Today's date is the 23rd of September, 1987. We are at James Wood High School in Winchester, Virginia. The purpose of this interview is to take an imaginary walk back through the career of a retired principal of a public school. During the interview we hope to reconstruct this person's professional history with accuracy and detail. We want to collect his views on the principalship and the educational issues of the period when he was a principal. The subject of this interview is Mr. C. Edward Lizer a retired educator who lives in Frederick County, Virginia.

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Q: Mr. Lizer, would you please recap for us the chronology of your professional career. When did you become an educator and what positions did you fill through the years? How many years were you an educator and how many years were you a principal? What we would like for you to do is start at the beginning of your professional career and briefly summarize it for us.

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

A: I taught four and a half years in Maryland before coming to Frederick County. I came to Frederick County because I married a Frederick County teacher. My first position in Frederick County was a fifth grade teacher at James Wood School for one year. The next four years I was head teacher and principal of a four room school, Bryarly. In 1957 Frederick County built Robinson Memorial School and I became the principal of this new school. After thirteen years at Robinson I transferred to another new school, Senseny Road Elementary School. I was there two years and then moved to the central office where I worked as an administrator and assistant superintendent for thirteen years and retired in December of 1981.

Q: So, to recap that you were a principal for almost twenty years?

A: Well, I was a full-time principal for fifteen years and prior to that at Bryarly I was principal but I also carried a full teaching load as a fourth grade teacher for four years. So that would total nineteen years.

Q: What year did you enter the educational profession?

A: I started in Maryland in the middle of the year because I was one of those individuals who had college education interrupted by military service in World War II. I started in February, probably '47, as a sixth grade teacher in Baltimore County, then I transferred to Washington County, Hagerstown, where I taught elementary school all four years. The first two years was in a junior high school building where there were probably a thousand junior high school students and a hundred and fifty elementary school students. The next two years was in a now elementary school built in Washington County, Maryland probably the first elementary school built there after World War II.

Q: Where did you get your education?

A: My undergraduate work was at Frostburg State Teachers College in the western portion of Maryland. My graduate work was at the University of Maryland where I got a Masters in Education. I have had additional courses at George Washington and university of Virginia.

Q: Mr. Lizer, why did you choose to become a principal? What we're trying to find out is what events led you to seek your first position in administration?

A: Probably financial motivation had a large thing to do with that. The teacher's salary wasn't very great and the principals salary carried an additional financial reward. I liked working with elementary students and I got along fairly well with teachers. I did not find the principalship to be worrisome or a burden. I was quite happy with what I did for those fifteen, nineteen years.

Q: What was your code of ethics as a principal? Did you have a model, someone you patterned yourself after as far as your own ethics, the character that you, so to speak, represented?

A: I probably became a teacher because of a history teacher I had in school, but I don't think that I patterned my principalship experiences after anybody that I knew. I tried to be a practical person. I think I worked well with teachers. As an example, whenever a teacher had a problem I was always available. It didn't make any difference if it was tune to go home, or they wanted a conference early in the morning, I always had time for teachers.

Q: We're very much interested in the changes that have occurred in education since the 1940's. You mentioned that you were principal of three schools - head principal of a small elementary school, and then principal of two larger ones. Would you comment on the contrast between those schools? Would you describe your first school and then perhaps try to compare that with maybe your last school, starting with Bryarly and then going to Senseny Road.

A: Bryarly was a four room school, and typically it had four teachers and four grades. Part of the time the number of pupils per grade didn't work out like it would have been ideal. So during four of those years, I had all the fourth graders and possibly eight or so ten third graders. Sometimes a second grade teacher had some third graders or some first graders. The children were divided up according to the load and a combination class was not unusual. One year, we had so many pupils that an extra teacher was hired, and at nine o'clock in the morning that teacher and twenty-eight or thirty pupils rode a bus twelve miles out the road to Gainesboro and had classes there all day. At three o'clock they came back on the bus and came into the Bryarly building where they were redistributed on their buses. That was an unusual situation for that school. The teacher that was hired probably two weeks after school started was working under a special license and I think she had one college class at that time. She kept on taking work and eventually became a degreed teacher. That was Tom Dick's wife, Susan Dick, Gene Dick's mother, and Joan who married one of the McDonald boys. You probably know of her. She was a lady who had two children and started teaching school with no college credits, had taught school full-time, went to school in the evenings and summers, until she got a degree.

Q: That speaks somomat to the evolution of the teaching profession which we'll come back to & little later, as far as preparation and requirements necessary for certification and that type of thing. We'll continue along a bit with the theme as far as the different schools that you have worked in. You've given us a picture of Bryarly. You opened up two new elementary schools, one in the fifties and one in the sixties. Would you come up to the last one that you opened which would be Senseny ADad and describe that school for us a bit?

A: After I was at Robinson for thirteen years I had an opportunity to move to a new school on the east side of town in a fast growing neighborhood. Robinson was on the south edge of town. We had a very interesting program - heavy classes. You may be interested to know that one time because of homebuilding in that area and plus a couple of small trailer parks, at one time we had a partition in the library. So we had two classes in the library and we had first and second grade on double shift. The enrollment in most classes was, most of the upper grades, was in the forties. It was not unusual to have so many desks in a row that the pupil in the front seat was so close to the board they couldn't see all of the chalkboard, and the last seat in the row was so far back toward the wall that a teacher could not walk down one aisle and behind that seat and back up to the other one. There just was not room. The closets for the coats were planned probably for twenty-eight or thirty kids and when you put forty-four in there in the winter time you had quite a problem with really the physical accommodation of the students. I left Robinson --

Q: Can I interrupt you for one second before you leave Robinson? I think I hear you saying that Robinson was built to accommodate the growth in the suburb area around Winchester.

A: Yes.

Q: And that growth continued and so a second elementary school had to be built on the east side of Winchester?

A: Yes. Robinson was full when it opened land I think you will find that that's not a whole lot different today. I just saw in the paper the other night that they anticipate the next elementary school will be at capacity by the time it is finished or before, and that is not unusual. When Robinson School was opened Miller School a four room school, Kernstown School, a four room school, Bryarly School, a four room school, Round Hill, a four room school - all continued to operate. So we had Possibly two first grades through four grades but we received fifth and sixth graders. So we may have had five sections of fifth grade, and five sections of sixth grade, and two sections of the first four grades.

Q: Now out in the county further out in the outlying areas you still had Middletown, Gainesboro and Gore, and other schools operating. We're talking basically just the peripheral area around Winchester.

A: This was a growth of suburban Winchester.

Q: So that brings us to the year that you opened Senseny Road. So that was when?

A: About '70 or '71, Senseny Road was built to accommodate the growth on the east side of town. Before Senseny Road was built, Kline was built on the west side of town and at that time Bryarly and Round Hill were scheduled for closing but they didn't get them closed. Frederick County has always been behind in its building program. When Kline was opened they also had a smaller number of primary grade children and then fifth and Sixth graders cam from Round Hill and Bryarly. Interesting thing, we started at Robinson a satellite lunch program so that hot meals were served in these four room schools. This was a very successful program. Participation in the lunch program, percentage wise, was very high. At Kline the program was designed to take care of Round Hill and Bryarly so that hot meals were available in those schools, also. If you have a lot of primary age pupils that's too large. The real physical enormity of a school for 600 pupils sort of bewilders six year olds or kindergarten students. When students walked in Senseny Road it was a long way to the front door down that hall to the last classroom. Incidentally, they had the primary students, kindergartners, and first graders. They are furthest from the front door where they have to get on and off busses.

Q: What would you consider to be the major task of a principal? To maybe recap a few things you have touched upon, you mentioned cafeteria operation, transportation, maintenance. What would you add to that as far as major tasks?

A: Well I think those are things that demand attention. I wouldn't call them major tasks even though they do take a lot of your time. If you want to list something major according to its importance, I think it's having a good educational program. I think that it was fairly easy to have our staffs enthusiastic about pupil achievement. We had basic solid educational programs and we took a great deal of pride in the results we obtained from standardized tests from reading tests that accompanied the basic texts we adopted, from the progress that our pupils made when they went on to middle schools. One of the things that I remember and I take a great deal of pride in is we had a couple of six grade teachers who were academically oriented and I had quite a time with parental relationships because of their high expectations. But one day Jim Gibbons, who was then principal of the middle school - Junior high school at that time, said you know l can tell the students that come from the middle school from Robinson or Senseny Road or whatever it was. I am sure he meant that they were prepared for the level of work and they were accustomed to high standards. We had problems with parents. We had parents who didn't want their children in Mrs. Evis' room or Mrs. Crawford's room because of their academic orientation.

Q: One of the major tasks of a principal seems to be promoting good public-community relations, school-community relations. Can you give us some illustrations how you as principal enhanced your schools imagine in the community it served?

A: In all the schools I have been in we had active parent-teacher groups. We had parent-teacher groups at Bryarly all the years I was there. In the organization of the new Robinson Elementary School we had a very active group. One of the things that group did was organize and sponsor an excellent scouting program. That would be Brownies, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts. We had a high percentage of the kids in those programs. We had scout meetings in the school building after school. We had scout meetings at Shawnee Fire Hall that was next door. We had monthly pack meetings. A great deal of that credit would go to the parents who were interested in their children. At that time Pineville, where many of our children lived, was an above average residential rental area. Lucky Voight and Grace, Lucky's a pharmacist for People still in town, were leaders in our scouting movement, and good organizers. They were also PTA officers. Our teachers supported the PTA movement and at PTA meetings the teacher attendance was generally 100%

Q: Did you ever feel threatened by your PTO structure? In other words, that they were trying to run the school?

A: No. We started in this area the fun nights that our big PTA or PTO fund raisers and that gave PT organizations a substantial budget. There was some discussion whether that budget should be spent - how that budget should be spent. Some people thought that that was for playground equipment, some people thought it ought to go for supplemental teaching materials or library materials, some people thought it was to send officers to state conventions. One of the things that concerned me a little bit was that it seemed like the goal of every fundraising committee was to have a bigger project, take in more money, than you did the year before. And if you kept this up for enough years you did get a pretty substantial time involvement in the fundraising part of the parent-teacher group.

Q: I would like to move to the topic of teachers and their relationship with the principal. What do you think that teachers expect principals to be? What is their perception of the principalship?

A: We had an advantage at Robinson School because we had a new building very well designed for an educational program, enthusiastic parents, above average kids, close to Winchester. That may not be a significant factor now where people jump in their car and ride fifteen, twenty, twenty-five miles to work, but back in the late '70s very often two or three teachers came to work in one car and wanted to go home in one car which made a problem when you had bus duty or some other kind of obligation. It was more desirable to live in Winchester and work close to where you lived so it was a little bit easier to get good teachers to come to Robinson than it was some of the schools that were fifteen miles out of Winchester. They had a lot of things going for them. We had a lot of young teachers with their initial enthusiasm and I mentioned the fact that we had supportive parents and kids that scored better than average on all the standardized tests.

Q: Would you, I think I hear you saying, say that you had the fortune of having good staff morale?

A: Generally, yes. And when I left Robinson to go to Sensery Road, many of the teachers requested a transfer to Senseny Road. That could be because they were familiar with me, the old shoe! I wanted to go to a new school and some of the good kids who were in Robinson were going to there. It certainly was because three or four or five of them lived on that side of town. Teachers liked to live in Frederick Heights. They lived in Miller Heights. They lived on that side of town. So when Senseny Road School was opened and I became the principal, I took probably half of the Robinson teachers with me.

Q: Was that your choice that you could take them if they so desired?

A: That was sort of a mutual agreement. I worked very closely with the superintendent of schools and we would talk about the operation of the school in a very informal way, and I didn't really say don't transfer this teacher or that teacher but it worked out that I felt that many of the good teachers of Robinson went along with me to Senseny Road.

Q: You've used the term good teacher. How do you evaluate good teaching?

A: I was never much for formal observation and writing up a report. I felt then, and I feel now, you can ask most any principal to name some of his good teachers and he can tell you who he thinks are good teachers. If you ask him to justify or ask him why he probably has some problems. As an aside, fifteen or twenty years ago I went on an evaluation team into Northern Virginia, in Fairfax County. We evaluated the two largest elementary schools in the county and I started off by saying, "I want to start in the room of the best teacher in the school." The principal told me which room to go to without any hesitation. By the time we had finished evaluating the school I found that teacher was not certified.

Q: Mr. Lizer, as you are aware with the state mandated changes as far as appointment of teachers through the years, we have evolved to the point now where we have what is called a BTAP policy and this involves people who are somewhat insulated from the local school district coming in and evaluating beginning teachers. Do you think, with your experience, that you can evaluate a teacher when you don't personally know that teacher in the case of the BTAP evaluators?

A: When we went to evaluate teachers in another division I felt that you could tell a great deal about a school and a school staff in two and a half or three days. So I think a person who makes a career of evaluating teachers and travels around and does that on a full time basis could do a pretty good job. I know that you could be fooled as a principal, can be fooled for a period of time. The principal has the advantage of long run. The evaluator who comes in for two or three days certainly is going to catch a teacher at his or her best. James Wood had a chairman of the social studies department several years ago who could do a terrific jobs for three days or four days or whatever it took. You know very well that over 180 days he didn't do a very good job. The administrators knew it and I have heard administrators say he could do a terrific job. He could be an outstanding teacher but it was always he could be. The implication was that he wasn't.

Q: I want to zero in on dismissal of teachers. You've been involved in dismissing several. Do you remember the issues involved in the dismissal of teachers while you were principal in your schools or perhaps later as assistant superintendent for personnel? What would be the most prevailing reason why a teacher under your supervision would be dismissed?

A: Let me preface this by saying that one of the teachers that I worked with at Robinson and Senseny Road for a total of fifteen years said one time about me, "He doesn't or didn't fire very many teachers but he was awful good at easing them out." I thought that was one of the best compliments that was ever paid to me. I don't think that you have to fire very many people. I think that the tenure law, tenure policy, is desirable. It is a good thing, and I support it, and I continue to support it. You have an obligation not to let the poorly prepared or poorly operational-type become a tenured teacher. I remember when we first started tenure after three years there were several administrators saying is there any way we can put this teacher on probation for another year. And we checked and there was no way. out my feeling then and now was certainly you ought to be able to decide after two years. I know a lot of teachers who had a rocky first year and much better. Some of them stayed around for a full career. But three years and then tenure, l think is a good policy because there can be some people caught up in personality conflicts who will be on the wrong end of the program through no fault of their teaching competency. Now why were teachers dismissed? There were several who were dismissed by reason of incompetence. I'm sure that they were here years before dismissal and if we would have been on our toes we would have eased them out or gotten rid of them sooner, The ones that I recall, dismissed for incompetence, were known to be incompetent teachers, were shifted from one position to another, one school to mother, and in a large number of situations that was only a temporary remedy. You know there were some teachers who were dismissed because of attitude problems that they could not get along with students. They couldn't get along with parents. They couldn't get along with faculty. They just couldn't operate in a social school situation.

Q: In your relationship with teachers, either as a principal or as assistant superintendent for personnel, did you ever have a teacher file a grievance against you?

A: Oh, yes!

Q: Would you be kind enough to tell us the issue involved in maybe one of those situations?

A: In one situation, it wasn't a formal grievance but I had a teacher object to something I had put in his file. We had a personnel file on every teacher, and after a conference I put some rough notes in this file that the teacher objected to when he asked to look at his file. I was wrong. Once he said that he objected to that. I agreed that he was legally on sound ground, and I took it out. Now I didn't put it in another file because I anticipated some problems down the road with that teacher and I did not keep any extra file. I don't believe that that is ethical. I was careful to document conferences with that teacher and provide that teacher with a copy and then I put it in the file. An occasion arose when he objected to something else in his file and I found reason to say well, okay, if you don't like that you can respond to it but I won't take it out.

Q: Mr. Lizer I gather from listening that you never had a formal grievance filed against you in your years as principal.

A: No. Maybe I was lucky. Maybe that's because I ended my principalship almost twenty years ago. You could do a lot of things twenty years ago you can't get away with now.

Q: This brings us to another question. As a teacher/principal and a central office administrator with actually about three decades of experience, you had to work under at least three superintendents in Frederick County and one or two superintendents in Maryland if I have recalled it correctly. What we would like to have is your views on the position of superintendent. We would like to know what you think are the characteristics of a superintendent that you would consider to be most effective from the prospective of the building principal? What I'm asking you is to enlighten us on the position of the superintendency.

A: When I was in Maryland and Washington County for four years, the size of the operation was such that I probably only saw the superintendent from afar except possibly when I had one conference with him. I was employed by an assistant superintendent and dealt with principals and supervisors at that time. I was essentially a beginning teacher at that time. When I came to Frederick County, Bob Aylor was superintendent and he was superintendent for about half the time I was here. He started as & beginning teacher in Frederick County, became principal of the old Stephens City High School, and when James Wood School was built, there was quite a bit of jockeying around because there were five Frederick County High Schools that were all consolidated. Several of those people wanted to be superintendent of Frederick County Schools. The board selected Mr. Aylor and he was superintendent for two or three years before I was employed. He did the whole bit. He employed people. He assigned and re-assigned. He did all the supervision of maintenance, the supervision of transportation, preparation of budget. He had one lady who was an elementary supervisor who didn't have very much authority. Mr. Aylor continued to operate the system pretty much that way until his retirement. One of my minor suggestions to him one day was that he needed to put bus numbers on the bumpers - on the front and rear bumper so when you could see a bus coming you knew which bus it was when it got close enough to read that number. He really didn't see any need for that because he knew all of the buses and he could recognize all the drivers. He had hired all of them- probably had thirty-five drivers at that time. Another suggestion and I made this because we had a lot of problems keeping bus drivers. The salary was abysmal. I said, "Hire women drivers." He thought about Frederick County roads and about buses and was very reluctant to do so but we had a lot of turnover. Finally he hired two ladies and they both could have been professional wrestlers. I'm sure that he thought to drive a bus you had to be big and strong. Larry, one of them eventually drove for the city and drove city public buses. The other was a lady who was at least as big and I jokingly told the superintendent, "You set women drivers back a generation in Frederick County." He did the whole thing. He knew what was going in Frederick County. He was slow to respond to growth in Frederick County. He would have to take some of the responsibility for classrooms in the basement at Gore, on the stage at Stephens City, Middletown, Gainesboro, Stonewall, up at the temper at the old academy that was given to Frederick County after it ceased to be occupied as a private school. Using those facilities, I think he failed to provide the leadership. Maybe he knew Frederick County better than I did but his forte was not long range planning. When he first went into James Wood High School on Amherst Street and looked from the cafeteria wing down to the library wing and saw how long it was he said to me, "My first reaction was Frederick County would never have enough children to fill this building." Several years before he retired the school board employed an assistant superintendent. The assistant was selected by Mr. Aylor but I'm not sure that he felt that he needed an assistant. He had done the whole thing for so long that he was reluctant to give up any of it. His budget was two pieces of cardboard about 18 x 36. You tape them together, and they could fold them open and there was last year's budget and what was spent and what was needed, and the supporting documents were a half a dozen or dozen loose leaf papers that he had inside that budget when he closed it up. He also had last year's budget that way and the year before that. That is the way his budget was prepared. Do you think that the school superintendent today - I'm talking about the individual facing the problems that a superintendent would face in running a school system the size of Frederick County would need different character traits than what Mr. Aylor displayed? Maybe he was the man for that era but - I think times have changed. He was followed by Melton Wright who he employed as the assistant and Melton is certainly different from Bob Aylor. I just saw in Sunday paper that Bob Butt in Loudoun County is going to retire at the end of the year and he has more tenure as a superintendent than anybody in the state. I think sixteen years. This is significant as far as I can see. It was not unusual to have superintendents in the job fifteen, twenty or longer. Now the length of time a man is superintendent in one division is probably five or six years. Some of them move on their own and some of them are encouraged to move.

Q: As principal did you ever feel that central office policies prevented you from accomplishing the goals that you felt you could have otherwise achieved? I realize after being the principal you went to the central office and helped to make central office policy and implement it, but as principal did you ever feel handicapped by central office policy?

A: Not really. I'd had a very good relationship with the superintendent, Aylor because when Wright became superintendent I moved to central office. So really all the time I was in a teaching or principalship position I was working for Superintendent Ayfor. We had a good relationship. He was at my school a great deal. Every week you probably would see the superintendent. He would come out for lunch and then we would talk after lunch about a wide range of school related subjects. We talked about budget, teacher salaries, integration which was a big item, the annexation started when he was still superintendent but the court case was after he retired. We were friends. He talked about his family. I talked about my family. We had that kind of relationship. I think he felt that I was doing a good Job. On occasion he would say, "How about taking teacher so and so," and one time he said, "Ed, you'll have to tell her she needs some direction." And I said, "Well, I don't mind telling her" and his response was, "But you'll have to tell her so often." That particular teacher we took and she worked with me until retirement age. She wasn't any ball of fire but we could manage the situation and keep her a reasonably successful first grade teacher.

Q: With the benefit of your experience, what changes could you recommend in the organizational set-up of administrative responsibilities - from the superintendent down through the assistant superintendent, down through the area supervisors to the principal? Is there any organizational change that you would recommend?

A: I have stayed away from Frederick County education deliberately since I retired almost six years ago. So I'm really not aware of the table of organization. As a general rule I think the current superintendent has done an effective job of delegating responsibility and apparently expects once a job is delegated to have it accomplished. I think that Is very important. Lots of people never learn to delegate responsibility or some of their duties. I think Colin Steele probably did a very good job as a middle school principal when he came to Frederick County when he organized responsibilities and as far as I could tell delegated authority to go with responsibility. Apparently the present superintendent has done that. The assistants apparently have clear lines of responsibility, have a lot to do, as far as I know they are working well together. There's a line responsibility of where the supervisors report to which superintendent. I'm not clear about the relationships between principals and supervisors. I think that was probably a weak part of Frederick County educational program when I was in administration. I don't think we use our supervisors effectively.

Q: So you're saying that you would recommend delegation of authority and responsibility with it, and perhaps better utilization of supervisory positions?

A: Yes, I think it's a little bit murky about when the supervisors should be involved. Maybe we hid the wrong personnel but in personnel problems in my experience it was an administrator's problem when it developed to be a problem. You couldn't count on the support of supervisors. Example - went out to Gore one spring and told a tenured teacher with years of experience that we didn't want her to come back next year and unless she resigned we would take steps to see that she was not reappointed and everything went alright. That was coordinated. I did that on the advice of the superintendent and with coordination of the supervisor staff. A couple of days later I saw this lady and she said, "I want to thank you for visiting my room this year." I said, "Why, I didn't visit your room this winter, I didn't observe you this winter." She said, "Yes, you did do you remember when you came down to one of those basement rooms and you were in there and talked to so and So?" I said, "Oh yeah, I remember that. Do you mean to tell me that I am the only person that has observed you this winter and that's the observation you are talking about?" "That's right." "The principal hasn't been there?" "Elementary supervisor, assistant superintendent of instruction, hasn't been in your room this year?" "No." I said, "Thank you," and I went back to the superintendent. I said, "There is no way that we can dismiss this teacher this year. She's ready to quit but that lady had been working twenty-five years,-maybe a little bit longer and people recommending that she be not re-employed and nobody had been in her room." That's an example of what I am talking about when saying we didn't use our supervisors effectively. I remember one time we hired a teacher, a non-certified teacher, for a first or second grade at Senseny Road in the late '60s, and it was obvious the first week of school that she was having a great deal of trouble, and I got a supervisor to come out there to spend a week helping this lady and we got her organized and got her so she was able to function through the year. I found out that that was very unusual situation but I thought that was what supervisors were for.

Q: Mr. Lizer, in the many years that you were a principal you had to face a number of issues. Weld like to know how you handled some of these issues. Specifically, you were in Frederick County when the school system was integrated, and that is the type of issue I am talking about. Do you recall your response to integration and how you helped implement that?

A: Yes. It seems like it was a long time ago, but the superintendent and I in after lunch discussions talked about building a three room black school, Negro school, colored school, whatever you wanted to call it depending on what time you were in. I urged strongly that that school not be built. There was a feeling that if you built a black school the blacks would be happy and want to stay in their black school through grades one through seven and then go as tuition students to I don't know where they went. Did they go to Handley? Handley wasn't integrated at that time. Maybe they didn't go pass seventh grade. I really don't ... anyway... The decision was made by the school board and the superintendent who took an active lead in this to build a three room elementary school, and after they finished the three room elementary school, Frederick County paid tuition and they went to a black high school in the city of Winchester. There was a great deal of concern, where are you going to build a school for black students. When you built Robinson, a whole group of people built houses right around Robinson. When you built Kline a whole group of people built houses on Fox Drive and the area right around, and when you built Senseny Road, a whole group of people built there. So if you built a modern school for black people then a lot of black people are going to move into Frederick County and build homes there, and you'll have more black kids. Well, finally they found enough ground in an industrial area on the edge of Winchester and built that school. it wasn't very long, a matter of years, until somebody said this is not what the law of the land says. Somebody in the northern end of the county named Brown brought a suit, and said I asked to go to white public schools. I ask Frederick County to integrate. So we came under a court order.

Q: Do you remember the year of that?

A: It was after 1957. There were three teachers in this school. One of them went to the junior high school. I took an elementary teacher, Mrs. Honesty, and maybe I had both of them. The third one retired shortly after the schools were integrated. Anyway I had Mrs. Honesty for several years. That was '69 or '70. I think the first year she taught was when we opened Senseny Road, and I remember the question, "What are you going to do?" She was a fifth grade teacher and I had taken a great deal of care in grouping students- mixing students and teachers, grouping students and teachers, rotating ability groups when it was by ability group, or group them on the basis of reading. Anyway, when I got a black teacher I divided that group of kids alphabetically. I had one man who was very upset. He was strong in local politics and he went to see everybody. To see if we couldn't get his daughter out of the classroom where the black teacher was. Some people suggested I move her and my response was, "You know if I move one I've got troubles." So they put that kid in Catholic School for a couple of years. I think I was right when I stuck to my guns there. In a year or so I had people requesting that their children be assigned to that black teacher who had pretty good artistic ability, did not have real expectations of the kids and kids liked her. That was my first experience with a black teacher after Frederick County Schools were integrated.

Q: What did you think of the standards of quality when they were established by the state school board about 1972 or so, and I think by the general assembly? What impact did that have on education from your perspective in Virginia, in Frederick County precisely ?

A: My recollection is not real strong. We were attempting to hire properly certificated, fully indorsed teachers every since I had been in Frederick County. Our budget was never so tight that we had problems hiring a degreed teacher or an experienced teacher. One thing, the salary schedule - the difference between the beginner and the teacher with five years experience wasn't a whole lot of dollars as you recall. I do know some areas where they hunted beginning teachers because they could save a few hundred dollars or a thousand dollars - not too far away from here. Our budget was never that tight. In fact there were times when we got down to the fact we had maybe a dozen teachers with a great deal of experience who were teaching with special license. The standards of quality came along we had conferences, the superintendent and I, hey this new policy has come by and you have to get a degree and become certified. Most of these teachers were elementary teachers who had a great deal of experience and wore by-and-large better teachers, 20 plus years experience. Most of them were upset to be told that they had to take a year's leave of absence and get a degree. If they were within thirty hours they could get a degree in three years or something like that. We said okay if you can present a program that shows you will be fully certificated at three years you don't have to take a year's leave of absence, but if you are further away than that you have to take a year's leave of absence and go back to school. I remember a Saturday morning conference with a teacher from Gore who had started teaching as a teenager, had years of elementary experience, pretty strong teacher. Saturday morning she and her husband came in to the school board office. Saturday morning conferences were the exception rather than the rule. She was really upset. She cried and she couldn't do this and she couldn't do that. We stuck tight. She went back and got a degree after one year her salary doubled, Simply because she was fully certified. That was one of the results of standard of quality. Another of the standard of quality is that they established classroom size - pupil/teacher ratio. That caused us a few problems here and there. We had to do some shifting to bring pupil/teacher ratio in line with standards of quality.

Q: Mr. Lizer in the area of staff compensation one of the issues that has cropped up time and time again has been merit pay. It has been a major item discussion by teacher's organizations through the years. One phase of that or at least one aspect of it that people are discussing today is the so-called career ladder for teachers. What's your reaction to the concept of merit pay?

A: I probably am a little bit old fashioned about merit pay. When I was a principal there were five or six elementary schools. All the principals made the same amount of money in the elementary schools. My elementary school was two or three times as large as the one at Middletown or Gore. I never made an issue of it. That's the way it was when I got the job. I knew what it was when I got the job and I never made an issue of it. I'm sure I worked longer hours and more days. When I first became principal of Robinson School I was only 10 month contract. I was interviewing teachers during those times that I was not on salary. I was supervising the building cleaning and maintenance. When I went off salary the fifteenth of June there was no way that I had all my work finished and if school didn't start until the fifteenth of August I had to go in before. So I worked hard and during the days I would try to call fellow principals someplace and nobody would answer the phone - not long after the last kid left but I knew that. I didn't let it bother me. Now I said earlier you oak any good administrator or principal, particular principal, someone in the building, who are your three best teachers and they could give you a pretty good accurate answer. When you say justify your answer they have a problem. I have seen some merit pay programs that pay off for advance degrees, extra college courses. I think that's wrong. Flat out wrong. If your state says you need four years of college to be a teacher - then it's four years. If they say you need five, like several years ago they were going to make you have five, then you meet that ]eve% and if you have to go to school ever six years or six hours ever five years whatever. I think paying extra money for a doctorate or CAGS degree is wrong, as I think paying extra money for physics teachers or Latin teachers or whatever you have because of the shortage of teachers. I think there should be one unified pay scale. I'm afraid too many things happen in the merit scale. The person who makes the decision will say, "If we don't give him a merit increment he may leave." Conversely, if we don't give him a merit step he's not going to go any place because his wife has a good job downtown. Well let's give him a merit pay because he's got three kids or he has a handicapped kid. There are to many things that would negate the effectiveness of merit pay. So I am against merit pay.

Q: We're not going to pass over any of the big issues so we'll get to the one of collective bargaining. You were a principal during the years when collective bargaining seemed to be on the upswing in Virginia. I think several school districts established the meet and confer arrangements and you remember that the state supreme court, I believe in fact, ruled against any type of collective bargaining, maybe in the mid to late '70s, any of these kind of arrangements by boards. What is your view on collective bargaining now that you are out of education and you can answer unbiasedly?

A: I said earlier that I was a supporter of the tenure law. I think that is an example of something that was necessary and has worked very well. There were some weeping and walling when we began the tenure situation, but by and large I think it made us look at the staff a little bit closer and meet problems with probationary teachers that we could have tended to let slip a little bit longer than you really should have. We let these things slip because of the routine things that interfere with your primary obligation. If the principal comes to school today and says this is the day I'm going to evaluate three people in the social studies department and the nurse comes in with a problem and the custodian comes in with a problem and the deputy sheriff shows up and wants to do something, or one of the supervisors comes in there is a tendency for your plans not to be carried out. The first thing you know Wix weeks is up, a semester is up, and a year is up. So tenure I think has had a beneficial effect on the education situation in Frederick County. Collective bargaining is another whole ball game. I think without collective bargaining there has been a tendency of certain individual teachers who may feel somewhat threatened in Frederick County to develop an interest in the Education Association, an active interest in the Education Association. It may be a subconscious reaction or a conscious reaction saying they are bearing down on Mb. I had better wrap myself in he of the Education Association. I think collective bargaining would present more problems than it would be beneficial to education in general or teachers/educators specifically, individually.

Q: You were involved both as principal and assistant superintendent in the area of recruitment. You were involved in the compensation of employees, development of compensation, job security. What do you think the school systems need to do these days to attract and to hold qualified people in education? I guess what we are trying to say is how do you create that balance that of the things we expect of employees as compared with them and their expectations as far as job satisfaction and that type of thing - job security? The question in summary is how do we compete with private enterprise in recruiting and holding good people as far as the teaching profession is concerned?

A: I think that realistically you should be prepared to expect to pay more money when you raise expectations. When you require more preparation or you require more inservice you have to anticipate that's going to cost you more dollars at budget time. One thing I worked very closely with superintendents and school boards in preparation of budgets and I respected and admired the school board member who realized when he voted to begin a program, he realized when it came time to prepare the next budget there would be a reflection of increased cost. Not all school board members had that type of judgment. I particularly liked to work with Clyde Logan because Clyde was a pretty sharp business man# a supporter of education and he was realistic about the need to financially support the programs. He didn't support everything that somebody proposed but when he did he knew that there was going to be a reflection of that new program in the next budget. Unfortunately there were other members from time to time who thought you could improve this program or begin this additional program and when it came to time to pay for it they were a little bit reluctant to see that item in the budget. If you are going to have higher expectations you are going have to have higher rewards. One of the problems that we had when we were under pressure to employ more black teachers was the opportunities for blacks to go to IBM, Fortune 500 companies who had jobs that offered both salary and prestige. Many of the better qualified black teachers, black graduates of higher education did not enter or stay in education. The beginning teacher looked at salary and living. We had people come to us who came for a few less dollars because they did not want to live in urban areas. Also they did not want to have in the rural areas such as Bath County or the mountainous counties of southwest Virginia.

Q: As assistant superintendent you were directly involved in the employment of a number of principals and assistant principal. What personal qualities did you look for in applicants for administrative positions when you made the selection? What characteristics, in other words, did you feel it took to make a successful principal or assistant principal?

A: There were several. Probably my expectation of their human relationships was one of the highest. By that I thought is this person going to be able to administrate and lead this school in a strong educational endeavor. That meant working with people. Working with teachers, support people, pupils, parents, the public in general. The principal who lost his position in Frederick County in the middle '50s was a strong administrator. An intelligent and knowledgeable person. If I had to identify his weakness it was he didn't get along with people. That was parents, public, other professional people, his staff and his students.

Q: Mr. Lizer what was the biggest crisis you faced as principal? The one that caused you so to speak perhaps have to make the toughest decision? Can you think about one particular issue?

A: I don't believe right off hand I can remember any one big crisis. We had problems. We had personnel problems. We had pupils problems. We didn't have a whole lot of special programs so we had a lot of problems with children who are now identified and placed in special programs. In '57 when I went to Robinson and became a full time principal we had grades one through seven. In the upper grades you had a lot of pupils who were in school more than seven years. They had been retained twice or maybe even three times. So you had a very difficult group of children. Later on when we dropped back to 1 to 6, and in those schools now they are 1 to 5, and promotions are more routine or the children are sorted out to special programs, I doubt if there are very many children in elementary school who have been retained more than once now. We had a continuing problem...with these older students who were below average in achievement. They were attendance problems, they were transportation problems, discipline problems in the school. It was difficult for a sixth or seventh grade teacher to take a class full of kids all day long if there were four, five or six of these kids in the building.

Q: What would you consider to be your greatest success as a principal?

A: I take a great deal of pride in the fact that I did get along with the staff. Possibly I got along with the teachers that I thought were good teachers better than the ones that I thought weren't pulling their weight. I took a great deal of pride in pupil achievement and I think the teachers did too. We liked to get back the results of the standardized tests. A somewhat unique position. They didn't pass around other school's scores but if there are five or six elementary schools and I had the largest one and my wife was teacher n another one, and my brother-in-law Frank was a principal, we knew what the scores were in half the county and if we were all above average it was a given fact that the others were below us because that is the way averages are determined. We took a great deal of pride in the fact that our kids consistently scored above the 50th percentile, above the state averages, in every standardized test that was given the thirteen years I was at Robinson.

Q: The literature in education in recent years has spoken a great deal about the dual role of the principal, and they seem to be describing one role as being that of a manager of the building and then the other role that of the leader of the educational program - instructional leader. Which of these roles do you think suit you best? Were you an instruction or manager of the building?

A: That's not new. You cannot escape the dual responsibilities if you are a principal and I didn't have an assistant principal. If I had I probably wouldn't have been much of a delegator, back in those days. I never had an assistant. One time someone said in a joking way how do you hire a good janitor. My response was, "Don't ask me. I never had a good janitor. All I had was drunks the whole time I was in elementary schools." That is practically 100% true. I don't see why a principal should belabor the fact that he has dual responsibilities, unless the school was big enough to delegate some of this responsibility, you are the building manager. If you have a problem in the cafeteria and lunch is not ready when it's time to serve lunch that's going to take your time. If you have a transportation problem or if you have a head problem, or a plumbing problem, that is immediately high priority. You can't use that as a excuse to say you don't have time to be the educational leader, and one of the things you have to do is take the time. I know faculty meetings were never very popular. Practically all of the elementary teachers that worked with me were female and a large majority of them had responsibilities in addition to teaching. They had homes, they were homemakers, mothers. They had children in that same building. I had strong feelings about that that I'll talk to you about in a minute, but you have to be an educational leader and if your education program isn't going anywhere it doesn't make any difference whether the building is warm or cold, or the water is working or not working. You have to have your educational program. What you do is set that up in the fall. Maybe two weeks before school starts and you have clear established understandings and goals and that is the responsibility of the teacher. We gave a great deal of emphasis to reading and math. If the policy back in the "Old days" was that the teachers went out on the playground with the kids, the teachers went out on the playground with the kids. I didn't have very much patience with teachers who didn't have physical education because the students were bad. I said take away reading, take away art, take away music, take away science, and they thought that was sort of ridiculous. If it was permissible to be out, to have some kind of physical activity, we were out. If it wasn't permissible to be out; it was a little bit of e"rcise or classroom game to break that up. I guess a lot of the parents called complaining. The kids hadn't been outside since so and so. Now when you checked that out very often that wasn't the truth. There was a tendency on the part of some people not to go out of the building for a scheduled physical education activity. I think you can exert that kind of leadership without being right down there at the classroom observing and checking off a checklist or something.

Q: Would you become a principal again if you had it to do over?

A: Sure. Particularly if I were in education. Now I'm not sure that some of the things, some of the trends in education would make me want to stay in education thirty-five years like I did, but if I were in education the best times of my life were elementary principalships
Q: What advice would you give to a person aspiring to be an administrator?

A: First of all, I think the young person who aspires to be an administrator should become a good classroom teacher. Do a good job in the classroom. I don't mean that someone is going to see your light shine and come out and tap you on the shoulder and say hey you would make a good administrator. One of the problems we had was at one time all of our elementary principals were male, and we said hey you've got to do something about this. So a few of us in a systematic way went out to the principals, "who are some of the classroom teachers who are doing a good job that you think would become administrators, would be interested in becoming administrators?"' The response I got when I talked to a few of these people and said, "Why don't you go become qualified for administration?" They would say, 'Who Me? You've got to be crazy! I don't want all those problems. I like doing what I'm doing now and my husband is manager of such and such and I'm not interested in an administrative position."

Q: Mr. Lizer why did you retire when you did? What caused you to retire when you did?

A: I think I surprised some people. First of all I retired in the middle of the year. That was because I spent a lot of time advising teachers about retirement programs and I realized that since my birthday was January 24th I could retire in December and get a cost of living increment earlier so there was some financial incentive. I became 65 and I had 30 1/2 years experience so that I could retire without penalty. That's what the retirement folks said at that time. The other thing is I had always sold that I hoped that I would be able to retire and enjoy my retirement as soon as I became eligible. I confess that I took the calculator and I figured if I stayed on another half year, I would make another 15 to 18,000.00 and my retirement factor will be not 30 1/2 years but 31 years, and I figured another year til I was 62 and so on. It was a $100. a month plus whatever you made there, and I thought about it and I thought you know I may be like some of these other people who talk about retiring, and I never said a whole lot about retiring as soon as I become eligible, but I may be like some of the people who talked about it and then when it became time to retire wanted to work another year. I had a good job. I was successful in it. There weren't any immediate crises on the horizon. I got along with the superintendent and school board. I'm sure I could have stayed longer but I had thirty and a half years in Virginia. I had four and a half years in Maryland that I never brought into the Virginia Retirement System because it did not pay me to pay 15% of my salary to get those. I had three years of military service that I never got credit for like I would have if I had been still in Maryland. I figured that I could live. I had accumulated a few things and I figured I could live comfortably. My wife had a small teaching retirement. Most of the kids were through school. Financially I could do it and emotionally I was ready. I worked long days. Maybe I wasn't a very efficient worker but I was there early in the morning and I generally was the last one to leave the school board office.

Q: What have I left out this interview that you would like to discuss?

A: I think you've been wide ranging and thorough. I can't think of anything that you have left out. I don't think there is anything that I want to expand upon. The question about standards of quality sort of caught me unprepared. I hadn't taken any time to figure out now what are these fellows going to ask me and what am I going to say. Standards of quality was important in 1972 but this is 15 years later, and I just sort of assumed the standards of quality have possibly been in effect forever. It was a big thing I remember in '72. It was a big thing.

Q: On behalf of Steve Kapocsi and myself, Mr. Lizer I would like to thank you for participating in this interview. And on behalf of the Graduate School of Education of Virginia Tech, I want to thank you for Your contributions to the historical research being gathered in this project...on the principalship. I would also like to thank you for the many contributions to the education of the generations of citizens of Frederick County that you have made. And we all sincerely hope that you enjoy many more years of blissful retirement.

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