Archive for March, 2011

Research Journal – Week #2

First off, my apologies for the delay in posting.

I was out of town from the morning of Thursday, March 24th until late in the evening on Sunday, March 27th.  With the William and Mary Wind Symphony, I traveled on tour to Nashville, Tennessee.  I took my textual materials with me on the bus and gleaned what material I could from them.  As per Sarah’s warnings, the books did not contain much information directly pertaining to the relationship between Colonial Williamsburg and the WJCC school system.  Nevertheless, they did provide some general information regarding Colonial Williamsburg’s recent educational policies and programs.  Some of this material could serve to provide context as I explore the more specific CW-WJCC relationship.

Over the weekend, I also worked on crafting questions to ask Bill White in our interview.  Some of these questions were based on material gleaned from my reading, but the majority of them center around educational programs with which I know Bill White is involved, particularly the Electronic Field Trip series and the online textbook package offered by Colonial Williamsburg.

My interview with Bill White is scheduled for 2:30 pm tomorrow (Tuesday, the 29th).  This will be just after class ends, and in our last session several classmates expressed a desire to accompany me.  Hopefully one of these accompanying students will be willing to act as indexer.  The interview will take place at the Bruton Heights research center.  It may prove difficult to get there within 10 minutes, so if none of my accompanying classmates have cars, I will perhaps need to duck out of class a little early (unless it ends slightly early of its own accord).

I am still pursuing an interview with Barry Trott at the WRL, and will send Professor Taylor an e-mail shortly requesting contact information for Barbara Watson.

Work Journal 2

Monday March 21st:

I met Patricia Roberts for an interview this morning, which I think went really well. Patricia was really forthcoming and helpful, and I’m so glad I got to meet with her! I also retrieved the files from both Beth Haw’s interview (which I still need to index) and Patricia Roberts’s interview. It was really interesting to hear the differences in point of view between Dr. Roberts and Mrs. Haw, which made me really excited to continue collecting interviews.

Tuesday March 22nd:

Today was a great day in terms of interview contacts. David Gaston replied to my email today confirming that he’d be willing to let me interview him- woohoo! I’m really excited because I wasn’t sure if he’d be willing to speak with me right away or if I’d need more permission to interview him. He also has a very influential role (Director of Specialized Education Services in WJCC) in the WJCC school system, so I can’t wait to hear his views on how special education functions. Leigh Kades also called me back (we keep missing each other) with her email so that we can begin to coordinate an interview times.

Wednesday March 23rd:

Today I confirmed an interview time with Dr. Gaston (next Thursday at 1pm) and I also sent around an email to the class to see if any other students were interesting in coming to the interview with me. Professor Taylor mentioned that Dr. Gaston might be a good contact for other students in class yesterday, so I’m hoping someone else will be able to come. I’m still working on the logistics of how I’ll get to Dr. Gaston’s office since I don’t have a car, but I’m confident it will all work out before next Thursday. I also emailed Leigh Kades back with a list of possible interview times, so hopefully we will be able to coordinate on that. All in all, I’m feeling pretty good about the progression of my project, as I have two interviews down and two coming up in the near future.

Thursday March 24th:

Frank volunteered to index my interview with Dr. Gaston next Thursday, and he has a car, which is great! I also wrote out “Thank You” notes to my two interviewees so far, Beth Haw and Patricia Roberts, and re-read some of the past documentary projects to try to analyze what I need to include for background information in my final paper. I drafted a list of what my paper should include, and started to fill in the gaps in my research to meet these goals. This meant searching through the budget proposal for this year and investigating the Virginia Gazette for stories on the recent controversies surrounding Special Education in WJCC. I still need a lot more research, especially concerning the number of students in Special Education services, but I feel better knowing that I have a direction and realistic plan for my paper.

Friday March 25th:

Today I continued background research for my project, although I’m having trouble finding the specific enrollment information I’m looking for (mainly how many children receive Special Education services in WJCC). Hopefully I will be able to find this in the coming few days and I might enlist the help of Sarah or Jenny in the coming week.

Saturday March 26th:

I was at a club gymnastics meet at UNC-Chapel Hill all day to day, so I didn’t get much WDP work done. Chapel Hill was gorgeous though, and our team did great!

Sunday March 27th:

I finally indexed Beth Haw’s interview today, which I’ve been meaning to do since I conducted the interview at the beginning of the month. Beth had some great things to say, and it was interesting to compare her responses to those of Patricia Roberts, who I interviewed last week.

Journal 2

  • Last Tuesday I interviewed Kim Hundley, kindergarten teacher at Stonehouse Elementary School. Mrs. Hundley was extremely forthcoming and shared valuable insight regarding bullying at the elementary school level. She also allowed me to borrow some of the books previously used as part of a curriculum designed to stop bullying, which I hope to discuss in my final report.
  •  Today I interviewed a junior from Jamestown High School. We discussed acts of bullying she has witnessed, as well as the school’s approach to preventing such acts. From this interview I’ve learned that appearance is everything in high school. Also, although kids may observe bullying, they are unlikely to come forward or report the abuse for fear of being labeled a “snitch.”
  • I have an appointment with Suzanne Hart, guidance counselor at Lafayette High, this Wednesday. I had originally planned to meet with a therapist from the Williamsburg Family Living Institute. However, because of communication issues, I’ve decided to interview Mrs. Hart instead. She should still be able to explain the emotional/mental effects of bullying, and will have a better idea of these problems within the school system. 
  • I’ve also experienced difficulty getting in touch with Mr. Fudge, so I’ve put in a call to Amour Mickel, Assistant Principal at Berkeley Middle School. I hope to interview at least one of these individuals.
  • Today I emailed the PTA president for Lois S. Hornsby Middle School, Tina Kopfer. I would like to interview Mrs. Kopfer to get a parent’s perspective on bullying in Williamsburg area schools.

Visiting Charles City PE

So today I was able to go to watch Mr. O in action during a PE class at Charles City Elementary.  While it isn’t in the JCC county, it was still great to see Virginia is for Education on the school grounds.  One thing I was struck by was how comprehensive these classes are today.  Nutrition education, motivational coaching among others programs are all integrated into these PE classes (I remember picking grass and playing hide and seek).  As one of the poorer districts, Charles City is a title 1 school and receives a great deal of state funding.  They seem to be ahead of the game in terms of their nutritional and physical education and as Mr. O informed us, unlike many other schools, they are very open to his program and look to incorporate it frequently throughout the year.  They were also very welcoming of me and I was able to meet with the PE teacher, a program assistant for family nutrition for JCC and CCC schools (whom I arranged to interview later on) and the principal.  The program assistant works exclusively in title I schools, so she will be a great resource when covering those schools in JCC.  She hinted at the difficulty working with cafeterias that serve free/reduced lunch as they are under more restrictions by the USDA.

In terms of Mr. O’s program, I was shocked at his effectiveness and rapport with the kids.  He got these kids pumping hard the entire time on the bikes, jamming to the latest Katy Perry tunes and generally looking like they were having the time of their lives.   Beyond that, he was able to provide me with the latest budget for JCC’s health intiatives.  The packet breaks down the goals, initiatives, assessments, pay, among others this year (all of which troubled Mr. O greatly as he believes the decisions seem to rest with an elite few who are fiscally irresponsible and unresponsive to outside views).  This will be a huge help in terms of research.  There’s a lot more to say in terms of my visit, but I will save that for later.

Sarah has also directed me to a great article in the WY Daily concerning SHIP’s efforts improving school food.  The article speaks to the difficulty of changing menu options in a cafeteria that has profits in mind.  The economic supply/demand that a primarily self-sustaining cafeteria relies on makes health initiatives challenging, nonetheless it seems that SHIP is making progress.  I have been told that SHIP is on the decline however, so we will see if they continue to make an impact.  I also was interested in the comments section which seemed heavily split between those who felt health/nutrition fell in the realm of the parents and those who believed schools had a right to be involved.  Certainly something to consider as I continue my research.  You can find the article here: http://www.wydaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6145:get-schooled-ship-aims-to-make-school-meals-healthier&catid=129:get-schooled&Itemid=141.

In the meantime, I really need to focus my project and decide the direction I’d like to take ASAP!

Research Journal (3/28/11)

It’s starting to look like I might actually finish this project on time.  This week was much more productive than last week.  I have three interviews solidly lined up, and I am pretty optimistic about two more.  The first person that I approached and got a solid yes from was Clyde Haulman, current mayor of the City of Williamsburg, former member of the WJCC school board, and my freshman Econ 101 professor.  I simply went to his office, stated my name and purpose, and he agreed.  It was easier than I thought it would be, especially considering how hard it has been up to this point to even just talk to them on the phone or in person about a possible interview.

My next solid yes came from Dr. Bill Travis, who is currently the Provost of the Historic Triangle Campus of Thomas Nelson Community College.  I think that he will have a ton of insight into career and technical education and resources available to students of the WJCC school system, considering his current work.  TNCC offers quite a few career education classes, so that is right up my alley.

Also, Addie and I went to the James Blair administrative building this morning to see if we could scrounge up any interviews there using some face to face contact.  While there, we talked to Quincy Marrow who is the Counseling Supervisor, who agreed to answer a few questions.  Apparently he had sent me an email (which I did not get) telling me that he had decided to not take part in an interview, but he reconsidered.  Also, he gave us some really great follow-up contacts that we are going to pursue.

03/28 Journal

Well, I feel like I’ve hit a few walls. I still have not heard back from the people I initially contacted – I left my name and number with one for the second time, and with the other when I called again I got this weird noise that almost sounded like phones do when they’re switched to fax. I have decided that I am going to try to contact Karen Armstead next, as she is the president of the local education association. I had a little bit of trouble finding her number, but I finally did and plan to give her a call as soon as I finish this (late) post. Other than failed calls, I poked around the WJCC website this week for full pay scale information in addition to looking at the Daily Press and the Virginia Gazette for articles about teacher compensation, of which I did find a few. I’m not sure if the WJCC school district has someone who oversees all personnel and hirings – I’m guessing they do – so I’m going to also find out who that is and see if I can talk to them about how the interview and hiring process works, especially for positions like administration. It was a bit of a slow week progress-wise, which makes me nervous, so I plan to be very aggressive in the coming week so that I can finally get an interview set up and hopefully make more contacts.

Research Journal 3/28

3/21

I called the housekeepers who I had talked about who were interested in being interviewed and we planned times to meet to do oral histories! These are my first scheduled oral histories, so I was really excited.

3/22

I made a list of the interview questions I want to use for tomorrow. I decided to ask a couple questions about general background addressing questions of where the interviewee grew up, where they went to school for which years, what they do now, etc. Then I plan to ask questions about their experiences with advice from guidance counselors, parents, and teachers as they approached graduation from high school and tried to make plans to move forward. Then I plan to ask questions about how the interviewee got into the field they are in, how they found the jobs they have, how long they’ve been there, what their experiences have been like, etc.

3/23

I planned to have my first oral history today at 12, but the worker I was going to interview did not show up. I still haven’t been able to get in touch with him, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to reschedule for next week.

3/25

I was supposed to do my second oral history today, but again, the person I was supposed to interview didn’t show up. A little frustrated, I’m continuing to call the two potential interviewees. I also met with Frank and Toby and Professor Taylor today to talk about where we are with our projects. She gave us new contact information for good people to interview or get names of other people from. Frank and I also made a plan to go to Blair High School to try to track down people that know about technical education programs and make some contacts with people on the school side of our project, which is great because I’ve been focusing a lot more time on the piece that involves people who work in Williamsburg and went through the public school system here.

Research Journal 28 Mar 11

Still sort of slow going but I’m working on it. I’ve emailed a few other folks. I got a response from Dr. Kim Nunnally, former director of Language Arts, who said she was very new to the position, and forwarded my email to Mrs. DeVeria Gore, who held the position before her. Mrs. Gore responded right away and both were supportive and eager to help. That was pretty encouraging. She referred me to the official form for conducting educational research, which I’m working on now. I’m concerned I may not have enough time, but I’ll worry about that later. Right now I’ll just keep sending emails, making calls, and filling out forms.

Saw an interesting article today in the Gazette. It’s very general, though—I’d really like to hear more about how test scores were raised and new methods or tools that the schools used to increase scores. Definitely something I’ll look for more information on—and I’m sending emails to people at the schools involved to see what they can tell me about it.

Work Journal 2

This week I worked on trying to contact possible interviewees.  I’m still waiting to hear back from a few people, including some who I had already contacted.  Additionally, I contacted two individuals from the social services departments of Williamsburg and James City County.  Hopefully after the weekend I’ll have heard some good news.

I also browsed the Gazette’s “Last Word” section and decided to post an ad in case anyone is interested in sharing their stories or opinions with me.  I think it’d be interesting to see the community’s perceptions on teen pregnancy in the area and possibly hear some more about personal experiences.

Regarding research, I discovered an organization based in Washington, D.C. called The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.  They have some information and statistics that I think will at least give me a broader view of the issue of teen pregnancy in this country, as well as some things that are being done to decrease it.  Additionally, the site provides both “State and Local” and “Teen Birth/Pregnancy Data” sections that have prevention plans and ideas according to group and community snapshots regarding this issue.   I was also really happy to see resources for and information on teen fathers and the role of men in pregnancy prevention.

Update:

Today I heard back via e-mail from the social service workers I contacted.  I’m just happy someone actually responded!  And in a timely manner!  It was suggested that I contact the school social workers for more information, and also someone who could possibly give me information on the financial resources available to pregnant teens in the area.  I am still waiting to hear back from Ms. W at Grove Christian Outreach Center on setting a date for an interview.  Hopefully that happens very soon.

Journal Entry #2

Well I just got back from interviewing Janice Fowler, the Health Services Supervisor for WJCC schools.  The interview was really great and she had a lot of information about programs geared towards preventing and educating about substance abuse in the schools.  Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, the funding for some of these programs was either dramatically reduced or eliminated.  One program she talked about was Help is Down the Hall, which was a grant program that involved bringing a group of William & Mary grad students to Warhill High School to serve as a group for high school students to come and talk to if they wanted more information or help with substance abuse, counseling, etc.  Unfortunately, the program no longer exists since it was grant-funded and they couldn’t secure additional funding to make it a permanent entity.

In other news, I successfully got my name on the Virginia Gazette website! I e-mailed the editors to add a post to the Last Word section asking for those who had an opinion on substance abuse or programs, etc. to e-mail me so I’m hoping that will lead to some interesting information.

Next Friday, I have an interview with Davina Parmet and then the following Monday I have an interview with the Executive Director of Bacon Street, Sandy Fagan.  I’m looking forward to these interviews and at that point, I’ll probably wrap up my interviewing and start focusing on my researching, which is still confusing to me.

Happy Friday!

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About

The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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