Q: Where did you start out as a teacher?
A: In Clarke County, Berryville, Virginia.
Q: Why did you decide to become a teacher?
A: Well, in college I knocked around in several different things. When I first went to college I went with the idea of becoming a minister. The college that I went to was Lynchburg College which is a church sponsored college, just like Bryce and I went there with the idea that I would be a minister. After a year or so, I changed my mind and decided that maybe I would like to do social work and go into that kind of thing so I started studying sociology and social work - welfare type things. I guess I went about two years on that. After a while it wasn't quite the thing that I wanted and I had been very active in athletics all during high school and college, decided that I would like to teach high school physical education. So I changed my major and started getting my requirements for educational courses. I finished by going to summer school, finished in the middle of the year in January. Very hard time to get teaching jobs for coaches and teachers. Most of those jobs were always filled up. The Dean of the school had been after me for months to go into elementary school. He said that's where the future was for young men and so about three weeks before I graduated, he called and wanted to know if I had any job lined up. Which I didn't. At that point I was getting kind of desperate because I had a baby that was about 2 months old and I needed a job. He said he had a friend who was superintendent of schools in Clark County, Virginia who had an opening for a man. He wanted a man in his elementary school and he didn't have any in any of his elementary schools, wanted a man in the Berryville elementary school. So, without an interview or anything else I decided to take the job and was appointed there and I finished school on the 26th of January and started teaching on the 29th of January.
A: It was kind of a cultural shock when I went into the superintendent's office to be taken over to the school and he said "Well, first thing you'll have to do is put a deposit on your teacher's manuals." I said, "What?" He said, "Yeah, the teachers have to buy the manuals that they use." And I being fresh out of school didn't have any money to buy any textbooks and I told him "I don't have any money to buy all those textbooks." So he said, "Well, I'll tell you what, I want a man in this school bad enough, I will waive that for you." I said "Fine." Can you imagine teachers nowadays if they came in and were told they would have to buy their teacher's manuals? Anyhow, in the course of the conversation, he says "Now I'm putting you in the school, what I'm doing is taking the problem children from grades 3, 4 and 5 and putting them all in one room and that will be your class. When I got over there I found out it was all boys and I had about 20 boys from grades 3, 4, and 5 that the other people were having trouble with and they put them all into my class. Before a couple weeks were out I had about 6 or 8 girls transferred into the class, so I had somewhere around 20 to 30 of the kids that nobody else was able to do anything with. Here I was, my first week, and all this kind of stuff, I wasn't quite ready for it, but I jumped in there being, you know I'm an optimistic, and took hold of it. It was very interesting. One of the things he told me which really bowled me over because I didn't know what in the world am I getting into now. He said, "Now you may have some problems with them, but I'll tell you what you do. If you have any trouble you pick up one of them and just knock the rest of them down." I looked at him and he said, "I'll back you up on it 100% if you have to." I thought, holy smoke what have I gotten myself into. The kids really weren't that bad. They needed a lot of attention. They were for the most part farming type children. Up in Clark County, it's apple growing country and you had a lot of the children who were tenant farmers and that kind of thing. They were pretty neat, but they were rough in the edges, from up there they would be, this was back in 1950's. But that's how I got started. The following year I came down to Fairfax County which was my home. I grew up in Vienna. I came down to Fairfax County to teach at Chesterbrook Elementary School.
Q: You stayed with elementary schools for a long time?
Q: Without thinking, gosh with all those ages 3rd, 4th and 5th grade. Your first year teaching, the ages, different grade levels, they'd all be different. That's like special ed.
A: Right. It was a real experience. As I say, I came down to Chesterbrook Elementary after that in 1950 and stayed in Fairfax for 34 years.
Q: As a teacher what motivated you into becoming a principal?
A: Well, I taught at Chesterbrook for 3 years, and was, you know, I enjoyed the teaching, however, I needed money very badly. The first year I taught at Clarke County I made 1800 dollars a year and that was paid in 10 checks. So that was 180 dollars a month was my salary. The first year I came to Fairfax I got a real big raise, my salary increased from 1800 to 2300. I got a five hundred dollar raise and that really was, you know...
A: setting us on easy street. At the time I was appointed principal, it was a teaching principal. At that time if the school had less than 10 teachers, the principal taught a half day and worked as principal half day, unless you had problems on the half day that you were teaching, then you had to stop your class and go take care of the probleA: Often times the secretary would come in and sit with the class until I could come back. So Fairfax did that for a number of years and finally cut it out. I was a teaching principal for 2 years. The fellow who taught for me, or when I wasn't in the classroom, taught at Clifton Elementary. There was a principal there who was a teaching principal. He would teach for me in the morning til about 12 o'clock and he would jump in his car and go to Clifton to teach the afternoon and he would eat his lunch on the way. As he was driving over he would eat his lunch. Interesting fact also was the principal at Clifton, he not only was principal, taught halftime, he also drove a school bus before and after school. Lots of thing have changed.
Q: Yeah, I find it fascinating. Still sounds like a Fairfax County policy.
A: I spent 5 years at Burke Elementary. I was there from 1958. Then I transferred to Dun Loring Elementary over in Vienna. I was in Dunn Loring Elementary for 6 years, no, I was in Dunn Loring from 58 to 63 and then I was asked to open up Stenwood Elementary, which was a new school opening up just down the street from Dunn Loring and they thought it for some continuity because a lot of the children that were in Dun Loring Elementary were going to go into the new school. And so I opened that school up in 1963. The building wasn't completed and I had the children in 3 different school buildings. The first and second graders were in Dun Loring, third and fourth graders were in Flint Hill Elementary, and the fifth and sixth graders were in Vienna Elementary. At that time we didn't have kindergarten so I travelled from one school to the other to keep things going, to see how things were going - make sure they had their supplies and take care of discipline problems in the interiA: So was there in this kind of situation from September to February. We opened the new building in February of 1964 and I stayed there at Stenwood Elementary until 1978, then opened up Sunrise Valley Elementary in Reston as a new Elementary school there. I stayed there for 5 years as the principal. The last year that I worked, I worked as president of the Fairfax Education Association. That's what I was doing when I retired, serving as president of the Fairfax Education Association.
Q: I was curious about that. I didn't know how involved administrators were. I know my principal is supportive, of the FEA, but I thought maybe, I know years ago they split up into different groups and people tend to...
A: Well, it could be that the principals were real tight members of the association. The superintendents that we've had in past 8-10-12 years, have tried to separate the group and make it more a labor and management type thing. Many of the principals who still are active in the association, at least are members and are supportive through paying their dues.
Q: I've heard some arguments saying if we were one group instead of many different groups that when we took things to Congress we would have more strength than if we were a group of principals and a group of teachers.
A: Right, give you more clout. The larger the group the more clout you have.
Q: I thought, why do we do that, I didn't really know, why we do that I don't really know.
A: Well, its been basically the fault of the superintendents, maybe I shouldn't say the fault of the superintendents, its been one of their...
Q: When teachers started the...
Q: I guess strikes, things of that nature, you're suppose to run the school they would be hard to support, things that you would
A: That's one of the problems we had in a number of school systems. States where they have a strike, where they can strike... we have an anti strike clause in Virginia that practically draws and quarters you if you were to strike.
Q: Are you familiar with Yvonne McCall who is our principal at Dogwood? She is real supportive. Laura Steen, our assistant principal comes to our board meetings. They come and give me ideas. They call in and say "------------. " So I do try to help out, but I knew that they were a members of a different group. What do you think are some of the key elements of being an effective principal, some that makes the difference between an effective principal and non-effective principal.
A: I think, one of the most important things is to like people. You have to like people. And you have to be flexible and try to understand the, you can't have things only one way and today that might work that way, tomorrow, another similar situation, it might not work at all. You've got to be flexible. The principalship as in teaching is an interesting job, there is so much variety. You may be doing the same thing all day one day, but the next day you can be assured that there is going to some variety that's going to come up. That's one of things that makes the day a lot shorter. Always so many different things going on. You have a large number of people with whom you're dealing that makes for that variety.
Q: My next question, I was wondering, if I asked you how, with parents coming in complaining about their child being retained and then there's a crisis here, it would be very difficult to plan your day. I wonder if you ever did the things you intended to do.
A: Well, it's probably, the biggest reason that you have to be flexible, because it can be very, very frustrating to a person who is a perfectionist. You know, very organized, and at 10 o'clock every morning you have to be doing this and at 12 o'clock and l o'clock, it doesn't work that way. There is no way that you can work it that way because of the many things that come up. Well, maybe I ought not to say there's no way you could do it. You could do it, but you're not going to be taking care of a lot of the things that come up. You can stick to your schedule, but you're not going to be taking care of the other things that come up that are impromptu things.
Q: I don't think I'm qualified. An organized and strict schedule is just not me.
A: A person who is a perfectionist and a scheduler would be very frustrated in a principalship's job or a teacher's job too.
Q: Yeah, there's a lot of flexibility there. My next question is about the size of schools in Fairfax County, you know how they seem to be getting larger and larger, some schools have more than 4000 students. It's huge. What do you feel is the best organizational arrangement in schools that are real large? Like do you feel strongly about the one principal or do you like the sub school groups and do you have any feeling about the large schools?
A: I think that's one of the biggest mistakes that Fairfax County and many of the school systems have made is making these large, large schools. I understand that a couple of the schools that are opening up new this year are going to be expecting like a, elementary schools, 1400 capacity when its filled. To me that makes no sense whatsoever. There are some economics in there in building one school with just the one facility, a gymnasium, one cafeteria and those kinds of things where they are going to save some money, but they're not going to save that much money. Instead of a 1400 pupil school they could build two 700 pupil schools and my thinking is they would have a much better prograA: Its just too many students. The same way with the high schools with 4000-4200. I think in Fairfax we have the largest and the second largest secondary schools in the whole state of Virginia. They have student population of more than a lot of the towns in Virginia, than entire towns. That's too many students.
Q: I went to Herndon high school. You know how cheer leaders try out, second cuts we got down to 300 girls your really couldn't use a chalk board, you know you're just ---. I don't know in a little dinky town, my life might have been different, in a smaller school. Keeps you humble. I still meet people at jobs and places, graduated the same year and the same class and I don't know the person. Never had a class with theA: I have the same feelings you have, Why don't they build two schools?
A: I think its a big mistake. I don't think an elementary school ought to be more than 700 students.
Q: What do you think the ideal size would be?
A: Around 600. From my experience I would say that gives you enough students in each grade level to do some good work.
Q: Looking at the research, all the research points to the fact that excellence schools have administrators who are effectively involved in leadership educational expectations. What are some effective techniques or strategies in which you have used to help involve yourself to maximize educational leadership? Like you know, I could clarify it better.
A: Well, I use the staff and their opinions, I value them very highly and I was one of these principals that some people can say the principal, the reason the school went so well is because he had a faculty for getting things done. I think that's very important. If you have a faculty you have a staff there who trains people. I was fortunate in Sunrise valley, for example, the same way with Stenwood. Being in Stenwood for 15 years, there wasn't a teacher in there that I didn't hire. Same way with Sunrise Valley, when a principal opens up a new school they can hire every staff person, and when you can do that you can interview the people and you can find out, try to the best that you can, find out their strengths and those kinds of things and build on theA: That's what I did, is build on the strength of the staff that I had, and their personalities, their ideas. I think I always operated a fairly democratic school. Listened to the staff members, their experiences, and put my experience into it and then we came up with something that was pretty workable.
Q: They were probably happy to be there - to take part.
A: I didn't have many people transfer. I know when I was at Stenwood, the school population was dropping off and so I had to destaff a teacher, and the teacher who was destaffed had been at Stenwood, she was the last teacher into the school and she had been at Stenwood for 10 years. So, I didn't have many people leave once they came in to work there.
Q: I guess that would be your first priority, how would you prioritize your activities per se? For effective leadership.
A: Well, my first priority is listening to the people. Listening to the faculty. I'd listen to the parents, but the teachers and I were the professionals and that's the way we operated the school. I would listen to the parents, hear their suggestions and those kinds of things, but I didn't care much to have some Colonel in the air force who didn't know much else but how to fly planes or push paper in the Pentagon come in and tell me how to run my school. I was always accused of taking up for my teachers, you know. Many times I would have people, parents come in and say maybe it's not going to do me any good because I know you are going take up for your teacher, and if I felt the teacher was right, sure I'd take up for them, absolutely.
Q: Did you have any model that you followed, or did you just follow your instincts.
A: I think instincts and staff guidance, staff help.
Q: I was curious about that and were you ever in a crunch, when you have to make a decision, usually you have to make decisions, you don't have a lot of time, what resource, would you call on another principal or the area office.
A: I often called on other principals. Once in awhile I called on visiting teachers, psychologists.
Q: Experts in the field of the problem, maybe
Q: What pressures did you face as a principal?
A: Well, I think probably the biggest pressure that, I always thought of myself as a laid back principal. Pressures didn't bother me that much. The biggest pressure I guess was the parents, especially the ones who were new to the schools, and thought they knew everything and they were going to change things and things were going to done their way. I always found that if you let them know that you thought that you knew everything there was to know and you weren't a novice to the school or to the school business, then usually they would back off and accept what you were trying to tell them about their student or placement of their child. Once in awhile in my career I had parents go to the area office. I think most principals did and a lot of teachers have had that. Didn't bother me that much, I usually explained to the area superintendent or the superintendent what my stand was and I don't remember very many times when the area superintendent didn't back me up.
Q: How did you handle teacher grievances.
A: Well, I never had a great deal of problem, just sitting down and talking with the people and we had a difference in opinion, why, you know, discussing it that way.
Q: During your principalship can you think of something exciting you can tell me about, some major issue that happened? Like I know busing or any... something that stands out in your mind.
A: In my career the period of time my career expanded, a lot of things happened, for example, we didn't have the intermediate schools or junior high schools; we didn't have those. They started within the period of time of my career span. We didn't have kindergarten, and that was put in during that time. We didn't have integrated schools, they were put in my time, in my career in Fairfax County. So, all of those things are things that I saw evolve during my career and made for some interesting situations.
Q: Any TV or story in particular, when you kind of laid back, when you had to kind or do what you had to do.
A: Well, I think the intermediate school... starting the intermediate school program was a good step. Getting the 7th graders because at that time I had in an elementary school 1 though 7, I had 16 year old students and most of the elementary schools that wasn't unusual. You had some 16 year old students because they had been retained and retained and retained. You had, there wasn't anything at all, it wasn't unusual to have 14 year old students in the elementary schools, but we did have 16 year old students. There were several times when I had elementary school, 7th grade students who got pregnant. They were 15-16 years old, and it was a great step forward when they took 7th graders out of the elementary school. The sixth graders now are sophisticated and knowledgeable, maybe more knowledgeable than 7th graders were then. And I'm not so certain that there shouldn't be some thought given to taking sixth graders out of the elementary school and have K through 5.
Q: Did you ever have to fire a teacher?
A: Oh yeah. I've had some real experiences with teachers. I've had some of the most excellent teachers that you would ever want to see. Very, very strong teachers and I've had very weak teaches and some of them, I guess the least time that I had a teacher teach, or work, she really didn't do a great deal of teaching, was one week. And she was very unhappy and I was unhappy, she chose to leave on her own, I didn't have to fire her, but I probably would have fired her. It was kind of a sad situation because this lady had spent four years preparing to be a teacher, and she had unbelievingly gone through student teaching and you would have thought that maybe she would have found out in that situation that it wasn't her forte. She lasted one week. I had one other interesting teacher that I had was a person who had been an exotic dancer and at age 45 when she didn't quite have the body to be an exotic dancer any longer, she decided she always wanted to be a teacher. So she went back to college and got her degree and she taught for me for one year. She didn't have quite what it took to be a teacher either, so she left and went to a private school and taught for a private school. But she was right interesting with the outfits that she wore. All the teachers waited every morning to see what the outfits were she was going to have on.
Q: I can relate to that.
A: Yeah, she was very interesting, very nice person, but she didn't have quite what it took. In my experience I have found that people who started teaching late in life, like 35-40, 40-45, housewives, you know they raise their family then they started teaching. I have had very many of those and I probably have had a dozen who taught for me, but I've had very few, no more 2 that really, I can say were good teachers. And I don't know why it is, I've never been able to explain why. But, they just weren't good teachers. If I were to have my choice of a new teacher
Q: This teacher had seniority so she (the principal) doesn't have much choice in that situation.
A: I didn't realize I thought that when teachers went on leave that they weren't necessarily guaranteed the position in the same school. I think they guarantee the position, but not necessarily in the same school.
Q: I want to make a few more calls, I probably sound suspicious, its because of special education programs. There's one in Vienna and one in Reston,
A: It may be that she can bump you because of her...
Q: seniority, that's what I think --- she can check on it and I think I'm going to give the high school a try again. Its a little hard when you have so much flexibility. I kind of want to get settled, its hard starting, you can build on foundations of starting from scratch.
A: When you were in high school did you see the progress and that type of thing that you see in the elementary school?
Q: I felt like I made a big difference, I guess while I was teaching high school again I had a choice to choose. I guess I saw a lot of progress with the kids, like I helped their self esteem and talked a lot of them out of getting married. And helped a lot of them get jobs and you I did a lot of the career, education and had a lot of role playing.
A: You were teaching them life skills, rather than education, basic education skills. If that's what gives you the reward...
Q: I felt like, I had some really unusual behavior problems, I probably would not encounter next year or any other year. I'm sure that I don't feel like I can truly accept this as how I am as an elementary school teacher. I had a student who was so bad, but next year he's going on to another teacher I was really looking forward to --- to really be one. Now I have the foundation, let's see how I aA:
A: See how he gets along with the other teacher, to prove that it wasn't you.
Q: Yeah. Look, was LaBelle
A: Janet LaBelle?
Q: Yeah, Janet LaBelle. She seemed, I interviewed with her and she didn't have a position. It was the best learning interview that I ever had because she had a lot of knowledge and she asked me questions.
A: She's opening up a new school.
Q: Yeah, I was reading, I read the SupergraA:
A: Might be an opportunity for you if you still want to go into elementary.
Q: I've worked so hard, anyway I'll get back to that in about.. What role did you play in public and community relations? Was that a big role?
A: Well, I was always very active in that kind of thing. I always --- and a lot of my teachers resented it, but anyway, I did it. I always required the teachers to attend every PTA meeting. Until the county said that they didn't have to. I expected if we had six then they attended them, because I felt that was a big part of public relations of the school and the community. I always had a principal's newsletter that was fairly complete and tried to get a lot of information out to the parents that way. We always had a number of activities going on in the school and one other thing that I did for public relations was to have SCA, had an active Student Cooperative Association and always had a program put on by various classes, various grade levels and the parents were invited to come in to that. We had a program every month, put on by some grade level and parents were invited to come in to that. There's nothing that pleases a parent better than to see their kid up on the stage, whether it be a big part or a little part. I had someone send me a cartoon one time and it was a series, the parents would be inviting their neighbors to come and see the kids and inviting grandma and grandpa to come see the kids in the school program, and the night of the program it showed all these kids on stage and everyone of them was dressed as a rabbit. Nobody had a real big part and everybody was a rabbit. So here's these people that have been invited in to see this big star and he's just a rabbit like everybody else.
Q: What do you think teachers expect principals to be?
A: Well, I think they expect the principal to be accessible to them in the first place. With that door open, rather than sitting behind a closed door. Be in the building, you know we always have our meetings that we have to go to out of the building and I always had someone pretty reliable to cover during that period of time. But I think being accessible to the teachers and standing up for them, treating them professionally. Not taking the child's side, at least in front of the child. If you felt that the teacher was wrong, don't say that in front of the child, wait until you have the teacher alone, and say "Look, maybe we had better think about this and talk about it a little more, cause maybe this kid is right. Maybe you got up on the wrong side of the bed or somebody pulled out in front of you when you were driving to work this morning, made you a little angry. Let's think about it a little bit that way."
Q: What is it about your personality that allows you to be at your best, to be successful as a principal?
A: Well, I guess the one thing that I mentioned was being kind of laid back. I didn't ride real close herd on the people. I wasn't one of these people that followed the rule book word for word. I didn't break the rules too badly, I bent them sometimes. But you know, again it gets back to being flexible. Looking at the situation rather than that's the rule and that's what we have to go by. Looking at the situation, let's see what it deserves.
Q: What advice would you give a person who is considering an administrative position?
A: Well, if you're not flexible, either change your way or don't attempt it. That would be number one. Learn to understand people. Learn to understand your peer group, people with whom you are going to have to work. Understand the kids, be a good listener, you have to be a good listener. Be able to meet people easily. When I hired my office staff, I always made a big effort to get a person with a good personality and good appearance, because those are the people that are the first impression that someone gets when they come into the school, or when they're talking to them on the telephone. I always look for someone there with good personality.
Q: What techniques do you use to make the teachers --- ?
A: Well, some of my teachers said I didn't compliment teachers often enough. I have always tried to compliment them when I see something good. If I went into a classroom try to say, that looks neat, that's a good bulletin board or I'm glad to see you've got some plans on the board or showing some examples of the kids work, that's good because the kids like to see that. The parents like to see that too. Those kinds of things. Compliment them on their clothes, their looks. Another thing that was never a problem was helping the teachers with various problems, automobile problems, those kind of things. I've always been an automobile mechanic hobbyist, was often able to help theA: Several times I actually went to garages with some of my women teachers, because I had looked at some of these garages and what an advantage they take of a woman who comes in and they would run up one heck of bill, and there were several times when I went to a garage with the lady teacher, because I didn't want to see them ripped off. You get, I don't care whether you want to say these mechanics are macho or whatever they are, they look at a lady or look at a man if they can figure out that he doesn't know one end of the car from another, they are going to take advantage. I've done that several different times, and I've worked on some of their cars. Do those kinds of things. Make them feel that we're really interested in theA:
Q: Can you remember any leadership techniques that you found unsuccessful?
A: Well, I've seen some leadership techniques that I didn't think were successful. They were some that I never wanted to use, and some of them were extremes and I thought, you know, that person can't really be thinking about that. For example, requiring lesson plans from all the teachers every week. The most extreme of that I ever heard was one who, you know, you had to have the lesson plans in and they had to color coded. The reading was in one color, math was in another, language arts was in another, and those kinds of things. In the first place I had a lot of other things to do rather than read someone's lesson plans and thinking that they were, they knew what they were doing then they ought to be allowed to do it, rather than me trying to look at the lesson plans and saying this isn't right, that isn't right and whatever. I hired the person, then I should have enough confidence in them that they are going to be doing the job rather than looking over their shoulders that closely. I never went for that kind of thing. The principal who goes in the office and closes the door and is too busy doing paper work to talk to the teacher. That should never be. If there's that much paper work, then it should be done after school is out, kids are gone, teachers are gone, then you do those kinds of things. Complete those kinds of things, some of it has to be done during the day, but that should never take precedent over talking to a teacher or a kid.
Q: If you had it to do again, what would you do to prepare yourself for the principalship?
A: Well, I think the sequence of events that I had helped me a lot, that I went through. The fact that I was a classroom teacher, and then I was a teaching principal, it helped me more or less meld into the job. I think that was pretty good. I think an assistant principalship program now is the best way to go into an administrative job rather than having the school turned over to you, entire responsibility of the school, when you're fresh out of the classrooA: An assistant principalship program is the way to go.
Q: Speaking of that, how do you utilize your assistant principal?
A: Yes, I used my assistant principal, by using her strengths. She was a very good reading teacher and she could supervise that kind of thing. She was a good primary teacher and I had taught, as I said I had taught 3rd grade on up through 7th grade and so I utilized her strengths by having her as a primary supervisor and I was supervising the upper grades and her strengths in reading were carried out and utilized in the primary grades where, in my opinion the reading is certainly the most important. So with that strength and with her background in primary work basically, I utilized her that way.
Q: As a principal, what was your biggest concern?
A: Biggest concern. I guess, probably the primary program, having a good, strong, primary grade program and getting the foundation into those children, was my biggest aiA: I always felt that if that were accomplished then the children in the upper grades would get through a lot easier. When I was interviewing primary grade teachers, I was more selective that I was with upper grade teachers. I would say that was probably my primary objective. Primary concern.
Q: And what was your biggest headache?
A: Parents. I've always said if we could do like the Russian schools where you can take the child away from the parents and teach them it would be much easier on the teachers and principals.
Q: What was the toughest decision you had to make as a principal? Why was it difficult?
A: Toughest decision. Well, I guess the toughest decision I had to make was getting rid of some teachers. You know you're affecting a person's life and their way of earning a living and to have to say that you didn't feel they were satisfactory was pretty tough. And I'm something of a soft hearted person and I found that kind of hard to tell a person you're not hacking it. One of the things that I had ingrained in me years and years ago was make sure that you're documenting every thing and that you can substantiate what you're saying and when you suspect that a teacher is not going to be able to hack it or that something is falling apart you start getting your things together. You start documenting these things so that you have something to stand behind. Instead of just telling the people in personnel, "I don't think this person can hack it" well "I don't think they can hack it because of this and this, I've tried this and it doesn't work and I've tried this and it doesn't work, I gave this suggestion, but he or she didn't use it, and then I called in so and so and they gave this suggestion and they told this and it hasn't been done." That's the procedure that I think you have to follow, but its a tough thing to have to say that. Of course, I think what Fairfax County does, and maybe they're right and maybe they're wrong, I think some teachers get transferred many time and somebody should have the guts to say they've got to go instead of transferring them from one person to another. I can see my working with a teacher and not happening and they would be transferred one more time to another person with another personality and that kind of thing. Maybe that. But none of this being transferred three and four times. Somebody's got to stand up and say this person should not be working with children.
Q: I'm curious about that. How people that are close to retirement in the county relate to a new young, younger teacher. Maybe not tenured would be a much easier process. I really don't know with Fairfax county would they tend to transfer them or would they tend to you know, say I just don't think you're going to make it. I know now they have a new teacher training prograA:
A: That's much easier because you know, you have to have very little justification to let a non-tenured teacher go. But a tenured teacher who may have a number of a number evaluations that say that she or he was strong in this and strong in that and maybe the principal just didn't have the guts to say and gave a average evaluation even, nothing that was anywhere near saying this person needs improvement in this and we have tried this.
Q: Do you have any suggestions that you'd like to offer in universities that would better prepare candidates for principal?
A: Well, an intern prograA: I've looked at the intern program, VPI used to have one and I thought it was an excellent prograA: I worked with personnel several years in interviewing new teachers and Fairfax used to send a personnel person and a principal to a college or university to interview. Like we would go to VPI and interview people and we could hire them on the spot if we saw somebody that was really good. And I probably have been to six or eight colleges and universities interviewing. And VPI's internship program was the most impressive program and the people that came out of it. I never interviewed a person at VPI that I wouldn't have had teach in my school. And some of them, you know, we hired right on the spot, as let's what did the county call it, advanced hiring. They had a good prograA: But I think I think that's probably part of the answer, would be some kind of an internship prograA: Let's you get your feet wet slowly.
Q: Would you enter administration on a principal's level if you had it to do all over again?
A: Oh yes. I enjoyed my job very much. And I wouldn't be retiring now, except for the fact that my salary, my take home pay, the last year that I worked was only $600 more than my retirement pay would have been and the year that I retired I made $2000 more in my retirement pay than my take-home pay would have been. And I couldn't see working for nothing, or working for $2000 less.
A: No, I enjoyed my job, I loved my work. I enjoyed my work very much and I wouldn't have left if it hadn't been for the retirement system that we have. You see the number of years that I had, 34 years in Fairfax County, gave me a nice retirement. There weren't very many people who retired in Fairfax County that have over 30 years. When I reached that point that I, 51 years old, and stayed on.
Q: What changes would you make in the organizational setup of administrative responsibilities?
A: What changes?
Q: The organizational setup of administrative responsibilities.
A: I never felt that our organizational pattern was too far off, what worked very well. I liked the area administration type organization and autonomy that each individual principal has in their schools. For example, when I opened Sunrise Valley, I think this is one of the greatest things that Fairfax County does. They give the principal a school building and they give you all the money and they let you do the hiring. And the books that are purchased, the furniture that's purchased, the equipment that's purchased, all of those things are purchased by the principal. All the staff is hired by the principal. So that everything that goes in that building is the principal's responsibility. And of course, if it doesn't work out nobody to blame but that principal. I think it's really a good way of working it. And as I say I like the area of administration. I think it brought it down a little closer to the grassroots rather than having a ivory tower in Fairfax that everything had to run through. You had people down in the area who were a little more grassroots and interested in going on in that particular area because they are working around in all of these schools, going to PTA's listening to the
Q: What would you like to spend more time on, whatever responsibility?
A: Being in the classrooA:
Q: A lot of principals say they wish, I've heard of teachers say that they wish...
A: Having more time to be in the classroom, working with the kids, seeing what teachers were doing.
Q: What are you happiest to be leaving in retirement and what are sorriest with?
A: Sorriest to leave the other staff. I had a pretty neat group of people that I was working with and I liked that. There again, I don't miss the parents. That was the thing that I was happiest with, now I'm not saying every parent that I dealt with was, you know, a thorn in my side, I worked with a lot of very nice people, just real nice people, but I had a lot of people that were just a thorn in your side.
Q: I don't have this written down either. I was wondering if you had any feelings about women who wanted to enter the principalships?
A: I've seen some excellent women administrators. I've seen some excellent men administrators. I've seen some poor women administrators and I've seen some poor men administrators. I don't think sex has anything to with it. It's just the person. How they go into it. I'm not so sure that some of the younger women that I see now going into administration aren't as flexible as they should be. Every time something happens, they go and pull that blue book off the shelf and see if there is a rule for what's happening at that particular time. I think they need to be more flexible, I think need to use the autonomy that they have and run their school and remember how you wanted things when you were a classroom teacher. Now that you're a principal or assistant principal, remember how you things that they've done, I've thought my lord, that person has forgotten when they were a classroom teacher, and how they would like to have been treated. Or how they would have expected to have been treated, you know, with some of the things. Having staff meetings, day in and day out, having to have lesson plans, color coded, having to do a lot of the things that some of these people are expecting people to do. Again, getting away from --- learning how to deal with people.
Q: I was going to read your resume ---
A: I have four children. Three of them live the area here, my daughter lives in Charlestown, West Virginia. Three of my children are in business for themselves, they have their own businesses. My three sons have their own businesses. And my daughter works for a direct mail company in a very large firA: She is assistant manager of this direct mail company and doing very well. It's kind of interesting to see, because of I've always been a proponent of higher salaries for teachers, to see what my daughter, who didn't go to college, the salary that she gets working in private business, compared to what teacher's make. Her salary, plus her bonus is about what the master's degree teacher with 17 or 18 years of experience in Fairfax County makes.
Q: I've really enjoyed this interview. Just for my personal information. I like people. Everybody told me not to be a teacher. I did my own thing.
A: Well, thank goodness for that. Cause if everybody listened to these people that say don't go into it we'd really be in a bad way. We're going to be in a bad enough way. We're going to be in a bad way anyway.
Q: Those computers make some money. You know, my mom and dad did struggle, you know, really tough times, and I've been more fortunate than them already and I am going to take the summer off and kind --- I ended up in full time graduate school.
A: You'll enjoy that. If you get down to windmill point next year.
Q: I wanted to do that this year. What have I not asked you that I should have? Is there anything you can think of?
A: The biographical sketch, asks for college background and that sort of thing. To be a principal in Fairfax County you have to have at least a master's degree and I got my bachelor's from Lynchburg college as I mentioned earlier, and my master's from George Washington University. My master's is in elementary administration and supervision. I'm a native of the area and proud of that. I graduated from Fairfax High School.
Q: I might be in Herndon next year in an LD classrooA: I might be in the school where I graduated froA:
A: Like a full circle.
Q: Yeah, you can walk around and recognize the scars on the building. Things of that nature. I'm trying to think if there's anything else. Are there any additional comments you'd like to make on anything?
A: I think that we've covered it pretty well.
Q: I appreciate your letting me come over and do it. Do you take a lot of trips?
A: I haven't ridden that much lately. I used to ride it real often. But I haven't ridden it since last spring.
Q: You have a great life here, really great. So there's life in education after all.
A: I think it keeps you young, working with kids keeps you young. I really do, if you look at in a constructive way, look at what you can enjoy,
Q: Are you glad, do you have any regrets, feelings about being in elementary school compared to high school
Q: Do you find that you
A: Oh I enjoyed the younger children... I would have enjoyed being a coach and possibly having some winning teams and that kind of a thing.
Q: That's the part I went to special ed. I was really was scared that I would be unemployed. And now I may get involved with two of the sixth grade classes, get involved that way and I was excited about interviewing at Herndon and South Lakes and Chantilly. I could get really involved in the athletics. Be really a part of the community if you live in Reston.
A: If you're really interested in becoming involved, you know in the Supergram every time you turn around they're advertising for coaches. If you wanted to do that
Q: they use that have you ever been a coach before, what teams did you coach. It's like Jack of all Trades, master of none. You know, sometimes --- I want to tell them all about me, my work, my background, and what team do you coach? I've learned what I wanted to know. I thank you. It's been great.
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