Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History & Culture Enduring Connections: Exploring Delmarva's Black History


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Interview with Daniel Savoy, 30 September 2019

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About This Recording

Daniel Savoy was an educator and administrator in Wicomico County. He describes growing up on a sharecropper farm, then moving towards his desire to become an educator. He attended Maryland State College (UMES) in the 1960's during a time of racial tension in Princess Anne, MD, and describes his experiences of being an African-American student at that time. He later became a teacher in Wicomico County, culminating in his being the vice-principal and principal of James M. Bennet High until 1997 when he retired.

This interview is part of the Maryland Humanities Teachers' Institute: Documenting School Desegregation through Oral History collection. For more information, see the Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid.


Interviewer: Creston Long
Narrator: Daniel Savoy
Date: 9/30/2019
Keywords: Education, Sharecroppers, Desegregation, Segregation, Race Protests, Civil Rights Movement, Wicomico Education, Pre-Segregation African American Education
Intro: Daniel Savoy shares his story of growing up in segregated schools outside of DC and his transition into a career in education during the prime of desegregation. He touches on the changes he saw over the years as both a teacher and administrator in Wicomico County Schools.

Creston Long (CL): This is September 30th, 2019, this is Creston Long in the Nabb Research Center interviewing Mr. Daniel Savoy about his experiences as a teacher and administrator. So, Mr. Savoy, I just wanted to get started with some basic questions about your background and—so if you could tell us where you grew up and when, that would get us started.

Daniel Savoy (DS): Ok, Um I grew up in a place called Upper Marlboro Maryland, just south of Washington DC. Of course, at that time, it was tobacco country. All of the land just outside of DC was tobacco, corn, mainly. Of course, today, it’s all housing developments and so forth. In growing up, I was next to the youngest of fourteen members of my family and my father was what we call a “sharecropper”. He would, in exchange for a house, he grew tobacco and corn and we had a few farm animals as well. Once the crops have been harvested and sold, the owner of the property—I've forgotten what percentage, but it wasn’t quite fifty-percent of the profit, and that would be his earning for the year. He had to, in a sense, manage the money, but there was no such thing, pretty much, at that time so I was training for managing the funds that you would receive once a year. Over the course of the year, he would borrow money from the land owner, of course, and he would have to repay once the crop was sold. Beyond that, it was indeed a test and encouraged me—and encouragement for me to find something else to do other than live on the farm.

CL: Ok, that’s uh—with the tobacco and the corn—and I guess the corn in particular as a food product, was that more for sale as a commodity or did you consume any of it directly?

DS: Broadly, only corn that was for human consumption was what you grew in your garden. The main crop was what we call “Field Corn” for the animals.

CL: At what age—so with fourteen total siblings, at what age would you all start working and contributing to the operation?

DS: [chuckling] When you learned to crawl? Wow, it was a very early age. Elementary school. There were things for you to do on the farm, from harvesting sweet potatoes, tomatoes, things that you would grow in the garden and, of course, process for the winter: Canning, and so forth. At that time, there’s no such thing as freezing items, it was mainly just canning fruits and veggies for the winter. I also mentioned that we had hogs, that was interesting when it came around to hog-killing time and processing the meat as well.

CL: I’m sure. Do you remember how many acres?

DS: uh, no I don’t. It was very modest and a very small farm.

CL: It would be surprising for many today. When you think of Upper Marlboro, like you said at the beginning, it’s part of the Urban Area, right? This is heavily-developed and right off the interstate, but not that long ago it was farmland. That’s hard to believe how quickly it developed.

DS: Yeah, it was, um... The house that I grew up in is still standing and, once in a while as I pass through the area, especially if I have someone new with me and I want to show them where I grew up, we would take a detour and head back into the woods.

CL: Very, very different now, right? So, as a—you said you’d been looking for pathways out of that basic life. Now, as a child, what was your memory of schooling at the time?

DS: Okay. I guess one of the things I need to share with you is that my mother passed when I was at age five. At that time, there were probably the last six siblings were home. My father was not much of a homemaker, if you will. His goal was to get out and make whatever income he could in support of the children who were home. We had older siblings who came in from time to time to share or purchase clothing or check and see what we needed and so forth. As I said, the fieldwork began early on. You knew you wanted to go to school every day, because if you were home, sick or not, you had work to do. So that was encouragement to have good attendance. And I must say that the teachers-- you’ll hear this from anyone my age or around my age-- teachers were very personable. Often times, they work with you as if you were one of their children. I did not have family members to encourage me to get a good education and so forth because none of my siblings had gone to college prior to me going to school. It was my teachers who encouraged me to go to college. This was, of course, later on in high school, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders. I guess they saw something in me that, uh, I needed to better myself and so they encouraged me. My biology teacher was the one who completed my college application. Between my biology and agriculture teacher. Agriculture, I was very interested in horticulture, which was something we had at our high school with greenhouse activities and so forth. So, with that, that stimulated me to pursue education in those areas.

CL: Okay, so—one of my questions was “were there particular role models”. Were the AG teacher and the biology teacher...?

DS: Yeah, yeah, my teachers were my role model. I had one first-cousin at that time who had gone—who was in college, and whenever I was in his person, I would ask I would ask him about college and so forth. Because there were so few who had any knowledge about college life or what it could lead to, he was very instrumental in providing that education for me.

CL: Where did he go to college?

DS: University of Maryland Eastern Shore. At that time, it was called “Maryland State College.”

CL: Okay. About what time was that? About what year?

DS: Oh, that was 1963. Um, going back in history, 1963 through the sixties was a very difficult time with integration. All my high-schooling was in segregated schooling. So, once at the conclusion of your high school years, as far as colleges were concerned, unless you had money or knew someone, we gravitated to the HBCU’s: Historical Black Colleges and Universities. So, that was kind of a continuation of the atmosphere that I experienced in my high school and I felt very comfortable there. Although I grew up five miles from the University of Maryland College Campus, that was kind of no-man's land as far as I was concerned.

CL: Did—at the time, and I don’t know if the name was different at all, but what now is Bowie, was that an attractive option at all?

DS: Bowie State College? Yes, many of my classmates attended Bowie State College, Morgan State College, some went further south to some of the other institutions. Mainly the HBCUs.

CL: Now, with your choice of what would become UMES, was that connected to your cousin being there?

DS: Yes. Yeah, I had no idea where it was located [chuckling] and had never been across the bay bridge at that time. So, when it came time to pack up and go to college, what little I had to pack, it was a quandary as to how I was going to get wherever I was going to go. Of course, none of my other siblings had been to the eastern shore of Maryland either. But I had one brother who was very close to me and said he would take me to school, and off we went. Dropped me off and made connections with others on campus; there were several other students who had attended the same high school. So, we made connection and we’re still in touch with each other today.

CL: Was that about 1964?

DS: ‘63 through ‘67 were my years at Maryland State College.

CL: So, at—when you were at college, did you primarily stay on campus?

DS: Yes.

CL: Ok. It’s interesting you say College Park was, in many ways, a different world that felt off-limits, Princess Anne would also seem like a very different place. But, the campus itself, how did all that work?

DS: Yeah, it was two-separate areas: You had Maryland State College, predominantly African Americans, and then you had the little town of Princess Anne which was no-man's land and that led to many conflicts at first. During those years, there were marches and so forth uptown, and of course they didn’t want you uptown and so forth. And the Police and the fire department, you had the police and the dogs and the fire department with the hose and so forth. It was one of those things that was prominent during that era.

CL: So, students from the college would protest in the town?

DS: Oh yeah, we would have marches uptown.

CL: Ok. In connection with the Civil Rights act and Voting Rights act?

DS: Yeah.

CL: Alright. Did you participate in those?

DS: I—not regularly, because it was something totally new to me as far as conflict. Farm boy growing up, you have very few conflicts and so forth. So, if I were in the group, I would be in the middle as opposed to out-front, and so forth. I had no desire to be confrontational in a sense. I didn’t really understand the differences at that time because... the older I grew up on a small farm, there were—there was just one farm in that area that was owned by an African American. I worked for him from time to time and saw some of the challenges he had; although he owned his farm, he had many challenges. But my primary job was working for different farm owners who were Caucasian. As far as I was concerned, they treated us quite well, but, of course, I knew why I was there. You know, they fed us, the workers, lunch and things. We saw that as an incentive to need to continue to work with them, and so forth. But, through it all, it was a, as you can imagine, a very difficult time with the conflicts and so forth.

CL: As a student, and the other students at the college, did you have of how the African American who lived in Somerset County—was there much connection with anyone who lived in the area or when—were there people, again, who lived in Somerset joining in with the protests that were predominantly led by students?

DS: No. A majority had to protect their way of living. They lived there; we were the visitors. We came from elsewhere. So, we did not relate at all. So, it was, um, no connection really.

CL: When either you were participating in some of the protests or were aware that others were going on, do you remember, at the time, how you felt—your sense of, I don’t know if “optimism” is the right word, but your hope that it would bring about some change. Do you remember how that felt, or anything you could share on that?

DS: (pause) Um, yeah, I remember from the campus, we would catch a ride—I don’t know if there was another college, they didn’t have a bus to transport us to Salisbury—we would catch a ride to somehow visit Salisbury, just thirteen miles away, but it was like going to the big city. And we would try to eat, at that time, that little five-and-ten cents store in downtown Salisbury, I think it was called “Woolworth”? And they had a little dining area downstairs; it’s where the art center is, the art gallery is in downtown now. Every time I go in, I can still visualize the eating area, the soda counter and so forth. And when you go up the steps to the shopping area and so forth. The movie downtown, we could go to the movies, but you had to sit upstairs. We often laughed about it, because upstairs you had a better view than they did downstairs. Sometimes, jokingly, we think about the fact that “Here the white-folk are downstairs and we are up above,” we really could overtake, in a sense, what was there. But there was no thought on it, at the time, it’s just looking back on it. The irony of it all and how that arrangement played out. The theater was where the library is in Salisbury right now, it was the Wicomico Theater, which was interesting. Now, I don’t look back on those years as being “good times”, it was some very challenging times.

CL: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that they were, I just— what I was trying to ask was, was there a sense that change might be possible? Or, when groups protest, there—well there could be many reasons why, but if there’s a sense that it can actually have an effect and bring about some change, that can be very, very powerful. I didn’t know if you had thoughts on that.

DS: Yeah, that was the motivation to participate. You wanted to be able to do what others were able to do. Others being white people. You wanted to be able to have the freedom to move about in the town of Princess Anne. We just wanted to go uptown and use the laundromat, go to the local five-and-ten cent store. Or just walk the streets. The freedom to move about. I guess campus pretty much ended where, what we call, backbone road met that main drag that goes through Princess Anne. The metropolitan church in on one corner, on the other corner, Dr. Heitch (?), who was an instructor at the University, had a store on the other side. That was our sub shop, if you would. Salisbury had, at that time, a little restaurant called “Carrol’s”, which was interesting. It was like a drive-thru with hamburgers shop, but in Princess Anne, we only had Dr. Heitch’s little shop where we could get subs and other sandwiches and so forth.

CL: So, much of the downtown—the older area felt off-limits?

DS: Oh yeah, definitely.

CL: And it was that way the entire time you were at the college?

DS: Yeah.

CL: Ok. So, while you were at college, were you in the teacher-training program the entire time? Or was there—

DS: Yes. That was a motivation for me that helped me pay my way through college. At that time, we had a program, I’ve lost the name of it, it was a government program that would help with your education if you promised to teach for, I think it was, two years after graduation. So, that was the only way I could go through school, to accept that agreement.

CL: So, your intent was to go into science the entire time?

DS: My intent I had—my intent was to become a veterinarian. During those times, if you wanted to become a veterinarian, you would do your four years at a college and then you would go to either University of Pennsylvania or Tuskegee; had some kind of agreement with Maryland, they would accept the students in that program. So, while I was at Maryland State College, my degree was in Agriculture, but I knew I would not be able to go to veterinarian school immediately after Maryland State. So, I strived to get my certification in science so that, my thought was, I would teach a few years, had to in order to pay back that loan that was afforded me, and possibly go on to veterinarian school. But once I started teaching and so forth, I enjoyed what I was doing and so forth, so I did that.

CL: There must have been a teaching internship or student-teaching component of that. Where did you do that work?

DS: The irony of it, that was 1967, I did my student teaching at, what would be labeled as, an all-white school. In Upper Marlboro, we had Frederick Douglas High School, which was African American, and then we had another school that was Frederick Sasscer, which was all white. Now, this is 1967, things are improving a bit. So, I was assigned to the all-white school to do my student teaching, today’s student internship. I did that combination of science and agriculture. Which, of course, was quite challenging. There were other African American teachers at that time in an attempt to bring about integration as quickly as possible and nonconfrontational. There were African American teachers who had been assigned to the school as well. But my, what we called “critic teachers” at that time, was a white male and we worked very well together. So, that was a new experience in itself.

CL: Did you have a sense where the teachers, the critic teachers, were they chosen? Were they hand selected with the hope that this would facilitate...?

DS: Yeah. That was the goal. I am sure the superintendent and the leaders of the county, just as they did in Wicomico county—my wife often refers, she grew up in Annapolis, and she often complained how they took the good teachers from the African American schools and put them in the white schools. She lost one of her best teachers because of that transition. So, yeah, there was a lot of discussion about who goes where.

CL: Do you remember how long that transition period lasted? From the first—I don’t know the right—the pilot experience to “This is the system now” and...

DS: So, that was—I graduated high school ‘63, so that started to take place 1965, probably 1965, through ‘68-’69?

CL: Ok. So, by 1969, there were—

DS: Most of the schools had integrated at that time in the state of Maryland.

CL: And you were a full-on teacher at that point?

DS: Yeah, 1969, I had taught two years. My teaching career began in Annapolis. I taught middle school science, what at the time was called “junior high school science”, in Annapolis.

CL: So that was your certification was basically secondary?

DS: Yes, secondary science. Agriculture and science.

CL: So, in starting out—I’m sorry, your very first year of teaching was?

DS: 1967.

CL: ‘67. And this was when the transition was well under-way by that point. How would you describe the state of it at that point?

DS: At that time, I started out in middle school. Still, you have the feeling that the students were fine, but the parents still had not bought into this idea of mixing the races. So, it was challenging in the classroom. I really had to be always cognizant how I spoke a child, especially the white child. If they went home and said something negative, that inflammation would come back to the principal. I can recall, on one occasion, I had to have a conference with the principal because a parent had levied some charges and so forth. Yeah, that happened.

CL: In your first year, were there other African American teachers at that school that you felt any kind of connection to?

DS: Oh yeah. Yeah. It was—you pretty much had to, in a sense, mentor each other and be aware of how you presented yourself. So, that was always mindful.

CL: Ok, how did you and your colleagues feel about the administration at that point and where the administration stood on in actually fulfilling integration?

DS: We understood that they were under the same, if you could say, pressure or had to be mindful of their responsibility to try to bring cohesion between the teachers. Of course, they, in turn, work with the students as best as they could as far as making them feel comfortable. Working with you.

CL: Do you remember if there were any administrators in your school or perhaps outside that did not really support what was changing and were either removed or...?

DS: No, I don’t remember any administrators who were—had negative vibes while they were at work. Could’ve been out in the community as something, but at work we did our best to put on a united front for the young people.

CL: So, you did your student teaching at what had been an all-white school and there were a handful of African American student teachers. Were there any African American students at the school? I know in Wicomico county, there were very small cohorts.

DS: Yeah. 1967 in Prince George’s county, there were some students in the schools. I can’t say that it was, there was busing and so forth. When I attended high school there, our bus passed the all-white school to get to the school for African Americans, Frederick Douglass. Through changing the bus routes, that helped get more African Americans in that school.

CL: Now, at Frederick Douglas High School, what changes were underway there at the same time?

DS: The same. Whites closest to the school had to attend Frederick Douglass.

CL: So, it remained in operation as a school building and...?

DS: Oh, yes.

CL: From what I’ve gathered, in some other places, that was not always the case.

DS: yeah it was—in fact, Frederick Douglass was a new school. It opened in—let's see, I graduated in ‘63, so Frederick Douglass opened as a new high school in ‘62. 1962. So, it was not like, as my wife would say, her high school became a middle school when she had to go to the all-white Annapolis high school. There’s still contention today when they closed the all-black school as they did in many areas, and today it serves as a senior center.

CL: Did you have a sense at the time—you had experience in Prince George’s county, in Anne Arundel county, and soon down here on the eastern shore—

DS: Yeah, I moved here in 1970.

CL: Okay. That’s pretty early. So, this is all very close together, then, your student teaching experience up to moving here. Did you have a sense that there was a variation in progress? Was one area noticeably ahead of another?

DS: Yes. Yeah, when I moved to Salisbury, I was assigned to Mardela High School. The youngsters, again, were very cordial in accepting you as African American teacher teaching, what then wasn’t an all-white class, it was a mixed class, but there was some racial undertone. You pretty much have to prove yourself in that sense, that you could indeed provide good instruction for the students.

CL: So, it was 1970 when you started there?

DS: Mhmm.

CL: Ok, were there any other African American teachers?

DS: Yes. In Wicomico county at Mardela High School, yeah there were. Of course, that was a small school. And the staff there, we worked very well together.

CL: It’s a small school in all ways, really. Physically and student body.

DS: We were a middle and high school. But we had—it was a good mix of staff and students.

CL: So, I guess what I’m hearing compared to where you had come from, did you encounter more of a sense at Mardela that you had to go out of your way even more to prove yourself?

DS: No, in fact I often say to people, when I moved from the Annapolis middle school to Mardela, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! [Chuckles] You’re talking about, I was in a middle school in Annapolis with 1600 students coming to Mardela where you had, I don’t know, less than 500 at the time. So, the conflicts and things that I experienced at Annapolis were far greater than Mardela.

CL: Ok, interesting. You think size had something to do with that?

DS: Yeah, absolutely.

CL: I mean, it is a school that truly draws from the immediate area.

DS: Yeah, size and, of course, being in Annapolis and the metropolitan area, you had more crazy stuff going on than you had in the rural country school.

CL: So, you taught and agriculture there or is it...?

DS: At—no. Beyond student teaching, I always taught science. Agriculture, at that time, was being phased out. So, I taught general science mainly in high schools, and space science.

CL: That was my next question. Ok. And class size? Do you remember—Mardela is smaller but do you remember about what it would have...?

DS: In Annapolis, class size: 31-32?

Mardela: Maybe 25-28?

CL: So still sizable, actually.

DS: Yeah, I mean, you had fewer teachers, so that dictated your class size, pretty much.

CL: Ok, now the—at some point, you turned towards—during your career—you turned towards administration. Do you remember what led you to pursue that?

DS: Now, there was a period of time, 1971, I left teaching. While teaching in Annapolis, I had a second job. I was working with McDonalds as, what we call, management team, at the bay bridge store, which still stands today. So, when I moved to Salisbury, the owner, Charles Harmon—little bit of history there. Charles Harmon owned a little sub shop, which still stands, at the corner of Isabella street and Lake street.

CL: I know where you’re talking about.

DS: Charles Harmon had; they were called “chuck wagons”. He had several trucks—what they call today “food trucks” -- but they didn’t actually cook the food on the trucks. He prepared sandwiches and things in that little sub shop and trucked them out to work sites. There was Campbell’s soup, there were a number of businesses or work sites where he would be there when they had their breaks and lunch to sell his sub sandwiches. He did very well, at that time, to the point where he was able to purchase a McDonald’s franchise. Somehow, he learned that I had—he learned from the Washington office—that I had worked in management in an Annapolis McDonalds, so he asked if I would be on his management team for the opening of his new store. The first McDonalds that was there, that area was like a swamp, so the first McDonalds was sinking in the ground, so it was condemned.

They built the second one after driving pylons and so forth, right next to it. You remember way back when, there was a patio just outside?

CL: Yes.

DS: Well, that was the floor of the first McDonalds. As I said, I was on the management team for the first McDonalds.

CL: How long did you do that?

DS: Six months. Excellent money, but in the food business, you’re always on duty. If my shift was 6am to 4pm, if someone didn’t show up for their shift and the dinner hours are about to begin, it continued. So, made excellent money, but did not have time to spend it, is how I phrase it. So, after about six months—before leaving teaching, I had talked with the superintendent about my intentions. I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue to teach, I would like to try this new venture, and he wasn’t too fond of it, but he agreed. So, when I was ready to go back into teaching, I went in again to talk to the superintendent and the supervisor of science and said “I think I am now ready to devote my full attention to science.” Two weeks later, I was back in the classroom, not at Mardela High School, but at Pittsville High School. So, Pittsville high school was in operation until 1975, that’s when Parkside opened. So, at that time, I went to Parkside as a teacher. There I taught the same thing, earth-space science, but my principal was Anthony Sarbanes. Mr. Sarbanes saw something in me that he felt I should give consideration to becoming an administrator. So, I did some counseling work in the interim, counseling work, then becoming certified in administration in 1976. I went into administration as an assistant-principal at James M. Bennett High School. So, I was an assistant-principal at James M. Bennett from 1976 to 1987. 1987, I was named principal of James M. Bennett High School through ‘97.

CL: So, you were at Bennett for a very long time, then.

DS: Yeah, twenty years.

CL: Today, that’s not that common. Knowing through my own children’s experience, there’s a lot more moving around.

DS: It’s amazing. I was the... probably the fourth principal at James M. Bennet High School. In the span from the time I left to now, there’s probably been at least twelve other principals there.

CL: I think so. So, who was the Superintendent when you went back into education?

DS: Warren A. Mahaffey.

CL: Oh! Okay. Alrighty. So, when you returned from the experiment with management—

DS: Oh, I like that! [Chuckling]

CL: Well, it was, right? [both chuckle] So, he had presided as the superintendent for a while, then.

DS: Oh yeah, quite a while.

CL: Then there is a transition, I think, in the ‘70s to... I don’t remember who, actually. Mr. Fulton, at some point.

DS: um, it must’ve been... let’s see... yeah, I would say that’s ‘75.

CL: So, you began your administrative career fairly early, then—

DS: Yeah, I had been in the classroom ten years.

CL: Ok, Alright, that’s-- at that point, in your early administrative career, what was your sense or perception of the progress of integration at that point? So, ‘75, ‘76...

DS: We were well-along, as far as integration was concerned. For the most part, the acceptance, if you will, by young people was so much better. Staff and the comradery between the staff, we had a very good working relationship

CL: So, generally, things were progressing?

DS: Yes.

CL: Was your sense at the time... had it progressed in a way that, maybe, people had hoped for? Or perhaps progressed in a way that was still progressing but not—that turned out differently? I don’t-- it’s very abstract.

DS: The progression was there, but it was often said that something was lost as far as African American young people. The relationship with teachers was not as—was not what we had hoped for. Prior to integration, as I mentioned, there was that personal working relationship between teachers and students. They accepted them as their own children. They had a great desire for them to succeed. They saw the homelife that many of them were in, just as it is today. We see our young people, African Americans mainly, parents don’t have time to encourage them to take the higher road, to become successful. I would say, they do not devote the time that it takes for young people to become successful. So, therefore, we have many of them who are just lost along the way. Yeah, so, the teachers are... I don’t know, I see many of our young instructors today, often see teaching as going to be a 9-5 job. When, to be an excellent teacher, you have to devote whatever time it takes to do that. Same way with working with young people: you’ve got to let them know that you really want them to become successful and encourage where you can.

CL: So, the—earlier on, in the earlier years, ‘67-’68, you had said that the teams were working fairly well, as far as going into different schools and administrators, and that the children were, in many ways, were ok with change, but parents were not or less-so. Did you ever have any experiences that were difficult?

DS: Yeah, it was always a test. I always felt, in those earlier years, and I know you’ve heard it many times, as an African American teacher, or in any job, you have to prove that you can do whatever job your counterpart is doing. Even today, it is often said that as an African American, you have to strive and work harder than your counterpart in order for someone to believe that you can indeed do just as good of a job as someone else. I felt good about working with Mr. Sarbanes because I did not have the desire to or felt that I could become a good administrator. But he kept encouraging and giving me opportunities to develop the strengths needed to become a high school administrator. So, I’m always indebted to him for taking the opportunity to help me become a better person.

CL: Did you, in time, play that role for people who were junior to you?

DS: Always. Dr. Handlin was an assistant principal with me, and I always say to her, she was very instrumental. She worked with me very closely. I always appreciated her help as an assistant principal, and she always thanked me for helping her develop into the person that she is as the superintendent of schools, now. It’s amazing. I probably had more assistant principals than any administrator in the county. Every time I look, I have a different assistant principal in the school.

CL: When you were a junior faculty member considering returning to the classroom and pursuing administration, were there any African American administrators at that point?

DS: Yes. Yeah, it was the county leaders who work hard to get African Americans in the position to be certified and trained to provide that—the mix in the schools. The students needed to see that the team was not all of any given race, that you had the mix that you desired to have with the students in terms of staffing as well.

CL: Because I would think that having a mentor you can connect with in many different ways to help advise you, that can be a very powerful thing. You, of course, remember Allen Miles? He would’ve had you as a role model of sorts at Bennett.

DS: Yeah, he was—Allen was a Bennett graduate. Glad to work with him.

CL: Very good. Now, as the administrator, did you miss the classroom?

DS: (short pause) Yeah. Uh, heh, In the classroom, you were just responsible for your classroom and the students that come to you. As the administrator, you have the whole collection of individuals that you had to deal with and work with. Sometimes it’s like herding, as you’ve heard the people talk about, herding cats? You have the multitude of personalities, strengths and weaknesses that you had to work hard in molding while at the same time be receptive to ideas that are presented to you. It’s not always your way being the best way. You had to be receptive to receiving others.

CL: So, over your career as a teacher and then an administrator, the largest and most significant changes in education. What were your-- I guess I’m asking for the retrospective, looking back. We’ve talked about, obviously, a major change, but anything you’d like to say on that? Major changes during your career.

DS: I often say with people when they talk about schools today or even when I was in the school base, I reminded people that whatever happens in the school or whatever happens in the community comes into the school. It was not so much changes in the school as it is the changes in the world and in your community. Those things come right into the school building. So, that’s... today as much as we have tried to encourage parents to get involved in their youngster’s lives and schools. I know in this county; they provide training programs for parents in an attempt to understand how they can be a positive force in the lives of their youngsters. We still see that decline; we see it in the world, we see it in our communities. So, it’s not so much the education or the school as it is the expectations and things in our communities.

CL: It sounds like you’re saying that there is a decline there. So, as far as the greatest... that sounds like a significant challenge in education. Do you see any, or looking back, were there any strengths that were noteworthy?

DS: Oh yeah, there are many positive changes that have occurred, and so forth. Many more opportunities for students to not only develop with their classroom and instruction, but they have become more experienced-- I see youngsters having the opportunity to travel a great deal and meet people from around the world. I see those experiences raising their level of expectation, desire to become good people. But, as I say, I see the folk who don’t get the opportunity to have to experiences kind of slide backwards.

CL: Ok. So, we’ve worked through these questions here and I’m always aware that there are questions that I’ve not thought of. So, is there—do you have a question that I should’ve asked you that you’d like to answer anyway?

DS: No, I think you’ve done an excellent job as far as getting my perspective of education through the years. Of course, having been away from the schools, though not totally; I do some mentoring and so forth. But there are some things that I have not covered adequately... I don’t know, I just...

CL: Ok, it’s just if there's anything you wanted to share that we didn’t quite cover or...?

DS: No, I think that’s it. I just hope that things continue to improve for our young people, and, to a greater extent, for adults to get involved in the education of their young people. Not just leave it up to them. I know a lot of parents who are, indeed, involved, and I see that in their youngsters moving forward.

CL: Ok. For the—I think you mentioned it but, what year did you retire?

DS: In ‘07. 2007.

CL: You retired as principal in that year?

DS: No, I left James M. Bennett in ‘97, intent on going back to the classroom, but the science supervisor position opened up at the Board of Ed., so I accepted that position for the next ten years, in ‘07. At that time, I felt it was time that someone else tried it. Chuckles But it didn’t stop at that. When I retired from the Board of Ed. I purchased an inflatable planetarium because, as science supervisor, I saw youngsters were having so little opportunities to have a planetarium experience. So, I purchased an inflatable planetarium, contracted with schools to teach astronomy utilizing it, So I did that for several years after retiring. I liked that because I could still control my schedule. I wanted to teach when I wanted to teach. There were no such jobs, so I had to create my own job.

CL: Nice to have that flexibility, isn't it? So, I’m going to go ahead and stop this thing. Thank you, thank you very much.

[Interview ends]