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サークル8:準備中

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Parker Garcia
Parker Garcia

English File, Intermediate Plus: Teacher's Book...


Q: Mr. Taylor, would you tell me how many years you have been in education as a teacher and as a principal? (Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer) A: About 28 years. Q: How much of that is teaching and how much as a principal? A: I started teaching in 1954 and I think I became an assistant principal at Groveton High School in March 1961. No, that's when I became principal in March 1963. I became assistant principal, I guess, in July 1961. I don't have it in my head that well. But..uh..It's on that little sheet there. Q: So, the majority of your time in education was as a principal? A: That's right. I was principal of Groveton High School from 1963 until 170. Then I went to Falls Church. That was when Superintendent Watts decided to move principals around who were in schools longer than ten years. So then Fort Hunt became available, had an opening, it was close to home and just seemed like the logical place for me to be. Fort Hunt was a real challenge. It was a school needing some change in administration. And uh.. Q: You came in at a very crucial time in education, the early seventies? A: Very difficult time, very difficult time.. right. In some of these papers, when you go through them. you'll see some of the efforts that I have --for example, I was trying to improve the relationships between teachers and students. There was real hostility on the Dart of a lot of the students at Ft. Hunt towards the staff members. It was a lot to do with the makeup of the staff, a large percentage of retired military, excellent subject matter people. very skilled in physics and mathematics, those fields. I'd have to say that department was one of the best departments but in dealing with kids they didn't score so well some times. The social studies department was all males, no women at all. And I was trying to integrate females into the various departments. Q: What really made you decide to become a principal? A: I was asked. I just barely had the requirements. in fact I had to take courses. Q: So there were Particular individuals who influenced you? A: Well, at that time there was a Director of Personnel named Sam Coffee in Fairfax County and he, I would say, probably, was one of the convergent persons. Plus I'd have to Mr. Gibson, the principal of Groveton credit because he asked me to come into administration. I was a guidance counselor at the time and he asked me to come in as an assistant principal. Q: That was a time of a lot of growth within the county, too, new schools were opening? A: Oh my, they opened up four schools, I guess, the year that I went in they opened up, I think, I'm not certain I think it was Jeb Stuart and Robert E. Lee and James Madison. Those three schools were opened, I think, at that time. They opened three high school in one year. Q: Would you take me on an imaginary tour of one of the school of which you were principal, and tell me which one it is please? A: Well, you'll note in some of these pieces of paper around here if you read it, they said that I, Superintendent Watts came to see me at Groveton High School and said "You know, you're part of these walls. You've been here too long." And it was interesting that was where I retired from. I went back to that building. In 1956 it was opened up, the newest Fairfax County High School. It was a very expensive school, plastered walls with the exception of the classrooms, but there where plastered walls. Now days you go in a school and it is cinder-block walls, painted. That school had terrazzo tile halls. There was a quality about it. It had birch wood on the doors, birch cabinets, birch material on the auditorium seating. It was considered a showplace in 1956. But it soon became, as it was called, a shoebox. by some people. It was so small. It was built for like 1100 to 1200 students to start with. But the thing about Groveton, the size of the school and the relationship between the people in that building there was a congeality, there was a mutual trust. The atmosphere at Groveton High School and you can talk to old Groveton teachers, there are still a few around. Jack Hiller is one over at West Potomac now, but (sees cricket on floor and makes comment about lower level houses). The thing at Ft. Hunt was that "he school was sprawled all over the place, 25 acres of building down there. And it was just all over the place. And the capacity of Ft. Q: Hunt was much larder? A: A lot. When I went to Ft. hunt it was somewhere over 2500. It rose to 2758, I think, in 74. Groveton High School was a school that served quite a cross section of population. There was no real majority of social class. It was just a cross section. It just had everything. And I think that actually was a plus for that school. Ft. Hunt when I was there was 44% senior military, either retired or active duty. It was heavy military. Certain attitudes and so forth, you know, are generated in that environment. Q: But you were actually at Groveton when integration came into the county? A: Yes, yes, that's right. We were actually one of the first schools, James Madison and Groveton integrated, I think, I keep forgetting the year. Q: Had there been just one black school? A: Yes, Luther Jackson. Since we were located in one of the two areas in the county where there was a predominately large black population, Gum Springs is right behind us, which today doesn't have the homes it had then, I mean many of the homes have disappeared. Ray Barber was the first black student. I see him every now and then. He made a career of the Air Force. Q: Were there any particular problems with the integration? A: Ah, I think Groveton had it very smooth. We had problems later on, yes. As more students came in, the issue always seems to follow, cheerleading always seems to be the problem. And it happened at Ft. Hunt, believe it, or not as late as 1975, fall of 75. It just suddenly happened that there weren't any black cheerleaders. Q: What was the particular incident at Groveton? A: Well, we had a pep club and the pep club had an election. What happened was the black students should have caught on to something, the idea of block voting. But they voted for the different friends they had and so none of them made it. The pep club was 60, 70, maybe 80 kids.. mostly girls. John White, the basketball coach was the sponsor. And they had an election for officers and other typical things, you know. And every time a black student was nominated, they would nominate another one and what happened was they dispersed their strength. The next day there was a lot of movement in the halls. It was the beginning of that kind of thing anyway. I can't even tell you what date it was. It would have been around 65, 66 maybe 67. I don't know. I'd have to look at the yearbooks back there. Mrs. Torrice was at that time a guidance counselor, and she did a fantastic job. She led the kids into a large room, would have to be the home ec department which is right down the hall. She steered them into that room. There were only about 25 or 30 students in all. She talked to them about how you can handle something like this and how to do it and it worked very well. And we did eventually also have some later problems with the cheerleaders. I simply had to state, "we will have one. We will have one, a token, if nothing else. Don't come back without one." Q: This statement was made to the teachers who were choosing the cheerleaders? A: That's right. To the teachers and to the students. There were students also involved in the election. Q: Did this cause resentment? A: It was done like a sorority, it really was, I'll have too submit. That and the keyettes, the same thing. And that was the kind of thing that we had to deal with. Once people realized the need, that it was only fair, because these kids had these things taken away from them. Here they were at Luther Jackson and had all these activities and suddenly dispersed to the white high schools and no chance to participate, But I think Groveton was one school which made a great deal of progress in human relations as we later called it. I tried to import some of that to Ft. Hunt. The problem was Ft. Hunt and Groveton were such rivalries. It was always a rivalry, up til today when there in one building. I'm not sure so sure the rivalry is not still there underneath the surface somewhere.. Q: This may get at the next question I was going to ask. What was the philosophy of the school during your leadership and so it probably carries from one school to the other and how was your philosophy developed. A: Well .... I think you'd better stop the tape while I think about how I want to say that. First of all you have to know where I was coming from. I was a history teacher and I was a subject matter oriented teacher. Along the way there were some people who influenced me. There was one teacher in North Carolina, at Needham-Brouhgton High School and we did some team teaching together. I learned so much from her about how to deal with adolescents. If I hadn't had some of those people supporting me, teaching me how to teach really, I probably would have been a failure. I probably would have left teaching. I think that is the whole thrust of my philosophy. Number one, we want to offer quality teaching. We want to offer good sound instruction. At the same time, it is how its delivered. Are you involving the students in the process or are they simply receiving? If you read this little statement here that will f"ll you in later on more details on that. So that's been pretty much ... The school exists for the students, not for the teachers. But at the same time you have to also think of the teachers and their environment and the problems they are constantly bombarded with, discipline, various pressures. And I think in Fairfax County we have a great deal of community pressure. It is very difficult to teach and not have people, you know, on your back all the time. It is very difficult and I imagine you understand what I'm talking about. So I think you have to support a staff at the same time. You have got to be a person who backs up your teachers providing them as much assistance as you can, budget and otherwise. I think its good to let teachers know how they're doing, to be visible. I was at all my schools. I was not an office person; I was out participating and even attempted to teach a class one time at Ft. Hunt. The biggest problem was that I missed class and was late to class. Fortunately, I had an intern at that time. That was Vic Lutz, he's the principal at Hayfield. Vic was my intern and we taught the class. It was during that cycle when we really went way out on curricula changes and we had students electing their own courses in social studies. And we had an election system. We taught a course called Education USA: It was history of education. It was basically kids who wanted to be teachers or who thought they wanted to become teachers. So we really taught a little bit about how you become a teacher. That's what we called it. It was a six week thing. Q: Did you have a large enrollment? A: We had about 20 students, mostly girls. Q: For education at that time that was pretty good.. wasn't it? A: That's right. So I've rambled on. I don't know if I answered the question or not. I read a book written by a classical scholar called The Art of Teaching. I don't know where I read it, somewhere. I think there was a copy years ago in the professional library at Groveton because I liked it and I bought it for the school. The author talks about the three qualities a teacher should have. One is their knowledge of the subject. The other 'is their interest, genuine interest, in the students. in the students learning, in being successful in their learning. What was the other one? I guess it was how you deliver the message. The three qualities in being a successful teacher. Q: How did you create or stimulate a climate for learning? I imagine you have that in some of these papers. Would you care to condense it for me? A: This is so stiff though that I don't want to read this. I don't think. it would sound good on the tape. Q: It seems to me that some of what you have been saying is along the lines of what I'm looking for. A: I quote Dewey. I don't know whether he's so great to quote or not. With the present climate of conservatism in the country, Dewey's not so great, so I hear. See, at this time I wrote this to the staff, there was a growing discontent; schools were having sit-ins and whatever. There was just a great deal of animosity between some teachers and their students and student behavior. It came from many different things. Alot of it was just simply, purely, mocking what was taking place on college campuses. It was also the Vietnam War. It was a whole lot of things. My statement was that there was a growing discontent between numbers of students, teachers, and parents. I said the success of education was going to depend on teaching the values of a democratic society. John Dewey envisioned a school as a democratic society in miniature. Fundamental to all such social organizations is a commitment to two principals; one, participation in the functions of the society by all its citizens; two, a relationship between the members of the society based on respect and dignity and humanity of each of the individuals. Both principals are characteristics of and necessary in the achievement of a democratic society. In other words, students have to be recognized as citizens of the school and efforts should be made to (again this statement is to my staff) include them in the planning of the instruction. In other words, students should have some part in planning what's going to be taught. They need the involvement, to have a piece of it. Now, that's hard to communicate to an algebra teacher or a let's pick on an algebra teacher. Q: Use chemistry. A: Use chemistry. Alright. Now I've seen chemistry teachers who were fantastic in including students. it can be done. I think, again, the student can recognize the authority of the teacher in probably one weeks time, whether that person knows what its about or just going through the motions. It doesn't take them long to tell. How to stimulate the classroom, what did you say, climate for learning? Well, I think you have to teach by example. You have to be on time yourself. Be businesslike and ready to go. Show evidence of organization. A lot of that passes on to students. Give the students some tips on how to do things. I have a sheet right here and its some hints for chairmen of discussion groups. And this is for students to know how to lead a discussion, and how to handle a committee. I used this as a social studies teacher way back when. I guess coming from a social studies background has a lot to do with the way I run a school. I think relationships between a teacher and a student should be kept on a professional basis. I don't think teachers should be buddy-buddy. That only breeds disrespect. Oh I know there are informal situations. A drama teacher, for example, frequently, is quite often very close to students. They sometimes have a tendency to drop all the formalities including being called by their first names. But I say avoid that. I tell that to my student teachers now. That's one of the things I'm working with Longwood supervising student teachers here in Fairfax. I say to the students, "You have to go from this side of the desk to the other side of the desk. Your role on Monday morning or whenever you start is going to be different and you are going to have to act a different role. Don't let them start calling you by your first name." Q: At least not where you can hear them? A: That's right. Q: What role did you play in public community relations during the late 1960's and the early 1970's when there was such a tremendous change in the attitudes of students? A: We started a, one thing we did, I wish I could show you, I may have one. We started sending home a monthly bulletin. It was actually in conjunction with the PTA: And the idea for it was still being used by the PTA's around here. Two years ago I was still part of the Groveton community. What was Groveton became West Potomac when Fort hunt was phased out. My son was a senior there the first year they merged. So that was my last year of PTA: The idea of the newsletter, also parent conferences, especially in the area of human relations I had a black professor, I can't think of his name, Carter, I think, who sat in the rocking chair down in the home ec living room. The teachers on their planning periods came down and they just talked. Basically, what he was talking about... Q: This was a teacher from the school? A: No, this teacher was a visiting, we had a visiting scholar program. And one of the visiting scholars was a black scholar. And we wanted our staff to have some touch with someone like this to have some communication with him. Also that evening he was available for a PTA board meeting. There, again, there was .-just one effort to introduce black individuals into our school. We got parents down here in the community with Mrs. Torrice many years ago to try to hear their complaints and concerns about the school. Communication was the key and keeping the school open and having people come into the school. We had, of course, the usual Back-to-School Night but we had other times when we invited people into the school to participate. We had a program called HEP. Q: What did that stand for? A: It rotated with the English department. It was an Humanities program. We had these visiting scholars but we also used parents. In this community we had quite a score of, you know. We had a poet that came. He actually demonstrated writing a poem to a group of senior students. Again we were using the community. Parents didn't cost anything. Q: I guess you've probably already answered, but I'll ask so that I can get a compact answer, what is your philosophy of education? A: Turn the tape off. Q: Alright. A: The biggest problem I have with philosophy is just your asking me the question because I do think a lot of people are so phony and come up with these fine sounding things and in Fairfax County, here's a paper, I had to submit my goals. It gets to be phony. I think that's why I said turn the tape off. I think what I've been talking about I've been imparting some of my philosophy. Number one, I feel that the schools have to be an alive place, they have to be interesting. They have to give all sorts of options to all types of children there. it can't be just a prep school. It has to be a school that opens doors for kids. A lot of that comes about, I think.. between the human contact, the encouragement. I have a letter, for example, I found in there this morning when I was getting ready for you to come here. A letter from a parent as a matter of fact. who talks about a Latin teacher coached one of her students after school on the evening she was going to have a dinner party. She stayed after school to help this kid in Latin. The student was going to be in a Latin competition, some kind of state competition. So she gave her time to do that. Of course that's the kind of thing that I'm talking about. It's being so much interested in students and their progress. The parents also said the Driver Ed teacher that complimented their son who was not doing very well in school.. who had very low esteem. But when the Driver Ed teacher said, "You're the best student I've ever had!" it just did so much for that kid's esteem. It helped him. That's what you have to be. You have to have staff that are aware of the needs of kids. That's why, I guess my philosophy of education is such that schools can be very rote, ca


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