Interviewing Harold Melby is quite easy, especially when the subject involves one of his favorite places of all: Groveland School.
When asked to talk about his time as both a teacher and principal at Groveland, Melby can talk enthusiastically and almost non-stop.
He starts by describing how he arrived at the K-8 Groveland School fresh from serving on Okinawa in the Naval Air Corps at the end of World War II.
"When I drove out to Groveland, the area was mostly farms," he recalls, adding that livestock grazed in a field adjacent to the school.
Melby continues by noting that at one point early in his teaching career he decided to leave the professional and sell insurance instead. That didn't last long.
"All it did was make me realize how much I wanted to be back in the classroom, and preferably at Groveland." He did return to Groveland – after it was merged into the Minnetonka School District – and became principal in 1953.
Over the years, he saw the razing of the old Groveland school building, the construction of a new facility, and rapid student growth. "It was an exciting time," he says. "There were many years when I, as well as the director of elementary education and the other principals in the district, would go out to the state colleges in the winter to recruit new teachers. We felt we were getting the cream of the crop by getting out there early.
"Plus, the Minnetonka Schools were, and always have been, considered one of the best places to teach." He continues by saying what a fine group of students, parents and teachers compose the school, which has always been a focal point of the Groveland community.
As principal, Melby says his philosophy was to support the teachers in any way he could, giving them the tools, resources and support to be as effective as possible.
In a book about the school's history titled, "Celebrate Groveland, 150 Years of Learning," numerous teachers noted what a fine principal and person Melby was to work with and for. "Mr. Harold Melby, the principal, had the respect of parents, students, teachers and staff," wrote Gloria Soderholm Frederickson, a Groveland teacher from 1956 to 1984.
Melby concludes his story by saying how touched he and his wife, Bee, were when, at his retirement party, the school community surprised them with tickets to Norway. "That was a shocker, but it also showed how much everyone there cares about their school," he says.