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‘A school community that works’ nets $25,000 prize from Ellen DeGeneres

Days after an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” that netted his school $25,000, Bruce Elementary School Principal Archie Moss Jr. said he still is “in shock about the attention….

“But it absolutely speaks to the community that we have at Bruce,” said Moss. “We have a great bond and that’s the energy everyone has been able to tap into. It is such a generous and timely donation from Ellen.”

Moss appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” June 12, and his reaction to the donation was priceless.

While introducing Moss, DeGeneres said, “With so much going on in the world lately, I appreciate those making a difference now, more than ever.

“Our next guest is doing just that! He’s an incredible principal at Bruce Elementary in Memphis, Tennessee. He is shaping young minds in his community every day and he is a person we can all learn from.”

Moss expressed how he has stayed connected with students, parents and faculty members during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how his virtual reading sessions have become popular for children during shelter in place.

From the same spot in his home, where he has been reading to his students every night over the computer, Moss told DeGeneres, “We know that our kids have a lot of needs, so we really pride ourselves on being a family and making sure that we provide everything for our scholars.

“We’re really a school community that works together to give our kids the best learning experience ever.”

Moss and his faculty provide food, clothing and school supplies for the students throughout the school year.

Ellen listed a few accomplishments Moss has achieved as Bruce’s principal.

“You coach the school’s basketball and step teams. You read bed time stories to your students every night. You run a mentorship program for at risk youth.

“Every parent has your number and you accept calls at all hours of the day or night. You buy students technology, clothes, food, basic necessities, and since becoming principal your school has gone from the bottom 10 percent to one of the top performing schools in the state.”

Moss responded from a village perspective, pointing to the support of his staff, students and the community.

After a Minneapolis police officer killed 46-year-old George Floyd (May 25) setting off a sea-change of protests, Moss wrote an open letter to his staff and students.

“About 80 percent of the students and 90 percent of staff are Black,” Moss said.

In the letter he offered a webinar link, where students between third and 12th grade could unite and talk.

“As a Black man, first and foremost, I thought it was so important for me to say something to my community. I don’t travel throughout the city without my work badge on, because I still operate in fear as a Black man that, if I’m pulled over, something could happen to me.

“And I try to use my badge as a shield,” Moss told Ellen. “And if I feel that way as an adult, imagine the emotions that my students are going through and the confusion they have.

“I sent that letter off as a glimpse of hope for them so that they can understand that I see them. I see them as who they are. They matter to me. Their voices matter and that their feelings are validated.”

DeGeneres  responded, “That’s so important that you did that,” before announcing a $25,000 reward to Bruce Elementary through a Boxtops for Education partnership.

I talked with Moss after he appeared on the show. A native of Miami, Moss said the move to Memphis was a leap faith

“At the time I didn’t know anyone here,” he said. “I served as the resident principal at Bellevue Middle School (2015-16) under the mentorship of Dr. Kevin Malone and I was able to learn the ropes of how to be an effective school leader.”

The next school year Moss was named principal at Bruce Elementary and he’s been the first line of leadership ever since.

In April, staff members at Bruce Elementary released a ‘Quarantine Clean Music Video’ “Wipe Me Down” that essentially went viral.

“Every year I release a music video to get my kids excited about testing, but of course, this year we didn’t have the traditional testing, so we decided to create a positive music video for the kids, sharing why it’s important to stay home and be cautious about wiping things down and washing your hands,” Moss said.

In June, the open letter regarding Floyd’s killing was released to Bruce’s school body and that went viral as well.

The joy that he brings to “bedtime stories” is positively contagious.

“During the pandemic, I committed to reading a bedtime story every night,” he said. “It was an awesome experience to connect with my parents and students.

“Through it all, we’ve managed to find different ways to connect with our staff and our families,” he said. “I’m fortunate that we all have found a way to rally together to continue to provide support, love and structure to our kids at this time.”


(View “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” segment at https://bit.ly/2YI4Oyn.)

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