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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Interviewer: Emma Echols
Interviewee: Terry Helsley
Date: March 7, 1994
E:I am visiting with the superintendent of Rock hill school
district number three. This is March the seventh. I am
especially interested in knowing the relationship of the
schools today, to the pupils that are here, we recorded
many, many tapes of the school that used to be, but now we
will do what we are doing today. I will let you put your
name and your address on for me.
T:My name is Terry Helsley and I am the secondary social studies
coordinator for Rock Hill School District, and I live at one
North Pine Court in Columbia, South Carolina.
E:Tell us what your wife does.
T:My wife is the director of public programs at the State
Archives, and she has been there twenty-five years, working
mainly in the search room and the areas that meet the
public, and also works with the records at the state
archives, in Columbia.
E:Now, do you have any idea how many Catawba children are in your
Rock Hill Schools now?
T:I am sorry to say I do not.
E:They tell me that when they register now, that they put the
name on the registration as an Indian. Is that right?
T:They can, yes. Right--I think they do.
E:Now you have minority groups here. You have the Catawbas, of
course you have a lot of Blacks, you have Chinese, and you
have Koreans, and maybe some others. Is there any special
program for those special children that you know of?
T:Now there are special programs, but they are not there by race;
we have remedial programs for those students who do not
score well on our standardized tests, our state
standardized tests. We have gifted programs, and many other
programs, but they are not--and of course could not be
offered by race, because of the civil rights laws.
E: The Indians are so talented with certain things such as
pottery making. In the schools sometimes a potter will come
to demonstrate. The children will have little pieces of
clay to make (objects), but the Indians themselves would be
a valuable asset, if they could come and do that.
T:Well we think so, too. As a matter of fact about a year ago--a
little over a year ago, we had an in service for all of the
third grade and eighth grade history teachers in the
district, with three potters in our training room here at
the district office. Dr. Thomas Bloomer, Dr. Tom Stanley
from Winthrop (joined us). We were hoping to see potters
come in our schools in great numbers after that in service,
and I am not sure that that has happened. We were hoping
that it would.
E:Would there be any renumeration for them, if they came into
T:We could certainly arrange that, certainly.
E:They would need that because they would have to have their
E:It takes hours for them to do that. There is a limited number
(of potters). In the article that I wrote about them,
Frances Wade made the list for me, and I have twenty to
twenty-five; we did not want to leave any name off. So I
have a list of those potters; there are around twenty to
twenty-five of them. Dr. Stanley told me that there was a
kit prepared--eight or ten kits--that would have some
history, some pottery, and some pictures, things like that.
I have not found out--what happened to those kits?
T:That is a good question, I (had) heard about the kits, too. We
are going to have to find out where they went.
The idea was
that we were going to have some at the district office, some
were going to be in the schools, and they would move around
as they were needed. But I am glad you brought that up; I
do not know where they are either, but I will find out.
E:Well, one of the teachers told me (that) the one she had seen
was sort of battered and worn.
T:Is that right?
E:--usual. (laughter) You have some very dedicated teachers who
take a special interest in (those projects). I am
interested in seeing what you will be doing in the future.
You have had some famous athletes with you, and Indians who
are in your system (who are) mechanically minded. So many
of them work in Charlotte (eight or ten of them work in
Charlotte). Some of them work here, and they are
mechanically minded. Many of the Indian children of the old
school were taught to memorize. They did not have anything
in comparison (to) our schools today. The math was
difficult (for white children and Indian children) to write
down, but what they would do is come up with the correct
answer by figuring it in their head. And so they were very
cleaver about that. I am interested in the teachers in the
whole system taking a personal interest in these Indians
that come in.
T:I think it is not important only for the Indians, because we
are looking fo high interest things to put into our social
studies classes. What could be higher interest than these
people over by the river, right here, who do things like
pottery and have all these talents that you have mentioned.
I think it is a natural fit, for our (us).
E:Dr. Bloomer has a brochure, I have a copy of it on the
pottery. I am sure that a number of the schools have it,
It costs four dollars, but every school ought to have a copy
of that. There is no reason why there should not be a
brochure about the schools years ago and the schools today.
There could be a section written on the biographies of the
pottery makers, of some of their leaders. Fascinating
stories of Buck George, and Carson Blue, and the old
chieftains. The children do not know any of that. Do you
have anything in your textbook about the Catawbas, and (if
so) at what grade level?
T:I do not think (that) there are mentioned. Let me check the
Eighth grade text here.
E:Wait I will turn (the recorder) off.
E:I would like for you to tell me--we have been talking about the
possibility of stories, and biographies, and speakers to
come in the classrooms, and pottery makers, and so forth.
What is your feeling about education for every boy and girl
in your system?
T:Well we have been--no matter what we think--and I believe in
that with all my heart, that we need to provide the best
opportunity for every child in out system. We have been
mandated to do that by the state of South Carolina, and by
the tax money given to us by all the citizens of South
Carolina. So we need to make sure that every student has as
rich and varied an educational experience as we can provide.
In the social studies, particularly, we have an obligation
to bring in a lot of different experiences; especially
things, like the Catawba, that are here in our neighborhood,
that are here in our countryside.
that we can
bring into the schools. So I would love to see us--
E:--You need books for your library, and you need workbooks for
the classroom, do you not?
T:That is right. We need all of that. We need to systematically
bring in potters to bring in people to tell stories, Chief
Blue and others, who know about the stories of the Catawbas.
It just adds to the richness of our common experience in
the Rock Hill area, and our county.
E:Some (one) of these days you will have a list of the Catawba
students who are outstanding in education, or in mechanical
things, or in sports?
T:That is right. We need to know about those successes, like
the Black children need to know about the successes of their
people. So the Catawba children need to know the same about
their own fathers and grandfathers, grandmothers and
E:Well, it has been interesting to see the things that you are
showing me, and I am hoping to meet your wife one of these
days, and she will add to our information.