New principal ready to work at high school

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

ORANGE GROVE - As the new principal at Orange Grove High School, Tommy Moses has high expectations for students, parents and staff.

He's made his career on aiming high and achieving high results.

As principal at Orange Grove Junior High, Moses' campus saw some of the highest attendance figures in the county.

This emphasis on the importance of keeping students in the classroom is directly equivalent to their ability to succeed, he said.

"I firmly believe that if the kids are there, we can teach them. Attendance is something that has to be a priority," Moses said. "The grades kids make and the TAKS scores they receive, if they're in school, then they're going to get what they need to succeed."

He would like to see attendance rates increase at the high school.

The campus averages 93 percent, but Moses would like to see that number closer to 95 percent or above.

Moses believes 85 percent of the students are in school for the right reasons, doing what they're supposed to do, but the other 15 percent don't have their priorities straight, and need more determination in their lives to prepare for real life.

He realizes, though, that no one person can change a thing, which is why Moses has always approached his work as a team-oriented principal.

"It's not just me, or just the work of the teachers. When I talk about a team effort, I'm talking about the student body itself. The successes we achieve will be because of a good team effort overall, and I'm confident we'll have that this year," Moses said.

The school has great teachers and strong parental support, Moses said, and that will be key to success this coming year.

The parents need to stay involved with their children through high school.

Although it is a new position, Moses said he doesn't feel like a stranger at OGHS.

"The people here know what I'm about. I don't have to prove myself. They already know that I'm a kid-oriented guy," Moses said.

The campus will be facing a tough transition this year.

Because of the increase in class load from the state mandated 4X4 plan, the district will take students to an eight-period schedule this year.

The plan calls for four courses of math and science, in addition to the four courses of English and social studies the state already requires.

Before the change, district officials were afraid the added courses would restrict time for the extracurricular activities, in which more than 80 percent of the student population participates annually. Moses said with the change over to eight periods, the class sizes will hopefully be smaller, and the extracurricular opportunities will continue.

Moses plans on being a lot more visible than the teachers and students are used to. When they are out in the hallway between classes, he will be, much as he was at the junior high, he said.

Moses was raised here, went to school here, raised his children here, and now as head principal, can say with first-hand knowledge what it is that makes OGISD great.

"We have dedicated teachers and exceptionally strong parental involvement," Moses said. "And the administrators are willing to work with the community to do whatever it takes to develop good students."

There are no peaks or valleys in the education students receive in Orange Grove, Moses said. The groundwork is laid at the primary school, and at each campus, the students increase their knowledge and become more productive. He is committed to leading the high school forward, and said that all together, the district will continue to improve.