My father was an elementary school principal until I was about 12, when he went back to teaching.
There were a number of perks to being the child of a principal. During the summer, my sister and I had free reign of the kindergarten classroom. It was heaven! We could draw on the chalkboard, listen to records, play with all the toys, etc. I could also go into the library and spend the afternoon reading, which was also pure delight for this bookworm.
I’m too young to remember this, but Dad used to bring home a reel-to-reel projector so that we could watch movies at home. What I do remember was a few years later when he would occasionally bring home a VCR for the weekend. This was when not many people had VCRs, and they were still very expensive. We used to drive to the video rental place in nearby Dunkirk (Video Plus, I believe) to rent videos. I remember that he would always try to get my sister and me to choose Tron, but of course we’d end up getting something like The Apple Dumpling Gang or The Last Unicorn. Anyway, it was bigtime stuff for a first grader.
He would also bring a filmstrip projector home for me so that I could check filmstrips out of the public library. Why did they have filmstrips at the library, anyway? How many people could actually play them at home?
One year I had to do a school project on wolves. He had brought home some encyclopedias for me to use for my research, and I was very excited about the photos in the entries. I asked him if he could photocopy them at school. But I guess they were slated to get several new sets of encyclopedias, so he told me that I could just cut them out. Then, a few weeks later, one of the school librarians came up to him with the defaced volumes and said to him, “Mr. W—, can you believe what someone did to these encyclopedias?!” He pretended to be shocked and dismayed.
I have a fuzzy memory of when he was attending or appearing on It’s Academic. At least, that’s what I remember. I might be completely off. For some reason, I remember us driving in the pouring rain to get there or pick him up in our ginormous station wagon. There was lots of traffic and general misery. (Mom and Dad, can you help me out? I’m thinking it was the Maryland City era.)
It was also interesting to run into his students when we were out. They would be so surprised to see their principal at the mall or grocery store, and it amused me. (Even though I had the same reaction to seeing my own teachers out in the “real world.”)
There are some funny memories from when he went back to teaching, too. For example, he had a couple of pairs of these plaid pants that I, in middle school at the time, thought were hideous and embarrassing. Apparently, the kids at his school agreed, because they dubbed him “Mr. Plaid Pants.”
Dad is in his 41st year (teaching and administration combined) and is now at the point where he sometimes has the children and grandchildren of former students in his classes. It’s an impressive record of service!