Pearl S. Quick
The following interview was conducted on April 14, 2016, by Amanda Barbee, a graduate student in the Department of Art Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. This interview is part of the Virginia Art Education Association Distinguished Fellows’ Legends and Legacies Project, a project intended to preserve the histories of prominent Virginia art educators for posterity.
Mrs. Pearl Quick was interviewed on her career, accomplishments, and philosophies on leadership. Mrs. Quick is a prominent member of the Virginia Art Education system(s), with local, state, and national experience and accolades. Mrs. Quick served as last Art Supervisor for the Commonwealth of Virginia. (The job title was changed after Mrs. Quick left the position.)
Amanda Barbee (AB): Thank you for agreeing to let me interview you. I know that one of the things I want to ask you was kind of a general question, and we talked about it before, but the VAEA leadership and national representation that so many members from Virginia have, what do you think the reason is for that? How is there so much strength to come from art education in Virginia?
Pearl Quick (PQ): The VAEA leaders that I know have always just been really good leaders. I think it has just been a tradition of really good leaders from all the way back. I can name many of them that made significant changes in the VAEA which overlapped into… I'll give you an example. When Jim Jones was president, they had Southeast region meetings every other year and then state meetings every year in between. So what they started doing was giving a get together and North Carolina and Virginia would have meetings together. I guess the point I'm making is that they came up with some innovative ideas in the past, that spread, maybe even went national. So I just think we've had a lot of really good leaders, and those leaders have even shown to be good enough to go on to be the vice president or president of NAEA. We’ve had Sam Banks, Barbara Laws, and Pat Franklin. You could just go on and on and on about it the ones that have gone up and had leadership in national. I think it's just tradition.
AB: do you feel like there is a lot of support within Virginia art education for one another?
PQ: Yes. Yes.
AB: What forms has that taken?
PQ: Well, we divide, I don't know if a lot of other states divided into regions like we do. I now they came about, but that's in the history books too. (Giggles). Regions, when they developed they were able to pull in people close enough that they could have more meetings, or pulling together the people that were close enough to come, so that each region I think became an individual entity that was able to get to know each other. Then we have the state level regions that were able to come together. So, I think it's just the way that were made up that were able to know each other.
AB: So what region are you?
AB: Okay, and have you always been Central Region your whole career?
PQ: Yes. Central Region is Richmond and surrounding areas. I used to go down to Isle of Wight, that touches on Tidewater on one side. They tried to divide it up by population, but I don't know how well that's worked out.
AB: Okay, was there ever a lot of activity in support, within your region specifically?
PQ: All the regions! I know all the regions have meetings within their own regions, so each region would be strong. Then from the regional meetings would come leaders that would eventually become even stronger. I can only assume that it still like that. Whenever we had a change in leadership we would, as the nominating committees, make sure to get people from each region. We would be sure to get each of the five regions represented so that you can get the leadership in from those different meetings.
AB: That's very smart! Now if we come back to your specific leadership, your personal leadership. What are some of the positions, changes, or impact that you've been able to accomplish because of your role in leadership?
PQ: Oh goodness. In the VAEA?
AB: Any of them! You've got a lot of leadership! Any of all of this right here (gestures to very long leadership section of curriculum vitae).
PQ: (Laughs) It was probably the hardest job in the state, and it probably still is, but what I liked most was the [VAEA] Vice President, because they do the conferences. They pull it together, organizing, they do all of that. How to put it? Some of the things that I did as VP: I did the booklet, and I started the booklet the way that it is now. I don't know if you know in the past and how it was.
AB: The booklet? No, I only know how it is currently, the way that it is right now. What changes did you make?
PQ: I put the VAEA membership on something called FileMaker. So our membership was digitized during my time. Did you know I was membership chair at one time as well? So when I was Vice President I put it in FileMaker, which meant I could more easily assign rooms, keep up with attendance in each room, you could make diagrams so that people would know where to go in the rooms. Using the program now, that's pretty much the way I did it. It wasn't like that before.
AB: It’s VERY user friendly now, yeah!
PQ: It was my technology that did that. They probably have that in a lot of other places, we’re talking about a long time ago.
AB: You should go do that elsewhere. I don't know, it seems like wherever I go there's a group of teachers who are always looking for something we can't find at these get-togethers. It sounds like we could use a little more clarity.
PQ: So I guess that was the job that I liked the most, the Vice Presidency. I did not like being President.
PQ: No, because to be a president it's more a guide than a doer.
AB: How so? Did you see something that maybe you would have wanted to be involved in, but because of your role you, sort of had to delegate it, or let it go by?
PQ: Being a President, yes, the buck stops with you and you make the decisions. But the board actually does it. And more than the board, the members actually do it, you're just a guide to help them to do it. But I guess you have to be a good guide so don't you?
AB: Absolutely! Absolutely.
PQ: So that was my least favorite position. I like membership.
AB: What was your favorite part about membership?
PQ: The numbers, (Giggles) because it's like you're competing with yourself to get the numbers up. You know what I'm talking about?
AB: I absolutely do. You, as one of the newer divisions for NAEA, I know about trying to up the numbers. You know though, pre-service is already one 10th of the total membership. I think we can be more than that.
PQ: Another thing that I liked is, I don't know if you've heard of the old Virginia Alliance of Art Education (Amanda nods). Now what do you know about it?
AB: I know that it exists or that it did. Does it not anymore?
PQ: I don't know. It may, because I've lost track of it. But it is centered out of the Kennedy Center, I'm going under the assumption that things are like they used to be, because it's been a long time. The Alliance was in Richmond for a long time. As a matter of fact, Gladys Fleming started it back in the 60s or the 70s, but I'm not really sure when it started, but way back. Phil James took it over one time. He is from James Madison University (JMU) and has long since retired. I worked with Phil. Phil was the Alliance President. You might be getting him mixed up with something that's called the Alliance now. This was the one that was centered out of Kennedy Center. In this case the arts education means all arts, dance, visual arts, drama and music. I need to find if it still exists. It had been around for so long that it was nearly stagnant when James had it. And I was there, at one time, as the treasurer. Dr. Betty Tisinger is one of them, she is always been my mentor; she is my best friend. Dr. Tisinger decided that Chesterfield County, where I was teaching at the time, needed a branch of the Alliance out there. So I was on the steering committee to get that started down there. Starting something new like that has been really exciting because you already have the framework that it is supposed to be. It's just putting it together and letting it go. So I was elected there. I was the Interim President until they had somebody there, so that was fun getting to do something like that.
AB: I’ll bet. What all did that entail? What do you remember that being like; what challenges do you remember?
PQ: That's been so long ago. Getting everybody on the same page, you know, what it meant to have the Alliance. What they felt like should come from it, come out of it. The purpose.
AB: So for this, how many people were you generally working with around this time period, in the beginning?
PQ: I don't know, off the top of my head, maybe 10 people. It was small.
AB: Alright, so those were your favorite leadership positions how about your favorite times from the classroom? Actually, let me come back to that question because I had one more question about leadership. You were talking earlier about not letting opportunity pass you by. I've heard that sentiment several times, but how did you feel that you personally were taking advantage of that notion? I did hear you also say that you say “yes” to too many things. What does that look, smell, feel like when you see leadership coming and choose to take it?
PQ: I have this philosophy that anyone can do anything they want to do, if they want it bad enough. But you can't pass up an opportunity when it comes along, when it may be gone forever. I was not raised in the best of circumstances. I was the first person in my family to graduate from high school; we won’t even talk about college. I think I've always felt growing up that I wanted to prove myself. Not to anybody else but to myself. To prove to myself that I could do anything. That I was as good as anyone else. I think that provided the drive that I started with, that, “I am as good as anybody else and I'll prove it.” So when opportunities would come up I would grab at them, whether I knew how to do them or not. I will give you some examples of that because I have done some dumb things turned out for the best. (Giggles)
AB: I cannot wait to hear about that! (Giggles)
PQ: I was always gung ho to do as much as I could, and for a period of time it was good. I was in my late 30s when I got my teaching degree. I was in commercial design before that. I don't know if that's on there or not, but I did not get my teaching degree until 1981. And at the time I was in my late 30s--39, I think. So I felt like I had some catching up to do which was part of this whole thing then get ready to say here. I think I told you that I got the first award, the first award that I got, was in my third year of teaching, not even tenured yet. I tried to turn it down and Gail Nichols talked me out of it.
AB: Because she said you had 50% of the votes as a write-in. I want that part on record! (Both laugh)
PQ: So anyway, that was the first award that I got. It was never enough though, I always wanted more. It was to few years after that that there was, I think I had been teaching six or seven years, and I had had a little bit of training. My minor was in supervision and administration. You know, I thought it would be helpful. I just wanted opportunities to be there if I ever thought of taking them. Well, they did. It came out that they were hiring assistant principals for summer schools. And this was about the same time that the State Department had lost Shirley Loomer as an advisor, and there was an opening. So I applied to both of them at the same time. The first one to contact me was for the summer school principal. I went to the interview thinking I was interviewing for the assistant principal. They hired me as principal. (Laughs) I didn't know what the heck I was doing! I stayed on the phone most of the time, just figuring out how to do things. But it was the best learning experience I have ever had. They even did an audit on me when I left. While I was in there, and I was only in there from about April to August, it wasn't a long period of time, but I had 600 kids. It was a big summer school program. It was at Gordon Elementary School. I had about eight art teachers, a lot of our teachers. But I had a lot of other things, I also had the ESL and pre-kindergarten. Technology was just starting. I even had to expel one of the pre-kindergartners! I gained a lot, a lot, a lot of experience and learning in that capacity for that little bit of time. Well, it was halfway through that that the State Department called me for an interview. I went down there, and I had to interview several times. They reopened the interview pool a few times so it took almost as long to get that job, even though I applied for these two positions at the same time, it took longer to find out I got the job at the State Department because they kept reopening it. Long story short, I got the State Department position as an Arts Supervisor. So, the summer school job was a jumping off, a springboard to administration. Probably, I would like to think I would have become a principal anyway. I took the State Department. I had to learn things all over again (laughs).
AB: Is this one of the stupid things you're talking about? Why are you laughing?
PQ: The stupid thing was applying to things that I really didn't know how to do! But like I say, if somebody wants to do something bad enough, you don’t have to have the experience you have to have the passion to want to do it! And I think I did a good job with both of them. I think I did, I never got any complaints about it.
AB: Tell me about the art supervisor job. So you got that…
PQ: That job, most of it was just mundane, boring, statistical types of things. You know, counting things, and in the state as they were building things. It would come through to me and I would have to add on to their diagram and plans. I had to count numbers in state school divisions where there were teachers, all kinds of things like that. The kind of stuff I liked was going out into the field. The school system or a specific school, most times it was a school system, that called me in from central office. If they needed something, it would be anything from in-servicing their regular teachers to be art teachers, or it would be creating their curriculum to go along with the SOLs. Or it might be a teacher that was in trouble and not doing a job, and they wanted me to come in and not mentor them, but make suggestions and let them know what I say and offer how to help. Those were the kinds of things I loved to do. When I was going into the school system because I felt like I made a difference. At the time, when I was down there, and Cherry Gardner did do this, we got a new law in the state, let's see if I can remember it: The ASTMD 4236.
AB: You just pulled that [law number] out of nowhere, I saw you do it!
PQ: That was a law related to toxic art materials. It meant that you had to meet certain standards for any art materials that were in the classroom. Which meant I had to go to the school systems and in-services, all of the central offices, and to the art teachers, to tell them what that law meant. For example, it was against the law to have rubber cement in the school. When I was in school, rubber cement was a big thing.
AB: Well, you can’t have that now.
PQ: No, see? Anything, that was toxic. Now in high school, you could take it a step further. If it’s labeled, and in cabinets, well, that all came during my time at the State Department, so did a whole lot of that training.
AB: Did you like that?
PQ: I liked it because it was new, and I was teaching. The law itself, it helped kids but it was political. Cherry and I would go to the national conventions. We would have, this is terrible to tell you, we would have the vendors tripping over us to take us out to lunch. Because we had this new law, and they wanted to get in on the ground floor and revise their stuff to get this little tag on it, so that they could get into the catalogs in Virginia. So I have been to a few high-class restaurants before (laughs).
AB: I’m shocked! I have never heard of that. It never would have ever occurred to me, that kind of politics…
PQ: The politics, they go on. And I don’t like them, I don’t like to participate in them, I do like the food that comes from them!
AB: You would never guess that rubber cement means “Let’s go have a fancy lunch.” You’d never put the two together. You know, the art cabinet and politics.
PQ: Yes! The vendors wanted to know more about the law so that they could make do with it.
AB: That makes a lot of sense, yes, but I don’t like politics because I would never have guessed when it was time for that type of stuff to happen. But yes, good lunches are good lunches-you can’t beat that.
PQ: So you were raised, probably, in some of the things that we did at the State Department.
AB: Absolutely, as an elementary student, I was able to use rubber cement. By middle school it had completely disappeared, and it was my favorite adhesive.
PQ: Now that was a late 80s.
AB: Exactly! I was born in 1981. So when you are talking to teachers, this timeline seems really exciting...so when you are an art advisor through to 1991. Then you went back to teach at a different middle school. How did that transition go?
PQ: I knew you were going to ask that (laughs), that was a dark time in my life.
AB: Oh no! Well we can skip over that part if you like.
PQ: No, no I want to tell it, because it was a learning experience. Another thing that I did with the State Department that was significant was a lot of programs that we don’t have now. We used to have a fine arts program that every year would have a conference. I can’t think of the name because it’s been so long and I can’t remember. What was it? Anyway, it was a fine arts conference, and we would do it every single year. And it would be bringing all of the arts: music, dance, and all of them together in one place once a year. So the State Department would do that. We also did, and I think they finally turned it over to the school systems, but we used to do the Governor’s Schools. And it was my job to put out the proposals, I think you call it? I can’t remember how you say it, but anyway I would send this out to colleges and universities for them to give me proposals of what they would do if their school was chosen to have the state Governor’s School there. Request for proposals (RFPs), I think it was called. It used to be how we ran that. I would schedule them. Are you familiar with the Governor’s School?
AB: North Carolina has Governor’s Schools, there is an East and West campus every summer.
PQ: So the kids have to go for interviews, and I would have to get the judges. I would have to schedule all of the interviews. I would put all that together, just me. Now of course, the music person did all that for his people, and so on, but was still a lot of people to deal with and a lot of scheduling. A lot of getting in touch with them and sending out letters, all of that. That was significant because it was a really good summer school, a really good Governor’s School. I believe right after I left, they turned that over to the school systems to do it, so that each school system could. I might be wrong but I believe the State Department doesn’t do it anymore.
AB: I believe you’re right, because when I was interviewing Pat Franklin she said that her district was putting together their Governor’s School as well.
PQ: They didn’t used to do that. And we used to, when I was State Department we had a couple of them at Radford University. One time we had to come back in a snowstorm, and we had to go up on top of Afton Mountain. It was such a bad snowstorm with ice in the mountains that we were sharing rooms with each other because everyone was coming back from Radford. That was an experience too! Having to sleep in a room with a bunch of strangers, in a hotel room (laughs). We also had James Harwood Cochrane, who happened to go to church with me, donated quite a bit of money ($250,000, $300,000?) Either way, it was money for scholarships to go to the best artists in the state. So we had to schedule that into auditions for that, so that was wonderful.
AB: Did he have an interest in art or just an interest in what you are doing?
PQ: Yes! His wife just recently died this year. Around Christmas time. They were both very generous benefactors. They have a wing of the museum where they donated.
AB: Oh the Cochranes. Like the Cochrane Foundation on NPR? Okay! I’ve heard of the Cochranes.
PQ: So we worked with that, we stayed busy. When I was at the State Department, I loved that part of it too.
AB: Did you like the organization of the events the best? Planning the events coming up, and getting things together? Was that your favorite part? That and getting to work with our teachers?
PQ: Yes. I like putting things together. At Mary Baldwin University, we used to put together a workshop every summer. And I would schedule that, too. So yeah, I guess you could say that I really liked the putting things together.
AB: Because you’ve mentioned how much you loved working with the conference and conventions together, that seems to be a thread of what you seem to get excited about, and your eyes sparkle.
PQ: I’m learning about myself here! Now you probably can’t tell us from the curriculum vitae you’re looking at, but I am an ultra-introvert. I would rather sit around the corner and do my own little thing with planning and everything, and not have to do everything with everybody.
AB: You’re right, I would never get that impression of you today. I’m so glad I caught you on what you call your “hyper day”. That’s so wonderful. You know there’s even a term for it that I feel suits people. If you sometimes extroverted and sometimes introverted, it’s called an ambivert.
PQ: I had my husband put a lock on my door because sometimes I like to know that I can be all by myself. I am an extreme introvert.
AB: I would not get that impression at all. So the State Department job, some parts of it were fun. And other parts of it, with the statistics, you did not love so much.
PQ: The politics, and the what I would call “brown-nosing”. There was a lot of that. So I went back to the kids.
AB: So when you got back to the kids was everything the same as before? What was that like transitioning back?
PQ: I left the Department of Education when Doug Wilder was reorganizing the Department of Education. I know that you don’t remember it because you are too young but at the time it came to the point that the General Assembly was going to have to close all of the jobs down at the State Department and reissue them. That meant you would lose your job but you would immediately apply for whatever the new one was. The new organization meant that the new jobs would be described maybe a little bit differently than what it might have been. And I’m not going to go through some of the bad parts; I’m just not gonna say. But I will tell you that Bucky Wise, who was the supervisor in Henrico County, kept asking me “When are you coming back to the classroom?”, because he knew I missed the classroom. And I did. He kept asking me when I was going to come back. He called me, you know how I told you about opportunities, he called me at the perfect time because I had just found out something that day from the State Department...politics...that I was in a really ready mood for what he asked me. He called me up and he said “I had a teacher that just quit,” and this was in January. You know teachers don’t quit in the middle the year. The kids ran her off. That’s another story. But anyway he said, “I have a position opening, are you ready to come back to the classroom yet?” I said, “Bucky, I’m ready, make me an appointment.” He had me in Henrico County at the central office the next day (laughs). I’m not kidding you! He came by the office and picked me up in his car. He took me to central office, this is the truth, he took me to central office and I interviewed with whoever it was. Then he said, “Let’s go out of the school and take a tour.” It happened to be John Rolfe Middle School. I interviewed with the principal, it was a teacher workday so there were no kids there. We went for a tour of the school. Before we got done with a tour of the school, the intercom came on and they said, “Would Ms. Quick please stop by the office?” over the speakers. They offered me the job right there on the spot! They said they had already called up central office. I gave my two weeks notice and I left.
PQ: So I started teaching in February 1991.
AB: That is an awesome story! And you taught there for six years. That is such a cool story.
PQ: At John Rolfe was where I got the Middle School Art Teacher of the Year award. I don’t remember how long I was there before I got it.
A.B. You had only been there three years when you got that!
PQ: I’m a mover and shaker!
AB: I’m saying! You had been there one year when you got Southeastern Region Teacher of the Year from NAEA. You had been there one year, not even one full school year! Man!
PQ: I do know that it was at the end of that school year at John Rolfe, which is a story, they were having a hard time because they had a revolving door of administrators, and the morale was down. I remember at the end of that year the department chair told somebody, “You’re going to have to do something to keep Pearl here.” So they offered me department chair. And I believe it was the year after that I became an administrative assistant as well.
AB: This was still at John Rolfe? Where you were still the Art Teacher, and the Department Chair? How did you like managing all of those positions at the same time?
PQ: Oh, it was easy! Administrative assistant is not the same as administrator, it’s an assistant to the administrator. Which means you’re the gopher. You do all the things that they don’t want to do (laughs). I’m a hard worker. Or at least I used to be, I don’t know anymore.
A.B.: Well, I don’t know now (sarcastically). You’re retired, and yet here you are working at a school some more, teaching and writing curriculum. I would say you’re still hard worker! I still want to know about coming back to the classroom. You left for a little while and came back. Was it very different, I know that we’re talking 20 years or so back, but was anything different that you brought back, or is there any new experience that you were able to use?
PQ: Oh, it did change! In just the few years that I was out of there. It could have been because of the schools that I worked at. It was a good school, a lot of single families. I don’t know if this is what you’re asking me, but what was different. There did not seem to be as much parent involvement. Discipline was a lot worse when I came back, even though I was only gone for a few years. But things over the years really have changed. It used to be the kids would get in trouble for chewing gum or short skirts. Now, when I was a John Rolfe Middle School, we had a police officer come in and train us on how to break up a fight. I have had to go to court twice from somebody accidentally hitting me when they were in a fight when I was breaking it up. One time there was a kid that threw an apple down the hallway and it made a bruise on my leg. He wasn’t throwing it at me, it was an accident but I’m talking about the kind of things that can happen now at school that didn’t used to happen. That little bit of time, I could see a difference.
AB: Any good changes? Anything you liked better? Even if it was about your own teaching…
PQ: When I came back out of the department, and this is a whole new story that I could tell you about in the department what I did, but technology had taken hold.
AB: That is a beautiful lead-in, I was just what I wanted to ask you about! So how did you get involved in technology? Was it just because it was there?
PQ: When I was at the [State] Department, we had some Mac SEs. They were these little tiny boxes with little tiny screen. They were in our storage room where we used to store supplies. I finally one day, after I’d been there for a while, asked what they were, and found out that they were our computers and no one was using them! So I got someone to put them out on our desks, and we started using them. It just took off, I just loved it! And the think you have to have a certain type of personality to be a technology person. I think you have to be able to carry on a relationship with that machine. Just be able to zone out everybody around you. Now I’m the introvert so this was fine—just work with your machine. That’s when I found out that I could do things with it. I have to narrow this story down because I don’t want to make this answer longer that has to be. When I went back to the schools, they had just put in the Mac Initiative, which was in the early 1990s. All of the high school kids got computers in the classroom. I can remember teaching, as a matter of fact we had Macs in the room, the ones you had to boot up. I was teaching kids on them. Teaching them art with that draw and paint program. I can’t remember the names of the programs, it’s been so long, but it was so good. I even went to some of the in-services to find out how to do all of the graphing out that you could do. I am getting way off track.
AB: No, not at all! This is super.
PQ: I was taking any kind of in-service or class within the county that was convenient. I just made a liking to it. I called up the central office a couple years after I had been there, and asked them how I could get in a such-and-such class that was being given. It was at the University of Virginia. She said, “Pearl, you don’t have to be in the class. Call this number, and tell them that I referred you to be an instructor!”
AB: You wanted to take it, and they wanted you to teach it? (Laughs)
PQ: (nods, laughing) So, see what I was talking about with opportunities? I called to take a class and she told me to teach it! And so I did that. And one thing led to another, and I ended up teaching for the University of Virginia. One of things I was teaching, they came up with this course of study that when computers first came into education, the University of Virginia offered a certificate for taking a course program. If you took six of the eight, you got a participant’s certificate that could only be counted for continuing education. All I did was teach you how to use a computer. Things like the introduction, how computers work, word processing, spreadsheets, that kind of stuff. That curriculum was already there; I didn’t write that one. I got a good salary for a few hours a week though! It was a satellite school, so that meant I could choose the location to meet with the teachers. Sometimes I would just have it right at my school! I had teachers come from nearby because the university was associated with it. You ask about my opportunities and how to lead to technology, I was at John Rolfe Middle School and every semester I would teach this course to teachers, and by the way they are the hardest people to teach because they think they know it all (laughs). Fairfield Middle School’s principal was hyped up. This was the next school over. The principal wanted his teachers to be trained in technology so he got my course to be centered over at his school. It was my regular course and all, but it was just his teachers that took it, with a few others. I’m telling you that because the very next semester he hired me in a new position over at that school.
AB: And what job was that?
PQ: He took up a teacher position, if you know anything about administrative work, he took one of the numbers they had to be a teacher, and he gave it to me. I was not a classroom teacher. That meant that the other teachers had to make up the difference in that class sizes. So this was a big step for him. I was the technology instructor. I would go into the classroom and mentor the teachers, teaching how to do a certain thing. If they wanted to teach spreadsheets in science, I would come and teach the kids to do it, but in turn the teacher was supposed to be learning it as well so that she could take it and take off afterwards. I can’t remember how many years, but I was in the classroom all the time at Fairfield. That was two years. They took that job away from that principal so he could no longer use me as a teacher. The main reason was because that year they were putting technology instructors, just like me, in all of the schools. So I was surplused. Another school had to take me. So, I was ready to be an art teacher again. Of course I was ready, that is my profession. When I went over there, when you go in as a surplus teacher they don’t want you. There is a bad taste in your mouth because you have to take them. And I found out later that they had all but hired somebody else, and then had to take me. I remember I went into Dr. Bingley with my resume and said, “Just give me a chance, I will prove myself.” And he did, and I did. I think I proved myself, if I remember right I got an award there too.
AB: Yes, yes you did. That was Teacher of the Year for the whole county while you were there. Art teacher of the Year in 2004. And that was after you had only been there about three years. I’ll tell you, for three years is your magic spot. They love you after three years. I love you going back to the classroom, that really gives me hope.
PQ: That is where I belong, that’s where I want to be.
A.B.: But you have experienced so much else too, you know how so much more of it works beyond your classroom. You know the inner workings of all of it. A lot of teachers don’t have that.
PQ: I have a lot of respect for the teachers here, at my current school, Richmond Academy. I love this school. We have a lot of young teachers here and there always coming in and asking questions. Questions that would only come from someone that they trusted, and that they knew had the experience.
AB: They’re using you as a resource, which is not something teachers are always inclined to do as teachers very easily. Not with our peers.
PQ: Yeah! So I feel like I’m doing some good things here, plus I also feel like I’m doing some things by writing their technology curriculum. I wrote that from scratch for the school. This is a Christian school and Adventist school, so we have our conference standards in addition to state and national standards. What I did was take all three of those together and meshed them and made sure all three of them were in there.
AB: Was that an easy job?
PQ: Yeah, absolutely. Because the national and the state standards are basically the same. So you can see, it’s easy to do that. They want me to make a few more curricula here. The one that I should have already done, and I’m ashamed that I haven’t finished it yet, they started off calling the “Communications” curriculum. It’s for 11th and 12th graders, and the name is going to change because it doesn’t even say what it’s really going to do. They wanted to be a curriculum that readies the 11th and 12th graders for after high school. Whether it be college, which would entail how to do the SATs, applications for college, anything that has to do with getting scholarships. But they also want it to be part of what you do after high school if you don’t end up going to college. What are the things that are required for getting a job? There are a lot of things that I’ve got in my mind--that I’m ready to put into it. They want that curriculum, and I would have liked for it to already have been made. They wanted for next school year to start at the beginning of this school year.
AB: (Looking at Pearl’s CV) What was this clinical faculty role you had? That was in the middle of your teaching?
PQ: When I was at Tuckahoe, there was a federal grant that was to do something to help student teachers to get better preparation, and that was specifically out in the clinical area. What they came up with was what they call clinical faculty. The University would train teachers on what they could do to make the student teachers the best can be. There were very definite rules and things you have to do to be able to carry through on this. You had to apply for, and go through some type of interview process. Then you could be accepted. So I was clinical faculty, and had a number of student teachers in my classroom, I used their assessments and all. You can see that it is a good job there because they showcased me. They asked me to be on the committee to devise the assessment that the school now uses, and that our Potomac Conference uses. It was funny because we were interviewing for a new Principal here the other day, and he was saying how much he really liked the Potomac Conference Assessment Tool. Desmond looked at me and he said, “That’s your assessment!” But it wasn’t mind, it’s just I helped to work on it with the committee. I just offered input is all. And we had revised them. From there, you had to take a course to get the second level, which was a college course in some type of supervision course. It was to qualify you to be able to supervise student teachers with a supervising teacher. So I supervised over at VCU for a few years.
AB: So that while you are also teaching? How were you able to observe teachers and student teachers while you were teaching?
PQ: I took it on more after I left teaching. The last year I was at my school, even though it is considered to be there, when you retire there is a year were you don’t get paid but you have to give them a certain number of hours. I really liked doing that. It was one of my favorites but I had to leave because of health problems.
AB: What was your favorite part about doing that? I can relate because Preservice Educators are my favorite group of educators.
PQ: You feel like you’re getting in on the ground floor of helping to educate a great teacher. Making it work for them, giving them suggestions, helping them to change things, giving them accolades when they need them. That’s a hard job to go in that first year to go into a classroom and take all of the things that you’ve learned in college and now start to use them. A teacher would go into the classroom and that student’s experience will be the roll of the dice. Either you got a teacher that uses you as a substitute, which happened a lot, and you got nothing from it, or you go into a classroom where the teacher didn’t really need somebody, so all you were was a gopher. But you want a mentor and mentee relationship. That was the reason the VCU made their clinical faculty program, so they could stop that other stuff from happening. It didn’t stop it altogether, but it sure did help a lot. It was strictly in the Art Education Department, so I really just loved that. I have been to every school system around it which is unlikely. It’s because, usually to making a difference, you are helping to prepare them for what their life is gonna be. There were only a couple really big problems, one student I had to fail. I didn’t want to do it but when a person is not open to changing and improving, you don’t let them get into the system.
AB: They obviously didn’t want it enough that they were willing to change. It’s hard to be in education if you don’t want to learn. All of this that you just told me I didn’t know. I did know that you were involved with VCU, but I had no idea were so involved with the preservice.
PQ: And loved it. Now, I did work with VCU full-time faculty, and I did have a few publications. Some of the teachers were getting me to do guest lecturers on what I had written about. What I read about were three NAEA publications. They were a set.
AB: I see them: Survival Skills for the New and Not So New Art Teacher, Student Discipline, Classroom Management, and Student-Teacher Rapport. Where are those? I have seen these! I need these!.
AB: I will email you to remind you about that, I would love that.
PQ: Would you like me to come down to talk to the student teachers about that?
AB: I’m sure they would love that! We have a really great group of secondary placement students right now.
PQ: (laughs) They always are!
AB: That’s why when I found out that Preservice was going to become a Division with NAEA, I applied. I love student teachers in Art Education.
PQ: That’s why you always take an opportunity when you see it coming.
AB: Alright, now, those are the pearls of wisdom I am so excited to get from you. (both laugh) Oh, my gosh, that was totally unintentional. I didn’t even mean to be punny. I’m sorry. I really do say that phrase all the time. But these are “Pearl’s pearls.”
PQ: I get it all of the time. I like that, “Pearl’s pearls.”
AB: How much of that being open to opportunity involves being ready to make a jump to a different lily-pad to get to a new opportunity? Sometimes there may be opportunities that seem very much to be a side jump. Looking at your career, it looks like he may have taken a few that could have looked like side jumps. Maybe they weren’t the path you had always expected. So, you see something and it may be different from the path you’d planned...what do you do?
PQ: I don’t know how to answer that because each one is different. You look at everything, you mull it over, and you decide “Will this work?” If you want to do it, but you have questions about maybe you can’t, just don’t think like that. If you want to do it, and you think it is the thing to do, nothing ventured nothing gained, right? That’s a pearl of wisdom there!
AB: Is there anything else you were expecting me to ask you about, or that you’d like in our legend, that I’ve not asked you about? Anything else you feel you wanted to be told, but maybe hasn’t been in this interview?
PQ: I always jumped at opportunities, and getting to NAEA was just one thing leading to another. The Sara Joyner story led to other things. When I found out that she was so significant to NAEA, I did the NAEA stuff. Things just moved on from one thing to the next, and you consider what you want to do next. It always works that way.
The interview closed as school dismissal began, and we were unable to hear one another or depend upon a good recording from that point on. Mrs. Quick was happy and proud to have been interviewed, and expressed again how she felt she’d learned more about herself in telling the stories she’d shared with me. I feel certain that I have met a dear and trusted mentor, and look forward to communications to come in the very near future. She was an encouraging, charming, and matter-of-fact individual that I am incredibly fortunate to have met. It was a pleasure and an honor to interview Mrs. Pearl Quick.