Pioneer High School English teacher Michael Moore has taught thousands of students over his 38-year career, 27 of which have been at the school, deepening their understanding of literature and inspiring his fellow educators to think outside the box to effectively reach the teens in their care.
During what may be his last year at the school as he contemplates retirement, Moore received Whittier Union’s highest honor bestowed to teachers who are dedicated to their craft and the students who benefit from it – he was named the 2016-17 Teacher of the Year.
“I am absolutely honored to be Teacher of the Year,” Moore said. “I am mindful of all of the wonderful teachers we have here. I’m accepting this award on their behalf.”
A 1970 Whittier High School graduate, Moore was a Catholic school teacher for 10 years before he began primarily teaching English honors courses at Pioneer High in 1990.
“Pioneer is a wonderful school and the kids here are the best. They’re the ones who want to be here and I want to be here for them,” Moore said. “The staff here is a family and everyone is so supportive.”
Moore knew he wanted to pursue a career in teaching in second grade, when he excitedly taught his 6-year-old neighbor punctuation marks he had learned earlier that day as the pair sat on a curb.
“I was excited for her, and my love for teaching started literally in the gutter,” Moore said.
Over the years, Moore has kept an “old-school” style of teaching and modified it to the needs of students, keeping their attention and helping them understand new concepts.
“I have gained skills with teaching, learned to have more patience and try to make it fun and interesting. It’s taken a while to perfect my craft,” he said. “I look at teaching as being in a trench fighting the battle, and it’s been a worthy battle.”
Having day-to-day contact with students, many of whom come back over the years and thank Moore for his service, and seeing their faces light up with enthusiasm upon discovering new ideas only bolsters his passion for the profession.
“They want to work hard and be challenged and they’re up for it,” Moore said. “Seeing that illumination in their mind and light of understanding is fantastic.”
Moore was recognized for his exemplary dedication and positive accomplishments during the Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year Awards Banquet in September.
“Teachers like Michael Moore are exactly who our students look up to and who they remember as impacting their lives long after they’ve graduated high school,” said Whittier Union High School District Superintendent Martin Plourde. “They have a passion for teaching and do it every day to ensure our students are empowered, educated and ready for the next step of their lives. I want to thank Michael and every single teacher in Whittier Union for doing what they do – inspiring our students to do better.”