Our Schools Need ‘Moore’


Dr. Moore encouraging spirit at a pep rally.


The snow had melted, and the Christmas decorations had been put away, but the thick haze of winter break still hung heavy over the students who dragged their way through the doors and past the now-treeless lobby. But what would meet them at the end of the entrance way, at the divergence point of four halls, was an energy that opposed and removed all their grogginess. Someone with a height and stature of intimidation but a smile of joyous refreshment. As the mass of students broke away and the slamming of lockers, the ringing of bells, and the groans of forgotten homework overwhelmed the halls and flowed into the classrooms, the figure remained. He stood calling out to the students, greeting them by name and cracking jokes, filling them with an energy that would follow them into the day. He stayed until the final bell rang, signaling him that it was time the deliver the morning announcements. 

When Gregory Moore was young, and he wasn’t referred to as “mister” or “doctor,” he wanted to be a professional sports player. As a young child he favored baseball but moved to basketball in the ninth grade when he realized people were hitting the balls harder than he could throw them. Moore also grew up tap dancing, an endeavor he was forced to quit because of his increasing stature.  

Unfortunately, Moore never made it to Broadway or the NBA, although he did play basketball in college, where he followed a path originally aspiring to go to law school. It wasn’t until the second semester of his sophomore year at Faulkner University when his professor Dr. Kelley Morris asked him to stay after class, that his direction changed. Moore was originally confused by this request, worrying it was something bad.  

“I was like ‘Hey, I write my own papers. I’m not cheating.’ You know you’re wondering what they want to see you for.” 

But Dr. Morris was not there to reprimand him for anything. On the contrary, after reading Moore’s beautifully-written essays, Dr. Morris believed he would do well as an English major. Moore continued to play basketball and was eventually offered a job coaching. This opened a door where Moore realized he could combine his love for basketball and his talent in English by becoming a teacher. In order to achieve this, he continued his education, gaining a master’s degree in language arts from Samford University.  

His first job was as an assistant basketball coach and a seventh, eighth, and eleventh grade English teacher at Moody High School. But that only lasted a year before he was promoted to head coach and began teaching twelfth grade English. After four years at Moody, he transferred to Irwin High School. It was here that Moore stepped into the halls and was met with a sea of faces without names, smiles he didn’t recognize, and jokes he wasn’t in on. 

“I began to realize that when I was teaching and coaching only, I could only impact a team and kids in my class.” 

Moore’s love of education and natural leadership was outgrowing a single classroom and a gymnasium. He desired to go into leadership so that he could impact as many children and teens as possible. His hard work and quick adaptability eventually led him to his first job as principal at Springville Elementary School. It was a job he was made for.  

When schools shut down in 2020 due to the pandemic, Moore drove around the town in his SUV stopping in neighborhoods to greet the children and engage in games of pick-up basketballthe kids let him win of course. Another time, he and his vice principal put on sumo wrestling suits and engaged in an epic battle to entertain the kids. .

One current Springville Middle School student remembers his elementary days: “Every day walking into school you’d see Mr. Moore and he’d stand there all morning and give everyone a high five.” 

 And all this attention and energy was exerted while he was pursuing his doctorate degree.  

Moore admits that it was difficult at times to balance his responsibilities as a leader, his family, and his own education, especially when he became the principal at Springville High School in fall 2020. Because of the multiple after-school activities that take place in a high school, Moore’s time to study, write, and revise his dissertation was limited.  

But Moore wouldn’t see it any other way. If there was a football game, he was there. If there was a basketball game, he was there. A 5 am cross country meet? Absolutely. Band competition? There. And fully dressed in Tiger Pride gear. 

Despite his childhood love for the traditional sports of baseball and basketball, he made intentional efforts to attend all types of school sporting events or after-school activities.  

Varsity girls’ soccer player Haley Abts says Dr. Moore allows her to feel heard and seen. “He doesn’t just care about basketball or typical high school, male dominated sports. He sacrifices a lot of his time and wants to be at every school event he can.” 

He wants to cheer his students on and see them succeed in their area. He creates schedules, layouts, and plans so that each club can have time and a space for meetings. He steps into the kitchen and serves lunch to the students, greeting them with a smile. He’s always pumped up for pep rallies. But never too pumped up. Dr. Moore has the unique ability to maintain a steady environment of fun and laughs, but also hard work and respect. He’ll stand in the hallway on Fridays will his “Jammie-Pack” playing catchy pop songs, but when the bell rings, it’s grind time.  

Seventeen-year-old Junior Elaine Bryan stated that “his Jammie-Pack gives me the energy that caffeine gives me and makes me motivated to go to class.” 

But it’s not just the Jammie-Pack that makes up the students’ mornings; it’s also his personal greetings to them. He makes an effort to know every student’s name and to say hey if he sees them in the morning. Which is great, right? But that’s not the end. He also seeks to know what’s going on with his students in their realm of the school. He wants to see his students as people with likes and dislikes and issues and humor, not just student ID codes and test grades. He stands in the hall at the beginning and end of every day, in between every class change, making an effort. Showing up.  

And it’s not just the students who’ve been impacted by his ability to form personal relationships. It’s his teachers, too. They don’t have staff meetings; they have family meetings to encourage and promote unity for all the teachers. Nannette Hill, a facilitator at the high school, says she appreciates how Dr. Moore doesn’t take immediate or impulsive action in meetings.  “I love how he stands back and watches and gets a feel for things and then takes action.” She also added that, in general, he is just fun to watch and listen to. 

His thoughtful process encourages many of the teachers, including freshman science teacher Ceila Jeffres, who stated that Dr. Moore has an ability to make everyone feel at ease. He explains his decisions with sound logic and never makes decisions just to make them.  

Moore is able to build and create unique and personalized relationships with shy kindergarten students, hotshot sophomores, and tenured teachers. But how? The method by which he received his title “doctor” gives a lot of insight. He chose to write his dissertation on personalities. How he, as a leader, as a principal, can use the personality types of his teachers to build better relationships and to pair them with the right types of students so that mutual success can occur. 

“If you don’t understand your people, how can you help them?” 

Dr. Moore claims it is vital for a leader to have a desire to understand and sympathize with the people they’re leading. He believes it’s important to show the recipient that there is true care and concern for them not just as an employee but as a person. 

Dr. Moore graduated and received his doctorate in December of 2021, meaning that when winter break was over and everyone was trudging to school, he was pumped, refreshed, and ready to go. But, while it is a notable feat, Moore isn’t respected or appreciated because of his degree. He isn’t trusted because of his diploma. He isn’t looked up to because of his doctorate. His people know they can count on him because they know he cares, not because he told them he could be trusted or because he uses fancy words that sound respectable, but because he walked with the band in the town homecoming parade. Because he checked in on a teacher he knew was having a difficult day. Because he advocated for school participation in less stereotypically popular sports. Because he took the time to understand struggling students. Because he cheers others on. Because he seeks understanding and accepts reasonable change. Because he doesn’t do all these things for recognition but to inspire others to join him. Because a team, a staff, a school cannot fall if everyone holds one another up, and that will be the legacy of Dr. Gregory Moore at Springville High School.