Archive for April, 2011



Work Journal 4/18-4/24

Monday April 18th:

I typed the index of Jessie’s interview with Arri Daniels and sent it to her. I still haven’t heard from Sharon Spain about whether my upcoming interview this week is set, so hopefully that will finalize in the next few days. I’m still a little worried about what I will say and how the final paper will turn off, and I’m going to hold off on writing any more until I conduct my last interview.

Tuesday April 19th:

The finish line is in sight! Sarah and Jenny gave us the guidelines for what’s due on the last official class block (next Thursday the 28th) and I’m relieved to see that there isn’t that much left for me to do. I’m just hoping I’ll have enough time over the weekend and next week to get it done, especially with everything else that’s due in other classes.

Wednesday April 20th:

Sarah and I went to Blair to finalize the deed of gift forms from Paula Edgette, which went really well. I was nervous about the going through the process of filling out an addendum, but Paula decided to just close the interview for ten years, which made it really simple and easy. I’m also happy that her views will be available to researchers eventually, even if they can’t access them now. Sharon Spain also confirmed by interview with Mr. Dofflemeyer and Dr. Frantz for tomorrow at 2pm in Jamestown. Sarah volunteered to go with me, which is great because I have a ride and an indexer.

Thursday April 21st:

I had my interview with Mr. Dofflemeyer and Dr. Frantz today with Sarah. It went much longer than expected, and it was a bit disjointed because Dr. Frantz came into the interview near the end. This made it a little difficult because I had to backtrack to ask her questions which Mr. Dofflemeyer had already answered. I was really glad she joined in though, because she had some really interesting stories and views to share. After the recording stopped, she told even more about her experiences before special education was a legitimate recognized program, which I really wished I had on tape because they were very insightful.

Friday April 22nd:

Today I began listening to my old recordings of interviews and gathering key ideas and quotes from each. I’m hoping that this will help me write my paper and give me details to support my thesis.

Saturday April 23rd:

Today I continued listening to the interview sound files and also finished the introductory paragraphs of my paper. I was surprised by how easy it was to start writing- I already have almost two pages just introducing my topic and conclusions. Hopefully this is a good sign for the rest of the paper, but I think it might get a bit harder when I actually have to start backing up my ideas with quotes and sources.

Sunday April 24th:

I began transcribing Paula Edgette’s interview today, which will be the recording that I transcribe as part of my final project. I got a quarter of the way through, which will hopefully help this week become sightly less stressful. Also, I need to ask Sarah some clarifying questions about what I can omit when creating transcriptions. I also wrote thank you notes to a bunch of my interviewees that I can give to Sarah on Tuesday.

Work Journal 6

This week I transcribed the Deena Walls interview.  I also called Richmond City Public Schools and Newport News Public Schools for information on resources for pregnant students.  JT suggested I do this just for perspective and comparison’s sake.  I was a little shocked at the responses I got.  One woman in the RPS main guidance office answered, “We don’t have services for pregnant teens…maybe the schools would have them….”  At NNPS I first spoke with a woman in the Social Workers office:  “Resources for pregnant teenagers?? . . .hold on.”  I was transferred twice, eventually to the Discipline Department (which is commentary in itself) where I left a message.  I tried to call WJCC social services head Jane Ferguson again but she was not in her office.  I’ll keep trying her.

Thursday I went to Lafayette with JT and it was great.  We talked with Archie Jefferson (I agree with Chris, he is amazing).  We didn’t have a formal interview but got some valuable information from him.  We also visited a Family Health and Consumer Sciences classroom and talked with Ms. Carter who is currently teaching a parenting class.  The students are doing a unit where they carry around doll babies that cry right now.  She agreed to speak with me in more detail, and I’ve emailed her to set up a time.  I haven’t heard back yet, but am really hoping to get an interview in this week.

We also visited the childcare center that’s attached to Lafayette.  It’s run by CDR and not really connected (except physically) to the school at all, but we spoke with Ms. Mars there and she answered some questions I had.  I also got some pamphlets and other info, and she gave me a different e-mail address for Lewi Blosser, who I’ve been trying to get in touch with for the past 3 months.  Hopefully I hear back from her this time . . . .

I really hope that I make a few more contacts this week and am able to set up a couple interviews.  This has been very difficult for me, despite my attempts to contact people.  Over the past couple of weeks I’ve become increasingly aware of how much many people in this community, and especially those associated in any way with the schools (besides some insiders actually working with the students), are reluctant to talk about the issue of teenage pregnancy, and also seem to be in denial that it even exists in Williamsburg.

Journal 5

Last week I finally managed to get my interview done with Nathan Arries.  It went well for the most part, except for the fact that halfway through the interview the empty classroom we were using had a visitor who left his briefcase in the room beforehand.  Nathan had mostly positive things to say about the WJCC school system’s handling of standardized testing and preparing for standardized tests, I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t expect to hear, but nonetheless it was good to have that put on the record for me. Due to my lack of technological aptitude I did accidentally splice the interview when I tried to pause the recording, however.

I also gave Jenn and Jessie a ride to James Blair for their respective interviews in the elementary school. I have two more interviews planned with former Williamsburg area students, one of whom is from Bruton High, so I might just use the interview informally, as Bruton High is not, strictly speaking, WJCC.

Work Journal 5

Last week I indexed for Ginger on her interview with Ms. Cheryl Fox. The interview was great. I managed to get some relevant questions to my project in between Ginger asking some very good questions herself. Ms. Fox and I connect because she is from Philly and my dad is as well. We talked about where to get the best cheese steak and about what parts of Philly suck and what parts are still nice to live in. It was nice to chat with someone who has such an appreciation for the city of brotherly love as does my father.

Thursday I interviewed Archie Jefferson. He is amazing. He is the kind of person you want being accountable for your child’s success. I took notes as I did not want to bother him with a full interview.

On Friday, Maggie J.T. and I went to the ALL. It was an eyeopening experience. I talked with the school’s principal as well as several of the teachers and kids there. It is a shame that the ALL will cease to exist next year. I can see that it has done much good for its students.

4/18 Journal

I know this is late. I have a good reason, though! I wanted to wait until after my interview with Loretta Hannum at 1:30 today to update, so here goes.

I had two interviews in the last week! That exclamation point is conveying more excitement than you can possibly imagine. My first interview was last Thursday with Jon Andre, the head of Human Resources for WJCC schools. I thought it went really well – he gave very in-depth answers, and was able to explain the school district’s official policies and provide clarification for things I was a little hazy on. I walked out of that interview feeling much better about my project.

I also interviewed retired teacher Loretta Hannum, as I mentioned earlier. She was kind of soft-spoken, so I’m a little worried about the quality of the recording, but the content she gave me was wonderful. It was really great to hear the perspective of someone who has taught on compensation policy. I didn’t know she was involved with the teacher’s association either, so that was a bonus! I’ll admit that I strayed a little bit from my project subject in her interview, but how could I not ask about her Fulbright? She seems as though she’s had an exceptionally interesting life. Overall, I think the interview went well and I’m definitely planning on incorporating her perspective into my project.

Journal #5

Last week I was able to interview the supervisor of Child Nutrition Services and SHIP’s dietician together.  It was great to have both present during the interview because one could speak more towards managing cafeterias and the financial side of things, while the other could speak to the nutritional aspects of school food.  I learned about such things like refigerated vending machines, reduced sodium regulations, farm to school distribution, financial constraints and the difference between cafeterias with/without a large population of free/reduced lunch students.  Overall the interview was very insightful and I feel like I’m on the right track.

I also was able to ask a PTA president about her take on school nutrition.  She seemed to be more on the parent’s side of the parent/school debate in terms of who plays a role in a child’s health.  She packs lunch for her kids and felt their weren’t enough healthy options in the schools. 

I desperately want to get into a cafeteria and do some “field work” but I’m having a hard time getting in touch with cafeteria managers.  I will continue to be persistant and hopefully can arrange something for this week or next.  

I continue to be very interested in free/reduced lunch, childhood obesity and the financial limitations of incorporating healthier foods into the schools.  This most recent interview really got me going in the right direction and I feel like I was exploring the hot topics that were most relevant to both of them.

Research Journal for 4/18

4/11

Today I met with Michelle Greene at James Blair in the cafeteria. Jen came with me and because we got there early, we had a chance to talk to a few of the students who participate in the student worker program. As has been my experience in a lot of the oral histories I’ve done, Michelle was really positive about the school system. She spoke very highly of support for work training programs coming from the school system and the community. This oral history made me feel excited about the special ed program here, because it sounds like there are a lot of options for students in the special eduction program, including a variety of job-training sites within the schools and out in the community. I really liked the experience of interviewing Michelle, and feel like I learned a lot about what the school system is doing right.

4/13

Today I interviewed Sandy Wanner. We met at the Williamsburg Lodge, which is beautiful! And we talked about a wide variety of topics, including the politics of the budget and community attitudes toward technical education. Sandy was in charge of finances for the Fredericksburg public schools before moving to Williamsburg to take the same position here for the WJCC system. He also worked for the city as assistant commissioner and then commissioner, so he knows a lot about money in the system, how it gets allocated, and how it is prioritized. He was also very positive about community/ school board attitudes toward technical education, which is interesting. This was a good new perspective on my project though, as it covered the financial aspect of education for non-college-bound students more than my other oral histories.

Research Journal (4/18/11)

I finished up my interviews this week which feels like a huge load off my back.  My final interviews were with Trisha Farinholt and Robert Horvath, and both were invaluable.  Both people had a tremendous amount to say about the school system, having both worked in the WJCC school system for a number of years.  Both Mr. Horvath and Ms. Farinholt currently work at Jamestown High School, and each of them had a unique and thrilling perspective on the evolution of Career and Technical Education in the WJCC schools which have been invaluable in my understanding of the whole issue

This week I plan on indexing all of the interviews that I didn’t have an indexer for, as well as transcribing the Trisha Farinholt interview.  One thing that I have learned from this whole project is that I’m terrible at transcribing, so that hour-long interview will probably take me a 5 hours to transcribe.  I also have to get working on the final paper this week, which is a pretty daunting prospect.

Project Update 4/11-4/18

4/11-4/18

4/11: Nada

4/12: I received an email from the LGBTQ Outreach ministry group at the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists.  I responded to the email, trying to set up a time to meet.   I also received an email from a former faculty adviser for the GSA at Warhill High School.  I responded, trying to set up a time to meet.

4/13: I wrote up a page about what I wanted to discuss with the youth pastors at St. Bede Catholic Church and emailed it to them after they felt some hesitation about meeting me.  I haven’t heard back from them since then, so I’m feeling a little nervous.  I’m afraid it might have been too pushy.

4/15: I received an email from the GSA adviser.

4/16: Nada

4/17: Nada

4/18: I mailed deed of gift forms to two of my interviewees with enclosed, stamped envelopes so they can send them back.  I only did this because I forgot to bring the forms to the interviews – no harm done, this time.   I also emailed the GSA advisor to set up a time to meet.  Hopefully I will see her on Friday, 4/22, and 3:30pm.

*Note: Transcription begins this week!  Wish me luck.

Research Journal 18 Apr 11

I had some great interviews last week. One more today at noon. Sheryl Fox was great to talk to–she’s got a ton of amazing stories. I gotta give a shout out to my boy Chris for indexing and also because I think we bonded a tiny bit over almost getting eaten by the humongous German shepherd in Mrs. Fox’s yard. I swear, it had murder in its heart. But we did not get eaten, and Mrs. Fox was very kind and interesting, and everything worked out.

Also interviewed Barbara Watson again. It was pretty fun because for the first half, I mostly did not have to ask her any questions. She knew what my topic was and just started talking, and thoughts led to other thoughts, and it was like an oral historian’s fantasy or something. I did ask some pointed questions at the end but she went a good while just generating her own material, and that was kind of a special treat.

I’m a bit nervous about this paper, but not as nervous as I was. We have written a lot for this class and I think once I sit down and write something I’ll surprise myself with how much I’m actually able to write. I have a lot of good sources to refer to when experience needs backing up, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Mostly my problem is sitting down and actually making myself do it.

Oh–Prof. JT, thanks for pointing out the Last Word that called me out on my silly college ideas about language diversity. I am so grateful to this anonymous fellow for correcting me–otherwise, who knows how long I would have labored under the absurd idea that people speak in different ways (and should be respected and treated fairly for doing so)?! Ah, we college students think we know everything, but sometimes it takes the wisdom of the elders to make us realize our folly! It’s weird though, I swear there’s like actual professors who teach about that. But who in the world would fund that absurd research?

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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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