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Oral History Interview with John Jessup, January 11, 1991. Interview M-0024. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    John Jessup recalls his experiences as a black principal and public school administrator. He entered the teaching profession in 1964 as a high school English teacher in Virginia, became a principal of a North Carolina high school in the late 1970s, and moved into the Winston-Salem public schools personnel department by 1991. Diversity within courses became a major goal in the mid-1980s public school system. As a black administrator, Jessup discovered that discipline played a large role in his relationship to students and teachers. He had to demand the students' obedience to school policy, and likewise he had to make sure teachers applied school policy fairly. Some teachers resented Jessup's encroachment on their previous authority over students. Black students, on the other hand, appreciated Jessup's attempts to establish trust between students and the administration. Jessup also describes the advancements that occurred during his academic tenure as principal. He discusses his role in introducing walkie-talkies to the administrative staff as well as hiring an athletic director. Jessup explains that school desegregation posed problems for black teachers and students. The students felt ostracized from extracurricular activities in integrated settings, while the teachers lost prestige (and some lost their jobs) during the desegregation process. Jessup contends that black students require more attention because of their minority status within the school.
  • Need to bond with black students as principal
  • The goal of diversity did not trump the realities of racial disparities
  • Advantages of Jessup's discipline strategies
  • Progress made at Mt. Tabor during Jessup's principalship
  • Black teachers and students lost a lot when schools desegregated
  • Need for fairness for minorities within the school system
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • African American high school principals--North Carolina
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.