State of Our Schools – Early lesson draws Moss to education field

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

GREENWOOD – Cortez Moss began to fully understand the importance of education at the end of his third grade year in Calhoun City.
On the final day of school, he received a report card saying he would not be promoted to fourth grade. The note was an error, corrected after his mom brought the school a meticulous list of her son’s grades that she had logged, but the moment was a wake-up call for the young student.
“What was profound about that moment is I had not done all I was capable of doing as a third-grader to even be on the brink,” said Moss, now 23 and a member of the prestigious Teach for America program.
He would go on to graduate with honors from Calhoun City High School and from the University of Mississippi with degrees in public policy and English. He was inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame and was on the Dean’s and Chancellor’s lists.
Today, Moss is a first-year teacher at Greenwood High School, where he teaches English 1 and 2.
While at Ole Miss, he became interested in education policy and made a presentation to the Mississippi House of Representatives’ education committee about the advantages and disadvantages of charter schools.
“After that meeting, I understood the challenges and roadblocks we faced in Mississippi as regards to providing all children with high-quality education, and I had to do something different and it wasn’t through policy,” Moss said. “I had to be a classroom teacher if I really wanted to make a difference.”
Moss applied to TFA because he was attracted to the organization’s national resources and contacts and the support it could provide him. He was named Greenwood High School’s Teacher of the Year this year, his first in the field.
“I think my students now understand why I am here in the Delta and I am a Mississippi boy and face challenges like them,” said Moss, who eventually wants to either become a school administrator or do educational policy work. “I just happen to be someone who has somehow made it out and been somewhat successful.”

Click video to hear audio