From construction site to the classroom: Get to know Jeffrey Moss

tbarton@beaufortgazette.comAugust 11, 2013 

Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Moss speaks to the members of the Beaufort County school board Tuesday night during the board meeting in Beaufort.

DELAYNA EARLEY — Staff photo Buy Photo

Jeffrey Moss never thought he would become a teacher, let alone a school-district superintendent.

Far from it.

He imagined he'd go into construction, like his father -- a general contractor who owned his own business. Or maybe he would fulfill his love of numbers by becoming an accountant.

Not long after finishing his undergraduate work, a friend suggested a profession that would pay him more than other prospective employers. It sounded good to a recent college graduate.

And look where teaching has led him.

The Beaufort County Board of Education in February picked Moss to replace Valerie Truesdale, who retired in October.

The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette recently caught up with Moss to learn more about the newly hired superintendent, who:

  • Has a 14 handicap and considers himself "a courtesy" golfer.

  • Never served a detention but was once caught skipping class with friends in high school to grab lunch off campus.

  • Played all three sports offered at his high school -- baseball, basketball and soccer -- and opted to play soccer in college after a "run-in" with the head baseball coach who expected freshmen to polish all upper-classmen's shoes and do their laundry.

  • Has a soft side, despite being compared to an ornery mule by Bill Tatum, former school board chairman in Lee County, N.C.

  • Finds laying ceramic tile and drywall therapeutic.

  • Has yet to convince his three daughters (Jeffrie Ann Moss, 22, Kate Kehayes, 25, and Amber Moss, 26) that moving five hours away with his wife, Darlene, is not to the other side of the world.

  • As a recipient of the Order of the Longleaf Pine -- one of North Carolina's highest awards -- (jokingly) believes he can play basketball as well as fellow recipient Michael Jordan and that Jeff Gordon should let him drive No. 24 around the track at least once.

  • JOB SITE TO CLASSROOM

    In 1983 and Moss was a 22-year-old college graduate with a business administration and accounting degree from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, facing job offers with a starting salary of about $13,800.

    Then, a friend called. He was teaching in Hoke County, N.C., and they needed a construction teacher. Moss, the friend thought, would be perfect for the job. He had started working for his father at 14 and at 17 started his own construction company, which he used to pay his way through college.

    Moss, though, was dubious about teaching. It's not what he had prepared for.

    Then, his friend told him he could make nearly $5,300 more per year

    "So I looked at being 22 years old," Moss recalls, raising his hands to mimic a scale, "and said, 'Thirteen, 19, 13, 19. I took the 19. I said, 'OK, I'll do this for a couple of years, and then I'll get back into public accounting.' "

    He never left teaching, though.

    "I fell in love with the concept of being able to shape the future and fell in love with the process of teaching and learning," he said.

    Moss quickly realized what he was doing in the classroom was not all that different from his role on the job site, teaching laborers who were high school dropouts how to use the Pythagorean theorem to lay out a foundation.

    That experience would come to shape a 30-year career in public education punctuated by a focus on making curriculum relevant and useful for students, and bolstering economic development.

    He has worked in North Carolina schools as a teacher, director of vocational and technical education and assistant superintendent for instruction and technology.

    From January 2009 until coming to Beaufort County, he was superintendent of Lee County, N.C., schools. Before that, he was superintendent of schools in Beaufort County, N.C., and Stanly County, N.C.

    He has been praised by supporters in North Carolina for expanding classroom technology and improving graduation rates. He established a laptop program for all students and staff in grades three through 12, encouraged students to enroll in higher-level classes, and expanded career and technical programs through apprenticeships, according to Lee County officials.

    "I think I actually benefited from not going through a teacher education program -- nothing against teacher-ed programs -- but the way I taught the class was more from an application standpoint," Moss said. "If we were looking at mathematics equations we related that to something in the construction field ... or were writing business proposals or reading technical manuals.

    "... I think back then the methodology I was using was the methodology folks now realize we should be using to engage kids in the instructional process."

    Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.

    Related content

    Beaufort County school board approves $220K salary, contract for Moss: March 19, 2013

    Moss selected as new Beaufort County school superintendent: Feb. 28, 2013

    Superintendent candidate Moss: Change classroom methods to personalize education: Feb. 13, 2013

    Beaufort superintendent candidate Moss visionary to some, despite outburst caught on video: Feb. 11, 2013

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