Interview with Duane Plucknett


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Q: The first question, Duane, is - as a former school administrator, what has been your personal leadership philosophy?

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

A: Well, the -- I guess in going clear back to when I started - I've always been a person to want to work with, with the people that I'm working with. In other words, I don't want to be considered to be over them - if I'm in charge, then they understand that, but I still like to work very carefully with the people.

Q: What kind of techniques helped you in that leadership philosophy?

A: Well, I think the best thing is I tried to reward the people. I tried to commend them for a job well-done and give them -- let them know that I was in there with them, I appreciated what they were doing. And that's been very -- I don't -- it's kind of -- it would appear that I was one of them, which I am, and some people say that's not the right approach to working with people, but that's the way I always liked to work with people.

Q: Were there some techniques that were more successful or less successful in your experiences? Did you ever experiment with different things to use when working with people like that--

A: Yes--

Q: Any ideas?

A: Yes, there again, you have to, I think, work -- that's a good point -- working with the people -- some of them you can give them the reigns, so to speak, others, you have to kind of hold the reigns on what they're doing, and other people you have to more or less, just don't give them the reigns, because they need to be slowed up, and it's so interesting how many people want to be able to do what they want to do while others expect you to be there principal-wise, assistant principal, whatever it may be -- just tell them what to do. I always found that very (inaudible) .

Q: Okay. Did you try some leadership techniques that didn't work for you at all? Were there some things that were bombs?

A: Not, not (inaudible), not that I can think of. Probably in my case, I tried, and probably too hard, I always tried to be -- have -- to do the right thing. I guess that's always my upbringing and stuff, but I just can't remember anything that really -- from a leadership standpoint, that really bombed. (inaudible phrase).

Q: You probably worked in different sizes of schools, what would have been, in your opinion, the ideal size for an elementary?

A: If you can have all of the support, I would say around 500 -between five and six -- anything over 600 -- if you have many more students -which I have had -- it taxes the facility and the program because you have to break down and have half-time people in the building and they're not there all the time to see what's going on -- I think it really gets difficult. But I'd say around five or six hundred.

Q: The last school that you were principal at was --

A: Malley --

Q: Malley. And how large was that?

A: I think the most we had while I was there was about 390.

Q: Okay.

A: That was, again, the size -- we could only have half-time music, half-time P.E., person because of allocations -- personnel allocations. Some of the classes had to be large because you didn't have the flexibility to make your classes smaller because you didn't have the personnel.

Q: If you could use one or two work descriptors, how would you prioritize your activities for most effective leadership?

A: Well, I think, which I probably should have mentioned before, one of the biggest things that I work with people -- that I always felt good about and it became a buzz word and I had it 20 years ago was 'expectation.' Student expectation as well as teacher expectation -- that I expected and I wanted them to do the same as the student. That would be one - expectations. And so, probably understanding I guess would be another expectation. Understanding. Understanding meaning what they're doing, but also having some ideas as to what to do or how to help them become more effective as far as the teacher's concerned.

Q: Which methods or incentives did you usually use to motivate your classroom teachers?

A: Well, probably, I guess, and this goes back, one of them anyway, goes back to when I was -- I did a, had a class in the University of Nebraska, and one thing was brought up that I always remember that -- I can't remember the instructor's name, but I always remember he said, "Always remember, as an administrator, that all teachers are intelligent human beings, and don't --and use that as sort of a background part." I think probably in working close, letting them know I appreciate them, again, working with them, not talking down to them, but talking with them and just appreciating what they're doing and let them know that hey, you can do that, I know you can do that, so go ahead and do that. Now, sometimes, in doing that, you realize what may happen, and it has happened in various cases, where the teacher sort of took it literally and went ahead without really doing too much planning, and as a result ended up getting behind the eight-ball for a while. But I don't know, I just always wanted them to feel wanted and it's been very interesting in the buildings that I've been in where the teachers -- I guess the big experience was that -- is when I started at Westview I opened the building and it took me seven years, because of the structure of the building, to get a staff that would stay -- wanted to stay -- in that building because of what we wanted to do and I and they together, and I always worked together with them -- always included the teachers in decision-making, but when it came to the decision, though, I made the decision and they understood that. Or I listened to them, anytime they had something to say or comment about, I would listen to them. But I said, "I'll listen to you," as I told them, but I said, "I may not agree with you." And so when it comes to the decision, I would still, still make the decisions.

Q: So, you used mostly intrinsic motivators and not too many extrinsic motivators, I mean, you didn't give them extra teaching supplies or a new --

A: No --

Q: kind of chair or something --

A: No --

Q: like that?

A: No. I tried to, in all cases, treat them the same. But what I did do, at various times -- and its very interesting -- I offered to take their classes if they wanted to go observe someone that they really liked -- even in the building. That was the think that I never could understand -- never will -- we have these teachers within the building and this person's in second grade and this other person we'll say is in fifth grade and they wanted to see -- they've heard so much about that teacher within their own building, but they ever had an opportunity to go watch that person operate -- never saw them function in the classroom, and I offered to take their classes, "I'll come and take your class, or if you're here if you want to go over to another building or some place else, I would cover your class." Or, if I wasn't available right at the time, we'd see that your class was covered so that you could have that opportunity to visit someone else.

Q: What needs do you think teachers have? What do you think they desire most as teachers?

A: Probably, somewhat the freedom of operating as they see fit. Also the reassurance that they're doing the job -- a pat on the back every once in a while, I think is still -- I've always felt for my part, and I've had real good results with that. That's the way I work with people. That's a lot of it. They still like to do, well, they want to be independent, as I had mentioned earlier, but they also want to be dependent, all at the same time. So, I think that's -- I think they're looking for that and being able to support them, being able to back them when something comes up. Again, you may not agree with them -- if they got in trouble with a parent or something of this nature -- but, I always went the extra mile, myself, to support them, even though I really didn't believe -- I didn't degrade them, I didn't do anything in front of them. We may have a conference afterwards and try to get it straightened out, but never in a way that would degrade them as an individual.

Q: Did you see the needs of your teachers change over the years, from the time you started as an administrator to 1987.

A: Uh-huh, yes.

Q: And how did they change or what did they change from?

A: Well, I think, probably the biggest thing, was the -- in working with students when I first started -- from my part and from their part -- I think they were able to get more things done, because the laundry list wasn't quite as long. And as time went on, the students got more difficult to handle. I know one teacher -- I'll just relate this -- she said, "We'd have a beautiful education system if we didn't have any parents." So -- if they're all orphans. But then I've seen that and it's just more difficult to get along and also the expectation of the district for doing more. Doing more. Doing more. We've got to do more of this, we've go to do more of this, more, more. Pretty soon, you had a curriculum, even in an elementary, that was so wide that you didn't really know, and they got frustrated. "What am I supposed to do?" And I, I guess, took more of a -- a lot of the things we did District-wide -- I never believed was worth the time and effort and paper to do it. And a lot of times I would tell them, "Hey, don't worry about that. We'll all take care of -- we'll get it taken care of." And probably, and Susan can relate to this, is the objectives that we had to keep working with. When I went to Malley, those people were so frustrated, because they thought they had -- that that was their main concern. Now, to me, it was a concern, but not the main concern. And in two years there, I hope I sort of helped them get away from that a little bit and relax. Because they were just so uptight. I said, "Oh, those objectives will be there, don't worry about them. We'll take care of them." But they still couldn't --and another thing that a lot of principal's expect I never did -- this may be rambling a little bit, but I think it may relate because I never expected a teacher to complete a textbook unless they truly felt that they had accomplished everything to the end of the book that they were using -- and naturally they use -- a lot of them use a textbook as their guide, anyway. I never expected it, and I've gone to buildings where the principal, regardless, come what may, that math book has to be done, that English book has to be done, the reading book has to be done. I never have had that philosophy. So you may have to push them a little bit -- not to get it completed, but just to keep them going so they don't think, "Well, I can get by with the least amount of work."

Q: Are you familiar with McGregor's theories? Like, the X person and Y person. The X person is lazy and needs a lot of direction and maybe a kick in the pants now and then and the Y person is one that is innately good wants to do well and things like that. Are you familiar with --

A: Somewhat --

Q: that concept?

A: but not in that context, but yes.

Q: Okay. How would you describe your practice? Would you say that your treatment of people was like a theory X administrator or a theory Y administrator?

A: Well, really not totally either one. I would say kind of a combination of both, and then the big thing that I, again, I tried to do was read the people, regardless of who they were. But, I also, at the same time, have them feel, regardless if they're an X or a Y, that they are still part of the group -- the total group. They may be individualistic, and we have a lot of those, and I wouldn't be -- I wouldn't be either one, I guess, well politically, I guess I was in the middle. Whatever that means. But, I just didn't -- and some people are very adamant about being one way or the other. I was not.

Q: Did you feel that most of your teachers had a desire to improve in their skills and in their instruction?

A: Not all of them, no. I had several, luckily, a small percentage, as I referred to as on working retirement.

Q: Working retirement.

A: Yes.

Q: How would describe those people?

A: Well, those are the people who got on tenure, and as soon as they got on tenure, they did just enough to keep their head above water so that, again, they didn't get zapped, and that's -- and that's the way they always, that's the way they've always done it. And you've still got some of them -- still in the schools. Some of them I tried to get rid of, like counseling, or whatever -- being very discreet about it, but unfortunately that goes back -- I think that has a lotto do, at the time, when you couldn't get teachers. If you had a warm body walk up to your desk or to come in to your door, you hired them, because they were there physically, otherwise they weren't there. But, they get by and they've always gotten by. I known some, for 20 years or longer, 25, 26, 30 years, whatever it be. They're still getting by. That's unfortunate. No, that's what I --

Q: How about the other teachers, the ones that were there to improve? What kinds of things did you do, administratively, to help them improve in their skills.

A: Well , I would try to help them, myself, if I couldn't, then I would refer them to someone who was in training in the area if the district (inaudible) since '72 has (inaudible) as trainers and that type of thing. Or, if they wanted to take a workshop or go see someone, again, if we had the funds, I would give them a day, and paid for their day, and maybe they would probably supply, like a sick day or something, to supply a substitute for their class, but I would pay for the registration or whatever it may be to go take the other class. Or, I'd give them time off -- which I did several times. They had something special, a class they wanted to take, so they may want to leave half an hour early once a week or something like that, that was fine. We covered it. The only thing is with that is -- and I -- to me -this is still a problem we have with taking classes or whatever, and those people who wanted to do it, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they were taking it for improvement, but a lot of times it got down to the point they weren't taking it -- well, we'll say, give them a benefit -they were taking it for improvement, but that wasn't the biggest motivation. The biggest motivation was to get the next step on the salary schedule. You kind of -- but then again -- you couldn't single them out and say "I'm not going to send you. I'll send you, but I'm going to send you because of that." But, I think it was part of it.

Q: When you think of the teachers that you worked with, what were some of the most satisfying things for them and some of the more unsatisfying things for teachers that worked in your buildings?

A: From whose standpoint? From their standpoint?

Q: From their standpoint.

A: Well, I -- I guess from the negative side was the demands made upon them, and I thought at some times, a lot of the teachers, the majority of the teachers, felt that they were not appreciated, and that somebody else, like the "Great White Father" type thing had to tell them what to do always. And maybe the "Great White Father" didn't even know what was going on and nine times out of ten they didn't, but I think from a negative standpoint, I think that was a big concern for me. Uh, on the positive side, and again, relating to that, I think some of the people enjoyed having the opportunity to take more classes or whatever it may be to improve their instruction --hopefully that's what it would have been. I don't know. I -- that's a --satisfaction - why don't we say that again? What would be?

Q: Some of the most satisfying and unsatisfying factors for teachers.

A: Relating to -- I guess relating to --

Q: To their job.

A: Their job, their instruction, their -- Well, a lot of them, I guess, would be if, again, from my standpoint as a principal, or assistant superintendent, or somebody else would come out and say, "Well, gee, you're doing a neat job. You've got this done." It goes back again to that appreciation, to me.

Q: How would you describe your style of decision-making?

A: Now, which course was that? (laughter) Oh, golly. I can't even remember the terminology. It seemed like, ah, what was the word, participative, where you kind of worked together or something. I know there's so many different names -- I don't remember all the different -- I have always felt that participatory -- who work together. Again, I know that -- I -well, I found it, yes -- participatory -- I guess that includes a little bit of everything -- where they would -- something would come up that had to be decided on and sometimes you didn't have an opportunity, didn't have a chance, you had to do it. And, other times, things come up and we discussed them. I would get a committee or I would get a group of people. (Interruption) So,

Q: We were talking about decision-making--

A: Yeah--

Q: and how you went about making decisions.

A: And, I still found, and I know, again, I am making excuses, but in my case, I think I operated so much differently than most people, because I was not an authoritarian person, and I know people who were and were very effective and the people working with them just loved the way they -- and I think, mainly, a lot of those people liked the idea that somebody else was telling them -- directing them and telling them what to do -- that they accepted it, which is nice. But, we discussed, and then I ask them, "Well, how do you feel? Do you think that would work or not?" And, again, as I would tell them, "I just want your opinion on this, and I will go ahead and make the decision." But, when they still -- I got more out of people I think, by doing that than saying, "Well, we're going to do this, we're going to do that."

Q: Would that hold true for most every decision or did it vary on the gravity of the decision? You know, if it was like a big decision that was going to affect --

A: Well, I felt that if it was a decision that affected myself and the staff in the building or the secretaries or the teachers or just anybody, I felt they should have the opportunity to at least say, "Hey, that's fine, I can live with that, or no, I can't." But that was not the decision. I would go ahead and make the decision and tell them what we were doing -- what we were going to do.

Q: Did you have people vote on things?

A: At some times.

Q: What kinds --

A: Most time it was consensus.

Q: Okay.

A: It was consensus of that's okay, I understand. But, at the same time, you cannot do that in a lot of cases initially, because you haven't -if you have worked with people. Now, if you've got some staff that you've worked with previously, that have maybe transferred or come to your building, then you've kind of earned their trust. And that, I think, is still a big factor, which I hadn't mentioned before. You still -- if you have their trust, regardless of what kind of a decision you make, they may complain about the decision you make, but if you give them the opportunity to help -whatever that means -- to make the decision, then they have more of a 'buying'. And if they have a 'buy-in' to it, in most cases then they can live with it. But, if they don't have a 'buy-in' and you get iron-fisted and that type of thing, it may be a little difficult once in a while. But sometimes, you don't have time, either. If somebody calls and says you have to do this by so-and-so, you go ahead and say, "Hey, that's what we're going to do." But, at the same time, I would always think of ramifications, and I'm -- I probably overdid that, myself -- in my own mind. I always looked ahead. Something would come up and I can't relate exactly anything that comes to mind that would happen and I would, like I say, now, if we do this, this, and this, how does that affect us?

Q: Looking back on the decisions that were made by you and your faculty members, would you have made any changes in the process, or made any changes in how you went about making decisions?

A: No, I don't think so. I think it was, as far as I can recall, everything -- every decision that was made was not right, never 100 percent, but I have no qualms about it. I -- everything worked out.

Q: Was there every a big egg that you laid, as far as a decision? Can you think back and think, "That was a decision that should have never been made?"

A: Well, in a way -- with the Gifted and Talented program. I took an altogether different avenue in my own philosophy on that, and I don't really say it was a decision, but I decided to go -- even when they started talking about the Gifted and Talented -- I had my own ideas, and I never -- I couldn't quite understand and see the way they were going -- meaning they, the District. So I made the decision that we would do our own thing, and I was -not held accountable for it, but I had some conferences with a few people because of what we decided to do. There again though, I think in the long run, we all -- it ended up -- we came out okay anyway. But, at the time, and I guess another, another thing, when I was at Westview, which is very fortunate, you had a good quote, class of students and such, and I kept working with them, but -- and the administration kept telling me I had to do better. And there again, I drug my feet, because I thought we were doing a super job in what we were doing. I did -- I never knew that you could get 110 percent out of anyone. And that was sort of a feeling I had at the time, but other than that, I can't think of anything that really came crashing down on me at any time.

Q: How did you overcome problems with style or outcomes of your decision?

A: Hmmmm. I can't recall anything specific. One thing that I always did. I had no qualms about it -- if I made the quote wrong decision, I admitted it to the staff or whoever may be, that I made the wrong decision. And I always felt that helped. I wasn't -- even though I made a decision, I wasn't the only one affected by it, but if it came back to me I was still personally responsible, and if I was wrong, I was wrong -- I admitted it. The staff -- I wanted them to have that same feeling.

Q: In what areas were decisions difficult to make?

A: Well, one of the most difficult, is the evaluations, I think. That kind of sounds familiar. In several cases, and I didn't feel the person was doing their job, and so I went to work with -- went to -- decided that -- to talk with the people and they weren't doing it, and I gave them the opportunity to improve. In several cases I had to terminate some people, and I got the backing of -- I feel very fortunate that I got the backing of the administration, but I also had my paperwork done and conferencing and whatever else and all goes with it. It was one of the hardest decisions, as far as from my standpoint, to do. You just --this one fellow -- oh, my golly -- I mean, here's this one fellow, I terminated him, and I don't think he's worked since. You look at that, but there again, he was not doing a job with the students. He was not educating as far as I can see. Uh, well again, there were a lot of decisions -- maybe not big ones, but anything with outcome-based education and predictable learning mastery, and things like that. Again, I was -- I didn't feel comfortable with things that were coming at us -- the objectives and those kinds of things, so I made some decisions at that time to -- I wasn't, I guess, fighting the system, but I was -- I guess I was in a way. I felt like we came out the basics to me is still reading, writing, arithmetic, and a little TLC is still the thing for elementary students to have.

Q: In what areas would a participatory style of decision-making be the easiest to use?

A: I can -- I would have to say in selecting textbooks -- that doesn't -- it is very easy to participate, but then after they get the textbook, they'd say, "who selected it?" and, I'm sure you've experienced that too, but that was one of the biggest things. And, to me that was the lesser of the two evils. Because they make decisions, well that was still an important decision but making decisions about students' futures and their outcomes and maybe also a teacher.

Q: So, you would say curriculum was the easiest area to --

A: I felt.

Q: to spread those decisions around?

A: Yes.

Q: What authority do you feel came with the position of being principal?

A: Came with it?

Q: Yeah.

A: Well, I never really felt that a lot of authority came with it. I didn't look at it in that way, but you had to -- you were given the responsibility of the building and to work with everyone. That's the only thing I can think of. You think of something, pick a little bit, and then I can maybe --

Q: How did you feel that you gained authority or had authority?

A: Well, I suppose it was by the nature of the name, or the name, principal, and the principal being in charge of the building. That's where curriculum, staff. I guess I never really looked at it. I never -- in my mind, I never used it as authority or thought of it as who would have had the authority to do this type of thing.

Q: What traits in your personality contributed to your successes as a principal?

A: Well, I hope, humanistic and working with people, I guess -- I'm still -- that's a thing I will always relate to, just working with the people. I was there with them and I was just one of them in essence. I just liked to work with them. I think in some of these things I that kind of guy. Another thing that I did was, whether I liked the person or not, that was immaterial, and you know how some of those people are once in a while when you would like to slam the door in their face and that type of thing once in a while. I didn't let that bother me. I know some people were concerned that a lot of complaints, always complaining and complaining and complaining, and I guess I got by with it, I'll have to say. I would joke with them about it or make believe -- they'd jab me and I'd jab them about something, and I did that. I know this one person, this one lady, and everybody said, "Oh, you're going to have a terrible time with her," and I never even had any problem with her. There was another fellow over at Cherry Drive and Susan, I'm sure, has heard of this gentlemen. I had no problem, really, with him. He had his complaints. He'd come in and he'd expound on them and that's fine. But, I'd turn right around and I'd pick on him. I didn't go back and pick at him, because he had maybe jabbed me a few times, and said, "well, this is wrong and that's wrong," and all that kind of stuff. I'd kind of laugh at him and say, "Hey, isn't that interesting? How come this happens and it didn't happen and how come it didn't happen to you, type of thing?" And I got along with him, but I just feel that just working with the people, and I know it's difficult for some people to understand, really, what I'm talking about. I just feel you have to work with them and help them, and that's another thing I did, and I did it honestly, I wasn't trying to impress anyone or anything. And, I worked with everybody. If the custodian needed some help -- if he needed some help setting up the lunchroom or moving the snow, or anything, I would go help. And, 99 percent of the principals don't do that. They say, "That's not my job." And, if the kitchen needed some help -- they ran out of -- they ran short a serving -- and again, it's a small thing in a way, but I wanted -- I said, I did it honestly. I wasn't trying to impress anyone. I just -- I've always done that. I guess that goes back to when I was in cottages. You had to be the custodian and everything yourself, because you didn't have all these people who could help you, so you had to go clean up the bathroom, or whatever it may be, and that's just one of those things. I always did that. I've done it with the secretary. If the secretaries got in a bind, why, I no secretary -- can't type -- but if they had some filing to do or some other work that had to be done or whatever pressed for time -- I'd go help them do it. That's always -- I did that as I say -- expectation --still, when I first started, and I'll relate when I went from Westview to Leroy, that expectation. We talked about it - that first year. Well, let me relate something else. The -- before Westview was built as a building, we had second -- first and second grade over at the West Cottages, which are the buildings right east of there, there's still two of them there. And, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth, were over at Hillcrest. We were on split session all year, with third, fourth, firth, and sixth grades. So, all during that year, we were talking about participative, we met at least once a week and discussed, worked on the plans for the new building, plus our immediate situation. So, when it came time then, to go to the new building, everybody was prepared. And I did the same with parents. I brought parents in to the new building before it was built. (Interruption)

Q: We were talking about power and influence and things like -

A: Okay. So, I went to Leroy Drive and we talked expectations. I'll relate the story, not on tape, about how I got over there. So we talked it -orientation at the beginning of the year. I expected -- everybody always had an idea that everything went this way, when all was just comfortable, they wouldn't worry about it -- when everybody was happy. Well, expect more out of those kids. So, one day, this third grade teacher came running down the hall -- she wasn't running very fast, but -- she came running down the hall and she said, "they did it, they did it," and I don't remember what it was, but she said -- I said, "what did they do?" She said, "Well, we had this work that they were working on and I gave them this amount," and she said, "I didn't expect them to even come close - they all did it." And she was excited about it and I said, "Well, that's what we've been talking about. We've just been talking about it for the last few weeks." And I remember that one vividly. It was just such an exciting thing and that person too. It was exciting for that person. Because, before, I don't think they can do this and this, instead, give them -- expect this.

Q: Do you feel that your power and influence increased, decreased, or remained about the same during your career?

A: Well, I would say it increased. The main reason I say that is because I wasn't in one building. And, each building I went to, I had a different type of situation to work with. In other words, expectations, or feelings, actions, their feelings, and I hope I increased. I do feel, even the last building I had -- I was only there two years -- but I feel I had a quite a positive influence on the staff in the building and the parents and everybody.

Q: Did your district have a formal dismissal procedure?

A: Yes.

Q: Could you describe it as best you recall.

A: Well, I guess, I wouldn't refer to it as -- well, it was a dis- -- it -- more like -- I would refer to it more as an evaluation of that type of situation. A dismissal was a consequence of it. Yes. This had been worked on for several, several years. It seemed like to me, with non-tenured teachers -- non-tenured teachers -- I think it was nine times we had to be, in one year in their classroom. Around nine times. Now, this had to be an announced or unannounced. And if it was announced, you could go observe the room, which I always wanted to be announced. I never took in a -- you had to go -- you went in and observed the room and you had to keep track, write up, whatever -- at one time, and that changed several times -- you had to have a form -- there was a form you had to fill out or just to write things down. You had to go back and write up a quote evaluation form, I guess is what it ended up being -- a sheet of paper you had to fill out whether they were prepared or all these type of things, but you had to -- for non-tenured, you had to do it nine times. Then, you had to have a conference with them. It wasn't just doing it and putting it in a -- back away. Within seven days, you had to have a conference with that person and relate the good points and the bad points, if there were any type of bad points. And then, at the end of each year, you had to have a final report on each person. That was for nontenured. Well, okay, non-tenured, first-year. Then the second year, you -if everything was satisfactory there, then maybe six or seven and there were some other options in, I don't recall. I remember the number, but I don't remember what the options were. Then, the third year, less yet if everything was satisfactory. But, each year you had to turn in an evaluation of each person at the end of the year as to their performance each year. Non-tenure, excuse me, tenured people, then, you had -- okay -- three times a year or so, but, you're assuming, again, that's the right term, that they're effective, efficient people -- which sometimes they weren't. You had to turn, it was like three evaluations -- do the same thing -- observe the room, write it up, and have a conference and then at the end of the year have the -- write up the evaluation. Now, at any time, in the process, tenure or non-tenure, if you felt they were doing unsatisfactory work, there was a form -- getting back to paperwork -- there was a form you had to fill out, send to personnel, give them and also send to personnel a copy, the person involved a copy, and you keep a copy for your file. And they you would work up objectives to meet what was needed and, by the way, the one -- the fellow I talked, mentioned to you about -- we did that twice. And neither time did he ever meet them, the objectives. He just couldn't meet the objectives. Then if the person, you had to notify them early, and if they still were unsatisfactory, they had another year then -- or 45 days -- or another quarter. But you had to -- you gave them another opportunity to make their improvement, and if they didn't then your recommendation was to write them off, then that's recommended dismissal -- go through the personnel and it had to go through the board for their final approval. That's quick, but it is a little more in depth than that, but that's kind of an overview of what we did have, yes. And this way, again, I don't know what other districts did, but I think, at the time, it was sort of unique, that there was anything femalized in writing, in a book, that the teacher had, the principal had, we all had the procedure at that time.

Q: During your administrative experience, what number of non-tenured teachers did you non-renew?

A: Non-tenured. I would say -- I can't remember exactly -- but, I'd say about six.

Q: And then, the number of tenured teachers that you non-renewed?

A: Four, as I can recall right now.

Q: What were the major causes for non-renewals of tenured teachers?

A: Just ineffective. To me, ineffective is, you have to be able to control. That was one thing that one individual -- didn't have any control. Kids could walk out of the room and this individual would not even -- was not aware that the students were even leaving. Well, I had two like that, but one was a non-tenured teacher. The kids would just -- they were oblivious, just like -- they didn't know what was going on. And the subject matter -- they were not covering the subject, the curriculum was not being covered whatsoever. They were attempting to cover it, but they just couldn't get things across. And then, you would always have -- which happens -- the teachers next year then, would say, "What in the world -- what in the world did that teacher teach last year? These kids don't know anything." That's not all, but in this case, it was very definitely a problem. The person was just ineffective, in other words, just wasn't competent at all, and as I say, this one individual, we just gave objectives twice, to complete. We gave him the opportunity, and even had it, their own opportunity -- they could put an objective in, too. It wasn't just coming from us. They could say, "Yes, I'd like to have this put in there." We had no problem with that. That was their own objective, to improve themselves. And some others were -- well that, and ineffective -- control -- people's judgments weren't too good. I remember one was a music teacher who, a lot of times, got too friendly with the boys. She was a lady and she got too friendly with the boys. And, again, not effective, I don't think. Again, it was documented. You had to have everything documented from observations and such. That was mainly the basis for dismissal.

Q: So you talked about incompetence more than breach of contract, gross negligence, or morality, or things like that? Mostly incompetence.

A: Yes.

Q: Other than dismissal, what other discipline methods did you employ with teachers that were having problems?

A: Well, I guess, what it still had to relate to is when you evaluated them or had a conference with them, just say that, "You're not doing the job, and I expect these type of things," and to me that kind of a disciplinary type of thing and they expect you improve. Disciplinary-wise -- I don't recall any -- I can't recall anything I did differently than I would do to anybody else. I didn't -- you do that and you get in trouble -- you single them out for that -- other than just what you can -- you better be able to prove whatever you are talking to them about or asking them to improve on, you better make sure that you're doing it and they are doing it.

Q: Do you wish that you would have been able to other kinds of disciplinary things other than non-renew them? Do you wish that you could maybe suspend them or something like that?

A: Definitely.

Q: What other things would you throw in there?

A: Well, for one, and this is a whole staff. It wasn't a whole staff, but, when I left one building, I said, "Well, as far as I'm concerned, what you should do with this staff is push them all out the back door and don't let them get back to the front door to re-apply for that building." Yes. I wish there was some way to -- might put a little more leverage on them or something. Again, it would go back to my early -- working retirement. You would work with some of these people -- that's what happened with several. There again, if we would just raise that level, just a hair, so it was above the line, if there is a line, that says go. And probably when you left, they probably went right back into their old pattern, but yes, I would say something -- a person could do that, yes. I don't know what a person would do or how a person would it, but I guess there is, okay -- which it worked part of the time -- it was positive discipline, and I did that with a couple of teachers. When you work with them and work with them. You've heard of positive discipline? And you go so far and you come to a point and say, "Hey," -- it's not too effective -- it's more effective with certified -- or classified than with certified. But, I gave, I think, teachers a kind of a day off, a couple of them, to decide whether they wanted to continue or whether they thought they better go off to seek a new profession. But it doesn't have the full impact for certified as it does for a classified person.

Q: In that, was there like a suspension type of thing? Suspension with pay or without pay or something?

A: Uh-huh, with pay. It was just a day or so to go decide what you're going to do, how you're going -- decide whether you want to continue and if you continue, we expect you to do this, and if you don't want to continue, then you better decide what you want to do. Do pick your own avenue, then.

Q: Did you counsel people into and out of teaching?

A: Yes.

Q: What kinds of people did you council into teaching?

A: Well, the people that I felt had the -- again, from my judgment -- knew the curriculum, knew how to work with students and with peers and had a good positive, up-beat attitude about education. And on the other side, naturally, it's more difficult, because some people, student teachers, that we had, we've had many students teachers, and thankfully, only about two or three of those we were -- and one of those saw it herself and just quit student teaching, but they just didn't have -- well, the organization or the enthusiasm, I guess if you can measure that, I don't know how you can, or the understanding, they just didn't get along with people. They -- another thing that always frustrated me, and I'm sure you have them too, you see them, are the teachers who don't like kids. To them it's a job. They don't like kids, but it's a pretty good job and they're able to keep their head above water, so they keep going, because they get paid for it. It's just quote a job.

Q: Did you counsel people into administration?

A: Not counsel. No, I couldn't say I counselled anyone. I had many people that came and oh, I guess you could say it's counselling, but they came and asked about it, whether they thought this would be an opportunity, or that type of thing. I guess you could call it counselling. I don't really call it totally counselling. Yes, several came. Some I told to forget about it.

Q: What kind of qualities did you think that they should have in order to be administrators?

A: Well, I think first, again some of the same things, first being able to work with people and understanding people. You can work with them, but you have to be able to understand what they -- kind of, sometimes what they think, and whether they had the leadership -- be a leader of people -- they had a good idea of the curriculum -- again curriculum, if they understood it -- not to be proficient in it, you can't be everything, but if they just had good idea what is going on in school. Again, working with parents -- I think I mentioned parents -- you've got to be able to work with parents.

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