Oral Histories

Bill Meador

b.1933

Bill Meador

Q: So during this time you had more children?

A: Yes, when we left here to go to Logan we had another child. He’d been born in March and we left here the first of September to go back to school. So we had the baby. Our third child was born when I graduated from Utah State. That son is the one that we lost. Jeff was a senior in high school and died during the football season; some type of liver failure that has never been diagnosed. He was a great big strong 6’3” 180-pound football player; a very good athlete. And then we had a late child in 1970, ten years after Jeff. Jared’s the one that is teaching in Las Vegas and what a lifesaver it was to have him at home. We lost the one child and then had great luck. We have enjoyed our family during a time when it was difficult to raise kids. We just had a lot of luck. I couldn’t tell you a prescription for that, we just had a lot of luck. 

Q: So you graduated from Logan, did you come directly back to Moab?

A: No, I went to work for Delbert Long. In 1960 when we graduated, teaching jobs were very scarce and they also paid very little money. I was offered a head coaching job at South Cache High School in Logan. You may be aware of the Logan Valley. They had North and South Cache High Schools before they consolidated their schools. This was a head coaching job in a Class A High School and the salary was $3,800 a year. We’d made $3,600 on the GI Bill going to college and were starving to death. I said, “I don’t think so.” I didn’t think I wanted to go to work for that. I went to work for private industry and did that for two years. Traveled all over the country, ran radiometric survey crews in Louisiana and Indiana, Wyoming, all over.

Q: And the family went with you?

A: They came to Indiana. We were in Indiana for a year and they came out there. My daughter started kindergarten in Indiana, no, she started first grade in Indiana. When we were there, I wrote to Mrs. Knight, she was still the superintendent, and asked if there were any jobs. She sent me a contract. And so I signed the contract. She had left her superintendency because she had cancer. They had hired another superintendent by the name of Stobaugh by the time I got here. I’d left Indiana with the contract to teach in Moab. My first contract in 1962 was $4,400 and that included coaching pay. 

Q: High School level?

A: Junior high school. We were very pleased to be able to return to Moab. Both of our folks were getting older and this is where we wanted to live. So we came back and have been here ever since.

Q: So you both had been out in the world and you both agreed to come back? Moab is where you wanted to be eventually? How about the kids?

A: Oh, yes, they had cousins, and grandparents, and yes, it was great for the kids. And we did enjoy it too, because we did have a lot of family support. It’s great when you need a babysitter and Grandma is available.

Q: So your kids spent the rest of their growing up here and you went on from being a teacher to…?

A: Yes, I was the superintendent for sixteen years.

Q: How long did you teach before you became superintendent?

A: Four years. I went in first as assistant to the superintendent and then to assistant superintendent and then to the superintendent. I actually went into the superintendency in the district office in January of 1966. I spent a lot of years in the central office. I was never a principal. I skipped that step. 

Q: Did you enjoy teaching while you were teaching?

A: Yes, I’ve never done anything that I enjoyed as much as teaching. There is a satisfaction to that. I don’t know what you would do in a vocation that gives you as much satisfaction as teaching does. I just didn’t get to do it long enough. While I enjoyed other aspects of my educational career, teaching was by far the highlight.

Q: Were you able to do bigger things as superintendent, as far as bigger projects, more visionary things for the school system here?

A: Was I able to do that? I think so. A lot of the concepts that I talked about when I left the superintendency were just getting started in depth with what we called outcome-based education. It’s the system that the state offices wanted to put into place now that basically says, “If a child doesn’t know something in a subject matter area, you re-teach them.” Regardless of how long it takes. You ignore the clock and the calendar. If we enroll in a math class and you’re a good mathematician and I’m a poor mathematician, it may take me 18 weeks to learn it and you can learn it in 6. Let’s teach you yours in 6 weeks but give me 18 to learn it. I wanted that kind of a system in place; one that teaches children how to do things. And the tests that you give them to do that, not multiple choice that they promote today, but if you want a kid to write a paragraph, you have him write a paragraph. Those kinds of concepts. We had a teacher center that was designed by the teachers to support the kinds of needs they had, the kinds of training they needed for the kind of things they saw that they needed in the classroom that I didn’t have a clue about. I had some great people that worked in the system. I thought I was smart enough to say, “I’ve never had an original idea, but you guys have. You need to do some things that you want, and I’ll support that.” So they put together programs like the teachers center. I think our Special Ed programs went ahead. I worked as a consultant for the Far West Lab out of San Francisco on school district organization and in-service teaching programs for staff that I felt really good about. I served on all the state committees either as a member or the chairman, different positions in places that were required by the superintendents. While I had ventured into all these things, I don’t know that I ever felt that anything was very lasting. The simple tradition of public education seems to have a way of overcoming most innovations. You still revolve back to some very basic concepts about education. We have a real tendency to ignore the very good research. You came out of a program where you relied on research in the medical profession. Education has never embraced the research like it should have, in my opinion. We talk a lot about how people learn; how people learn at different speeds, whether they are visual learners or auditory learners, whatever the case may be. But we’ve never put it in place like it should be to use that good and valid information. I just think there is so much that could be done and now we have referred it to testing everybody again. I hate testing. I hate “No child left behind.” I was very fortunate. I tested very well. I could take tests. I could pass tests that I knew nothing about. I have no faith in them at all. You look and say, “That looks logical to me.” I hate those. I’d like to see kids be taught, and re-taught and re-taught and not tested and passed or failed. We still have a long way to go in public education and I think it is still the way to educate the masses. I don’t think private school or vouchers are the way to do that. But we could do a better job.

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