Interview with William Cake, June 24, 1984

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Interview with William Cake, June 24, 1984
Cake, William ( Interviewee )
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History of Florida Education Oral History Collection ( local )


This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
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This interview is part of the 'Florida Education' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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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

other schools?

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."


Jean: Predictions.

Cake: "Yes."

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

particular area?

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?

Cake: "Totally."

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

it called?

Jean: I.G.E.?

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?

(not asked)

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

and when...........?

Cake: "Began the year Ft. Clarke opened"

Jean: Now that was under what Superintendent?

Cake: "Longstreth."


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.

Cake: "Yes."

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

middle schools?

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

County." (laughter)

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)