Interview with Karen Webb

April 4, 2000

The person being interviewed is Mrs. Karen Webb, Assistant Superintendent of Tazewell County Schools in Tazewell, Virginia.

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Q: Mrs. Webb begin by telling us of your family background, childhood interest, and family characteristics.

webb audio (Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)

A: Your going back all the way aren’t you.

Q: All the way to the very beginning.

A: Keith my background was pretty typical of someone who lived in Tazewell County during the time that I grew up. My mother did not work, she stayed at home, my father was an auto body repairman who worked long hours he had his own body shop it was very typical of him to come home at 9:00 or 10:00 at night. Worked hard, came from a family of two children I have a younger brother, I am 3 years older than my brother. Family characteristics, I’m not sure exactly what that means but, I guess my family was, church on Sunday morning, stay at home during the week, do family activities, came from a small family, did not have an extended family. When we were children we worked with our dad and mom in the garden, helped can food in the fall, played cowboy and Indians like they don’t do now. We just kind of entertained ourselves as community children did back then. I grew up in the early to mid 50’s, children got together in the community played ball, played hide and seek, you did not have soccer practice or baseball practice, cheerleading practice, or anything like that to go to. Everything you did was pretty much done in the community so I guess that would take care of that.

Q: As far as your educational background Mrs. Webb, college education, preparing for your teaching experience, where did you do your undergraduate and graduate work as well?

A: Keith, I graduated from Richlands High School and coming from the family I just described to you all through school I really didn’t feel like I would have the opportunity to go to college. Even though I didn’t have the financial means to go to college I still took classes that I thought would help me if the opportunity came up. So during the year I was a Junior and a Senior in high school they built the community college over on the hill and so that was a great thing for me. If it had not been for the community college I would not have gone to college. But I went to the community college for two years worked there before school started that summer as a work study student, worked both summers as a work study student at the college. When I was in my second year at the community college I knew I did not have money to go on to a four year college and one of the deans at Southwest called me in on day and said you’ve got to go on. We’ve got to find a way for you to go on so I told him my dad did not have any money and that there was no money available so we started looking at scholarships and believe it or not I had good grades so I got, I received some scholarships and I got on a work study program at Radford and transferred to Radford, at that time it was Radford College now it is Radford University. Worked there as a work study student, summer, every chance I ever had, I worked. Graduated from Radford in 1972 with a degree in English, Sociology, and Psychology and that was June of 1972. I came back to Richlands and worked as a director of a day care center. You didn’t know that did you. But, I worked that summer as director of a day care center and applied for a job teaching English and was told there were no jobs. I got married that summer, got married in August, left on my honeymoon thinking I didn’t have a job, was at Myrtle Beach, received a call from my mom telling me that Charlie Thomason, who was then Director of Personnel had called and said there was a teaching job at Richlands Junior High School and if I wanted it I had to call him back within the hour. So I can remember standing on the street corner at Myrtle Beach on a pay phone, and I called Charlie Thomason and said that I do want the job and he says I have another lady in my office who’s here to sign the papers for the job if you don’t want it. So I said I do want it, this was on Wednesday about midday. He said you need to be at new teacher orientation on that Thursday, and I said I can’t be at new teacher orientation on Thursday, he said well can you be at the meeting on Friday, and said well yes I can do that. So I cut my honeymoon short jumped in the car drove home didn’t have a place to stay, the place we were going to stay wasn’t ready so but anyway, reported to Richlands Junior High that Friday morning. The woman who owned the daycare center, she and her husband owned it together, she worked at Richlands Junior High so when I walked in as a new employee of Richlands Junior High she thought I was on my honeymoon and would report to her on Monday morning, so I had some explaining to do. That was my start, so I worked at the Junior High from 1972-76 and we moved to the new middle school in 1976 I taught two English classes at that time and then during the years of 72-76 I went back and got my Master’s in Guidance Counseling and Administration and so the first year we were at the Middle School I was part-time 6th grade guidance counselor, teaching 2 English classes, and I became the assistant principal in the second year of operation at the middle school, 77-78 year, served in that capacity until 1990 and became principal in 90 and then moved to this office, January ’99.

Q: So if you broke it down, how many years were you in the classroom?

A: In the classroom, 4 years, 4 years in the classroom, as an assistant for 13 or 14 years and 9 years as a principal.  

Q: Where and how along the line did you decide that you wanted to go to the classroom to administration? What were the circumstances that surrounded that?

A: I don’t know that I have ever given that a lot of thought. I think what happened was as I started working on my Master’s in counseling I got into some classes that there were some administrator’s taking those classes and at the same time we were at the school we were getting ready to move into the new school and we were taking some classes about middle school education and so forth and I kinda got, it was during that time frame that I started to think about scheduling and I just decided I could do those things, looking at people who were working on them at that time and I took an interest in some of the education classes that I took, started to like that and I just decided that was something I like to do. So I don’t know that I could ever say that it was, I got up one morning and said I wanted to be a principal, I don’t think that happens, it kinda evolves. I don’t know that I was, or there would be one person that would necessarily push me into that, I think Mr. Grimm, my principal at that time depended on me a lot for things and asked me to do a lot of things, particularly moving into the new school. I think that probably pushed me into that direction. Unlike you, who I had to push in that direction.

Q: Push very hard for several years. You said it wasn’t an overnight thing, you didn’t wake up one morning.

A: I know, I did, I said that.

Q: Mrs. Webb if you had a personal philosophy of education, what would it be and how did you come to obtain such a philosophy?

A: Personal philosophy of education. When I started teaching I thought you could teach everyone. I was never willing to say that school wasn’t for every child. I firmly believe that every child needed to be in school and that there was something we could do for every child and I don’t know that I’ve gone completely away from that, but as the years have gone on I still believe that every child can learn but I think children learn in different ways and at different times and under different settings. So I can’t honestly say that I think the classroom necessarily at a particular grade is for every child so I think that philosophy has changed a lot over the years. I think we have to be more accommodating, I don’t think there are nice little rows and nice little order for everything. First grade, second grade, third grade I use to believe that happened.

Q: Is that a fact that you have changed or times have changed?  

A: I think time has changed, and I think I have probably matured some and broadened by perspective on how I look at things. I don’t think you can work in education for 28 years and not deal with a lot of situations and have a lot of things happen. I think our society has changed, or times have changed. We have children in our count right now who do not need to be in the regular classroom sitting back there in row 3 seat number 4 or whatever. It is more harmful for them and for the other students if there was no alternative plan for them of some kind. So I think that has been one thing that has changed. I still believe every child is capable of learning I just think that we have to be more creative on how we reach them.

Q: What about managing? One of the jobs an administrator has is to manage not only students, but faculty and what about your philosophy on how you manage people?

A: You could answer that.

Q: I could answer this better than you can.

A: What, carry a big stick.

Q: Carry a big pen and roll between your fingers.

A: Yeah, I guess I’m probably more of a stickler for a lot of things in management than some leaders are or some administrators are. I believe in people doing what they are suppose to do, I believe in giving 110% if you can. I hope I manage people with the feeling they can come to me if there are problems. I think I do that, I think that’s probably, I believe in listening to people. When it come down to it I’m not afraid to make a decision, yeah or nay, and tell people well yes it is going to be this way, or no, it’s going to be that way. I hope I’m open to the point that people feel free, and I think looking back over the middle school years, I think most teachers felt they could come talk to me. I think I have an open door policy as far as management goes. It’s not my way or the highway necessarily, you make lots of decisions based upon a lot of input from other people. I believe in change, I believe if you try something one year if your scheduling a school and you try something and it doesn’t work you make changes as you go because you learn and grow because of that.

Q: That kinda leads us to the next question about creating a successful climate for learning. Give me an example where you tried an experiment and it didn’t work, it was a bomb. You may want to start with a positive example of climate building.

A: I….

Q: I will add one, 6th grade block.

A: The 6th grade block, that would be a successful one I think. That was probably a good move. I guess there are several regarding the blocking arrangement or scheduling arrangement at the middle school. You would have to almost been there when we first moved into that school to see the changes that came about. The first year was chaos, I mean there is no other word for it but chaos. Jean Smith and I sat out in the hallway the 6 weeks scheduling kids one on one trying to get them where they needed to go and so forth. For a lot of reasons, new building being one of those but, coming up with a plan to let those 6th graders, you know they cried for 6 weeks, all of a sudden they had 7 different teachers instead of 1, so it took a lot of changes to get them where they felt good about coming to school, wanting to be there and so forth. One of the things that bombed, that didn’t work while I was there, I’m sure you were there Remember the plan we had about going to lockers certain times. Our purpose was to limit the traffic in the hallways between classes so we set restrictions when students could go to their lockers. I thought that was a really good idea. It bombed, more so because teachers didn’t like it than it did students didn’t like it. That was one of those things I was willing to try and it didn’t work, so we reverted back, that was probably a major thing at that time. Lots of little things you do as a principal you make changes. It’s like the forms I sent out at the end of the year, what would you like to see different for next year. What changes would you suggest? What programs should we continue? I always gave teachers input in that. I really did go over those during the summer and try to do what, take suggestions and ideas that people had. We made a lot of good changes, activity periods, I believed and I fought the faculty for that you know, if the faculty had had their way, activity period would have been done away with years ago. Intramurals would have gone down years ago. So I kinda every year I fought to keep those things because I honestly felt that was an important part of middle school education.

Q: And it is still a fight every spring.  

A: It will probably continue to be a fight. It is much easier to have kids in 7 periods, 5 days a week and not have to worry about 300 of them in the gym at one time, in the cafeteria dancing, clubs, or whatever it might be. It is harder, but still I think it is important.

Q: Do you think, I’m going to ask this for selfish reasons, middle school administrators need to be more concerned about climate than secondary administrators?  

A: I think middle school administrators deal with a different kid who is going through a traumatic time during their life. I think they probably do need to be more concerned about the influences and the changes the kids are under right at that time. I think we all forget, myself included, what it is like being 12 years old or 13 years old. If you sit back and think about your own life when you were that age, I think middle school is an extremely important time in a child’s development. I really do. I don’t know if you could say more but certainly a great aspect of what you have to do as an administrator is to try to create a caring climate. I use to use that word a lot you’ll know I really believe that.

Q: Mrs. Webb describe what you think it takes to be "a good principal".

A: A good principal. I think you have to like kids, I think you have to have patience, I think the most important characteristic is that you have to listen to people, and you have to be willing to take chances, and experiment, open minded. The principal is what sets the tone for that school. You can have your school, your personnel excited about being there and try to keep morale up and try to keep everybody on a positive note, high level of interest and enthusiasm and all that. Or you can sit back and let things go. I think a good principal gets out there and is a cheerleader for everything that is going on for their school. Half of my time, maybe not half but a large percentage of my time was working with cafeteria staff, custodial staff, secretarial staff, making sure those folks all feel good about what they do, making sure morale is good, doing things for them, making sure they didn’t feel like they were left out. That’s what you do as a leader, try to keep the whole operation going. From a students stand point, I think students have to know that you do like them, that you aren’t afraid to talk to them. You don’t get upset when they stop you in the hall and ask you a thousand questions, you take the time to talk to them. You learn as many of their names as possible, you make them feel like you want to help them. From a parent standpoint, you’ve gotta have an open door policy to listen to parents. I had a parent call me yesterday complaining because the principal wouldn’t even listen were her words. All I wanted him to do was just listen to my side of the story, so I think it is important that you listen to people and give them a chance to talk. You aren’t necessarily going to change their mind but just give them a chance to talk. So I think that is important in being a school leader.

Q: When you became an assistant principal, would you reflect back on when you were a teacher and what you thought a principal ought to be?      

A: I think you do that, and I’ve tried to do that all along and I still try to do that. People at the central office get criticized for being out of the classroom and not knowing what it is like on a day to day basis. I guess consciously a lot of the times I think about what would the teacher want, or how would a teacher handle that. I just got through working on the school calendar and the whole perspective I had on doing the school calendar was from a teacher’s standpoint. So I think if you are an administrator you’ve got to keep that, if you don’t your going to run into some trouble.

Q: In your opinion, what effect does standardized testing have on the quality of instruction and how has that changed in your 28 years in education?

A: Well that has changed tremendously. I don’t think there is any question about that. Up until a few years ago, standardized testing was look at as a necessary evil at the end of spring that you had to go through and you got the scores back and hopefully as an administrator you studied those scores and made some decisions on placing students the next year and that was about all those test scores were used for, looking at individual students. The change has come about because since 1995 those standards have been set up for us so that our whole accreditation system is based on them, so it has put a lot more emphasis on testing. It has made teachers more aware, stressed teachers out, its really caused a lot of stress on students, teachers, and parents and administrators. Who wants to be the principal of a school who does not get accredited. I like standards, that just goes back to my personality. If you got ten things to teach, there is nothing wrong with knowing what those ten things are, and having standards for classroom teachers, I think standardization of what we are teaching is good, I’ve seen enough teachers who just like to teach their own thing, because they like Civil War they spend a semester on the Civil War and disregard a lot of other things. So I think the standardization part of it is good. I have some problems with it being the only criteria using the test we have now as the only criteria. I also have problems with testing a special populations, special education students, assessing them with the same test for our "normal students" I have a problem with that. I will always have a problem with using that same testing guidelines for both segments of our student population. Testing right now in the state of Virginia testing assessment is the number one thing causing the most stress for everybody involved, there is no question about it.

Q: A normal workday as a principal. What time did you get there?

A: There is no normal workday for a principal. I normally got there between 7:15 and 7:20. Normal workday, usually the first thing I did in the mornings after checking in the office was to go back down to the cafeteria and probably everybody thought I was going down there to each which not saying I didn’t do that, but that was my time with the cafeteria staff. I would purposely go down, joke and carry on, just spend time with the cafeteria staff early in the morning before people got in there. Go back in the kitchen talk to all of them, go to the teacher’s dining room and try to touch base with teachers as they came in there. I would spend the first parts of the day either in the cafeteria with the students, touching base with teachers. You purposely doing that. When school starts of course, the announcements, I use to do announcements, as an assistant I did, as a principal I let someone else do that. Usually by that time you are seeing parents, your seeing bus drivers. I never did shy away from dealing with discipline problems when I was a principal. I probably did as much discipline as my assistant did. If a bus driver came in, or a parent came in I saw them, talked to them. I tried to be organized enough so that if anything was carried over from the day before, try to have notes on my desk that I needed to see such and such students early that morning and get them in. Most of the time your mornings would be interrupted with unforeseen things. Like we were talking earlier, bus drivers who were having problems, you always saw those, they would take priority before you could do some of the things you planned on doing. During the lunches, I tried to touch base with the students in the lunchroom. After school was over just open the door and expect a mirage of teachers because they would have, or would want to see you, or ask you something, for 30 minutes at the end of the day, you knew you would be talking with teachers. The last 30 to 40 minutes of the day after everyone had cleared out you did paperwork, made phone calls, those types of things when it was quiet. Most days it wouldn’t be quiet, you had a bus driver, a mad parent, or something would be going on. I took a lot of stuff home, not everday but did take things home. The biggest part about a school day that may be surprising to someone would be during the summer. Some people think summertime for a principal is free time. I worked really hard during the summer. Trying to get things ready, making sure everything was going to run smooth for the regular school year. Summers were never really down times for me as a principal, they were busy times.

Q: What were some of the pressures an assistant principal or administrator would face on a daily bases and how would you cope with those pressures? Did you look at them as pressures or talk about that a little bit.

A: Your probably not going to believe this, but I never really looked at them as pressures. I liked to work, and I’ve always liked what I do, if I came to work as a principal and all I did was sit and do paperwork all day or do something like that I wouldn’t be happy. I like dealing with parents, dealing with teachers, not saying I liked to see problems walk through the door but I liked it. Now were their pressures, occasionally yes, there were bad times. When you’ve got newscasters sticking a camera in your face over a personnel problem, that’s pressure, that’s a bad day. When you’ve got one of your faculty passes away and you’ve got to gather everybody together and break the news, that’s pressure, that a bad day . When you’ve got to call an employee in and tell them they are no longer needed, to me those are pressures. There were some of those, matter of fact those probably happened to every administrator. But as far as the day to day, parent contact, teacher contact, student contact, I enjoyed it and I really didn’t look at it as pressures.

Q: Without being specific, what was the toughest decision you ever had to make as an administrator. Was it informing the faculty of a death or was it dismissing someone? Was it not taking the job or leaving the job?

A: Probably, that probably, not taking it was an easy decision. I was in a couple of personnel problems. One, personnel problem dealing with a close friend of mine, it didn’t result in dismissal but was probably one of the most stressful situation I had to undergo because it involved a lot of people. Some accusations, some things that weren’t very pleasant. That was probably the most stressful situation I had, even more so than announcing the death of a faculty member. That would certainly be next, we had that happen twice, if you remember, while I was there. That was extremely difficult time. The first one happened after school was out, that evening, my job at that point was to plan for the students the next day, bring in counselors, come up with a crisis plan, so I worked on that, that night and that was okay. I had time to get it all straight in my head. The death of the second staff person happened midday, students in school, personnel in school, and something had to be done immediately, and that’s when you get into pressure, when you don’t have time to think things through, you’ve got to act. When it is all over you sit back and think well I might could have done this differently or whatever. Those were probably the worst situations I’ve had to deal with. During the time I was principal, I think I had three staff members that I did not renew their contract, and those weren’t really that difficult because they had all been given chances to correct areas they were weak in, I’m not saying I like to do that, but those weren’t what I would call real pressure situations.

Q: If you knew then, what you know now, and you were going to prepare to become an administrator, what would you do different?

A: You know Keith, I don’t know that I know an answer to that. I have loved every minute of what I’ve done so I don’t have, I don’t know what, maybe I would have, probably what I consider a weak area for me, public speaking. I might have taken some courses that might have equipped me better in that area. I’m not someone who can get up and entertain a group of teachers and put on one of these dynamic things people can do. That has always been a weakness of mine. I don’t know if there was something in my training that could have helped me in that area or not. I felt pretty prepared to be a principal, I really did. I think the thing that helped me the most, I may be leaving your question here. I honestly think my training as a counselor helped me to be a good principal, if in fact I was a good principal, I think I was. I think when you take those counseling classes you learn to listen, and I think that is a strength of mine, I think I listen to people, in my own assessment I think that has carried me further than some of the educational classes, some of the leadership classes I may have taken, because I think I listen to people and I’m not afraid to have people come and talk to me and the same with parents. Parents could come into my office and be cussing and mad and ready to throw something, and I would sit there and stay calm and just talk in a very soft voice and not get upset with them, and not get angry. When they are leaving, shaking my hand, apologizing, and I honestly feel that if I had handled those situations differently they would be explosive. I think that ability, whether that’s an ability I already had or whether it was something I learned, I think that has helped me in my job and continues to do so.

Q: A mentoring type program for administrators, as you well know,as my mentor for my Master’s Degree at VA Tech. What is your view on the mentoring program? Where a graduate student gets experience by watching, observing, doing. Kinda relay the idea that everything you need to know, or some improvements that you could have made, or didn’t make, was not necessarily in an education classes. For example, if you would have had an opportunity to work at the feet of a mentor so to speak for a semester, before your first job, would that have helped?

A: It probably would have, and of course back when I got my degree there was nothing like that in place, you just graduated and went to work the next day or whatever, if you were lucky enough to have a job. I guess I believe that a lot of the skills that an administrator needs are innate skills that they have, I don’t, some people you could never train to be a good administrator. Some people, who probably have never had any training could be a good administrator, and that kinda blows the whole theory of the education program. Maybe I shouldn’t say that but, I think a lot of it is your personality, I think a lot of it is how well you like working with people, and how well you like the children. If I had a mentor, probably I would have learned some of the legistical stuff, you know reports here, reports there, and have this kind of meeting and that kind of meeting, but those things you can learn as you go along. I could take an assistant principal, if I were a principal of a school, I can teach an assistant principal how to run an IEP meeting, I can teach an assistant principal how to take care of the free lunch applications, I can teach a person back years ago when we had to do monthly reports on registers, I can teach someone how to do that. What is more difficult to teach that person to do is how to sit in there and talk for 30 minutes with an upset mother who is crying because she can’t deal with her daughter or how to keep a father from going home and beating his kid half to death because he smoked a cigarette in the bathroom. Those are skills that you want to be able to teach someone, but lots of times its hard to make those changes. Does that make sense?

Q: Very good sense. What should be the role of the assistant principal? In your opinion.

A: I think the assistant principal has to support the principal. I think there has to be a good rapport between the two and I can say, working with two different assistant principals I had one who was a wonderful human being and a wonderful person, but I could never get to where I felt comfortable in sharing things, and talking out things, and us working together as a team to reach conclusions, or figure out how to handle a problem. He was a cut-dry type of person. My idea of an assistant principal is someone who will come in, sit down, and we will hash things out, talk things out, he’ll give me his ideas, I give him mine, vice versa, we work together, that’s to me a good assistant principal. I want an assistant principal I can depend on, who I know that if there is a ballgame that night and he says he is going to be there, I don’t have to go home and worry whether or not that particular person is going to show up. I think you’ve got to have someone that is dependable. On the other hand you’ve got to have someone who thinks for themselves. My idea, is that an assistant principal is in training to become a principal. So, you want to have someone you want to be able to teach and they will watch what you do and will ask questions about what you do and hopefully learn from what you do because your setting a good example for them. A bad assistant principal can kill a principal, just like a bad secretary can kill a principal. You’ve gotta have somebody that does a good job and is dependable.

Q: During your time as a principal, at the middle school, what was your relationship with the superintendent? I know your relationship with him now, may be a little different since you are the assistant superintendent, but during your time as principal, what was your relationship?

A: I guess during the time I was principal, there were probably three different superintendents that I worked with. Most of the time those were people I saw on a limited basis, probably had good rapport with all three of them. Mainly you saw the superintendent during a principal’s meeting or they would come to the school and visit and of course when the superintendent comes to the school, you drop everything and whatever your doing is placed on the back burner and you either sit and talk with him or visit around classrooms with him or eat lunch or whatever it might be. That’s primarily I guess with all three that’s what I did. You hoped you didn’t get calls into the central office and you know you didn’t get the superintendent having to call you in about problems. I always tried to take care of things and keep them from being sent to the central office.

Q: Did you ever hesitate to call upon him?

A: No, not really, I guess I’ve always felt like if there was a question I had, if I was unsure about something, how to handle a situation I think I felt comfortable in calling the superintendent, or at least calling his office and asking for advice. I never hesitated to call the superintendent. Probably the first years maybe more so, you may be more hesitant to pick up the phone and call the superintendent but in the last years certainly no hesitancy to do that. We always got support from our central office and superintendent.

Q: A few moments ago you were talking about a so called normal day, and it doesn’t exist, there are things that do happen that are pressure situations and stressful situations, how did you keep your sanity? What did you do to unleash? What was your down time? (Pause) Was their something at school? Did you have to get away from the building, was their people, what was it? (Pause) Was their notes that some faculty member wrote you?

A: Yeah, that helps. I still have those by the way. Things like that do help, there were two or three people on staff who would probably know me well enough to know that if something was going on or if I was having a bad day they would write a note or stop by and talk to me, whatever. My best friend was there and still there. She and I would, she could pretty much tell if I needed a break and we’ve ridden down time a couple of times just to get out of the situation. That’s happened, I guess my time, as far as relaxing and getting my mind off of what I’m doing is pretty much spent with my mom and dad. Probably pick up the phone before I would leave school tell mom to put the teakettle on and have a cup of tea, go down spend an hour with her before I go home and drink a spot of tea, talk to them. As they get older I probably still doing more of that. That was probably if there is one thing. I’m not really involved in a lot of outside activities. I like to take my camera out and shoot pictures of pretty trees and flowers and leaves and things like that and do that occasionally. Not a lot of things, pretty much with family type of activities.

Q: What about your spouse?

A: I’ve still got him. After all these years. Worse for the wear.

Q: Do you, sure you do, in a nonspecific roundabout way I’m sure discuss things that happen at school with your spouse when you get home. Do you call that an outlet? (Pause) Yes and No maybe?

A: I think sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. Usually we do have that time when both of you get home from work, what did you do today? How did your day go, this type thing. If there has been a traumatic or important event out of the ordinary, you certainly discuss those type things. If it just a routine day, lots of times maybe not. Probably just don’t like to talk about work after you get home. Both of us deal with that in about the same way. But, yeah, if it is a major thing, he was always understanding. When you had to go back night after night after night sometimes those things got old. You can just eat so many hamburgers at Hardee’s or wherever V & V. Were there times? Sure there were times that he rather me be home as to go back at night for night functions and so forth. All in all he was very supportive, he was very supportive of me early on in getting my education, making sure I worked toward my Master’s and worked with me on that. I think he has always been proud of the job that I’ve done and knows that I like what I do. I think that, I never understood how people can work day in and day out and hate their job and be miserable, and I’ve always felt good about what I do and I think he realizes that.

Q: Give me one strength and one weakness of you as an administrator.

A: I think I’ve already discussed the strength, I think listening is a strength, I really do. A weakness, try to make sometimes, everybody happy when you can’t make everybody happy. That is a weakness, sometimes you just have to, you know things are going to satisfy everybody so you just have to make you mind up and go with it. But, you still have that gnawing, wishing you could have come up with some way to do, to make people feel better about what was going on. That still bothers me, that worries me sometimes. That might be a weakness.    

Q: Take those two things, what advice would you give to a new administrator today. Somebody starting out this coming fall as a new administrator for the first time and you have to give them a bit of advice, what would you tell them?

A: I would tell them to listen to people, care about kids, and I would tell them that caring is more important than getting reports in on time and doing some of the things that in the bureaucracy that we have to do some times. You know, its not just caring about kids, caring about you staff, your cooks, custodians, secretaries, aides, and bus drivers. I honestly feel like, that it goes back to what I’ve said before, I honestly feel like you can learn alot of things at school. But, you know if you don’t care about people and care about the people you work with day in and day out, I don’t think you’ll be successful. The other thing is to spend time with people, don’t brush people off, listen to them, that goes back to what I’ve already said, I really believe that. So if you come to me, I’ll listen to you Mr. Hovis.

Q: And you have, many times before. One final question. There’s probably you being an experience administrator, and me being a very much rookie. There is probably something I should have asked you that I didn’t. Can you think of any area, not necessarily a question. Is there anything if I had been in this for 20 years I would have asked you about it?

A: That’s a tough question. You might ask me where a sense of humor comes to play in all of this and that it certainly has to. After being in it for 28 years some of the things that probably caused be stress or frustration at the time with a good sense of humor you can sit back and look at it and say that wasn’t so tough after all. You’ve got to approach your job with that in mind. I guess the thing that as a new administrator that you would have to learn is that there are no set answers always as much as you want things to be black and white, whether it be policy or regs or you know whatever it is you can’t have a rule for everything. It goes back to good judgment, common sense, that feeling down in the pit of your stomach that tells you I should do this or I shouldn’t do this. Sometimes that gut feeling happens in the middle of the night, I’ve laid awake lots of nights thinking about how to handle situations, more so at school than I do now, believe it or not. Those are thing, you learn from all those. You learn from every experience you have and I don’t know that that is necessarily a question, experience teaches you how to deal with what goes on, on a day to day basis.      

Q: Okay Mrs. Karen Webb, is their anything else, that you would like to add?

A: I think you’ve pretty well covered it Mr. Hovis, you’ve got my life history right here in a nut shell.

Q: Right here on tape, for all to hear, and all to see. Thank you very much.    

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