Archive for November, 2015

November 9, 2015

Post 78 — Super Visors

Students in a consolidated school.

Students in a consolidated school.

August 30, 1967

Larry has been told he will be a supervisor. The details haven’t been worked out yet but an announcement was made to the people in the building. He will still be doing some TV tapes (Oral English.) We think he will be getting $11,000; if that doesn’t go through, it will be $10,500. I will be getting $5000. That’s not bad for a little girl with no education – us strong backs are good for something! So between us the financial is pretty good. 


L.B. reporting this week and I must admit, it has been a while. I offer no excuse other than that I’ve been too damn busy to write. Our program is going full blast now, and it seems to occupy every waking moment. At the present time, I have twenty-one palagi and three Samoan principals under my jurisdiction, and just getting around these islands to all the schools takes a good portion of the time.                                                                                                                                                     Larry

Larry clutched the side of the speedboat as it bounced through the sparkling water on the way back toward Pago harbor. The sun glared off the shiny forehead of his fellow supervisor Gene S. and reminded him that he’d forgotten his hat. They were both going to have terrible sunburns from this trip.

The supervisors did monthly inspections of the consolidated village schools, and the Public Works motorcraft made quick work of the trip to the north side of the island. The villages there were on the other side of the mountain and with no actual roads available, the only other way to access them would be to walk over the 1000 foot peak. It was doable, but it took awhile. Time was more precious now than videotape, and disappeared almost as fast.

I made another trip to Manu‘a, the island group about eighty miles east of Tutuila, to help install a new principal in his school. We have four elementary schools and one high school operating there. It’s gratifying to see the way education is being received in these areas. The schools are beautifully kept, and the kids respond to questions eagerly. When I was there two years ago, none of the kids could speak any English at all. This time, I was carrying on conversations all over the place. Formerly, the students operated in grass huts with one teacher for the whole school. Now we have four consolidated schools on the three Manu’an islands. 


There were six new principals to settle into their new positions and three of those were in the remote villages. With a myriad of details for them to sort out and remember, a one of the most important was the names of all the veterans of the program who were now running it. A duty of Larry’s that didn’t show up in his job description was a get-acquainted cocktail party for over a hundred people that would be happening at his house later that night.

The requirement for hosting was having a house big enough for everyone to fit into and he seemed to be the only one who was qualified. The bulk of the preparation fell to Jean, who complained about it but actually enjoyed the event. Since each guest brought a bottle of booze, a snack and their own glass, all she had to do was make sure the piano was dusted and the ashtrays out. The party was the new people’s first (and sometimes only) chance to make new friends and hear the horror/success stories before they were shipped off to the other side of the island. The support system that came out of the relationships developed was as crucial to the program’s success as the fragile videotape that was constantly in short supply. And it gave the old-timers an opportunity to see how far they had all come in such a short amount of time.

We know we have to make up our minds eventually about our plans after we leave but we sure aren’t looking forward to it. As far as I’m concerned, I could stay forever, but we have the kids to consider and I don’t know if Larry could stand another year like this one. Although, tired and busy as he’s been, he’s never been healthier. Maybe he has been an underachiever all these years and has never worked up to his capacity before. His capacity here has been fantastic. He and Gene S. figured out that they are getting less money per hour now than they were getting the first year. They both work evenings and weekends. They are doing terrific jobs and things are running smoother than they have in three years. I know you keep wondering why they do so much work for so little recognition — it’s the challenge and the built-up loyalty to the project and the fact that they are seeing such good results.

Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were both firmly convinced that nobody else could do the jobs as well. I think they might be right, but I’d never tell them that. They are too difficult to live with as it is! I am speaking of life with Larry, although Farida says Gene is a little obnoxious sometimes, too!