I'm speaking with Mr. Ray Asher in the Administrative Offices of the Marlington Local Schools on his experience as an Elementary Principal.
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Q: Mr. Asher would you begin by telling us about your family background, your childhood interests and development such as your birth place, elementary and secondary education, family characteristics that you may feel important to this study.
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: I was raised in Oklahoma. My parents, neither one had finished high school and I was the first person on either side of my family to attend college as well as graduate from college. We were emotionally a middle class family. My father worked in a glass plant, my mother was a housewife. I attended high school, participated in athletics, had a paper route from the time I was twelve until I was old enough to drive a car and went to work in a factory and worked in the factory my junior and senior year and upon graduation received an athletic scholarship to play football and baseball at Anderson College in Anderson, Indiana. I attended there for five years and graduated with a degree in education and a major in biological sciences and a minor in business administration.
Q: So...how many years did you serve as a teacher and as a principal?
A: I taught seventeen years in the Alliance Public School System, teaching in the Junior High School and at the high school levels and I ended up the Head of the Science Department at Alliance High School when they moved into the new building. I left there in 1974 and came to the Marlington School District as an administrator and I spent ten years in the high school as an assistant principal and five years at Lexington Elementary as the principal.
Q: I wonder if you would discuss those experiences or events in your life that constituted important decision points in your career and how you feel about it?
A: I have been a person, in my life time, who felt that if things were to come up and choices were to be made, they would present themselves in such a way that there wouldn't be a lot of heavy decision making or weighed decision making coming over but that has happened to me. I was going to college in Oklahoma and I received a phone call from Anderson College and a decision was made to go to school there. Upon graduation I sent out ten to fifteen resumes for applications for employment and the first one that came back, came back in three days was from Alliance Public School System and at that particular time I was married and had a family and I needed a job and I came and interviewed and signed a contract. The decision to become an administrator was very easy because when the time came I received a call again from a friend at Marlington High School who was, who I taught with and asked me if I was interested to interview for a position and I was and a decision was made at that time. So it seems that every time a major decision in my life has come about as far as my employment was concerned, it came about at the right time in my life for me to make that particular decision and I made it.
Q: So what motivated you to enter the principalship and did your motives change over the years?
A: Motivation was that I had taught for about ten years before I went back to school to work on my Master's Degree and doing it at night school, it took me five years to do it. And at the end of that five years I had been teaching now for quite a few years and I was ready for something that I thought would be a little different for a change in my life and in my educational experiences and when I received a phone call that was just exactly what I wanted.
Q: Would you describe your personal philosophy of education? How did it evolve over the years?
A: Philosophies of education are kind of, in my mind, long, very intertwined with everything that you do. Yes it has evolved from the early days since I was a child. Of course I had no one in my family, around me, neither parents, friends or anything that had a college degree so when I sought college then I was reaching into the realms of the unknown. Once I got into to college I was still reaching into realms of the unknown. As I went through school I found that the more that people paid attention to what they were doing in their schooling it seemed like the better off they became in their life. And the more opportunities that they had so I looked at education as a place where you had to strive to do what you could there and to provide opportunities for the children and the people being educated because that in itself provided them with opportunities for improvement in their lives.
Q: What experiences or events in your professional life influenced your management philosophy?
A: Probably a lot of it has to do with the people that I have worked with and observations of how they did things. Some of them I didn't care for. Consequently when I became an administrator I tried to steer away from those. I felt as a teacher an administrator should facilitate your job/your task, make it as easy as they could for you and therefore as an administrator I felt that that was one of my main goals, was to make things as easy as I could for teachers and the students to get their education. So therefore I tried to do some of the mundane things to get away from what the teachers have to do.
Q: Along those lines what techniques did you use to create a successful climate for them?
A: I tried not to be the pie in the sky, I tried to be more there in case you need me as a resource person. Then I could provide things for you in case you needed something. You would feel free to come and see me about it if you had a problem, you could feel free to come and talk to me about it. And I felt that particular atmosphere I did foster within the building.
Q: What kind of things do you think teachers expect principals to be able to do for them? What do you think it takes to be an effective principal?
A: I think the teachers expect the three B's that work well. That's beings, books and buses. And they expect materials to be there on time. They expect the atmosphere in the school itself to be one where education will take place. And therefore, a certain amount of rules and regulations need to be in place. So that the atmosphere can be one of learning and one has to be ready to and available to, the staff or the parents to step in to make sure that this atmosphere is maintained.
Q: A great deal of attention lately has been given to the topic of personal leadership. Would you discuss your approach to leadership and describe any techniques that might have worked for you?
A: I felt that leadership sometimes is by showing. If a job was to be done I would think that I would need show the people around that I was willing to do the job. Therefore, if I was willing to do it, then if they were presented a task or job, that the would be willing to do also so I think leadership has a lot to do with one's ability or willingness to take the work on themselves. Plus you have to be able to listen. And listening is a major part of being a leader. You have to be able to listen to what two people are saying and then be able to integrate the solutions for their problems and your solutions.
Q: Thank you. There are those who argue that more often than not central office policies hinder rather than help building administrators in carrying out their responsibilities. Would you give your views on this issue?
A: No one likes to be controlled. At times policies can be very non-flexible. But at times the policies can be flexible. They can be made in such a way that the goals can be met by many various methods and I think that if you have a good administrator the central officer personnel. Let them do their job and with goals for them set ahead of time and let them do the job and evaluate them on how they did it.
Q: If you were king what changes would you make in a typical system-wide organizational arrangements as a way of improving administrative efficiency and effectiveness?
A: If I were King?
Q: You know if you were me?
A: I think a good open channel between building administrators and central office personnel is important. Therefore, I think meetings, get-togethers between administrators is important so that they will be able to share ideas and also know what people are thinking, especially the people who are in authority not just receive a piece of paper from a memo that would come down. I feel that eye contact and knowing each other and being able to do that. So if I had a magical thing I would say that it would be communication between the people and authority.
Q: OK. If you were advising a person who is considering a an administrative job, what would that advice be?
A: Pay attention to the people around you. Pay attention to your own teachers or to the administration you worked under, or you are working with and be able to glean from them the things which work and be able to discard the things which do not work and don't be afraid to try something different. If you have an idea, be willing to share it with someone and see if it wouldn't be alright for you to go ahead and try.
Q: There are those that argue that the principal should be an instructional leader and those who suggest that realistically speaking this person must be above all a good manager. Would you give your views on that issue and describe what you think is your style?
A: Being an instructional leader, its very difficult for one person to keep up with all of the things that are going on in the field of education today. At the same time, carrying on the routine and the things which you have to do daily to maintain your particular job whether it be in building administration or in general administration. Therefore, I think having good research people who perhaps are in charge of or knowledgeable about certain areas, they would be able to steer you on to things that they thought you might be interested in is important. So I think again, that comes back to an administrative team where you have meetings and get togethers for ideas and be shared. Its not one person that can share the whole movement.
Q: It is often said that the principal should be active in community affairs. Please discuss your involvement with and participation in civic groups and other community organizations. Which community organization groups have the greatest influence?
A: Well, I think its true. If you are expected to be a leader in the school but then things that go on in the community involve you as well. Because the community is the schools. And I take the organizations in the community that perhaps depends upon which community you live in. I think if you go from one community to another you'd find a different kind of organizations have a greater impact on the schools. It might be the church groups. In some communities its the church groups. In other communities its the civic organizations. The service organizations. In other communities its the business people. So I think you have to know your community. You have to know where you live. Then you know where the power base is.
Q: Would you describe your approach to teacher evaluation and give your philosophy of evaluation?
A: I think that teachers are/come into to this term of evaluation with a lot of intrepidation. Even if they trust you they still are scared. Because you hold that magical power upon them. So it needs to be structured in such a way so that it does not have as threatening an impact on them as it could. So a lot of the informal type of information gathering. It doesn't have to be always setting down. I know that I use sit down in the classroom and I'd have my pencil out and its going 90 miles an hour writing and when it was all over they would tell me you just scared me to death with that pencil. You have to be careful about the things that you do. More on an informal basis and then perhaps in your private time you can sit down and do a monitoring recalling of things that need to be written down. So it needs to be done in an as friendly an atmosphere as possible but it also needs to be done with certain goals in mind and you can't be just an apparently sit down with your friend type of thing. It needs to be some type of structure, either to let them know that they are doing a good job and you appreciate what they are doing or giving some ideas that could say to help them improve or in the cases of being/telling them what they have to do in order to maintain a good teaching atmosphere.
Q: A good deal has been said these days about teacher grievances. Would you give your views on the desirability of such procedures and describe your postion in handling teachers dissatisfaction?
A: Well I suppose there has to be in the day of unions, you have to have a grievance procedure because if you don't have them you've got a union problem. If the grievance procedure is handled, in again, a very business like manner, its done strictly by what has been negotiated and set down to do, then both parties feel that they're getting an equal shake in the whole deal. But I do think that a lot of grievances could be headed off, formal grievances, can be headed off by setting down and discussing problems.
Q: As you view it, what characteristics are associated with the most effective schools and what features characterize less successful ones?
A: Oh, I think the most successful schools are the ones which have a genuine care for the students. A school which believes that their kids are there to learn and if they can learn and that they will learn and that they are going to learn. A school needs to be one which the child likes to come to. They are not afraid to come to school. It's a friendly, its a safe atmosphere and they like to go. A school which in my mind, which is in a negative vain would be one which is dark and dreary and not attractive to a child, one which a child/student doesn't like to come if the atmosphere is not friendly to them.
Q: During the past decade, schools have become much larger. Would you discuss your views on this phenomenon and suggest an ideal size for a school in terms of operable administrative and instructional activities? And our focus here is the elementary level.
A: I think the more children that you have in a building, especially at the elementary level you have a lot of interaction with them on the playground, you still have the playground, the cafeteria, you have them in the halls. The more children that you have the more difficult it is to provide them with a nice quiet, pleasant, friendly atmosphere. The a... I don't mean to say the smaller the better but I don't think the larger the best neither. Perhaps an optimal size would be perhaps if you're handling all the five grades in one building would be no more than three classes per grade level.
Q: How big do you think the building should be before an assistant principal would be assigned or should be assigned and how would you utilize an assistant principal in the elementary level?
A: I don't. I know I've talked with some other principals at other times that have had buildings of 700 and that type of thing without an assistant I just didn't see how they could manage that. At one point we had 550 at one point at Lexington and that kept you running pretty much full time. Just with seeing that everything was there for the kids and the teachers when it was needed. If it would get much larger than that if it would get into the 600's, or so you would need a second person there. The second person would be the utilization of them could be various ways. A lot of it would be helping with the management of the classes and a lot would be with the supervision of the staff too.
Q: In recent years more and more programs for special groups of students such as L.D., Gifted Talented and so forth have been developed. Would you discuss your experiences with special student services and your views on today's trends in this regard?
A: Yes, In the building where I was a principal we had all of the D.H. students in the district along with L.D. classes and also the speech and speech classes. We utilized a therapist on the county level for some of our children, occupational therapists and so forth. It seems that you can go a little too far. It never happened where I was, just in the stories that I've read and heard about. There are times when you can have perhaps too much of an integrated facility so that it takes away from the atmosphere for both groups of children that your are trying to educate. And I do see the need for integration for some of the classrooms because we did a lot of the mainstreaming in our classes and I could see the growth of the handicapped youngsters as they went through the years of kindergarten up through the fifth grade or the fifth year they were in our building. You could see the growth from the time they were ready for the middle school they already had been integrated to the regular classrooms. You could just see the development. So I think its good in that that way they are not so much isolated all the time but have them integrated some. I think you can get addressed over size in that direction.
Q: Salaries and other compensations have changed a good deal since you entered the profession. Would you discuss your recollections of the compensation system of the school system during the early years as principal and give your views on developments in this area since then? I thought you'd like this one!
A: It's gone/grew a little bit from my $3,780, first teaching salary, to today's salaries, but so has everything else. I sat down the other day and just was going over in my mind about some beginning salaries today and beginning salaries of when I first started and also looked at what I paid for my first new car. When I first started teaching I couldn't afford a new one had to buy a used one. The first one I bought versus what I paid for the last car that I bought and there is quite/it tends to make you/bring you back to reality and that wages have gone up but so have the costs of living gone up. So I think we're better off now than we were when I first started as far as being able to live but it still is, in early years of teaching its still a real struggle on a one income family.
Q: Most systems presently have a tenure or continuing contract system for teachers. Would you discuss the situation from the time you entered the profession and comment on the strengths and weaknesses of such a system?
A: Generally, when a teacher, during the year, when a teacher is applying for their tenure, they know it and consequently if they're a marginal teacher going into it they become one of the best in the world. They really know they need to be on their good behavior at that particular time and in our/present method of giving/granting tenure that's the time in which you are using the evaluate them/to give them tenure. The big thing is to make sure that after they get their continuing contract that level is maintained which is very difficult sometimes. We have a tendency to fall back into our old methods. But I think its something that's here to stay and there's nothing we are going to do about it so therefore, we need to work with it and not against it.
Q: Administrators presently spend a good deal of time complaining about the amount of paper work and the bureaucratic complexity with which they are forced to deal. Would you comment on the situation during your administrative career?
A: It started out not nearly as bad as what it is now. Seventeen or the fifteen years in which I was an administrator we received all kinds of mandates that we had to do certain things. Things had to be in order. All your records and all the papers, and so on and so forth, so you did spend a lot of time on that even with the laws which were passed on dismissal of staff, you had to be documented so much that it was very difficult to even think about dismissing a staff member. You had to really be determined to defend as well as it was going to take place and it just required a tremendous amount paper work. Plus everything else that you do as records have to be kept. Since I left, I've been out now, this is my fifth year since I've left, you've started on, we got into the computerized listing of all the students and staff and so forth with the state. Once its there it may be a little easier, I'm not sure but getting it there was awfully hard to do I'm sure.
Q: Given the present administrative complexity, is there any, are there three areas of administration that you would change in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness?
A: Say that again.
Q: Are there three areas of administration that you would change to improve its efficiency? What three areas?
A: One of the things which makes things a lot easier is enough money. But that is not the easiest thing to come by. Enough money to run a school is something which is optimal. Like you said fool proof king is one and that's one of the things we can go on for. The second thing is that you would be able to provide the atmosphere, I think the atmosphere of the school has to be conducive from them and if kids are afraid either of other students or of the class or whatever there happens to be its not a good atmosphere for them. So that pleasant, healthy atmosphere in the building is being also. And also the third thing I think is that we have to have expectations of the students. If you feel that your students, you can't expect very much out of them then you're not going to very much out of them. You need to have some high expectations understand those. So I think those three things.
Q: Mr. Asher, would you describe your relationship with the superintendent in terms of his general demeanor for viewing your school?
A: I thought it was pretty good at the time that I was there. We worked through some problems early when we were here but we were going through a lot of transition. But once it was through there I appreciated his method of working and let us, let me in this particular situation, take care of running my building without a lot of interference from him. I did have another immediate supervisor in between the superintendent and myself. Which most of anything that came up was worked out in that particular level and wouldn't have to concern him. I think it was pretty reasonable.
Q: Would you discuss your general relationship pro or con with the Board of Education? And comment on the effectiveness of school board operations in general.
A: I didn't have much association with the Board of Education each year except during Board meetings,. They would occasionally come out in the building and do tours and that type of thing but on a personal basis in that time frame I didn't know them very well so it was mostly very business like atmosphere was with the board of education. They are a necessary thing that the board of education is not behind school administration there is not a compatible situation it can be very difficult.
Q: This is a topic that is very interesting currently and you have a lot of experience with this. The cultural diversity is a topic of great interest and concern at this point in time. Could you discuss the nature of your student body and comment on the problems, challenges, and triumphs in which you participated while serving as a principal?
A: We had about 20% minority in the building where I last served. And at the beginning of that/my tenure there, very few problems as far as a clash between the two cultures but in the five years that I was there in the building, it seemed to intensify. I think was a sign of the times and I was happy to be there at the time when in the society itself were getting a lot intensification there on demands and added different attitude then I was used to. Therefore, as I retired it seemed to be getting a little bit more in a problematic area. And after I've gotten out of the business I don't know how it is whether it has gone on an intensified or whether its maintained the same. But that was not one of the more pleasant sides of the job was trying to keep a balance between, trying to keep two sides happy, you have a personal clash between kids.
Q: It has been said that the curriculum has become much more complex in recent years. Would you comment on the nature of the curriculum during the time you were principal compared to the situation today if you can?
A: It seems that ever since we began to be in the field of education as teacher, as an administrator, that each year things a few more things needs to be added because time goes on. When things are brought up, kids today, I have a six year old grandson who can work a computer. There are all kinds of needs now-a-days that are expectations that parents have and that we have for our children that it just has become kind of a nightmare of mechanical devices. By the time you get on installed its out-of-date.
Q: This is true. There are those that are arguing that standardized test is a way to provide improved instruction. Would you discuss your experiences of such testing and provide us your view on its effect on the quality of the instructional program?
A: I think standardized testing is a tool. And as a tool as with any tool it must be put to use in the proper way and not too many expectations for it. Not only that we were designed to be in it. It can be used as a benefit. But standardized testing itself needs to be, you have to know from where you're starting so therefore you have to have a base test in there telling you where these children are and then to measure where they are going. I guess, we did here anyway at Marlington, we did have that base. Ability testing as well as achievement tests. I don't think that achievement tests are any good at all if you don't have any ability tests.
Q: Could you describe some of the pressures you faced on a daily basis and explain how you coped with them?
A: Pressures are ... Some pressures to some people are very difficult and other pressures are not. Some people tend to roll with them a little bit and other people tend back up against them. They are really bothered by them. I can't say that I wasn't one of them for pressures, I was. But I tried not to show it. I think the way I handled pressures was if I was going to enter a pressure situation I tried to be prepared. Preparation is a must. If very much prepared for a situation then the pressure is not as hard as you come and get it. And it's a surprise. A lot of time you just take a deep breath and sit down and have a cup of coffee and go back at it.
Q: Oh yes! Would you tell us the key to your success as a principal?
A: I always felt that I like people and I liked the kids and I think that was the main thing. I don't think it was hard to see, I tried to make it not hard to see anyway. I felt that the children knew that I liked them. Any if you like what you are doing, you tend to be successf ul at it. And I might say that it wasn' t very many morn ings when I got up that I did not find it easy going to work.
Q: Good, that's good to hear. Would you describe those aspects of your professional training which best prepared you for the principalship?
A: I think on the job experience was a lot of it. I was a coach, and coaching duties it takes, it has a lot of things that one must do beside just to coach the students so there's a lot of training there in how to handle organized and that type of thing. Also in my teaching experience I also was a department chairman and that type of thing which I gave more responsibilities to you and therefore you learned to do many things at the same time.
Q: What are some training experiences you thought were least useful?
A: Oh ... Some of the course work that I took in graduate school was not as useful as I thought it could be but it didn't have much to do with what I was preparing myself to do.
Q: If you had it to do over again, what kind of things would you do to better prepare yourself for the principalship?
A: Oh ... probably pay a little bit more attention to details. When I was, before I became a principal, a lot of times if your not involved in the planning or the carrying-out of certain things, you don't pay as much attention to what's going on until the end product comes to you and you just jump in and do what you're supposed to do. I suppose paying a lot more attention to the detail about how things are done.
Q: OK ... What suggestions would you offer to universities as a way of helping them prepare candidates for administrative positions?
A: Well I don't think anyone, I suppose you can't say a blanket statement such as I just about said. So I'll rephrase it. It's very difficult for a person to teach someone to do something if they don't have any experience in doing it themselves. Therefore, I think the professor who teach administrators should have at least some background at being an administrator on some level. Its very difficult to speak from experience if you have no experience.
Q: OK ... What is your view on the mentoring program for new administrators which has been recently implemented in Ohio? In which an experienced administrator is paired with a neophyte.
A: Oh, I think that's fine as long as they're both compatible and if there is some type of procedure set there so that if either the mentor or his project is (I guess that's a good word), don't get along or have a problem with one another they would be able to change it. I think that that should be built into the situation. I don't know if it is or not because that was started just after I got out.
Q: Was there a mentor in your life?
A: Oh, yes! A lot of mentors in my life. In my professional life there were quite a few of them, people that I looked up to in their expertise in their fields. I watched them. As far as administration is concerned I served under some very good administrators and served under some very poor ones. And consequently I think that the good ones were of major influence upon me.
Q: Principals operate in a constantly tense environment. What kind of things did you do to maintain your sanity under these stressful conditions?
A: Oh, I tried to have a good sense of humor. If things, if something came up funny I had a good laugh at it. I don't think you can be straight faced and straight laced twenty-four hours a day without making your job a drudge and so I think a good sense of humor, being able to apply it to wherever you feel is necessary is a good situation.
Q: Since you've now had some time to reflect on your career I would wonder if you would share with us what you consider to be your administrative strengths and weaknesses?
A: I think probably one of my weaknesses was impatience at times. I think you need to have a lot of patience. I worked on it but I still think that I could have used more patience and perhaps I could have used more knowledge, technical knowledge as far as curriculum was concerned in my particular career. My strengths, I think part of my strength was my organizational skills I can do that and my people skills. I think I learned down through the years how to talk to and handle people.
Q: Would you discuss the circumstances leading up to your decision to retire at the time you did. Giving your reasons and the mental processes you exercise in reaching the conclusion to step down?
A: Well, retiring was two different ways. You have to be ready to retire and you have to be able to retire. I had reached the point. I had been working for thirty-two years. My wife was retired and I was looking at the time in which I could afford to be retired. Therefore, I felt that I was ready. I could go on to other things and not be bothered by not working and be able to afford it financially I retired and its working.
Q: Would you discuss your professional code of ethics and give examples of how it applied during your career?
A: The professional code of ethics, I think all leads back to something that I've tried to live with most of my life, is don't do anything to anybody that you wouldn't want them to do to you. Now we don't always live up to that high standard, I know but I've always tried my best not to do anything that would harm or hurt a fellow colleague. I know that sometimes you can't help it just from the interpersonal reaction between people but if you work toward not doing that I think you're a lot better off.
Q: If you were to describe your work day, how you spent your time during your principalship and what was the normal amount of hours you put in?
A: I would arrive at work at 7:30 in the morning, begin with the mail and with the secretary and what needed to be done for that day, and then the children came in. You had to be ready for whatever came down the pike. You had to be willing to spend time for the first hour or two hours in the morning on personal problems, the telephone, parents, children, buses, teachers needs and wants right away in the day. Then once the morning got started a couple hours into it, then you could get into the things that you had to do. You had to be in classrooms, or in meetings, you had to be doing whatever and the day would go very fast usually because you very seldom stopped what you were doing and I'd leave for home around 4 o'clock on a good day. And then be prepared to come back or go to board meetings or committee meetings or a school program or whatever. So I supposed a typical day week would be 45 to 50 hours per week.
Q: Would you discuss teacher dismissal and your involvement in such activities?
A: Termination you mean? In my years as a principal I was only involved in discussion of the dismissal of/termination of the staff member, and not in the building where I was an elementary principal. It all happened before that. I was mainly a sideline participant not an active participant.
Q: A good deal of attention has been given to career ladders, differential pay plans and merit pay in recent years. Would you give your views on these issues and describe the involvement you've had with such experiences?
A: I haven't been involved in it. I could see where it would be an advantage to one on the receiving end if they were so selected to receive all that acclaim/accolade. I think it would be very difficult for the people who are selected. The process would have to be, well I'd have to look at the process to see whether I think would be fair. What I would be able to do. It looks like it would be hard to do but they do that in business a lot. So if you have some specific target goals out there or that type of thing but you must remember we don't have a production line. Our end product is not as easily measured as it is in business.
Q: Would you give us an overall comment on the pros and cons of administrative service and any advice you'd wish passed along to today's principals? Explain administrative service, explain what you are talking about. Services I could write to, call to or what are you talking about? About your actions as a principal, what were the pros and cons and if there is anything around that or words of wisdom you'd like to pass on to today's principals?
A: I think there is a great satisfaction in setting back and seeing a job that you think is well done. Some of the things, which a big satisfaction come from seeing the kids go on with their lives and become the things that you can see in them maybe as little ones and see what happens as they grow up. And also in the staff. Once your retired and sit back sometimes its nice to hear comments that come your way. And sometimes maybe not so nice but at least to know that your were either appreciated or at least they knew that your were present.
Q: Despite my best efforts to be comprehensive in the questioning there is something I've probably left out. What of the questions I should have asked you that I haven't?
A: Well, I don't know of any that you should have asked by that you haven't. The only thing that I would say that if a person is seeing something that they think they would like to enter the field of administration they need to check within themselves to make sure that they have ability to listen, they have the ability to work with people and to work for people because you can't be an administrator in this day an age. You cannot be a man who sits behind the door and only comes out at teacher's meetings and in time to pass the checks out. He's got to be totally involved in what's going on.
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