Importance of student-teacher relationships
Miller remembers hoping that black students would be able to learn from white students after desegregation, but sometimes it seemed like they learned only "the frivolous things," like smoking cigarettes. Nevertheless, he believes that students and teachers can learn much from one another and worries that the close connections between students and teachers are breaking down today.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Leroy Miller, June 8, 1998. Interview K-0174. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
LM: Myers Park was supposed to have been the answer to East Mecklenburg, because at that time you had the city and the county system. Then in ’54 they built West Charlotte, and West Charlotte was the answer to those two schools for the blacks. It was an award winning school. This guy from the news, Rand Norton. I guess Rand is about ninety years old now. He was a good old Kiwanian. He came out and did a story on this fine high school for blacks, so to speak. We had J. D. Morgan. He was assistant superintendent for the county. Dr. Garinger, and I can’t think of the associate superintendent we had for the city school system, but J. D. Morgan had gotten this black reading specialist for the county. Her name was Miss White, and Dr. Garinger had gotten this Miss Stiles as a specialist for the blacks in the city to correspond to what they had in the white schools. Prior to integration there was maybe a year’s difference in the blacks and the whites, but then after integration things went the other way. A good example, prior to integration we didn’t have a smoking place for blacks. We didn’t provide that in the black schools. We knew that we had some kids that smoked, and we had some teachers that smoked. There was a rule. When we were down where Northwest is, if you smoked we’d come out on the street and smoke. But then when they integrated the school at West Charlotte, and we had to designate a smoking area, you’d see all of them little white kids. They had been smoking. You’d see them little black kids come out there and try to smoke like the white kids. They didn’t even know how to hold a cigarette, half of them. That was the thing that concerned me. If you pick up the good things from each other it would be nice, but it looked like they didn’t do that. They pick up the frivolous things. It’s just one of those things. I used to observe the students. You go to any school you see cluster grouping. It can be all white or all black or integrated. It doesn’t make any difference. You’re going to see that cluster grouping. When you observe those clusters I think it’s an educational experience for you or anybody else. When I was at Carmel we’d have orientation. I’d always take the activity bus and take the white teachers out and let them see their attendance areas. And I’d stop in those at different places. I’d let the teachers see where the kids were coming from. I think it’s important. They don’t do it now, but I think they’re missing the boat when they don’t provide that opportunity. The thing I used to do, each teacher had a home room. Back then home room would have anywhere from twenty-eight to thirty-two students. During that orientation period I would say to the teachers, “We don’t have enough phones in school for each teacher to have an individual phone, but Miss So-and-So, you don’t have to come to school tomorrow, but I want you to contact as many as those thirty-two people as you possibly can and let them know that you’re their teacher.” I still think that’s important. To know the parents and the parents to know you and how to contact you. When you do those things I think you may have a successful year.