Submitted by Archie Moss
I didn’t choose 901. The 901 chose me. My journey with Teach For America began in Charlotte, NC where I taught 6th and 7th Grade math at my placement school, Whitewater Middle School. I then had the opportunity to remain at my placement school as Dean of Students. I was dedicated to the work and the community that I became accustomed to in Charlotte, but then life (and a program called New Leaders) brought me to Memphis. One day, the Director of the New Leaders Memphis Aspiring Principals Program called me and asked me to come join the work in Memphis. I remember her telling me how diverse the city was and about the work the city was launching to address educational inequities. She sold me on Memphis and I took a leap of faith to move to here.
I started out as the Resident Principal at Bellevue Middle School where I was able to launch the Gentlemen’s League, an all-male mentorship which seeks to educate, empower, and enrich boys to be successful, and steer them away from a life of bad decision making. I am now the proud Principal at Bruce Elementary School (and the first TFA Alum to lead a Shelby County School). I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to work with a group of young scholars and play an integral role in shaping and molding the lives of our future leaders in the city. Seeing the impact that TFA has had on me and the entire city is inspiring. We are having conversations about race, class, and privilege that many school districts or regions might not dare touch or even speak of. Serving in the role as a Culturally Competent Facilitator for the TFA – Memphis Regional Institute showed me this firsthand.
To me, this experience is proof that we will be on the forefront of the social justice movement in Memphis, and that we are not afraid to raise our voices to advocate for equal opportunities for all our students and communities.
Memphis is a special place and I am excited about the work being done here. I sit back and reflect on the images that came across my screen on the evening of Sunday, July 10th in Memphis. The images of hundreds of people on the I-40 Bridge hosting a peaceful protest. No violence. No arrest. Just a display of solidarity for a cause. The image was so powerful and so necessary. A statement that we will be heard. We will demand justice. We matter! Let’s go Memphis!
I call myself a Memphian by choice, and the actions that I have witnessed make me a proud resident of the city.
I feel inspired and fired up by the work taking place in Memphis. MLK, Jr. said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Memphis has shown me that we will not just sit by idly and do nothing when there are injustices taking place.
Thank you Memphis for re-inspiring me and keeping my torch lit! Our work isn’t over. It’s just getting started.