Interview with Charles Lackey


This is October 20, 1998. I am speaking with Mr. Charles Lackey in the library of Middlesex County High School about his experiences as a high school principal.

| Back to "L" Interviews | Index of Interviews | Protocol | Home |

Q: Mr. Lackey, as we start this interview process, give us a little bit of a background, some background information on you.

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

A: Charles Lackey, most recently the superintendent of schools for Middlesex County a year and a half, previous to that, central office position working primarily with truancy in Danville, prior to that seven years as principal of George Washington High School, Danville, VA, population of students approximately 1800, faculty and staff approximately 165 faculty, approximately 45 additional support staff. The site also had a vocational program. It was the only high school in the city and in the school system. Prior to that for four years I was principal of West Oak High School in ________ County, SC. That was one of four county high schools. The high school population was approximately 800 students, faculty of approximately 90 and an additional 25 support staff. Prior to that I was assistant principal with Albemarle County Schools in Charlottesville, VA, for, I believe, four years. Prior to that, director of a work study program, a federal work study program, for handicapped students, prior to that, assistant director of a residential program for emotionally disturbed adolescents in Charlottesville, prior to that I was a teacher of emotionally disturbed students in Fairfax, VA. (I have) a Masters from Appalachian State in special education/areas of emotional disturbance and an undergraduate degree from Furman University in psychology.

Q: What was your primary motivating force to enter administration?

A: Right place, right time. When I graduated from Furman with a BA in psychology, you had to have a 4.0, plus clinical experience to be able to get accepted into graduate programs in psych; I didn't have that, so I went into special education, which was a related field, got my masters from Appalachian in emotional disturbance, started teaching in Fairfax, moved to Charlottesville where my wife was working on her masters program and had an opportunity to get into special education administration so I took advantage of that. That was where I was planning on staying for my career, but was hired to run a tri-county program for emotionally disturbed adolescents, and started developing that program. Two of the school systems dropped out, so the job was nonexistent. There was an opening at Albemarle High School as an assistant principal. I had just finished my certification courses at UVA, so I applied for the job and got it, and that started my career in regular education administration.

Q: What role, and you've been both an assistant principal, a high school principal, and now a superintendent, what role does the high school principal play in the overall educational process?

A: What a general question! What role does the high school principal play in the overall educational process? Very much a primary role. I believe that, in a lot of different philosophies, the high school principal sets the tone of the school, is the instructional leader for the school. That individual wears a lot of different hats and where that individual puts their primary emphasis makes a big difference as to what those areas, the amount of attention those particular areas get in relation to that principal's priority. I strongly feel like one of the most important roles of the high school principal is to be instructional leader. Now that could mean that the individual surrounds him or herself by the best instructional people, but somehow the principal must establish instruction as the primary responsibility of the building. In addition to that, the principal is ultimately responsible for, and wears many different hats, in different settings and different educational systems. That includes discipline, attendance, extracurricular activities, sports, working with parents, study groups and communities. So the list goes on and on. I strongly believe that the principal sets the tone, sets the standard. Some of the research backs that up. Some of the research doesn't back that up in terms of establishing that the quality of the school is directed around the principal.

Q: What one person in education has guided you most in your philosophy that you've worked your way to in twenty some years of experience in education? What one person, be it an educator, or someone outside of education, has really guided you, with their thoughts, maybe not someone you knew personally, that you've tried to emulate, or take their ideas, and incorporate into your own style?

A: I don't know if there has been anybody. I am a product of probably the "peter principal." I got into positions for which I probably wasn't qualified for and had to quickly develop survival techniques and then learn as you go. Each job allowed me people to work with that I have respect for that helped me in those particular areas. Other teachers when I was a teacher, principals when I was a principal, superintendents, now that I'm a superintendent, that I've all integrated into those positions. I also feel strongly that an individual probably, to develop their own style, has to be very eclectic in their approach and draw from the experience of other people, assume abilities, or responsibilities, or priorities, as you work with people you have respect for. Do you still need one person? That's a good question. I'm trying to figure out if there is any one person.

Q: Let's change the tack for a second. What one person has really influenced you most in life, outside of the educational field?

A: I guess I'd have to say my parents. Probably the primary person is my father, in terms of establishing a work ethic, a level of quality, and excellence at what you do. You get the job done, you stick with it, you don't quit, and I think you can assume in my background ________ terms of that philosophy.

Q: Earlier you had mentioned that you had served as principal of West Oak High School for four years. Was that a school in a rural setting, or was it a city-type school?

A: It was a new facility in a rural setting. _______ County is very much a rural county. Small high schools, except for Seneca, which was more of a city. West Oak was more of a rural setting, out in the middle of nowhere, a beautiful facility, 800 kids, the poverty level was fairly high. A lot of kids were farmers, came from farming families. Very little industry in the county, very much a rural setting, about 30 miles below Clemson, SC.

Q: Now when you became the principal at West Oak High School, what were some of the first tasks you undertook there in terms of making that school better? If it was already in pretty good shape when you got there in terms of construction, what did you do to continue any successful programs they had? What sort of--how did you ID the programs or things that needed to be worked on in order to make that a successful high school?

A: Very much throughout the first year, my goal was to establish or to identify what worked and what didn't work. There were‹I tried to organize my approach in determining that aspect. The answer to that question was the variety of variables within that school. Getting into classrooms was a critical factor with that. I very much believe that if you've got the best staff in terms of faculty and hire the best people, you avoid problems later on. So one of the first tasks was to spend time in the classroom and find out who was effectively teaching and who was not. The other aspect was to look at all the multitude of things that program offered, that school offered, and try to determine what was a quality program, and if it was not, what did we need to get that level. Being a school that big, it was pretty difficult to be able to give attention to all the areas in which it had me‹the one advantage that I had was that my specific leadership style matched very well with what the school needed when I became principal. It was a well run school when I took it over, but it needed someone with a positive outlook on life, a positive outlook on education, somebody that was cheerleader, somebody that would be able to set a high standard and get to that standard, and that was pretty much what I was able to do and model that, and the school very much responded to that, both the teachers and the students and the community. It was a very positive match for a number of years.

Q: You mentioned your leadership style and it was what was needed at _________ at that time. How would you describe your leadership style?

A: My leadership style is very student oriented, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a particular site, and being able to organize or specify what they are, establish clear benchmarks for each program or individual, or whatever you're talking about, to achieve, and a pattern to get to that particular desired level of excellence. I lead by model, lead by enthusiasm, lead by excitement, getting people on board, whether it's staff, or students, or parents, and being a part of what happens. I think that pretty much typifies what my style is.

Q: What role, in terms of operating schools, how do you view the general public's role in that function? As principal, how did you draw your parents in, and what uses-- how did you use them?

A: I came into administration at a time when there was a paradigm shift in terms of how much you involve parents and community, and I very much believe that involvement of parents and the community in what you do is essential to a positive program. It's very easy to see it now, to go back to what are your priorities, what a principal's priorities are that set the standard for the school. You've got to set a feeling among families and parents that they're invited and they're welcome to the school setting and a lot of times that's not the case. Also, in addition to that, if it's not the case, it's very difficult to convince people that you really want them to come and participate, rather than just giving lipservice to what you're trying to do. So, if you're serious about getting parents, families and communities involved, then you have to design a very specific approach to do that. That includes invitation. There are a lot of techniques that you might use: certainly different on the elementary versus the high school level. An example, if you do that on the high school level, if you have open house and you want group participation, and every teacher calls, you divide up how many families that you have, and you give those to teachers, and every teacher calls and really. And again, what the teacher says, and how they approach the family makes a huge difference, but that personal invitation can make the difference between whether you have 10% of your families turnout or 60 or 70% of your families turnout. Then also, the kind of information that they're going to give to the family makes a big difference. If the parents come and all they hear is the regular things about their kids, they are probably not going to come back very often. But if they hear positive things about their kids, if teachers work and try to specify the positive instead of identifying what the negative is, that, for instance, can make a big difference in _____________. And then when you have a situation like the School Improvement Team, if you have students and parents and business leaders on that committee, then you, instead of, again, just giving them the option for lip service in what you're doing, you take their suggestions seriously, you even try make some attempt at incorporating at least their ideals, or their ideas, in some way with your school philosophy, it has very positive and beneficial result in terms of getting them to be a true part of the school system.

Q: You also mentioned earlier that you had been principal at George Washington High School in Danville, VA. How did George Washington High School differ from the school in South Carolina?

A: Well, quite a few ways, actually. Size wise, it's obvious, the type of kids that attended the schools was another obvious difference. There were major differences in the faculty. Both of them were excellent faculties for different reasons. But I'll give you one example of the difference between the two schools. When I first went to West Oak they were so excited because they had started a Strings Program, and they couldn't wait for me to come in and hear their strings, and I said to myself, "A rural school like this, I'm surprised they have an orchestra and strings program." So I went in there and they performed for me and it was like kids that had received a violin two days before, and it was really painful to hear them play, but because they were so excited and proud of it, I had to smile and say, "This is really great." When I went to George Washington High School, they also said, "You need to hear our orchestra and strings program, " and I was thinking, "Will I have the same experience again?" so I said, "Yea, let me hear it, I'd love to." When I went in, the first impression was of a quality orchestra, and it was the difference between night and day. Everything was completely different in relation to the difference in the size and in location. The problems that you dealt with, the instructional approaches, the levels of participation, the extracurricular activities, the related curricular activities, the types of benchmarks that the different schools had, just about everything you could identify as an issue at the high school would be very, very different between the two schools. Not negatively so, definitely, but very, very different.

Q: ____________ discipline issues. What was the difference in discipline issues between the rural school and the more urban type school?

A: Some similarities, but a lot of difference. A good example, I think, would probably be weapons. In South Carolina we had a policy against not having pocket knives. Pocket knives were a real source of pride for the county kids, the rural kids of South Carolina. They'd bring in some nice knives, some of them six or eight, or ten inches long, and what they did with those was, unfortunately, take them out during lunch time and sharpen them, and show them to the next person, showing how proud they were to have a nice knife. The principal confiscated them, and the parents were required to come up, and sometimes they didn't. We had a pretty big collection of very nice knives in the office. The point of this is they were not used aggressively against other people. That was not the intent for them to be brought to the school. At GW--also, it was a difference in kind‹if the kid brought any kind of knife, even a small penknife, to school, they'd be expelled from school, and of course the unfortunate reason for that was because it was assumed that knives at GW High School, that they had those for students to protect themselves or be aggressive against someone else. I think that's a pretty good description of the differences. You asked generally about discipline. In a small rural school there is still a larger percentage of respect for teachers and administrators that you sometimes see as characteristic of schools thirty years ago. There is still some semblance of that left in the rural setting. In the urban setting in Danville, that was, even though a lot of people wanted it to be that way, and tried to get rid of kids and families who didn't aspire to that particular philosophy, the population in Danville had rapidly changed, and it was a much more difficult place to teach. It was a difficult place to be a kid or a student, and as a result those differences are ____________. Very different, disparate situations. Where I could often laugh and kid about a discipline situation in South Carolina, a lot of times at GW I couldn't do that, because of the severity, because of the aggressiveness.

Q: What is the biggest change in education you've seen as a high school administrator, the fifteen years that you were a high school administrator?

A: I can tell you what it's not: it's not the kids. To me kids are basically the same. The differences you see in kids are more how they relate to their environment. I think the environment has changed drastically. I still see kids as they were ten or fifteen years ago, and I could give a lot of reasons for while I feel that way, and why I believe that. What was the question again? I got off on the kids.

Q: Just to relate some of the changes you've seen in your fifteen years as a high school administrator.

A: So I told you what I didn't see as a change. What I do see as a change is that there's a lot less respect to be a public educator. It used to be that you'd be superintendent or principal for life. That's no longer the case. The average life, I think, for a superintendent is six years, or eight years is the average life of a high school principal. That's a large high school principal. So that's one big change. As far as the community and kids, if you made a decision twenty, twenty-five years ago, that was gospel, that's the way it was, it wasn't questioned. As a principal of a large high school now, just about every decision you make is questioned. You end having many people getting angry at you. So, after the course of three or four or five years, if you're a good administrator, if you make quick decisions, decisive decisions, and decisions that are decisions based on getting real information, and you've got to make the right decisions, but after you've made so many decisions, you've alienated everybody at least one or two times, and, whereas, twenty years ago people respected that, and saw that as very positive thing, because you took quick action, these days after you've been in the building as a principal, after three or four or five years, you have a certain segment of the population, just because you made a decision against what they thought was right, they have a tendency to be somewhat vindictive, and that's one of the reasons a high school principal these days doesn't last anymore than four or five years. The environment is drastically different. Homes and values are drastically different. What kids see on TV or on the computer, on the internet is drastically different. They don't have heroes anymore, or the heroes they do have represent things we don't want them to aspire to do. It's one of the unfortunate changes in society.

Q: Let me give you three names. These are gentlemen I know you have worked with, and have had some association with in the course of the number of years of your educational career. I'd just like for you to respond briefly about each one in terms of how you view them in terms of administrator, in terms of how you view them as a leader in their school, or really anything you'd like to say in terms of. The first one is a gentleman named Larry Clarke.

A: Larry Clark, small in stature, very tall and large in terms of his heart being in the right place and caring about kids. A very effective administrator, gets along very well with kids and staff, and the community. Doesn't mind saying what he believes in, always well prepared and can't back up whatever the issues are, has had a tough situation for a variety of reasons; his administration has changed. Many of the major perimeters for his school have changed. Whether they were ones he supported to be changed, I don't know, but I know that they've changed drastically and he's been able to plan and organize and create an environment conducive to learning and also minimize the problems that they've had. Outstanding leader, can't say enough positive things about him. He's a good man, he's a good principal, and a pleasure to work with.

Q: Rodger Jones, former principal at EC Glass. I understand that EC Glass and George Washington High School were bitter rivals.

A: Was Rodger a principal at Glass?

Q: Before umŠ.

A: I didn't know he was principal at Glass. Rodger Jones, assistant superintendent of the Lynchburg System, he would be one of the people slated as one of the finest educators I have ever met. Although I did not work with him as closely as I did with Larry Clarke, the few times I've worked with him, every several time, the amount of time I spent with him, he was able to do something that I ended up either respecting or bringing back to my school system. Even more so than Larry Clarke, he was a very respected person. I never saw him with kids, but I saw him with teachers, and administrators and staff. He was always well respected; he was somebody that if he said something, because of his reputation. people listened to him. He was almost always right and had a different perspective on the issues and how to resolve particular issues and in my estimation is one of the finest educators in the state of Virginia. But, if I understand my stories of history correctly, there are some unfortunate things that occurred that preclude him being superintendent in Lynchburg Schools that had to do with him doing his job, and as a result he suffered some permanent ________, but a very competent assistant superintendent and would be a similar superintendent in my estimation. I assume he was a high school principal, but I did not work with him in that capacity. What a fine person. He's somebody who believes in what he does and is committed to doing things as they should be done, and does compromise his values or his morals. ____________________

Q: Where do high school administrators get themselves in "trouble," and I put that in quotation marks, where do high school administrators get themselves in "trouble" in their jobs?

A: Two big things that will get you in trouble are making mistakes with the finances and having relationships with the staff or students‹those are the things that will get you fired very quickly. In addition to that, that's a good question, you heard that a new administrator coming into a setting is able to develop a positive relationship and identify those areas where there still needs to be some relationship being developed. It's my belief, although I've seen some people that this doesn't apply to, that after a certain amount of time, you get to a point of either diminishing returns, or you're looking for a new challenge. I think an administrator can quickly determine if he's as effective as someone else could be. At that point, it's time for the administrator to consider something else for professional reasons, and for the school environment and the education of the students. It's a difficult question to answer.

Q: To stay on the same vein, do you believe that administrators, based on what you're saying, have a life span at which they are more effective, and then things change for them?

A: I see that true, more than not, these days. But there are principals, and I've seen superintendents, too, that have been in the business for much more than the five or six or seven years that I've mentioned that are very successful. I see those individuals as very few and far between. Most administrators and most building principals these days, I think there is a limited life span of effectiveness, and for their own personal sanity. If they're a high school principal, particularly a large high school, for your personal sanity and professional sanity, and also for being able to revitalize yourself to the profession, I think it's important to make some changes because your job is so demanding. I remember when I worked with special ed kids, and seriously emotionally disturbed kids, you have a tendency to look at the world as if everybody were emotionally disturbed, and when I returned to regular ed, I was flabbergasted when someone would say, "sir" instead of "fuck you." And that told me how far I had gotten into my perception that everything was the way it was with emotionally disturbed kids. I think people in law enforcement, or juvenile detention, or judges working with juveniles, or judges working with family crises can get that same perception. Unfortunately, with administrators of the public school high school level, a lot of what you have to deal with is of that level, and if you're not careful it can affect your performance, can affect your outlook and attitude. And again, if you can enjoy what you do, and enjoy the kids and the teachers, keep a very positive attitude, maintaining the effectiveness that you need in the high school, you obviously can last much longer than if you allow some of those mental factors to affect what you do. So it's different things, different strokes for different folks. But I've not seen many high school principals that didn't have some scars. And I use that in a very broad sense. Sometimes there are actual physical scars, sometimes they're emotional and sometimes they're professional. But how you deal with those particular scars, and your outlook on what education is, has a very specific bearing on your effectiveness. But I think most people have enough respect for those in leadership positions, that they're perceptive enough to know when their effectiveness is beginning to wane some, and at that point they have a professional obligation to leave or revitalize or go somewhere else within the system, maybe that's ________________.

Q: What sort of recommendation would you make to a building principal in terms of how to revitalize themselves, or, if they are feeling a great deal of stress, how to handle and/or deal with that stress?

A: I think the very best and most effective thing you can do is go to the best people. You need to verify _______. But, for those areas which you're effective in, certainly being able to maintain your overall _______. If you're professional enough to identify those areas in which you're not effective, then you assign some of those responsibilities and hire the people that can handle all the positive bases in those particular areas, then again, surrounding yourself with the best people and identifying strengths and weaknesses of the school. And then to pick possibly different areas in which you can grow professionally, emulate somebody that you work with, that you have a lot of respect for, get staff development or courses, continue to develop your skills. If you're stagnant on a job like that, you end up being not very happy.

Q: If someone approached you today about entering the field of education, specifically administration, what advice would you give that person?

A: I'd tell them probably to head in another direction. If I could guarantee that whoever that was would have similar opportunities, and be able to work with similar types of staff and students and administrators that I've worked with, I'd say very wholeheartedly, "Stay in it." But I see a fair amount of change happening with all those three areas, and I think public education right now is in crisis in terms of being able to maintain those benchmarks and properly educate kids, and in terms of support that we talked about with the communities and families. It's a difficult time right now. It's more difficult, certainly more difficult, now than it was fifteen or twenty years ago in terms of having a lot of self satisfaction, which I've obviously done, and can be done, and a lot of people would do it. But I think it's getting more and more difficult instead of easier to attain that positive result.

Q: What about‹what are three things in American education, in general in education today, that you see problems with, and what might potential solutions be for them?

A: I think one very serious one is media. We mentioned a little bit about that , what kids see on TV, on the internet, what that represents to them, what that represents as standards to them, I think that's a serious problem. And I think some sort of regulation is a must. Whether or not parents are able to set those standards and/or to monitor kids I think is very questionable. And I think that's got to be dealt with, if society is really going to really going to turn itself around. Family is another very clear aspect, with the divorce rate as high as it is. The fact that the nuclear family right now is the exception, rather than the rule, makes it much more difficult for a kid to be as self confident enough to take advantage of what an educational facility and staff have to offer them. We talked before we were taping about apathy‹I don't know if I was talking to you about that or not‹but more and more students are apathetic and don't have goals and don't strive to do the best that they can. I see that very directly as ________ the family. I see that as a critical issue and change in terms of society's morals and values and expectations regarding relationships. As it relates to kids in school, I think that's a major turning point. Number three: I could choose two or three different things, but I would think that the main, particular issue, would be the quality of people that are going into education, the teachers. There's more documentation that when public education was in its heyday, most of the people that were receiving education degrees and working in school settings were wives of lawyers and doctors and professional people, as a secondary job. They had a tendency to be very intelligent people, had high expectations, very clever people, which you would think you would like to have educating your kids. But time has changed quite a bit, and now you have a lot of people that are getting into the educational professional profession as a primary job, but also there's somewhat of a perception, now whether it's true or not, I don't know, but people are getting into education as a secondary aspiration. If you wanted to be a lawyer and didn't get into law school, and you had a history degree, maybe you'd end up teaching history. Or if you had a biology or chemistry degree, and you wanted to get into premed and couldn't get into that, or a job elsewhere, then you'd become a biology teacher. If you didn't know what you wanted to do, then you became a special ed teacher. But there's a fair amount of research right now that questions whether the people in leadership roles and administrative roles in public education are the kinds of people that have the professional background, and intelligence, and the level of responsibility, that you'd want from school leaders. So, again, I think a lot of it goes back to the quality of staff that you have, both in the classroom and the administrative offices, and that's got to be the best people. There's got to be enough pay to pay people to go into it, and want to go into it, and in terms of job satisfaction, there's got to be a reason for people. We see teachers and principals everyday who want to get out of education because of the apathy of the kids and lack of interest in their future. And that's what most people should go into education for, we see less and less of that instead of more and more.

Q: When you talk about the change in status, how teachers are view, how administrators are viewed, why do you believe that change has occurred? What has been the promulgating idea behind that change?

A: I don't know if I can answer that _______. I think mass media has had a big impact on it. If you look at the history books, you see that society has a tendency to change or go through a role reversal about every thirty years or thirty-five years. You can look back at history, you see some very conservative times and some very liberal times. Which, if that holds true, when we look back, then sometime in the not too distant future, we probably will get back to a very ________ conservative approach, and if that happens, some people would say that a lot of those standards and expectations and morals will come back. Why has it gotten to the point that it has? Probably for the same reasons that we have broken families _______ that we do. I don't know if there's a seed or a factor or anything specific that I can particularly identify. I'm sure some of it has to do with our democratic society, and the trials and tribulations that we have to go through, and you have to learn from your mistakes to make things better. Specify variable ______________.

Q: In Virginia right now we're entering a very important year in terms of standardized testing with the new SOL's. What role‹how do you see the SOL idea panning out over the next couple of years, and ultimately how do you view the uses of that particular test.

A: The interesting scene right now is‹we're so involved in the SOL's and curriculum is that that's really determining just about everything. And I think that's just a tool to get to a certain place where we want to be. We're putting too much emphasis on it, but if we find out at some point that it's too much, I think it will help us achieve certain benchmarks. I think the key's going to be what we do in addition to ________ SOL's, but also after we reach those benchmarks. I very much see it as just one aspect and one tool of what we need to go about a much more far-reaching change, and unless we involve many other major variables in our society, along with ways and benchmarks for our public schools, I think it's something that's ultimately set up for failure, if you don't have those other variable coming in. Now, if you do have those other variables coming in‹it will probably take a community or national approach‹maybe that societal shift will occur in the next ten or fifteen years. Time will tell.

Q: Do you see more and more school divisions, however, because of the importance placed on doing more things like teaching to the test?

A: Absolutely. Then you get into the question of whether that's right or wrong. And you can argue both sides of that. But there's a lot more to life, there's a lot more about public education, than teaching to the specific SOL's. Then again, if you have committed and the very best people, they'll take their job seriously and offer a very broad education to the students. If we just stick to the SOL's it would be a very narrow application and we won't have well educated and well ______________.

Q: What do you think is going to suffer the most out of all the different techniques teachers use, and all the ideas they espouse, what do you think is going suffer the most by the incorporation of staying strictly within the SOL's, or sticking strictly to the SOL's?

A: I can see both sides of whether it will be a negative factor or a positive factor. I think the very best people will take it and incorporate it with what they do and they'll make a useful tool out of it and the kids will end up benefiting from it. Those people that are average or below average educators, may use that as their own technique or their own standard, with people like that I see instruction in the classroom will be harmed by it.

Q: Do you see standardized curriculum statewide?

A: Absolutely. No question.

Q: If you had to, if you were going back into the principalship again after being out for several years not, not naming the place, what would be the ideal high school that you would look for?

A: Interesting question. If I had to go back into it, I think what I'd want to do is find a place that was building a new high school, and there weren't any staff or kids yet assigned to that high school. At the school that I was at in South Carolina, the previous principal had a year to do that, had a year to choose who would be the staff, and to set up the whole educational, instructional program. There's so much that it relates to past that figures as important to what we currently do, some of which are staff, some of which are curriculum, and there are a lot of different reasons, but I think being able to establish a program starting from scratch and probably the staff would be the most critical aspect of that. And high school staff are probably the most difficult to work with, because they're each different. There's a huge difference between high school and elementary: elementary teachers are always compliant, and high school teachers are confrontational, at least in my experience. And there's much positive that can come out of that. To have a strong team, all supporting each other with a common goal and a common philosophy would be a real refreshing situation to be in, but in order to do that, you'd have to have a unique situation with a new high school and people working there who had never worked there before. And that would create its own set of discipline ___________.

Q: When you're done with your educational career, how do you want people to remember you? What's the one thing you want everyone to say about Charles Lackey?

A: That he‹it might not be one thing.

Q: Don't limit yourself to one thing. What would you like to have people say about you that if word comes to you as a principal and now a superintendent?

A: I'd like to be known as somebody that really cared about kids, somebody that took their job seriously, somebody that was easy to work with, somebody that supported others, but clearly had high expectations and expected everybody to aspire to that, somebody that as a result of their career I made a difference in people's lives.

Q: You've worked with both elected and appointed school boards--

A: The answer is appointed.

Q: Which is the most difficult to work with?

A: The most difficult would be elected. That's not to say appointed is not difficult to work with at times, but my strong feeling is that that has passed‹that particular aspect of how you determine your boards has passed, after two or three different elections, the people that we normally think of, those individuals that we'd like to have in that leadership role in the community, no longer aspire to be board members, so the group that you elect are from a whole different‹I don't know if category‹but from a different type of individual than which you normally think of as leaders of your school system. As a result of that you have more individual agendas, and as a result of that you have more issues that you have to deal with.

Q: Any comments, or anything you'd like to make to just sum it up? We're right at an hour.

A: You got what you wanted?

Q: Yes, we're just short of an hour.

A: One thing, it's been a good ride. I hope I'll be able to say that when I retire, and like anything else, it has its plusses and minuses, and you have to keep on smiling, and _____________________.

Q: Thank you, Mr. Lackey, and this concludes the interview on October 20, 1998.

| Back to "L" Interviews | Index of Interviews | Protocol | Home |