you describe what you thought a Wayne Linton school might be?
A: Well, it is one where there is an environment for teaching and environment for learning and a safe environment. By safe, I don't mean you have to be fearful.
Q: Continuing on concerning Sergiovanni, culture and symbolism and also talking about what a Wayne Linton school would be like.
A: It is an environment where people are not afraid to express ideas It is an environment where teachers can come up with an idea. They can discuss it. If it sounds like it is going to be something that has possibilities they can fly with it. At the same time it is something where a youngster can come up with an idea. He can share that with his student council representative, the student council representative can take it to the student council meeting. The student council can discuss it, and if it looks like it is something within the realm of the policies they can go with it. I think it is an environment where parents can come in and feel free to express an idea. Whether that is something that ought to change the boundaries of the school districts of the Junior Highs or whether it is something that they feel would be a positive change in a given area of correction, or if it is something within the framework of the policies of the school district, why we would be willing to sit down and discuss it with them. If it is something that has possibilities, why I think that you can sense a feeling when you walk into a building. I didn't realize that until we had a couple of North Central evaluators tell us that, and they say that when they walk into Blevins Junior High School, it is a positive kind of a feeling, it is a kind of feeling that the kids exude, and I felt good, and I really don't know what causes it, but it's something that is there, and when you know it is there you aren't going to do anything to take it away. I think that I was pleased when I had people tell me that. I was pleased when you just told me.
Q: When an administrator works for that kind of climate there is a dependency on a lot of other people to help preserve that climate, and the research that I have read calls that induction, in other words, that is bringing a certain type of person into your building, so we talked a little bit about personnel interview, how else do you mold a cohesive unit of people?
A: I think that you include everyone. I think that it isn't just the teachers and the administrators. I think that it is the cooks, and the custodians and the bus drivers, the secretaries and the clerks and the aids, and I always made it a point after we had a staff meeting on a Wednesday evening for instance to meet with the classified personnel the next morning and we would go over the same agenda with them so that they knew just exactly what was going on in the school. I think it is important when you have a custodian who is keeping the building clean, that you give him a pat on the back, just as you would a teacher who has done a good job of teaching. I think that when the cooks are doing a good job when the kids are happy with the meals that they are . receiving, that you share that with them that you share that with them immediately. Don't wait until the end of the year. I think that it is important that you have a rapport with the bus drivers for instance and let the bus drivers know what you expect of the kids and make sure that they expect the same kinds of things from the youngsters. If you are not going to let the kids run rampant in school, then the bus drivers can't let them run rampant in the buses on the way to school. Not only that, when the kids are waiting at the buses, it doesn't hurt every once in awhile to take a ride around and see how they are behaving themselves on a neighbors lawn. I think that is important for the neighbors for the neighbors in a given school neighborhood to be a part of your team and to know that if the youngster has destroyed some property that you are going to handle the situation. At the same time, if a youngster is behaving himself, why should you share that with the youngster too and say, boy the peoples whom 'home you are waiting for the bus, said you are a well behaved group and they really 3!> appreciate that and we appreciate it. I think it is important for the gals who are in the office and remember when a visitor comes into the office, it is the school secretary or the school receptionist who is the first person that that individual is meeting and if they make a positive impact why you can make another friend. At the same time, if that secretary or receptionist looks up and says "What do you want", you have not made a friend, and potentially you have somebody who is going to go back out in the community and tell about the negative way that they were received. We are all human beings and not often enough do we talk about the positive kinds of encounters that we have with people that we meet and a public kind of situation, but if it is a negative encounter why we share that with all our friends and neighbors. So I think that it is terribly important that we have people who are warm and friendly, and will make people feel at home when they walk into the building. At the same time, when you have competent people working with you, why it's important for you to recognize that, give them a pat on the back.
Q: As you look back now, and applying it to the present, there is certainly a public need for our older constituency to be able to use our public buildings more. Can you give me some ideas where as an administrator or principal you can see positives and negatives in any one of those two issues?
A: We can open our buildings more in the evenings to our Senior Citizens. Regardless What would be before additional class work, helping to become more proficient in English or in Writing or in some area that they are interested in: the industrial arts for instance, home economics areas, I think that our art, that sort of thing. I think that too often because a person is 60 or 65 ) why we feel that there physical activities have ended, and I think that here again we can open up our Gyms. We could make them available. I think that there is another area and that would be a combination of the younger people and the older people. I think that sometimes we make a mistake by not often enough inviting some of our senior citizens in. I think that we do this a couple of times a year during public schools week and during National Education Week. I think we have the possibility of extending that and inviting them in for a meal now and then. I think that some of the elementary schools particularly have grandparent days. I think that it is great for people who have grandparents in the community, but I think that could be expanded, I think we could invite the AARP groups in for instance, and other groups of senior citizens that we could include and probably don't. But for whatever reason.
Q: One of the things that occurred to me right away is that our schools in Poudre-Rl and its use of volunteers, and do you foresee in using some past knowledge versus what is happening in the present, do we need to continue an organized volunteer program?
A: I think that the organized volunteer program has been very good and one of the reasons I think that is because I am a part of it. My wife, who taught kindergarten for many years at Irish School still volunteers and goes out there one day a week. I go over to Fullana just for a couple of hours a week, but this past year for instance I worked primarily with boys, 5th graders, three of those boys didn't have a dad and the 4th one's dad worked in the oil fields in Wyoming and only got home about once every two weeks. I think in addition to helping them with their reading, with their English, and their math they didn't see a father figure in me, but . In in a grandfather figure. And they actually got to a point where they looked forward a were kids were having some difficulties in school, and I looked forward to meeting with them. As a matter of fact at the end of the school year, I got nice thank you notes from each of them. 'Three or four times a year why we would share a Snickers bar or something like that, but never anything lavish, just visit a little bit, get their homework done. They were out of the classroom setting for a couple of hours, and I think that it also brought a new type of rapport 4-they and their teacher. And the teacher knew that I would be there. I knew that she would have some work for me to work with them. I think that we had a relationship where we all kind of looked forward to it. I think that the volunteer program is a good one. I think that certainly in given instances, the volunteer forgot to call that they wouldn't be there or the teacher forgot to call and say that we are going to be on a field trip, or something like that, I think that there are organizational things that can be worked out. I think that with the cut-back in our budget this coming year, I think that the volunteers are going to be even more important, but I think that there has to be a rule where the volunteer understands what the teacher expects, the teacher understands what the volunteer is capable of doing, and there has to be a close working relationship there. I think that if any volunteer is forced upon a teacher, it is not going to work. I think that if a teacher puts a volunteer in an awkward situation, than it is not going to work.
Q: I hear you speaking as a principal in you now and that is sort of what we are looking at as how will the principal be able to foster relationships that prove to bring about more volunteerism. Is that how you would describe it?
A: Yeah, and I think that a principal has to work closely with the teachers and make certain that this is not something that is being forced upon the teacher. There are some teachers that don't want volunteers and they ought not to have them, they ought not to have to have them. I think it is one of those things where perhaps some staff members feel like well this is an activity, this is a service that is being offered to us and I ought to, in order to keep a good rapport with my principal I ought to have one or two. I think that is the wrong kind of attitude to have and the principal has to make it perfectly clear to his staff we are going to have -.volunteers for those who want volunteers. For those who don't want volunteers there is not going to be any negative feeling towards you if you don't accept them. I think the school district has a volunteer coordinator who is very adept at matching people. She sometimes gets into an awkward situation because she has people volunteer who have a negative attitude towards the school district expenses, and I think that that is a shame, but it does exist and in that kind of situation why the coordinator is going to have to do their level best to see to it that that volunteer is put into a situation where he can help and still put into a situation where he is not going to hurt kids or a staff member. I don't know how she handles it as well as she does.
Q: "I think she does an excellent job, yes" Next question by Mr. Lopez, I think the last question, last but not least, along the same line. I have not worked with you, but you sound like a person that is interested in goals and objectives and you monitor management in that manner. Can you describe that?
A: At the beginning of the year, I tell our staff that we expect them to have lesson plans and regardless whether it is their first year of teaching or whether it is their 35th year of teaching we expect them to have some plans. We expect those plans to have certain objectives and certainly every teacher, every day, needs to have a variety of activities going on in every single classroom. They need to have student involvement almost every day of every classroom period. I think that my staff found out that I meant it when I said that. When I go in I asked them to see their lesson plans. And, if they don't have them why we talk about that in a post observation interview. I had quite a reputation for carrying around a "little black notebook" that had one of those big yellow tablets in it and when they saw me approaching why they said, "Aha, this is another one of those days when Mr. Linton is going to observe me". Sometimes lo let them know I was coming,,and sometimes you just simply drop in. When you have 35 or 40 staff members regardless how good a job you have done in the selection process you have some staff members who when they see you coming, teach for you and not for kids and I didn't want that to happen and that is why I would drop in. At other times why the teacher had something that was particularly exciting, particularly meaningful and they would invite me, and I appreciated that very much. I think that lesson planning is important. I think that there are very very few people who can teach off the top of their heads and be successful at it, especially if you try to do it day after day after day. I think that a good teacher puts in far more hours than simply the hours they put in in the classroom. I think that the most successful teachers put in a great number of hours and I am not saying that the more successful they are them or the hours they put in, but I do know the most successful teachers that I have had the opportunity to work with didn't work from 8 to 3. They put in much more time than that, and it showed in their teaching and it showed in the results that they got with kids.
Q: Knowing that you gave the intangible positive back to those people, should they also receive personnel compensation?
A: I think so, this is a very very difficult area, but I think that it is a shame that an excellent teacher with same number of years, and the same degree receives the same compensation as the teacher who ha ,Passed around from school to school to school, because they were not able to get along school. I know that this is a real question for professional organizations and I hope that there is some way that they can get it worked out, whether that be a teacher ladder with a master teacher who is going to help beginning teachers or whether it is going to be based on principal evaluation, I would have no problem doing that, but I know that there are many principals who would have a problem doing that and there are many teachers who would have a problem with a given principal doing that. I think that I could have asked our staff at any given time to list their top six or eight teachers in the school and there would have been a great deal of agreement as to who those top people were, and by doing that you would also get a feeling who the bottom people were because those people wouldn't be mentioned at all. I think the same thing is true of the administrators. I think that a given school district could pick out their top administrators and could pick out the people who should not have been administrators.
Q: In terms of security or tenure, what are your feelings there?
A: I fought for teacher tenure when I was active in the teacher organizations because at that time we had administrators who were not primarily interested in seeing to it that their kids got good teachers. For instance, there were many rural districts, and I am sure that there were some urban districts as well where people would hire a teacher and keep them for three years and then let them go and hire cheaper teachers. I think that that is a dirty rotten crying shame. I am familiar with one superintendent who even said you don't have to join the professional organizations. I belong to United Teaching Profession and I will let you use my books, my magazines. So at one time there was a real need for it. I think that if non-tenure teachers have the same rights as tenure teachers there would be no need for tenure. And, I think that when our state legislature realizes that and passes the appropriate legislation then at that point in time we could do away with tenure. Wisconsin, for instance, does not have tenure and they are very labor oriented state. They had tenure for a number of years, they don't have it now they have what they call "continuing contract". A teacher can lose that "continuing contract" for the same reasons that our teachers can lose a contract. But, like I say, I think it is like a whole union movement. At one point in time why we had a real need for unions in industry, and at one point in time we had a need for teacher tenure, but I think that perhaps that time has passed. Yet, we can get the same rights for non-tenure teachers as we have for tenure teachers.
Q: Lastly, this a more personal question. Currently, in our own school district you definitely know a lot about 7th, 8th, and 9th grade education. Our school district is going to a middle level, possibly 6th, 7th, and 8th, or 7th and 8th. What are the positives and negatives as you foresee that?
A: I think that if they change their philosophy in going to a middle school then it will be good. If they just simply change the grade levels and continue to do the same things that they are doing then we won't have a true middle school. You will still have a junior high school and still have a senior high school. I think that perhaps six grade is better suited to be in with 7th and 8th graders. I know from experience that 9th graders are better fitted for the most part to be in with 10th, llth and 12th graders. At one in time, in the 50's we moved the 9th grade to the high school and the 6th grade into the junior high, but we did not have a middle school because the 6th graders still stayed in their closed classrooms. The only time they were part of the junior high school program was when we had an assembly or something like that and they were allowed to go that, but I think, if we can change the philosophy and in that case you would probably do away with some of the competitive athletics that you have now. The 9th grade would probably have their own teams at the high school level, but at that point in time why you would have an intramural program that could be competitive within the middle school, and I think that the kids would still tie to that. For the most part, the 6th 7th or 8th grader, if you can give them a T-shirt that has a team name on it why that is going to do it for them. I think that that is terribly important. I think you will still have problems with parents who are athletically minded who would still want the athletic programs at the middle school that we presently have in junior high. But I think that you must change the philosophy and not just change the grade level.
Q: Is there any closing comments?
A: No, I have enjoyed this very much Tom and I hope that it will be worthwhile to not only you but this national organization, the survey. I would be interesting in knowing what the results of that survey are.
Q: "You shall".
A: If and when they are published.
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