A: I was born and raised here in Strasburg Virginia. My father was a grocery-man
and I started school in the first grade and went through seventh grade and
four years of high school and graduated in 1939. I attended Massenutten Military
Academy for one year for a business course and after that went to Lynchburg
College to graduate from there. After two years in college I was drafted into
the service, in which I spent three years, and after the war was over and
I came back I graduated from Lynchburg College and went into education at
that time. I got married at that time so it was very important that I get
a job. My first job was over at Cape Charles Virginia where I taught. I taught
science, English, chemistry; also I coached football and baseball while over
there. After three years at Cape Charles I was called and moved to Leesburg
Virginia where I became Assistant Principal, taught physical education and
coached football, basketball and baseball. When Loudoun County High School
opened up I went to Loudoun County High School where I was athletic director
and taught driver education at the time. When the Shenandoah County built
the three new high schools in 1959 I was fortunate enough to become Principal
for the Strasburg elementary school. Having some teachers that have taught
me was a tremendous big success, in other words it helped me to understand
and get along and I finally stayed here for twenty-seven years and retired
June 30, 1987 from Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Q: So you had about thirty-eight years
A: thirty-eight years in public education.
Q: Did you enjoy being a principal more or a teacher more?
A: My teaching experiences, which were in high school which I enjoyed very
much, but being a principal was more rewarding because I was able to be with
smaller and younger children especially those in the grade-school. I was contacted
by all teachers, not just a few like when I was a high school teacher, and
I appreciated knowing all teachers and their backgrounds too.
Q: When you were in Leesburg you said you were an assistant principal;
was that at an elementary school also?
A: That was elementary plus high school.
Q: -plus high school. Can you maybe just tell me a little bit how you became
involved in becoming a principal, were you asked to take the position or did
you apply for the position?
A: I applied for the position when I found out that they were going to have
a Strasburg elementary school to be opened. It gave me the opportunity to
get back home, for it was where I grew up, and I enjoyed that - being back
home and my family was still young, I had a boy and a girl, and they would
be attending the same school that I'd attended and it kind of makes you feel
good inside to be back home and be accepted anyway. I was accepted back -
I appreciated that.
Q: Do you feel that by coming back to where you grew up, the people knew
you, you were able to get a little bit more cooperation and you knew the parents,
you could talk to them a little bit easier then in being new?
A: I think so. At least I felt I was being accepted that way. But those
experiences I had in Cape Charles were great and I loved Leesburg real well.
I got along real well with a lot of people, the people over there, but being
back home - it gives you a different way of feeling.
Q: A lot of times they say you can't go back home because of that very
A: Yes, that's true.
Q: They know you too much but-
A: Well I grew up here and I delivered papers in this town and things of
that sort so I was known, I guess by the older people, when I got back anyway
and of course I was drafted from here into the service and I got back home
I came back here I was discharged then to Strasburg.
Q: Being a principal at an elementary school probably was a little bit
different, as from in a high school and as assistant principal, you were able
to create your own climate a little bit more. Did you do anything special with
the younger kids to help them feel at home in school and to try and encourage
them to do well?
A: Only that that's the beginning of their education as where you can stress
it more. Some of the finer things that they should know, some of the better
things that they should be doing, some of the things they should be preparing
themself for. Whereas, once you get to high school those kinds of things are
already set the way it seemed to me and so that's why I enjoyed the younger
Q: What type of leadership techniques, if you had any, that you tried to
use with the teachers; were you more of a sounding post or somebody who would
give direction to them or did you let them kind of do their own thing and you
just kind of oversaw what was going on in your building?
A: I felt that teachers who had spent four years in college and under the
professors at that school and then wanted to come out and teach should be
on their own to a certain extent until they would fall and need somebody to
pick them up. If they needed help I would be glad to help. I liked to see
them experience - go out and get their own experience and go through that.
That seems to be more the way I felt about it but I wanted to be more of a
person who cooperated and worked with teachers, not be someone when they came
in their knees were shaking to speak to me or that I have the supreme authority
over them I didn't feel that way, I didn't want to feel that way and I wouldn't
work that way with teachers. I like to work with teachers and make it a sense
of cooperation that way.
Q: Do you feel the teachers in your building felt that way about you, that
they were able to come to you for some advice?
A: From some of the things that has happened with teachers, that does happen
to teachers, yes, I feel that way. I feel that they confided in me on some
things too. That they would come to me first before they would say they may
have to quit or they may have to go here or go there and we would talk and
things of that sort.
Q: What type of - I guess maybe the best question to ask; what do you think
teachers really expect principals to be? Do you feel that most teachers think
principals should be supreme leader of the building and everything comes through
him or that they should have more freedom from the principal who should kind
of just guide them along the way?
A: You'll find that when your dealing with people, and with teachers or
quite a few, they're like children. You'll find that they have different thoughts,
different ways of wanting to be treated, different ways that they want you
to act towards them. You have some who want you to be the supreme leader,
you should shake your fist you should do this, you have others who would much
rather for you to not say to much to them out in a faculty meeting or if other
people are standing around, if you want to correct them they would much rather
you to call them in the office and talk to them. That it should have been
done this way or you might have been more successful if you had done it this
way. Same way you don't walk into a classroom and ball out teachers because
of certain things she does. Some teachers don't like that, but you'll have
teachers who are different and some do want you to be the supreme authority
and you can show that authority in your faculty meetings as well as things
but you don't have to be overbearing. I think being overbearing is not a good;
I just think it's not good.
Q: What would you say was your biggest asset, as a principal towards working,
maybe what I want to ask is, how did you treat - did you treat your people all
the same or did you have a few teachers that you had that were favorites to
you and that you kind of maybe went to for some advice yourself as principal?
A: I think you'll find that in any faculty that you'll have that a principal
will go to certain teachers and ask their opinions about certain things, how
they feel about it. I think it's good, I did that, but then I'd go to not
just that teacher but I'd go to some others and get their feelings too. Let
us say, for example, teachers with experience, I don't want to say older teachers,
but teachers with experience you would talk with them and then you would talk
with teachers who didn't have that much experience, maybe two years or three
years or first year, and ask them because they would have some kind of input
too that you could get. That's what you go on, that's what - I did a lot of
that. I took all their suggestions most times to see what was new and what
the experienced teachers thought worked for them and helped. For me, as far
as success goes, or to go, I think a principal must - and should - be fair.
Q: Were you involved in the hiring process at your school?
A: They - not until later years; and what they did there, they sent an applicant
down for you to interview and then you gave your opinion and then she/he may
be hired and they may not.
Q: So I guess that maybe last ten years or so -
Q: - you actually hired teachers?
A: Yes, it's like you said, with-in the last ten years we had interviews
with those who were applying. We didn't use to have them.
Q: What kind of things did you look for in a new teacher when they were
coming to be interviewed?
A: I asked them how they felt about children because I was kindergarten
through four at this time and I asked them how they felt about children how
they liked to get along with children how they feel about other people and
also I liked to ask whether they had manners or not because I think it was
important. Maybe it isn't in this day and time but it was to me anyway, and
also I watched to see how they were dressed. I still can't get used to men
teachers not wearing ties.
Q: Okay; what kind of pressures did you experience as being a principal,
that might have even changed maybe the pressures that you had when you first
started as a principal as to when you retired did they change over the years?
A: I felt when I first as a principal I didn't have any pressures only that
I was learning, it was more of a learning process for me, and I felt I had
a good background, not that my background but the teachers that were there
who had the experiences that I could go to and help me in my first years as
Principal. I talked with them and I consulted with them on what things should
be done and how it should be done, how to handle this and how to handle that
and they were a big help to me and I enjoyed it very much and those things
I used as I went on in my years. The pressures that I found after I got to
be to the point where I wanted to retire and a little before is the laws that
have come out the laws that prohibit you from doing this or prohibit you from
doing that and things of that sort and you didn't know whether you were -
you went through that period were you didn't know whether you were right or
whether you were wrong and play it by the way I was brought up and all that's
the way I played it and that's the way I went. Of course so far I haven't
been in any trouble yet.
Q: Do you feel that, is it the state do you feel that started putting more
laws or was it the federal government that started laying more laws and things
A: I don't know whether state or federal but I know it was during that time
that they come out that you couldn't paddle a child yet there was a state
law that you can paddle. You - that they have a right to sue you if you; a
child would get the idea from his parents that -"you touch me I'll tell my
Daddy and he'll sue you," well then everything sues at the drop of a hat you
can't do this you can't do that, you can't make me wear this, you can't make
me wear that, I can wear what I want to and all. Something is wrong or went
wrong with education in those days when those kind of things happen. I didn't
uphold it and I still don't uphold it and I still think a person who puts
on clean clothes doesn't usually try to go out and fight, he tries to save
his clothes or at least he used to but now a days I guess so many of them
get/have new clothes all the time that it doesn't matter but when you only
had one suit and you put that on Sunday and you wore that you weren't in a
fight'n mood you were only in a fight'n mood when you put on your overalls
and your dirty clothes and you didn't that you got down on the ground.
Q: How did you go about handling these pressures especially with the laws
that you felt that started to kind of come out?
A: I just went on the values that I had learned from my parents and from
the bible and just kept those values before me and what is right and what
is wrong and I just went on that philosophy to go ahead with education because
I knew they were right, I felt they were right. There has to be right and
wrong there can't be just in between, there's got to be the dark where the
umbrella as well as the ...it has to be in other words you've got to draw
the line someplace and if you'll stick with your values and values you learned
the bible and values you learned from your parents and that respect, it it
will uphold it will hold out.
Q: Did you ever have to handle any type of teacher grievances?
A: I know you - I know they won't believe this, out of twenty-seven years,
but I didn't even know what grievances until I read that in the last four
or five years that I was principal.
Q: When they sent you policies on how to handle -
A: That's right, when the policies came down from up there on how to handle
grievances. I didn't even know what they were or have any idea about them.
No, I never had any and for that I am very thankful.
Q: Do you think maybe it was because you were so open with the teachers
and so available to them that you were able to talk things out before it got
to the point that -
A: I hope that's what it was and maybe I was doing it and didn't know it,
didn't realize it but no I never had anyone even give a grievance or anything.
Q: Okay. But being - I assume you were a principal when the civil rights
era came through was there anything special that you did when you were told
that all of a sudden you would have the integration kind of being forced upon
you rather then the community doing it naturally, or allowing it to happen;
how did you go about getting things started and handling that situation?
A: I believe it was in sixty-four, now don't hold me to that date, but I
believe it was in sixty-four when we did hear we were going to integrate our
schools here. In August before our schools started I, well let me go back
before then; two years before the integration, before we integrated, I used
to go over to the St Lnset Hill Elementary School and help two teachers over
there with their attendance records and also got them the milk program at
that time, so the children could have milk over there, so they - some of the
black children at that time got to know who I was because they saw me come
in and go over and help them and then when the time came for us to integrate
in sixty-four I sent letters out to all those to the parents who would be
entering our school and I had a meeting with them one evening at our school
and I asked them to come to our school and have a meeting then. I sat down
and I talked about things at our school and what was going on and what to
expect and I told them that as sure as we were sitting here and I'm talking
to you that you were going to hear of one of our kids or more say to someone
else that the last one up the hill is going to be niger. They don't mean anything
by that only that that's just a saying and I imagine that one your black children
is going to say that the last one up the hill is white trash, so if we hear
it and your child doesn't like it if it happens and he's upset from it you
tell him to come in to see me and we would set down and I would talk to him
about it. I can't think of any incidences where that happened in that respect
I think the parents went back and told their children and talked with them,
I guess, and we more or less had a smooth year with our integration at that
Q: You didn't have any problems with maybe some of the white parents holding
or keeping their kids home for the first couple of days -
A: No -
Q: - to see how things were going to go, everybody just seemed to accept
A: That's right, it was accepted here at that time. It wasn't that big a
thing like I imagine it was for the south or for the north.
Q: Okay; as a principal, you might have already talked about this a little
bit but, your biggest concern would still be?
A: My biggest concern in the later years as being principal is the pressures
of the laws they gave you in which you have to abide by and how you have to
operate and operate under those guidelines of the law it's not right, it wasn't,
it's wrong that is all.
Q: Do you want to give me a little saying that you used?
A: The saying that I used and I even wrote this to Senator Trible too about
some things, is 'Why is it that judges had the authority but no responsibility?'
they didn't have to carry out the sentences they let someone else carry out
that sentence yet a teacher or a principal in a school has the responsibility
because they could sue you if the kid don't learn, or this or that, so you
had the responsibility but no authority; what authority did you have? When
you go to do something like - they could sue you because you had the responsibility
but no authority.
Q: What do you think was your biggest headache as a principal, was there
anything that kept coming back and nagging at you?
A: Well the only thing that I resented or didn't like was the way the laws
read about us, how what you could do and what you can't do where before you
were the principal and you did the best what you thought was for the children
and now it's not the best, you have to be very careful that - it's like in
a lunch line; I remember when you had to go through the lunch line and those
who get free lunches they can't be singled out they've got to be able to go
through just like everybody else goes through so you've got to handle this
ahead of time before school and all this to make sure that they can go through
and the children don't, that's not where it is, the children don't mind that
some of them are very happy that - or at least I thought they were - they
were going to get a free lunch, they didn't mind it. I can remember when we
used to have children who were in the seventh grade, for example, sixth or
seventh grade and they were big enough we would let them kind of work for
their food during that luncheon period where they could take up trays from
the smaller kids as they came through and they could or some of them would
help with a few other little duties and you can't do that any more because
that's one of the civil rights laws I guess and you can't do that and this
is wrong, it's wrong, I don't care what they say.
Q: I keep thinking the way you talk about these laws that I believe that
the students have a right to an education and whatever it takes for them to
get that education it should be allowed nowadays it seems to be more that the
people are more concerned that the students have all these rights and that you
can't touch them and they have the right to do this and the right to do that
and their not getting the education -
A: That's right -
Q: - with all these rules.
A: I agree with that. It seems that way to me.
Q: What do you think about merit pay do you think it has its merits, do
you think it will work?
A: No, I don't think it will work. I think if your fair with people and
you can set a salary schedule and this is what it is and this is what you
work for and if you don't like that pay, leave. I think merit pay will cause
people to be resentful and I think the time will come that where we all have,
as principals and as teachers; take yourself as a teacher in your classroom
and you've got certain kids you like a little better then you do the other
ones but you've got to be fair, if your not fair they know it; the same way
with merit pay if the principal is to be the one to decide if Mrs. stays a
little bit longer after school so she deserves merit pay well go over there
and cheek and see what she is staying for maybe to write love letters, I don't
know, but I mean the point is I don't think merit pay will work and I think
because it's so hard to be fair to make it work and some will get merit pay
and don't deserve it, that's all.
Q: What do you think about the standards of quality that the state has?
A: When they came out I thought that they had a good idea to do these standards
of quality and I think they should be lenient enough with them for certain
schools who can't afford to come up to them and other schools could do better.
When you talk and see about I think you must have a guideline for your schools
to go by and so I think this will do until they find something better.
Q: Do you have any suggestions on maybe what they need to do or on how
to revise it?
A: Well I think you should take each school district and let them revise
Q: Let the school districts.
A: Let each school district know what his administrators and superintendent
and all know what's in there that they can do and all that, but to waste a
lot of time with all these other things you just waste a lot of time where
you could put it teaching the kids.
Q: Do you think it's, in talking about some of these laws and things, that
did the paperwork increase for you as you went along, I don't know when you
first started how much paperwork you actually had to do?
A: The first paperwork that I had when I first started was making out a
monthly report and we made out a monthly reports of our attendance and things
and attendance of teachers and attendance of children, I sent it in. .-Now
you've got, it's just gobs of it, it's just swarms of it, it overwhelms you
I bet there - and I'm so glad I'm out of it - I imagine the paperwork now
has not decreased it has only increased and about things which well I'd better
Q: That's alright go ahead.
A: No - I just think a lot of it is uncalled for and very unnecessary. I
don't see what they do with it unless somebody wants to make a case out of
it that's all and you know you can take figures and make them say anything
you want them too, I don't care how you fix them up you can make them to make
you feel that you aren't making enough money so you need more or you can make
them feel they are getting too much already so no, I don't think you need
all that, I don't think you need all that paperwork - we've got to let the
teachers teach and we're not doing it. We're not doing it.
Q: Okay; what do you think about the national standardized tests they are
giving right now and the emphasis they are putting on the tests scores every
year you see star, they'll print the different counties and how they are doing,
do you think they should be placing as much importance on these scores as they
are or what's the place for these test scores do you feel?
A: Testing is real good because most of us are tested anyway on things we
do and being down in the elementary school I think testing gives the children
a chance to get started on what goes on when they go on a little higher where
there will be more testing. The emphasis they put on it to compare Shenandoah
County with Frederick County or with Warren County or with Clark County or
with Page County or Rockingham County I don't see any merit in it. It doesn't
mean a thing. Suppose the day that you were testing you had an epidemic of
some kind or a flood of some kind and a lot of the good test-takers couldn't
get to school that day, and that's all it is, is a measure on one day out
of one hundred and eighty days of school - it's a measure of one day out of
one hundred and eighty or one hour no doubt or maybe an hour and one-half,
out of one hundred and eighty days of school that's what it is. I don't think
it means that much to take Shenandoah County and put them against Frederick
County and this or that but they use it to get salary increases and things
of that sort so it's important to a certain extent I guess but I say don't
waste to much of the teachers time let her teach.
Q: What do you think about the national teachers type testing that they
have coming out and they now set like a beginning teachers assessment program
for new teachers, what do you think of all these new trends for testing and
that type of thing for teachers that is coming out and some people have even
emphasized assessing everybody and start all over whether you've got an assistant
principal for twenty-five years or whether it's your first year?
A: I had teachers , it's like I told you when I first started they were
much older than I was thank goodness, because I drew from their experiences
and some of those teachers only went to college six weeks and started teaching
- one of them taught fifty-one years - and others went back and finally finished
two years of college and got what they called an...they were some of the best
teachers that I ever saw go through school. They were good teachers and I'm
talking about the best teachers you can get and now we are supposed to have
four years but you must remember that there is more to know now then there
was then. Just like me, for example, when I went through high school we got
up to President Coolidge or Harding and that was it but now my son went through
school and he went, if Roosevelt could have lived long enough maybe he wouldn't
have, that's the only one he would have ever had to have known but look at
how much more history that he had to learn than I had to learn so teachers
have to know more now than they used too. Maybe with the testing it might
be right for them, I don't know I sometimes think we over test like I said
before and it's just that I don't know for sure, I can't answer you for sure
but I do know there's new trends, new ways. I do like the idea where they
send a teacher out and let her come into a school for a year and let that
be one of her graduate/college hours or graduates and that she comes in and
observes a teacher, stays with a teacher and then let that teacher let her
take over maybe once a week or two/twice a week or sometimes a week at a time
and I think that's good, then she'll know then she'll know when she graduates
whether she wants to be a teacher or not and what all the homework is and
what all the extra work is that she has to put up with and do, whereas you
can go and sit in a classroom and get all the philosophy you want and all
the methodology you want and all that but when you walk out that's when you've
got to put it to use and here is where the experience is. I like that idea
more than I do your testing programs, give them a year out there in the field.
Q: I've heard of a lot of people who feel the same way about that, that
the student teaching experience is not long enough they just really get a little
A: - yes, about six weeks or whatever they have now. Let them come for the
year. Start right at the first of the year and let them see what; you see,
a lot of times what happens is we have teachers that come in, student teachers,
and they come in maybe December when the class is already set up, let them
come the first day when those kids first come in and see what happens, let
them be there the last day when they leave and see what happens. A lot of
teachers never experience that until they are in their first year of teaching.
Q: - and then they are so overwhelmed that certain things happen to them.
A: That's right. 'Well I didn't know how to do all this paperwork, I didn't
know how to get this report in', let them make out the report near the end
and all that teachers have to make out and things of this sort.
Q: Would you consider yourself a manager of your school or a leader of
your school and somebody else took care of running kind of the everyday things
there in the school?
A: I figured our school was small enough that they let the principal - I
didn't have an assistant principal and we made out our schedules and I consulted
with the teachers with their schedules to see what they liked, I consulted
with them if sometimes they wanted to be moved I asked them if they wanted
to be or if they didn't want to be, or would you consider being moved or not
and like maybe if a second grade teacher wanted to go up to the third or a
third grade teacher might want to come down to the second grade or first grade,
things of this sort so I was the management part, I guess you would call it,
and as far as leadership goes I would go and talk with them. I think we worked
it out together and I would ask them about our schedules, how they liked the
bus schedules, would you like to have it by the week, would you like to have
it by the date, would you just like to be on it in the mornings or instead
in the afternoons.
Q: Okay; if you were talking to maybe a teacher who was thinking about
maybe going into administration, what kind of advice would you give this person
A: One word. One word is all you need or he needs; be fair. Be fair for
if you can be fair why you'll get along just fine as principal. It's the hardest
thing in the world to do but be fair. It's just like it is in the classroom
you'll have certain teachers who may not agree with you, on what you do and
may explain themselves that way, may make you feel kind of bad at the time,
but you treat her the same you do as those who like you or those who don't
like you. You treat everybody the same. You treat all your teachers fair,
you treat your children that you have under you fair, and they'll know it
and they'll respect you for it when the times comes.
Q: What do you think best prepared you for becoming a principal?
A: I think my religious background that my mother and father gave me, my
having to go into teaching and having teachers with experience there and relying
on them and then when I became a principal having those teachers who had so
many years experience in teaching help me to be a principal because I went
to them for advice and consulted with them on a lot of things that I just
didn't decide on right now or do this or do that I would go and ask them about
it. I would get some idea from them and I think their help is what helped
me more than anything else.
Q: Do you think with the way most principalships are set today that there
should be some type of organizational changes in the daily routine, did you
ever feel like you kind of had to much to do, some of this stuff could be passed
on to other folks or anything like that?
A: Well I personally, as principal, tried to eliminate as much as I could
from teachers. You as a principal could have teachers doing your work to be
honest with you but I tried to eliminate ag much as that as I possibly could
because I think teachers should teach. That's what they should do. Actually
the best thing to do with a school is to do away with the teachers room, the
room that they have where they go to sit down or smoke a cigarette or go to
Q: - the teachers lounge -
A: the teachers lounge they call them. That would be one of the nicest things
to close up just have a restroom there where only one or two could go at a
time. That would be a big help. For teachers, I like to eliminate as much
paperwork from them and I liked to do for them all that I could do so that
they could teach in that respect and handle all the other things. I have done
bus duty for teachers who I thought should get home earlier because of when
we get out for snow and things of that sort...because I didn't have that far
to go home some of them had to go much farther than I did so that's why I'd
do those things. I think you ought to eliminate as much paperwork from them
as you possibly can, because they've got plenty to do, and let them teach.
Q: Would you go back into being an administrator again if you went back
A: Not today. I know I don't want any part of today. I wouldn't want any
part of it five years ago but back when I started, yes, I loved it man I thought
I'd reached the pinnacle. I had reached my goal, my goal was there and that
was it. I never wanted to go any further than that neither. I had no desire
to be a supervisor, I had no desire to be a superintendent, I had no desire
for any of that. I just wanted where I was at. Here is were it is, you are
with the kids and you're with the teachers. That's where education is. Today
it's ahead of me today now. I couldn't handle it today I don't believe because
I wouldn't understand it. There is to much paperwork.
Q: You said you never had any desire to be like a supervisor
Q: Because of the same reason of to much paperwork there?
A: I don't know but my point is I think your away from the teachers, your
away from the kids and you don't have the daily contact. Supervisors goes
and talks with the teachers today and may not see that teacher again for weeks
or months maybe or a month and a half or until she's called back to see him
but I as a principal had daily contact with each and every teacher, had daily
contact with each and every child. I had daily contact with seeing these kids,
I'd walk into the cafeteria, I'd go into physical ed., go into the rooms and
all. I got to see that I was with them and that's where it is.
Q: Do you think that might have been one of the reasons that you got along
so well with the parents and with the kids; they felt they could come to you because
they saw you around, you weren't the type of Principal who just sat around in
your office and waited for them to come to you, you went out to them?
A: I don't know. I don't know what they thought but that's the way I felt
about kids and the teachers. To be with them.
Q: Okay; over the last several years schools seem to be becoming larger
and larger I think even Shenandoah County thinking about building -
A: - they were thinking about consolidating and they turned that down. The
Board of Supervisors did.
Q: - what was there reason for that?
A: ...there reason was that the people didn't want it and that's true. I
still think the smaller the school the better you are realizing I'm talking
as an elementary principal and not as a high school Principal who has all
those different subjects and stuff he has to contend with but I think the
closer you are with the kids the better off you are. You are like a family
and that's what we want and that's why we tried to have our schools, we tried
to organize it like a family for we were a family, a big family, but we were
a family and that's what we wanted. When you've got close contact with the
kids that's where it is.
Q: I was thinking about; did a lot of kids that you had years ago come
back and talk to you about their -
A: Some of them talk to me about their experiences. I'll let you in on a
secret that I've never told anybody and some of the kids wouldn't tell it.
When I first started with the schools at Strasburg we would have an assembly
program and I told them that I wanted us to have something that no one else
ever had, that no one else knows about and just belongs between you students
and me, no one else. When you come and you sit down as you arrive when my
hand goes to my lapel that means you all stood up I didn't have to say nothing,
but when my hand goes to my lapel you stand up, if your standing up then I
want you all to sit down and all I do is put my hand to my lapel and you sit
down. Now we are going to practice. So I put my hand to my ear to see if any
of them would jump up and one or two would you know and then we would practice
and I would put my hand to my lapel and they would all stand up. I would take
it down and walk around the stage a little while and then I would put my hand
to my lapel while I was still walking and they would all sit down. We practiced
that and we used that in our assembly programs and everyone who put on assembly
asked me 'Mr. Racey, how did they know when to get up and when to sit down',
no one knew. One man came to our school, oh I guess for at least seven years,
to give an award that he gave, then he sent somebody else after that, and
he was always amazed at that. He never caught on on how they would get up
and down and I told the children never even to tell their parents and their
parents didn't know it. Now that I've been - well just this last year one
the boys said "Mr. Racey do you still use that about putting your hand to
your lapel?' you know. They thought that was great, it was something that
they had. Something that no one else had but they had, and nobody else had,
and they loved it and it was easy, as easy as it could be.
Q: Up in Frederick County their thinking about building schools, some elementary
schools, and some of the philosophies are that they need to be bigger schools
and a lot of the little communities like Gainesboro and Gore they want to keep
that little, small area school and I guess it's for those various things that
they have something special about that area that they kind of belong too.
A: You've got to have a comrade or a spirit and it doesn't have to be written,
it doesn't have to be written to be something. See, here's where we lost something
some years ago, I'm off of education right now, I remember George Washington
wouldn't run for the third term because he would be a like a king yet that
was never in the Constitution, you didn't have to put it in we all abided
by it until one certain President came along. He couldn't abide by it, he
wanted to be the big boy. He did it a third and a fourth time then you had
to write it up in the Constitution so there's nothing to it now but there
was a spirit, there was a comrade, there was a thing that you get and something
that you did that nobody else could do or nobody would do and you didn't have
to write it down. You lived by it, you did it. That's what they liked about
this getting up and getting down and being seated and not and standing up.
We had order this way because they were looking for it. They watching to see
if I was going to trip them. If I happened to put my hand up to my head, or
bring it up this way, they wanted to see who was going to be the first one
up, see, and I didn't touch my lapel. I would get them and we would practice
and we got it down and we did this at the beginning of every year and they
all knew it and went through it and they loved it and they did not tell their
parents. They had comrade, it gave them spirit and it gave you something for
your school and it wasn't written any place in a book.
Q: It sounds interesting -
A: It doesn't have to be a law. It wasn't a law.
Q: - something everybody kept to them?
A: That's right. That they lived by and that's what we need more of but
we don't have it.
Q: A lot of people think today that these schools that are so called "super
schools" or have a very high educational status and things and they have an
administrator who really finds a way to get involved in leadership and things
like that and for educational type of activities and things; maybe what you
could tell me is a few of the techniques and strategies that you had to help
get yourself involved in your educational and things. Did you have any special
things that you liked to do for kids who were or did something outstanding?
A: Oh, yeah - you did some special awards for the kids who have and we had
special programs we recognized children at. When they did certain things we
did it with physical ed., we did it with academic, we did it with art and
things of that sort. Some of our teachers didn't like the philosophy of taking
children and having them to draw and picking out the best three, you know,
out of the class because not everybody can draw. You shouldn't make everybody
do it if you are going to judge it that way, I think. If your going to judge
an art contest don't make everybody in your room do that contest. Just those
who want to because not everybody has that talent to be able to do that. It
doesn't hurt - I tried to recognize everybody, you know. When I coached basketball
if we wanted to win I would tell them if they wanted to be a star, not one
person can be a star, no way you can because you don't have five points but
if I've got five men out there that's a star and we need all five of you to
cooperate then we're a star. That's the way we can become a star and we can
shine and we can be lighted up, we can play and do what you wanted to but
one man we can have one good player but we aren't going anyplace. We'll recognize
him as being our best player but that's about it but we need five of you.
Q: Do you think most of the students in your school felt that way? That
they were a star even though they were only one in four hundred.
A: Oh, I think so. I think our kids always felt like they were wanted there.
Most kids that I ever heard said they wanted to get back to school when the
time came for them to come back and that was unusual, I know it. When I was
a kid I didn't want to.
Q: Do you have anybody, maybe, special that you kind of molded yourself
or kind of patented yourself after?
A: The teachers that I had in school I tried to do what they did and the
principal I had, Mr. George W. Garner. He was a good man and he had a lot
on him to take care of and yet he was a good man. The teachers we had were
good teachers. Their values and morals were right up at the tip-top as far
as I was concerned and like I told you I had some of them that taught me when
I came back and I was principal and they were under me then and I appreciated
that. I really did and I think they were really the ones that helped.
Q: We've talked a little bit about the feeling that most the kids had that
they felt that they belonged to your school, they had a special role in the
school. Do you feel that a lot of these schools these days with the teachers
and even some of the administrators, that they've become a little separated
from the kids?
A: That can happen and I don't think it should. That can happen, don't let
it happen to you. Whatever you do, please, make yourself a family. Be fair
and make yourself a family and you'll get along just fine with kids. If my
ten years of being a principal has been successful that's what I was aiming
to. I can take you out and show you all the mementos that I've gotten when
I retired that year. I've got a room out there that's full of things; cards,
letters from the kids, things they sent from the kids, from teachers and from
other folks around and one lady drew a picture of my antique automobile and
she had all the kids to sign on a great, big piece of paper folded over it
and they all signed it and all the children.
Q: Just kind of watching over the last few years I've kind of noticed with
maybe some of the human relations aspect is maybe some of the minority students
again might have been feeling that they are kind of being separated out or singled
out a little bit. Do you feel any of that maybe coming in today's education...?
A: The only way that I feel that that come in and the only problem we had
there was the parents themselves did it, not the child. Children got along
with children just like all children do whether you were all white or whether
you were black and white. Children can be cruel to each other but then it's
over with and then the next day or with-in the next hour or with-in the next
two days or three days it's over with and they can say some bad things to
each other, but it's over with It's not a grudge, it's not a vengeance like
down in a small school like it is in other places. Of course there will be
times when the other says 'Well I'll get you.' but it will soon be over with.
The trouble of it is with a minority child they'll take it home and the parents
will take it up then whereas if the parents would explain to them what was
happening or is going to happen and to hang in there and if anything goes
wrong to tell the teacher, I don't think you'll have much problems with that.
Q: I guess maybe the next thing I'd kind of like to talk about; in your
building, the class I'm taking is on personnel management so there's a couple
of things I'd like to see how you were involved in your school in this area,
how much planning were you involved with? Like say, for the master schedule
or keeping your building staffed properly and that type of thing, were you involved
in a great deal?
A: You make out your, I made out our schedule for the school. In other words,
for your, where the teachers would be involved with the schedule. That was
our master schedule. Now as far as the janitor was concerned we had three
custodians. Two eight hours and one a four hour one. The eight hour one would
come in the morning and open up the building and things of this sort and knows
what to do. Some principals from what I understand make their schedules out,
make those custodian schedules out, what to do, where to clean and things
of that sort. I didn't have much problem with that because the Superintendent
of Maintenance, who hired these people, told them what they were supposed
to do and the hours they were supposed to work and the time sheets they were
supposed to make out and that's what we did. That's another thing that takes
up your time, here's a custodian who is on contract and he's got to keep an
hourly time sheet and mark it in each day and hand it in at the end of the
week and it had to be sent up for me to initial it or sign it and then send
it up to the Superintendent's office. Since when did people on contract have
to have an hourly time sheet? You contract to do so much work. You contract
to clean the building. Well if it takes two hours to clean it, fine, and if
you get paid five hours for doing it when you can do it in two, what's the
difference? This law business, I tell you. The master schedule, in that respect,
is what I made out, was what was made out for the teachers but some principals
do make out their custodian's schedules. You didn't have to make out bus schedules.
Q: - bus schedules, okay. Did you ever, maybe, go out an act as a recruit
when you knew you had a teacher resigning or retiring, actually go out and try
to maybe talk a person into coming to your school?
A: Only very rarely. There was only once or twice I think in my whole career.
That was during the middle of the year or when somebody...when you tried to
find someone. Other than that, all applications were sent into the Superintendent's
office. They would review them now and I don't think you'd have any problem
Q: You told me you got into the actually like hiring in the last few years
of your principalship, how much say did you have as to what that person actually
went to teach and then how did you go about orientating this person to your
building and what you expected of him or her?
A: They would send - after they had interviewed the person they would send
them to the school they were thinking about placing them and then they would
come down to your school and you would interview them and talk to them and
then after that, why they would go back and you would talk with the Supervisors
and Superintendent about it. Then later on they give you a piece of paper
to mark certain things and you would send that in and you wouldn't have to
call about it you would just mark it as favorable or unfavorable and what
you had and all.
Q: Okay, when the teacher came to you and they were going to be at your
building, did you kind of maybe talk to them and where do you feel most comfortable,
second grade, third grade -
A: Yeah, interview them or I'd ask them what they were assigned for or what
they were looking for. Of course I knew anyway if we were looking for a second
grade teacher that's what they came down for and I would ask them certain
things about how they felt about children, had they ever or in their educational
field or in their student teaching did they take second grade or the third
or fourth and things of this sort and how they felt about kids, how they get
along. I'd ask them about their educational background and things of this
sort, about being in school, and also watched to see how they were dressed.
To see, in that respect, to see whether they had manners and things of this
sort, which I think is very important for a teacher.
Q: After you had hired a teacher, then, was there any special type of orientation
program that you would use?
A: Well, only when they came the county has their orientation program at
the beginning. They take the teachers in and talk to them, but then when they
come to our school we had a faculty meeting together and always told them,
like for example, there's a kindergarten teacher coming in and there's three
other kindergarten teachers and I'd give them their name and I'd say 'You
get with them and sit with them and talk with them' and they'll tell you how
they set their program during the day and maybe this will give you some idea
how you want to set yours up in cooperation with because you have to go by
your physical ed. schedule and your lunch schedule and what you want to do
because when you all have physical ed. and lunch now what do you want to work
in between in that block of time, why you can work it with the teacher that's
next door to you if you want to work it that way. So they cooperated pretty
well that way. They got together like that a lot of them and they would lock
in when they were going to cover and what they were going to cover.
Q: Were you involved very much in staff development or in-service type
of programs or was the county?
A: The county had an awful lot of in-service programs, sometimes they had
too many in my opinion, and that takes you away and I think anything that
takes you away from a school, takes teachers away from their school, is detrimental
to them. I don't see the advantage of it.
Q: Did they come to you for suggestions on what you thought, like, would
be good staff development ideas or did they just send -
A: We had that in our principal's meetings a couple of times and then when
a supervisor, like when Supervisor of Elementary Education she would call
a principal's meeting, as you call it..., the elementary principals got together
a lot about what they wanted to do and how they would get - that was our in-service
a lot of times.
Q: Do you feel, maybe, that you all maybe came up with one unique -
A: Oh yeah, if they did I don't know what it is but I mean as far as some
of it they were going to do, what are some of the things their going into,
how should we run our testing programs and things of this sort, when is the
best time to take, can you finish the test and so the books can be over here
. . . and things of this sort. They - we did discuss D. S. I. and when I was
getting ready to leave they were getting pretty well into what you call D.
S. I. and I don't know what it is yet.
Q: I have heard of it.
A: It's a new philosophy of programming where you teach children how to
Q: What was your idea about teacher appraisal and evaluation?
A: I never liked to evaluate teachers to a certain extent. I think you can
walk by a room and look, walk by a room and look in the glass and see how
the classroom is going. You know, teachers are all different just the same
as kids. Some teachers can have a little what you would call chaos going in
the room and yet their learning. Some kids could be in that room and the teacher
could get along just fine with kids who are getting up and down out of their
seat whereas in another room that teacher has so much command that you'd better
not get up out of that seat, you'd better raise your hand before you speak
out yet in another room kids could speak out and things of this sort and the
teacher still has control and their learning. So, you've got to recognize
those things and you've got to realize which teacher is doing that. If you
don't, why your going to evaluate them wrong.
Q: Does the county have a specific form for you to use or did you -
A: Yes, yes they had a specific form and what a form it was. I know I'm
in trouble, I guess, but that one they had about five things on it which was
way, way too much you only needed about three and we finally got back to three
after one year. One year they had about five, there was five of them, and
they got back to three which was satisfactory.... That's all you need. Why
do you want to go and say satisfactory, very satisfactory, excellent, superior?
Where do you draw the line between those things? If a teacher is satisfactory
she's satisfactory, she could be excellent or she could be satisfactory. They
are making too much, trying to draw the line to hard for you and I didn't
Q: Did you have to spend a lot of time doing the teacher -
A: You do, yes sir and that's -
Q: I guess if you don't like it, it seems like even more time.
A: Oh, it is. I didn't like it if you want to know the truth. You see here
being in my career, or as you called it that, you ended up knowing which teachers
were doing right and which was doing wrong and what was going on. I mean,
all you would have to do is walk by. All you would have to do is walk by a
room or go and sit in a room just for a few minutes or watch them come down
for lunch, watch them in the lunch rooms and watch how they walk. Now you
don't do this in high school, I realize this, but we do it in elementary.
They never could understand why you lined them up. We lined them up for a
purpose and it was one of the greatest purposes in the world. It kept control
now. That's like being in a school where they have awards going on okay, what
do you do with a fire? Do you just let everybody just go? You ring the fire
bell and everybody just goes? You take them out in an orderly fashion, when
they get up and line up and walk out, I'll be willing to put my life on the
line that you'll see more children, more children will get out of that school
than those that when the bell rings you just let them go. They'll be safer
and they'll get out whereas those when you just let them go, they'll fall
all over everyone trying to get to that door first they'll fall and there
will be some that will be taken up by the smoke and they'll be killed. That's
why you line them up and you do it orderly and it teaches them, for a fire
drill, and you do it by going to lunch. That's where they get it for the fire
drill and you can get there much more orderly and you can get there much more
quicker. Everything is done much faster. I pulled out of there with eight-hundred
and one children out of our school one year and I had everybody in certain
lines outside. When the bell rang, the second bell, I had them walk in and
peel off into their rooms and we could get them into their rooms and we were
saving five minutes by doing that whereas when the bell rang everybody could
just come in when they wanted to, we saved five minutes by doing this. The
kids were all in their room ready to go but we would line them up so they
could peel off by number and it didn't take any time at all.
Q: I think it also helps the children develop a sense of discipline and
I think they've gotten away from that in education.
A: It's not a hard discipline. It's not a rough discipline. It's not where
your beating the thunder out of anybody.
Q: Okay, I'm not sure on the next few things like compensation you really
probably didn't play much of a role in deciding wages and salaries but maybe
in the early days -
A: No, I was always on a salary schedule for the teachers and they always
gave you just a salary for the principals and then my last year, two years,
they came up with a salary schedule up there.
Q: I think we talked enough about your employee relationships and I wanted
to ask you about that and you said to be fair with them as much as possible
A: Oh yes, be fair and you'll get along, I'll tell you. The hardest thing
to do and at times you don't want to be but you have to be.
Q: Job type of security, insurance, that type of things did you deal much
Q: Like sick leave days and personal days -
A: Well we kept those, you know, we kept a record but I had nothing to do
with that. No, the only thing was to just keep the records and send them into
the school board office.
Q: One of the other areas is with continuity and that might be like with
personnel counseling that you I guess that might have come along on the evaluation
did you ever have to bring someone in and just kind of correct their - they
might have just strayed off the trail a little bit?
A: No, I never had any of that. I never did any of that.
Q: Is there anything else that you might like to talk about that I haven't
asked you. Basically I'm finished unless there was something else -
A: No, I've enjoyed it and I've enjoyed my years in education very much.
I'm glad I'm retiring. I'm glad I'm out but I do miss the teachers and I miss
the children. I really do, those are the two things I really miss and their
the ones that keep you young, too, if you stay with them and they like you
as much as you like them and I think whenever, if your going to be principal,
do what you can for the children and do what you can for teachers. Take as
much paperwork off the teachers so they can teach and be seen in your school
so kids know you're there. If they know you're there, they'll feel better
too and my philosophy - that's what I'd tell a principal to be. You don't
have to be "Dr. Fahrenheit". I mean have all the digress you want but if you
don't have that comrade, that spirit in your school and being with kids you'll
Q: Okay, I thank you very much for your time.
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