Q: Mr. Marrone, before we get started I would like to thank you for taking this time to allow me to interview you, and I would like to start with asking you how many years you were in education.
A: Well, I have a total of 35 years in education which includes teaching and administrative responsibilities.
Q: How many years were you a teacher?
A: I was a teacher -- let's see, now, it is five and five - ten years. No, five years in actual classroom teaching, and then I became a school administrator.
Q: What did you teach?
A: Well, actually, I started teaching a seventh and eighth grade self-contained situation, and soon after I only did that for let's see, I only did that for three years, and then I advised the administration that I wanted to get into school administration and I wanted a more varied elementary teaching experience so then I taught a fifth grade, and then I taught also upon special request a second grade so I would have a better idea of the teaching of reading and grouping for instruction.
Q: To try to expand your experience?
A: My background, yes.
Q: And then how long were you a principal?
A: Well, let's see, I was a director of elementary education for five years after my classroom teaching, and then I became an elementary principal.
Q: Why did you decide to become a principal?
A: Well, it was not a matter of a principal. It was a matter of a school administrator. When I started teaching, while I loved teaching, I realized that I needed more of a personal challenge other than being in one classroom with one group of children, and I felt that school administration gave me a varied would probably give me a more varied experience in terms of working with children of all levels and working with parents and the employees of the school, and that is the main reason that I wanted that more varied challenge.
Q: Can you tell me what events led you to a principal's position; for instance, the transition? Did you go directly from being a teacher to a principal?
A: No, no.
Q: If you could talk about that?
A: Yes. Actually, in my fifth year of teaching I was a teaching assistant building principal in a K to 6 situation, and I was given very specific responsibilities that were rather, you know, cut and dried in terms of being in charge of the lunch program, in terms of special programs for parents, giving them a better idea of the educational program, and working with teachers on special projects, and also working district wide on committees for involving parents, so those little extras to some degree prepared me for a full-time administrative position.
Q: Do you remember how old you were when you first became a principal, roughly?
A: Yes, yes. As a matter of fact, let's see, I was 32 years old.
Q: Can you give us a general idea as to what your philosophy of education is, the one thing that carried you throughout, or did it change? If you could start with what it is.
A: Well, in terms of teaching or administration?
Q: Let's start with administration.
A: Well, with administration my philosophy in terms of my experience as a teacher was to be an administrator that would involve any person that was involved in a decision situation should have a share or an input in that decision, realizing that the administrator at the end was the one who has to make the final decision, but whether it is parents or even children or of course mostly with staff, whether it be cafeteria, whether it be the custodians, and most of your decision-making is involved with the professional staff, teachers. They would have inputs. "This is a problem. How do we solve it? What are your suggestions?" But you are the one in the end who has to make the final decision. As long as they understand that, I think that that sets a state of fairness and involvement, and you get the best of everyone's thinking, and then you make the final decision.
Q: And what about your philosophy of teaching?
A: Well, my philosophy of teaching is that every child should be given the opportunity to develop to his highest level of ability, and every opportunity should be made for each child regardless of background but according to ability to develop, and those children at the top end should be well above grade level, and those children who are very much at the bottom of our scale of performance should be given individualized instruction to perform at their highest ability.
Q: So then you are saying that to meet the needs of children at all levels?
A: Oh, absolutely. Yes. You have to we don't want our top grade students to be wasted, and we don't want those children at the bottom end of our performance level to be neglected.
Q: And where do you feel that parents fit in with regard to your philosophy?
A: Well, I think it has become more and more obvious more recently that the parental inputs are critical, and in my opinion where parents have become more involved, their children or those children have performed better, and unfortunately the children at the higher level tend to have parents who are more involved so one goes with the other.
Q: What procedures should be used before a person is selected to become a principal, based on your experience?
A: Well, the selection process is interesting that you bring that up because I just retired, and there was a process set up for my replacement, and I was very happy to hear that the teachers from various aspects of my building were asked to be involved in the interviewing, the screening of the credentials, and sharing this information with the remainder of the faculty, and that was all input to the superintendent of schools who, of course, makes the final decision with the board of education in terms of the replacement so that the faculty in my building definitely felt they had a contribution to make in terms of deciding who that person was. Even though they did not make the decision, they related their preference in terms of the various candidates.
Q: Right; they had input?
A: Yes, exactly, and I understand they are very happy with the replacement which is encouraging.
Q: Oh, that's good. What aspect of your professional training best prepared you for a principalship?
A: Well, it is interesting because I went to NYU and Columbia who represent schools, you know, at the higher level, and I must say that theoretically there was not that much in terms of preparation, and I am sure this is not true now because they realize that administrators are very important in any school, but it is interesting because at Columbia I met with principals, potential principals from England, from India let me see about some of the other a number of foreign countries and then candidates who were full-time doctoral candidates from other parts of the United States so the various experiences they brought to our class I felt were very helpful to me as a potential candidate.
Q: Okay. Anything in terms of aside from your academic preparation, anything with regard to your past teaching or past experience in the schools?
A: Yes. I think I was very fortunate in that when I wanted to become an administrator, most of the administrators that were selected were the popular high school athletic director or the basketball coach who had the most winning team, became an administrator in an elementary school, who had no understanding of what teaching was all about with the younger children, and that was one of the reasons why I requested teaching at different grade levels so that I would have something that was a little more unique, and not only that I could sit down with teachers at a primary level and understand their problems in terms of teaching of reading and selection of materials and grouping of children, and to me that was the most important input to make me a better school administrator.
Q: Okay. What does it take to be an effective principal, generally?
A: I think it has to be a principal who has an understanding of what goes on in terms of child growth characteristics at each grade level and has a respect for each and has to be not selective of any one primary - the primary teachers or the intermediate grade teachers. They all feel that what they do is important, and it is, and you have to recognize what they are doing and give them their day in court in terms of their needs and their requests and their materials and the kinds of discipline or learning problems that each level, primary and intermediate, has.
Q: Did you as a principal in your school make it a point to be visible? Did you think that was important?
A: I felt being visible was most important. I made a habit of walking through the halls, walking through the cafeteria, walking out on the playground at lunch time. Any event, whatever it might be, however unimportant or important, I would make an appearance. If a group was flying kites out on the play field, I made a point of being out there, and I developed an interest in photography, and I would even get requests, and say, "Mr. Marrone, please come down with your camera. We are going to have reports made," or it could be a report on familial back grounds. It could be something physical the kids were doing in the gym, and I would take pictures of this, and I would be there and comment to the children and congratulate them if this was something I could do in terms of projects they had, and then I would display these pictures for the parents to see, the kids to see, and it indirectly became a very big PR situation for me.
Q: More specifically, what is it about your personality that allowed you to be successful as a principal, personality traits?
A: Well, in terms of personality, you have to have a good sense of humor to keep your sanity, for one thing, and also to make some situations that an individual teacher or school employee would be very uptight about in terms of how things were bothering him or her, and you had to have the patience I think it was patience and sense of humor to listen to them and to say "I understand what you are saying, and I'll see what I can do," and then come back with some kind of suggestion for that particular teacher or to help out with that problem, with a group of teachers that might be involved with that.
Q: If you had to do it over again, what do you think you would do to better prepare yourself for the principalship, professionally, personally?
A: Well, I think there probably should be more of an intern ship program. Now, I know NYU and Columbia did have an internship program, but that tended to be utilized in order to set yourself up for a job. I didn't have to do that because in the home district I was in they offered me an administrative position, but I think any school administrator before he becomes full time should have to work alongside of a veteran school administrator in a similar position that he or she is looking for and monitor that job but also have some specific duties to accomplish and be evaluated by that so-called master administrator. I think we do not do enough of that. Now, maybe some of the schools are.
Q: Enough hands on?
A: Yes. That is about the size of it, yes.
Q: Basically, what consumed the majority of your time as a principal?
A: The majority of my time was spent speaking or communicating with teachers about their problems, meeting with children with particular problems, having conferences with parents who maybe were displeased or concerned about their child's performance or where a teacher would say, "I feel it is necessary to get these parents in," or to deal with those children at both ends of the spectrum, those children who had high capabilities who were not performing or those children who were major discipline or emotional problems, and I always made myself available to teachers. I always told them to not let a situation become a disaster before you ask me to intervene because maybe as a third person I could ameliorate the problem.
Q: About what percentage of time was spent on discipline in your school?
A: Well, I was very fortunate in my particular school because it was a rather high socioeconomic community, and very fortunately they, or we had children in our schools who came from homes and secure situations with both parents, and there were really not that many the number of discipline problems were not substantial, but when we did have one, it could be very severe, and so I did not and we had a school psychologist available several days a week, and I had a full-time reading teacher, full-time nurse, and full-time LD teachers, and we would have case conferences, and we would give the teachers a goodly amount of support in terms of developing a learning program for that child and learning how to deal with the discipline problems or emotional problems and how to prepare an educational program tailored to that child.
Q: Okay. What was your school's philosophy?
A: Well, when you say school's, do you mean my particular school or the school district?
Q: I guess, given that you were in a fairly small district, let's talk about the district's philosophy.
A: All right. It was basically the same, but there were even though we had three elementary schools there were differences between each school. However, I would say our school was a very child-centered school. We had a rather affluent situation in that we had more than adequate funds to buy supplies. We had low class size in terms of teacher-pupil ratio, and we were very fortunate in that we had the basics to provide a very good educational program for most children.
Q: Okay. Were you, in looking back, do you feel you were a manager of a building or an instructional leader?
A: Well, I think you can't draw the line and say it is one or the other. I really feel that you are both, and it is boring to be the manager. Developing a budget for your school of course, you included your teachers and met with your teachers at each grade level, but in terms of buildings and grounds needs, you had to be somewhat of an architect. You had to be somewhat of a tradesman. You had to come up with estimates for plantings or paving, and I found that part to be very dry and really out of my realm, and I did the best I could in that respect, but that was the management aspect, but I think the leadership aspects were the most important in terms of dealing with people, and that was the thing that really took most of your time and was the biggest drain on you as an individual.
Q: Right. Okay, and what is your personal leadership philosophy in general in terms of the things that you feel would promote effective leadership?
A: Well, I think a school principal is basically a person who deals only with other human beings, and how fortunate it is in that you are not dealing with a product that is may I say canned in that it is already prescribed like the headlight of a car or a steering wheel of a car, and it is programmed. The thing that made being a school principal most challenging and enjoyable and also frustrating was that you were dealing with human beings all day long so I always felt that I was fortunate to deal with life at its highest level in terms of trying to communicate, trying to work with people, with their problems, and you worked with different facets in terms of working, as I said before, with school employees who were civil service, custodial, cafeteria, bus drivers, your teaching staff who all had different levels of responsibility, and your school community, your parents, needed a lot of time, and then, of course, you were working with your pupils. You had to identify and be available so they knew who their school administrator or symbol was.
Q: This question may overlap some of the ones we discussed. What leadership techniques did you use while creating a climate for learning?
A: Well, it was, I think, to develop a creative in other words, a climate of learning, you had to give the teachers the leeway and yet the ammunition, so called, in terms of materials and whatever, to develop an educational program that would meet your philosophy of meeting the needs of each of these children.
Q: So you gave your teachers the latitude, the professional latitude, to exercise their teaching abilities whether they be a little different?
A: Yes. Some teachers were very strict. Some were very liberal in terms of their approach. Some are very informal; some are very formal; and you had to respect that in terms of their philosophy yet you had to be sure that the finished product or the outputs would meet or in terms of being in alignment with your philosophy and that of the district. You could not get a radical teacher in there in any one aspect and survive.
Q: Right. As a principal what was your biggest concern?
A: Well, my biggest concern always was to be a person who was approachable in terms of the community, in terms of the teaching staff, and again I say the civil service employees. The needs of each group were very different.
Q: Meeting the needs of all ---
A: Meeting the needs of each and your approach to each group was different. I was very informal with one group, and I had to be very formal with others, and there was a time that you would, you know, let yourself out in terms of being very available, and I think being available to them and letting them feel that any particular problem that they had was important. If it was a problem to them, it had to be important. If you saw that it was something that was frivolous, you in a nice way tried to set it up for solving.
Q: Okay. What was the toughest decision you had to make as a principal?
A: The toughest decisions in my situation was letting a teacher go or expelling a child. Either one was something you felt you had to do for the benefit of the majority of people, but unfortunately it was something that was difficult, a message that was very difficult to deliver and to see occur, and to live with this decision when the person would still be in the building which happened many times.
Q: Right. My next question was going to be why was it difficult, but you kind of answered, but basically the human element again is coming in. That's the hard part of dealing with the human
A: Exactly; exactly.
Q: Okay. We talked earlier about leadership. If you could use one or two word descriptions, how would you prioritize your activities for most effective leadership? For instance, what would be the first thing on the top of your list for effective leadership?
A: Well, I think being fair, giving each group or person equal time, and being a darned good listener, and coming up with reasonable decisions that would include their thinking. Many times I made decisions that were not agree able to the person, but I always felt, or almost always felt, that the person left thinking that this was the best resolve of the problem even though it may not have pleased them.
Q: Right, okay. What are the characteristics associated with effective schools in general, in your opinion; not necessarily just from your point of view as the principal of a school?
A: Well, I think the schools that are most effective are, of course, the schools that produce students who do as well as they are capable of, and I think it is a school where the teachers and administration are in harmony and they communicate. I think communication is the most important thing in terms of setting up the learning situation. The whole program cannot be decided by any one person or any one small group, whether it be the parents who sometimes feel that they should dominate the philosophy or the learning situation, or the teachers do sometimes. Some times the custodians feel for their convenience we should be teaching in a different way, and this cannot be allowed, and I think it is very important that no one group dominate. The school administrator, for either better or worse, ends up deciding what avenue or in what direction the educational program will go.
Q: Right, okay. Did you ever fire a teacher?
A: Yes. Actually, I fired eight teachers in my tenure as a school principal.
Q: Can you discuss the issues for some, maybe, commonality?
A: Yes. Well, in each case they were very different, but the bottom line was that it was a teacher who was not performing well or communicating well with his or her pupils and/or the parents and other staff members. You know, we found that teachers new to the school would need a support system. I would ask my reading teacher, school psychologist, the LD teacher, and another teacher experienced at that same grade level to render assistance to this particular person, and for the most part within a year or two dramatic results would come about. In some cases this would not be true, and I felt that if I saw a teacher who seemed to not control her class and a teacher who was having difficulties with other staff members, and if parent inputs and even pupil reactions to a teacher would be significant in that you could see something was wrong, and after a number of conferences and prescribing specific goals for that particular teacher, if he or she was not able to meet those, we tried to have that teacher be terminated well before the three-year tenure period.
Q: I see. This brings up another question with regard to teachers. What kind of teacher evaluation did you use? Was it a district-wide standardized evaluation, and if you could tell me what you thought of it; if you felt it was effective.
A: Yes. Well, I don't know if there is any one particular teacher evaluation system that is that effective or 100 percent. However, it was interesting in that my early years within the 24 years as a principal the evaluation system was strictly a written paragraph situation about your reaction to that teacher. That developed over the years into an evaluation form that required conferences, that required three, at least three classroom observations per year with a written report and three conferences, and then determining goals for the next year, no more than three to five goals for that particular teacher to work on with you for the oncoming year so it went from the very informal to the rather formal, and I felt that while it was demanding on the part of the administrator to do all of this as well as the teacher, it really did force you to be more formalized in terms of knowing what is going on or not going on in that classroom so I really felt that it brought about more responsibility and improvement in the classroom situation.
Q: Okay. How did you handle teacher grievances, if there were any?
A: Well, we, in our district we had a union so if a teacher wanted to formalize a grievance, he or she would go through the union, and the union delegate in your building would speak to you about this, and then you would have a three-way conference. However, I found that most and I always encouraged teachers to please come to me in an informal way to tell me what potentially was the problem, and then if we could not resolve it then they could go to their union and we could go formal. This only came to this stage in my building in one case, and before it got district-wide in terms of an appeal, the problem was resolved.
Q: Okay. If you had to do it all over again, what would you do to better prepare yourself for a principalship?
A: Well, again I think it goes back to one of the earlier questions you asked me in terms of I think in terms of my response by saying that I tried to teach at different grade levels in the elementary school in order to prepare me to be a better school administrator because my experience was that most school, elementary school principals tended to be secondary oriented individuals so I think that to become a school principal you should teach at various levels or have different responsibilities in the elementary school, as many I think a person who has only taught one grade level and goes into administration, or just one type of teaching, is rather narrow unless he or she does some other field work to compensate for that.
Q: Do you think that a principalship up at the high school level is greatly different from a principalship in the elementary level?
Q: Just curious to know.
A: Yes, I do. I think it is very different. I think each one in its own is just as involved and demanding as the other one. It is a different philosophy. The high school student does not want the parent involved, and the elementary school parents are heavily involved. At the high school level teachers are more reluctant, maybe, to go to their building principal about a problem. They tend to solve the problem on their own. They may see over a hundred children in a day whereas the elementary teacher is with the same 25 children all day long, and I can go on and on. The situation being different brings different demands. I don't think anyone is more heavily burdened than the other except I think for the high school principal there are more community responsibilities and time for evening meetings, athletic teams, and games, and so I can see where the time element might be different.
Q: Did you ever have an interest in being a high school principal?
A: No, I never did. I trained myself as an elementary teacher and as an elementary principal and never had any desire to be at the secondary level. I found it to be very rewarding working with the younger age child.
Q: What advice would you give a person who was considering an administrative position?
A: Well, again, as I said, I think it has to be a person who is willing to give a lot of time and effort to develop a very varied background of experience of what an elementary school is all about. Otherwise, they will get in there and be totally snowed under and not be able to handle any of the problems that come up.
Q: Okay. Did you feel that central office policies prevented you from accomplishing goals you felt could have otherwise been attained?
A: There were times when that would be true, yes. Sometimes the central office administration would have to make decisions, district-wide decisions that would affect each school that maybe were not as applicable to my particular school or one of the other schools. While I respected the fact that they needed to make some of these decisions, it was difficult to implement some of these activities, and there were times when I felt that the central office administration arbitrarily made decisions without involving me as I tried to involve my staff, and I found that I was maybe less supportive of those decisions and found it difficult to carry out those responsibilities.
Q: What changes would you make, if you could, in the organizational set-up of administrative responsibility, if any?
A: Well, I think that when I was a school administrator early on, I felt that I had more say and more responsibility in deciding the philosophy and decision making of that building than I did in my later years. I think the shift of responsibilities from the building level became more centralized on a district-wide level, and while there was some positive aspects of that, over all it made the building principal less directly involved in the decision making process, and conversely the faculty felt left out and more anonymous, and this was something that worked against us over the years as we became larger and developed a larger central office staff.
Q: Do you think that is what caused that shift from local school site to central?
A: Well, I think well, yes and no. I think it was also as a system grows, there is more of a need for a unity of approach in each building, and policies and procedures become more formalized. I think also boards of education ended up with more legal problems as unions developed strength and wanted certain demands to be consistent in each building, it forced the central office in each building to maybe do things to conform along with all the policies of the other schools. It was a developmental kind of a demand.
Q: Right. All research points to the fact that excellent schools have administrators who are actively involved in leadership for educational expectations. What are some of the effective techniques that you used to raise expectations academically?
A: Well, I always had a we called it the child study team in my building that would meet once a week to discuss the educational program of the building, to discuss general building problems and individual pupil problems, and those teachers who would be involved were called into these meetings, and support personnel, of course, included as I said before the classroom teachers, one at a primary level, one at an intermediate level, the school nurse, the LD teacher, the child psychologist, and the reading teacher of that particular building, and of course myself.
Q: Okay. Well, let me ask you this. Did you have a model you patterned yourself after? Was there someone that you knew, or a basic management model or style?
A: Not really. I would say it is something that evolved. I am sure it is true in each school; the administrative style in each building was different. We had three elementary schools. They were actually very different, and it was because of the method that the building principal utilized to communicate with his staff and community and how he -- the degree he or she involved each of the different groups that he or she had to work with.
Q: If we could just get back to the central office issue, what are the characteristics of the superintendent which you found most effective for allowing you the most leeway in operating your own school?
A: Well, that is an interesting question because I worked for five different superintendents, and obviously each one was quite different. I had my very first superintendent was very laid back, rather informal, and left the building to you to run it as you wished, and would not bother you until such time that a problem would surface, and he would have to come in and be involved; and, of course, he always hoped that would be the least amount of time possible. Of course, over 20 years ago the demands made on the schools were far less than they are now so that leadership style was all right for then, and then each succeeding superintendent found that the board of education or community had high expectations in terms of college preparation, in terms of discipline, drugs, unionization, teachers' rights I could go on and on and on being more cognizant of individual learning abilities, that certain children needed special programs, and we as educators had to involve all the people involved in these needs, whether it be a learning disabilities class or a gifted class or a corrective class for a particular discipline problem or emotional problems, and I had administrators who would be down your back hovering over you, monitoring each of your decisions to the point of ridiculousness, and the very last superintendent I worked for I felt was more of a humanist and a person I could easily and in a relaxed manner share my problems with him as I tried to do in my building, and it was actually the last the best two years of working with a superintendent that I ever had, mostly because the lines of communication were open. I felt more relaxed, and I felt you would not be in a punitive position if you ended up in a collision course with a teacher or a parent.
Q: Right. If you could change any five areas of education in this country, what would they be, and why?
A: Well, I don't know if I can give you five, but the first thing that stands out as being more recognized is the support for education. When I say support, I mean financial and the human support of parents and community. Our teachers for the most part wish to do a good job. They are not well compensated compared to other opportunities that are available to people with the same preparation. I feel that the expectations of our students have to be raised. I think that the threat of the Japanese industry and scientists and things that they are doing make it apparent that we need to have higher expectations of our pupils, and I think the selection of teachers and support system given to them has to be commensurate with the kind of product we expect.
Q: What about teacher pay?
A: Well, I meant yes, I don't know if I said that specifically, but absolutely. As I said, I don't feel that the teachers are compensated as much as they should be. Definitely the pay has to be higher.
Q: What about do you think they are well prepared to come into the classroom?
A: Well, some are and some aren't. It might be the institution they graduated from. It might be the particular individual. It is never clearly one or the other, and I think it is part of anything else. I have had very bad attorneys and bad doctors to deal with.
A: And this is going to be true in education, and you as an administrator have to be selective and very cognizant of the fact that this person needs to be evaluated.
Q: What in your experiences did you find most beneficial in helping you maintain a sane attitude toward being a principal?
A: Well, again, as I say, as a school administrator you are dealing with human beings all day long and trying to meet their demands and to give each person's problem its priority according to that person. It is a very demanding thing, and it can be a very wearing thing on the particular individual principal, but it is something he or she just has to live with and be prepared to get through each day meeting these particular needs.
Q: Okay. If you could discuss with us the five most pleasant principalship activities, what you enjoyed doing the most?
A: Well, part of the enjoyable part, of course, again now is dealing with human beings on a level of respect, and it had its good moments and its low moments, but for the most part I felt that each day went by very quickly, that I was unable to do all of the things I wanted to do in the period of the particular day, and that for the most part there were successes, and you would follow through on a teacher or a parent's need or a child's need, but over all the it is something you develop in your staff and your relationships, and to develop camaraderie and a respect for each other that we in our particular school were not a huge school, and we always felt that we were like family. We were very close. We had disagreements, but we had a mutual respect and the same basic drive to provide the best program possible.
Q: Could you discuss some of the unpleasant principalship activities?
A: Well, that is kind of a I might have to duplicate my answer again. The most unpleasant part is, maybe, expelling a child, dismissing a custodian, or dismissing, of course, a teacher, or even having conferences with parents whereby they would be displeased with the teacher or the teacher would come to me and be very displeased with a particular child, and I would have to meet with the parents. These were negative, usually, experiences that took a long time to develop a solution to, and I found those the most demanding.
Q: Okay. What are you happiest to be leaving at retirement?
A: Well, and one of your questions would be the answer to that. You asked me about management and about leadership. I felt that the management aspects of the school were dull and not rewarding. I used to call them the Mickey Mouse aspects of running a school. You had to do it, but they seem ridiculous because you felt you were a leader and you were a unique person. You had to be creative. You were working with human beings and resolving problems and setting up each day to be a better one than the one before, but I would say the management and, of course, those times when you had to have those negative conferences, whether it would be dismissing a child or a school employee.
Q: So you found that the management aspect of it impeded your leadership
Q: The instructional leadership side of your job?
A: Yes. I felt it was unfair to me as a building principal whose primary responsibility was to be a leader, to provide the best instructional program possible, and yet know the square footage cost of pavement or to have an idea of renovating rooms and painting, which rooms should be painted, which floors should be replaced, the electrical demands of the breakdown of the electrical system, whether you had asbestos in the ceiling; these were the kinds of things that I found, or I felt were annoying and ones that I preferred not to deal with and felt less capable of dealing with.
Q: Right. Then getting back to what we talked about earlier, would maybe one of the changes in the administrative makeup be maybe to have another person or another position in there like an assistant principalship so they could take care of that and you could do the side of the job you liked?
A: Well, yes. Well, the epitome would be to be in a building where you had another administrator or assistant or assistants according to the size of the school, who would deal with specific aspects. I would feel very comfortable in a situation where I dealt with the staff and leader ship and instructional program aspects and community and had someone who handled all of those management problems that I told you about.
A: But, of course, communities are not prepared to spend funds for that kind of thing, and what they ended up with is the kind of thing they got.
Q: Right. What are you sorriest to leave? I know this is getting a little redundant, but if you could be specific to things that you were sorry to leave behind in retiring?
A: Well, it makes a 360, a real complete circle in that the thing I miss the most is my contacts with the many staff members that I became close with, that I would spend an amount of time, that we had unique experiences with. There were times when we would be nose to nose in a confrontation. There would be times when we would be very informal, and we would look back and jest and laugh at the things that happened and occurred, whether it be with a parent or another child or another employee, but these were the challenges or times that you shared with other human beings that were very fulfilling for the most part, and when you leave that post, you really are almost unable to be in another post or position of responsibility where you will have this interaction constantly, all day long, between human beings with different needs and responsibilities.
Q: Okay. We are going to be closing soon. If I could just ask some specifics about your school so I can get an idea?
Q: How many children were in your school?
A: Well, when I first started we had 575. We ended up with 350. As I mentioned to you, we cut down the ratio of teacher to pupil to help raise the level of the, or the quality of the classroom situation.
Q: And how many teachers did you have?
A: Well, I had 27 in all, classroom and support personnel.
Q: And could you describe your community generally?
A: Well, as I said, it is a higher socioeconomic community, one that had very high demands. They made it very clear that their children would be college bound. They were mostly professionals or successful business people, and they wanted the best possible educational program that a public school could give to their child.
Q: Okay, and do you have any idea I am sure you are still interested in what goes on in education as to where education is headed. Do you think it is going to change in the near future?
A: Well, I don't know. It is interesting you say that. I read articles, and I read the papers or magazines in terms of trends in education. Frankly, I don't see any significant changes occurring at this time other than the fact that maybe more and more Americans are realizing from the back door, because of the threat that the foreign countries are making on our economy, and that we have to become more independent and produce a student who can once again make us a country with higher esteem and higher productivity.
Q: And I am going to close this interview by asking you, is there anything that I have forgotten to ask you or that you would like to share with us before we close the interview?
A: Well, not really. That is probably the most difficult question because it is so general because I really feel that many of the questions you asked were very comprehensive and covered every almost, just about every aspect of an elementary school, and I only hope that I have answered it as well as I can. I only hope that maybe in the future more school administrators will be doing the kind of thing that you are doing and being more hands on before getting into the position of responsibility which can be awesome, while very productive and very rewarding and also very disappointing, one that is very unique in its own way.
Q: Do you feel you made an impact on education?
A: Well, I really do, and one aspect you didn't ask, maybe, in relation to your next to the last question, was that I think as I tried to do, I became involved in a county wide and statewide school administrator's association which helped me to keep current and aware of problems in other schools and other communities, and I always pursued graduate work. I also took many in-service courses that our teachers took so that I would be aware of the kinds of demands that were being made upon them, whether it be computers or learning disabilities, and we had a district and we cooperatively with other district had courses available, and I always tried to keep some participation there so I was aware of the kinds of things that they were going to face.
Q: Right, so you were in touch with what they were doing?
Q: Is there anything else you would want to discuss?
A: Not really, other than the fact that I think schools have to take more responsibility to include the community. If they want the support of the community, they have to support the community, whether it be a two-lane highway or, as I said before, an additional red light. You should not feel that this is not the province of a school. The school and community have to be together and sharing their problems as well as our problems with them.
Q: Meaning the school is the community, in a sense?
A: That is right. Correct. I think in the suburban communi ties we lose sight of that to some degree.
Q: Well, I want to thank you for giving us your insights and telling us some of the stories that you experienced as a principal. I appreciate it very much.
A: Well, you are very welcome. It has been a very enjoyable experience for me as well to recount the many things that I have been doing for many years and have not been involved with now, and maybe can even be more objective.
Q: Right. Thank you very much.
A: You are welcome.
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