Robert Moss is settled in at his new principal’s office at Millikin Basics+ Elementary School. Inside is a framed poster of Mahatma Gandhi with the quote, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Also mounted on a wall are images accompanied by motivational phrases: Teamwork. Change. Perseverance. Walk the Talk. Achievement. Following the retirement of Dr. Melba Rhodes-Stanford earlier this summer, Moss stepped in as the new principal.
“My primary role is to support the teachers so they can successfully do their job,” says Moss, who holds a Master’s Degree in Teacher Leadership and Administration through a program San Jose State University set up in conjunction with the school district. “My goal is to make the function of the school as seamless as possible. You want to create a loving and caring atmosphere not only for the staff but for the students and their parents. My goal is also to help the Millikin community continue to define itself. What they do here works. The way they instruct kids works. The policies and procedures they use works and I want to keep doing that.”
Moss served as principal of Bowers Elementary School for 11 years and had taught kindergarten and fourth grade at the school.
“As a kindergarten teacher, I loved that I could start off a child’s education and the kids were so excited about learning,” Moss recalls. “Fourth grade was my favorite grade to teach because I love social studies and history. We did reenactments of the Spanish coming to California. We pretended we were building the missions. We did gold panning for the Gold Rush.”
While Moss embraces the way things are currently done at Millikin, he would also like to carry over some traditions from Bowers.
“The Bowers PTA organizes a Halloween dance, and I’d like to bring that to Millikin,” he says. “Last Halloween the kids dressed up and we got a DJ. Parents came. Some volunteered and some danced with their kids. Parents loved it, the kids loved it and the teachers loved it.”
Moss acknowledges misconceptions some have about Millikin, a past recipient of the prestigious National Blue Ribbon Award.
“For example, a lot of people out there think we only accept the smartest kids in the district but we actually have a huge variety of students here,” he says. “Since it’s open enrollment, we get whoever is on the enrollment list, whether they have special needs or if they’re a second language learner. We accept all kinds of students. We don’t discriminate. Admissions come from the choice of the lottery.”
Moss lives in San Jose with his wife and two sons.