CONFERENCE ROOM at Bath County High School.
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Q: Mr. Putnam would you begin by telling us about your family background, your childhood interests and development.
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: I am one of six siblings, one of four boys of which two are deceased as boys, still four siblings left, one's whereabouts is hard to tell. This is immaterial to this probably. I was born in Boutetout County in 1938. As well as I can remember I don't think I started school until I was about seven. But it didn't make any difference, I stayed three years in first grade. Secondary education I graduated from Clifton Forge High School in 1957. My family consists of a wife and two daughters. My wife is a social worker at Alleghany Regional Hospital and my daughter graduated from Mary Washington College and University of Virginia in speech pathology. She is a mother, she has never worked. I have another daughter who has graduated from Radford in nursing and is a nurse at the Veteran's Hospital in Salem. Two son-in-laws, one is a CPA in the food service industry in Roanoke and through the southeast. The other son-in-law is an insurance executive for an insurance company. Both of them. One of them graduated from our fine school VPI and the other one graduated from the University of Ricmond. Basically that's it. I have a sister. This may be important to you, my father went to about the seventh grade I think and my mother about the same. Three of the six finished high school. I have a sister who is by profession a graduate x-ray technician. That's basically the family's education.
Q: It sounds like, from your parents' perspective anyway, at least three of the six you said graduated from high school. Of those, three in the family has gone on to pursue education. Talk with us a little about your college education and the preparation that you had for the field of teaching.
A: Well after graduation from high school I worked for the state highway department surveying for two years. And always had an ambition of wanting to coach so that is how I got in the field of education. And after working with the highway department I felt like you know professionally I wasn't going to grow there so I entered college I believe it was in 1960. I finished in three years and two summers or something like that and I just had an inkling to be a coach so that is really how I got into education and I went to a little school in West Virginia by the name of Concord College, a very good teacher preparation school at the time, I don't know what it is like now. At the time it was a very good preparation. And my first job was in 1963 at Clifton Forge High School and I think at that time I quit working for the state making $2800.00 dollars a year and I believe I have still got my contract, I believe my first contract was like $3,100.00 and they told me if I coached track and helped with football they would give me $300.00, so the first contract was about $3,300.00. 1963 sounds like a longtime away but it is not. And then the way I got into to be a principal was my reputation as being a coach and a teacher was hard nosed disciplinarian I guess you would say and at that time in Clifton Forge I was kind of zeroed in as being maybe the person to go to an elementary school and maybe take things by the horn and so I was asked if I would like to have the job. I didn't pursue it on my own and I thought I would like to try it so I was the principal by invitation and acceptance, so I didn't seek it out. I would probably have rather started as a principal, probably rather started as a secondary but as it so worked out I started as elementary principal.. My experience college preparatory training was really seven through twelve I believe that was what secondary at that time. So I had some, you know when you're in college they say they're going to prepare you to be a principal you know they want you to take dance and music and art and all those things you know that helps you to prepare to be a principal. Some of those type things. That is really how I got into the principal aspect of my professional career.
Q: Well I'm sure the preparation probably doesn't differ a whole lot then than it does today.
A: Well you probably still take music and art in elementary. You don't know?
A: No. Well anyway you know it was a good class though, the art, the music class.
Q: Did that help you?
A: Yeah. As a matter of fact I found out some things about classical music I really didn't realize. You know. I don't know if you know Hector Berliose or not, he is the father of modern day I want to say jazz or music but anyway he was a queer too and that's what they said. We would go in the class and put records on and it would look like a washin' tub and it would take you three hours and of course we would sit there and sleep and play tic tac toe. I found out a few things. Well that is the word on Hector now, you can research it if you want to. Berliose.
Q: Sounds like an interesting character. Let me ask you this Mr. Putnam, in what ways do you believe you were chosen for your first administrative job? I know you said that you were hard nosed and you had a reputation as a coach and teacher of discipline but what effect do you think that had on your assignment as an administrator?
A: Well I think at the time there was a lot of teachers in that school which probably needed some guidance. You know maybe their work habits weren't real good and maybe I think administration wanted some changes. And when you walk into a place and you kind of evaluate it you know and six months, nine months later you make a recommendation to the school board, I think we need to take Teacher Y and send her over to Teacher X, this teacher needs to go or this teacher needs six more hours or more preparation for her to prepare for the class and a lot of teachers were misplaced, some of the teachers in some of the classes. We had a fifth grade teacher that ought have been a second grade teacher. They wanted some of those kind of changes.
Q: And staff as well a the students. And
A: I think maybe that they felt like maybe I would go in and make those changes and not be fearful of what may happen.
Q: Okay. Let me ask this, describe your personal philosophy of education.
A: Well that is always what everybody wants to know. My personal philosophy of education is very simple. You have a right to go to school. Every kid has a right, every student has a right to go to school and every kid that goes to school has a right to behave. Nothing shorter. And you can put it anyway you want to put it. You can put in chapters, volumes or books, it boils down to the fact that everybody has an opportunity to do it and when you get in those doors and you have an opportunity to behave yourself and do what is asked of you, plain and simple.
Q: Let me ask this question. What personal experiences have you had that might have played a part in the development of that philosophy?
A: Well I think when I went to school your parents sent you over to the schoolhouse to learn and you went over there and they were in charge and you had a right to go over there and I think that reflects back to my school experiences. You know when you misbehaved in school things was going to happen. You didn't get sent down to the principal's office and you had tea or pat you on the back, be a good boy, don't come back down here anymore or the next time, it was told to you right up front this is the consequences. So I think probably it's the same thing in your home now if you misbehaved at home or at Sunday School these were the consequences and I think all that plays a part in anyone's philosophy and I felt like it was the same way with me when I got to be principal and teacher you come in the class and I'm goin' to be as equal to you as you will be as equal to me and those other twenty-five around you otherwise you got to go.
Q: Okay. You mentioned a second ago that you thought possibly your first assignment may have been based on your leadership ability not just with student but also with staff. Let me ask this, what kinds of things do teachers expect of principals?
A: Well they like respect. I think in order to be a good principal I think the teachers have to respect who they are answering to. Now, I don't think teachers like to when they have a problem I think they like to be able to go down to the principal's office and get some results. A lot of times you go down to the principal's office he is hiding behind the secretary or he's down in the deep and the problems happen you have got some principals that will run. Teachers don't like that. They want to see you in that school every day. They want you to be in the school every day and they want to see you and they want to talk to you not the secretary. And you know when a major problem happens in that classroom that that teacher can't handle then she is looking to you and you for guidance and they want something to happen. Now, when things don't happen I think that is when teachers lose site, well you know I have explained our problem to him and he has given us guidelines to go by and this hasn't worked, we send him back down a second time and then the student comes back a third time nothing's happened. Those are the things I think teachers look for. They want you in the building. They don't want you up in the central office or drinking coffee over at the bank. They want you in that building where they can see you.
Q: They want you to be there and they want answers. What personal characteristics do you believe a person has to have to fulfill those two missions but also to be an effective principal?
A: Well personal characteristics you have got to be able to communicate with those people. That is important is the communication and I guess you have to be able to listen. You have got to listen. You've got to be a good listener and you've got to be able to evaluate the situations that arise from that teacher or whomever the problem and you've got be a doer. You know as much as I hated Hitler he made decisions, but some of them were bad but he could make a decision and see a lot of principals can't make decisions today. They got to call up the school board office to see what Susie feels about it and they got to call up the school board office and be worried about what the school board is going to say. To hell with the school board, you're running the show, call the shots, whatever happens after that don't worry about it. Make a decision.
Q: Okay. Let me ask this question. A great deal of attention has been given to the topic of personal leadership in recent years. What was your approach to leadership and what were some of your techniques that you used that help you be successful?
A: Well personal techniques that's, that is probably like playing golf or something like that, you have to have the little things that help your game you know and I thought my personal techniques it is not a technique but my personal feelings about starting the day off right was I went to school with a tie on and that's not a technique but it is the technique and I went to school every day clean shaved and I was always on time. These are techniques I think and 99% of the time I wore a jacket except when it got hot and I expected everybody else to come down there with a tie on too and there is a place for blue jeans and shorts. That in itself brought golf forward, I think teachers and that in itself certainly rubbed off and gained respect from the students. Now we go down to the school house and men come down with shirts open you know and you've got chains around your neck and wind dials and tattoos all over you know. I am talking about teachers, I'm not talking about students. And you know hair hadn't been combed, hadn't shaved those things I thought and that's little things. I had a lady tell me one time what difference does it make how I look as long as I can teach the kids. I said it does not make any difference but I am going to tell you one thing they're going to remember you and how you looked just as much as they remember you as what you taught them in some respect. I said when you open that front door and someone goes in and in front of you and you say good morning, open the door for them, good afternoon or hello. Those techniques you can be the dumbest person in the world but you can hide a lot of things through some personal touches. But you know every individual has his own little ways to get around that. Here I see it, see it up here at summer school. I don't know whether you wore a tie today because I was coming. I'm not that important, or you wear a tie when you work in the summertime which means a lot to me it does but I don't know dress codes. Those are some things, techniques that I think would help a person.
Q: Providing a personal model for those that work for you. Let me move a little bit about and ask you about your relationship with people that you have to work with in the principalship in order to be effective. My first question is there are those who would argue that more often than not certain central office policies hinder rather than help building level administrators in carrying out their responsibilities. Would you give your view on that statement?
A: Well you certainly can't be buddies, you're going to have to separate that. That is a level of management that has got to be separated, not just principals but any other kind of teachers. If you are a manager then you have got to be able to make those hard decisions. Ms. Jones you're late again today and if you are late tomorrow then we might have to have a plan of action or something. You've got to central office are probably going to tell you that is the way that maybe they would like for it to be but then there has got to be a personal relationship between you and the individual you are dealing with. There may be a way to handle it and a way not to handle it and that becomes the individual which would be the principal or the assistant principal in dealing with teachers and students and parents for that matter, you have got to separate that principalship from that good ole buddy status because the minute you become a good ole buddy you can't help it there are people here on this staff and people on my staff I liked better than I did others and there's people who probably worked for me who said yeah he had pets too probably I don't know whether in terms of pets but there people whom I probably said look I am going to give you a break because you stepped forward and done things for this school that others didn't do but that is noticed by peers. Your peers are going to notice that Mr. Carpenter is playing favorites, he let Ms. Jones leave today at a quarter to three, she is going on a cruise, I got to stay till 3:30 but what they don't know is that Ms. Jones may have been down here to ten basketball games giving hard time and that personal trait right there you have got to separate it. You have got to be able to say Ms. Jones I'll let you go at a quarter to three but you have been late ten days and I don't want it anymore.
Q: Let me ask this. If you were the king what changes would you make in a typical system wide organization so that administrative responsibilities could be improved?
A: If I were king?
Q: If you were king?
A: Or the superintendent?
Q: If you were king. If you were making the decisions.
A: Well that would probably have to start at the top because that comes down you have got to let the principals run the schools, be the administrators and that would probably be the first thing. We have a tendency to get lost in the fact that principals have, especially secondary schools, it is not so much in elementary school, principal at an elementary school is a piece of cake, principal at a secondary school or junior highs, which junior highs is a dead thing I guess now. If you were king and you wanted to make some changes you need to tell that school board listen he is the principal of that school and we need to give him or her all the support that we can give them. He is making the decisions down here and as long as he is operating within confines of board policy support him and it is that simple.
Q: Okay. This next question in this topic will be interesting. What would you describe your relationship with the superintendent in terms of his general demeanor toward you and your school?
A: My superintendent well you know he is the chief executive officer and you got to respect him and he is carrying out the board policy. I always felt like the superintendent should leave room for disagreement from administrators up. I think everybody has an opportunity to express themselves to the superintendent. Look I think this is wrong and we need to change it this way and I will show you why and I believe that most superintendents would listen but you're making big hard decisions like we are going to suspend Johnny for ten days and you have a superintendent that thinks, views the suspension policy as he don't like it and the principal has hard evidence that the ten days is warranted then I think that the superintendent should support that principal with the ten days suspension. He may say look I don't agree with the ten days but I think that principal and those teachers decide that this disruption has caused a ten day suspension or expulsion from school by the board. Your recommendation I think is the superintendent should support you. That is not always the case I can tell you from past experience.
Q: Would you discuss your general relationship pro or con with the Board of Education and comment on the effectiveness of school board operations in general.
A: Well I probably had a good relationship with the school board. Most of them knew who I was and where I was coming from with my past reputation so that was established and I don't think I had any bad relationship with the school board. There may have been a school board member on there who didn't like me for whatever reason and some could have been from past dealing with their students or former students or friends of students and you know sometimes you wonder where school board's agendas are, are they on the board for the betterment of the school and policies or are they on there for a personal reason to you know my son or daughter didn't get a fair shake ten years ago and I want to run for school board to change that. I had a good relationship with the school board. I didn't always understand their decisions but they didn't understand mine either.
Q: I don't want to deviate too far from the script but it seems appropriate that this question be asked. What is your view on elected school boards?
A: I think elected school boards is well I guess we elect officials for every other office that deals with representation and so forth but on the other hand I think appointed school boards they have got just as good a representation from appointed persons but the buddy system falls into play in appointed school board. That is not the case on elected school board because when you elect a school board it is just like wrestling you know you're out there by yourself just you and the other guy and when you are elected you are running against the other guy too or her or whatever it may be to get elected to that position. Now whatever your agenda may be is one thing. Appointed school boards there is a whole lot of good ole buddy system that has been involved in that. Usually everybody that runs for school board, I would say seven out of ten, there has been a personal reason for running and it may not always be for the reason to be elected or to be appointed may not all be a good reason that is the best for the school system and that has been some of my experiences.
Q: If you were advising a person who was interested in getting into educational administration what advice would you give him or her?
A: Hmmm, advice. Be prepared before you go in to it. So many people say yeah I want to be a principal or an assistant principal and they really don't know what is involved. It is like being married, you are married twenty four hours a day to that position as principal, you are on call every weekend, you are on call at night, you are on call when you are on vacation if you can be reached. My advice to a person who wants to go into administration needs to realize what all is involved in it because a lot of people get into administration you know and they say well this is not what I thought it was, its different and you have got to have some leadership ability, you have to have these skills and you are going to have Ms. Jones or Mr. Smith down the hall who is going to be second guessing you every time you make a decision but that is the way it goes.
Q: You've got to be a little tough skinned.
A: You know even though you're making the decision, it may be the wrong decision, but hell make that decision, don't be wishy washy it maybe the wrong decision and then back up two weeks and I say hell I made the wrong decision, admit it, but don't say I don't know, I'll give you an answer tomorrow or something, can you bring the secretary back in here and you talk to her and see what she would think about it or you call the custodian and get his advice. When you get in it, you have got to step up and say it is this.
Q: Would you describe for us what you consider to be the ideal requirements for principal certification and discuss what appropriate procedures for screening those who wish to become a principal might be?
A: Well I don't know any ideal requirements but I do know this. I know that people who want to become a principal they enroll in a graduate school to get a master's degree in education or administration. This is the biggest joke you are ever going to hear. You are going to get a master's degree, you're going to get 33 hours, if you write a thesis you can get away with 30 hours I think, things may have changed. In some of those classes you are going to take a class in budget, a three hour class in budget, you'll take a three hour class in curriculum and you'll take a three hour class in school community relations and the state requires you to have a three hour class in I don't know what the requirements are now. Those are about six classes you need to be qualified to say that you are a principal and that is what the state says and that is what your graduate programs at our fine school VPI says, you take these six classes and you are eligible to be a principal. Now you are eligible to be a principal now can you be a principal is another thing. Personally I think there needs to be a whole lot more preparation in the graduate school program. There should be a thing for principalship. There is a difference between being a principal at an elementary school and there is a whole lot of difference being a principal at a high school and you can go out here tomorrow and take three more classes and you can be eligible to be a guidance counselor or you can got out here tomorrow and take four more classes and they will say that you are eligible to be a superintendent. Now you are eligible is one thing, having what it takes to be the principal is another thing and these are the different things that I think we fall down on in preparation for principalship. Not enough time is spent with all aspects of it and you go over and take a class in school finance and school finance in a master's program, unless I'm wrong, only speaks to preparing a budget with the school board. Right in this high school I am sitting in right now your internal accounts probably equal.
Q: We are interviewing Mr. Roy Putnam this morning. The question that we are currently discussing is educational administration and the role of the principalship and Mr. Putnam is telling us about finance right now. We are talking about his experience as a principal. Mr. Putnam please continue.
A: Well the point I am making here is that there were some classes that I took that prepared me, in a way, but there was not enough of those classes and not enough of those experiences that really helped me that much and I was speaking on finance. Your masters degree program if you will remember back had a class on finance which you were speaking of the school budget that a superintendent prepares for the school board and for the public. Right in your school right here that we are sitting in I bet you have accounts of $100,000.00 when you get all the clubs, all the sports, all the textbooks, all the whatever comes in here. And that principalship that you took or thought you was taking did not prepare you to handle those internal accounts I'll guarantee you. And you can tell me if I'm wrong, it did not prepare you to handle those internal accounts. Now there is a lot of businesses right here in your community that would like to do or like to have accounts that were $100,000.00 a year. So you become a business manager. Not only are you a business manager you have got to deal with human relations too and there is not enough and that's the key thing and there is not enough preparation in the principal training program that gives you that. What I would like to see or what I think would be more appropriate is you identify you want to be a secondary principal and you serve time like an apprentice. If you are going to be a pipe fitter down here at this paper mill you don't think they are going to hire you because you have had six classes and make you a pipe fitter. They are going to make you get down in the trenches. You have got to get right in the trenches.
Q: Let me ask a question on the other side of that coin. There are some good ideas about what graduate programs ought to entail to make you successful. Let me ask this question. What would you describe one aspect of your professional training which did prepare you for that principalship?
A: Probably more than anything is the, uh, like graduate classes?
Q: Any training that you experienced.
A: Probably my experience with the sports. The discipline derived from sports. I don't know whether there is a study that has been done, I am sure there are some studies at VPI that has been done on just about prior to 1955, say 1960, I would venture to say that every secondary school principal, I would say 75% of the school principals, 75% of the superintendents in the state of Virginia had been or were former coaches of some respect and I would say that they will tell you also that sports, I'm not advocating sports over dance today, I remember I told you about old Berliose. I'm just saying those things right there and that is what people of school boards look for, they look for somebody tough, run the school, get the teachers to school on time. That has changed. That is not the case anymore. And I'm not saying that there are some people who has never played a sport in their life that would not make a good principal, there are some fine ones, there are some fine ones, but I would say that sports, coaching and that discipline is hard nosed. I come from a hard nosed family and things were tough. Whatever run through the backyard we put in a pot and cooked back when I was a kid so all those things play a part in it.
Q: You have mentioned dancing and the experience in the athletic arena as tools utilized to prepare you. If you had to do it over again is there anything else you would have done to better prepare you to be a principal when you became principal of Clifton Forge High School?
A: Well probably. I can't think of anything that I would have done that would have made any difference in the way I dealt with the situation. I probably would have liked to have an opportunity to work for someone else who had been a principal in the past. A lot of mine was trial and error, you learned by doing and I would say that 25 principals that graduate from VPI this year that is going into the principalship is going to learn by doing. They have not prepared you to meet all the things that you need to meet and they can't help it either but I do think that there needs to be a better way of preparing you, more like an apprentice type thing. Now that's costly. School boards don't want to pay to have two people on their staff serving as apprentice principal. The state may need to come in one of these days and say hey look 30,000 teachers we are going to pay the salary of one administrator to be an apprentice elementary principal or something like this. Any money, like getting you a driver license, you can see and get the car down the road, get your driver's license, answer all twenty questions That don't mean you are a good driver.
Q: You have answered my next question but for the record the question would have been what suggestion would you offer to universities in a way of helping them to better prepare candidates for administrative positions and internship you certainly mentioned. Comment, however, on the weaknesses in the traditional university training for administrators.
A: Well I just mentioned some of that. A lot of those people preaching that gospel to you over there and preached it to me in the schools I have been in and I have been in the University of Virginia classes too so I have been in four major institutions, some out of state and some in state and some of those guys are preaching the gospel, they are reading it out of a book, XYZ theory, they are reading all that stuff and they are telling you this is the way you do it. That is not the way you do it, they have never experienced it. You got people in central office, you've got people in administrative positions that has never set in the chair of an administrator and I don't know if it is your professor. Your doctor, whatever, Compton,
A: has he ever been an administrator?
Q: I don't know.
A: You ought to ask him. Ask him if he has been a public school administrator, I'm talking about down in the trenches. You know those guys, what you preached twenty-five years ago is not going to fly today. You know that.
Q: Okay. Let's talk for a second about other aspects of the principalship. It has been said that there is a home school gap and that more parental involvement with schools needs to be developed. Please give your view on this issue and describe how you interacted with parents and with citizens who were important in the well being of your school.
A: Well that is probably the whole problem of society today not just with schools but the home to school gap is great because it takes two people to make a living today. Both mother and father are working. We have an emergence of single parents, mother and child, father and child and it goes back to the fact that two people are trying to make a living. Mother is at work. Daddy is at work. The child has a problem at school who do you call? And that is a tough thing and in most homes, not most but a lot of homes, the children are basically governing themselves. They catch the bus at 7:30, they get off the bus at 3:00 when the are ten or twelve years old, mother and daddy are still at work, go over to a neighbor's house. You lose the structure of parents being there and then when you need the parents to come down to school it is always under worst of circumstances. When things are going good at school, kids are making fairly good grades, it is hard to get them down there. But when you call mom or dad to come down because Johnny has been smoking down in the toilet and you are going to send him out of there for 2-3 days things are bad and parents they have got to get back involved in what goes on in school. And not just behavior but also curriculum and extracurricular activities and all those things. It's a breakdown.
Q: Just describe if you would please what you would evaluate as the amount of parental support you had in Clifton Forge.
A: Well Clifton Forge High School was a high school of 350 kids in 1979, half the kids I had taught in school parents I had in school myself in elementary school, so I knew everybody, I knew every kid, I knew where grandma lived and where granddaddy lived, I knew when Aunt Bessie would come over and get him, I knew that Uncle Henry was right down the street, I could call him if I needed him so that was a small situation. Now when you go up to Garfield or down to Phoebus, one of those high schools that has got 3,000 students in it, the principal has got two walkie talkies on him, one in his ear and one on his hip, he has got a security force he has to deal with. It is not there. You can't get the parents involved. It is too big. Way too big. And of course I was in an isolated situation, a small school, I knew everybody and everybody knew everybody. If I needed the parents to come down. I could call them and I knew where they worked, knew everybody, it was just a small situation. I got along fine. Some of them didn't like me, some of them I didn't like. That's the way it goes.
Q: Let's move over to instructional staff for a second. Please describe for us your approach to teacher evaluations and give your philosophy.
A: Well teacher evaluations are a joke to start with. You ought to know that. You do it up here don't you?. You have got fifteen pages and the first thing on there that you check off is are they neat and nice, do they turn papers in on time and all those things. That is teacher evaluation as we know it. Teacher evaluations shouldn't be that way. Teacher evaluations shouldn't be forms. Coming to school with a tie on and looking nice is part of it and that can be said in one sentence but we check it off and then we don't have any guts at the end of the check off things to say now Ms. Jones now you weren't prepared on so and so days for algebra, you weren't prepared on so and so day for this, the kids was running all over the classroom when you goin' to get your act together? Then we become gutless you know. The principal or assistant principal, whoever is doing the evaluation, turns chickenshit and runs.
Q: Let's take that to the next level. Would you discuss any experiences that you have had with teacher dismissal and what your involvement was with those?
A: Yes I have, bad experiences and good experiences. Bad experiences here and you know they are going to say it. Who are you to evaluate me, I've been teaching five years and you are a physical education major and you're the principal of this school and I'm teaching physics, who are you to evaluate me? And this is the problem, who are you to evaluate me on my ability to teach physics? That's where it becomes a problem. And you have to make a decision then, are you the person to help make that evlauation. You may need to call an outside person in to help with specifics. I may be able to evaluate the teacher from the point that she is prepared and all those. The content of the class and what she is presenting to them, not being a physics major or math background you may not be in a position to do it. So you could be in a bad situation and that could be a bad experience for you. But you can always tell when someone is prepared. If they present it, the class is orderly and so forth. You know kids are going to learn something despite what happens. I had an experience one time. I can't remember what grade it was because it has been so long ago. The teacher had been there twenty-six years, that is probably one of the ways that I got the job. And the first six months I would go by the school and that was an old school building and the doors was glass, half of the doors was glass, you couldn't see through them but you could see movement you know and everyday about the same time I would go down, it would just sound like all hell was breaking loose and I would open the door a couple of times, the teacher did not know my presence whatsoever in the room. The kids was wrestling and throwing stuff in the room. It wasn't a planned activity it was an activity that the kids took upon themselves. A couple of occasions the teacher was writing. I could always go at the end of month when they got their checks and this was a mistake. And she always had her checkbook you see, writing her checks and balancing her checks the last two hours of the day. And the kids was just going wild. That went on and I talked to her about it, she was a fairly influential person in the community and gotten worse and worse and I just made a recommendation to the superintendent. Course they took me before the board, I knew it was coming and the board said this and then of course this particular individual brought her troops in, her support you know, they argued about all that and all this and of course the school board basically just said she has been here twenty six years and you have been here a year and a half. Are you the person to make this decision, which is true. I got off lucky. As well as I remember I think the lady got too much to drink one night or something and had a wreck and things went bad so she resigned and I got off lucky you see. But you are not always that lucky. And sometimes individuals you can talk too you might say hey look you need a change of environment. You might be better off teaching in Buena Vista or Lexington or you may be better off teaching in Richmond. A change in environment sometimes and you know all teachers are not all that bad and sometimes those changes help. But it comes down to the guts in the spring. Watch 15th, April 15th, you have done all those checklists and you have had those three conferences and you know damn good and well that this teacher needs to go but you ain't got guts enough to do it.
Q: Let's talk about another key person in any public school and that is the assistant principal. Could you describe the best assistant principal that you had working for you and maybe provide some insight as to why that person was successful?
A: You know you can always tell an assistant principal from the principal because usually the assistant principal has got that great big ring of keys on a leather belt hanging off of his hip you see and he is usually the one that has got the hat and the raincoat real handy because he gets all the dirty stuff outside. But usually you can tell the assistant principal, whoever has got that big ring of keys, he is probably the assistant principal. Now I don't know what the ladies carry, the assistant principal, I don't know if they carry the keys or not but that is usually how you can tell. I have had a couple of assistant principals. I was lucky I guess. The ones I've had. Our philosophies were a little different, I was a little on the hard nosed side and my assistant principals were a little on the other side. Which one complimented the other. One had great, great human people skills. He could talk a cat, a bird right down out of a tree if the cat is around. And he just couldn't get away. I didn't have all of those skills but that is a great thing to have. He could deal with kids too. They loved the guy. Parents loved the guy and you know the ones I've had I guess their skills and philosophies complimented mine which we got along fine. I can't say that I have ever had any bad dealings with an assistant principal, sometimes I would like to see them make a little bit tougher decisions on some things but they felt like I shouldn't have made such a hard decision. You know, they are key people. They are key people whether we treat them like dirt. They are taking all the crap from everybody and you know they are in charge of the toilets, and they're in charge of this, in charge of the gates with all those keys and a lot of them get in and they get burned out because they can never see the things they need to see they can't see.
Q: Let me ask this question before we leave personnel. Of course in the state of Virginia we have a tenure or continuing contract system for teachers. Discuss how this affected your relationship with faculty and staff when you were principal. Do you think this is good or bad? Does the tenure system have strengths or weaknesses? What would you like to see changed?
A: Well it is a sad thing when you get tenure you may be the greatest person in the world for three years. Is it still three years? At the end of the third year you are granted tenure, I don't even know how long you are going to stay. You try to can one that's got tenure you better have your foot on a rock. And granting tenure I guess is almost like granting a lifetime contract and when you hire a superintendent you give him a four year contract and when you hire a teacher you give them a three year contract. Unless up to that point in time you can see the real bad things you might head things off, but once they get tenure, three years from now, four years from now they were a good teacher then and things go bad, things happen in your life and they say well hell I've got tenure you can't do anything with me now. And that's the bad aspect of it. Granting tenure in the state of Virginia, I don't know about other states. I guess you could get rid of some good people too. There have been some people who have had weak three year tenure periods and turned out to be strong teachers later. There are some differences. I can live with it but the thing about it is you had them three years and didn't get rid of them then you say golly, how did that one slip by and you're done.
Q: I believe you told us when we started the interview that you worked for the highway department before you got into education. I believe you told us Mr. Putnam you made $2800.00 and when you took your first teaching position along with the coaching aspect of it that your salary went up to $3300.00. I want you if you wouldn't mind please discuss with us how salary and compensation and other benefits have changed since you entered the profession and whether or not or what your views are on the development of improvement in this area and how it rates in the total scheme of things as far as public secondary, middle and elementary educators are concerned today. Do they make enough money, is it a worthwhile profession financially?
A: Oh it is now, it used to not be. I told you in 1985, in 1968 when I took that principal job at an elementary school I think I made $8500.00 and had 750 students. People in those same positions now are making you have got a top scale of 18-20 years, you are talking about principals, now they are making $50,000 a year or thereabout. What do you get, sixteen paid holidays? You get two weeks paid vacation or a day and a half of vacation a month, you get fifteen days a year sick leave. Is that what they are getting now? I'm not sure and you can accumulate up to 5,000 days sick leave and your vacation you can probably accumulate up to X number of weeks and carry over so many or forcing you to take them or something like that. They are paying your Blue Cross. Up here in this county I think they have a smorgasboard or cafeteria plan, they give you $3500 and you can jump on it and use any of the things that you like. I am talking about the principal. I think probably principals pay up to the secondary principal is adequate in most places. Now when you get into the secondary principal you got a secondary principal who has 3,000 decisions and he is making $79,000.00 or $80,000.00 and you have got a director of instruction or somebody on up a ladder above you who is making $100,000.00 and there is where it is not equal as far as I am concerned. The second highest paid person in the system ought to be secondary school principal.
Q: Let me ask you to address this issue. You spoke closely to it a second ago but during the past decade schools have become larger. As far as the pay and compensation discuss your views on this phenomenon. What would you suggest would be the ideal size for a principal?
A: For management purposes and it is going to depend on how much help they give that principal, too. I think a high school of 800 to 1,000 students is plenty big for anyone to handle. With the things that kids have today and the problems that kids have coming to school with. You know you get 3,000 students in a school, that is a city. That is larger than Buena Vista. That is a city and I just got through saying that that principal's salary is probably $80,000.00 and he is managing 3,000 people a day plus a staff of 400, probably a supplemental staff, that is more than some CEOs of some major industries deal with and look at the problems you deal with.
Q: Let me ask this. The schools that you were principal of were effective schools as a model that a lot of school divisions and principals use to help them instructional pursuits of their particular schools. Would you look back over your administration and tell me what characteristics that your schools had that are close to that of effective schools, what made you schools effective, Mr. Putnam?
A: Well probably the high school was so small was probably the most effective because you got that personal touch with the teachers, the principal and the parents and that really was the effective aspect of it. I don't think you can say that about a school of 3,000. You knew peoples' weaknesses. You knew peoples' strengths. You knew who the kids were in school that needed extra help. You knew who the kids in the school that needed to go to the University of Virginia or VPI. You knew who those kids were and you could provide that for them. The guidance that they needed. Those things, the smallness and I think the staff makes it effective too. Of course it always goes back to the school board and the community, how effective they wanted to be. Did they wanted an effective football program or an effective academic program?
Q: Okay. Let me ask this. A lot of administrators today complain about the amount of paper work and bureaucratic complexity that they are forced to deal with. Would you comment on the situation during your administrative career and compare the problems that you encountered with your perceptions of bureaucracy at the time?
A: Well I think most of the paper work and the bureaucracy comes from the state and it comes to the school board office and in the school board office you have got to do something with it. Those people up there some of them have nothing to do, so therefore they are going to pass it down to you which you've got two basketball games tonight and they want it tomorrow. Yeah, the bureaucracy is, I'm not sure it needs to be what it is but the state generates a lot of that stuff. You know how many studies do they do every year. They study this, effective discipline and now they have got one on effective learning and I think there is a new Standards of Learning out, isn't there a new Standards of Learning out? Every kid in school has got to take algebra, is that correct? Every kid has to take algebra. I'm not for that. Every kid don't need Algebra.
Q: Mr. Putnam I would like to talk about curriculum if we could. If you were principal today what three areas in the curricular or overall operation of your school would you change?
A: Well I would like to see the curriculum go back to the way it used to be. You had a college preparatory program, then you had a general education program and then you had a vocational education program and now I think they have revised that and if you are in the bottom half of your class, like I was, they let you go to college. Now you can go to college now whether you stay or not is one thing and I probably would have been better off if I had been a pipe fitter or something, made more money, a lot less headache and I think we need to find channels, things that kids can go into and be successful. Go back to your algebra. They are going to force every kid in school to take algebra. Now as far as I'm concerned every kid in school don't need to take algebra. We don't fill out income tax by algebra and I guarantee you there are a lot of college graduates that can't do their income taxes. But we change the curriculum every year. I think a local division here is going to change their English curriculum. Hell, lets go back to reading and writing and arithmetic. The English curriculum learn to write a sentence, learn to write a paragraph and express yourself. What else is there to the English? And we are all going to study old Chaucer and all those old boys, you know Shakespeare. And I personally, we have done away with vocational education now haven't you? What is it called now, computer education, Vo Tech education. I question sometimes whether that is a good carry over for some kids who need a good carry over. You know we can stress football to kids and baseball and that is not a good carry over and activity to kids. Woodworking or some form of technology or art. I would rather see them stress more art and music. That is a great carry over. Football is a terrible carry over. Chemistry is a great carry over and sometimes we put our emphasis on the wrong thing. Same way with your curriculum. You know I'm not sure you could make a living today with woodworking but there are a lot of things that come out of wood technology and industrial arts that is a good carry over. Some of the better draftsmen in the world went through a simple high school drafting program. Some of your better bookkeepers and CPAs, or to be CPAs, went through a business curriculum in their local schools and have become very successful accountants. But we are in the age of computers now you see and we have got to keep up with that. And I understand that is a new field that kids have got to get into. I realize that. But I still think our curriculum, I know there needs to be some revisions but I don't think we need to change English this year or math next year and then next year we are going to go back and change social studies. The world has changed in a geographical way. You know there is no more Yugoslavia like we knew it, you need to understand those things, but Jamestown is still down there. Those ole boys sailed in there in 1620 or whenever it was, that hasn't changed.
Q: In your answer I heard you talk about the tracks that were available in the academic, vocational and general and some of the course requirements that are currently changing and the need for our schools to provide the competencies and skills particularly in the vocational area that some students found beneficial. Take that same question. What three areas could you change or would you suggest changing in managing a high school to make it more efficient and more productive? If you could go back and be principal of Clifton Forge High School again would you change any of the managerial tasks that you had to perform?
A: You probably should have leadership from someone on staff. That school is so small but if you've got a school of 800 or 900 students you may need someone if you are in those areas that has managerial ability in say the curriculum of all the arts or all the business or all of this type thing. You don't teach business anymore. You teach computers. The typewriter. You don't even have typewriters up here. We've got to fill this paper out longhand haven't we because there are no typewriters up here. And you may need key people in management. I know you need them today because you don't have someone on staff who understands computers. I couldn't manage that aspect of the school program today.
Q: Let me ask this. Could, would you describe some of the pressures. Maybe you didn't feel like you faced any but I think most of the principals would say that they faced pressure every day and explain how you coped with it.
A: Well you would be telling a story if you said you didn't have pressures. I don't care how tough you were or who you are. The biggest pressure I think is sometimes from pressure groups as we eluded to before we started this high tech interview here. That some of the biggest pressures are coming from you from pressure groups within your school and in your community and you have to deal with those. And I mention one as the band and I still stand by that. You have got 300 people in the band and each one of them got a mama and daddy, you muliply that and that is 900 and each of them has got Aunt Bessie and Uncle Henry supporting it too you have got a pressure group of 1200 people. Now are you telling me they can't bring some pressure to bare on your tail. The same way with your booster club. If it is an active booster club you get 60 or 80 days of those guys and you get the mamas and daddies. Those are some pressures you have to deal with. It used to be at one time, I don't think it is that way now, civic organizations played big roles in schools. It is not the case any more because a lot of civic organizations have died for lack of participation. Everybody is in the Lions, in the area I live in is 100 years old and they have all been in there 100 years and it is dying. Those civic groups used to, I think, have some pressure at times on schools to do things and I guess pressure group now is kids coming to school with knives and guns. That is the biggest pressures I think you have to deal with today that is knowing what is going to get off that bus out there one of these days and come through those doors. When I was principal that never phased me. I remember one time I had a bomb threat. We was having a rash of bomb threats and uh. Didn't know who it was. We thought we knew who it was. You had to be sure about something like that. They called in 2-3 days. The guy that I thought it was. You know they would let the school out. They would let them out and let them all go home. That was what they was wanting. The year they started back up. I rang the bell and got everybody out in the halls you know. I knew there wasn't any damn bombs in the school. They were just wanting to go home. See what I was going to do. One come in one day about 10:30 and the secretary handed me the phone and said I think it is somebody calling in a bomb threat. I got on the phone and said and you are going to meet me at 10:30 I'll be there and hung the phone up and just went on. My heart was like this until 11:00 because I knew it would be the day that I said I was going to bite the bullet, that ended the bomb threats. These are pressures. Like I said I made a decision to say this is a hoax.
Q: When your heart beat like that though Mr. Putnam what did you do about that. How did you handle that?
A: What'd I do about it?
Q: Yes sir.
A: During work hours or after work hours?
A: Both. Well I sat there and waited. You know I said this is a decision I made. The only two people knew it. My tail could have been hanging on a noose. Everybody said that was a bad decision. I thought it was a good decision because I put an end to it and that was the end of it. Prior to that time they was letting school out, go search the building and they would take 2-3 hours to search the building, you know. That is what they were wanting. Those are some kind of pressures. You know you have got a kid down the hall you know who has got the teacher and six students down the hall with a knife and you have got to make a decision. Those are things that you deal with more today than we used to deal with as a principal. Like I said you know the secretary is on the phone and she calls you and says Ms. Jones and her husband and two of their families are coming down here because you done something to Billy and they get there and they are all half drunk. Now you don't know what the confrontation may be. It may be that they are going to crawl all over you or you're going to crawl all over them or you are going to run in there and hide behind the secretary or tell the secretary I got to go up to the Board office if they come just tell them to call back tomorrow and you going for strength, you going somewhere to get some strength which is called chicken but those are pressures. You just have to make that decision.
Q: We talked about characteristics that successful principals have. If you had to list three or four things tell us what made you successful Mr. Putnam.
A: Well I think I had some support people and the staff, the staff that I had at that point in time 80% of them were people I had known and worked with supported me in what I was doing and I think the community at that point in time wanted some change in the local school and maybe I fit the bill for that change at that point in time which helped me be successful at that point. My characteristics I guess maybe they said well he is not going to put up with any foolishness down there so not going to knuckle under and it is going to be short lived you know.
Q: I asked you this question before I asked you about your strengths that made you successful but it is kind of a follow up to your coping mechanism that principals operate in a constantly tense environment. What kind of things did you do to maintain your sanity?
A: Well you have to have someone to talk to. Now of everybody in this school house that you know who do you confide in more than anybody else and that is the person you have got to be able to talk to. It may be the janitor, it may be the football coach but to cope in some situations you have got to be able to communicate with somebody else that understands or knows what the problem is and you've made a decision. Like I said it could be anybody and believe me there is many a days that I made decisions and there is things that happened that you had to deal with and you've got to go somewhere, you've gotta do something, gotta go on down there to the locker room and take a big drink is not the answer. There has been a many a guys that have done that or they had it in their desk. A lot of people of course we don't smoke anymore in schools but you know a lot of people smoke and you would go somewhere and smoke to relieve the tension type thing. And a lot of people you know get in the car and run on up to the school board office and you just talk and talk, looking for somebody to talk to. It's hard. You've got to have coping mechanisms are different.
Q: Let me ask this. We talked about some of your strengths as an administrator. Shared with us some of those characteristics that you thought made you successful. Did you have any weaknesses?
A: Oh yeah, good day yeah. I was a poor communicator. You know I just someone ask you something say oh shit, you don't want to do it that way. Probably I didn't listen to some people enough. Maybe I wasn't a good listener, you know what I mean. You need to be a real good listener to be successful, real successful and then you got to siphon out all that jargon that means nothing and get to the point. I would say there was a lot of times I didn't really communicate and that was probably because my bite was bigger than my bark lets put it that way and that has helped make me be successful more than anything else. I put it out there you know.
Q: Would you give us your overall comments on the pros and cons of administrative service and any advice you might like to pass on to today's principals?
A: Administrative service you are talking about support people.
Q: Well, I'm talking about for people who might want to get into the principalship, what is the good and bad about it. And if you've got some
A: You're talking about from within the school or outside agencies.
Q: Within the school.
A: Within the school. You're not talking about health department and social services.
A: You're talking about central office staff.
Q: I would say all administrative service. What is the good and bad of it? If you had it to do over again would you be principal or would you prefer to work more, I know you ended your career in the central office.
A: Well you know I don't central office people offer enough help to the principals on the things that they need help with. I have always said, they are always offering you stuff that you don't need help with like all that paper. They're shuffling all that paper down here. That is not what you need help with. You need help down at that school solving some problems and most of the people up in the central office you know how they got there don't you, they weren't successful at what they were doing so they had to find a place for them and they had been there twenty-five years and they wanted to move them around and they are not going to offer any help to you. You've got to have somebody up there who has been in the trenches too and understand what Rob Carpenter is going through with down at Bath County High School today, he's had three fights down there, what is he dealing with down there today. If you have never experienced some of those things and you've never touched them you have a hard time offering help to people. But they will I guarantee you as soon as they get that packet from Richmond and its got 75 pages in it they are going to siphon 50 of them down to you because you don't have anything to do see.
Q: Ask this about some of your practices. It has been said that good leaders encourage their subordinates and peers by staging celebrations. Is sometimes a loaf of bread or a heavy hammer effective in getting people to carry out the mission of the school? Did you use any celebrations or rewards to encourage your staff and if so what were they?
A: Oh yeah well you know it is always better to start the school year with some type of I'm going to talk about the horse and pony show, now you know what I'm talking about. Every year we start them off with the horse and pony show and that is the worse pill a teacher can swallow. We are going to have three days of educational jargon that amounts to nothing, amounts to nothing. I think when you get back on an individual basis with your staff is when it is really important and I think if you have, make a warm accepted atmosphere as you can make it. And it can be with food, it can be with a luncheon, it can be with some type of social. And I always tried to open up the first meeting of the year with what did everybody do this summer. Let's just sit down and talk about it, some of you went to school, some of you got married, some of you had children and along with that we always had conference, always started the meeting at nine o'clock, shut the door and if you wasn't in there you was responsible from getting it from the next person. And if I said we were going to take a break at 10:30 we took a break at 10:30 and if I said we was going to be through at 12:00 we was through at 12:00. There was nothing that beat punctuality.
Q: Start and end on time. Some principals hold a view that teachers and other staff members in general are well motivated and reliable and other principals feel they need closer monitoring and need to keep an eye on them. Which of those two positions or some hybrid did you practice?
A: Well you got to keep an eye on everybody even your best friend, even though it is your pet down at the end of the hall that you are going to let go at a quarter to three, you still need to keep an eye on her. You understand what I'm saying? And generally I think most people want to do what is right and if you set the expectations up front, that is the same with students, start the school year off with an assembly program, get them all in there. This is the way it is going to be and this is the way we are going to operate. This all falls into your educational philosophy too which falls into some of these other categories that we have covered. If you start it off like that and you let the expectations and they'll know and I think generally people will follow what you expect and teachers and students alike. But if you are wishy washy, you haven't set any expectations. I used assembly programs. When I had assembly programs I'd get up, we'd march the seniors in, you know all of those good things are gone, that was class. It is bush league now. You work so hard to get to be a senior and we used to march them in, I remember real well and they'd be seated and you'd start the program and you'd hear somebody in the back catcalling and all that stuff. I used to sit them down and say we'll sit here by God until midnight and if you don't believe me you can ask some of my colleagues, we will sit here by God until midnight until you quiet down and we listen to whomever is making the presentation. And I'd catch one talking I used to make them stand up and dismiss them right in front of everybody, hell yeah. It didn't take two assembly programs. Those are expectations. Teachers are the same way. You expect them, you are going to start at ten o'clock always have an agenda, don't go in there oh yeah it is over there, always have an agenda and present it to them. These are the things we are going to cover and this is the way it is going to be. Shut that door. We said yesterday we were going to meet at 9:00. There are circumstances that always prohibit that could be a parent chewing you out down the hall and you can't get in there, those were exceptions. And you always had things extracurricular activities can't get to those meetings and I say I'll tell you what if you can't get there you better get Billy or Susie to get your information because I'm holding you responsible for it.
Q: I've got two more questions Mr. Putnam. Would you discuss the circumstances leading up to your decision to retire at the time that you did and give your reasons and mental processes you exercised in reaching this conclusion.
A: Well my reasons for retiring it is always good to have a goal. I always thought I would like to quit at thirty years anyway and quit working at 55. And I was in a financial situation that I could do that. We lived a very modest life, just got shoes from the funeral home and hand me down clothes from the funeral home and things that nobody wanted you know that fit so I didn't have to spend a lot of money. But my basic reasons for retiring was I could see myself that it was time to go for my mental state and I was not, I could feel I was not going to make any more impact on what I was doing than what I had already done and financially when school board whips up a program in front of you that we are going to give you 20-25% of your salary for X number of years you come back and give us 20 days or 25 days as an economics thing and you get your blue horse notebook when you get ready to retire, on this side you put what you owe and on this side what you think you are going to have. You don't need a computer for this. And list all those things that you need to do and you'll find out that when you get your thirty years in it's time to go. Life's short too and when you are in this business like you're in and you're getting ready to get into I guess. It's time. So I tell you this the secondary school principal, I've been in all three of them, should be the second highest paid man in the school system and you can take that up and tell Mr. Harkleroad and those are the reasons that I retired and you know I quit at 55 and had 31 years service, I quit on my birthday, July 1. So the school board they was probably glad to see me go, sure they were. I had 350 days of sick leave saved up, only missed two days of sick leave in 31 years. I tried to be there every time the school house opened. I had 50 or 60 days of vacation they had to pay me for. All of those things fell in line for me. Of course they have changed all those policies now and you know we let people come to school now, they take some teachers, I'm not bad mouthing them, but some teachers probably don't work over 140 days a year. You take you're in school 180 days and Ms. Jones or Mr. Smith has got a son or daughter that needs their care at home, they miss 10 days of sick leave, then they get the croup, may have 10 more days out and you have those horse and pony shows that interrupt the school year and all those things so you sit down and figure it up I guarantee you some teachers don't teach but 140 days a year. You know like I said I think I was through. It's time to go. Time you fight it day in and day out. Of course the job I was whew in I left was horrible job.
Q: Transportation, wasn't it?
A: Well no. I had all those old buildings, caught all those underground storage tanks, bus routes, all of the buildings were falling apart you know and somebody opened a case every day. It was like the secondary principal. I guarantee you before the day is over you will get a call about something that amounts to nothing and someone wants to make a case of it. It's interesting. It's an interesting job and raising kids. Sending kids to school today is tough and being a parent today is tough. It takes two people to make a living and we are the culprits of that. We got to have two cars, a chicken in every pot, car in every garage and all that stuff. You know you've got to have two sets of golf clubs. So you want to live in a house that cost $300,000.00, a $75,000.00 house won't do, all you are going to do is eat and sleep in it and stay warm you know but we cause a lot of our problems and I don't the answer to your school problems but they are going to be more, getting bigger every year.
Q: Let me ask this. In our effort to try to be as comprehensive as we could we talked about teachers, personnel. We talked about the relationship with the central office, the role of the principal and superintendent and on and on. I know we forgot something and I'm wondering if there is something that is on your mind that you would like to share with us about the principalship, about Roy Putnam.
A: Not so much me but I think you need to go back, you'll find out, you've been in it long enough to know I think, I'm not sure, but you've been in it long enough to know and be truthful with me like I'm going to be truthful to you there is so many things that the colleges don't prepare you to do to be a principal, assistant principal or a principal. And you need to take back and maybe this guy with this thing right here maybe go back and say hey look we need to look at our training program. To be a principal today you've got to be a financial whiz, you've got to be, you've got to know your curriculum inside and out, you've got to know this new technology, you've got to be human relations, you've got to be all those things. It's a big job, not just secondary but the elementary too. Used to be how much time you spend up here raising funds, fund raisers and you know what my philosophy on fund raising is and was and always will be? When I took over that school in '79 I allocated each club had two activities. That was it. When I took over that middle school in 1983 no fund raising. The only thing that we want them to do here is that we're going to take school teachers that is for Aunt Bessie and Uncle Henry to remember you by and whatever money we make off of that, that's it. I took the drink machines out of the halls, I did put a drink machine in the teacher's lounge for the teachers. And my philosophy was if the school board wants me to have two more computers then the taxpayers, they are going to pay for it. You send those computers down here, if you don't send them down here we don't have them. I didn't have fund raisers. You will spend I guarantee you, I guarantee you you will spend 20% of your time next year with fund raisers. You tell me if I'm wrong. Huh?
Q: Probably right.
A: And one of those keys on that superintendent's, assistant principal's key ring goes to these Coke machines.
Q: Any parting words for us Mr. Putnam?
A: Well you know I think good comunication. You've got to have good communication skills to through administrative duty, great communication skills especially with kids and parents. Don't send out a bulletin, a note home, and have twelve typographical errors, twenty-five misspelled words, you know incomplete sentences. Those things keep you out of trouble too. You can be the dumbest person in the world just make sure those things don't happen. You have trouble getting your parents down here, yeah. You don't have trouble when the kids get in trouble though, they are right here on the door. Do ya'll have assembly programs at the beginning of the year and invite the parents? Is it well attended, no. What about the parents coming and picking up grade cards, would that be well attended?
Q: Roy Putnam we are talking about his closing comments about this interview and those strategies and techniques he used to make him successful.
A: I say geographically here you are spread out aren't you? It's a big county. All the kids ride the buses a lot like they did down in Alleghany. And like I said another thing that we mentioned both parents work so some parents are working second shift or third shift, they can't get home or they have to get babysitters. Parents will find every excuse under the sun not to come to school until Johnny didn't get his football letter or something like that happens. Which is sad, it really is sad. Can you imagine down at Phoebus High School down in Norfolk trying to get 3,000 parents together? You allowed to smoke up here, no, what about staff, what do you do you do with the ones that has to smoke, go down over the hill?
Q: Don't have a plan. What did I forget Ms. Mutispaugh?
A: Nothing that I can think of Mr. Carpenter.
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