Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mr. Previs

I wrote a post a while ago about my (and many other's) all time favorite principal ever. As a teacher, he's really an ideal for me. I've never met anyone who is like him in leadership style, temperament, devotion to kids and staff and intelligence as an elementary school principal. Unfortunately, he left our beloved elementary school with the stain of scandal on his reputation, but a scandal that was not proved nor accepted easily by those who knew him. Why? Because the thought of this man doing something so ridiculous as changing test scores on Standardized tests, lying about it (and passing lie detector tests which indicated that he did not do this) and then resigning to protect his staff against an internal investigation.... just didn't add up. To this day, there is an active facebook group of former students who believe he is innocent. Every once in a while I check that group and just love the comments people leave that help me to remember why we loved him!! Here are some quotes:

~ "What other elementary school principal would sub for gym class ... and knowingly try to kick your a** in dodgeball????"

~ "MR. NOREN ... PLEASE REPORT TO THE CAFETERIA ... WITH A MOP!!!!" (This was a frequent announcement made by Mr. Previs, who was our only lunch aide all the years he worked at our school. He monitored the lunch room while helping kids finish up schoolwork at back tables.)

~ "Don't forget about juggling, intramural basketball, and after school roller skating, AND of course, unicycling!!! :)" (I was one of the unicyclers.... and there was clowning, double dutch jumproping....)

~ "He was one of the best people I have ever met, only cared for the kids, he was very humble, not at all showy, the absolute last person who would do something dishonest. And only people who don't know him would think otherwise. My four brothers and I all went to
Stratfield, and we are all very grateful it was when Mr. Previs was there!! We feel we are better people for having known him. If we had a The Western Onion right now I would send him a secret note to say, "Mr Previs, we all KNOW that you are the best!!"" (Every spring, we would have a school fair and the Western Onion was a little station where, for a ticket, you could write a note to someone. All afternoon and evening, we could hear it at my house!!, names would be announced.... "Deanna Lovegren, will you please come to the Western Onion!" and you'd know there was a secret note for you!!"

~ "He not only cared for all his kids, after we graduated, he kept up on all of us. He knew his kids' names and faces even after they graduated from college." (So true... he never forgot me, I was always welcome to visit, and he even offered me a job right out of college without a teaching certificate in my hand. I already had one, so I regretfully declined. That was only a year or two before this mess....)

~ "the rule of eating 2 items....what principal is there now that is that attentive to his/her students?" (He was a genius, probably the only person I ever met with a photographic memory - at least I'm pretty sure that's what it was!)

~ "Remember that slide show with the John Denver music that Mr. Previs used to play at the end of every year!! haha!" (Send in the Clowns.... he'd put together a slide show every year for the 6th grade graduation...)

~ "Of course there was always the Memorial Day parade, and to this day, the kids at Stratfield still do the "parade of the States"! That awesome tradition started with the 1986 parade...."

~ " And also had the opportunity to learn LOGO (okay NOW i'm really dating myself here) on a Apple II computer (yup, REALLY dating myself here!), and that was back in 1983-84! Oh yes, and the famous Stratfield fair in the spring....and getting free popcorn if we helped to clean up afterwards! Ahhhhh those were good times...." (I learned LOGO as well... with that little turtle!)

~ "I recall him saying that there's more than one way to solve a problem (I was part of "Operation Mind Stretch in 5th grade, plus was also part of the trial run of Odyssey of the Mind). I still have my Iowa Test Scores from when I was at Stratfield (CT Masterys did not happen until after I left there) and I believe those were *not* tampered with at all....I know my abilities, and believe in still hurts after a number of years that a principal who was so good w/ the students and teachers at Stratfield was forced to resign over "Erasergate"." (I was in PACE (Personal Achievement Creative Enrichment) and OMS (Operation Mind Stretch) as well.... run by Mr. Previs himself!)

~ "he used to play dodgebll with us!
and if u were the last one and didnt get hit 3 times he bought u an ice cream!"

~ "Roger Previs remembers every name and face he ever encountered in his tenure as principal at the Stratfield School for growing children." (True, indeed... I'm not sure any of my girls' principals can say the same...."

~ "anyone remember the after school rollerblading game where he threw hard balls at us while we skated in circles and tried to avoid a broken leg?
awesome. best principal.
live. love. roger previs."

~ "I remember getting in trouble probably 3 times a week and having to write letters of apology saying what i did and why it was wrong. THe letter had to be signed by my parents and Mr. Previs. I forged both my parents and Mr. Previs' signature. I didn't care that i forged my parents signature, but the look on Mr. Previs' face after seeing what i had tried doing is still too much for me to handle. I'm sorry Mr. Previs! I'm sorry!" (So classic....)

Of course, there are those who think he might have actually changed those test scores... but I've never seen the proof. Someone did, I just don't think it was him! My greatest challenge was trying to make Mr. Previs laugh, something he rarely did. From all the quotes here, there was no doubt he was amazing and while we all feared him as a principal, it was only because we loved and respected him and wanted him to be proud of the students he gave 100% to. Incidentally, he never had any children of his own, which to me only makes his story more remarkable. I hope he realizes that he is still loved in the hearts of those whose lives he invested in. Thanks, Mr. Previs!

No comments: