About John Watson Moore*

by his son John Wilson Moore

John Watson Moore was an extraordinary educator, serving as a teacher, principal, and superintendent in the Winston-Salem City (NC) schools. As Superintendent, he worked passionally to:

1. develop a rich and balanced curriculum which included sports, music, vocational, and fine arts programs (the latter included Reynolds Foundation support of a Fine Arts Program in the Reynolds High Auditorium)
2. find the best teachers, to make them the best paid in the state, and to train some as future administrators
3. and, because he was keenly aware of the benefit of sabbaticals for college professors, he sought (especially after his retirement) financial support from Foundations to develop a similar program for teachers,
Career in education
After graduation from Davidson College in 1912, he began to teach science and math in Winston-Salem's old City High School. He joined the Army as a private in 1917 and climbed to the rank of Captain (in the Calvary) in 1919. Following his service in World War I, he returned to Winston-Salem and became principal of the high school in 1921.

A brief career in school athletics Dad was a firm believer in the necessity of combining athletics with classroom work for the full development of his students. Therefore, soon after becoming a teacher, he initiated an athletic program (including baseball, basketball, and football) and coached these teams. (In those days the students had to provide their own uniforms.) In the years to follow several members of these teams became prominent in Winston-Salem and served on the School Board during his tenure as Superintendent.

When a new high school, named the R. J. Reynolds High, was built in the suburbs to replace the old downtown one, he became its first principal and served in that capacity for 12 years. During the summers of this period he took graduate courses at Columbia Univ., the University of Chicago, and Duke Univ. and received a Masters in Education from Duke Univ. in 1932.

In 1933, he moved on to become Superintendent of the City Schools. (This timing was most fortunate for me because I was to enter that only high school and would have been most uncomfortable to be the son of the Principal.). Dad served another 23 years in that capacity before retiring. For his 50th birthday, the school system faculty gave him a life membership in the National Education Association.

The School Board recognized his many years of service by naming a new lower school the John W. Moore School. At the school'’s dedication in 1952, his portrait (painted by a Winston-Salem artist, Joe King , a former student at R.J Reynolds High who also painted a portrait of Queen Elizabeth ) was hung in the school lobby. That same year Davidson College awarded Dad the honorary degree of Doctor of Pedagogy.

In 2011, the original John W. Moore School was replaced with a larger and much improved building.

Role in establishing the UNC School of the Arts
Dad was a friend of the then (1963) Gov. Terry Sanford; together they looked at various sites and chose the old Gray High School building to be renovated as the initial building for the School of the Arts.

His Character
Dad was deeply religious and the most honest and ethical man I have had the privilege of knowing. His commitment to the Schools of Winston-Salem was so important to him that he rarely took any vacation until he retired. His excuses to Mom were:
   a, during the summer: "I must find the best teachers and prepare for the fall term"
   b, during the school year: "I can't take a vacation now while the teachers are working".

His sense of fairness was rather remarkable (and a trait for which I am most grateful and proud) . One year when the school budget was tight, the board informed Dad that they would not be able to honor his request for teacher salary increases but they were able to give him a raise. He politely refused, stating that he hould accept an increase only after one was granted to the teachers. This clearly generated appreciation and strong loyalty from all of the teachers and staff in the Winston-Salem School system.

*For whom the Teacher Development Fund at Duke School for Children was named