Crystal Compton 1-11-85 Interview #2
one hour, plus more not on tape
Jean: Crys, I'm interested in getting details of the early middle school years from
you. You earlier answered the question of why the middle schools developed in
this county and you said there were two reasons that you thought. Part one was
the desegregation plan andAthe desire to better meet the needs of the adolescent.
Can you give me more details about those two reasons?
Crys: "Did I give you a copy of the desegregation plan that was submitted to the
Jean: I don't think I have that.
Crys: "I might have left that in the files over here and I turned my files over to
Phil. If he hasn't cleared them out there may be a copy there."
Jean: I will certainly ask him because I have been trying to get more information
Crys: "That probably would be in the school board minutes for around 1968 or 1969."
Jean: Do they keep those for a long time, do you know?
Crys: "They should have them all the way back."
Jean: I have had trouble with 9ome of the things that I really wanted, things I had
hoped Jack would have, and all these times they have moved back and forth from
so many buildings and offices, they have thrown out a lot of things.
Crys: "That plan should be a part of the official school board minutes. I'd say you
need to research 1968 and 1969."
Jean: O.K., I'll do that.
Crys: "You know about the time that we were looking at the middle school the movement
was gaining momentum throughout the country and Dr. Alexander conducted that
institute with people throughout the state and at"that time'they centered on four
different areas, or more, in regards to middle school youngsters---skills for
continued learning, organized knowledge component, special interests and curriculum
development. Once they centered in on that they looked at how you go about
organizing the school for these four areas in particular and then what kind of
skills do teachers need and then what are the goals and objectives and what kind of
delivery or mode of instruction is needed? And a part of the other component,
meeting the needs of the pre-adolescent included a lot of the curriculum committees.
That is why I suggested you talk with some teachers. One of the first areas
we began to look at was the physical education program. We thought that you don't
just stand at the board and give some directions and rules and kids go play
volleyball. What you do is set up learning centers where they learn to serve,
where they learn to do each part first and then they get out and play the game.
So we tried to move to a centers approach in physical education and we were lucky
that, I forget his name now, it will probably come up and if you haven't
interviewed Susan Cameron at Westwood..."
Jean: No, I haven't.
Crys: "Susan, was involved and so was Jeff Jones. Jeff Jones probably first. They
came to Mebane and were, at least for four years Mebane had a middle school program
in physical education that no one in the state compared to. Little by little
though we have gotten away from that and it is back to almost the same kind of
program you find in the high schools. The big disadvantage all youngsters in
middle school have is teachers are all trained in elementary or secondary and
they get caught in the middle."
Jean: That is another question Paul and I were interested in. Do you feel like there
was a preference, or as a person working with middle schools in the very beginning
do you feel like teachers were, there was an easier adjustment for teachers who
had been trained elementary than for secondary or vice versa.. Do you feel like
that had anything to do with it?
Crys: "We felt like with what we were starting with, we already had teachers on board,
good teachers, and we felt like teachers learn from teachers and the reason we
organized for teaming was so teachers could teach teachers. We felt like we
needed both. We needed a team that had elementary and secondary teachers on it.
Looking at the team planning, what we Started out doing was having the academic
teachers all teach the students so you could have flexibility in grouping. We
felt like there are times you need to teach 30 youngsters and then there are times
you need to split them up into groups of eight or ten. Then we felt like there
were other times you need tutorial. We felt like if you had four teachers
working together, those four teachers, one could take 120 for a large group
presentation and why have four teachers at the eighth grade level teach the same
things and show the same films when you could take 120 youngsters into a large
team teaching area and let one do the presentation. They had a lot of that going
on here one year with the Humanities program. But 1 can be doing a presentation
with 120 while someone else has 10 over here and 20 over here. It worked at
Spring Hill and at Mebane. The first two years that we worked with the team
teaching, we could not find anyone at the University who could teach us how to
team. That is how we got involved with Kettering Foundation. We used their
elementary model knowing that they were developing a secondary model. What we
found at those two schools was, as long as we had people who had been in the
school, who were committed to the middle school aspect of it, that the team
Jean: It didn't matter whether their background was elementary or secondary if they
Crys: "It worked as long as we were able to schedule so that we had at least a
block of time every day that the team could plan together. I saw some excellent
instruction going on. I saw youngsters doing a lot of independent work in
learning centers. When you went into a classroom there was no question about
what was going on. You could tell by the centers and by what the teachers and
students were doing. The exemplary program was at Spring Hill, under the
leadership of Tom Diedeman, because they had a Principal who was in on it from
the ground floor. We had to go to Ohio for three weeks, ten of us, and demonstrate
in a workshop that we could team teach and that we could imdividualize instruction."
Jean: I knew Tom had gone. You went to Dayton too?
Crys: "I took the group. There were ten of us. We took a guidance counselor, we
took the two Principals at Mebane, myself, and two other county staff people
and the rest of them were teachers."
Jean: Now is this the time when Tom went, when the Principals went? This was a
Crys: "This was a separate time."
Jean: I didn't know about that. When was that?
Crys: "That was the first...Let's see, we were court ordered to change over in
January, 1970. We had a week to change the schools. In the summer of 1970 we
went to Dayton for that workshop."
Jean: Was that when you were the middle school director?
Crys: "I was the elementary supervisor at that time."
Jean: I know you were middle school director somewhere in there? When were those
years? Do you remember the dates on that?
Crys: "Well, we organized the schools in Gainesville in 1972 and so it was 1972 when
we took the middle school Principals and it was mostly Principals who did those
workshops. Joe Wood went, Bill Cake went,..."
Jean: John Spindler?
Crys: "John never got involved in..."
Jean: I thought he was.
Crys: "I don't think so."
Jean: Tom Diedeman also said Dan Boyd went, as a high school person.
Crys: "I took Dan Boyd and I took Margaret Rosenberger, we wanted anelementary and a
Jean: Was that when you were middle school director?
Crys: "I'm not sure I had decided that I would be middle school directory then or
not. Probably about that time. It could havebeen before or after."
Jean: How long were you middle school director? Was it two or three years?
Crys: "I would have to t&nk back. Probably 1970, probably, at least three years,
and then they cut the position."
Jean: That was another thing I was interested in. I know from talking to Dr. Alexander ,
one of his strong beliefs was that if from the very beginning of middle schools
and all through the time up to and including now, if there had been someone who
had middle school interest, it would have been better. Do you know, was it a
money factor? Or reorganization or what?
Crys: "I think it was political--I think by then we had a Superintendent who was more
a business manager tbn he was a curriculum person."
Jean: Was that Sickles or was that Longstreth?
Crys: "It was Longstreth. I also think that when the schools over here were
organized and thepeople who weren't really committed, even though we had tried with
workshops to get people committed, I think as school board members heard complaints,
whether they were valid or not. You know the one gripe I have with some of the
Superintendents we have had is they hear a complaint and they don't follow up to
see if it is a valid one or not. Sickles tried, I think, a little bit harder
than some of the others. If he had a complaint he at least called and let you
know about it. But with, during Longstreth's time I'm not sure that and I'm
pretty sure while this Superintendent is here, that you may or may not know, and
nobody is going to call and tell when things are going great.
Another thing that would have helped middle school movement is, I'm not
sure that any of the elementary schools or any of the secondary schools'personnel
ever plugged into the movement. Even though we tried. The last thing about it,
see, when I first started I was elementary supervisor and I took the two middle
schools in that part of the county as extra responsibilities because I was that
interested and that concerned about what happens with this age child. That came
from being a curriculum assistant in an elementary school and seeing the sixth
graders who needed more than what we were able to offer at the elementary school.
I went into it with a commitment to try to change things to help children and I
think we did for awhile."
Jean: Why do you think that changed?
Crys: "Again I think it was leadership from the top. As leadership changed there
was a different idea about, about schooling. Another problem with middle school
movement is it was a grass roots movement. The state department still sees the
two divisions, K-6 and 7-12."
Jean: I have fought that with textbooks and everything else. I think that is
beginning to change now but it is certainly ever so slowly.
Crys: "What they told us was that when we got more schools involved then they may do
Jean: imagine if Dade County ever goes to it, I don't think they still have middle
Crys: "At one time they had one."
Jean: Yes, that was after that institute, that year long institute. When Jack
Christian, somebody went back and set up a middle school.
Crys: "Trecheck or something?"
Jean: Yes, something like that. Went back and did one.
Crys: "There is a dissertation over there...."
Jean: I don't know if that one school is still there.
Crys: "You could look in a directory."
Jean: What do you think it was about the middle schools, I know that there was the
plan for desegregation and that it was...You don't know what court that came
from do you?
Crys: "It was a district court and I think it was maybe the fifth district."
Jean: Someone is trying to help me get a copy of that and he wasn't sure and I
didn't know what court. I wasn't concerned with the court part at all. Well, I
know from you and from a number of people that that is one of the reasons middle
schools were founded here, what was it about the middle school that they thought
would help in desegregation? Why was the middle school movement tied in with the
Crys: "I think the desegregation was one thing and the facilities we had to accommodate
students was another. But I think the idea of having either K-4, 5-8, and 9-12
schools was tied to more information we had, at that time, about growth and
development of the pre-adolescent. So, I think it was all tied in to--I think
the fact that we wanted to do something different for the youngster, and we had to
integrate anyway, and in looking at those two aspects we saw no reason why we
couldn't pull both of them off."
Jean: So the idea of improving things for the adolescent was really more important
than the desegregation.
Crys: "I think so. Another thing is we had the strong commitment to change schooling
for those youngsters. We didn't want to reorganize in name only, which is what
is happening some places. That is why we said we want to individualize to a
greater degree and we think we can do it with team teaching. Therefore the
emphasis shall be on a process for learning how to team teach. That is why, as we
organized different workshops, we wanted some county staff, we wanted some
Principals, we wanted some teachers, in other words we wanted cross sectional
groups. We conducted a workshop here (Bishop) one summer and we conducted one
at Westwood. I think we spent like maybe six weeks or four weeks, I can't
remember now. Anyway we had a summer school at Westwood that involved a nucleus
group of teachers at Westwood, and some county staff people and some Principals.
Then we came over here (Bishop) and did another summer school and I'm remembering
that Paul was included."
Jean: When was that? Do you remember what year?
Crys: "It was either 1972 or 1973. It will depend on when he came. He wasn't on
board when we did that first workshop."
Jean: I have that in my notes but I don't remember exactly. It was after that year
Crys: "That was in 1965 or 1966. I can kind of remember when Dr. Alexander interviewed
for someone. And I think it was after we had organized Mebane and Spring Hill.
We brought a group from around the country and did a workshop at Spring Hill about
the second year, about 1971, that is the one Paul went through. I remember now
John Spindler did go to that Dayton Workshop."
Jean: That was the first one?
Crys: "No, the first one, ten of us went."
Jean: Oh, I thought the Principals went before Tom Diedeman did Spring Hill.
Crys: "No, we did, we organized, and this is in that article that was published in the
Jean: Yes, you sent me a copy of that.
Crys: "We organized the schools in January of 1970--the two middle schools in the
northwest part of the county. Then we went to, we took ten people that summer
and then I can't remember when we took the Principals--that included an elementary
and a high school one."
Jean: I have those dates in all my notes. Another thing several people have talked
about, from Jack Christian to several others is how in the beginning, and I have
talked to Kathy Shewey about this, there was a big commitment in the early part
and then someone used the phrase, backed off, that the county backed off. Why
do you think this happened or can you explain this backing off?
Crys: "I think it had to do with pressure from people who resist change and even
though we did a lot of trying to communicate what we were doing. And I think it had
to do with people who just did not have a commitment to this level of schooling."
Jean: Do you think it was more the public reaction, parental kind of thing, than it was
internal with teachers? Was the pressure coming from educators or non-educators?
Crys: "I don't think there was that much pressure from the community really. I think
a few peopel got to some board members, and I think a few teachers got to board
members. I think that if, again, if there had been a desire to check things out,
and do some problem solving. I think there was one situation where in the second
language area or foreign language area there was one teacher, and maybe others, who
felt threatened because we looked at doing an exploratory kind of language program
instead of a year long program and we looked at having all youngsters have an
an opportunity to have some language before they got to the high school. Hoping
by that kind of exposure, that at the high school level they would all elect
instead of being told they had to take one. We wanted them to elect to take a
language. I think that we are back to one year language at the eighth grade
level now because it has come to us from the state. We weren't resistant to
the eighth grade but we wanted even sixth graders and seventh graders. Actually
there is enough research to tell tou that in order to profit from a foreign
language he should get it much earlier. Adn in school it would need to be at
least at the third grade level, if not sooner.
We were looking at the special interests and we wanted them to have some
language, some vocational courses, some Humanities types things, even exploratory
band. We said lets put them in all for at least six seeks, or eight weeks or
twelve weeks, and then if they don't like it at least they have had an opportunity
to try a musical instrument or general music. We were looking at opening things
up so youngsters would have more experiences so they would be able to make choices
at the high school level and later in life."
Jean: This just went on for a couple of years and then that was changed?
Crys: "No, we, I'd say 1970 and 1971 at Mebane and Spring Hill and then 1972, 1973.
I think probably until about 1975."
Jean: When did you go to Mebane?
Crys: "I went to Mebane about 1978 or 1979."
Jean: You were the middle school director all that time in the interim?
Crys: "No, I was. I came over here (Bishop) at the end of one year to help re-schedule..
That was probably 1975. Then I went to Duval for two years."
Jean: What were you doing at Duval?
Jean: I didn't remember that. I didn't know you were there. Then you went from Duval
to Mebane? When they had this "backing off" period, what programs were changed?
I know Jack used that term "backing off." Do you remember specific programs that
they "backed off" from?
Crys: "I remember one thing in particular. We had a report card committee, at the
elementary level, at the middle level and at the secondary level. The report
card that the middle school committee came up with called for using a different
grading code from the elementary or the secondary. I think the backing off
started, once the committees were finished, this was in the spring of the year,
I took our committee proposal to the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum."
Jean: That was Jack?
Crys: "Well, I don't want to use too many names here."
Jean: Oh, O.K.
Crys: (beginning of other side of tape--a couple of sentences were lost in the change
over) Nothing was taken to the board, which it should have been. We had already
had our report cards all printed. It was like within a week or so of the first
six weeks and somebody got to a school board member, who then brought it to the
Superintendent, and just like this (snapped fingers) there was an arbitrary
decision that the middle school code would be changed. Actually there were four
report cards; there was a K-3, a 5-5 or 6, the middle school one and then the
secondary. This could have been resolved in a different way than what it was.
That was one of the first indications that the district was not supportive.
Then another thing I was told several times quote, unquote, "your middle
schools are in trouble." Your middle schools. So I felt like at that time,
here I was, it bothered me but I continued to try to do what I thought was good
for children. That I think is one of the first things that indicated that there
was not the support at the district level. There was an arbitrary decision,
without pulling the committees together. The committees could have gotten
together and resolved it. We had from like March through August that we could
have done that. Why the report cards were not taken to the board I'll never
understand and never know. That was the first indication that there was some
backing off. I doubt that too many people know that that was one incident."
Jean: Sure. tou would have had to be a participant in that to realize that was
going on. I knew nothing about that. Do you feel then that the position of
Superintendent, in regard to middle school and the commitment, that the position
evaluation system developed at Mebane. There was a committee formed to evaluate--
was Paul George on that? County five year review was based on this evaluation.
There was great resistance at Westwood. There was a mandate from county
(Jack???) to stop multi-age group when curriculum committee came up with it.
Crys came up with a project at Ft. Clarke on cognitive type mapping. Check
Crys' dissertation for more about this.
January 1970, court order, Fifth District Court. Dayton, 1970.
Crys: "Mebane stayed between 400 and 500 and Spring Hill was about 260 to 350."
Jean: That is another thing I was interested in, do you think that size is a big
Crys: "No, because we said that a middle school ought not to be more than a 1,000
student population and we have maintained, except for a couple of times at
Ft. Clarke, we have maintained right around 900 to 1,000."
Jean: We have more than 1,000 right now. Not too much more but we are above that.
I just wondered whether in scheduling and making out those kinds of things,
those are some complaints I have heard from teachers, that administrators, we
have some now who aren't middle school trained. Administrators have told teachers
they couldn't schedule with so few or too many or something like that. I felt
like that was probably not true but I don't know.
Crys: "I don't t&nk it is true. John Neller, talk about John, he is the one that
helped me the most with scheduling. But what you do is you put 150 or however many
on a team and for the academic part you do that scheduling. Once you have that
together, well I helped do the scheduling over here before I left last summer.
I had been doing it at Mebane on a computer for, well again I worked with John.
I think the first summer I went over there we hand scheduled. But then that next
year I figured out a way to organize the teams and get those schedules back by
teams. I don't think the scheduling is the problem.
Again, within the team, 4 or 5 teachers can do some re-scheduling within
the team much easier than you can do some re-scheduling for the whole school."
Jean: I know we have now, I don't know if you know that all schools are required to
do something called FAME. It is essentially like A/A. It is called Finding
Acceptance in the Middle School Environment. We have one FAME class per week.
We have some people who complain, I have heard some teachers at my school complain
and I have heard other teachers in the county complain and I have heard some
people who really like it. The county has given us a book with a lot of
information..... (end of tape)
There was more for a few more minutes on PIC as used by Crys, team advantages,
been when John was there, no, it couldn't have been. It was when, Joe Hightower
followed John and Joe Hightower had had nothing to do with middle school. When
I got there it was already departmentalized. So what we had in essence, we
were organized for teaming but we broke out of the regular schedule every now
and then and did some team teaching. That was alright too, I don't think you
have to team teach everything.
One of the things we learned was at the seventh and eighth grade level, in
particular, you have to have trained math and science teachers. I think up until
the seventh and eighth grade anybody nearly can teach any other subject. Because
you could teach science if you wanted to but you might not be able to do some of
the experiments that you get into when you get into chemistry in the eighth grade.
So I think except for the eighth grade you could have had a two teacher team.
Language Arts could have worked with social studies and math and science could
have worked together. But I think the thing we were doing with multi-age
grouping, where teachers have youngsters for more than one year, and what we
said in the beginning was if there was a personality clash, admit it and ask
that that youngster be transferred to another team. So there was always the
flexibility to move youngsters to another team if there was a problem on that
team. I think having youngsters three years the teachers were able to indivi-
dualize because they had the time they needed to get to know those youngsters."
Jean: The same teachers had the same students the three years?
Crys: "Yes, and I don't think you have to have A/A every day. But I think sometime
during the week these youngsters need a chance to sit down with somebody they
trust at school and talk over whatever they need to talk over. It may be, it
may get to be a chore having it every day, but I don't think it has to be every
day. I also think you can do the same thing in a regular class. But I think
youngsters need a chance every now and then to do something different kt school."
Jean: Mebane and Spripg Hill were smaller populations than the schools in town, were
they not? What was the population at Mebane when you were there? Do you
and interests of those youngsters. Buddy, we had it there for awhile. We
I think this faculty here (Bishop) was one of the most receptive groups--
the nucleus group that I worked with. I think this generally of what I know
of the teachers and what I saw here last summer, I think there is a strong
commitment here at this school. I think there was a time, and I hope this
is not being recorded, that the administrators held the teachers back in this
school from implementing middle school ideas."
Jean: Well, I think we had administrators several times, I know with Chuck he had
said one time, no, it was John Neller who told me one time about high school,
I was a good man in the number two position but I wasn't the right choice for the
number one position. He wanted out over at Gainesville High. I think that is
a good evaluation of Chuck. He was the good number two man but the number two
man is not always the one to be number one.
Crys: "Where we got the most fight in middle school movement was, do you have to
keep that thing on?" (I turned it off for a few minutes. The conversation
was in reference to the school board member Bob Howe's wife, foreign language
teacher at Westwood, who did not want to teach her language course other than
the way she had been doing. Great resistance there and the other teachers at
"Bill Cake had some strong middle school people and this school was strong."
Jean: Well, you know that was one thing about Bill. He was able to choose his faculty
and I know that was one thhg about Tom. Now I know you weren't when you went to
Mebane but when Mebane started at the middle school, who was the Principal there
when it first started?
Crys: "Lymus Burgess and he died."
Jean: Was he able to pull in his group or get people he wanted?
Crys: "Art Spencer was. But you see Art and Lymus they went with us. We visited
a lot of different middle schools in Dayton and Maryland and other places.
Lymus and Art held Mebane and then when John was there, I think it might have
feels secure, feels like he has a friend, feels like he belongs that he is not
going to do much academic. Doing the interpersonal, we called it the fourth R,
but doing the A/A kinds of activities are probably the main thing that some
teachers didn't want to do. I don't understand because my background is
elementary and I think you have to know the students before you can teach them."
Jean: Do you feel like most of that resistance to A/A was from secondary trained
Crys: "I think it was, we didn't have a problem at Mebane and Spring Hill. But I
think we had the Hawthorne effect there as they were at the beginning of something
that was a movement across the country. We knew how we wanted to do it and we
were providing the help to do it. I think as we got to the schools here in town
where there were ore, remember when we started Mebane and Spring Hill, and with
the teachers in that part of the county, we had just about as many elementary
teachers as we had secondary. When we got over here in town we ended up with
more secondary teachers. It was more secondary than elementary in any school.
What it amounted to was another preparation in the eyes of the teacher. Again
in the eyes of those who have been used to working with elementary unless you
know a youngster it is hard toteach him."
Jean: It is hard to make the other preparations.
Crys: "What has always amazed me is how you can teach at the secondary level and not
know what reading level youngsters are. That is not that hard to get from the
files but very few people do it. One of the things I did as a supervisor was assist
teachers in doing those kinds of things. I thought by showing what benefits could
be gained by knowing here is a group of youngsters in this class of 30 and 3 of them
are on third grade level and I know that I can't say read chapter 6 and answer the
questions to tbse. I hae to use a pairing system or something or have something on
tape and let them read. You always have some good youngsters who can do the
taping. Those are the kinds of little nitty gritty things we got into. We
didn't start a unit of instruction unless we knew that this particular group
had certain kinds of skills and nee ed certain kinds of skills. I don't think we
are ever going to make a difference in education until we center in on those needs
you are with this new bill that is in the state legislature, the PRIME bill,
that has to do with middle school, just like the RAISE bill had to do with the
high schools. This year we are undergoing the Southern Association Accreditation
process and that makes us more, that has more demands on making us more alike
than we are different. That is one of the things I have been interested in.
The decentralization did allow the unique individualness of each school to become
what it was.
Crys: "We are more alike than we are different, but we should have enough flexibility
so that if there are some differences in a school, and in a student population,
that you can adjust for that."
Jean: I don't know if we have that, being mainly associated with this school, do you
know if we have that?
Crys: "For the mot part, I think Principals are more or less told what units they
will have. I don't think there is any flexibility and I don't think there has
been for the last three or four years."
Jean: Is a lot of that coming from the state, as well as from the county?
Crys: "I think with State Assessment and the way they categorize the state funds and
the way you have to account for different programs that part of it is the state.
But I feel we were doing a lot of what is happening now to help individual
youngsters. I think we were doing it before we had these special programs. Again
I think we were doing things with the team teaching process that allowed for the
small group, the tutorial, the flexibility to help youngsters. In other words I'm
not sure it takes more money and more people and more space to do some of the
things that I know we did without the more money, more teachers and more space.
I think we made more efficient use of our time and our resources."
Jean: You had a commitment. In middle school how essential do you feel some of these
things are that you read in the literature about--grade level teaming, exploratory
emphasis, A/A, being a transition process for teachers--high school and elementary--
how vital do you think some of these are or would you prioritize them in value?
Crys: "I would put the interpersonal relationships, for this age group, as the
number one before you even talk about academics. I think that until a youngster
caused those funds, may e a little backing off, but then as the union got more
powerful around the state and the teacher council was changed to the teacher
center idea, then in essence that has almost eliminated the monies. A lot comes
to the county. Not that much came to the school when I was Principal at Mebane.
I really don't know whether or not there is a lot of money that the district can
use. But there were some changes that came in there about the time the union
got strong. That was in the mid-1970's too."
Jean: Then CREATE, I don't know when that switch was.
Crys: "I would say 1976 or 1977. Faye Cake could tell you that. She was the first
director and she has been in that position a number of years."
Jean: What effect do you think decentralization had on the middle school movement?
Was that a problem or a help?
Crys: "I think that was a help."
Jean: In all the schools?
Crys: "Well, I think in the schools that had a commitment, or that had ideas of ways
to allocate resources. In essence what the desegregation said to us is that you
will have a guidance counselor, you will have a media specialist, you will have
a Principal and an Assistant Principal and then overall we were allowed to say I
would like to buy this many teachers and this many aides. I think that I can
provide the kind of program. In other schools the Principals said I'm going to
spend all the money on teachers. We had about four givens that was having a
Principal, an Assistant Principal, a guidance counselor and a media specialist..
Everything else was up to the individual school. A Principal might decide that
he would have a half time Latin teacher and a half time...."
Jean: Even curriculum kinds of things, right?
Crys: "Yes, even curriculum things. We didn't just do it without consulting someone
but generally all the schools were able to take those resources and with their
own imagination, provide more for the youngsters than when somebody at the county
level said you will have this, this and this. We are back to centralized, as you
know, with this new Superintendent. Even to interviewing and hiring teachers."
Jean: A lot of the things that aren't centralized from them I don't know how familiar
two teachers, probably three, I don't remember the make-up now. I would have to
give it some more thought. Anyway It was a cross-sectional group. We met every
so often and established goals and objectives and procedures for doing certain
things. We tried to have some kind of sharing, where teachers met every so
often, at least once a year and maybe twice a year. We shared activities and
ideas and curriculum materials."
Jean: Was that successful? The league?
Crys: "Every school, every person, there was a representative from each of the six
middle schools. When they went back to their schools, they had time during a
faculty meeting where they told what was happening and what the planning was.
In other words, they got feedback and they solicited input. I'm remembering
we met, if not every other week, then monthly. Along with those curriculum
committees. Most of the work I did was with curriculum committees with the
league of middle schools and with individual teachers."
Jean: Well, the local league of middle schools sort of ceased to exist after awhile?
Crys: "It ceased to exist as soon as I, as soon as the middle school director's
position was ended."
Jean: That is one thing Kathy Shewey and I have talked about. You might be interested
to know that several of us in social studies started a middle school social
studies council and we meet together once a month. We have been pretty successful
but have floundered this year particularly because by the time we get out of
school it is too late to go anywhere and have a meeting.
Training or lack of it has cropped up in your answers, teachers' answers,
everyone's, whether there was district support for it, even up to right now.
Do you think that training has been a vital issue and of vital importance,
negatively or positively, by teachers and administrators?
Crys: "I think as long as I had some money, and as long as Principals would dip
into their money, that we had adequate training. Not desirable, but adequate.
Again as people began to back off at the district level and really weren't that
supportive of what we were tryING TO DO, THOSE FUNDS WERE, I think two things
and who held it was a really big decisive factor in the progress or lack of
progress in middle school?
Crys: "Well, I think again, when the position of middle school director was cut
that was an indication, and they went back to an elementary and secondary
Jean: Why did they do that? You said that was politics?
Crys: "I don't know. I don't know if it was the Superintendent doing it or who?
That to me indicated that the Superintendent was not interested. What happened
was, one of the reasons I was finally asked to go to Mebane was a group from
Alachua came over there and met in an open board meeting, made a comment that
they had had no help from the county office since Crys Compton had left the
I was able to release teachers during the school day and develop units of
instruction, including pre-assessments, post-assessments and instructional
strategies, that helped make a difference for youngsters. I spent quite a bit
of time with Bob Hargrave, who was vocational teacher at Mebane at that time,
and Bob worked hard developing objectives and a program for the middle school
level. Vocational Agriculture and working with another teacher, Ron Mullinax,
in developing an industrial arts program for the middle level of school. We
had strong curriculum committees that were making a difference. Those committees
were made up of teachers. It is like I say, it was in the day when the monies
coming from the state, the district had so much money and the way I spent my
money was releasing teachers to do the work. I felt like we didn't need to
bring in many high powered consultants. We had teachers, given the time, who
could do it."
Jean: You were able to decide how you wanted to use the money you had. These decisions
were not imposed on you?
Crys: "I had a district committee that, no Wendall Kilpatrick said, Crys, you have
so much money to spend. I had what I called my league. See, I started the
league of middle schools in the county befbrZ thare was; league of middle schools
in the state. I had a league of middle schools that included two administrators,