By Carson Moore
This upcoming school year, as kids are headed back to school, the Beaufort County School District will be welcoming a new face as well-Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Moss.
Having moved to Beaufort from his home in Lee County, North Carolina, Moss is excited by the opportunity to breathe some life into his new school district. He began teaching in 1983, when he graduated from the University of North Carolina in
Pembroke with a degree in accounting.
“At first, I thought I was going to become a CPA and open my own business,” Moss explains. “But I started teaching, and I haven’t looked back since.”
Moss went on to earn his doctorate in educational administration from South Carolina State University and began working as a superintendent fourteen years ago.
Luckily for Beaufort County, Moss’s experience has given him the distinct skill set needed to set the county’s public schools apart. With a strong emphasis on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program, Moss plans to revitalize the way education is viewed in Beaufort.
“We’ve started down the road of using technology to affect classroom instruction,” Moss explains. “We’ll continue to introduce those digital devices at every level, because they help level the playing field, and provide the same opportunities to all kids. This way, you may not have a rich reading environment at home, but you can get books, newspapers, magazines-anything you want off a tablet or device.”
In addition to introducing more technology into the classroom, Moss will also be improving upon already existing programs within the school- including the Battery Creek High School aeronautics program, where students have the opportunity to disassemble and rebuild a CESSNA aircraft.
“We’re going to build upon these experiences, and create some focal points,” Moss says. “If your interest lies in engineering, we’re going to ensure you get the science and mathematics courses that you need to be successful as an engineer. Whatever your desire is, we want to make sure you have the proper foundation to ensure you will be successful at the next level.”
Moss will also assist in redistricting and plans on attempting to solve the overcrowding problems that plague the county’s schools.
“With the growth that we’re experiencing in Bluffton and Hilton Head, this will be an important issue we’re going to have to face,” he says. “It could start to fix a lot of things.”
Moss’s credentials seem to prove that his advice shouldn’t be taken for granted. For example, the last district in which he was superintendent saw a 19% rise in graduation rates over the five-year period in which he was present.
“When I started there, there was a 67% graduation rate,” Moss says. “By the time I left, we had gotten it up to 86%.”
According to the school district, the current Beaufort County graduation rate is around 75%, and Moss plans to raise it much higher, in order to successfully compete with home schools, charter schools, and private schools in the area.
“Competition is really good,” Moss declares. “It challenges us [the school district] to build an environment where parents choose us first. We have to make sure that what the public schools are providing is first of all, what they want, and second, meeting the needs of our community, our state and our nation.”
In order to better understand the community that he’s serving, Moss will be adopting a campaign of extensive community outreach.
“The best thing about being a superintendent is getting the community involved,” he says. “People get energized, and excited about expanding the future of their schools, and that’s a great thing to see.”
Moss plans to get involved in a number of civic organizations and will often be available for speaking engagements. In addition to these events, Moss also plans to begin a series of town forums. During these forums, which will occur in each of the five high school clusters across the county, Moss will speak on important issues facing the school district, and then open the forums to community members.
“It’s their opportunity to put me on the spot, so to speak,” he chuckles.
While interacting with the community may be the best part of the job, there is a distinct struggle involved as well. Each school district, whether it has two schools or twenty, is comprised of people that create the district’s own unique history.
“You don’t want to go down a road that others have gone down and failed, particularly if they failed for certain reasons,” Moss acknowledges. “It takes time to learn all the people, and determine how they interact with each other in the system.”
During the upcoming school year, Moss plans to make himself available and well known to the communities he’ll be serving. “I’m planning on attending almost all the sporting events,” he says. “At least all the ones I can, and at least one of each of our high schools’ games.”