Personality: Antuane Ramon Moore

Spotlight on Richmond Education Association president

9/1/2017, 8:01 a.m.
The start of a new school year can bring a mix of excitement and anxiety for parents and students. Richmond ...

The start of a new school year can bring a mix of excitement and anxiety for parents and students. Richmond Education Association President Antuane Ramon Moore has some advice to help everyone get ready. Parents and guardians “set the stage” for a love of learning because they are a child’s first teachers, Mr. Moore says. It’s up to parents and guardians to “ensure students’ basic needs are met. Parents need to establish supportive, daily routines to assist children with homework, reading, projects, studying and preparing for the next day of school.”

As motivators, parents should be actively involved inside and outside of school, he says, not only assisting with homework and projects but also volunteering and becoming involved with the PTA.

Communicating with teachers and attending after-school activities and programs helps motivate students, Mr. Moore says. He also recommends that parents and guardians review and discuss with their children the Richmond Public Schools’ S.C.O.R.E. — Student Code of Responsible Ethics — document that outlines behavior expectations.

“The public doesn’t know that the Richmond Public Schools are staffed with some of the brightest, smartest and empathetic educators, who often put the needs of their students above their own,” Mr. Moore says.

The REA represents more than 1,500 teachers and non-instructional employees in Richmond Public Schools. It’s the local affiliate of the Virginia Education Association and the National Education Association.

The REA’s No. 1 objective, Mr. Moore says, is to make sure the city public school system has the financial and community support needed to ensure a world-class education for each student and to ensure competitive salaries and benefits for schools employees. This is a mighty tall order for a school system suffering from a rash of issues, including chronic student achievement problems that have resulted in a lack of school accreditation and oversight by the Virginia Department of Education.

The 39-year-old Richmond native grew up in Richmond Public Schools and now works as an in-school suspension coordinator at Binford Middle School. He says he has some ideas on how the REA can help the city public school system. “I plan to meet the REA’s main objective by speaking out about the positive aspects of the schools and the professional employees who work in them,” he says. “Also, I plan to encourage community, business and faith-based support for RPS.” The days of solely focusing on reading, writing and arithmetic have passed, he says. Today’s classroom instruction also includes concentration on the “Four Cs” of the Common Core Curriculum — critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.

A successful school year, Mr. Moore says, includes a highly qualified licensed teacher in every classroom, students demonstrating significant growth toward mastery of local and state assessments, the resources necessary for educators to assist students in overcoming any learning challenges and a way for educators to express and demonstrate the passion they have for education.

Creating the ideal school year requires parental, community and political support, a well as adequate financial resources — a real challenge not only in Richmond, Mr. Moore says, but for urban school systems across the nation. As many educators and administrators have expressed, progress takes time, he says.

“The public and politicians need to understand that meaningful improvement doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen without the resources necessary to ensure those improvements,” he says.

“Every student is unique and there should not be an expectation that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching that will work.”

As REA president, Mr. Moore is planning events and activities to bridge the gap that sometimes exists between parent and teacher understanding and expectations in shaping student academic success.

He describes the possibility of hosting a “community lounge” that will be similar to an open forum for parents to ask educators questions. Another is a biannual event that he calls “field days,” where sessions, focused on specific challenges facing each grade, will be offered for teachers to share their experiences and needs and for parents to better understand how to best help students.

Meet this week’s Personality and Richmond education advocate, Antuane Ramon Moore:

Occupation: In-school suspension coordinator at Binford Middle School. I enforce rules and regulations of the in-school suspension program while creating a nurturing environment for learning. 

Community involvement: President, Richmond Education Association.

When elected and length of term: July 1. I serve through June 30, 2019.

Other community involvement: Concerned Black Men of Richmond; organist for Thirsty-first Street Baptist Church; member, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity; Leadership Metro Richmond Class of 2014; and Delaney Foundation member.

The REA is: The only professional union that represents the employees, instructional and non-instructional, of Richmond Public Schools.

Number of REA members: More than 1,500.

Date and place of birth: Jan. 8 in Richmond.

Current residence: Church Hill in Richmond.

Alma maters: Armstrong High School, Class of 1997; bachelor’s degree in music, Virginia State University; master’s degree in education, Virginia State University; and special education certification, Virginia Union University.

Family: Mother, Gayles Parker Moore, and niece, Jakya Braxton Moore.

Description of Richmond Public Schools: The Richmond school system is one that welcomes all, turns away none and does everything possible to ensure the academic, emotional and social success of all who enter.

Foremost challenge facing public schools: The focus on testing and test scores instead of focusing on providing all students with the skills they need to be academically ready to pursue post-secondary education or to be workforce ready so they all can become productive citizens in a competitive, global society.

What school officials need to do: Present the needs of the school system in a forthright, positive and unapologetic way so that current services are maintained, and increase funding to add extended day and Saturday academic wrap-around services and build new schools.

How to define 21st century learning: A content-rich curriculum provided through engaging lessons and experiences that are rigorous, relevant and supported by the latest technology available. These resources will prepare students for a post-secondary education, a job upon finishing high school and the ability to re-invent themselves for careers that have yet to be created.

How important is it to have a modern environment for learning: The learning environment is crucial to successful student learning outcomes and must be well-equipped to meet the needs of a modern society in a global arena.

(How important is it to prepare students beyond the “Three Rs” (reading, writing and arithmetic) to include the “Four Cs” critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity): Today’s educators must be able to build relationships with parents, students and the community to educate the whole child. Students must be exposed to a high level of academic rigor correlated to state standards to effectively answer the higher order questioning on today’s assessments. While the 3 Rs speak to the student’s acquisition of knowledge and skills, the Four Cs enable students to use the knowledge and skills they have acquired to be successful. Educators must teach our students how to think critically using processes such as conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information in their lessons and activities/experiences. Students must have the opportunity to work collaboratively with peers as well as across grade levels and, if possible, using an interdisciplinary approach. This kind of collaboration also fosters communication in the school. Creativity allows students the freedom of individuality of thought. They learn to use their minds to express differently or even think of new concepts.  The Four Cs also provide numerous opportunities for students to learn and become involved in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) courses and experiences. Students will need to be able to use the Four Cs to be successful in our ever-changing, interdependent global society and workforce.

REA’s stand on the schools infrastructure referendum question that will appear on November ballot in Richmond: The REA has not taken a stand on the referendum, but the group’s position on the referendum will be on the agendas for the REA Board of Directors and Representative Assembly to consider at their next meetings.

What are the most important qualities that a new superintendent should have: A sound academic background, superb financial acumen and be a global thinker with a proven track record of success in an urban school division with needs similar to those of RPS.

Most unforgettable experience in school: Two of my most unforgettable experiences come to mind. The first was breaking my foot and leg during my first semester of my high school senior year and I couldn’t drive. And the second was having to prepare the choir while I was the vocal music teacher at the former Chandler Middle School for the funeral of a former student who was murdered.

Schools when I was a kid were: Filled with educational, fun-filled activities within and outside the school building. These experiences and activities, such as field trips, garnered academic and social excellence. True teaching, not SOL testing, was the top objective. Teachers were treated as members of the extended family who truly mentored and coached the student. They made sure you were prepared for either college or the world of work.

How I start the day: I start my day with prayer, vocalizing, early morning conversations with friends, stopping by the store for my morning fruit and then focusing on work assignments and association tasks.

Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: I enjoy playing with my drone airplanes.

A quote that I am inspired by: “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself,” by John Dewey.

Best late-night snack: A cold Pepsi with ice and a slice of lemon chess pie.

How I unwind: Eating seafood, sitting at my piano practicing and spending time shopping.

Hobbies: Traveling, bowling and socializing with family and friends of the Virginia and Richmond Education associations and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Prized possession: My piano.

Persons who influenced me the most: My mother, Gayles Parker Moore, and paternal grandfather, Watt Moore.

Book that influenced me the most: “The Leader in Me” by Stephen Covey.

The book I’m reading now: “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Beverly Daniel Tatum.

Kindergarten taught me: How to work and live with others. I also learned how to sit properly, focus, follow rules, pay attention to all details and, most importantly, be an attentive listener and observer.

Next goal: To enhance the REA’s working relationship with the Richmond School Board while advocating and recruiting members.