This is Sunday July, 19th at 5:35 p.m. and I am speaking with Mr. Ernie Smith in his Living room on 7th Street South, Wytheville Virginia.
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Q: Mr., Smith., would you begin by telling us about your family background, your childhood interests and development. (Like your birthplace, elementary and secondary education, family characteristics etc) ?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: I am from a large family, fifteen, from West Virginia. My father was a coal miner. My mother was a homemaker and I'm the fourth child from the bottom born to Bert and Elizabeth Smith, and my elementary or grade school education was in Christo Graded School and I went through , then was the --------- through the seventh grade at Christo graded school and then I transferred to Blue Stone High School which I stayed there until I graduated in 1949. After graduation, actually during High School, I was an excellent athlete. I was a captain of teams in Baseball, basket ball and football and I also ran track and after graduating from High School in 1949, I went to play with the Ball Champs which win the Negro National League. I played with them for two seasons and then after the Korean war broke out I joined the Marine Corp. and I stayed in the marine Corp. until 1954, then from 1954 I was discharged and then I started college in Bluefield State, in Blue Field, West Virginia. By this time in the early fifty's the coal fields were going down and by the time...I had a brother a year older than me. We were raised in the Parachutes camps in the Marine Corp. and by the time that we were discharged out of the Marine Corp. and he was discharged from the Army. He's been in the Parachuters, our family had moved to new York. Then he went on to New York and Then I went back to New York and I stayed awhile in New York, but then I wanted to come back and go to college where I wanted to go, so I took a.. I had an athletic scholarship. I was working at the school on my athletic scholarship. I was cleaning up the locker rooms and different things just to get the extra money and my books and my tuition and I was getting a hundred and twenty dollars a month from the Government. I remember thater.that's.and. that's when I continued to play athletics in college also. Then I graduated in 1958 but during the process of college and everything my wife and I married. (broad smile) I was a Junior, she was a Freshman on June 2nd 1956 we married June 2nd 1956 and one of the joys of our life was our first child was born June 11th. 1957 (laughter) and the next year was when I...I graduated in 1958 it's when I came to Wytheville in 1958 and I had jobs to go back to in Wood County next to Parks Borough in West Virginia, different places. I had a job offer in Bluefield at Park Central High School. But I took the job in Wytheville at Scott memorial so I could be the Head Coach. After I reckon, that's why I took the job and brought me where I actually started in 1958 and the teaching was pretty hard because my .. you had a lot of different fields. You see my major field was Physical education and Social Science including History. Then I had to have a certificate to teach Driver's Education and my first teaching assignmentmy first teaching assignment was I taught eight grade boys and girls, physical education. I taught ninth and tenth grade boys together in physical education. I taught eleventh and twelfth grade boys in Physical Education. Then I taught eleventh and twelfth grade girls in actually Health and PE And then also with my major in Social Science, I also taught ninth graders geography. I taught tenth graders History and I taught eleventh grade.mmm eleventh graders US and Virginia History. For the tenth grade, I taught World History and then I taught the Seniors US and Virginia Government. See all the preparation right there but then I had to be certified to teach all with my major in Social Science including History that bought in to all my Histories. My PE major bought in all my Physical Education and my Driver's Education I had to have to have certified in that. And you see the driver's Education was taught with the.. behind the wheel in the tenth grade and the classroom preparation in the ninth grade.
Q: Would you say that .Are there any other experiences or events in your life that were important decision points in your career and how you feel about them now?
Interviewee; Well the first thing was real important to me was when I was a youngster and a young boy, I really wanted to become a coach and that was my ambition and that was what I really wanted and then after playing professional base ball and then joining the Marine Corp and finding out in the Marine Corp when I was in Korea, and when I was in Korea, I was with the First Marine Division with John Lane and I was captain in the Pluson Perimeter . We were also in Chiswell Reservoir and all really made me... now I was a corporal in the Marine Corp and I really, really thought that I could have done better and I knew because I just..er.. wanted to be a good role model in leadership and that was the time but...actually when I was in Korea during the war I was made a platoon leader.and as a platoon leader, I had plenty, plenty good assignments, and plenty good situations and things but I alwaysyou know, wanted to be more of a leader. that was some of the things of the things that really helped me toward er.knowing what education would have meant and.. .cause I had a chance to go straight to college even out of high school, but I chose to play baseball which was another good form because ... I can remember this real well that in 1950 I was making five hundred dollars a month and playing baseball and it was not just playing for fun. Playing for money was all together different so that made me think and I joined the Marine Corp and I was making 900 dollars a month.
Q: O.K. , let's reflect a bit on your last school and would you take me for a walk through your last school and describe the parents or any unusual features you know, like just imagine you are taking me through your school.
A: Well my last ... before I retired. I retired in 1991 and my last job there I was actually the Vice Principal of George Wythe. I was athletic director and I was also the student coordinator and I still had administrative duties and my duties were with eight grade and twelfth grade. Those students and their teachers. I mean the students were counseling and guidance and if the've gotten into any trouble and the teachers.. I had to evaluate them ererannually. I had to evaluate the teachers under my charge and also the transportation director and all those particular jobs was real... I enjoyed all of them but I worked real hard and with some of the recommendations I had to see from different principals and different teachers under my charge, it was just so fulfilling with me and when I retired I just ... I love the teachers, I love the students and I really, really, really enjoyed going to work and so many of the teachers so many of the teachers after I retired and they said they missed my smile, they missed my companionship all the good times together, even one who came by last night was telling me about the times, but itI just started and I loved it and I it's just a big part of me. and I really enjoyed every bit of it.
Q: Was it a big school. like how many students?
A: Well, we were up to seven...ahhhhh, between seven to eight hundred and , but when I first started we went from double eight then to class.... Now don't let the seven, eight hundred fool you because the two hundred you would have in eight grade it's not counted in actually the high school because actually the High school start at ninth grade and ..but the first school at Scott, when er, I was a principal at Scott, I had about three hundred and twenty-seven students, but they were consolidated it was from one to twelve and then it had a primary unit, it had an elementary unit, had a Junior High situation, then had a Senior situation which right there was four .that was four divisions. that was when the school was all Black.
Q: Please discuss the way in which you were chosen for your first administrative role, as well as any subsequent assignments. How did it change you?
A: I was first chosen for my first administrative assignment, now my first year in 1958, I was actually ..er.., I was in administration because it never was a time in all of my thirty-eight years that I was not an administrator because when I first started teaching and coaching I was an athletic director, see the athletic directorship..that goes into administrative part of it, then if I coached that was a supplementary. But there never was a time which I was not an administrator, but I first took my first job as an ..er..administrator actually as the principal was just happened that I was at the right place at the right time . The principal of the High school died at a very young age of thirty-one and I think that time I was possible twenty-six and I was then, I was the youngest principal in Virginia in 1960, I was the youngest principal in Virginia or West Virginia and what had happened the superintendent talked me into taking the principal's job over, because he wanted me take..he wanted me to have the job. He thought I had the right attitude for the job but I continued to tell him I wanted to coach and he explained , but what made it real good and we had a satisfying point right there. the year that he let me..the year that he made me the principal, he let me also coached my basketball team and in turn our basketball team won the State championship. And that was one of the reasons that I told him that I will coach this year and be the principal too. And then what I do I hire other people next time and that was the person I was telling you about whom we hired after fellow that died three weeks ago. And then after that year, then he told me that I had to be the principal which I took that and what made us a good .he said I tell you I even let you ..I'll pay your way to get your master's degree and he took care of that part of that too.
Q: A great deal of attention has been given to personal leadership in reason years, please discuss your approach to leadership and describe some techniques which worked with you and maybe an incident in which your approach failed.
A: Well, Actually my approach and what really helped me a lot as a young administrator because I was actually with a lot of older guys and the older guys were altogether different that what I wanted to do and ..I could remember the old principals, the old Black principals, they were dictatorial. they were dictator and it was five or six of the younger guys , I mean younger guys.. I say I was twenty-six and some of the guys they were up to thirty, but they still were considered real young and we would have to listen to those older guys and in the process of schooling, the process of listening and process of a lot of workshops and actually going to school that's when we mostly learn the democratic way and that was a good thing for me. I mean my personality, I'm not a dictator. I've always been in athletic or in the Marine Corp, everybody will be working together and that's one thing that really, r really helped me. An old saying ."you have to be your own man, but you still have to be your self". You have to do what you think but it has to be fair. And that's one of the things that during my coaching and anything that I was fair. And I enjoyed working with people . I enjoyed working with teachers. I enjoyed working with other administrators. I enjoyed working with students or the same way with coaching and different things but I was.. one thing I was always fair and I can take it to the bank.. I was fair.
Q: Were there any times that you found that your strategy was not working out because of some individual or some other thing?
A: Well, it was times that I didn't think that I was saying words that I couldn't get to first base in little things. I would just go back and try and... I was not a person to get down, but I could always figure a way. I had a few problems and my big problem was during the first part of integration because I really, really with the Black teachers compared to the White teachers which now... teachers are teachers. It doesn't matter what color you are but the Black teachers had to be better prepared because what we had to do like I explained the first.. I had to teach in three different fields. My first year teaching. And some teachers had three certifications and I won't talk about my three certifications I had to teach in. I also had a certification also could have taught English and during my college days , the reason that I could have taught English because in college I took a lot of course in drama and dramatics. that's how I had a course like play production and drama and that gave me a certification in English, but I won't have put that on nobody and I would of tried it, because I know ..like in the Black situation, the chemistry teacher had to teach chemistry, had to teach Biology and Organic Chemistry and then also had a certification in Social; Science, had a certification in English or had a certification in Mathematics and then we were so better prepared and actually when the school was changed and during my first year, seven years, I never did know what a planning period was or what a free period was when the schools were Black because there never was a place for a planning period. It never was a place. you worked every period plus I could remember a gentleman being this teacher with teaching business, then teach typing one or typing two or short hand one or short hand two. Every thing right there was a different preparation and once the schools changed, is when we found out how easy it was. We had the certification. We had the preparation and we just walked right into it and then it was . the Black teacher was so scarce because when I was a principal of the Black school, we had twenty-three teachers and then in the integrated schools there were only six Black teachers that actually got jobs. See the ones that lived here in town, they were placed and some of the ones that lived out of town like where teachers coming. some come in from North Carolina, Ridge Forge, some coming from West Virginia, Princeton area and they were all given jobs. Some of them went back to localities and some went back . some actually got jobs back at their place and some the next year were all for jobs here, but then a couple of them came back and then... but it was. it was hard on the Blacks. I remember the first .They sued the school board too, but they eventually had to drop because some of them because we had one lady here that got a job. She went to Maryland and got a job, and her husband got a job. Then his wife stayed her. She eventually moved to Maryland a couple or three years afterwards.
Q: Do you find that there were any problems like differences in terms of your style of leadership with Black teachers or White teachers in interacting with you?
A: Now it was a lot ,lot .. the Black teachers they could really interact better because black on black but then I didn't ever have a problem, I never had a problem with the White because it was. They had to respect ..they knew they had to respect. If I'm in an administrative position and in some of years with some of the fellows when I went to George Wythe and act like an administrative director. Well it was. all of the coaches I had worked with.. see because all during the time when I was administration at Intermediate school that was after the high school and I actually coached and worked at the high schools with all of the coaches and then when I took..had the big job in athletic administration, it was two or three that didn't like it, but the principal which was one of the better friends I ever had in my life . Actually when he took the principal at George Whyte he wanted.. he told he would take the Principal job if they could get me from Scott to be his assistant because he said that I could handle everything but Ernie can help me do what.. and it came to pass when I went on out there. One thing about him was the best administrator I had ever worked under, but he also stressed with the first faculty meeting which made me the proudest person in the world.. the way he handled it. he .. by this time the teachers knew that I would have different assignments with them, especially the twelfth graders and the eight graders. And then the students, all knew that I was the student activity coordinator , so right there. and then all of the coaches which numbered a whole lot, they knew I was in charge of them and their . . . which was the principal and he told in the first faculty meeting. I think we had about sixty-seven teachers at George Wythe and the words that he told everybody. he said people, if you can't get along with Ernie Smith don't stop by my office. Keep straight across the street there and go the school board office. If you can't get along with this man right here go straight to the school board office because he 's the man that I wanted for this job and he's the man he hired and he's the man we gonna use. And it's a good stuff right there that I want to show you some of the things that he said.
Q: There are those who argue that more often than not, central office policies hinder, rather than help, build good relationships in schools. Would you give your views on this issue. If you were king, what changes would you make as a way of improving administrative efficiency and effectiveness?
A: First, let me tell you this about the role of a Black principal. The role of a black principal he had more power than any other white principal has ever had in education. The role of a black principal as I was telling you before , a Black principal could hire and fire. I had the opportunity as a young administrator .. I had the opportunity to hire and fire which nobody else can do that . But the white principals could not do that, but the Black principals but I could understand that the only thing is what it seem that the Black principal was used for was you keep things together across the street, across the railroad track and everything would be all right. If you keep things together over there but a black principal could hire and fire and I really, really , really stressed that with a lot of the younger guys now compared to now and then and ask the superintendents they wouldn't try to fire or hire but a black principal could. The Central Office, they are a lot of help now compared to when the schools were Black. See when the schools were all black, they thought and they knew that you could had the range . You could do pretty much what you want to do. If they didn't.. they'll give you a hard time for nothing. But now it's different see the Central Office now the help is real good, because they have so, so , so many supervisors. They have so many directors for instruction in all phases of it, they have the supervisors in Social Studies or Social Sciences. Then they have the Math people, then they have the Science people and then they have. . they actually have supervisors, administrative assistant for instruction, administrative assistant for supervision. They have all those. Its a . . .when I first started at the Central Office ..central office consisted of a clerk, a director of instruction, a junior supervisor, an elementary supervisor er a visiting teacher or truant officer. that was the staff and now they have officers everywhere.
Q: Would you describe the ideal requirements for principal certification and discuss appropriate procedures for screening those who wish to become principals?
A: Actually the ideal requirement in order for principalship you had to have certification. You have to have the master's degree. See and in order for that, you have to have a wealth of knowledge. You have to have a good mind of instruction and you have to have a pretty good mind of supervision. And one thing you just have. first thing you must have to have to have a little more of, you have to know how to work with people. You have to know how to work with small ones, the middle ones. The same thing with the students. I mean you have some weak teachers too, but then again you have some weak principals. But the screening part it's pretty hard. In order to be a principal, you must have been a very successful teacher and then you have to take the required situations to get where you are. it's a.. but I just happen to come into it. I just didn't know as much about being a principal. I knew how to coach and I knew how to lead but my motto was.. I live by example because in athletics and sports I could do it. I knew how to do it I knew how to coach and then that's what the superintendent told me. If you can do this in this part of the game, you can do this in another part of the game. But I explained to him that part of the game was about me. I'm satisfied coaching and then I could remember as well as yesterday, the superintendent told me, after he had talked with me for a long time and begging me and he told me that I will give you three thousand dollars if you take the principal job. I told him you don't have to go further than that.
Q: It has been said that there is a home-school gap and that more parental involvement with the schools need to be developed. Would you give your view on this issue and describe how you interacted with parents and with citizens who were important to the well-being of the school.
A: Well, I had a lot of dealing with parents and a lot dealing with the school situation. But it used to be a little different. It used to be..in the Black situation, it never was a problem much. Acutely the educational background for the black people, it was not where it was a gap, but you could always bring in the parent and talk to the parent or they could come in and talk with you. The way it is now, it is a little different. With a.. in the situation..and I had situations too, here you might have a problem with the child in your class and then the child's father might be the person who called you or the child's father might be a senator, a delegate or a child might be a lawyer and where you have to work your gap in there with them, but you have to always firm. you have to never shoe signs of weakness. You got to always make them think that you are thinking while they are thinking, but during my time, I never had a too much problem. Definitely, definitely, definitely no black and white problem and I was always ..I won't never in-between. but I was always that it didn't matter. I could handle situation whereas, I knew white teachers couldn't handle and but the black teachers were just aspiring. There just won't too many then, but actually with the black and whiter situation I never had that much of a problem. Never, never no telephones call in the night. I let it be known a long time ago, if you want to see me, come to the school. Don't call my telephone number. My telephone was for me and my family. But that's pretty much the way the situation used to be to the way it is now, but I ..In the East we had a little racial problems here and there, but my oldest child right now she's forty-one years now, but she started out in the integrated situation I think in the second grade and my son he's thirty-six, but he could never, he's always been in an integrated situation, because he never ..out of twelve years of high school., he was seven years he was the only black in his class. You see one thing about it in this the population is just two percent black and the school population, they still two percent black, that's not here in Wyateville, but in the county.
Q: In recent years more and more programs for special groups of students(LD, Gifted and Talented, Non-English speaking) have been developed. Please discuss your experience with special school services and your views on today's trends with this regard.
A: Well, I remember, this goes back with the LD's and the special. I know of years and years ago that I was the person in this county right here that actually started mainstream, the special ed. child, the LD child all the, we had the behavior problems too, but I mainstreamed in my P.E class. I was the person that started the special ed. Situations. Actually mainstreamed them in the cafeteria. I was the person who started mainstream going to the bathroom. In P.E. I start P.E classes which I was supervising and we would have a unit of aerobics and rhythms and I would mainstream the special Ed classes in with LDs also. I would mainstream them with my class doing the Virginia reel, doing the pat-a-cake polka and then they would be mainstreamed with me and the other students which began in their class. Because I always had to have a special Ed class but I would have to mainstream with another class, then they will go back to their classes and then I would fix it where they go to lunch where they didn't have to eat by themselves and all that will come through rhythms and any kind of dance situation or the same thing,. . . mainstreaming in PE in a relay. See that was mainstreaming with . and I really, really got a lot of good critique for that.
Q: So you think it is a good thing about inclusion in schools?
A: Oh you have to, you have to include, but then that was what we had gained from segregation. See if you mainstream anyway that's another word for integration in the same bank and I remember during the process of time that would speaking on integration, speaking on segregation and this and that and the best experience that I had and I could take you sometime back, that I had my oldest grandson was in the second garde, and his second grade teacher which was a girl that was my secretary at the high school. She was in the business situation. She wanted me to speak to the second grade. My grandson is in the second grade want me to speak on integration and segregation and I talked about it with everybody in the world, but it was no way. I had to do a lot , a lot of research and my grandson , their daddy's my son and their mother is white and I had a time getting this down. Plus the girl that was teaching the class, she had a interracial baby and I had to do a lot of research, had to do a lot of calls and then in this particular class, there were seven mixed children in this particular class and I started out this way. I said , well one thing about it, you all have the best of two worlds. You could go black or you could go white and then the girl after, she said you certainly know how to handle this thing right. What she had done, she had done a lot of good work towards. she was an excellent student in a way in school, but she had torn my worlds apart. She had told about everybody in the Civil Rights about Martin Luther King to everybody, Jackie Robinson, different thing. She had done her work and just enjoyed that so much and then my grandson who live right there came home that evening and said, "Pa, Pa, oh you did a great job!"
Q: Did you see a relationship in a way between like special needs and race. Like integration and segregation of ability and integration and segregation of class?
A: Well the only thing about segregation, the white students always had an advantage over the Black child because they had the best equipment , they had the best books. They didn't have the best teachers. See, we had the best teachers. But first, right before they said separate but equal see that doctrine didn't fly, because when we integrate the schools right here, they close the High school down and gave us the eight grade, seventh grade high school and intermediate school. Now when our children really got to the high school I mean at Rural Retreat, Fort Chiswell and George Wythe. So it's a lot of things that we were'nt exposed to, a lot of books and things that we didn't have. There's a lot of equipment we didn't have and stuff and That's what really helped the Black child, but the only thing what hurt the Black child a lot was , we never had too many Black teachers, we never had someone to identify them with and I've know when I was at high school or when I was at Scott, you'll walk down the hall and you see a Black child, they'll come and hug you you know what I mean and then it's just them. You see in every body that I see, a lot of transit vans coming in and out. They coming through here and out of a lot of the children, actually still working in the system. See I am now on my ninth generation. You see when I first taught coaching here and some of the fellows and some of the girls that I coached that I taught. have had grandchildren OK? They've been in the 64/65 school year, that's when they integrated the school then, I've had the whites grandchildren also. So I have a generation too and it's been a long time.
Q: Given the present of administrative complexity, if there were three areas of administration that you could change in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of school administration what would they be. For example administrators presently spend a good deal of time complaining about the paper work. . .
A: It's definitely, definitely, definitely too much paper work. It's too much busy work. You see paper work is busy work and it needs more of administrative part. In the mainstream, out in the hallways, in the gym, in the bathrooms. I mean the administrative part, all of that goes in to doing what instead of. You cannot run a school sitting in an office and three secretaries and three bookkeepers and two guidance counselors. You have to get out there and mix with the building mainstream. That's one part that I used to, I really enjoyed, With every bell that will ring I am close to my office, they know that I am out there. They know that I will do this and do that and they don't know when I'll come into the bathroom. they don't know when I'll come into the gym and the teachers do not know when I will frequent them and that's where you have to be real bright towards that one. but it should be a better relationship with administration and teacher and administration and students. See it's one thing I've learnt and really got a lot of critique for that I knew every child in the school by their first names and some like forty years ago I still know them by their first name. And they'll look at me and say "Coach you remember me?" and I'll say "Lionel Oldback, live out there on the cove, I remember." He'd say "How you remember all that?" He had a beard and some of the hair had gone. They'll say "Coach you look as young as I look". I'll say "I probably don't feel like you look or feel like you look.
Q: Would you discuss your participation in handling the Civil Rights situation and describe your involvement in busing?
A: Well, I have to go back the day when they integrate the schools. They integrate the schools I think in 64/65 school year and actually I didn't know if I was being demoted or what, but I remember the superintendent came to me and told me but he told me a year before cause all of the three. . four high school principals were all sent to Miami Beach at a National Principal Association and we knew it was coming, but he told me, well you know integration in the South see its not going to be many Black principals, Who cares? That wasn't my thought. I'd say to myself if they do integrate the schools, I knew I'll get a job and this and that and this and that. So what I did I took what he told me but I thought about it, then I had a little contact with H.E Dublin and the civil rights and I knew that I was being demoted . But what they did they did not mess with my money, but what they did, hey made me assistant principal of the intermediate school and they gave me three coaching assignments at the high school which I didn't mind and , but I still thought talking to some people I sued the Wythe County School Board and it took eighteen, nineteen years for it to come through, but I eventually won the case because I was at Scott in the day I was, the suit came out, I was transferred and I knew I had done something right. And., but the situation in integration here it just happened overnight with no problem and I never had a problem but I had,. I was with a lot of the white fellows. I was known as the first Black coach and they would tell me about it right now, but camaraderie or whatever we're are still the best of friends. All of the fellows. But integration, it was overnight here. There situation, the first twenty years were good, but after that things getting on back and little problems here and there.
Q: Would you describe those aspects of your professional training which best prepared you for the principalship and which training experiences were least useful?
A: My best training was actually my first qualification in working and dealing with different people in athletics or any administrative part, but I found out that your experience in dealing and working with people much better qualify you but actually the pre requisite for the administrative situation or the principalship is the certification. in Virginia in order to be certify is to have the masters degree but ended up with a couple of them. I still think that the qualifications is much better than the certification. The certification is good because you have to have it and after your training, but you do learn a lot from the different schools that you go to, the different classes you take but actually, your best situation is your work experience and I always did much better with and Thai's my best, but I actually...in order to be a principal you have to have the pre-requisite master's degree. that is most of all the way you can get. But I still say that the principal's job, the experience it is that actually qualify you to do your best job. It can really help you react with people, your experiences and the old saying that experience is the best teacher. I go along with that one.
Q: What suggestions would you offer to universities as a way of helping them to better prepare candidates for administrative positions?
A: Let them go and be in the work place and gain the experiences[ . Do different chores but just let them gain it. But I know what the university think. They think . the old saying, you need a piece of paper , but my heart still feels that let just them gain experience and then let them get their required degree or whatever.
Q: It has been said that good leaders encourage their subordinates and peers in staging celebrations of their successes, no matter how small or insignificant. To what extent did you engage in this practice during your tenure as principal, and to what extent did it improve morale and organizational effectiveness?
A: Well when I started I was helped, but I eventually moved into it by studying work experience and actually going to school and then obtaining the high degrees, . .the higher degrees but I know that even afterwards I was always in a good position where I could always encourage other children or teachers or students to better themselves in education. To explain to some of them all my good point and they knew that I could let them go back and continue to work towards another end. As with a few of the young fellows that I knew in the past that we were talking about good times as a principal then we talk a little bit about the bad times , then encourage them to go and then it seems to me like that a lot of children of the students or even the coaches or some of the participants that I have known they went on back and better themselves and actually go into higher education and obtain degrees and then work towards work experiences by being a good teacher and by listening and listen to some of the old fellows like us, we would talk and encourage and show them the way and help them and they always come back and give you a whole lot of credit and that's my satisfaction right there.
Q: What was your favorite way of celebrating with the young ones?
A: Well, when they come back and talk to you or you see them or they would call you or any situation they need a little help if they. . . if there's any situation they will always call. it's always a thank you. There's always one thing I really, really enjoyed with all the young people I've worked with , and how much respect they still have and I think respect is one of the better situations of all and I really deal in respect.
Q: Some writers recommend that principals adjust their leadership styles to meet the individual needs of their staff. How do you feel about that idea and to what extent did you practice individualized leadership?
A: I think myself personally you gotta turn that thing around, I think that the staff should adjust to your leadership and if it's turn around that way it's better than just you and it's more consensus if they adjust to you than for them to adjust to themselves, but it is best that they adjust to me and then in turn right there I can adjust to them.
Q: Some principals hold the view that teachers and other staff members are, in general, well-motivated reliable self-starters. Other principals feel that they must closely monitor the activities of their employees to insure that they are performing "to standard". What supervisory approach did you customarily use during your career as principal?
A: Well as we talked before, that the way I started out with the older principals this was back in the fifties with the older principals, just how dictatorial they were. they were just so self centered in their way or no other way and by me being a young principal and by, we really had to buck-up, but we would always a stand off to, because I knew that a lot of the young teachers that worked for the older principals which I was a young principal which I could have been a young teacher and I know how the old principal use to run them out of the business and run them out, but my way was how I actually learn and I did. This was by experience also as with the leadership part of it and the experience part was the democratic way and it was easy for me because I had known when I was in High School myself about the dictatorial principals, I knew about that but then once I started as a principal I started off as a young principal that's when I adopted the democratic way and that way was a much better way with me and I could adjust that better with the teachers and I got better respect from them even when some of the teachers would come to me and had been to the other situations and I and them would get along together.
Q: One model of leadership describes people as either assertive, supportive, or contemplative. Would you please categorize yourself and give reasons for this assignment.
A: I was just I was supported because I'm there as the role model. I'm there as the leader and I have to be supportive of a teacher. I have to be supportive of a student. I may have to be supportive of my staff or my faculty.
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 actually my administrative strengths would be, first at the level of my job, first the contact with my staff or my faculty and that's mostly what, that's most of my strengths! Weaknesses, well I know it's hard . Actually, weakness could be . my weakness could be that I take too much for granted even for my staff or my faculty of even for my knowledge. I take all that for granted. That could be my weakness.
Q: Would you give us an overall comment on the pros and cons of administrative service, and any advice you would wish to pass along to today's principals.
A: I just like to pass on that be firm, be fair, and help and foster the complete administrative services that you could render. you have to be fair and you have to be firm and lot of times you have to be right. (laughter)
Q: Despite my best efforts to be comprehensive during my questioning, there is probably something I have left out. What have I not asked you that I could or should have?
A: I think all of the questions were good questions. Actually some questions were a little bit loaded. (laughter) Actually, it's been eight years since I've been in that situation and I didn't. some of the things that I wanted to say, some of the things I didn't say may have been some of the things you should ask, but I don't think we've missed nothing and I really enjoyed this. Now this right here was the first time I ever tried to do this. (laughter) This is my first time, but I really enjoyed it. But actually talking about different situations bring back and then you get it out and then it may slip away if you are doing something else. Then when you get a chance to come back to it it's a little different, but I don't know of a question that you've left out.
Q: I have one I have just thought of. How do you think your role as an administrator affected or influenced your family?
A: Well my role as an administrator influenced my family. . one thing my family think of me, you know, they look up to me and we are on the same sheet. but I could go back and tell you this and some of the things you forget when today I'm the coach at the school and tomorrow I'm the principal and how I really changed with my oldest child which my youngest child properly wasn't born but my oldest child was in the first grade. I was the principal tomorrow and the coach today. Everybody in a school loves the coach, but nobody loves the principal and my daughter which was forty- one years old right now and she was in the first grade when they made me the principal of the school. She walked up to me in the hall and called me Mr. Smith and the only person in town who liked me was my daughter and my wife, but it took me some time from principal. from coach to principal and it was a big step and I really enjoyed that transformation and was real good to me but I'm a coach today and the day I'm coach and tomorrow my daughter calls me Mr. Smith and nobody had two friends at Wytheville, was my wife and my daughter.
Q: It was a pleasure and I thank you very much.
A: It was nice!
Q: Well we are going to look at his artifacts now and I will try to acquire at least one. / Thank you.
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