New Russell Middle School principal Shawn Moore told well-wishers Friday he was lucky to start his job at a school that just completed a major renovation.
However, Moore has an extensive list of goals to keep him busy for at least his first year.
They include adding Chinese to the foreign language curriculum, encouraging every student to be involved in extra-curricular activities, promoting student and teacher participation in community service learning projects, adding more after-school enrichment programs, and encouraging more faculty to brush up on their grant-writing skills.
Moore discussed some of his goals shortly before attending a reception Friday at the school.
“The more involved students are, the greater their success in school. That’s why I want each student to be involved in at least one extracurricular activity,” he said.
After-school programs also promote learning in a less-formal atmosphere than the classroom, he said. “Learning doesn’t stop at the bell.” Chinese is the primary language of more people than any other tongue, and is gaining ground as a key language in international commerce, he said.
Service projects are good for the community and good for education, he said. "Whenever students are interacting with people outside the classroom it precipitates learning."
The middle school and the district as a whole are facing other challenges, including sagging enrollment, the likelihood of instituting wireless policies, adjusting to the ACT replacing the current accountability test, and finding replacements for an upcoming wave of veteran educator retirements.
"We need to start preparing now," Moore said.
Hired just this week, Moore fills the vacancy left when Shawn Horne was hired as Russell's superintendent.
“He showed strong leadership presence throughout the interview,” said Joe Aldrich, one of two parent members of the school’s governing council. Moore’s “multiple experiences” were among the factors that led the council to hire him in what Aldrich and others said was “a tough call” among several qualified applicants.
“He was on top of everything —numbers, figures, future plans,” said parent member Gina Abul-Khoudoud.
Moore, only the sixth principal since Russell Middle opened in 1969, is a Russell alumnus who most recently was counselor and academic dean at Russell High School. He also taught social studies and other subjects at the high school for more than a decade.
He has studied in Japan as a Fulbright scholar and in Korea in a cultural exchange program.
MIKE JAMES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or