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Bill Cake Interview--Ft. Clarke
1. What has been your educational training and experience?
Cake: "Oh gosh, up until the time I went to Ft. Clarke I had been a teacher for
six years, teaching uh vocational agriculture in three junior high schools.
Uh then I uh transferred to Newberry where I was Assistant Principal for
four years, when Newberry was K-12th grade. During that time we uh grew
tremendously, we also integrated and we built a new school here at Newberry.
Uh was then assigned the Principalship of a yet to be built middle school in
the Northwest of Gainesville. And at the same time was assigned to a vacant
position as vocational director for Alachua County school system and during
that interim year we planned the school, we furnished the school, we built
the school and I interviewed and hired all the personnel for that school.
The last part of that particular year, just prior to the school being
finished, I was uh appointed full time as Principal and a new person came in
as vocational director so I had the luxury of having spent a full year
getting the school ready and then the last part of that year 100% of my
time was Principal of that school."
2. Why, in your opinion, did the middle schools develop in Alachua County?
Cake: "Well, I think historically middle schools resulted after the uh integration
and especially in Florida, but not necessarily because of integration but
because facilities had to either be abandoned or a change of focus made.
And uh in Alachua County we were having to go into a building program
where two new high schools were being built--uh Eastside and Buchholz--and
those schools were on double sessions at the time and uh had a, let's see,
the 7th and 8th grades were part of those schools at the time and then
when those high schools were built they could more easily go to a middle
school porgram utilizing some facilities that would have been left vacant
and not have to build some elementary schools. In other words if we could
use old Lincoln High School as a middle school site thereby busing in students,
white students into a black neighborhood, rather than have the school sit
idle, if we could incorporate the sixth grade from all city elementary schools
into a Lincoln Middle School, a Westwood Middle School, a Howard Bishop
"Middle School and a Ft. Clarke Middle School then they would not have to
S build a new elementary school. So to say it was integration really does not
state it accurately. Integration I think helped us make some decisions that
uh were easily, more easily made. I think there was a,just living in a
University community, uh where there was a Bill Alexander, was espousing a
middle school and many other of the educational leaders in this community were
attending the University and some of these classes and being exposed to Bill
Alexander, Paul George sort of came on the scene a little later, but was
really just beginning and had not made a name for himself at that time, so
it was Bill Alexander. So a combination of integration, Bill Alexander,
former all black high school that would have sat vacant with no use at all,
uh elementary schools that were uh bulging at the seams and needing to move
a grade out or having new elementary school built, so we built a new middle
school and uh course we had already integrated, oh I guess three years prior
to that time. When we did integrate it closed Lincoln High School as a high
school and made it oh I guess a voactional technical center but a lot of
things combined there to throw us into a middle school."
Jean: Why do you think that Newberry and Hawthorne did not develop the middle
school concept, why did they not go to the middle school program like the
Cake: "Well at the time they were uh K-12 program. There was not a need for a new
facility at the time. When there became a need for a new facility it needed
to be an elementary facility and uh in the case of Hawthorne they just moved
to the all back school, which was Shell Elementary. And at Newberry, they
had Archer Elementary and they just built a new Newberry Elementary so there
was more of a need to build an elementary facility rather than a middle
school facility. If you had built a middle school facility you would still
have had to have some place for the elementary to go. So, it was sheer
numbers that has kept us from having a middle school at those two schools.
I think you need to not lose sight of the fact that one reason we needed a
middle school period was because we weren't doing enough in the area of
exploration or in depth academic study for sixth grade, seventh grade,
eighth grade and when you left seventh and eighth grade in Newberry High
School and Hawthorne High School you could take advantage of the vocational
programs that were being offered. You just piggybacked on the vocational
and the uh guidance, and the music, and the art--some of those things that
a lot of middle schools didn't even have good programs there. So to even
think that a Newberry or a Hawthorne is without or has been without a middle
school program, people just don't know the facts. They would have to come
in and look at the schools. I would say there has been a sort of a middle
school program at those schools longer than there has been in Gainesville.
'Cause those grades were here."
Jean: Just doesn't have the name.
Cake: "Doesn't have the name or the separation."
3. You talked about how you got your job as a middle school Principal but how
did you first get involved in the idea of the middle school?
Cake: "Good Question. Uh I was working on a Masters degree in uh Administration
and Supervision. I was really getting my degree in uh vocational education
so I could continue to get paid as a vocational teacher. And I was adding
the courses for Administration/Supervision. And I was going summers. And
to get certified in Administration/Supervision in uh, at the secondary level,
you have to take curriculum, and, curriculum courses in secondary education.
Well I signed up for the high school curriculum and the junior high curriculum,
not enough students registered for the junior high curriculum course,I
needed it so opted into a uh, what would you call it, uh a course, problems
course? Is that what we used to call it? Problems course with a uh Dr. uh I
want to say his name was Robert Myer."
Jean: Yes, there is a ..........
Cake: "In the College of Education. And uh I took that course, I guess there was
another fellow that needed that course also Richard Joggle, who was at that
time Principal of the middle school in Starke. It had already been formed.
And uh did a problems course in the junior high curriculum. Well, I had
already been introduced a little bit to the middle school philosophy having
attended P.K. and having taught in a junior high school and wasn't satisfied
at all with the programs in junior high school and so I just designed my
own course, with Dr. Myer's blessing. They were already doing some things
like that in California where he had come from. In fact that year, and this
was in the probably 19, the summer of 1965 or 66, wrote a paper on the
conversion of Alachua County's school system to a middle school/high school
program. I think it was 1965. That was long before we even thought we
would have to go to integration, in other words there were no real reasons
to go to middle school other than this neophyte uh kid out of college
thought that it would have been a better system and I wrote a paper on it
and in that paper it actually broke down the numbers of students and in
what part of town and uh where the schools ought to be built. I have it
tucked away someplace but if you were to get that paper it would show
almost exactly what has happened even down to converting an all black high
school in east Gainesville to a middle school and exactly where the middle
schools were built and this was well before it was even thought we would go
to middle school or integrate."
Jean: That is very interesting.
Cake: "So I, there was, it was just a matter of sitting down and dreaming and
dreams came true."
4. How did you get your job as a middle school Principal? (Question covered
earlier and not asked again.)
5. How long were you, when did you begin your Principalship at Ft. Clarke and
how long were you there? Years?
Cake: "I want to say it was 1971 to 1983."
6. The next question uh tell me about the history of your school, now Ft. Clarke
I know didn't have much of a history until you got there or until it was
built, but you alluded to a little bit of that like why there and why that
Cake: "Uh originally the school board purchased a sight. They knew they would
have to do something with uh numbers when uh they were double sessioning at
Westwood and at Howard Bishop. For instance Eastside and Howard Bishop were
double sessioned schools at Howard Bishop. Westwood and Buchholz were
double sessioned schools at Westwood. So when Eastside was built Eastside
west there and the middle school students stayed at Howard Bishop and went
to Lincoln. And at Westwood the middle school students stayed at Westwood
and went to Ft. Clarke and then Buchholz went to the new site. Uh a site
was purchased originally down on Tower Road and has now been converted to a
new elementary school site, planning being done. But that was the original
site. And for what ever reasons, political or otherwise, and I have some guesses,
but a new site was purchased out on 23rd., past the community college, and
the school was built there."
7. What was your training, you may have covered this one, what was your training
in the middle school philosophy when you became a Principal? Had you been
exposed to the middle school philosophy?
Cake: "Well there was no formal middle school program anywhere in the country that
I am aware of uh that I was aware of at that time. Uh I took that one
curriculum course that I made a middle school course and the state accepted
it as a junior high curriculum course. Uh once they appointed me as a Principal, I
think what they did was look at background. I had been a junior high teacher,
I had been an Assistant Principal in a junior/senior, as well as elementary,
high school. Therefore I had worked with elementary, junior high and high
schoolstudents so that should have been some acceptable background. Uh more
than most people would have had at that time. Uh the summer prior to us
opening the middle school a group of people got together or were assigned
to a class, with Dr. Dill Alexander. Ie met in a back room in the Uestwood
library all one summer. As I recall there were people like Joe Wood who
ended up being the middle school Principal at Uestwood, at the time lie was
the elementary teacher, Principal at Idlywild. There was myself, John
Spindler, who had been appointed the year prior to that as Principal out
at Hebane middle school, Tom Diedeman was with us that year. Gosh, Tom,
John, myself, Joe Wood, I'm not sure if there was anyone from Hawthorne or
Jean: Was Chuck Below there, from Bishop?
Cake: "Chuck Below, yes I think Chuck was a part of that group too. That fall
that same group along with several elementary Principals, maybe one high
school Principal, Dan Boyd, went to Dayton, Ohio with the Kettering
Foundation and spent two weeks working in a school, a team teaching
situation in a middle school in Dayton, Ohio."
..Jean: I have already talked to Tom and he told me all about that. You
participated with that too?
Cake: "Oh yes. I was right in there with them from the beginning. Probably Tom
and I even though Tom was assigned to a middle school earlier, uh he and I
were probably a part of and John Spindler, were all a part of Kettering,
uh the middle school, uh the League of Middle School from its inception uh
in fact uh many years ago FACEA had a middle school department and I was the
representative on the Board of Directors of FACEA for the middle school and
since then they have taken that out, taken it away and you must be either
elementary or secondary."
8. I know that you have already mentioned that you were able to interview and
choose your own faculty. Were you able to totally choose your own faculty
when you became Ft. Clarke's Principal?
9. Do you think that this was helpful? That this improved the climate of your
school and your program?
Cake: "Certainly. I think the one key in any school is the allegiance that the
faculty has to the administrative team, especially the Principal. And I was
able to interview, not only just interview prospective employees, because you
remember most of the employees already had jobs in 5th grade centers, uh as
elementary teachers or in junior high schools or even in high schools. And
uh those teachers could also interview me and try to understand the philosophy
of the middle school and my philosophy and decide whether they wanted to
work in a middle school, or whether they wanted to work for Bill Cake. If you
were sitting here interviewing for a job today at Newberry High School you
would be interviewing for a job and didn't have one or you were in a situation
that was not what you would like and you would like to transfer. So already,
you know, there are two reasons that are not the best for coming to this
school--unemployed or dissatisfied where you are. Very few of the people
that I was interviewing or that came to Ft. Clarke were in that position
where they couldn't be someplace else. They could stay in elementary or
they could move on from junior high school to high school."
Jean: It was a choice on their part as well as on yours.
Cake: "That's right."
10. How much training in middle school did your faculty have when you began this
middle school experience at Ft. Clarke?
Cake: "Uh many of them were either junior high teachers and had therefore worked
with that age level, many were elementary teachers that were in fifth and
sixth grade centers that uh liked elementary or older elementary so there was
some background involved there. That summer prior to moving into Ft. Clarke
all of my team leaders, guidance counselors and Assistant Principals were
employee, oh gosh I want to say it was about a four week summer intensive
workshop, dealing mostly with uh the Kettering materials. Uh gosh what was
Cake: "I.G.E. Using those materials and the training I had received. But I
think for maybe two or three weeks of that all of us---Diedeman, Spindler,
myself and Below were all involved at Howard Bishop in that summer institute
or workshop and then we went to our respective schools, maybe the last week
or something like that."
"11. What are your ideas or beliefs about the early adolescent child?
12. What do you consider the most vital or necessary parts of the middle school
Cake: "Teachers wanting to be at that grade level. That is the improtant thing.
I think another thing is there needs to be an element of caring for kids.
that you would hope all teachers would have at all levels but does not
necessarily exist. I think you would find a lot of teachers at Ft. Clarke
who are there because they like to teach and necessarily because they have
to have a job, although every one of them had to have a job. But they
wanted to be a a place where something new and different was going to happen,
with a new and different group of kids and a new and different faculty and
administration. And that lis appeal to a lot of, to a certain kind of
teacher who is not threatened by change or flexible. Every one of those
teachers knew they were moving into a school without walls. And uh that
in itself brought in a different kind of personality. The traditional
teacher would never have applied to go to that school. When you get a group
of teachers together that are non-traditional and are innovative and
flexible and creative and are not afraid to teach within sight or hearing
of another teacher and you have a different group of people."
13. Should the middle school curriculum differ from the high school or the junior
high curriculum and if so why or why not?
Cake: "Well, I have some philosophical differences there with other middle school
administrators in that I was in a junior high school, I was teaching in a
junior high school, had reasoned through some of these ideas as a result
of my own experiences rather than something I had read in a book or heard
from Dr. Alexander or Paul George. And uh if you look at the real reason
for leaving the junior high it was because we had a wide open list of
courses that looked just like a high school curriculum and you could take
three years of Home Ec and three years of Agriculture and three years of Shop and
three years of Music and on and on and on. The curriculum looked like, just
like the curriculum that was in a high school and as an Ag teacher who was sent the
Science kids that the Science teacher could not put up with, I got the
feeling that Ag was something that was not good enough for high level kids.
It was only good enough for low level kids. Uh and I think the same thing
happened with some of the other vocational teachers or electives. Band
was for the affluent who could afford musical instruments and private lessons.
Art was for those who had had art at home or were from an artsy type family.
And it was my own feeling that if these things are good in society, if they
are things that people ought to be exposed to, then they ought not to have
any choice. And I say that because it is my opinion that a lot of middle
schools in this day and time have gotten to that point where through their
exploratory offerings, offer choices to kids just as we did in the junior
high school and just as we do in a senior high school today. If you will
go back and look at the curriculum of Ft. Clarke Middle School from the
very beginning, I don't know whether they are doing it now or not, I'm not
there, but I developed a series of offerings; Art and Music at the sixth
grade, primarily because we couldn't get vocational funding at the sixth
grade, Home Ec and Agriculture or Home Ec and Health Occupations at seventh
grade, and uh Industrial Arts and Business at the eighth grade. They were
not for six weeks or nine weeks or twelve weeks, they were for a semester
in length and students had no choices. They all took them and when they left
Ft. Clarke Middle School they had all been exposed to those things. Except in
the area of Band, which just by the nature of the animal needed to be a full
year kind of program. But if you look back you will also see that Ft. Clarke
was one of the first schools to go to a seven period day and I went to a
seven period day in order that a Band student who had not had an opportunity to
go to one of those exploratory offerings could elect one or two exploratory
offerings a year because I allowed them to give up uh P.E. one semester
to choose something. So even a Band student after that could select uh an
exploratory offering. Other students were not allowed to select. They were
required to go straight through the whole thing. So from my own point of
view that is what I envisioned a middle school as being. It ought to be
a place where students are introduced to any courses that they might have to make
some choices about when they get into high school. If they want to make
choices, they make those at high school, you don't make those in middle school.
How will a student know whether he is interested in Art if he has never been
in Art to begin with. I required all of them to be in Art and therefore they
were able to make better choices when they got to high school. I did not
discriminate that only boys should be in Industrial Arts, boys and girls were
in Industrial Arts, boys and girls were in Home Ec, boys and girls were in
Agriculture and boys and girls were in Business Occupations. So that I
would hope that every student that left Ft. Clarke when I was there when they
went to high school knew whether or not they wanted to take a course in high
school for a semester or a year and therefore didn't waste their time taking
it. I think it also reflects my high school uh upbringing at P.K. Yonge,
which was a school that was too small to offer a wide variety of exploratory
and vocational type classes and as far as I know still do not do it, and I think
hurt some kids in the long run who may need to be in some hands on type skill
classes to better make vocational or career choices later. And I didn't
have that opportunity at P.K. and I wish I had."
14. To what extent or how do you feel the Central Office has influenced the middle
school movement in Alachua County over the years?
Cake: I think the best thing that happened from the Central Office is that there
was no Central Office back in the beginning years of middle school. The
first year that we started at Ft. Clarke and at Westwood and at Howard Bishop
Middle School we went to a decentralized management where those Principals
had the authority to plan their program, hire their teachers, put kids in
programs where they could make more or less money, uh a lot of decisions were
available at that time that aren't available today. That I wish were but
aren't. We had a lot of flexibility and I think that is probably why you
would see different levels of middle schools in Alachua County and I'm not
sure that is all bad. Uh I think what is bad is that middle school Principals
had been allowed to remain at those schools and therefore that school has always
reflected their philosophy. If you look at it you will see, other than the
move of Harry Conner at Howard Bishop, that uh, oh I guess Westwood has
changed, but Spring Hill and Lincoln have never changed since decentralized
management was put in and then taken away many years later. And those schools
are still very much like they were in the beginning. And the reason I put
so much emphasis on the decentralized management is that those people at the
county level uh I'm thinking particularly of Dr. Christian, uh said you
know you have been trained, you have certain ideas, that is why we put you there
and you decide how the middle school will be in your school. So if anything
it has allowed it to be diverse in Alachua County. If it had been mandated
then I think you would probably have six middle schools that reflect not
the philosophies of the Principals but reflect the philosophy of the county
staff who will have made those initial decisions and those initial decisions
would have been made not from the standpoint of where some new innovative
Principals were coming from but where an administrator was coming from
who went through a more traditional junior high/senior high."
Jean: Naybe even a middle school Principal without some of the exposure to the
Dayton situation and the Kettering information.
Cake: "Yes, you see, uh two of the Principals, three of the Principals in the
middle schools in Gainesville, four of them, never went through the original
middle school training, never went through a middle school apprenticeship.
Now let me back off and point out--Lamar Simmons at Hawthorne Junior Senior
High School never was a part of that original planning, indoctrination,
education, preparation---whatever. Terry Stechmiller, at Mebane, never had that
luxury. Mike Fratella, at Westwood, never had it, Harry Conner at Howard
bishop never had it."
Jean: How about John Middleton, did he have it?
Cake: "John Middleton never had it. The only ones of us that are still around
are John Spindler and myself and Tom Diedeman and I have been pulled out of
the middle school."
Jean: Do you remember dates, or when did decentralization begin in this county
Cake: "Began the year Ft. Clarke opened"
Jean: Now that was under what Superintendent?
Jean: And then it ended.......
Cake: "The Superintendent that built Ft. Clarke and appointed me as Principal."
Jean: Now when did decentralization end? Was it with Sickles or was it with...?
Cake: "Sickles. As long as Longstreth was there we would have always stayed
decentralized. We started the year the Legislature in the State of Florida
mandated that all school systems start going to it. And as far as I know
the only three counties that went to it were Broward, Alachua and Monroe
and Alachua County has pulled off entirely and Broward a little bit but
Nonroe is probably still decentralized management and the legislation
is still on the books."
Jean: Oh, I didn't realize it was mandated by the State.
Jean: I didn't realize that.
15. What do you think are the strengths of the middle school?
Cake: "Well I think the strength that was originally there that there be a lot of
flexibility was probably the strongest point of the middle school. See, I
think that as long as a school can be flexible you can get teachers that are
flexible. I don't know how you feel about your own experiences in middle
school but if you aren't able to be flexible and roll with the punches
you don't even belong with sixth, seventh and eighth graders. And uh I
think that has somewhat been taken away now and most middle schools are seen
as more of a junior high and it probably is because teachers are more comfortable
with that and the administrators they have moved into those schools are more
comfortable with it. Um I think most administrators have to be a little
crazy to like and want to be in a middle school because of all the problems
that are there. Uh I think another strength of the middle school is that it
is a place where you have the option to hire both elementary and secondary
teachers. Uh a secondary teacher that wants to teach younger students
can apply those theories and an elementary teacher that only wants to teach
older ones can apply those theories. This allows you to get a good cross
section. At the high school level there needs to be some people with some
elementary ideas. I think at the elementary school there needs to be some
teachers with some high school ideas."
Jean: That's an interesting thought. I never quite thought of it that way but I
understand exactly what you mean.
Cake: "You have kids nowadays going through elementary school that ought to be
exposed to some math teachers, science teachers, I won't say social studies
but I guess I could include those for the same reason, but it is more
important I think in the science and math, that love higher mathematics,
love higher science and encourage and inspire kids to want to do more. I
think you as a middle school teacher can see kids who came out of an
elementary environment---two of the hardest subjects to teach, maybe that is
not the right word. Two of the subjects that it is hardest to find
elementary teachers who are excited about are math and science. He get kids
coming into middle school who are taught to fear snakes because how many
elementary teachers like snakes. And yet that is the very age that kids need
to turn on to science, need to turn on to math. How many math teachers
are there in elementary school that could teach Algebra or Pre-Algebra to that
little fifth grader whose Daddy is an engineer at the University? lone and so they
sort of tread water for a year or two because they are ahead of everybody
else. Get in middle school and if they don't belong in sixth grade math
but belong in college Algebra you at least have some teachers there who are
trained in higher level mathematics. And the same way with science. So I
think that is a strength, I think another strength of middle school as I see it
is, you're by virture of the fact that the teacher wants to be there, chooses
to be there if they are a good teacher, they don't mind the antsiness of
kids that age or if they do they have relegated themselves to that kind of role
and have learned how to work within it. They have a little bit of uh I
guess you would say they ahve a passion for guidance but don't have the
credentials for it and that helps them. They want to help kids. They
want to deal with kids with problems other than academic and uh it would be
nice if all middle school teachers were like that, some aren't. But I
think that is another strength of middle school in that they are not just
one kind of teachers and one kind of kids. You have kids that are very
much introverted or extroverted--all extremes are in middle school. If we
just had the guidancy kind of teachers then we don't have the, all kinds of
teachers that all kinds of kids need to relate to and I think that is one
thing that has happened to the middle school and I hope the teachers realize
it and administrators realize it that you aren't just looking for that teacher
who can get along with all ages and think like middle school kids because there
need to be some very traditional organized introverted teachers because there
are some very structured introverted kids who need to be able to relate to
that kind of person along with their parents. So the middle school Principal
who thinks if I could only hire the, you know the kind of teacher who wants to
do home base and in class guidance kinds of things and exploratory creative
things---a school full of that kind of teacher may be what some Principals
would call a true middle school but I think it would lack some of the very
personalities that need to realte to some of the extreme personalities of
kids. We are all not like you or I."
Jean: You need a balance in there.
Cake: "You need a balance."
16. What do you think are some of the weaknesses of the middle school?
Cake: "Probably the biggest weakness is traditional administrators and traditional
teachers who shouldn't be there but have no other place to go and no one else to
hire them anyway. It is a shame there isn't a way that that teacher that doesn't
fit would be allowed to get out of it the following year, that came to it just
like anyone else. I think those are two of the weaknesses. I think one
of the biggest weaknesses is the lack of serious funding on the part of the
legislature that recognizes that those students, not just need a lower pupil-
teacher ratio, I think a lot of people see funding, good funding as allowing
for lower pupil-teacher ratio. I don't think so. I think there are some middle
school kids you could put 40 or 50 to a class and come up with lower pupil-
teacher ratios elsewhere in your school. I'm talking about money that will
provide more guidance services for students who are really having a tough
time. Money that provides for more hands on manipulative type materials.
You see I think that a good middle school music program and a good middle
school art program and a good middle school industrial arts or any vocational
program costs twice as much as what it would cost in a high school. You
need to provide the materials for it. And I did. As much as I could under
de-centralized management at Ft. Clarke. Once we went to centralized I
couldn't earn the way we would like to. More media materials for those kids
who don't just learn by listening to a teacher lecture or reading in a book.
Uh middle school is costly and one of the weaknesses I see is that it has
always been the step child of everything that is funded. Some area doesn't
need to be 1.0. If the State had adequately funded all levels then maybe
middle school ought to be at 1.0. If that 1.0 drew good solid funding."
17. We talked about the fact that Ft. Clarke and the other middle schools
developed differently and I think you have discussed why they did that was
my next question, but do you, is there anything else you would like to say
about that before we go on? You talked about that with the management based
that each Principal was allowed to do their own thing.
Cake: "They each had the authority and flexibility and responsibility to develop
our own school. And uh it, that kind of philosophy in itself allows you to
make a mistake and .....(changed to other side of tape)
Talking about the decentralized management that allowed the flexibility to uh
try something new but along with that is the flexibility to fail and try something
new or backup. And I think that is one characteristic of the middle schools
back then. Anyway the thing that happened at Ft. Clarke and I haven't really
seen that much of in the other schools, even Lincoln and Spring Hill, is that
we then evolved, we evolved as a team, a team with some of the same managers
or administrators there, the same guidance, the same team leaders and as we
saw things that did not work, that were part of the original IGE team
teaching model, the original Alexander--George way of doing things in an
interdisciplinary, uh non-graded team focus, uh as those things did not suit
us, we changed. If those mandates were coming from the Central staff we
wouldn't have looked for other answers. We'd have, at that point you point
your finger at those telling you how to do it, and say you're not right.
Rather than us pointing at ourselves and saying let's find a better way to do
it. So Ft. Clarke evolved and I think yhe year I left you could probably
say we were inbetween the ideal or model middle school that Paul George
espouses in a Lincoln or Spring Hill and the old unacceptable junior high
concept which, deservedly or not, I think Howard Bidhop or Westwood looks
more like. Not that Howard Bishop or Westwood hasn't changed over the years
and become, gone more to the middle but in the beginning they were more of
the extreme. And now they have evolved back in the other direction. Probably
because of the nature of the animal that is in it, the nature of the teachers
that uh have come into those schools--a Howard Bishop and a Westwood--uh
remember some of the original teachers in those two schools were the ones that
stayed because of tenure when we went to middle school and they were allowed
to stay they were the most loved, most wanted of all of the teachers in those
original junior high schools. So they stayed. You have a junior high school
until some of those teachers start retiring, or going to high school or deciding
that seventh and eighth graders are not what they used to be. You hear that
all the time. "They just aren't what they used to be." Well I dare say that
isn't true at all. They are exactly the way they used to be, we just kind
of handle them differently. Anyway so as Westwood and Howard Bishop seem
to be evolving more toward the middle Ft. Clarke probably evolved from the
extreme to the middle. And probably has many good positive kinds of things
going for it that we developed ourselves. They weren't something you would read
in a book. You certainly would not read those things in Bill Alexander and
Paul George's books. That first year we had multi-age grouping, we had
interdisciplinary team teaching, we had A/A, we had it all. And it did not
work. Too many people say well that is because of where it was, it was
because we decided to start developing a philosophy and a program for kids
that were in our school and those kids were no different than the kids in
your school, or any other school that has sixth, seventh and eighth grades,
they are all the same. Even the ones in this high school. So we had the
opportunity to change. We felt like we had the flexibility to change and the
responsibility to change andwe did. Wle changed from interdisciplinary teaching
and multi-age grouping to a way that was more traditional because teachers
were getting burned out, could not handle, could not handle the preparations,
could not do an adequate job.with kids, and family at home, trying to do so
much. And ,maybe the idea and philosophy behind multi-age interdiscip linary
team teaching is ideal. But you better have a faculty full of unmarried,
young, resourceful teachers that can handle that kind of thing day in and day
out because it will burn you out fast."
Jean: Or adequate planning time in the school day.
Cake: "That is correct."
Jean: Which you did not have at that time, did you?
Cake: "iope, no planning time whatsoever. So, we evolved and I think we
evolved into a school that most of the teachers there would say this is the
way it ought to be. I would say most, because there is still, and even the
day I left, there was still a group of teachers, without any discouragement
from me, that wanted to have an A/A program. And my philosophy about an A/A
program, I think most people know about it, is that there are teachers in that
school, or in any school, that cannot handle A/A. They cannot deal with kids
that have problems, uh and we need those teachers, as I mentioned before. And
I don't want 25 kids assigned to them that have to get affective education
only from them. I want the Jean McCalls, and Sandra Coburns and Barbara
winters to be able to do A/A with every kid they've got whenever it's necessary
in all their classes at whatever time of the day, not when a bell sounds and
everybody knows we now go to A/A for 20 minutes. And I fought it, not so much
fought it, I tried to make them aware of why I felt that way and could they come
up with a better way of incorporating those non-affective kinds of teachers
into a good A/A program without some kids not getting a good shake. And uh,
you know we talked about it a lot, and I think what we ended up doing was that
those teachers who could do that kind of thing well did it and we did a lot of
team kinds of activities for kids and with kids and about kids that helped
with the kind of important part of education."
Jean: I think you have covered a lot of that with team rather than an individual...
Cake: "That is exactly right. That is exactly right. Every school has 1/4
of their teachers that in no way at all do they need to be handling my
students, my child in affective education. Now you give me a school full of
Dot Thomases, Tom Diedemans and Bill Cakes and Jean McCalls and I'll have
the finest A/A program and everybody will be feeling good about themselves.
And when they to they'll do a better job of learning. But until that day comes,
it isn't going to happen."
18. Vie talked about the next question I think, we have just been talking about
how the school, your school's program, changed over the years, how and why,
but I think you have covered that unless there is something else you would
like to say about it?
Cake: "No, the changes that we made we made because we wanted to make them and we
thought they were necessary not because somebody else said they had to be
19. WIhat would be the advice you would give to schools that were now beginning
Cake: "Oh I would hope that administrators would be hired in advance, a building
constructed for the type of program that they wanted in the school, the Principal
was given the flexibility to hire teachers that wanted to be there and that
he thought would fill all of the needs in that school. Uh the management team
and I'm including Assistant Principals as well as guidance, that those people
were in on the planning from the beginning---the philosophical background.
Media people I would include in that. I think there needs to be a different
kind of media philosophy in the middle school. Uh there just be some good
prior planning. That a program not be dictated or mandated that those people
did not believe in and that they were allowed to, within certain guidelines,
you see I still think it is important that a school board say kids in middle
school are going to get these porgrams. low how you deliver it and by whom
and for how long, that is a different matter. But I think a Board has an
obligation to set minimum standards for all schools whether it is elementary,
middle or high school. And if that is given and then the school has the flexibi-
lity to do something about it, and have the opportunity to fail, like we did,
then you can have a better school in the long run. Some of the best kids that
ever came through a school system in Alachua County were those that were at
Ft. Clarke back when it was thought we didn't really know what we were doing
and we would sit around and talk about it a lot, and vwe didn't have enough
seats and certified teachers weren't teaching in their areas and those kids
became very flexibile themselves and did a lot better job later on even in
20. To what do you attribute the exemplary or non-exemplary nature of the middle
school you have been associated with? (skipped or answered elsewhere)
21. How would you explain why the middle school movement in Alachua County took the
course it has taken? (skipped--answered elsewhere)
22. You have changed from a middle school Principal to a high school Principal.
Was this a decision that you would have made by yourself or was this.......?
Cake: "Certainly not but it wasn't because I wouldn't have wanted to come here.
It is the same reason most teachers like where they are---it is comfortable,
they have gotten used to it and used to the people around them adn the people
around them have gotten used to me. I didn't have to work very hard."
Jean: You had picked your group, it was, I imagine, sort of hard to leave your
hand picked group.
Cake: "It was a family. We had teachers there who had, including myself, who had
gone through births, divorces and remarriages and we had become a family, a
support group for everybody there and of course I would hope any school could
do that but that school especially had that."
Jean: I think those are the kinds of things that you build up over the years too.
You can't just walk right into something like that.
Cake: "That's right. Well a faculty member has to be happy and comfortable and
when they are not then somebody else has to pick up the pieces and help and I
think they did a lot of that at Ft. Clarke and I would hope any school could
get to that point. Uh I wasn't given a choice at all about being transferred.
They may not have felt they had a whole lot of choice as to who they would
move to Newberry, but I think down the road uh when the middle school is
separated from the high school at this site, whether or not as a new high
school or new middle school, it is still, I think, at that point people who
have questions as to why Bill Cake was sent to Newberry will probably end up
seeing. A new middle school philosophy has to be developed at this site.
We have Imiddle school kids here. We are going to have to take the sixth
grade out of the elementary within the next two years. Some choices are
going to have to be made as to what elementary teachers will go to that
middle school and what secondary teachers. Almost exactly the same thing
that happened twelve years ago, only from a different perspective, is going to
have to happen in this community and the one that had to make that happen
twelve years ago is back to try to make for a smooth transition in two years.
Uh it hasn't been said to me exactly like that but I think that is something
that will be expected. As I sit here scheduling kids for next year and I have
to look at what teachers ought to be working with those seventh and eighth
graders that might move on to middle school two years from now. What guidance
counselors do I hire? What Assistant Principals do I get ready?"
Jean: Very complicated.
Cake: "Without even knowing myself which school I might be in if I'm even in Alachua
23. How do you think the middle schools in Alachua County could be improved?
Cake: "I think the biggest improvement would be for some sort of sharing of ideas
to take place between teachers. I think middle school Principals do a lot of
sharing, a lot of crying on the shoulders of each other, they know what the
problems are in each school but each faculty is different and each faculty
reflects the philosophy of that Principal that is there or a Principal of years
ago that hired me and I don't think there is the true sharing of ideas. Why,
what is it that helps kids in Jean McCall's class learn adn like her subject
more than some in another class in her school or with another teacher or in
other schools in the county. And there has never been a good sharing of ideas.
League of Middle Schools has gone a long way to do that but I think the lack of
travel money that is available nowadays, and there doesn't seem to be the
interest there that there used to be years ago. The sharing time is not
provided, sharing of ideas. Uh professionalism and excitement of middle school
teachers isn't there anymore. Whether it is the crunch for time and the
philosophy of the Union nowadays. See I don't think a middle school teacher
can just work day number of hours and go home and not do anything with school.
And when we first started at Ft. Clarke we weren't under the gun of the strict
Union and collective bargaining agreement that we are now. So I think that
is the biggest weakness. We don't have the time or resources to share ideas.
I'm not sure middle school teachers are even encouraged or allowed to be
creative, there are so many mandates to do it this way or that way. We are
under pressure of state assessment tests to do better and I'm just saying we
don't have those things into perspective yet."
Jean: One more question that I wanted to ask you was about your physical facility.
It was different, Spring Hill and Ft. Clarke were different from all of the
other schools in their physical aspects. Do you feel that there were pluses
or minuses or certain reasons for this?
Cake: "Uh if I had it to do all over again I would do it that same way. I alluded
to it way back in the beginning. The teachers knew they were getting into a
facility that would be open. What a lot of people don't realize is that when
we opened up the school sure there was a national trend toward openness that
has since waned in the worldthat schools are built in. Or if they are it is
a modified kind of openness. Um by having an open school a lot of money was
saved and not so much saved but it didn't cost as much for the original building
therefore some features could be added to the building that made it a better
building in the longrun. Additional square footage, a gym, things like that.
And also there was, I want to say, close to $100,000 that was available to me
to equip that school in a different way. And I was able to get a different
kind of library furniture--a more flexible furniture. I was allowed to get
more books, more media, more media equipment, more and better science
equipment, a fully equipped art and industrial arts and Home Ec area. Uh
band instruments that no other shcool in the country had. You know they were
available right there when the kids walked into that school. A lot of people
don't realize that. But by building a cheaper building in the beginning we
could start with those things that everybody in Alachua County has been envious
of. Why did Ft. Clarke get that? In fact they even went to the Board and got
the Board to allow other middle schools to purchase some of the same things,
without realizing that Ft. Clarke had it because we were built cheaper.
Uh so the facility was different. The facility, even though it has been closed
in some to this day, has allowed, allows a person, a visitor or an adminis-
trator, to walk through that building and within ten minutes, without, if he
walks through, strolls through without stopping, can be seen by every student and
teacher in that building in ten minutes. You can walk through it twice a day
without necessarily opening a door that dosturbs somebody. Kids are used to
it. They don't bat an eyelash at a visitor coming into a classroom and in
many schools, probably your own, a door opens and an administrator appears
or a visitor appears and you move to game plan #2. (Laughter) Whether it is
planned or unplanned, you move to game plan #2. That never happened at Ft.
Clarke. Teachers could teach next to each other, some not liking it, some
wishing it was different, but you could not have an all night drunk at Ft.
Clarke and come to school the next day ill prepared and be able to shut your
two doors and put your head on your desk and tell the kids to read.chapter
three and answer the questions in the back of the book and don't bother me."
Jean: Everybody would know it, huh?
Cake: "Everybody would know it and everybody pulled together. If you were weak
in discipline the next teacher may not help you with discipline but they may
let you know your kids are bothering them and you need to do a better job of
management. The job the profession owes to the profession and does not
happen in traditional schools. I think it allows for you to be more of a
professional in that kind of setting."
Jean: I think this has covered everything that I had, do you have any ares that
you can think of that would add to my knowledge of the middle school
movement in this county that might be helpful that I haven't already touched?
Cake: "No, I think the way some districts are doing it, like in Orange County,
where the parents have said, look we need to do something differently for
our junior high kids. And they said O.K. and they brought people in to talk
to the junior high administrators and gave them some middle school ideas and
middle school philosophy and worked with teachers so they incorporated some
better ways of doing things in junior highs. What's wrong with that? I think
the biggest problem with middle schools in the state of Florida is that we
tried to say we need to get away from junior highs and go to middle school
rather than lets, than saying whatever grade configuration lets do a better
job with those kids in the middle."
Jean: And how can we do it?
Cake: "And how can we do it? Whether they are in 7,8,9 or 6,7,8 or 5,6,7 or
4,5,6---those kids need a different kind of program than what we have been giving
them, lets look at what we can give them, lets look at what we can do with them,
forget about building and just look at program and how to teach that kind of
student. And I think we would have been better off if we had done it that way.
I think most people now realize that the poor junior high organization has been
left out, middle school has been getting all this attention from certain, from
Universities and secondary continues to get that attention and there sits that
seventh, eighth, and ninth grade configuration that is predominant in the state
of Florida and the United States and no one is doing a whole lot to help that
group to face the problems that everybody else is facing. They have sorta been
forgotten. And the idea eleven years ago was well if you want to do things
different you have to become a middle school. And that's too bad. 'Cause
then those stayed with the secondary and had a secondary philosophy. Because it
was only the middle school that was changing."
Jean: I really do want to thank you, Bill. It has taken longer than I had thought.
Cake: "That's probably because I'm longer winded."
Jean: Well it has been really neat. Uh........... (stopped tape)