Simply Choose Love

photo by Matt Cornelius
photo by Matt Cornelius

Simply Choose Love

Although George Moore was born in 1948, deep in the throes of segregation, he never realized as a child he was living in a segregated society. “We had one white neighbor who lived less than a mile away. I didn’t see him as white. My parents didn’t talk about Martin Luther King Jr. or Jim Crow. I was never taught racial hatred, and I grew up in a loving, Godly family. I did not hear negativity or anyone talking down to others in my home. As I reflect on my foundational years, I thank God I had parents who didn’t raise me to hate.”

Moore’s parents taught him to treat others with love and respect, no matter how they acted or looked. They instructed him to exhibit hard work and honesty. Do not steal and do not lie, were phrases often repeated in his home. His parents took advantage of life experiences to teach life lessons and once scolded Moore for bringing home a rubber tractor from his friend Donnie’s house. When Moore told his mom and dad Donnie had given him his permission to take the tractor home and play with it, his parents made their position clear. It was Donnie’s parents, not Donnie, who had purchased the tractor. He was told to take nothing without asking his parents. This incident was one of the many ways the Moores instilled respect for adults in their son. “My mom was always going to support the adults—in school, church, or our neighborhood.”

Moore feels his life can be easily divided into two eras—before integration and after integration. He went to a two-room school, and although he was in the first grade and his sister was in the third grade, they were taught in the same room. Moore remembers, “We had tremendous discipline in the Black schools. Students were well-behaved and respected the adults. My principal was always well-dressed and commanded respect. He even wore Stacy Adams shoes to school.”

Moore recalls moments from his early education, including being in fourth grade and feeling like his teacher was lacking. He also remembers riding a school bus eight miles and passing an all-white school to get to his all-black school. “Our books were books that had been used for seven or eight years in the white schools and then passed down to us to use for another seven or eight years.” His mother never diminished the school he attended, but would instead hold “school” after school with him and his siblings to enhance their lessons. Although she only had an eleventh-grade education, Moore said she had a “Ph.D. in wisdom.”

A floor plan example of a Rosenwald school, similar to the Canaan School George Moore first attended in his childhood.

His affection and admiration for his late mother is evident when Moore speaks of her saving money to buy him a set of encyclopedias he routinely studied and used to memorize famous places and facts. “I never heard my mom use substandard English, and she did not allow us to. She valued education and told me I would go to college. She said, ‘I don’t know how you’re going to get there or how we will pay for it, but you are going.’” Moore’s mom taught her children that education was a gift, and once they had it, no one could ever take it away from them. She stressed that a great education could open many doors.

Another point of Moore’s admiration for his mother came from the fact that she would not let her children experience hatred. She believed racism dehumanized people and refused to allow that to be inflicted upon them. “We didn’t go to the picture show growing up. Do you know where black people sat in the movie theaters? They were only allowed to sit in the balcony section of the theater. Our mom sheltered us so that we did not have to experience the horrors of segregation. She protected us from that because she wanted us to love all people and not feel hatred,” he said.

Another topic Mrs. Moore taught was the importance of well-organized finances and budgeting. She believed in paying the bills and the church first. However, when it came time for significant purchases, she stressed one should buy the best and take care of it. Because of that philosophy, Moore and his wife Carolyn are still able to display and use many of her furniture pieces in their home today.

Though he considers his mother his best teacher, Moore firmly believes he had impactful teachers in the early days of his education, although schools were segregated. “I never thought of us being separated until I went to an all-white college.” Moore treasures his time at East Texas Baptist University, though it was not easy. Moore had to work and pay his way through school. He faced adversity and had to overcome stereotypes, but he learned valuable life lessons and made it his mission to make friends with everyone. He remembers making friends with a young man from Nigeria with deep scars from cuts on his face. “I assumed he was from the jungle. Man, did he set me straight! He told me those were tribal marks, which symbolized manhood, and he came from a city that closely resembled New York City. I learned there were good people of all colors.”

Given Moore’s highly decorated career in education, those lessons have served him well over the years. He began his career in education when he was hired to teach biology at Texas High School, where he continued for fourteen years until the superintendent tapped him to be an assistant principal at Westlawn Elementary. Moore quickly rose to the ranks of principal, serving one year at 15th Street Elementary School and ten years at his beloved Pine Street Middle School, which transitioned to Texas Middle School in the early 2000s. He retired from Texarkana Independent School District in 2019, after serving two stints as middle school principal and as assistant superintendent for over a decade.

George Moore in Washington D.C., at the National Principal of the Year ceremony.

His accomplishments are too numerous to list, but one he is especially proud of is having been named Texas Middle School Principal of the Year in 2005. This honor took him to Washington, D.C., and led to him being one of three finalists for National Principal of the Year. But beyond the accolades, and most importantly throughout Moore’s career, he has endeavored to live out his favorite scripture, Micah 6:8, “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

Moore quickly gives credit to others he has worked with and all those who have helped him along the way. However, what he is most pleased with is taking a high-poverty, high-minority school, Texas Middle School, to “Recognized” status against all odds. It is a legacy he will never escape—the Legacy of Pine Street PRIDE (Personal Responsibility In Daily Efforts). It became a mantra for anyone who ever walked the halls of Pine Street as a teacher, student, parent, or community member. Moore’s son Chad claims his family has been stopped on the street by people well into their 40s who see Moore and are eager to recite the PRIDE mantra. These former students tell him they love him and that he is the best principal they have ever had. “That is my legacy: the legacy of PRIDE.”

Even in retirement, George Moore and his family continue to live out the values ingrained in him by his parents all those years ago. In February 2020, the Moore Family Scholarship was established to assist low-income students in pursuit of higher education degrees or credentials through Texarkana College, where Moore is a member of the Board of Directors. Most recently, in January 2024, Moore was the recipient of the C.E. Palmer Award, Texarkana’s most prestigious honor given in recognition of long-term meritorious civic service. This award goes beyond a single accomplishment; it is earned from a life well lived serving others.

George Moore exemplifies what happens when people choose love over hate. “Life is so amazing,” he reflects, and we should all follow his living example and simply choose love.

2006, George and Carolyn Moore at the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) Convention in Reno, Nevada.

“Mr. Moore is a beacon of inspiration in all walks of life. He has left an indelible mark on teachers, students, and staff alike. His ability to connect with others, along with a genuine nature, defines a legacy that transcends the classroom... a testament to why he stands among the very best in the realm of education. I am proud to have him as an influence in my life, then and now.”

—Derrick McGary

“If you want a great description of what a lifetime of service to others looks like, then just show a picture of George Moore. Mr. Moore is someone that so many of us count as one of our top mentors and someone, regardless of the situation, you know he will be on the front row making sure you know he is supporting you and proud of you.”

—Dr. James Henry Russell

“George Moore is a remarkable individual, embodying the roles of a loving husband, devoted father, and inspiring mentor with exceptional grace. His dedication to education, coupled with his warm and compassionate nature, have earned him the admiration and respect of everyone who has the privilege of knowing him. His influence has always extended far beyond the classroom, touching lives and shaping futures with his wisdom and kindness.”

—Dr. Jason Smith

“George worked three jobs when we married after a six month courtship. He has always been a great provider, a one-in-a-million husband, and father. His love for his students and staff transcended race, color, and culture. There are no barriers to his love for everyone. He exhibits daily the characteristics of what true love really is!”

—Carolyn C. Moore


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