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Bulat Danilov
Bulat Danilov

The Doctor Is In: 7 Easy, Positive Steps To Take R Realplayer Programme ##TOP##



Q: Thanks for being here today. Will you talk about the circumstances surrounding your entry into the principalship? (Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer) A: Well, I am very privileged to take part in this exercise. I guess really I came to Buckingham in 1961 and stayed one year, and I did a variety of activities in the school and school community. Whatever they asked me to do I tried to fulfill it and do the best I could. I was in the classroom for ten years. Q: What was your subject area? A: Sixth grade. And in the year of integration I was pulled out of the classroom in October to direct an EASA program which was a federally funded program to assist all schools with the integration process. At the end of that year a principal retired, and I was asked if I would replace him. I had no idea that I would was looked at in that light, but as I forestated I tried to do anything I could do to help out the children or the school system in Buckingham County. So I went to that position and I stayed in that position for twenty-five years. There were a lot of times that it was very trying, but I had a lot of support from the community and the faculty. I enjoyed working with students, so that's the extent of it. Q: Well, so my next question was going to be what motivated you to enter the principalship, but in a way from what you're saying it sounds as if it was an opportunity that came along, but it wasn't something you had planned. A: That's correct. I felt that I would always through life, even as a youngster, I felt that I wanted to be a team player. Whatever position that came up if those in authority felt I could fulfill it, I would be more than glad to try it. Q: And was that your basic philosophy in dealing with your teachers trying to get people to be team players. A: Yes, it started at a very early age. My mother grew up basically in Augusta County, Virginia. We used to go there during the summer as youngsters. Walking up and down the lanes with older people and just discussing life in general. I can remember one gentleman saying what education was. He says that education is being able to be comfortable with anybody you come in contact with. And I guess I was eleven or twelve years old at the time and that just stuck with me. The fact that my mother was the valedictorian of her class, and her biological parents had died when she was two. She had a full scholarship in nursing to Virginia State, and she turned it down because she felt obligated to take care of her aunt and uncle who raised her. My dad I think finished the sixth or seventh grade, but he was the greatest historian I've ever known. He knew more world history than many professors, than many history professors that I have come in contact with. Both of them were very instrumental in my learning as a youngster. Dad really taught me the states and the capitals when I was in the fourth grade. Q: This is a little off the topic but why do you think he had such an interest in history. Was there... A: Well, he was in World War I, and he went and served and they were getting ready to send his outfit overseas, and the war ended. So he swears that they knew he was coming. Q: He was going to end the war one way or another. I am glad he did it peacefully there. Well, did your motives change over the years? Now we have already said you didn't really think about going into the principalship, but once you got there did your attitude toward the position change? A: Well, not basically. As I took graduate courses to prepare myself. Well, initially I started out in guidance, and I almost completed a master's in guidance when I got the position. I just shifted over to fulfill the requirements for the principalship. But I guess maybe in undergrad school, somewhere another along the line, I guess in either bull sessions or jam sessions in the room that we as students, undergrad students, wanted to know what we wanted to do in life and why we wanted to do it. So at that time I guess early on I felt that all children could learn. Maybe not the way that we really wanted them to learn, but over time that they could learn. And that all of them should have an opportunity to learn. It may take some a little bit longer, but if we give them the love and care, the tools, the patience and not be so restrictive as adults to be impatient, that they could have success. And I think that in life with everybody, all of us as adults, even graduate classes now, you know we get confused. As we get out of class we say now what did this professor mean by this, so it's and think if we can remember that and structure that with the small child that we can be successful. Q: I think that is a wonderful philosophy. That is basically what I was going to ask next anyway. I am wondering in your philosophy of education, did the guidance background help you a lot in dealing with people? A: I don't think so because all my guidance graduate courses were all in theory. So I really didn't put that to practice as a guidance counselor, but I am sure all learning and all experiences have an influence upon me. Q: The next question I'd like to ask you about is what experiences/events in your professional life influenced your management philosophy? I know you've spoken about your parents and the basics that they gave you. Can you think of any specific events? A: What I can think of would be my experiences as a student teacher at Fayettville State. We were in a training school on campus that was controlled by the local education board, but was staffed by the college, so that every teacher had a masters degree and at least 15 years experience. I was paired off with a fellow from Greensboro, North Carolina, and we happened to draw the quote unquote toughest critique teacher. Q: Oh, lucky you. A: So the experiences we had there starting out, we would critique each other, part time classes you know where we would teach individual classes enough to second or third classes and eventually the total classroom. And I can remember we had a lot of army children there. Children whose parents were in the military. And I can remember very specifically one day I was teaching, I think math, and this note went across the room, and I didn't react to it but my partner interrupted it and put it in his pocket, so anyhow when we went home when we had to go back to the campus for lunch, because we didn't have the money that students have nowadays to eat lunch at the school cafeteria, and we went by the dormitory and opened the note. It was a real eye opener, the language, but anyhow something to the effect, "Look at that GD Mr. Johnson trying to teach." So that struck upon me then that once I got out and had my own class, that if I interrupted notes I would never look at them in class. I would put them away and eventually look at them, so that the students didn't know how I would react to it. And then there's the first experience in coming to Buckingham. I had three roommates and all of us fresh out of college, all very intelligent quote unquote. Calculators were a thing of the minority, we didn't have one individually. There were a few stores in Dillwyn who had them. And anyhow the first report, attendance report, at the end of September, we knew we could add, multiply, subtract, and divide, and we did it. And, anyhow, the first report, attendance report, at the end of September, we knew we could add, multiply, subtract, and divide and we did it. I was at one of the largest schools and went and asked one of the veteran teachers to check it. Of course, the thing was all wrong. That was an eye opener. The principal at that time was very understanding, but I would always get a veteran teacher to look over my work before I sent it. Q: Well, in your dealing with teachers, which I've reviewed your picture books here, and obviously you're so well thought of, but I'm sure there were good days and bad days. What kinds of things do teachers expect principals to be able to do, and are they always reasonable expectations, in your opinion? A: I think all teachers want to satisfy the administration the goals and objectives of the school, and of the county, but there are pressures for to bear, and I think that if administrators and teachers can look upon each other as people with feelings, emotions with assets and liabilities. If they can discuss those in a very mature way, I think they can be successful at the task at hand. It's very uh--sometimes things come up and you can't always explain as to why it has to be that way. There are certain matters of confidentially that has to be carried out. I think that when teachers and administrators realize this and really understand and trust each other, I think you have the makings for a good school climate, good educational outcomes and mutual respect. I think this rubs off to the parents and the community, also when they realize that if you make a mistake, I think you should admit it. People will respect you more and try to work with you in a positive manner. But if you take the attitude that you know it all, and you're the only one that knows it all, even if you are right, it can make for strained relations. Q: It was interesting that you brought up parents. I believe that I had had a question later that I wanted to ask you, but it seems to be a good time now. What did you see as the parental involvement in schools today? I mean what do you see as the optimum involvement for parents? A: Let me reflect back on something years ago. Probably when you were in school. Q: (Many years ago.) A: Seventh grade. I think your homeroom teacher used to comment that parents don't come out to PTA meetings, you never get them out to conferences--the ones you need. He left and his wife, both left. Buckingham and went to Albemarle. They became parents, both were working, and there were times when they did not make PTA meetings, so they saw how it felt. So you can imagine parents who in this day and time have to work, both parents usually have to work. Many parents do not have the educational level or the understanding that in a rural area, and sometimes they're threatened to, who wants to come to hear something negative, even when you preface it with a positive experiences, so I think we need to get the trust, the humanist, and the down-to-earthness. Get the parents to feel that they are really wanted, and it may take some ice breakers. When I say ice-breakers, I mean such things as little snacks or meals or games, such as carnivals, special days at school where they're involved, and they can see that teachers are just real people just like I am, only they have college degrees, where I may work in another occupation. I think like on career day, if we can involve some of those parents to come in, and they feel a part of the school, I think that it is an ice-breaker whereby they will support you wholeheartedly. Q: Excellent, you know we've touched a little bit upon the teachers and the parents. I was wondering about your relationship with your employers, perhaps the superintendent, the school board, and the community in general. Would you touch upon those? A: I've had four superintendents, I worked under four different superintendents. Each was different. School boards have changed through the years, but I tried through all the years to be up front, not put on a show, whenever they visited or came around. What they saw was what went on on any other normal day. I think that you do not have to tell them what you're doing. I think they can see it. With parents, I've been accused by my wife, of being talking too much, but that's the only way I can find that you can learn things. In a grocery store, at the barber shop, at the little league parks to make people see that you are human, that you are even though you have a position in a rural community that, well, years ago was looked upon being almost a god, that you are human just like they are to make them feel that you care about them, and so forth, and speaking to people even if you don't even know them to grin or to smile when you meet them or to on the highway to just the wave of the hand and this type of thing, I think this all contributes to people you know who they are, and they know who you are they, may, not know your name, but then when things come up you'd be surprised how many of those people remember those little things and come to your aid. Q: Yeah, that was one of the first things I noticed about you when I came in, I said this looks like a people person, and you just seemed so friendly, etc., and I would have to think that really helped you in the principalship, to like people, you just seem to like people. A: That all came from early up-bringing, I can remember we were poor, we didn't know we were poor. Both, my parents were hard working, and I didn't even know what welfare was, I had never heard the word. I can remember one day the guy next door was --his family had split somewhat, and the children were with the dad, and the dad had a very modern home. One son was in the same grade with me. The dad worked at the Veterans Hospital, so you know he made good money, and he also was a barber. I can remember one evening, we had in my family, Mom and Dad and my sister, there were four of us, we had four pork chops and the guy next door, who was in my class, came over and happened to be there at dinner time. Dad said to Mamma, and they both agreed, that he was going to eat, so somehow some kind of way we split four pork chops among five people. Mamma got a little bit aggravated at Dad, because she said this guy could have bought us and sold us so far as material wealth was concerned, and Dad said it wasn't the child's fault. That even at a young age, I remembered that as I got older, and so I've tried to do that in the classroom with children who didn't have it. To make sure they did have it, and as an administrator to make sure and to stress to the faculty and staff, if there is a need, we're going to take care of it. Those experiences that those children have at an early age, they may not say too much thank you now, but when they get older they'll remember. Q: Well, what would you say to a person who's considering an administrative job. What would your advice be? A: Don't take it. (laughing) Q: Quick and simple, don't take it. A: Don't take it. No, really I guess you have to be--it's a very complex job. It's a never ending job. Q: Is it a thankless job at times? A: At times, but the rewards come from, I think, when you see students who were very mischievous, who didn't seem to fit, but later on, even though they've had brushes with the law, come back and get straightened out. I can think of one young man, nothing we could do for him, it might have been our fault. He didn't have running water, didn't have lights for a while, and very mischievous, but he liked to do manual labor. He liked to help the custodian and so forth, liked to rake the excess grass on the yard. He probably dropped out in middle school or early high school. He got involved with the law, and I guess two years ago, I saw him around Thanksgiving. I was out and about--not it was Easter time--I was just riding around, and I stopped at this particular home. He happened to come down on that same highway, road, and started talking to him and he said, "Mr. Johnson, he said, I'm straight now. It feels good that when someone knocks on the door, it's not the policeman or the parole officer." He had married into a lady with a couple of children, she was a little bit older than he was, and they had conceived a set of twins, but he was very appreciative of what we had tried to do when he was coming along, but he said he felt so good. I feel that he is truly turned his life around, and he's trying to better the life of this mother by setting her up in a home. Q: It does make it worthwhile when you hear something like that. There are those who argue that the principal should be an instructional leader, and those that suggest that, realistically speaking, this person must be above all a good manager. Would you give your views on the issue and describe your own style? A: Well, I guess personally I think it all depends on the age level of the principal at the time. Your language arts, your reading expertise are more needed, two of the things that are more needed in today's principalship, and many of the older principals were not well versed in those areas as instructors because for the most part they were upper elementary or secondary, so I think that being a manager to be able to provide from your support and provide to your staff those expertise in those areas of language arts and reading that you do not have and to realize I forestated, I think if we realize our assets and liabilities, I think we can overcome those. Now the younger principals, many of the people who've had extensive experiences in theory and probably classroom experiences in teaching reading and who are more up-to-date on techniques than some of the more mature principals. But I think if you can work it out where you realize it's not only in that instruction, well computer, most of the more mature people are computer illiterate, but if you provide, as a manager, if you provide the experiences for in service, I think you can overcome that. For instance, you may be aware that there are two attendance zones in Buckingham County, and the one that we're in where the school was burned in November, the K-3 school burned on a Sunday night. The next morning we had all those students and faculty in our building. We shifted around. You would never had known it. If you had been there that morning, you would have thought they had been coming there all the time. But anyhow a little bit after that that from that point on we had a K-7 population with many abilities. The superintendent asked me about computer network--IBM computer network-which would assist us in dealing with a wide variety of students and levels and so forth. I presented it to the faculty, and I said there would have to be some in service. I went before the school board in December to accept it. I told the faculty now we need to have some dates when do you want to do in service because most likely I'm going to get a call, and I'm not going to have time to poll all of you. They said they'd rather do it after school. So anyhow in January, I think the last day of January we did the first one. Before we set if up we provided them with a full meal after school. They asked how long it would take. I said probably three hours. Anyhow the in service trainer finished up in about two hours and told them they were free to go, but nobody moved. That's how long they had to stay. The second one was the same way. We had some parents in. We didn't really have space for them but they inquired about coming in we didn't say no. Anyhow we were able to make all of those teachers aware of how to use the system, what it could do, and what it couldn't do. Quite naturally, you had some more teachers who were quicker to catch on than the others, but the spirit of not knowing is not shameful, because they felt so close to each other they just asked somebody, how do you do this without being embarrassed or being put down. Q: So as a principal did you promote a family atmosphere? Consciously or subconsciously? A: That's what we tried to do. And even when we would get transfers in from other buildings, we would in our initial meetings, we would welcome them and let them know that we wanted them to be a full blooded child and not a step child. Let me back up since you've mentioned this. My mother was a domestic worker for a doctor, and Dad kept the grass up around there, but worked on a farm elsewhere. She and the doctor came to Charlestown in th


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