Talk a little bit about your life after graduate school and what you did. You were in the public schools for 37 years…
A wonderful commitment.
Well, you know, I enjoyed it. I really did. I think it was 1973, I was promoted to music supervisor and then I had…gosh, I don't know, a lot of schools and teachers that I could work through, but it wasn't the same as working directly with the students. I enjoyed it because I felt that I had a broader influence as far as music education was concerned. I believe that music does indeed bring to a child's life something that math, reading, and science does not. I think that to be well rounded, one needs the arts, not just music, but all of the arts. So my life has been dedicated to that. I became the first, and to date, the only black president of Georgia Music Educators, which is the umbrella group under Music Educator's National Conference. I work nationally, working with the Music Educator's National Journal. I was on the editorial board, which gave me a lot of access to trying to determine what goes into our national magazine and what people read, pushing for diversity there too. As I said, I was president of Georgia Music Educators and got a chance to travel all over the state to the various districts so that I could talk to the MENC presidents, and that was very good. I worked with MENC, our national organization on standards for All-State standards for music education. I worked with Macmillan textbook company as their black consultant to get more diversity into music textbooks. I worked with the National Endowment for the Arts in helping to determine which grants would get recognition and get funded, and was able to help with diversity there. It has just been a broad connection with a lot of things. I mean, I went on with my life…my professional life. I hated that the University of Georgia was ignoring me, but at the same time, I was in a profession that I thoroughly enjoyed and just immersed myself. After I was the supervisor for I think seven years, I became the coordinator of music for the entire system, and that was…it took me further away from the classroom, but it gave me the opportunity to work with other groups to help make music education more viable, and I thought that was good. Frankly, I really enjoyed the teaching one-on-one with students, because there you can actually see the progress. When you have to work through adults, it's a lot harder.
It's not the same, is it?
No, it isn't. Then after…I retired from the Atlanta Public Schools in 1994, and it was because the red tape, the hierarchy in terms of sending us out into schools to monitor testing…things that had nothing to do with music education, just sort of turned me off. I thought I took an early retirement. I thought I can still do something. I was asked to come to Morehouse College first and teach a class in music appreciation, and I thought, “Yeah, I can do that. I don't have to worry about all the paperwork,” and I did. Then Spelman asked me to come and help out there too. I taught two classes there. That was wonderful for two years. Then Clark Atlanta called and said they needed a department chair. I said, “No, I don't want a full time job anymore." They kept asking, and finally I said, “I'll do it until you can get someone." Well, they didn't look.
They didn't work too hard to find anybody.
That was interesting because although it was at a different level, higher education is very rewarding because the students come eager to really push themselves to the end so they can get their degree. They really act as an impetus to the teachers, because with that enthusiasm, one can't help but be a good teacher. At least, I couldn't, and I enjoyed it. But after eight years I decided, you know I've worked over 40 years. It's time to stop so I can travel and do some of the things that I want to do. So that is what I did. In 2005, in July, I left Clark Atlanta.