Q: Dr. Ray, why did you decide to become a principal?
A: Actually I don't know if I had really decided or not. I was approached after three years of teaching by the director of elementary education and asked if I would be interested in being a principal. After talking with her at some length and having worked in an elementary school I decided I would like it very much, which I did.
Q: How many years did you serve as a principal?
A: I served at Walter Heron Taylor in West Ghent for seven years, Meadowbrook Elementary in the Meadowbrook area for one year, and Blair Jr. High School for three years.
Q: How many years were you in education altogether?
A: Thirty nine and one half years.
Q: When you served as a principal, and I guess it would be O.K. to take any one of the schools, what was your schools' philosophy?
A: Well, let's take my first principalship because I was there the longest and that's Walter Heron Taylor. At Taylor, I guess our philosophy as a faculty was ugh to develop the whole child. We had an outstanding faculty and the student body came from upper and middle socio-economic homes and the challenge was to make sure that we challenged the youngsters. So we did the very best to make sure that we had a lot of activities not only in the classroom but outside the classroom that rounded the child out so to speak.
Q: What was your role as a principal particularly with school community relations and public relations?
A: Well, I felt that my role was really one of leadership in that I wanted parents involved in the school and we had . . . I established when I went there, an open house kind of feeling with the parents. I wanted them to feel free to come into the building and talk to teachers and work with the school in anyway that they possibly could to help the school be a better school. Back in those days, the lunchroom was run individually. We had parents coming in to help in the lunchroom. We had many different kinds of activities going on in the school such as a Halloween party with the entire faculty and parents very much involved with that. It really was a fund raising activity, but the P.T.A. used this money to meet their budget during the school year . . . and their budget really did point in the direction of helping teachers with materials that the school system didn't purchase. We did alot of things really to bring the parents into the school. We had parent study groups for instance - ah - one thing we had one summer, which I, I mean one spring which was brought up by one of the parents and that is how to make the summer months more meaningful to the children and one of the things that I had done along with my librarian who was not only a librarian but an excellent teacher was to mimeograph at grade level as many books as we could get that were drawn from the public library to keep the children interested in reading during the summer months. This enhanced our reading program greatly because children really did learn to enjoy reading - and the parents gave stress to it and so as a result of our real good reading program, our children tested number one in the school system for seven years.
Q: That leads me to another question that I would like to have you respond to. How do you feel about testing?
A: Well, I think tests are necessary. I always felt like you should have a reason for testing, on not just test to be testing, but I used our testing department mainly to help the children. For instance, if I had a youngster who was not performing in such a way as I felt he should be performing up to his ability, I tried to find what the reason was and one of the first things I did was have the psychologist test the youngster to see if there were problems that we didn't know about. So I believe in testing and of course today it's required by the State Department of Education. You have to do it, back in those days it was not necessarily required. We've always done it in Norfolk Public Schools, quite a bit of testing.
Q: What do you think teachers expect principals to be Dr. Ray?
A: Well, I think that principals, teachers expect principals to be instructional leaders first of all. If a teacher has a problem with the teaching of reading we'll say that's where the principal who has enough background in reading can go in that classroom and work with that teacher and help him or her be a better reading teacher . . . the same thing with math, science, and social studies and all the other subjects. I'm afraid it's maybe utopia to expect a principal to know all these areas but ah with the in-service program that the Norfolk Public Schools have, I feel like most elementary principals in Norfolk City should be very capable in all the subject areas, and they are good instructional leaders because this has been stressed in the Norfolk Public Schools so very much that the principal is an instructional leader. That's number one. Secondly, I think the principal has to be available to the teacher, Ah, to check with them about problems. Sometimes it might even be personal problems because I feel like if a teacher has a problem at home and its reflecting on her work as a good teacher in the classroom, sometimes that teacher wants to discuss that problem with someone. And hopefully that teacher would have no feeling about coming to the principal and talking about the problem that might be coming from another situation and reflecting on her teaching in the classroom. I think the principal must be a people oriented person. Ah, I had sortta a hobby of trying to get to know each child in school. Since I only had about four hundred at Walter Heron Taylor, I learned all their names and all their parents' names. I realize that this is not absolutely necessary but I felt it was real nice to go into a class room and the youngsters always appreciated when I call them by their name. Ugh, so I put right much time to this kind of thing. I think a principal must be a public relations person. He must work with the community and business concerns, ugh, back when I was a principal we gave a lot of emphasis to business BIE days. Business, industry, and education days where we would invite in the schools, the business people near the schools. Today, they have an adopt a school which has been extremely successful in Norfolk. Walter Heron Taylor at present is adopted by the Leggett Department Store. They have a really great working relationship.
Q: How did you evaluate teachers?
A: Well, back when I was an elementary principal we didn't have a formal evaluation of teachers as such, like we do today. I sat with a committee of teachers and we worked up an evaluation because I happened to have a faculty that was anxious to improve. Each year I sit down with the teacher and tried to do an objective job in evaluating their strengths and weaknesses. I dwelt heavily on their strengths, but if they had weaknesses that I thought would help them improve to be better teachers, I would bring this out. I would summarize this in the form of a letter or memorandum and give to each teacher so that the next year when they got started in September, they could look at that evaluation and work on those weaknesses that we agreed together that needed to be worked on.
Q: With this in mind, what techniques did you have that you feel that you may have used to make teachers feel important?
A: Well, I tried as I said earlier to give teachers praise when they did something that was beyond the call of duty. Ugh. and I tried to praise them when I felt like they had praise coming and I said in the beginning, we had such a very strong faculty that I tried to praise the faculty as a group as much as possible. For instance, when we did our in-service training if I felt we did a good job, I say we because we worked on this together as if it were on reading or what have you, and normally as an outgrowth of this work we would put together some sort of booklet and I would praise them for the good work that they did on that book let. During evaluation time I always tried to bring out the good points - the good work - the things that they had done and I think just to show them that I appreciated the good work that they did, I tried to let them know this at every faculty meeting. And incidentally, when it comes to faculty meetings, I think here again I think they should be well planned and not held just to have a meeting. This is a time to talk about instructional problems. Back in the days when I was an elementary principal, you were expected to have a faculty meeting every Monday, whether you needed it or not. In working with my supervisor, I didn't have a faculty meeting each Monday unless it was needed. I think teachers appreciated that very much. If there was no need to have a faculty meeting, we didn't have one. My supervisor knew this and she knew at the same time that we made our faculty meetings very meaningful because she attended many of them. She took part and had a role in the faculty meetings. I think that faculty meetings can be made to be very helpful and very meaningful to teachers if planned well and with the teachers.
Q: This next question is loaded but I would like to ask you what you feel your philosophy of education is?
A: Well, I guess when I started out as a young principal and I was the youngest principal at the time and I guess Norfolk had had up to that time. I was only about twenty-six or twenty-seven. I really hadn't had time, having been a Naval Officer and three years of teaching before I became a principal, I hadn't had time to develop a philosophy. But as time went on, I did develop one and I'd guess you'd say in a nut shell, it was meeting the needs and interest of all the children in the school. The very lowest socio economic and the very lowest I.Q. up to the very highest socio-economic and the gifted. This was a big order in that particular school because we had so many children that were gifted. We managed to meet their needs and as I meet these youngsters today in Norfolk, many of them are leaders in the community, doctors, lawyers, and professional people and so I guess that philosophy of meeting the needs and interests of all the children had paid off over the years.
Q: Would your philosophy of teaching - what would that basically be if you would tell me your philosophy of teaching would it be similar to your basic philosophy, perhaps?
A: Well, I think lesson plans and teaching to me have always been important. I think you ugh, the program of effective teaching today that's getting so much notice in the research zeroes in on lesson plans. It zeroes in on the principal being an effective principal and one who can help teachers draw up meaningful lesson plans. I have always felt that you had to have good lesson plans so that you will cover the material that needs to be covered with the youngsters and I have worked very hard over the years instilling this in the teachers with whom I dealt at work. Lesson plans are important.
Q: What do you think it takes to be an effective principal?
A: First of all, I think principals have to, just like other professional people, like doctors and lawyers, have to continually improve themselves. They need to take active roles in the staff development and in service programs in the school system that they are in. I think it is important to do graduate work if they do not have a masters degree. They should get to work on it. I'm a great advocate of going on and getting a doctorate, if at all possible. I've encouraged over the years young people to move along in their graduate program and get a doctorate. I think there's going to be a time when most people have a master's - the doctorate will have the same meaning that a master's does today. I think staff development and in-service is so important for principals to be involved in from year to year. I think if you're going to stay "up to snuff" on everything in education you have to read. You have to go to school, and you have to take part in in-service programs. And not feel like you're forced to be a part of an in service. But go into it with the idea that you're there to be a better principal. If you're going to be the instructional leader in a school, you have got to read and be up to date. If a parent walks into your office and wants to talk to you about why certain things are going on in a particular classroom, I feel very strongly that a principal has to be a professional and know enough to converse and advise that parent about a problem that might exist with his or her youngster.
Q: As you reflect back on your career as a principal. What pressures did you face? What were those things that you felt were the greatest pressures to you?
A: Well, I guess the thing that I probably was more concerned about more than anything else was placing the children in the right classroom with the right teacher. You know in any faculty you have certain personalities and teachers have certain strengths and weaknesses and parents have developed or will develop if they're part of a community and have children in a school certain philosophies or certain feelings about different teachers and I felt like one of the real pressures was to make sure that I got children with the right teacher every year. Although I had a strong faculty, there were some teachers stronger than others and this I spent alot of time in the summertime assigning children to the teacher that I thought could better meet the needs and interests of a particular child. Now most of the time they moved from one class to another as a group. I think that is pretty well practiced today in elementary school. But in particular parents would request a teacher for first grade. We didn't have kindergarten then and sometimes I would grant this request and other times I wouldn't. I guess the best professional judgment that I possibly had in placing the children with teachers that I thought could better meet the needs of the child. But that's you know, about the biggest pressure. I was fortunate enough not to have many discipline problems as a principal. The reason we didn't have many discipline problems was that we kept children interested and we developed a lot of programs. For instance, to give you an example of what I'm referring to here, we had a student council, grades 1 - 7, and I met weekly with this student council and we talked about problems in the building. I remember the present chairman of the School Board was a pupil of mine at Walter Heron Taylor and when he was in the seventh grade, he was president of the student council. We had a problem with littering in the halls, especially around the lunchroom area - ice cream wrappers and the like. So one Friday prior to a student council meeting, I had him take a trash can and go throughout the entire building and pick up all the trash that he could find, put it in that can and bring it to me. He did and we had almost a half a can, most of this of course came from around the lunchroom, ice cream wrappers, litter as well. We were talking about cleanliness in the building and the first question I asked was ..."Now do you all think this building is clean inside? Do you feel proud about it and when your parents come in the building, do you have any feeling about them coming in seeing the building whether it be clean or not"? Anyway, after a lengthy discussion they all said, "well, we think that the building is clean". So I took the trash can out and showed them and I saw this as a teachable moment. I said "look, this was just picked up off our floor. This is litter that your parents would see when they came in the building". Well, this made an impression. I would summarize the minutes of the meeting and on Monday morning I would put the summary in the teachers' boxes so that they could, the very first thing in the morning, have an opportunity to discuss with their students those things that were discussed in the student council. That way we had feedback. But this is just one example. We had assembly programs every week . . . student involvement, student planned assembly programs. This gave the children an opportunity to get up and talk. I had children who could talk extemporaneously about our extra-curricular programs. We had an organized recess because we had a small playground and each class had places to play on the playground so the larger children wouldn't hurt the smaller children. We had athletic teams after school. We had basketball teams for instance during basketball season. We had softball teams and all this kind of thing. Once a month we had a teen canteen in the evening on Fridays. where children would come. I had parents to help me chaperon. They had a good time dancing. These were seventh graders. We invited the eight graders who had just left and who had gone on to junior high. All of these things were good. They involved children and gave them a leadership role and as a result we felt like this as I spoke with earlier about the needs and interests of children. These were the recreational, so to speak, extracurricular kinds of needs.
Q: During your time as a principal, did you ever have to fire a teacher?
A: Ugh, I don't remember having to fire a teacher. Prior to my arrival though, at Walter Heron Taylor, the principal before me had to terminate a teacher's employment and one who had been in the school many, many years. It was a very sticky, wicked kind of thing. I inherited an excellent faculty and it was a matter of just working with them to improve and get to be better teachers. I didn't have any that I had even to refer to the superintendent.
Q: Another loaded question.
A: Let me just say, back in those days, a principal lead to take the lead in terminating. There was not a committee to help him evaluate. The superintendent held that principal responsible. When I became an assistant superintendent, the first thing I did was form a committee that would work with principals when they had teacher problems. This committee was composed of higher echelon. Administrators from the central office. Mostly assistant superintendents, directors of instruction and supervisors. But in the old days you had to carry the load by yourself. Sometimes it could be a real trying problem.
Q: How did you handle, or what effect did Civil Rights and busing have during your time?
A: Well, when I was principal of Blair Junior High School the first seventeen black children were placed in the public schools by the Federal Court. I had two black children. One was a young man by the name of Reginald Young who is now deceased. A very outstanding young man. In fact he was a law student at Stanford University. He was suddenly taken ill. Had a brain tumor and died. The other, a girl who is now married and has children was Lolita Portis who was a fine young lady. Both students adjusted beautifully. Frankly, we just didn't have any problems with those two. The faculty and I had discussed it at length and we had decided that we were going to create an atmosphere in the school which would be conducive to having minority students and be comfortable and frankly that's what we did. We didn't have any problems. Both of these students went on and finished at Maury and to my knowledge had no problems at Maury. Reginald was the first black athlete that Maury High School had. He was an outstanding baseball player. This was my biggest experience I guess, and with only seventeen in the school system each secondary school had two or three and it didn't impart very heavily on the school.
Q: At that time it was by choice, as far as the students and integration, is that right?
A: Well, each school had an attendance area. If they lived in that attendance area, that's where #350 on tape] they went. Later when I was made assistant superintendent I had the responsibility of administering the desegregation program for the whole school system, which was an interesting experience.
Q: Norfolk was a model.
A: Yes, that's correct. I would say this. I am very proud of the fact that Norfolk had no physical problems, picketing and getting involved with throwing rocks. This kind of thing, like many schools had. The integration in Norfolk really went very smoothly and we had a superintendent and assistant superintendent back in those days who really were outstanding leaders and provided the principal with the kind of information they needed to make the thing work. There really weren't any problems to amount to anything.
Q: As a principal what do you think were your biggest concerns or your biggest headaches?
A: Well, I think I probably covered the concerns somewhat in the elementary school but I'll talk to you a little about junior high. Now junior high is a different ballgame. Anybody that has ever worked in junior high or been a principal in junior high knows that the growth patterns of junior high children are different. These youngsters are just beginning to - their bodies are changing. They put alot of emphasis on peer acceptance. They want to grow up faster than they really ought to. They are just a different person from the elementary person. The needs are greater. I think this is one thing that the middle school has done. It has made it possible to better meet the needs of the youngsters at that age and get more attention. The faculty is working more closely with the student as an individual trying to solve his or her problems. The middle school has really alleviated alot of the problems that I had as a junior high school principal. I guess those problems were centered around discipline. My school was extremely over-crowded at the time. The three years I was a junior high principal I had between fourteen and fifteen hundred students with one assistant principal. However I guess the number of youngsters that I had who were really serious discipline problems would not number more than twenty or twenty five. Most of these weren't big discipline problems in the schools as such. I'd say absenteeism for the most part was our biggest problem. I was constantly having the guidance counselors check home and after the first three or four weeks, the pattern would develop where I would know exactly which twenty or twenty five were going to take most of the time of the assistant principal not only discipline wise, but also absenteeism. Each morning after homeroom, each teacher would send a youngster down to call home to find out if the youngster was sick. This was just a way to let the youngster know if they really were sick that the schools were concerned. So, this way parents knew we were interested in them and secondly if they were not in school they would know about that too. We would send notes home to parents. We would often times have to have the visiting teacher call on the parents to talk to them about the absenteeism. Making sure that children were in classes every day attending classes regularly and behaving while they were in class. Those were I guess my biggest concerns or headaches. You are always concerned if you are interested in the academics. You're concerned with the performance of the children. Before report cards would go out, the guidance counselors and I would check the report cards to see if there were children who were failing everything. I wanted to know about it. I wanted to know why they were failing and I had a real good counseling staff and they helped me with this and we would check any time before report cards went out. I think they went out something like six times a year. We would certainly take a look at them and if there were youngsters who were failing terribly as we scheduled them the next time we would take a look at the teachers with whom they were assigned the previous semester and if they were teachers that had a special skill in working with this kind of youngster we would try to schedule those youngsters in those classrooms. But, I would say that those were the two biggest concerns I had. Number one making sure that children were in school because you can't teach them if they're not in school. Secondly the instructional program, making sure that students are assigned to teachers who could meet their needs. There were some teachers that work with this kind of youngster better than others. When you paired them up you just tried to get the best results that you could in the scheduling process.
Q: What were your feelings as far as career ladders for teachers and perhaps merit pay?
A: Well, I had served on a committee that the superintendent had appointed on merit pay in the early sixties. This was after I became assistant superintendent. It was quite a bit of talk about merit pay at that time and the director of personnel and I went to a personnel meeting in Dade County Florida where they had just put in this kind of program. We were very much impressed at the time with this program. As unions came into the picture and the National Education Association became very adamant about any kind of merit pay. I guess over the years I developed a feeling about it. First of all, I wanted to get all teachers' pay up to a livable wage where they were comfortable about what they were earning. I really had devoted much of my life trying to get teachers' salaries up to where young people coming into the profession could feel if they stayed in it they could rear a family and live comfortably and not have to have another job in order to make a living. My main objective over the years is not that I have anything against merit pay. I think that some teachers do such an outstanding job and set the pace within a faculty, within a particular school, that they deserve additional recognition for this in a monetary way. I have no problem with that what so ever. As long as we have the salary up to where it ought to be, so that teachers can earn a respectable living, and not have to get another job in order to support and provide for their family. That's pretty much how I've looked at merit pay.
Q: What about your feelings towards teachers who were career oriented?
A: Well, I think having grown up with the system so to speak, grew up with the idea and think that we wanted teachers to be ambitious. We wanted them to aspire to higher things. I think that this has been a trademark of the schools. We've trained so many administrators for the surrounding areas over the past because we just didn't have enough room for all the good people that were going on and getting their degrees, some of them doctorates who were leaders in the school system. People that we knew would make outstanding principals. We just didn't have enough openings. This was particularly true when we started losing pupils. We came from about 56,000 pupils down to about 38,000. We probably closed about fifteen or sixteen schools over this period of time. We didn't have enough vacancies to place all the good people we had. Luckily other school systems had vacancies. We always hated to see these people leave us. But at the same time, if they had prepared themselves to be principals or other administrators we did not want to stand in the way of these people. They deserved to move on - with their objectives and goals as far as their professional life was concerned. I think that the general feeling in Norfolk has always been since I've been in the school system, that people could move along pretty much as they wanted to as far as professionals and always knew that if they applied to another school system if we couldn't place them eventually they could apply to another school system and receive an outstanding recommendation.
Q: What is your feeling as far as the standards of quality?
A: Well, I think the standards of quality really were a good move. It made everybody take a good look at quality education in the Commonwealth. I didn't think that the standards were quite strong enough. But I think it was a good move. I was disappointed that the legislature passed the standards of quality and didn't give the school divisions enough money to carry them out. If I had any one criticism of the standards of quality, I guess that would lead the list. Gradually I think that the legislature has realized the impact that the standards of quality are having on public education in the Commonwealth and they are trying to get more money to the local school divisions to carry out the standards.
Q: Dr. Ray, what do you feel are the characteristics associated with effective schools?
A: Well, I think I've touched on that a little bit as I've com along in this interview. There are some six that the research has given much emphasis to. Two of these are extremely important to me. One is that the principal must be a strong person. A strong instructional leader. The principal sets the stage in the school for the instructional program. If this person is a weak person and doesn't know instruction techniques and subject matter and is not a people oriented individual, effective learning in the school is going to be hindered from the very beginning. Secondly, I think the other thing that is so important is the school atmosphere. Making sure that each child in that building has a high regard for himself or herself and there are many ways to effect this. Making sure that there is a learning atmosphere for our children in that building. If they feel like they are liked by their classmates and the faculty and principal, because many of these children come from families where both parents are working or they are single parent families where there is no male image. It is just so very, very pertinent that the school atmosphere is established for the learning purpose. I feel these are the two most important characteristics of the six. Effective learning is quite a big thing in Norfolk, particularly in the staff development program. In my last year as deputy superintendent, the superintendent and the regional superintendents got with each elementary principal, some forty of them when school was out in June and evaluated them in terms of the six areas. We felt that this was very worthwhile, and one of the big spin-offs from this was it give that principal who was working so hard to put into play the school effective learning program, it gave them a little pat on the back. It gave them a feeling that the superintendent, deputy superintendent, and assistant superintendent appreciated the jobs that they had done.
Q: What is perhaps one of the toughest decisions that you have made?
A: Oh me! That's a really tough question to answer. I guess frankly the toughest decision I ever had to make as an elementary principal was when I was offered an administrative position in New Rochelle, New York in 1954. My wife and I, she was a first grade teacher, we were offered a very lucrative administrative position in New Rochelle, New York. Since I had done my masters and doctorate work there, they pushed me very hard for this job. We went up for the interview and I had to make a decision whether to leave Norfolk and take this job up there. With two children in the school system and having grass roots here since my naval officer days we finally decided to stay in Norfolk and I never looked back. That was probably the toughest decision I had to make in my principalship career.
Q: If you were to tell me what some of your keys to a successful career were, what would they be?
A: I always wanted to do a better job at everything I did. Even when I was going to New York University I would even attend a workshop here for elementary principals before I left. I would ask to be put on committees where possibly I could develop into a better instructional leader. I also always tried to be a good listener. When I moved into the central office, I had the experience behind me of the principalship. I knew when a principal came in to see me, nine times out of ten, they wanted somebody to listen to their problems. After hearing their problems, I attempted to do the best I could to help resolve those problems. I guess the same thing could be applied at the principalship level. Be a good listener when parents have problems. Be a good listener when teachers have problems. Pupils too. Pupils have problems too. You may have to call the pupil in to get them to open up and talk about the problem. I would have to say very modestly, that I have tried to be a very people oriented person. I've tried to be active in the community because I felt the kind of work that I did in Boy Scouts and Boys Club, Y.M.C.A., Children's Camp Fund and all those kinds of things supplemented the school system because our children were in all of those programs. There are not many problems that spill over into the school from a youngsters involvement as a boy scout, the Y, or types of community programs. They learn to work and get along with each other and other kinds of characteristics pertinent to their getting along together in the schools. I tried to give alot of time to my community over the years and those programs simply because they supplemented the programs in the schools.
Q: If I were to ask you what your code of ethics was, what would you say?
A: Well, ugh, I tried to deal with people face to face in a way that they would look at me as an individual that would talk to other people about their problems and not come to them. When I got involved heavily in the central office in teacher evaluation, I felt very strongly that if teachers were having problems that you had to listen to both sides of the question. It's possible that principals and teachers can have personality conflicts and if you can resolve those personality conflicts well fine, but if you can't, then something else has to take place. You either have to terminate the teacher, which I never liked to do or you maybe could place that teacher in another setting where they could work beautifully. So my code of ethics has always been to deal professionally with people as professionals. Deal with parents in an up and up way. If their children had problems, I wanted them to know in a very professional way what those problems were and be in a position to make suggestions as to how they could alleviate the problems. As a professional, I felt that was very important. So, I tried to deal with people very helpfully in any way that I possibly could all my life. That's not just school work, but that's been my philosophy when dealing with friends, the church, and the community. I think most people have this kind of philosophy. I'm not atypical in this area.
Q: What's your philosophy when it comes to time management?
A: Well, I attended a workshop at Columbia University one summer representing the State of Virginia. It was a superintendent's workshop devoted to better use of your time. I was very much impressed with the person who put this on. He was a nationally known individual who had just gotten back from two weeks in Germany working with the big industrialist over there so I felt very flattered that I could listen to a person like this. This is a problem for any administrator in particular. So many things can come up in a school day that you just can't anticipate. There ought to be time set aside when you can get in the classroom and work with teachers as much as possible. Each administrator ought to have some idea on how to use their time every day. They ought to block out their time as an objective, knowing full well that day is not gonna go 100% like you would want it to go because you may get a call from the central office if you're a principal to come down to the central office on short notice and you had planned to do something else that day. There's just no way that you can foresee all the things that will take place in a day if you are a principal. You can have a framework from which to work. It's like a teacher having a lesson plan. You can have some idea of what you want to do on that day, and block in your calendar. The school system has a calendar with certain meetings blocked in that calendar. There ought to be some kind of way if you are really going to do as an instructional leader, you've got to have a framework to go by. I am the first to admit that it is not always possible to stick to it.
Q: What do you think makes a good manager?
A: A good manager, I'm assuming you're talking about management at the principalship level, each level has its individual management problems. You have certain ones at the elementary level. You have certain ones at the middle school and certain ones at the senior high. But I think a good manager certainly manages as best he or she can his or her time, as I've just talked about. I think there are other kinds of things that have to be looked at. You're sitting there working in a building worth millions of dollars, you certainly have to manage the up-keep of that building and request repairs to it or improvements to it when needed. I think you've got to be a good manager as far as instructional materials are concerned, so that teachers will have the kinds of teaching materials that are needed to carry out the instructional program. I think that there are certainly money management problems that can exist. You're running a lunchroom. You're overseeing a lunch- room and making sure all of the funds are accounted for properly in the lunchroom and the funds that you might have if you collect money in the building for say a newspaper. Make sure that they have a receipt for it and that you have accounted for it carefully. There are just a lot of management concerns. Attendance for instance. You have to make sure the teachers' registers are correct and I required as my assistant superintendent did to me, I required principals to drop me a little letter at the end of school making sure that they checked those registers carefully and they were correct. I tried to work with teachers and show them how to keep a register so that if they made an error they would catch it the first month or the month in which the error was made. They didn't wait until June and then have to go back and complete another register. That's another management kind of thing but back in those days the money from the state was based on average daily attendance so the superintendent was under a lot of stress to make sure that those registers were correct. Those are the biggest as far as management is concerned.
Q: Is there anything you would like to tell me that I haven't asked you?
A: Well, I'll tell you, having been retired a couple of years, I'm sortta out of circulation. I still try to read and keep up to snuff on what's going on in the school system. I have lunch once in a while with some of the assistant superintendents or the superintendent even. I guess that I really have talked about everything that I think is important. I haven't really talked about the people in the central office and how they should provide assistance to the individual school system. I think it is so important to place people in the central office who have had experience as principals. You know, when you get right down to the nitty gritty, the action is in the principalship. It's in that school building. That's where the learning takes place. It doesn't take place down in the central office. I feel strongly that you've got to put people in that central office who know how to help principals and teachers. They ought to be put in those positions because of their expertise in a particular field. A reading teacher or coordinator ought to be stepped in the entire reading program and be prepared to go in there and help those teachers.
Q: Dr. Ray, I appreciate very much your allowing me to conduct this oral interview. I will look forward to being back in touch with you to share a copy of the finished product. Again, many thanks.
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