| Back to "A" Interviews | Index of Interviews | Protocol | Home |
Q: I'd like to begin by asking how many years you were in Education altogether.
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: I was in Education forty-two years altogether.
Q: How did you start out?
A: I started out as a teacher and principal.
Q: At the same time?
A: At the same time. It was a small school, a combined high school and elementary school. I started out right after I finished college--University of Virginia. I was given the position of teacher and principal. At that time there were only two other teachers at the high school and about four in the elementary school. The school had about 200 pupils, about fifty of them being high school students.
Q: Where was that school?
A: Stephens City.
Q: Is that the one they are thinking of reopening right now?
A: Yes, that's right.
Q: It's the Stephens City Elementary School?
A: Yes. It was a high school. Stephens City High School, with elementary grades.
Q: And you were principal of the Elementary?
A: I came here as principal of the whole thing. About 200 students and about, in addition to me, there were about six other teachers. At that time, in the elementary school, one teacher had the first and second, one had the third and fourth, fifth and sixth, and seventh. There were four elementary teachers. And in high school, we didn't have a very large enrollment, and just gave most of the basic courses. And in addition to being principal, I had to teach a good part of the day.
Q: What did you teach?
A: I taught mathematics, mostly. And then I taught whatever the other teachers couldn't teach. We had one person who specialized in English and foreign languages, another person that worked science and history. And we had a very limited curriculum, only offered about 16 or 18 units. 16 units were required for graduation, and we only had about 18 or 19 units altogether, for awhile. And I was head teacher, I guess, at that time. I taught, coached the basketball team, and looked after everything in general. With a small number of students, we knew the students and the families real well and it was more or less a one to one basis as far as teacher/pupil is concerned. So I ended up teaching a number of things, but in the end, mostly mathematics. I handled mathematics the whole time I was there until, well, even when it got larger, in other words, that was in 1925 that I started out as -- teaching. I graduated from the University in spring of 1925, and I came here in the fall of 1925. And the first year, too, I had to do a lot of studying because I had, I was teaching some courses that I wasn't too familiar with. But it was a small school. But being a small school, we knew all the pupils real, real well, and the families pretty well, mostly they all lived close by. So we stressed discipline. At the time we stressed basics too, very, very much. And the classes were small. The first graduating class only had four to graduate.
Q: What year was that?
A: 1926. Then it gradually increased, I think the second year there were seven, I believe. The third year it increased to 14 or 15. And I stayed there until 1948. By 1948 my last graduating class had, I guess, close to 75 or 80 students.
Q: 75 from 7, that's a big jump. Do you remember what your starting salary was?
A: I think it was $1,000.
Q: A year?
A: A year. And then, pretty soon, we went into the depression. And during the days of the depression, why, we took three cuts one year. First 10%, then 10%, then 10%. And then we had a month cut off the term. In other words, instead of having nine months, we went down to eight months. And so, by that time, why I was only making about $700, $800. That's during the depression years and early thirties, but then Franklin Roosevelt became President in 1932. And at that time, teachers were only making $100 a month. And they were cut three times too. (They were) cut down to $90, then $81, then $72-something for eight months. But it was kind of a relative thing, because everything else was lower too. You could buy a good pair of shoes for several dollars, $3.00 or $4.00. You could buy an excellent suit of clothes for maybe $25. So ... and gasoline was cheap, and I got at that time, room and board and laundry ... too, for about $25 a month.
Q: Well, that's not bad. So that was like a fourth of your salary.
A: That's right.
Q: That's what they say now...
A: We could live on that at the time, because everything was inexpensive. A good automobile, a brand new Chevrolet, or a brand new Ford, were selling for about $700 or $800.
Q: So teachers couldn't afford cars, or could they?
A: Well, most of them had cars. My first car was a second-hand car. I paid $150 for it and I ran that for several years. And then next I was able to get a new car.
Q: How did the students get to school?
A: Most of them were within walking distance. But those that were in outlying districts usually drove by buggy, or their parents brought them in or they'd walk, maybe two miles or more, and sometimes beyond that. Why we had students at that time -- a long shed at the back of the lot where they hitched horses during the day.
Q: Did you really?
A: Yes. And the students would go out and feed the horses at noon. They'd bring their lunch and lunch for the horses. They'd go and feed the horses and in the afternoon they'd go home in a buggy or by a cart or something of that nature.
Q: Was this a part of Frederick County Schools at the time?
A: That's right. They didn't start buses until several years later. I think in the thirties...
Q: Were you principal then?
Q: Was there any problem when busing started? Because there were probably kids that you didn't know, families .... ?
A: Yes. When they started busing, why, they began to bus them into Stephens City from a good many parts of the county. In other words, they had buses go as far west as Gore, and as far north as the West Virginia line around Clearbrook and (the) Stonewall District. Then all up and down Route 522 from Winchester all the way to the Warren County line. That was just for high school; and (it) covered a lot of territory. And then they came to Stephens City. That's the reason why when I left in 1946, why they had so much larger high school classes graduating. We had real good disciplinarians in high school, also in elementary school. And we ran a pretty tight ship. In other words, the kids were made behave and we had rather strict rules and regulations. And at that time, parents backed you up. Very seldom did I have a parent object to any discipline we used on a child. You could use a whip if necessary. Very seldom did we do it ... Some of them would use a little switch with the little ones, but I didn't crack my whip. Whipping for the larger ones, that is, if necessary. But I didn't have to whip but two or three times a year, because they knew we could whip them and they were very careful. And, of course, they had better discipline in the homes in that era too, which helped tremendously in the schools.
Q: When the school became larger, did you get an assistant principal?
A: No, I taught all the way through 1946, but in 1946 I was promoted to a general supervisor for the county, and I served in that capacity for one year. And then, in 1949, I was named superintendent of schools for Frederick County.
Q: How long were you superintendent?
A: Nineteen years, until 1968. I became superintendent in 1949 and served as superintendent of schools through 1968. And I was followed by Dr. Melton Wright. Have you ever heard of him?
Q: Yes, I met him. He recently died, didn't he?
A: Yeah, about two or three years ago.
Q: And he was directly before Dr. Walker?
A: Dr. Walker. And I followed Leslie D. Kline, who had been superintendent of schools in Frederick County since 1917. 1917 to 1949, 32 years. Then I moved in and I served for 19 years and retired at age 65. And at that time we had a regulation that required teachers to retire at 65. That's no longer the case.
Q: Were you ready to retire?
A: Yes, I was ready. In fact they probably would have kept me on a little longer, but I asked to be retired at that time, and I never regretted it. Because, nine years prior to retirement, I worked with the School of Continuing Education, University of Virginia. And I had courses mostly for teachers, but some other people took them too. I had the counties and cities that made up Lord Fairfax District. I had Winchester, Frederick County, Clark County, Warren County, Shenandoah County and Page County. And I brought courses in for those counties from the University of Virginia, for teachers. And anyone else who wanted to take a course could take it too, but I worked at that for almost ten years.
Q: So you started and finished your career teaching?
A: That's right.
Q: What made you decide to become a principal?
A: Well, when I finished school, the last two years in college I took a number of education courses, thinking that I might want to teach some day, and I was in the School of Economics mainly. And the last couple of years in college I took some courses in education to prepare myself for teaching in case a job should come along. When I finished school, I began looking around for a job. Jobs in business and economics didn't pay quite as much as teaching at that time, if you were to be a principal. Everything was very low, you know, so I decided to -- I applied and was offered this job over here. I'd never been to this part of the country -- had never heard of Stephens City. Of course, I knew about Winchester, but had never heard of Stephens City. Then I came over here. In 1930-1931, I took a year's leave of absence and did some graduate work at Harvard University. Spent a year up there, which I enjoyed very much. Then came back and went back to teaching again here in the same position. And then I started working on my master's degree just on Saturdays and in the summertime, things of that kind, and in 1939 I was awarded a master's degree from the University of Virginia. I did the work over there. But I'd had some; at Harvard I was in business education, but when I was there for a year I'd thought about maybe going into business ... but the depression came on by that time and there just weren't any jobs open. I was interviewed for several (positions), but I just didn't get what I wanted, so I cam back to teaching. And then I decided that I'd stay with it. Then I did my work, my masters work, in education.
Q: In administration?
A: Administration. That made me eligible for ... (placement) on the Superintendent's List of the State Board of Education.
Q: What does that mean?
A: To be eligible for superintendent. You had to be approved by the State Board of Education or State Department of Education. I got approved by them after finishing my master's degree. So when Mr. Kline retired, I moved right on into the superintendency... When I retired at the end of that period, I was one of two or three superintendents in the State that had done all their work in one division. I started in Frederick County and stayed in Frederick County. Most of them had moved around to two or three areas before they became superintendent of schools. But I'd done all my work in this particular county.
Q: I know they named a school after you.
A: That's right.
Q: When did that school open?
A: I've got it written down somewhere, but it must have been several years after I retired. I retired in 1968. Sometime in the early 70's.
Q: That's quite an honor.
A: Well, I appreciated it very, very much. That's the school over here in Stephens City.
Q: When you went to college, to UVA, the first time, did you take courses in administration? Did they have such courses in educational administration?
A: Not a whole lot. They were doing some work in that, but I just took the general academic courses. English -- I took languages and mathematics, chemistry, things like that.
Q: When you became a principal, what was the hardest thing for you to do?
A: It was a new experience for me, because they didn't do it back then like they do now, so I just had to make my own way. Having to teach a lot of classes, I had to work hard on the classes that I taught to 183 stay ahead of the pupils. The discipline was probably one thing that bothered me quite a bit, but I was able to get control of discipline...in some way, I don't know, I was able to do it.
Q: If a teacher had a problem with one of her students when you were teaching another class, were you called out?
A: Sometimes. That happened sometimes. I had a number of students that were sent to me by teachers for misconduct or different problems and I had to deal with those on an individual basis. But the teachers that I had at that time were, some of them, experienced already and they were pretty good disciplinarians to begin with. And so there weren't a whole lot of problems that developed because they were able to handle it.
Q: Did you have to evaluate teachers?
A: Not a whole lot. I did some of it, but I was teaching a good bit of the day myself, and I didn't have a whole lot of time, but later on as the school got bigger and bigger, I had to do more of it. I had to visit teachers. But at first I had very little time to do that. You more or less had to let the teachers go on their own. Of course I had faculty meetings at which time we discussed things, programs, things like that. I had to give leadership to the whole school, of course, but I did a lot of it through faculty meetings or conferences after school. I used to have a lot of conferences.
Q: With the individual teachers?
A: With individual teachers after school.
Q: Did they plan for the conference, or did you ask them to come?
A: I'd ask them to come. At that time, when we didn't have buses, we had detention after school too. And students that misbehaved during the day were held over in detention for maybe 30 minutes to an hour. We rotated the different teachers to take charge of the detention halls, and made them (the students) work. And that was one of the deterrents to bad behavior, the fact that they didn't want to stay an hour after school. Of course, when the buses came along, that had to go out of the window, you know, almost entirely.
Q: Did you attempt to keep the detention after the buses?
A: Sometimes, I didn't do a whole lot of it because the children lived a right good ways away and the parents then didn't have the cars and things to come and get them like they do today. They have detention now, but the parents have to come and get them, you know. And they arrange to do that, they notify them ahead of time. But after the buses started, why, we tried to deal with them some other way.
Q: Did you have any teachers that you felt weren't effective, that you needed to do something to help them or that shouldn't have been teaching?
A: Yes, I worked with those teachers as much as I could to try and make them more effective as teachers. I know at times, if they didn't develop into what I wanted them to do, we had to replace them.
Q: How did you go about doing that?
A: Well, I couldn't do it myself because I didn't have the authority. I had to go to the superintendent of schools and, of course, he had to make the decision and the final analysis for the school board ...
Q: Did they back you up?
A: Yes, as a general rule they did -- very well. I didn't have a difficulty along that line at all. If I had to, it didn't happen very often, but in a few cases ... we had to make some changes because they weren't working out.
Q: And did you always wait until the end of the year?
A: Mostly. Once or twice we did it earlier.
Q: What happened?
A: In a few cases it was poor discipline. The teacher just couldn't get control of the class, they were just acting up all the time and I'd talk with the teacher... If it was poor teaching, there wasn't much you could do except replace them. We usually waited until the end of the year in this case and try to wait it out as best we could ...
Q: Once you were superintendent, did you select principals for schools?
A: Yes indeed.
Q: What procedures did you use to select a principal?
A: Well, usually I had observed them, I had a possibility of moving people in my own system up into principalships. I didn't go outside as much as many systems do. I would observe their work, how they were handling things ...
Q: Observe them as teachers first?
A: Observe them as teachers and principals. I mean, as teachers first. Then I had a supervisor, one supervisor then was all I had, and we would work together. She did a lot of the supervision, going in the 248 classrooms and observing and so on. She would key me in on ones she thought would be good principals. And, of course, I had to select them. I had to recommend them to the school board and they had to be approved by the school board before they could go into a principalship. But it was mostly through observing their work in the county.
Q: Did you ever hire someone from out of county?
A: Yes, yes I did.
Q: And how did you select them?
A: Well, I ... contacted the superintendents where they were teaching and got recommendations. We did that back and forth between superintendents. If they had someone they felt was a good prospect that they didn't have an opening for, they would recommend them for a place. I knew all the superintendents pretty well all over the state when I was superintendent of schools. After awhile I got to know them all pretty well, so we had a good working relationship with other superintendents.
Q: Did you hire the assistant principals then, or would the principals recommend someone to you?
A: Well, the principals would, mostly. The same way with teachers, I would have conferences with the principals about their teachers and a lot of times when I brought in new teachers I would have the principal have a conference with the new person too, and I'd work with them to get somebody I felt would fit into their system. At that time, when I was superintendent of schools, there was a teacher shortage. That's a lot different from today. I visited a lot of the 27,1 colleges and interviewed prospective teachers who were in their senior class, who were graduating, and I would select a lot of teachers that way. I went to a lot of the neighboring schools. For instance, I'd go spend a day at Shepherd's College close by, or at (James) Madison College. I'd usually take a tour and would start out and maybe make arrangements ahead of time and may be gone for several days and would make a wide tour. In other words, I... got a lot of teachers out of West Virginia at that particular time... I would go up to...........West Virginia and may be gone for several days visiting the teacher colleges. (There are) a lot of teacher colleges in West Virginia. And (I) would interview prospective teachers, check with the dean or the person in charge of placement and make my selection. Then (I'd) offer them a position. But I had to compete with a lot of other superintendents who were making tours too ...
Q: What did you do to make Frederick County sound more attractive to them?
A: Well, I always built up Frederick County, particularly to West Virginia built up Winchester and Frederick County and I'd try to build up the school system too. And there was a lot of work... to try to convince them that this is a good area in which to work. But ... by the end of summer, I was able to come up with a full faculty.
Q: So you always started the year with a full faculty?
Q: That's good.
A: I started visiting colleges ... about March or April ... I didn't go too far. I didn't go out to too many other states except West Virginia. Most of it was in the state of Virginia, particularly ... (James) Madison, the closest one by. Then I'd go to Farmvnb.', Fredericksburg -- Mary Washington (College), and a number of schools that were in the state who, at that time, were training people to become teachers. You see, at that time Madison and Mary Washington were just open to women. They didn't have men attending at all. They were training women for teaching. I didn't go to VPI, (or) the University of Virginia... too much. They had some training programs .... but except for VPI for teachers of agriculture. We went there for them... I didn't have to go there, they would come here, you see. Teachers colleges were the ones that I attended mostly. Shepherd's taught a lot of people about teaching. Where did you go to school?
Q: In California, to Chico State University. I noticed when I substituted in Frederick County there were quite a few teachers who had been to Shepherd still.
A: Yeah. They get a lot of teachers from Shepherd. It's close by, and a lot of Frederick County people go to Shepherd. Of course now, Shenandoah College I think is training people to teach now, I believe. And, of course we got all our music teachers from Shenandoah College. But we didn't have very many music teachers in that day.
Q: What advice would you give to someone today who was considering being a principal?
A: Kind of tough, since it was so different. Yeah, it was different. I think that to be a good principal above all else, you've got to be able to work well with people. You've got to be able to communicate with people, and you've got to have a good working relationship. In other words, if a principal doesn't have a good working relationship with the faculty members ... he just can't make it. And he has got to be community spirited, and be able to work with people and work with parents. And I think he ought to be a person who will take a lot of interest in his community as well as in his school. He should be pretty well up on the subjects that are being taught. Pretty well up on educational methods, and things of that kind ... I put first the ability to get along with people and to be able to work with your faculty. That means a whole lot. And, of course, leadership qualities are important too. To be able to serve in a leadership area and be able to show the way as well as be able to talk about the way.
Q: When you taught through UVA, did you teach administrative courses?
A: Well, I didn't teach. I didn't teach at UVA, I was a promoter. In other words, I brought classes to the area, set them up and got them going and followed them through... But they sent the teachers from the University of Virginia here, to teach the classes that we had set up. In other words, I worked closely with the division superintendent of schools ... and decided what the need was as far as the classes were concerned, and when we'd set up those classes and then they'd send people here to teach them. So I was more or less laying the ground work for the classes. I didn't teach myself.
Q: What was your biggest headache when you were a principal?
A: I guess when I was a principal my biggest headache was handling the discipline in the school. In other words, keeping it running on an even keel. Of course, later on we had buses. I had a lot of headaches with buses. We didn't have, at that time, a supervisor of transportation... I had to more or less handle the bus situation in my own school. In other words, I was responsible for the discipline on the buses as they came to school here and all of the buses were set up by the County, but I had to supervise them and see that everything was going alright. That was a problem. I didn't have too much trouble with discipline, but it always was a problem.
Q: Did you have a secretary?
Q: The whole time you were principal?
Q: So you had a lot of paperwork too?
A: A lot of paperwork. I had a lot of paperwork to do.
Q: Did you have any teachers help you with that? Or an assistant?
A: ... Well, I could. They'd help me some with that. At that time, our teachers did a lot of their own secretarial work too. They had a lot of paperwork to do also. I didn't have a secretary the whole time I was a principal.
Q: What was your favorite thing about being a principal?
A: I guess the favorite thing was probably seeing the students do well, and see them make a mark for themselves. And then also following through after they finished high school -- see how they're getting along... We'd try to follow through and see how they were doing, how they were getting along and the progress they were making. And I guess we got more satisfaction out of (seeing) students do good work after they finished high school.
Q: Did you have any former students come back to teach with you?
A: I don't believe while I was principal ... I had. But, of course, after I became superintendent of schools, some of my former pupils that I had taught, or worked with in school, did. I had a number of them that went to school in Stephens City when I was principal there whom I appointed to positions later on and worked in the County under me as superintendent of schools. But I don't recall any former pupils coming back when I was principal. But they did come back after I got to be superintendent of schools.
Q: When you were principal were there any State tests or standardized tests that you needed to give to the students?
A: No, we didn't have those then, when I was principal.
Q: So what was the basic philosophy of your school.
A: Well ... the basic philosophy was to give them a good solid grounding in the subject matter fields. You know, back in those early days we didn't have a whole lot of , well, we had some guidance from the State, but we didn't see a State supervisor very often... We more or less handled things on our own. So I guess... the basic philosophy was just to set up a good curriculum in the various subject matter areas and see that they did a good job as far as that was concerned.
Q: Did you have to work with the School Board or go to School Board meetings when you were a principal?
A: No. Never did. I worked through the superintendent of schools ... If there were any problems ... he took it to the Board.
Q: What consumed the majority of your time when you were principal?
A: I guess the school day was long, because I got there early in the morning, ahead of everything else as a general rule. I stayed there ... at least an hour after school to check on everything. I had to check on the janitorial staff, and see that the buses were all around and back. And, of course, we had detention for an hour after school, or two. So most of my time was spent right in school, doing the job from early in the morning until late in the evening.
Q: Now things have changed and the merit pay is a big issue now. What do you think of that?
A: You know, I always opposed merit pay ... I just don't feel that a principal or a teacher can always get through as far as merit pay is concerned ... a lot of teachers are doing good things that's hard for them to evaluate. I just never warmed up too much to merit pay.
Q: I agree with you.
A: I noticed in Fairfax County they are doing it this year... Are they doing it in your County too?
Q: Not yet.
A: I know Frederick County, at the last School Board meeting, decided not to do it. I feel it's too much responsibility for someone at the top and I feel like it's not going to be fair to all the teachers. I was never sold on merit pay.
Q: When you evaluated teachers towards the end of your principalship, did you have any forms that you had to use?
A: No, I didn't. I just did my own evaluations ...
Q: Did you write comments?
A: Yeah, well some. I'd have conferences with the teachers and talk to them about their work, and so on, tell them whether I thought they were doing a good job and things of that kind. But it was kind of an informal procedure, not as formal as it is now...
Q: It probably makes for a warmer climate.
A: Yeah, it does, a good working relationship between the principal and the teachers. We'd sit down and thrash it out, hone things, and I feel like we got along real well.
Q: Did teachers come to you with problems?
A: ... and we would discuss them and try to reach a proper decision to these problems. At that time, teachers couldn't suspend. The principalship pal could suspend, but only the School Board could expel. We used suspension occasionally, maybe two days or three days, which they are still doing today. But that was in the hands of the principal, he had the authority to do the suspending, unless he wanted to delegate it to somebody else. Of course, I always did it myself.
Q: You were allowed to delegate it if you wished?
A: You could delegate to assistant principal. I didn't have an assistant principal... I didn't let the teachers suspend. They all had to come to me and I'd make the decisions (as to)whether they should be suspended or not ... If (a child) was troubled in the classroom, I would usually work with that child first and try and get things straightened out. If I couldn't ... sometimes we'd have to suspend him. I don't think we ever expelled. I never had to expel, I don't believe. They do it now. Of course, there's a difference today as far as pupils are concerned. Pupils are a little bit harder to handle today than they were back in the times when I was a principal. You had, usually, parental backing and I remember the old saying was, "if you got hurt in school, you got it worse when you got home"... So you could usually handle those things with the help of the parents.
Q: Did you do anything special to foster school-community relations?
A: Yeah, we had a PTA and we put on different functions, plays and things of that kind ... and we used the school building for a lot of outside functions. The community came in and used it for various and sundry things. We were kind of a closely knit group and the school was kind of the center of the community, and we worked closely with the community on many problems.
Q: How do you feel about schools, like the school in Stephens City today, and their community relations?
A: I think it's still being done very well, because I know the schools here in Stephens City are working pretty closely with the community. A lot of things are being held in the schools, a lot of activities ...
Q: When you look at schools today, or education in general, are there things you think could be improved by doing them the way they were done before?
A: I don't know. It's so different today, and of course they are doing so many more things than we used to be able to do. But I do think that we could have better discipline in the schools, and that's going to take some doing because that's a different ballgame entirely.... When I was principal, they didn't have too many places to go. They went home and they worked. It's different today, they don't have a lot of work to do around the house and around the farms and so on. I know students get jobs and things of that kind, but it's mostly to make money to just have a good time with. A lot of kids want to get cars and things of that nature ... When I was a boy growing up, I was working towards a college education, trying to save money for college ... Not as many students then went to college as they do today, by any means, well, not the same percentage. But the ones that were planning to go to college, they were working with college in mind, trying to save money up to go to school
Q: When you were in high school or elementary school was there any teacher that served as a role model or a mentor for you, that made you consider education?
A: I can't think of any.
Q: Did you remember your principal?
A: Yeah. I had some good teachers, and some teachers that were not so good, as we all do, but I can't think of anybody that was a role model as far as teaching was concerned. Probably in (my) home more than anywhere else, I had my parents.
Q: Were your parents educators?
A: Well, they weren't educators, but they were strongly (for) education. From the time I was a little kid, my goal was to attend college.
Q: Where were you raised?
A: I was born in the southern part of the State, Chatham, Virginia. But my father moved around quite a bit. My father was a minister, and so I was raised all over the state of Virginia, altogether in Virginia.
Q: So it wasn't like you had to leave a town that you had become attached to when you moved to Stephens City.
A: No, we moved about every four or five years... so I attended several schools, three or four, from the first grade to the twelfth.
Q: Is there anything I should ask you that I haven't that you think would be beneficial?
A: I can't think of anything in particular.
Q: I find your career so interesting. It's not often that you get to talk to someone who was a principal in the 1920's.
A: No, I guess not. Not many of them left who were principals back in not that I was ever any good at it just had to do it. --- the 20's.
Q: And the whole time you taught, you were a principal?
A: I started out as a teacher/principal. I had to teach and then be principal too, you know, which often happened back in those days. And if there was any athletic program, the principal had to handle that too. You see, all my faculty was made up entirely of ladies. I worked with the boys in basketball, and the boys in baseball. A little later on we had six-man football. I worked with them on that never was an athlete, but you...
Q: The entire time you were principal, was your entire faculty composed of women?
A: No, later on some men came in.
Q: Did that change things at all?
A: Not a whole lot. See, later on, we brought in a program in agriculture and we had a man agriculture teacher. Then later on... I had one or two men come in, but at first they were all ladies. See, I was down there 22 years, and before I left some men were coming into the field and they were teaching. Most of the men back in the early days...went in as administration, principalships, things of that kind. Then a lot of them were just plain classroom teachers ... Later on, the salaries got somewhat better and they came in faster.
Q: You said in the beginning it was more profitable to go into teaching than business.
A: That's right, even with the low salaries we had in those days.
Q: Were salaries ever an issue in attracting teachers?
A: Yeah, I think so, yes indeed. My son is a teacher. And more so today, I think.
Q: How many years' experience does he have?
A: He has about twenty.
Q: What does he teach?
A: He teaches elementary. He's taught several elementary grades as high as the fifth.
Q: Does he have any desire to go into administration?
A: I don't think so. He tried it one time as assistant principal. He didn't particularly like it and he went back in the classroom,
Q: When he was assistant principal, did he talk to you about the principalship?
A: Yeah, that's right, he did. But he seemed to like classroom teaching.
Q: Like being right at the root of things.
A: That's right. And you know, I enjoyed working with pupils as a classroom teacher. You work with them individually and something about it is really... good.
Q: What was the average class size?
A: Well, the classes weren't too big. I'd say 18-20, some of them less. When I started out, we only had about 50 students in the high school ... divided by three teachers, counting me. And that meant about 15-16 to each teacher.
Q: What a change.
A: Yeah, it was. So we really got to know the students.
Q: Was it hard to deal with the change when it got larger and larger?
A: No, we grew into it gradually, and it wasn't too difficult.
Q: What about during civil rights times?
A: Well, I was superintendent of schools when we integrated, and we had to go through that, but that wasn't any problem in Frederick County. We have a small percentage of blacks in Frederick County and they were pretty well accepted... we didn't have any problems.
Q: No teacher difficulties either?
A: No, not that I know of.
Q: Did Frederick County have then black schools and white schools?
A: Yeah, when I came here.
Q: And so they just integrated.
A: Yeah, that's right. In other words, there were only three black schools in Frederick County; one in Middletown, one in Stephens City and one in Stonewall District. They were one-room schools with grades 1-7, and then those who wanted to go to high school attended Douglas school in Winchester, that was a black school.
Q: Frederick Douglas, that was a high school at the time?
A: Yeah, at that time. I forgot the year that we integrated, but we integrated after I became superintendent of schools, and it went over real smoothly. I was a little bit worried about what might happen... I was a little bit worried about the bus situation, I didn't know whether there'd be fights or whatnot on the bus or not, but it just didn't happen.
Q: No problems?
A: No problems.
Q: That's nice.
A: Yeah, we worked it real nicely in this county.
Q: Was it a big change going to superintendent from principal?
A: Well, yeah, right much. I spent a year as assistant superintendent, I was called a supervisor, but actually, I was assistant superintendent. In other words I worked with MV. Kline, who was getting of age at that time. He was in his seventies before he gave the work up, So the last year, I worked pretty closely with him... and that gave me quite a bit of help in moving into the superintendency. And I had a real good secretary who'd been there quite awhile, and she knew the ropes pretty well and she was a big help.
Q: Did she stay with you a long time?
A: Yes, she stayed with me until I retired.
Q: Did she retire then?
A: No, she retired a year or two later. She stayed with Dr. Wright for a few years before she retired.
Q: She worked through three superintendents?
A: That's right.
Q: Had all three of you had very long terms?
A: Yeah, that's right. She started with Mr. Kline ... About 1930, I guess. Of course, I'd been in the County about five years before she came in as secretary.
Q: That's interesting. I bet she knew a lot.
A: She surely did. She was good. She's still living, but retired.
Q: Do you keep in touch?
A: Yeah. In other words, we have, in Frederick County, a retired teacher organization. She comes to those meetings. We meet four times a year. Of course, most of the teachers that belong to the retired teacher association are teachers who taught under me as superintendent of schools. So it's real nice.
Q: What do you miss the most?
A: Well, I guess I most miss being around the pupils. I enjoyed working with pupils.
Q: I think you've put it in a nutshell... I've worked in several schools and when the principals get along well with the faculty and like students, the school seems to run so smoothly with that kind of attitude.
A: Yes, it does. I think a good principal has got to be a person who can work well with his teachers... There's got to be a good relationship here or else things just aren't going to go very smoothly. I've seen some principals that lost their jobs because they couldn't communicate well with teachers.
Q: Did that ever happen in Frederick County?
Q: Were you responsible for letting the principal know?
A: Well, if he was a good principal I hate to see him have to go, but if the situation's bad, there are just too many problems.
Q: That' tough.
A: I know. The feeling wasn't good at all. In other words, a principal's got to be able to work with teachers, work with people. That's very important.
Q: Thanks so much.
| Back to "A" Interviews | Index of Interviews | Protocol | Home |