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Jennifer Aiken

Mikafui Antonio-Obese
Latoya Parker
Casey Thomas

Interview Report & Analysis


Neighborhood: New Irving Park is located in the northern central part of Greensboro,
North Carolina. The area has well-manicured lawns, housing that was constructed in a
period ranging from the mid 1950s through today, which is significantly larger than
homes in other parts of the city. The homes in New Irving Park also command greater
rental prices than homes in other parts of Greensboro, owing to the neighborhoods
affluence. The median income in the neighborhood is $69,271 compared to an average
$39, 637 for the city as a whole, and the area is predominantly white. The median age of
residents in the area is 42.2, compared to the citys median age of 33 years. New Irving
Park is primarily comprised of single-family dwellings, and is zoned almost exclusively
for residential use.

Purpose for the Interviews: These interviews were primarily concerned with assessing
the community health of New Irving Park. Many of them were through the lens of people
associated with institutions that served the community. For this reason, the interviews
focused on public educational systems and private assisted living facilities in and
adjacent to the neighborhood. As the research progressed, themes of isolation, and
educational inequity arose consistently and the focus of interviews narrowed to explore
these phenomena. The interviews were intended to delve deeper than the data that is
readily available from the Census, Department of Public Health, and other health-

research institutions. These interviews were not intended to determine characteristics


across various populations in New Irving Park, but to provide a qualitative understanding
of the needs and experiences of the community-members who interact with the
neighborhood in a variety of roles.

Methods: Initially, a walking tour of New Irving Park was the springboard for research
in that it allowed the researchers to see the institutions from which interviewees would be
mined. Specifically, it introduced the researchers to Mendenhall Middle School, the
assisted living facility, and independent living facility in the area. It also provided an
initial look into the culture, geographic and social makeup, aesthetics of the
neighborhood. The sampling methods involved in selecting interviewees were
intentionally non-probability methods, convenience and snowball sampling. As the
intention of this research is not to expose trends, but to do exploratory ethnography
around the community health of New Irving Park, non-probability methods proved most
expedient and permitted the researchers to target information-rich interviewees. The
interviews involved professionals who served in the education and assisted living
systems, as well as a PTA member, and parent whose child was enrolled in elementary
school in the area during integration. noting that, we realized that it was going to be vital
that we make an effort to reach out to those in those various facilities so that we could
gain a better sense of the community overall and what may be potential needs. As a group
we created a list of key informants that we could attempt to reach out to. The individuals
that we narrowed the list down to were either contacted via email or by telephone in order
to set up a time for an interview. The interviews took place in public areas. There was the

interviewer and the notetaker present during the interview. After the interviews were
completed, each member shared within the group the key findings. The interviews were
then compared and themes were created based on the interviewees answers. The key
informants interviewed were, Mr. Matson, Principal at Mendenhall Middle school, Dolly
Parton, PTA Chair; John, Healthy Generation Director at Morningview and James Drew,
long time Greensboro resident and community organizer.

Results: Themes that emerged during the interviews include demographic changes, and
inequities in the educational system. Based on the results of the interviews we as a group
were able to identify themes that seemed to present based on the interviewees answers.
We noticed that institutions within the community are undergoing demographic shifts and
the challenges that accompany them.

Casey
Educational Inequities and Position in the City
James Drews children went to Irving Park elementary school, adjacent to New
Irving Park, in the 1970s when Greensboro was attempting to achieve racial equity
through busing. He noted that many of the issues in integrated schools that persist today
were visible in his childrens educational experience. Drew recalled that his little brown
kids in a classroom were not getting an adequate level of engagement from their
teachers, and he felt it was because the teachers did not see potential in his children
because they were African American. Drew, an ivy-league educated black man, had to
visit with his childrens teachers and really engage with them before they would notice

his children and challenge them. He noticed that it was only after he met with the
teachers that he saw them start to give his children more challenging assignments and see
them as gifted. This was a common struggle at the time, and he was likely not the only
parent whose child had a similar experience while being bussed across town.
New Irving Park doesnt have a Neighborhood Association because they dont
need one. City Council is their Neighborhood Association. James Drew noted that
relative to the rest of Greensboro, New Irving Park has been known to be the of center
of concentration of wealth and power inside the city of Greensboro. It seems to be the
preferred housing place for local greensboro politicians, local greensboro business
executives. He observed that Old Irving Park had many of the same Characteristics, but
has been supplanted by New Irving Park. Drew also noted a trend in city politics in which
any programs that might accidentally benefit those who are deemed the undeserving
poor, are heavily vetted to ensure that poor people do not reap benefits from a program
that are unintended. In contrast, he stated that many initiatives and projects that are
implemented in other parts of the city accidentally benefit what Drew called, the
undeserving rich, many of whom happen to live in New Irving Park, and benefit as
developers who profit heavily off city efforts in other parts of Greensboro.

Jennifer
The Changing Demographics in the Educational System, Health Concerns and
Community Embrace:
Mr. Matson is currently the Principal at Mendenhall Middle School and has upheld this
position for four years. Before stepping into the position, Mr. Matson shared that he was

familiar with the New Irving Park community. He admits that since becoming Principal
he has had the opportunity to learn much more about the community. When asked to
share what he knew about the community prior, Mr. Matson answered I knew that the
community was very diverse with pockets of traditions, wealth and poverty.
Throughout the interview he touched on areas directly related to race, socioeconomic
status, and change. When asked about diversity within the school Mr. Mason stated, The
Mendenhall students are diverse in race and income. During this point in the interview
the Assistant Principal spoke up and said, The history of Mendenhall started as a highly
wealthy area but as time has went by the population has changed dramatically. In
connecting the two quotes, they support the theme of change. There was time spent
during the interview focusing on change and the New Irving Park community members
lacking the ability to accept change or in other words, accept the new Mendenhall
Middle School. Mr. Matson states, Anytime you deal with the haves and have-nots, the
have-nots may feel alienated. The question we must ask is how do we make sure the
have-nots do not feel left out? How do we make sure that the African American
population does not feel like they are destined to be left behind or suspended? This
direct quote represents Mr. Matsons concerns within the school. In addition to change
and the increase in diversity, another concern that was shared by both the Principal and
Assistant Principal was the increasing rate of diabetes and mental health among their
middle school aged children. Due to these health concerns, the school has reached out to
various professionals. When asked what change he would like to see within the
community, Mr. Matson answered with this statement Some things that I would like to
change about the community would probably have to be experiencing a broader, more

immediate community embrace. Mr. Matson goes on to say that he understands the
personal reasons that drive parents to send their children to private schools but he would
like to see more support towards the public school system.

LaToya
Lack of knowledge of available resources and wealth
John is the Healthy Generation Director at Morningview at Irving Park, an
Assist Living and Alzheimers care community within New Irving Park. John
commutes to work from Boone, North Carolina, but over the past three years
working in New Irving Park has allowed him to maintain several friendships with
local business owners in the area. Although, John is a commuter, some of his
colleagues live in the neighborhood so he was able to answer some of the questions
from concerns that he has heard from them. John, explained that his New Irving
Park colleagues often complained about not having a local parks to to take their
children to. In his opinion he thought they were overlooking Fisher park which is
located near the neighborhood. During the interview, when asked about the safety of
the area, John mentioned that a key problem that has been expressed by his
colleagues was the high volume of panhandlers near Buffalo Lake. His colleagues
felt the panhandlers took away the value of the neighborhood. While interviewing
John two main themes remained in the forefront of the interview and those were
lack of knowledge of available resources within the community and wealth. When
asked to describe the community, he stated that majority of the community
members are wealthy, middle aged and elderly, and affluent individuals. When

asked if the community was diverse, he scoffed while responding no, describing the
only diversity that he could see is in age and most if not all the community members
are Caucasian and reiterating that the population is mostly wealthy. Interestingly
enough, when asked how many of the residents originated from New Irving Park,
John shared with us that only three are current residents of the facility. He did not
delve into any explanation.

Mikafui
Student Needs and Demographic Differences
Dolly Parton is a member of the PTA at Mendenhall Middle School. She has
served on the PTA board for close to seven years now. She does not live in New Irving
Park but her children attend Mendenhall Middle School. Her interaction as a member of
the PTA is with other parents whose children go to Mendenhall and the school leadership.
Partons impression of the community is a well kept area with mostly older residents.
According to Parton, most of the families who live within New Irving Park send their
children to Mendenhall.
In terms of diversity in New Irving Park, she mentioned that the community is
very affluent and in terms of racial and ethnic diversity, she could not give specific
statistics but said it is very diverse. The New Irving Park neighborhood watch group as
well as a group responsible for the landscaping of the area are the only active groups
Parton could recall. Parton didnt think there were any health issues in the school but she
mentioned a few isolated cases of teen pregnancy in past years. In her view one of the
problems faced by the school is discipline among some of the students. The school had

several programs in place to address the issue such as awarding the character trait of the
month, ice cream parties, and peer pals. She described peer pals as pairing up kids of
like backgrounds so the one with better grades and better conduct would be of good
influence to the other. She called it positive reinforcement. She also talked about
organizing some students in the school to embark on service project called The Food
Pantry. The initiative is to provide students of Mendenhall Middle School who are on the
free lunch program with bags of food for the weekends. Parton seemed hesitant in
broaching the issues of race and social status among the students in the school she
seemed embarrassed to talk about it.

Discussion: The observations of Principal Matson and James Drew are consistent in that
they highlight inequality within the areas school system that stem from complications
with integration. Matson noted that the children who attend Mendenhall Middle from less
affluent areas in Greensboro lack the resources granted to children whose families are
from the neighborhood. While Drew did not speak on the resources at home he was or
wasnt able to provide for his children, he did note that the school itself was less of a
resource for his children than it was for their more affluent and white counterparts until
he advocated on their behalf. Both of these experiences are tied through the demographic
changes and structural inequalities observable in the areas schools.
Matsons desire for more residents of New Irving Park to send their children to
public schools to increase schools resources illustrated a drain from the wealthiest
members of the community who opted to send their children to private schools. During
Drews interview, he explained that when asked about the purpose of education, most

people would say that its to position their children to succeed in competition with other
children. He opined that this mindset was in direct opposition to the idea that school was
there to benefit all children, and led people to make decisions that were detrimental to
children who were not their own. This extraction of wealth from one of the communitys
public schools demonstrates this phenomenon.
Partons observation of what she deemed isolated incidents of teenage pregnancy,
and Matsons disclosure that many students in the school suffered from diabetes and
mental health problems, speak to the health and wellbeing of the children in New Irving
Park. Partons description of the programs the school used to address issues of discipline
in which well-behaved and poorly behaved children from like backgrounds were paired
with one another in a buddy system spoke to the issue of the schools changing
demographics and challenges in addressing them.
Demographic drama was not just relegated to the schools, as the topic arose in the
interview with John, the assisted living employee. The concerns of residents about the
panhandlers at Buffalo Lake speak to the areas difficulties serving the needs of outsiders.
During the walking and windshield tour, it was observed that the layout of the
neighborhood, the lack of sidewalks, and lack of public transportation, and the almost
exclusive zoning for single-family residences only, were conducive to keeping out
people who could not afford to live there. Within the school system, this was echoed in
Partons interview in which she mentioned children who qualify for reduced cost lunch
programs, and Matsons analysis of the difficulties between the haves and the have-nots.
Since the rezoning of the school district, a school once known to be attended by the
children of wealthy and predominantly white residents of the area is now also attended by

children of other races and of much lower income families. As Dolly indicated, a few of
them are on the free lunch program. Her example of the peer pal and the Food Pantry
initiatives allude to the fact that these were not issues they were confronted with in the
past and they were having to respond to the recent changes.

Conclusion: Demographic changes and norms, as well as access to resources in New


Irving Parks public schools are at the center of many of the dynamics explored in this
research. The school has a history difficulties with students bussed in from across town
who have not been afforded the same resources as those who live there. This was
observed from teacher attention in the period of integration to the current struggles with
the haves and the have-nots. Resources that could be invested in the school are being
drained as parents who can afford to often opt for private schools. This echoes the general
position of the neighborhood in general, in which residents of New Irving Park benefit
from more access to financial resources on the whole.

Jennifer Aiken Interview Notes


Community Leader Questions:
1. How long have you been active in your specific role in the community?
Mr. Matson- I have been active for four years and before being a Principal I did
state level work. Before coming to Mendenhall Middle I was the Principal at PR.
2. Were you familiar with the New Irving Park community before assuming your
role?
Mr. Matson- Somewhat but you learn the most once youre in the particular area. I
knew that the community was very diverse and had pockets of traditions, wealth
and poverty.
3. How do you describe the New Irving Park community?
Mr. Matson- The community cares about the children but they advocate for the
kids in different ways. The parents are involved with students but not as involved
with the activities and programs that the school has. The parents are attentive to
their childs needs but arent as enthusiastic when it comes to programs held for
groups of students.
4. Can you describe the people you come into contact with day to day?
Mr. Matson- There is economic and wealth diversity within the school. Some
families are very wealthy while others may be homeless, living in a car, and
within the public system. 50/50 of the students are on free or reduced lunch, close
to 36% of the population is African American, 50% of the population are White,
about 10% Hispanic and about 10% Asian mostly refugees, and 10% multiracial.
There is diversity in the range of experiences within different cultures, especially
in living in different areas. For example, in a tutoring group based on learning
experiences, students were asked to name a bad situation in their life. One student
explained about a situation when he was nearly shot by the army while trying to
escape his country.
5. In what ways is the community diverse? (ie, race, gender, age, income)
Mr. Matson- The community is diverse in race and income but not in age, this is a
middle school. Students are pulled from a variety of communities such as North
Elm, Spicewood...

(At this point in time the Assistant Principal steps in, sits down and shares her
thoughts)
Assistant Principal Yvonne Woodward- The history of Mendenhall started as a
highly wealthy area but as time has gone by the population has changed
dramatically. Some areas that are included in the school district currently include:
Florida Street, Aycock Street, and Market Street. We have children from these
areas attending Mendenhall Middle School.
6. Do the bulk of the people you work/interact with live inside the community or
commute into the community?
It varies some of the students stay within New Irving Park while others live
outside of the community.
7. Do you have any particular concerns in regards to the community?
Mr. Matson-Anytime you deal with the have and the have-nots, the have-nots may
feel alienated. The question we must ask is how do we make sure the have-nots do
not feel left out? How do we make sure that the African American population do
not feel like they are destined to be left behind or suspended?
Mrs. Woodward- For example how do we make sure that the elderly population
within New Irving Park understand that Mendenhall is not the same Mendenhall
in the 50s. Older populations should get to know the students other than passing
them while they are waiting for the bus or their rides. During this time, speaking
on during dismissal time, students may be louder than usual, being that school is
over. If they got to know the students in a different setting I believe they would
see the good in the students.
8. What groups do you know of that are active in the community?
Mr. Matson- High Point University helped out in previous years but currently they
are not as involved because the contact person is currently out of state. The PTA
and athletic booster club are also active in the community.
How do people in the community connect with one another to socialize? What
does that look like?
Mr. Matson- I am not sure about connections within the community but within
Mendenhall Middle School, the parents and students connect fairly well. There is
a natural separation amongst the groups of parents. In particular at football games.
There is a cross separation among the students not in the same groups.
9. Are there any concerns that are visible within New Irving Park? Pertaining
specifically to health? What clubs or programs are there to help these students?

Diabetes and mental health issues are two challenges at Mendenhall. Last year
there was an epidemic of cutting within the female population. Psychology
professors at UNCG were brought here to help the students with mental health
issues. The ESL students have a garden set up behind the school, there is an active
running club and they recruit girls with body image issues. There is also a peer
mediation club, where students gain leadership skills by attending a meeting
10. How safe do you feel in the area?
Overall the school is safe but we do have other problems to deal with. Parents
concerns are on perceived bullying, sometimes the parents only base their
concerns on rumors amongst students.
11. What would you like to change about the community?
Some things that I would like to change about the community would probably
have to be experiencing a broader, immediate community embrace. Also, I would
like to see a reduction of stereotypical reasons for parents or guardians not
sending their children to public schools. I understand that people have their own
personal reasons as to why they choose private schools but I would like to see
more people support the public school system.
12. Are there any stereotypes about the community that you would like to dispel?
What is true instead?
Mr. Matson- It depends on the group; our colleagues at other schools often think
that because we work at Mendenhall which is within New Irving Park it is easy
for us.
Mrs. Woodward- When asking my church family to help the school with donating
clothes or to help students with their reading the church members wont help as
much or may not help at all but anytime, my husband who is the Principal at
another school ask for help from the same church family, they eagerly volunteer.
The church members have helped him attain money for uniforms for his students.
During EOG testing time it is hard to get community volunteers to be proctors for
testing. The community believes that Mendenhall Middle School is full of
wealthy students and that they do not need help but that is not the case. The
school has a diverse student population from all walks of life.

Interview with Mrs Teresa Beaupre, PTA Chair, Mendenhall Middle School (Wants
to remain anonymous) by Mikafui Antonio- Obese. No note taker was available on
that day.
1. How long have you been active in your specific role in the community?
She has been the PTA Chair for close to 6 years.
2. Were you familiar with the New Irving Park community before assuming your
role?
Her daughter went to school at Mendenhall Middle School and she also has
friends who live in new Irving Park.
3. How do you describe the New Irving Park community?
Its a well-kept area. The neighborhood is made up mostly older people. Newer
homes closer to the Wiloughby entrance owned by younger families and older and
higher values homes inside the neighborhood belonging to older people.
4. Can you describe the people you come into contact with day to day?
Since she is the PTA Chair, her interaction is mostly with parents whose children
go to Mendenhall and also the PTA board.
5. In what ways is the community diverse? (ie, race, gender, age, income)
Most people of high income levels and when asked about racial diversity, she did
not know the exact numbers but said it was a diverse community.
6. Do the bulk of the people you work/interact with live inside the community or
commute into the community?
Most of the families in New Irving Park send their kids to Mendenhall.
7. Do you have any particular concerns in regards to the community?
There are issues with carpooling where some parents who come to pick up their
kids block the entrance to the school by having more than one lane and this is
source of concern in case an emergency vehicle was trying to get through.
Although the school has tried to address this issue, some people just wont follow
the rules.
8. What groups do you know of that are active in the community? How do people in
the community connect with one another to socialize? What does that look like?
She mentioned a neighborhood watch group as well as a group responsible for the
landscaping of the neighborhood.
9. Are there any concerns that are visible within New Irving Park? Ones pertaining
specifically to health?
No health issues but she mentioned a few issues with teen pregnancy. She also
mentioned that the school faced problems with discipline among its students. She
said they had several programs in place to address the issue such as awarding the
character trait of the month, ice cream parties, and peer pals. She described peer
pals as pairing up kids of like backgrounds so the one with better grades and

better conduct would be of good influence to the other. (we try to pair them
up. In. we pair children . no offense .of like circumstances..She
called it positive reinforcement.
She also talked about organizing some students in the school to embark on service
project called the Food Pantry. The initiative is to provide students of Mendenhall
Middle School who are on the free lunch program with bags of food for the
weekends.
10. How safe do you feel in the area?
Only safety issues she raised was the carpooling problem
11. What would you like to change about the community? Are there any stereotypes
about the community that you would like to dispel? What is true instead?
She didnt have much more to say but suggested two other friends who live in the
area. She provided the contact for both of them.

Interview with Mr. James Drew (Anonymized), Long-Term Greensboro Resident


and Community Activist,) by Casey Thomas.

New Irving Park is a very affluent neighborhood, who has a reputation to those of
us outside of it, I dont even know if its okay for me to visit New Irving Park, its
always kind of been known to be the center of the concentration of wealth and
power in Greensboro. It seemed to be the preferred housing place for local
Greensboro politicians, and local Greensboro business executives.
The Old Irving Park had many of these characteristics, but has kind of been
supplanted by New Irving Park as the center of city power.
New Irving park doesnt need a neighborhood association. New Irving Parks
neighborhood association is the city council.
People are concerned about the undeserving poor, they feel like any measure that
they support, that may accidentally benefit the undeserving poor, they are going to
have to explain to their constituents why they supported that. Meanwhile,
ironically, they dont do the same kind of scrutiny when things benefit the
undeserving rich, many of whom live in New Irving Park. Developers who get
city contracts and profit often live in New Irving Park, even when the contract is
for projects across town. I look at the seats of power and notice that business
deals are oriented in such a way that even if there are initiatives that are meant to
benefit other sections of the city, often the beneficiaries will be developers who
live in that neighborhood.
Lots of people think of education as a way for their child to get ahead, and they
are not looking for ways to make the education system work for everybody
because they want their child to be competitive. They dont wind up doing things

that would accidentally benefit the undeserving poor, by virtue of proximity to


people who have Worked so hard to have everything they own. (Sarcastically).
This was a period in the late 70s, early 80s, kids went to different schools across
town, achieve racial equity and balance. There were polite teachers. Part of the
experience as an individual, when all my children ere in classrooms where until I
came to visit the school, they were often unnoticed. After I came to visit the
school, talked to the teachers for a little while, my children were noticed. Its
easy not to know what children are capable of because youre watching them
through the filter of your own expectations of them, and they see other children
and say Oh, these children are from a good background. But look at mine and
just look at little brown children in a classroom. After visit, called on more
frequently in class and given more challenging assignments.
Kids are kids, they would get along with them. They didnt go home with a lot of
them, nor did they bring a lot of them home, but when they were at school, they
would get along.
They are probably afflicted with white guilt, if theyve studied their history. My
guess would be that they probably have a lot of alcohol addiction and drug
addiction, because wealthy people can afford good drugs and can afford to buy
their way out of jail if they need to. Poor people are buying rocks, hoping it isnt
a rock someone picked out of a yard somewhere. Stress related stuff, not being
able to count all your money at one time. Basic health care is probably covered
though. Median income is higher, so access to insurance and health coverage is
probably higher, but that doesnt mean they live longer, there are all sorts of
ways you can damage your health, even with a lot of money.
I would guess that the block parties arent really cool, if they have any block
parties. Id rather live in my neighborhood, where people block off the streets and
have a little jazz concert on the front porch.
If you have power and resources, you do what you need to do, and the things that
should happen in New Irving Park are the things that people in New Irving Park
care about. I hope for the city as a whole that people have opportunities to live a
full life, humane life and explore their potential fully. That is already the case in
New Irving Park more so than in other parts of the city. If there is any undeserved
privilege there, then that should not happen and they should share their access to
wealth with others so their lives can be fully productive and fully humane.
Black Power!