This is November 21, 1995, and this is an interview with Mr. Scarborough in Virginia Beach Middle School. I'm interviewing a retired school principal.
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Q: Mr. Scarborough, would you begin by telling me about your family background, your childhood interests and development?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: Ok, My father was in the coast guard and he was a native Virginian from Chincateague, Virginia, and he was stationed up on the Jersey coast in 1920, the late 1920's. And, uh, in those days they didn't chase the druggies, they chased the rum runners. And uh, he met my mother up there and I was born in, uh, a little town up there that had a hospital, and I know the name of the hospital and don't know the name of the town, but I was only there for three days, so hm, I never claimed it or anything. But, we lived up and down the east coast, we lived in places in New York uh, on Long Island, and we lived in Jersey shore and those beaches, we lived down in Virginia Beach, and North Carolina, Chincateague, and places like that. And hm, I was able to go, I, went to, went to Virginia Schools, which back in those days wasn't so hot, but I also went to schools up in New Jersey that were pretty good. And, uh, when WWII started, my father was at sea, so we lived, my mother and I, and my brother, lived in Atlantic City, actually Vintner, and uh, which is uh, Atlantic City is really not just one city, it is four cities on an island and we lived in the next city below Atlantic City, Vintner, and they had a pretty good school system. And I really think that that school system was the basis for almost everything that I picked up as the years went by or to learn how to learn and all that sort of thing. And incidentally, I failed the third grade, in that magnificent school system. I didn't want to do homework and I thought they would just give me a break, but they didn't, so I found out I had to do my damn homework. But it took me two years to get convinced, but that was in the days when you have just like one lady to third grade, one lady to a fourth grade, one lady to a fifth, so you don't have the same lady over again. So, anyhow, I finally got out of the third grade, lady in the fourth grade liked me, and I was always interested in History and all that sort of thing, and she loved it, so she used to spend a lot of time with me and I sort of took off. And I didn't do too bad in school until I got into the eighth grade. And I was in the first eighth grade that they ever had in Princess Anne County, Virginia. They used to go for the first... there was no kindergarten in the Virginia Schools then, and we used to go from the first grade through the seventh grade and then we would go to the high school, and we would get out of high school when we were 16 years old, and we would only go for 11 years. But fortunately for me, I had failed the third grade, so when the time came for me to leave the seventh grade, the eighth grade was installed, so I got to go to the eighth grade, which put me another year behind. And I finally got out of school when I was eighteen years old when most everybody else does and I had been in school fourteen years by the time I was eighteen. I started before I was five. And nobody checked, I guess, so I started real early. Uh, I.. the Korean war was on, and I had always wanted to be... I was uh, I looked back over the years and thought about this, I was probably a little bit nuts, but I had always thought that I wanted to be in the service in WWII, but I was too young so when the Korean war started and I was getting out of high school I joined the Marines. So I could get into it. And I did at work, I went to, uh, and within six months I had finished my boot camp and my infantry training, and I had even been to track vehicle school and learned how to drive tanks and amtrack. And I was on my way to Korea in December of that year when I graduated from high school. I spent over a year in Korea, uh, out of the 12 or 13 months I was there, about 10 months of it, little over 10 months was spent in combat and uh, it was a sobering experience, you know to say the least. And in fact but the Marine Corps I really feel did more for me then any other training that I ever had and uh, as far as leadership and uh, accepting responsibility and sticking to a task until it was finished, and all that sort of thing. So I came back out of the Marines, and I had thought about going to College when I was younger, in fact, had even had a couple of chances to go to uh, up to the University of Virginia when they use to take football recruit up there, just like they do now... and, uh, and I liked what I saw, I went to William and Mary too and went up there and look around, and then I went off in the service and the years went by and I forgot about it. But when I came back, I was getting ready to get out of the Marines and I was looking for a job and a man... I tried to get a job at ??? and a man down there remember me playing high school football, and he asked me if I had thought about playing in college. And, so I said "Not really" so he talked to me some more, and everything, and before it was all over and done with, I ended up working for (Vevgo ?), but the (Vevgo ?) people took me up to Blacksburg, and I was on the freshman football team up there when I first started in 1954. So I am up there to play football, and I was 22 when I started, not quite 22. And I, uh, I would be 22 that October. I got up there, had not been in school for three years, did not do well in high school, largely because I did not care. got by on D's and that sort of thing. and went to a little old country school out here at Oceana, school has been torn down, doesn't even exist. And I got up to Virginia Tech and never made below a B on a English paper or ??? or any of that. so those B's back in that high school were taught by some people who knew what they were doing. because I didn't have any trouble when I got up there. And unlike today, while I didn't set the world on fire, my first two years, I went through there in four years, I had a degree in business administration, my major was in my public administration, which is the city manager course now. I came out of.. I came out of Virginia Tech, and I went to work for Reynolds Tobacco Company. Didn't even smoke, still don't. but I went to work for Reynolds down in Winston Salem, and I was a management trainee and I didn't like working down there, I came back and uh, to Virginia Beach and I got a job teaching school so I could have something to do until and I could get a real job and I taught for the next 35 years and when I started teaching, I was in the elementary school and I taught the six grade and then I taught 7th grade and then I, we, at first, we taught all subjects and then later on I just stuck to Math and taught Math, and I taught, and that we would departmentalize in some of the situations we were in and, uh, I became a principal.
Q: Ok, I am going to stop you. Would you discuss your college education in preparation for entering the field of teaching. How many years did you serve as a teacher, principal, and where did you work as an administrator?
A: Ok, that is a good question. Because it turns out that as time went by I was better prepared with a degree in Business Administration than I was if I had a degree in Teaching. The Marine Corp had already taught me how to handle people, and when I got into uh, uh as far as college went in preparing for teaching I didn't really prepare for it, but one of the things I felt all my life is what every single person has done, whether they are a nuclear physist or brain surgeon, all of them have at least sixteen years experience in the classroom by the time they get out of college. And they have all seen somebody that they thought was doing the thing right, and it is sort of on the job training, but there is not a person alive with a high school diploma and a college degree that hasn't had at least sixteen years of on the job training. So anyhow, uh, I really didn't prepare for teaching. What we would do then was, uh, I was allowed to teach but I had to take nine credits and I started that through William and Mary, which worked out pretty good, because I ended up getting a master's degree from William and Mary later. Uh, I taught for six years, and then I was a principal for 29 years.
Q: Would you talk about your circumstances surrounding your entry into principalship?
A: Ok, the best situation, I was in a good situation. I have been lucky forever in everything. That includes the Marines and everything else. But the thing about the principalship was I was a elementary teacher, and there weren't that many men teaching in the elementary school, nobody wanted a job, they didn't pay you anything. When I started out I was paid $3,300 a year and I got three hundred extra, for being in the service. And a masters degree paid a $150 bucks, and if you gave up your summer job and didn't work weekends, and that sort of thing, and you went to school it would take you about twenty years to break even on the masters degree to get your money back that you put into it. And that was just putting a couple of thousand dollars into to it, to get it. So uh, what are we talking about the circumstances surrounding it? Pamela: When you... See, I am also getting old now, fortunately. But, there were not many men in the business, there were a lot of very good people, we may have been the very first equal opportunity employers as far as men and women went. I, uh, you know started teaching the schools were segregated, so we started different from what yaw'll know now. But the ladies all got paid the same thing the men did, and uh, I think we just gravitate towards running things, because nobody really wanted the job. and we didn't mind doing it. I remember keeping buses running, you know a lot of things that we would do just to get the kids out to school and get the kids home, and willing to discipline the kids and that sort of thing. It was a different way of doing things. It was things that we had seen forever, you know that we had been a part of and we just keep on doing it like that. But uh, I, another thing about it, too, is we never got paid year round, and I always had to work three jobs always taught in the winter, got paid $8.00 a week to coach and, uh, that was not paid to me at one time, that was paid to me over a year's period. So if I got a three hundred supplement for coaching, I got so much each payday. It would be like $30.00 and that breaks down next to nothing per week, but, uh, at any rate, the big deal about teaching or about getting the job as principal would be that I could get paid year round, and by the time I was in my last year of teaching, counting my veterans bonus and other things I was all the way up to $5,200 a year. So the day that I was called down to the administration building, uh to meet the superintendent, who had been my superintendent when I was a kid in school, uh he told me he wanted me to be the principal of the school were I was, that they were all leaving and going over to open, uh, well, they are middle schools now... but he, they would go over-- probably first middle schools were 6 and 7th grades over at Hermett and I would stay and we, our school would go from grades 1-5 and there would be 24 classrooms, 24 teachers, no assistant principal, no nurse. There was a secretary and a cook, and two custodians - one day, one night. We had like forty-five kids to a class - forty-five forty-eight kids to a class. We had about a thousand kids, in actual, I said a thousand, actually, it was the school was pretty new though. It was Pembroke elementary. And it was perhaps the best building a ever worked in. And uh, without a doubt as a look back over, it was the best administrative job I ever had, was to be in the elementary school, even with the forty-eight kids. And uh, my pay went from $5,200 to an exsorbent $6,750 bucks and that was with a masters. And uh I it took me three years because I couldn't work my summer job. and I couldn't work during Christmas, I used to delivery mail during Christmas time, and I couldn't work there and, therefore, it took me three more, two more contracts before I made as much money as a building principal in as if I worked my two and three jobs. And that obtained for a long time, men would come in - and women would come into the assistant principalship and assistant principals that I had and they would give up their jobs selling cars or real estate or something like that so that they could do it. And it would be a number of years before that would break even. But, anyhow that is one of the things that... plus the fact that I always wanted to be the captain. Always wanted to run the thing, and I used to think a lot about the schools being they were much like the marines in the sense that, uh, my classes- marines rifle platoon had forty-three people in it, and the classes had forty to forty-five people in it. And they would have one platoon leader and there would be one teacher. I used to think about grade levels as rifle companies. Uh, the elementary schools were the batalians, the junior highs were the regiments, and the high schools were the division, and we were on the front line and that is were I wanted to be. I never wanted to be in an administration building, ever.
Q: Ok, Would you describe your personal philosophy of education?
A: Yeah, I don't know that I have a, I have some feelings, and we talked about this earlier and I tried to think about it, and uh, without really thinking about it too hard. I think basically what I wanted to see was all the kids that I was involved with get a chance, and I wanted all of them to sit down and shut up when I wanted them to but also wanted them to do about anything they wanted to do that would make a contribution. And I a lot of times that was just sitting there and listening. You know, they didn't have to run the program or anything. But I knew there was a lot of kids, one thing we used to do then, that they don't anymore, we kept a register and this was a book that had the names of all kids in it. And you would have to take each cumulative folder and you would have to list them first by, you list all the males first, and then you would list all the females, and you had to put their name. Oh, you had to put their addresses on there, you had to put how much they weight, and you had to put various little physical things about them but you also put down their mothers and daddys and what their folks did for a living, this was all in this register, I have, I don't have any here with me, but I have them at home. And uh, there would be twenty-five spaces for the boys and twenty fives spaces for girls. All down one column, and we used to have enough kids that would come in and then transfer to ... there was just about every single year each teacher would have two registers. And that would be you would see over 50 kids that would be 50 55-60 kids in and out of your class during the year and you always had 40 or 45. And uh... the uh... as far as the philosophy, I just wanted to see each one of them have the same chance that the others did, and I never felt that it had to do with machines, and fancy buildings. I think if that was true, Harvard and William and Mary wouldn't be doing us any good. So, I come across more of this as we go on as far as the philosophy went but I uh... said to you earlier that I felt like SAT scores got in the way. I used to think I was the person who was the example of what you could do when you got ready to do and wanted to do it but I actually did better in college than I did in high school, and I breezed through graduate school and those programs because I wanted to be there. and I had things I wanted to do, and I felt like that most of the kids had the intelligence and when I used to enter those things in that register that would show up in there, too, you had to put down their achievement scores. So you would see kids in there that were not achieving, the, used to have crust around their nose, and green things hanging out and dirty knees and busted trousers and all the rest of that kind of stuff, but you saw what they could do, you know if they had a chance to do it. And I tell you something, I was in the school business for about 15 years before I realize that as a kid I had gone to school with people that were EMR, that were EH, that were that were itenirate, that were uh, whatever the hell it is, that they give you money for lunch and everything like that and I remember all that now. You know, as the years go by I realize now that Damn, those kids were like that. And the only thing about it, was we didn't know it, they didn't know, and that is not trying to be philosophical like Eisenhower, that said "If I was four I didn't know it". But uh, we had those kids like that I remember coming back on the -- coming back from Williamsburg, and there was no bridge across there and we use to have to ride the ferries across. And we had been up there to play the school in Williamsburg, Matthew Welley, and nobody had, nobody had eaten. So we stopped at BBQ place on the side of road, and one of the boy's who lived on a farm just outside of Virginia Beach here, he stayed on the bus, and I was the first person back on the bus and I asked him, and I said Lloyd, aren't you going to eat? Oh, no I am not hungry. and uh I said I've got some money, do you want some money? Nah, Nah, I don't need any money And later on, I ask one of the coaches, about that, and he said "Well, hell he doesn't have any money. Said that boy can't afford to do this, that and and the other thing. And there was a lot of that. Especially after WWII, there were a lot of kids, this town had a lot of little farms in it, you know and people really didn't do too well, neither did school teachers, if you stop and think about it. But anyhow, I remember that. We had those kind of kids and that sort of thing.
A: But I felt that if the kids would have the opportunity and they could maintain their health and get a fair shake and everything like that they would probably be able to attain and, throughout the years that's what I wanted to provide, and later on one of the ways I found out to do it-- boys and girls was through the extra curricula programs though the athletics and the drama clubs and this that and the other things. where they could get involved, attention and get other people to look out. All I ever wanted them to do was to get a chance up the road and have someone help out with with it, because a lot could not afford it on their own and it worked. One ran for attorney general, state of Virginia. or whatever they call it, legal officer. He ran against Mary Sue Terry. What is to we got.
Q: What techniques did you use to create a successful climate for leaning?
A: I don't know that, I really, I would say that I guess you do develop techniques. I don't know that I ever went into it, so I hadn't been trained, so I don't know if I went into it. I knew that they had to pay attention or we weren't going to get anywhere. And I knew that uh, we had to have water, or there was going to be time to get things finished. From the get go I used to in there, Look let's try to put up a game plan. And I would say, "This is what we have got to do" This is were we are going to go, and this is how I plan to take you there, and anything that you got that will expedite this thing, anything that will help, I more then willing to give a go at it. And there was plenty of that. Hell, there were always kids that knew more than I knew. You know, and always wanted to do things. and take charge of things and everything like that. But basically, uh I suppose that is how we used to do it, and I did that when I was a principal too. I never, I used to always anytime I had a problem, if I knew the answer, or experience had provided me the answer, I didn't, I would go on with it. But if I had a situation were uh, I was really having to think about it, and then wasn't quite sure whether I had the right or not, I would just go up and get all faculty together, and say look here is what we got. and I am not sure I got the best damn idea here now, and if any of you have any ideas I want to hear it. And if I ever did anything right, I think it was when they had the idea, I always made sure they got the credit for it. One of them is right in that room in there. Uh, That Mr. Harvey, was one of my assistant principals. And he had a lot of good ideas. Facts sometimes I thought I would have to have kill him with his ideas. But he had a lot of good ones, and he kept right on going.
Q: What kinds of things do teachers expect principals to be able to do? Describe your views on what it takes to be an effective principal describing the personal and professional characteristics of the "good principal" unquote?
A: Ok, I don't know what they expect anymore, but I will tell you what I think they expected when I was coming along. I think, to a large degree, I was the oldest child in my family. and I felt to a large degree, like that's what I was for these people, even if I had a lot of them in there that were older than I. It was a lot like playing football, in a sense that if you play the game you really don't get to see the game, the game, all you get to see is what is taking place around you. Therefore, you knew a hell of a lot about playing defensive end but you didn't know much about what was going on in the middle of the line, because you never got to see it. And teaching school is sort of like that. The teacher would know pretty much want was going on with Math at the 8th grade level, and what was going on in their department, but they didn't know the pressure and the outside things that were coming out of the neighborhood and from up above from administrative buildings, and from this, that and the other thing that we had to contend with, and it was up to, I felt like, it was up to me to provide that information for them, to provide that picture, make them see that it was something, that uh, we were all in together. and each guy had a pull, or we weren't going to get this thing done. And they had to work together. And over the years it worked out pretty good. You never satisfied everybody, you always had somebody mad, but basically I felt like I was there to carry the responsibility, and to make things work for them. And do you know, if it worked ok, good for them. If it didn't work out, you shoulder the blame and did what you were supposed to do. And I don't know what they expect now, because they are doing a thing here in Virginia Beach now with site base management which I felt is what we always did because I ran the damn building. But now they want everybody voting on it. And I know a little bit about history, and I am going to tell you something, that was a lot, there was a fellow named Evans Carlson who had been a marine officer in the 1930's and resigned from the Marine Corp and he went to China. He spent five or six years in China with one of the Communists route armies and wile he was there he learned how they did things. He was in essences an observer. I am going to tell you a term that you have heard, and that you guys probably use and you don't know were it came from or why it came, but there is an expression called "Gung Ho" and today you think about that as being over, put that back from China when he came back to the Marine Corp in 1940-41. and what "Gung Ho" means in Chinese is work in harmony, work together. Now he was one of the guys, there was another fellow uh that was in on this with him, but uh, they formed, each one had a, of raiders, and this was a 500 man group and they were to be elite troops that would be put in behind the enemy line and all that sort of thing and they would survive on their own and the way they were going to do this was uh, his group, anyhow, was going to do it through this sharing, work in harmony, this gung ho spirit. And they would take a vote on things, before they would do things. The other man whose name escapes me, uh just a minute, he was a man from Vermont the other fellow had it all on discipline. Was a stern, hard-nosed guy, and uh it work, each one pulled it off and it worked well and it was a life or death situation that they were living in. And I always think about that when this last superintendent before he escaped to Georgia, uh was here, always think about it when he used to come up with this crap, that's the way, that's the way these guys were doing it, uh, Carlson and his raiders were doing it, which didn't work by the way, after a year and a half they disbanded them and send them back out to the regular rifle regiments, and everything like that. But, it was taking a vote on doing things and that is what he was trying to do. You can't run a school like that. Because somebody has to say, turn left, turn right, and who. And I don't think it will ever work. Running a school, is like running a ship. You have got to be responsible for it.
Q: Would you describe the expectations, both professional and personal that were placed upon principals by their employers and the community during your period of employment and how those expectations differ from today's situation?
A: Well, I am going to tell you something. I will say that they expected us and I believe Virginia law holds the building principal and superintendent responsible for each kid's education by law and they can be held negligent if they don't provide that and on a proper manner. I don't know how you prove it, but uh, nevertheless, I think that they expected us to provide what everybody else was getting in the other schools, and the cities, that we would the best for the kids that we could and if the kids would come out of this thing better than they would when they went into it, I think they expected us to see to it that the schools were safe and that uh that they needed to worry about their children when they were there. I don't think they expected so many many of things you see today in the way of uh their social activities after school, before school. Most of the things we did after school on those days were privilege things that people competed for Uh, if you had 25 or 30 guys on a football, that's because you had 25-30 uniforms then 40 or 50 guys would try to get the uniforms. If you had uh, If you had, uh, girls basketball team or if you had cheerleaders or something like that, the best were going to make it and everybody had a shot, but not everyone was going to make it. Today it seems like, uh, like what is taking place, is that everybody is going to get a uniform and everyone is going to play in the game, no matter what the outcome is for the team, uh it seems to me that there is somewhat of a strain in trying to put teams first instead of individuals first. And is it a little bit crazy because we are not all equal. Uh, you are not as tall as I am and I'm not as young as you are. We are not equal, there is a difference. And Via la difference. Sometimes on these things here, as you get going, I think about the things and then there was another part to that question. How does it differ today? or something like that. One thing in our school system, these guys don't have the authority that they did, they have taken a lot of authority away, and with authority goes responsibility and uh, I think the job of being a principal is very, very awesome step, and if people aren't prepared to take the responsibility for the job, instead of saying like Mr. Clinton does, or like this other guy down here at the that went to Georgia did, "Well, I didn't know about that? That doesn't work, you have got to be responsible for that, what you do, or that what you are, running and if you are going to take the money you are going to have to do the time. No matter how much time it takes. We had a superintendent here, it was a few years back, that was a real, about as hard nosed as they come. I tell you, there was no satisfying him. But on the other hand, he would lay down and die for you too. But, I remember one time somebody said, They were arranging for these teachers to receive pay for ?, so how about us, do we, you ever consider giving us money for overtime, he said "Why certainly", he said, "You keep a list of your extra hours, and sent it on down here to me and see what I give you for it." You ain't getting a damn thing. If you want you're job, get out.
Q: A great deal of attention has been given to the topic of personal leadership in recent years. Please discuss your approach to leadership and describe some techniques which worked for you and an incident in which your approach failed.
A: Alright, do that, just go, three is two or three parts in that, so start again, just give me the first thing. What is your personal approach to leadership? Well, when I first started out I had just been in the classroom the year before and I felt like I was one of the teachers, and that, I, uh, therefore I was overboard in their behalf. I would always change other things around to suit them and it only took me that first year to find out that, that didn't work. And it, after that first year, I find out why we have a schedule that is made up in July and why we put it up there that ??? all excuses has the years come on, you know, when you get out for Thanksgiving, you know, when you get out for Christmas, so don't tell me you need another day in there somewhere. I also found that we needed the kids, there was an equal influence, I guess basically the kids were first. And whatever, whatever would work for them is what we had to do first, and then, whatever we could do to help the staff that came after that. Yet, another thing, I always wanted to do to, was any school I was in I wanted everybody to be a part of, uh, of uh, show as far as the success of the building went and they included like custodians, the cooks, the drivers, uh, everybody made a contribution. And we were doing that a long time ago before it became fashionably to have the custodians read to the other guy in the second grade. You know, everybody had somebody to read within a given time. We were doing that a long time ago. But, I found out if you did that then when the custodian was out in the hall, and he told to boys to quit screwing around and everything like that, they stopped. You know, because they felt like he had a piece of the action. That he was responsible for them. We used to teach that. And we used to teach the older ones that they were responsible for the younger ones too. It didn't make any difference whether they are in your class or not. If you are older then he is, and you see what he is doing and you know he is not doing the right thing, you have the responsibility to step in there and tell him to knock it off, before somebody get hurt. And if he gets hurt while you are standing around, you are part of the blame. What was the next part of that? That would be some of it right there. We wanted everyone to share in the responsibility in running the thing, and that included the kids. Especially the kids, that they would be up to them, we wanted them to be clean, that one of the little things. I did this by example that I never walked by a piece of paper that I didn't pick it up, and hm, many many times uh, uh, the other kids, if they passed it over and I reach over and picked it up and I reach over and picked it up then maybe they would start thinking. Hey, if he can do it, then I can do it. Another thing too, we have some basic simple things, (1) stay in your sit, keep your hands to yourself, and speak when you are spoken to, or answer questions when you are asked. You know, and keep it down to a dull roar. And, uh, most of the time that worked, no matter what the situation, no matter how old, if they would follow the three little rules right there. And you took your hat off when you came in the house. And you kept your hands off the girls. You didn't touch the damn girls. Nowadays you can't do that again. See, so I was right thirty years ago.
Q: There are those who argue that, more often than not, central office policies hinder, rather than help building level administrators in carrying out their responsibilities. Would you give your views on this issue?
A: Yeah, I think that most of the time that central office policies start out with the right idea in mind. And you know there are some we had, when I first started we had a policy and procedures handbook that had little three rings in it and we had about 50 pages in it, and that included everything from what you should wear to what subjects were taught, and a bunch of things. And, when I left there they are right there. See them, those two great big white ones, right there, see how big they are, believe it or not the men and women I work with, we knew what was in that, we knew no matter how wide and how thick that thing is, we knew what was in there. And the way we would do that is as each policy came in we would take that thing and we would learn that policy Together we couldn't quote it word for word but we knew were to look. Hey, that is volume one and volume two. And they are 4 or 5 inches thick. Well, keep in mind that I started out with only, had about 50 pages in it. But there was a awful lot of common sense. What generally happens in something like that is, they start coming up with ways with these exceptions to the policy and this, that, and the other thing. And you will find in there, you will see a simple statement then you will see all these different, hm, hm, situations that may occur, and I think that kind of screws up the whole thing. But, no I think basically the, the most of the rules and regulations that come down from there start out ok. It's when they try to facilitate them is when you run into problems. Because one of the real important things we found about Virginia Beach when I started Virginia Beach was a town with 3,500 people in it. and I started in Princess Anne County, is were you live. If you went to Kimp School, that was out in the county. Then in 1962 or 63, they merged but we still have this 250 square miles, and that area didn't get any larger, but we began to pack more people into it. The significance of that is, that those of us who are out in this ocean front while those kids that live out on Knots Island, weren't the same as the kids that live out at Kimpsville. You guys were a little ??? but you guys were a little more cosmopolitan out there. Your mams probably had you playing the piano, or something like that, before the rest of us could, or you got tennis lessons and we didn't and we had to mug the pro to get on the court. But we were different, and you just couldn't come up with one set of policies and procedures that worked for the kids scattered across the Spectrum and they have 75-80 schools in this division now. But I think they meant well, they need to go through them from time to time and purge them. They need to clean out the things. I have a theory too, about people who teach people to teach.
Q: If you were advising a person who is considering an administrative job, what would that advice be?
A: Would I advise them to go into it? Would you or would you not. Yes, I think so, Yeah, I think I would have to know the individual, if I didn't know, I would say, Look, there is a lot of good things and there is a lot of bad things, I think that it can really work on. You have to developed a mental toughness. And when you do that, hm, I think what take places you don';t really change on the inside you just change on the outside. You don't show the emotion but you really feel it. And, hm, it is some of it is sort of like reliving, I went, I was asked to serve on a board of, they call it contact, and what it is if you feel depressed you call people up and talk to them and they talk you out of killing yourself. And I was on that board, and I thought all I would have to do is say ok you might want to try this or try that and we got into things about an executive director and I had been on there about eight or nine months and I thought to myself, I am right back in that cramp again, I don't want to do that. I don't want nothing to do with that. So I think a lot of that takes place. I think you have to develop a thick skin, and I, you are a nice looking lady and all that sort of thing, but I don't know you well enough to know if you should be in there going nose to nose, although I will say this for you, if you are in special ed you are either a dedicated person, or dumber than a brick because to get in that thing and stay in there takes a special person. And, incidentley, you know, did you know the span on that is only about 9 or 10 years. It really wears on you, its like having combat fatigue and schools are to, to a degree. I had a form that I actually tried. My last school was a, if you couldn't make it anywhere else go see Mr. Scarborough and see if he can take care of you out there and see if he can modify your behavior and everything. So I was the last chance for a lot of kids. And we ended up where we were graduating 30-35 kids a year, who where probably wouldn't have graduated if they hadn't come to that school. But it was an awful strain on the teachers, because the kids would move on but the teachers were always there. So I actually had a form of like once again, back when I was in the service you would spend so many days up on the line across from the Chinese and then you would come down and lay around, figurely speaking for a week or so and then you would dress up and go back to another part of it. So, I had a friend whose principal of ?? High School. And, I proposed and exchange, where my teachers would work for three years with all my boneheads and my little terrorists and everything like that. And then after three years of loyal and dedicated service, this teacher would go over to Kellum and work with the good guys for awhile to see how the people were making out, to see that ???, to see that orchestra, to ???, to see the guys get the monograms, to see the girls do this or that, and the other thing. And we actually tried it, and believe it or not, the thing that got in the way in fact the girl that I did it with, hm she was teaching science for me and she used it as a research paper for her masters thesis and, hm, the thing that got in the way was money. A lot of the people who were willing to try it were coaches, and department chairman and people that were. Otherwise you know where it would be, a cut in pay form to come back over or if they tried to stay over there and coach, so it really only worked, it had possibilities.
Q: There are those who argue that the principal should be an instructional leader, and those that suggest that, realistically speaking, this person must be, above all, a good manager. Would you give your views on this issue and describe your own style?
A: Well, I think they are right. I think principals should be the instructional leader. But I think there is no way he can do that without being the manager. And if you really like what you are doing, the instructional bit, uh, you know, you have absolutely got to provide the leadership in that area, if they can't do it in the way they are talking about, you can't go down there and be the dean of the math department, or something like that, and only deal with the math. You are going to have to deal with the damn lunch room and the buses. And there is no way out of that, because you have to get the kids back and forth, you got to make those things move. So you got to know how to do that, and yet I don't know, that's probably were the highest degree of intelligent comes in. How somebody can work that thing and be an instructional leader at the same time. Be a good facilitator, because there is no way in today's schools that you can get away, you can just do one, you could probably be a manager, but you couldn't just be an instructional leader, you might get away with being a manager. And that is a shame. Of all things, I used to love English classes. I used to like to go in there and read poetry, and all the rest of that bologna. Used to love it. I used to screw the history classes up regularly, by going in there and getting in the way, till they ran me out, and then they would run me out.
Q: It is often said that the principal should be active in community affairs. Please discuss your involvement with and participation in civic groups and other community organizations.
A: When I first started as a principal I had been in the area I ended up being a principal of the school were I had taught. It was a lot of help to know the parents of the kids that I had. I evitable did better with, I would have a kid and then later on I would have his or her brother or sister. And I already knew the family and knew what to expect, and that helped. And I had establish a reputation you know, therefore, they thought if he says so then it is probably true. You know, if he did it. But the time I really got involved whether I wanted to or not where is was a 24 hour proposition, was when I came into this school. And two things took place that year. Number 1. I leave here. This is my neighborhood. I was raise on this street, and I can tell you some things about conferences at the meat counter. I went up to the north end to jog in the park, and I went into the park running and came out 45 minutes later all soaking wet, and there was a note under my windshield that said, "Do not leave this street until you stop at 311 and talk to Artie Calashman about Neddie. And so I went over there and we had a parent conference in his kitchen. And he was upset about his daughter and she was running away, and all this, that, and the other thing. And I remember the girl and I, remember spending right much time with her, not just, I knew her well, that why he knew me and that's why he knew who truck that was out there. But the funny thing was that there was a little bit of success with her and about two months later I came back one day and there was a white dress shirt in the package under the windshield wiper with a note, that said "Thanks, I hope this fits". I got a white dress shirt. Well, what this had to do with, was the fact that I did live here, I still do, and I just don't work anymore in the schools, and, uh, I had as I was saying there were conferences at meat counters and uh, and then at church, you know, going into church going out of church, uh there was... you see people in the parking lot and there were a number of times when I go home, and especially I stayed out here, uh, for a basketball game or something like that, and I went to I go to, uh, home and there would be a lady or somebody waiting for me in my living room. And generally I tried not to do that, you know I would even if they wanted to see me at night like that and everything I either said I will meet you at the office and we would come down here. Tell you another real important thing that took place in 1969 too. And for a lot of you guys, you know you hear these words and you really don't understand it. But in 1969, for the first time the schools in Virginia Beach, Princess Anne County integrated, and what this meant was that we no longer had black schools or white schools, but we had integrated schools, and what happened on that was that the black schools relatively were small. Some of them, not all of them, some of them were pretty new, but the schools were integrated so what happened here was a lot of the kids who had gone to what had been an all black high school in ?? came here, and there was a neat thing that took place. These kids were not from, uh, New York, or Puerto Rico, or wherever else the people of Jamaica these guys were from three blocks over or from some of the farms down the road, and the neat thing was is that their mamas and daddys knew my mama. And therefore they would tell my mamma and my mamma would tell me, and all that kind of stuff. I'm not kidding, I'm not trying to slip a ?? , my mother would tell me, you better see Mr. so and so, she used to work, my mom used to work down here at the Western Auto store and if there was problems they would tell my mom and she would tell me. And I had a lady come out here on time and give me hell because I wouldn't send her records to First Colonial High School. And she said, "And here I know your mama, and you wouldn't send those records over there until I paid this damn fee. But that was an advantage there, a real advantage to know the parents, and that was part of being in the community and being from here. In fact, we did that and it worked real well, and we never prepped for it, we never took any censusity thing or anything else, and if ever there was a time, would just let common sense and fair play prevail, it did. I don't know if we could of done it today, with all the different spectrums and everything that there are involved. But everybody then was from Princess Anne County and Virginia Beach. And it all worked.
Q: Would you describe your approach to teacher evaluation and give your philosophy of evaluations?
A: Yelp, I felt like, I'll tell you that we had a structured thing, and over the years it went from that of just saying, I'm going to come down to your class today, and sit and checking off some things. Uh, it went to where we had to meet with the teachers beforehand and discuss what they were going to teach that day, Uh, and when I could come down and all that sort of thing. Ok, but I always felt that the best thing to run one of these buildings was to be up and down the hall. And I felt like if I was really doing my job then the kids would be so used to me that when I walked into a classroom they wouldn't look up, they would keep on doing what they were doing, because we were in and out of the classroom, and we didn't cause a problem when we did. We could always get used, if ever a teacher wanted a break they just say, Well look boys and girls, Mr. Scarborough is here, and then you would be screened because you would have to stop and do all of that instead of just walking around doing what you wanted to do. But basically, we were able to pull it off. And the funny thing was, is really the teacher that weren't sure of themselves. And the teachers that were sort of under prepared were always the ones that were introducing you when you walked in. And, of course, all the kids are saying, "I've known the kids for two years, where have you been? But, hm, but I felt like you could tell a lot by doing that, by being in and out of the classroom, 10 or 15 times in a year as oppose to going in there and sitting down for one class. And I'll tell you something else I found too, in regard to this, I don't know how they do it now, but we used to have a supervisor of English and a supervisor of Social Studies and that sort of thing. And one of my great heros, was a lady, uh, name Mary Barns who was the supervisor of English and she knewthe English program inside and out. She still teaches right now, she is retire and she teaches courses for women in a graduate program. They think the world of her. But I got to tell you something, she walk into one of my classes one day and there was a lady who had been teaching 18 or 19 years, and I don't know what was the matter with that lady that day, but nothing she did came out right. And Mrs. Barns digged her on that evaluation. And of course she had to give me a topic. And Mrs. Barns, when she got to my office could cuss better than any sailor you ever met. And I called her and I said when, I want you to come over here because I got to talk to you, and I said I got this evaluation here you have been looking at this lady for 18 years, you know what kind of a teacher she is, you walk in there on a bad day, and you give her a evaluation like this, she said, "That's what I saw" I said I want to tell you something, I think the world of you, but the next time you walk into one of my classes like that and you are with somebody you know, and you see what you saw and what you saw isn't what you thought you ought to see, and get the hell out and leave the class and come back another time. But don't be writing people up and everything because they are having a bad damn day. And we live happily ever after. But I think that too much can be attached to a one time visit, and if you're... if you got, not like me you know, but if you got some brains, you are probably nervous, if you were going to get everybody in coming in there and sit down and evaluate and put everything on one little visit. I will be back next May, you know the hell with that. You see them, you know what they are doing, you know what they do after school, you know what they do before school, you see them with the kids in the hall, there is no way that all of that isn't important. Most of the screw offs, can get a good evaluation, if you just go in there and watch them teach. Cause they know what to do. I'll say that for the school today. When the people come out, if they are not prepared, its just because they didn't want to be. Yeah, a lot of smart people come out with college degrees that are dumber than a brick, don't have any common sense. That's scary.
Q: A good deal is said about teacher grievances. Would you give your views on the desirability of such procedures and describe your approach to handling teacher dissatisfaction.
A: Yeah, If you look at these things again, and one of the books right there, there is a section on the grievance procedure that is about the size of a city telephone book. And where I would enter into it, or loose control of it would be about step four, and what this would be is the teacher had a grievance so they, I can't remember 1,2,3 but uh, we were suppose to try to settle it first. You know, before it went further, and usually by the time we had gotten to that point, I realize that, you know, this needs to be change, and it either, uh, you either need to change it or you should go do something else. And I didn't necessary, I never, I don't know of a time when I couldn't sit next to them and talk to them. I was never upset with anybody, with any of them, when it happened. But, I tell you something, if anything, I always felt a little bit, uh, I also felt like I had screw up somewhere, that I hadn't uh, hadn't helped them as good as I could have. But nobody ever gets mess over on their first go around, at least no body I every worked with got messed over on their first go around. I mean, you try and try before it finally came to that. And a lot of times, one of the grievance of things that I had one time was it would come to -- it would be over things that didn't have anything to do with teaching. Uh, I, we had coaches-- school gets out at 2:00, the kids are on the field by 2:10 or 2:15 or the bands out there by 2:15, or, they are down there driving nails in the stage, they are going to have a play. And uh, the teachers are receiving a stipend to be there. We got into this thing were the school day starts at 7:30. And it ends at 2:50. You know, and uh, up until 2:50 you don't have a right to earn that stipend, and everything like that. You are treading on the school time. So I had a teacher one time, takes us, she was grieving the fact that these people were staying to coach and they were starting practice during what was suppose to be the planning period. Cause we had universal planning period, were everyone had a planning period from 2:00-2:50. So we have to give on it, and uh, I didn't give, but I was told I had to give, so I had to give, and uh what we ended up doing was we used to have our planning period for the coaches. Bless their hearts, and other men and women would come in, you know, like 50 minutes before school started or something like that. And they would, their plan or two in the morning. That way they were able to go out in the field, or go in the auditorium, or when I was here in this building, we had the world's best, I was called one of the smart awards, but we had the greatest debating team, and uh, ??? and all that stuff. Year after year after year we were cleaning up on that stuff. But, anyhow that lady couldn't go down and start with her gang, unless she came in fifty minutes early. So we get into some trivial things like that. And once again, it seems to me that most of the people that get involved in that kind of stuff are the people who wouldn't stay after school anyhow. They don't come to the PTA meetings, they don't go to the plays, they don't go the band concerts, they don't come to the Christmas program, they don't want to do anything with the open houses, or anything else, they just want to do what they are suppose to do and get out. But I tell you another thing too. I think that the grievance procedure is necessary. I just wish they would use a little more sense when they use it. But I would think that it would be necessary, because it is a protection for them, and there are times when it is absolutely necessary. That, when they need it. In fact, I have seen it when I wish principals had it. But we never did.
Q: What, in your view, should be the role of the assistant principal? Discuss your utilization of such personnel while on the job. Would you describe the most effective assistant principal with whom you had opportunity to service.
A: I had uh, over the years I think I only had one female assistant principal, and uh, I believe to a large degree that was because of the places in which I worked. Mostly I went to places that were having trouble. And, uh, I would have to go in there you know, I can't hear because there has been problems, and so I had two men, another fellow was an old football coach that I had known from days gone by, and he was bigger than I was, and he came with me, and the other guy was a fellow who, uh, was quite a scholar in everything really. I never figured out why he was with us. But, anyhow, I used to have largely because I think that's the way it was then, but it work best for me later on. I would have each one of them have areas of responsibility, there would be two things, one of them would be the administrative assistant, and the other one would be the instructional assistant. And yet they all had teachers, uh that they were responsible for. And we would divvy them up, uh I can't recall the exact set up. sometimes it was even just two of us on this wing, and whoever on that wing. Uh, some of those fellows, like the big coach I was telling you about, he was a Science major and had taught science, Don here was a Chemistry teacher, uh, in other words Shackleford was a Chemistry teacher. and uh, my lady Ms. Anthony was a P.E. Teacher. Uh, they had those backgrounds, and you know, it would make sense. And Jack was a math, there is a lot of, I can't think of how many there were, but a lot of them were history teachers, and things like that, you know. So, if they had that background, unless both of them had the same thing, you know, that more or less gave them that particular area. But that was just to observe the teachers, look out for that particular bunch, and to check their classes. They would also do evaluations and everything, see. But basically, what those fellows did and those ladies did was to help facilitate things so that the scheduling for instance. Uh I started out doing the master's schedule and it took me about two years to really, you know, once I got out of-- I did all of it in a elementary school. But once I got over here, I said the hell with that. You know, I am not doing that thing, they can work it out and show it to me. And uh, I knew how to schedule, I knew how to--I knew how to enroll kids, you know like you do in guidance, you know when you bring them in, and schedule the classes. I did all that stuff, I didn't do it day in and day out. But we used to do it in the summer, because we didn't have anybody around, so it just passed over in the winter. I particularly do it with kids that have problems and parents that are having problems. You know, we would get together and do some scheduling. Then I would go let the assistant principal for instruction yell at me because I messed up his program or something. But they had different areas of responsibility and it seemed to work real well for us. They basically, the instructional person would basically, uh, more or less was our purchasing officer. Although we would have a paid bookkeeper, he would determined who got what, and when they got it, and handled the money. He never signed any checks, I always did that, but he would sent the purchase requisitions, or she would sent me the purchase requisitions. Uh, we used to split after school responsibility. Uh, I when the superintendents I had for the first 30 years all felt like we should be at school activities, and the more activities we got, the more we stayed out here. I saw one thing one time. You know, you figure there is 180 days in a school year. There was a boy over in Greatbridge, all of my boys are in their 60's, Jimmy Calhoun, and Jimmy was a assistant principal with, I can't think of how his last name was but Harry Blevins, he was the principal at Greatbridge. And one time, somebody did a newspaper article about them, and they were interviewing Jimmy and Jimmy says, "Well, I figure I am out here after school 110 to 125 a year. And he said Harry is out here at least 150. That don't sound like much. Until you realize there is 180 school days. And you realize how much time you do spend. So, we used to split up the after school responsibilities, but we would always attempt, we even use to go the away activities. We would make sure we were there. I even went, I did it as recently as Friday. I drove up to Fourth Union to watch Fourth Union Military Academy play Hardway Military Academy. Because we had a boy on each team. And, by God when the game was over and those games lost, it meant something to them and the neat thing was that their mothers and fathers were there too, we didn't know that. But then that, we ended up looking good doing something we like to do anyhow. But we were still doing that, and there was my son who is still in the business, but another guy who was a old contemporary mind who was retired, who was a head football coach for years. He went to, we would go see them. I was on the USS American when the captain of my junior high football team qualified in the F14. He made his five carrier landings during the week while I was out there. And when he made his last landing, I went down to his ready room, and knock on the door and got him to come to the door, was he impressed. I told him I was still checking up on him.
Q: Administrators are concerned about the amount of paper work and the bureaucratic complexities with which they are forced to deal. Would you comment on this situation during your administrative career and compare the problems you encountered with your perceptions of the situations at the time?
A: Earlier in this conversation, we said that in 1964, when I started there was a little three ring notebook with about 45-50 pages of rules and regulations in it. And we are sitting here now with couple two volummes on the floor. Each of which is about five or six inches thick. And while that is just the things that you have to know, and the paperwork just doesn't even make sense. The funny thing is that it seems there has been more paperwork engendered since they came up with the computers. And all this help, that you were supposed to get, because someone still has to the damn stuff down on paper. But, one time, uh, Brickle tried, and I always think about him, because he is around in so many of my travails. But he tried one time to unload all of the various things that were coming up that we absolutely did not need to do. And for a while there was a dent in it. But, he also had a theory that as soon as a person gets a job, they have to justify their presents or their existence. So, they have to get some information together, so they send out some things for you to feel in, and turn in and that sort of thing. The government itself would send you things that would baffle, uh, Einstein, you know as far as filling them in. This thing that we use to fill out in regard to the racial situation, uh, uh, I don't know what we were putting down there, something about Caucasians, and others and south pacific islanders, and I never could figure out. I used to have a black guy every year that swore up and down he was an Indian, and I used to have to put down. One year he would be an Appachee, and the next year, he was stringing them out, he taught Latin too. And he would come up with more cramp then I was putting all that stuff down on there. And they would say, "You know, you have got to swear, you were trying to tell the truth, and everything. But if there is a way they can knock some of that off, you all should figure it out, and get it done, cause a lot of damn stuff didn't go anywhere.
Q: During the past decade schools have become much larger. Discuss your views on this phenomenon and suggest an ideal size for a school in terms of optimal administrative and instructional activities.
A: Yelp, they already came up with ideas through that grammer schools, otta be like five or six hundred, and that high school should be no more than 1500 hundred, and that would probably not be a bad idea. You are going to Virginia Tech, which has 20 some thousand, and when I was there we were less than 5000. But the classes still had only 20 people in them or 25 people, or 15 people in them, or 8 people, depending. You remember the further up you went the fewer people in class, but uh, uh, I think the idea of the kids, for instance in this building, these kids know each other and, uh, the teachers know them, whether you teach them or whether you don't and I think that is a very, very good thing for the kids, because they need to get back and this has to do with numbers too. But they need to get back to where a kid doesn't want to do something out of the way because he knows he is going to be taken ??? or somebody is going to tell his mom or something like that. So he stays straight because he knows he is supposed to. I worked on this class, graduated in 1993 and I walked out the door with them. And, uh, the last thing I told those guys that night was, you know. I tried over the years to tell you all that there is going to be a dark and stormy night. When you are going home to that fork in the road, one ways right and the other ways wrong. And you need to to things, because they need to be done, and it is the right thing to do. And not because somebody's watching. Because I can't be with you when that time comes. And put your money in a toll basket and put, take your hat off when your in the house. And if you remember those three things you will go along way. But uh, but whoever came up with that, is pretty reasonable. Fifteen hundred for the uh, the senior highs. I'd say, you know, I can run them, I had a junior high with eighteen hundred kids in it. And the worst thing in it was the hallways. We were belly to belly out there, trying to get back and forth in the halls, and miraculously they all did with a little problem. But, it creates extra problems that you don't need to have. There shouldn't be a damn problem in between classes administering to whether the hall is going north and the other hall is going south, or there is enough to do without that. Uh, and feeding them, see that is the things the bathrooms, nobody ever thinks about that. But you don't have enough, the Princess Anne High School have five. They are trying now to get another 5 million dollars because they need, the cafeteria has never been big enough to seat the kids they have. Now, even when they have kids. And there are people in the city are going to resist it, because the school boards are up to their neck in a financial thing. But, that school needs those facilities spread out. You think about it Pam, how many times you will see them, add a wing with 10 more classrooms in it and never put a bathroom in it. That's the part were it comes to leadership where you know do you should he be a instructional leader or should she be uh, uh, a facilitator.
Q: In recent years more and more programs for special students (Learning Disabilities, Gifted, English as a Second Language) have been developed. Please discuss your experience with special student services and your views on today's trends concerning this issue.
A: Ok, I will tell you, what I saw, and maybe I am stepping on your toes here. Uh, I personally experience with a boy who has down syndrome. His father was my priest, and the boy was the same as my son. And my niece came along a year behind by son. And this boy is now in his thirty's and is a custodian in one of the schools and lives in another home, not a home necessarily, a place with four or five bedrooms and there is a man and his wife that lived there and Hartley lives there, and he goes to work everyday and earns his, you know, he has hospitalization and everything, and that is very good. And, he perhaps, although with his father and mother he probably, would of had it because they were going to make him a part of everything. Anyhow, and it all worked. And so, I have seen that work. I don't know how to figure out the thing when you are going to mainstream a guy whose one of the students who need to wear a football helmet and his banging his head around the whole time he is in the class and the rest of the class is trying to figure out where Moscow and this guy is over there ricocheting off the wall and all that sort of thing. And the problem is, is that the classroom teachers are not prepared, and as far as I known, we are still not preparing them Now we have got two or three situations here in the city were there is a facility right with the school, were I was Pembroke Elementary has a facility attached to it. Everybody is in the same cafeteria, uses the same hallways, and this, that, and the other thing. And there is a center and that didn't burn at Princess Anne. So the center is there for that. We at one time had the center for effective learning, which was were all the people with those problems went to. The school that I was in, uh, at the end, the career development center we had those kids, were we tried to teach them some sort of useful skill, so I saw a lot of that, but the mainstreaming, just for the sake of mainstreaming is a problem. I tell you something else too, administratively you had to either, I don't know of any principal once we, because what I say about this is I have to realize that there are people now who are principals who never knew it any other way, there has always been the special ed situation. But when I started we didn't have special ed situation. As I can say, I can look at class pictures now and show you kids, who I realize how the kids were special ed. But not when we started. They were all together. And there would be like one in the whole 6th grade or something. But, uh, administratively, I had to take one of my assistant principals and that person got to the point were they were spending at least 1/3 of their time on administering special ed stuff. And with child study teams, and then when you have a guidance department and you have some of those people have to sit in, uh, I don't know, it sounds selfish, but it is such a time consumer that I'm not sure that it is balance out. I think a lot of the stuff is going for the kid that needs the help, the other guy. You know, it seems like throughout all of this, the regular kid is the kid who gets stiffed all the time. He doesn't get to go to the kings, not the king, the governors school, or something like that, but he also doesn't get to go down in the math lab because that is just for special ed guys over here, and that sort of thing. Well, we really did, and also I had a rule where you didn't wear your hat in the house, did you ever see the comic strip, Beetle Bailey, where the guys hat is always down over his eyes. This boy had a confederate cappy and he is the only guy in 29 years that I was a building principal that I let wear a hat in the house, and that was, I can't remember his name, but if his name was Jones, it was the Jones rule that applied, everybody else had a change, except him. He would just wear his cappy.
Q: And tell me what a cappy is?
A: It is that old civil war hat that slopes down, ye'll that Johnnie Revere hat, and this boy was an alcholic. And, one day when he was sitting in English class a bottle fell out of this pocket, didn't break just claddered around on the floor. So we had to do the thing with him, like kick him out for 5 days and put him in a drug rehab program, all that sort of thing, and then bring his folks to come to school. And it came time to come back to school, and he couldn't get out of the drug program and he couldn't get back to school because he didn't have any parents who would come with him. So then we started getting further into it, and we ask him, We said, "Oh, the day they took him in there, they went through his pockets or had him empty his pockets to see if he had anything else on him, any drugs or anything like that. He started kicking out milky ways, and Hershey bars, and everything, I think that boys name was Brian something. And the assistant principal said, "Well, what why, were is all this stuff coming from." He said, Well this is my food, and he explained to the man that he sold candy from a seven eleven and that was what he live off of. So when he came back, this guy was seventeen or eighteen, so when he came back, we ask him, we said, "Asked him about his father" He said, "I can't get anyone to come out here with me. I said, "Where are you from?" Well, he doesn't have nothing to do with me. And come to find out he had been kick out of his house. He was leaving in the garage and kicked him out, and so there was a bridge down the road from the, the toll road runs over it, down there on witch duck road. And at night he would crawl up under the bridge, and he would sleep up there and it kept him out of the rain, and all that sort of thing. So we got him down there, and said, "Hell, man you are close to graduating, we got to make sure that you graduate here. This was about like October of his senior year. So we did two things, he wore his hat and uh we got him a place to stay. We upgraded his living situation and the funny thing was, though, one of the teachers, let him leave in his garage. So he was still in the garage, but he had it fix up, so that is were Brian lived until he graduated. I don't know what ever become of him, but he graduated. And he promise he would go on, and the social worker agreed to keep on with him about the booze, you know, where he would go to, whatever the hell he went to, after that drug orientation program. You see a lot of things out there. Uh, I don't know.
Q: Salaries and other compensation have changed a great deal since you entered the profession. Would you discuss your recollections of the compensation system of your school system during your early ears as a principal and give your views on developments in this area since then.
A: Yeah, we I started out my first contract was $3,300 a year, and it was based on ten months, you did not get paid in the summertime, and you only got paid once a month. You got paid on the last day of the month. And it used to be last teaching day. So if you went home for Christmas on December 20th, you wouldn't get another check until January 31 and that was always a long hall. And uh, so everybody used to have extra jobs, God knows where you would live, you would rent a room, or something like that, and uh that gradually went up, I got $300 extra for, they used to give you a veterans bonus, and I got $300 more than the gal that became my wife, and uh so she was always three hundred bucks behind me. But we went up slowly, and I remember one time everybody got a $500 pay raise. And when you think about $500 out of $3,500, that is a whopper. And that doesn't sound like much money, but it was a good deal. I will tell you what I did Pam, I took, did some math in the last couple of years that I was working, and I started teaching in 1958 and I retired in 1993. I made more money when I put my contracts together at the end of the month and totalled them, from 1984 1993, I made more money than those eight or ten years, then I did in the entire twenty five. So, it change some, and you know, their out there now making $20,000 or $25,000, or whatever they're making and you are not going to send anybody to school on that, uh, or support a family or anything. The only way you can do it is to get a partnership. You know, uh, I remember they were talking about this latest development here is that there's latchkey kids and both parents are working. Well, my wife and I started working in 1958, she is still working. Because she took time out for some kids, but at least she is still off in the summer, and I would work in the summertime. It was only 7 days a week, so I was always glad when Labor Day came, because I only worked 5 days a week. But it changed alot, it's better but its, I don't know how it can be what it outta be. Maybe we ought to have a thing like the banks, where you go in there for two or three years as an apprentice and you get like 15 or $20,000, or something like that. And then if you prove that you are going to stay, and you really want to do it. and it means that much to you, that you are willing to serve that kind of time, then go ahead and give you a whopper. You know, put you up around, let say $25,000 immediately, and another $5,000 the next year or something. What we have done over the years that I have seen that didn't make much sense to me, what we used to do was, the people who had been working a long time, uh, these pay raises would come, but the pay raise always came because the starting salary was raised. Therefore, if you were in your 10th year, you would be making a hell of a lot more money than your first year, but you were not making that much more than the person who had started. And they were, it was like they were $10,000 behind you, they would be $2,000 behind you, and some how or another that didn't not seem fair but the man told me one time, "Well we got be competitive, we've got to compete with Norfolk and Portsmouth, and Chesapeake and everybody, yeah, so it changed. It got somewhat better. Another thing they are doing better now, that they didn't do then, is their compensation for the extra. For the advanced degrees and the certification in different areas, and everything that wasn't available then. Like I told you awhile ago, $150 bucks was a supplement, when you had to lay off your summer job to go to Williamsburg a couple of summers it would take twenty years to get that, at 100 a year, it would take 20 years to get that $3,000 back.
Q: There are those who argue that standardized testing can provide a way to improve instruction. Please discuss your experience with such testing and provide us your views on its effects on the quality of the instructional program.
A: I think that standardized tests are probably helpful as far as being a gauge, to more or less what you haven't covered, providing that everybody in the class is a true reflection of what they know as a whole. Which doesn't seem to work out that way. But, you know, I'm not trying to defend, I think there should be a basic core of knowledge that everybody in the United States outta have. And it doesn't make any difference what color they are, what their background is, or any kind of that stuff. There is certain basic things that they outta know. And so in that sense, there outta be things we could ask, that everybody would know. But then on the other hand, if you lived down here, I think it is a hell of a lot important to know how to look out for Northeastern and Tiderips that don't pertain to somebody from Kansas. And uh, things that are important to the area, maybe even from the stand point of the various commodities and things that we have around here. So I don't know, I think they can help, but I don't, I have seen the wrong end of it, I've seen were people would try to, would try to improve scores, you know, at the risk of the guys. They were just teaching to the test, and everything, and that's, people have done that. And I am telling you, they are getting ready to do something, were there are some talk, where people would keep their jobs or maintain their leadership roles, based upon the performance of the kids in their school on giving tests and that sort of thing. Well, if that is the case, then the administrator would be a damn fool not to teach a test and everything and make sure he had a job.
Q: How do you feel about the "LPT" the Literacy Passport Training.
A: Yeah, uh, you know I can think back, like for instance, New York, has always had the region, well maybe they don't anymore, but they used to have the region exam, when a kid finish high school he may of completed all the courses he was taking, but he still had to pass this exam, uh, in order to get his high school diploma. Now that is at the upper end of the spectrum. But the advantage of the good idea I would see about this with the literacy passport, or the grade level, various grade levels achievements are checked at the 6th grade and the 10th grade, and that sort of thing, would be to see that if the capable of, you know, if he was up to par at that grade level, and the funny thing is there are kids that can perform pretty well, but they can't pass the damn test. We had a guy this year on the football team over here at the high school, ineligible because he screwed around with a test and the guy was a honor roll student, and he played games with that test, and didn't try, and he put down smart ass answers and everything like that. Found himself not eligible to play to spite being a honor roll student because he hadn't passed that test. And this fall, when the report card came out, had straight A's again. Course that is his fault...(end of tape).
Q: Would you describe those aspects of your professional training which best prepared you for the principalship? Which training experiences were least useful?
A: Ok, good idea, the degree in business administration was more help in the principalship than a little bit. This is like ancient history, but when they first went into double entry bookkeeping in the city schools, all we used to have was a checkbook. And I was probably one of the only principals, I had accounting, I was probably one of the only principals who knew how to do it, before it started, but when it came to purchasing and a whole bunch of things, that you have to do. Keep in mind this, that today you all take courses in school plan, you take courses in school finance, you take courses in school law, among others. And when we were coming along, when I got me degree in secondary and uh, in elementary administration at William and Mary, those courses would be a chapter in a book. And uh, it helped to have had those previous experience with a degree in Business and to have worked in business. I would think those things were all essential. You know what, the uh, my undergraduate courses there helped, and I had a situation when I was principal of the career development center, where I had people that were teaching floral design, they were teaching auto mechanics and auto body. And guess what? I realized the need in why we should have phsycology course and human growth and development and all that sort of thing. But never thought it was important until then. And you know what, between the two of us in here, we probably outta had a course on how to operate that damn tape recorder. But anyhow, uh the undergraduate courses as you know, to most degree up until the last year or two anyhow there really not much that's going, you know, they will start helping, I'm sure that student teaching will help a lot. I never had that either. That was on the job. But, when I got in Graduate school I felt like I really got my money's worth and there was a pair up at William and Mary named MCartha and don't know if either one of them is alive now, but both of them were school people and there was Dr. Alison and Dr. Carl McCarthey. There was a fellow from the eastern shore named Roy Chesler, and the last time I heard anything about him he was still going around to the schools to teach the law. You know, you could call him and he would come over during a inservice day, and give you a lecture, but I think he is retired, but he still did that. There was a fellow who taught statistics, that as far as I was concern I suppose it was important, but he made it ridicus, and that, but other than that and I can see why I had to have it, because when you do your research stuff you have to put all that damn stuff together and everything. But uh the, I think if the graduate course is worked properly, like it should, and not just to satisfy, if you could pick, and I'm not sure what they do now, but we had like we could take three electives. Other then that, we had seven courses that were required. Yeah, a lot of that stuff that I got there I would get in the car at 10:00 at night when the class was over, drive back down here to oceanfront and couldn't wait to do it the next day. And you know another good thing that came out of those courses was the other people you sat in class with. And the stuff that they had gone through and what they knew, and the knowledge that they shared. One of my best teachers was an old fellow that taught shop right down here in this shop class, and he would set, he would come up in the morning before school start, before anybody got here, and you would have a cup of coffee together and he would say, "You know we need to work on such and such, and so and so. And you would get a lot done.
Q: What suggestions would you offer to universities as a way of helping them to better prepare candidates for administrative positions?
A: Tell you one thing real quick, and I don't have a answer for it. Number 1, if you leave the school system on June 30 and you go to work for Virginia Tech on July 1, by the end of the month you will be 30 obsolete. With that in mind, I don't know what could be, right up there, on the line, all the time. And you can't do that. The only suggestion that I cold figure, and I don't have a way to do it, would be somehow or another to keep your hand on it all the time, and that would the contact, I suppose for what was taking place. You know, you are hearing stuff right now today that is unrealistic as far as application goes, when you listen to people on radio and read things. I get a big kick out of listening to Gorgon Littey on the radio, because a lot of things that he does, I'm for, but a lot of things that he does, he is blowing smoke, man, he base it one experience from 45-50 years ago and it doesn't work. They have no concept about what they are dealing with now with the children. They have no idea about the home lives and the things were were talking about like living in a damn car in a culdosack and everything. And that's not, there is a lot of that. And kids who parents' minds are blown to pieces on drugs. And I tell you something else too, the guys we got right now in the schools are the offspring of the people who burn the ORTC building and the rest of that cramp during the late 60's and mid 70's. And I tell you something else, when they came out and started teaching school they couldn't get the first grade to the bathroom, because they were doing their own thing. I suppose we need to find out a way to be responsible for things and realize that somebody has to answer. And you shouldn't be at work if you don't want to be responsible for young people. Just get the hell out, and do something else. But as far as schools go, the only thing I can think of is somehow or another be more involved and that's not telling people what to do that is just watching them. You know, we have a lot of people that manage student teachers. But that has so many student teachers that they can't get out and see them.
Q: Since you have had some time to reflect on your career, I wonder if you would share with us what you consider to be your administrative strengths and weaknesses.
A: Well, I suppose that one of my weakness was there were times when I should of executed people and didn't. And people the kids would have been better off for it, and the other people would have been better off for it, I carried people too long. I suppose another weakness was, to spite the fact that I like to do a lot of things, for the sake of doing, or because I felt like it would work, whether it was in a book or not. I still may of been to damn conservative, you know, on some things. Like for instance, I refuse to learn how to use a damn computer. I would quit before I had too. And I can see the need for that, but I didn't have enough time left, and I don't want to do it. So there are some things there that I could of done better. Uh, I suppose some of the strengths was trying to do the best I could, and at the same time it sounds like I am going against what I just said, but over the years, and it didn't take long, it only took about two or three years to realize that you got to do what needs to be done and if somebody's feelings get hurt, then that is too bad, but you have to do the right thing. And a lot of times that makes you lay around at night, looking at the ceiling, and everything like that. And not be able to sleep, makes your stomach hurt and does a whole lot of things like that. But you cannot run one of these places if you don't do that. And you have got to take changes with your career. If you are not willing to jeopardize your career, in a senior high school, maybe two or three times a week, you can't effectively run that school. And another thing, I don't give a damn whether they are site-based or whatever they are, if you get out there and lead like this guy right here is doing, you are still going to be the boss, and it is no real, I never felt like it was important that I get the acknowledgement or credit or any of that stuff, but what I felt was important, was that we had a mission and we needed to get this thing done, and we needed it to be all in there together and my job was to facilitate that. And if I could get that with some of the kids showing the way, we would do it that way. And a lot of that came from coaching football. If you didn't have a guy throw the ball, run the damn thing. You know, and if you didn't have big people to move people out of the way, then flank them. Do that kind of stuff.
Q: Would you discuss the circumstances leading up to your decision to retire at the time you did, giving your reasons and the mental processes you experienced in reaching the conclusion to step down.
A: Ok, I tell you what. I still live in the same house that I lived in when I was teaching school. My children are grown, I didn't take whatever pay increases I got, remember those years where I made more money in the last 8 or 9 years than I did in 25 or 26. Well, whatever pay increases I got, I put into tax shelters and this, that and the other thing. And since I got things paid for, and don't mind wearing khaki trousers and that sort of thing, I lived off of whatever I was getting paid in 1983, so that when it came time to retire I would have enough retirement money coming in that would be more or less be either what I was living off of then or even more. So, I guess I had prepared to retire through the years, and usually I don't, I was like that grasshopper in Pinocchio, you know, I was always screwing around and fiddling while everyone was getting in there firewood. But somehow or another I was in a position were I could, I have always live, I never care about a big home, or any of that kind of stuff, much to my wife saw and everything. I would say that we have been pretty happy, and all that sort of thing. I had the time, it was 35 years, and I was getting older, uh, the way I would do things, it was up on your feet and after them all the time. And I was still getting into things, I had a bad thing in my neck, that was going down by arm, and I was losing, I still can't feel my thumb in finger here, and it was bad for me, because I craved. And two girls got in a fight one day, and there I was, 62 years, 60 years old, hell I'm jumping in there and pulling people apart. and I can't do that, you know, I ended up, where in six months after I retired, I had open heart surgery, and I think if I hadn't retired when I retired, I would have probably wouldn't of made it. So I had open heart surgery and had a terrible time with that, once I got through that, I lost 50 lbs. and after about two years of being retired I finally settled down, and believed that I was going to get paid even if I didn't work. The superintendent ran to Georgia, he wanted to get rid of guys like me, so he came up with a early retirement and incentive plan. We were a pain in the neck for him. So that played into it too. If I would come out here and work for him he wants me to work for him while he goes to San Francisco. You are not going to believe this, you remember when I was telling you about $300/month or whatever the hell we got, well they are going to pay me $625 a day to sit here.
Q: Enjoy yourself.
A: So I could do it and I did it. I even went back to Korea, took my daughter and went back. Went back to the places...
Q: Despite my best efforts to be comprehensive in my questioning, there is probably something I have left out. What have I not asked you that you would like to share?
A: I can't think of anything like that, you know, this whole conversation really is probably if you hadn't had a line up of questions, I'm sure we would of rambled all over everywhere. But I can't think of any, there is probably a lot of things that you didn't ask me, and a lot of things I didn't think of to say. I tell you one thing, I'm glad I did it. Not just this, but I'm glad I did that.
Q: But I'm sure a lot of kids are glad you did it too.
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