West Hartford Superintendent of Schools Tom Moore was was honored with the ‘Build No Fences’ Award at the 31st Annual ‘Breakfast on the Bridge’ Tuesday morning.
By Ronni Newton
Administrators and principals from throughout West Hartford Public Schools, private school administrators, social service professionals, Board of Education and Town Council members and others gathered Tuesday morning at St. James’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford for The Bridge Family Center’s 31st annual “Breakfast on the Bridge” – an event that celebrates commitment to children and families and has come to be considered the informal kick-off for the new academic year.
Bridge Board of Directors President Mary Butler wished Executive Director Margaret Hann a happy 30th anniversary with the organization. She said that despite all that is happening in the world, the breakfast still provides a sense of optimism to begin the new school year.
To all gathered in the room, Butler said, “Together we share the same mission to serve every child, every family, every time.”
Hann said that the Bridge breakfast “is focused on collaboration and the importance of working together to accomplish great things.”
This year, Hann said, “Our work together has never been more important than it is today.” Adding a quote she said she borrowed from Mike Tyson, not someone she would ordinarily quote: “We all have a plan until we get punched in the face.”
The Build No Fences Award is presented annually to an individual who, with a collaborative spirit goes above and beyond in serving the children and families of West Hartford, and presentation of the award is the highlight of the breakfast. Bridge Director of Marketing & Communications Amanda Aronson said that in choosing the recipient, “This year, a clear theme emerged. The winner of the 2017 Build No Fences Award is a person with a strong moral compass whose leadership goes above and beyond for our community. That person is Tom Moore.”
As is the tradition, comments and tributes about the award recipient made during the nomination process were shared with the audience.
Pat Tyler’s first interactions with Moore followed the tragic death of a student when he was principal at Conard. It was then she learned about his commitment and heart. “Tom is guided by his focus on what’s in the best interest of kids. He gets it. He understands people – how they work and what they need.”
“He is a natural leader who inspires those around him to bring their best ideas to the table. He is courageous, kind, and smart,” Hann wrote in recommending Moore for the award.
“Our superintendent is a really good guy, and of course a wonderful educator. He gets it – he knows that some of our kids might need help learning English, might need a healthy breakfast before they head off to their classrooms, might need a warm winter coat. And for many children, he has been there to make the road just a little bit smoother,” wrote Family Resource Center Coordinator Deborah Zipkin.
Nancy DePalma, who worked with Moore in many capacities and recently retired as assistant superintendent, wrote: “If the term “leader” was personified, Tom would be the poster-child! He easily creates the type of trusting relationships that allow all those serving with him to feel valued and respected for what they bring to the table. He is not a unilateral leader; rather, one who seeks and values the input of all stakeholders.”
Assistant Superintendent for Administration Andy Morrow noted that Moore has “committed his entire career to clearing the paths of students. At his core, Tom believes that we don’t make decisions because of politics or what’s cheap or easy. We make decisions because they’re what’s right for students, families, and our community.”
“Those who know him well know how deep and authentic his moral commitment to all people is,” wrote Charter Oak International Academy Principal Juan Melian.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Paul Vicinus wrote, “Put simply, Tom stands up for kids and their families … Standing up for kids and standing up for their families is one of the most basic and genuine motivations a leader can espouse. Doing what is right by kids – is a philosophy that transcends politics and attacks bureaucracy. Doing right by kids points the direction on a moral compass and is the driving force in basic human nature.”
Aronson closed by noting the comments of Roszena Haskins, director of Continuing and Summer Education and Diversity Advancement for West Hartford Public Schools.
“Tom Moore embodies, models, and demands that each and every child and adult be treated with dignity and respect-every day and without exception. In doing so, Tom charts the course for building community and fosters an appreciation for West Hartford’s rich diversity. Tom Moore is the epitome of a natural born leader who shows compassion, courage, skill, and will. His leadership exemplifies idealism. He articulates a vision that inspires excellence, and his character is one of moral fortitude to do the right things – rather than simply doing things right. In my estimation, Tom Moore is the most eloquent, captivating, unscripted, sincere, and charming public orators I know,” Haskins wrote.
Following a hearty round of applause and a surprise appearance from his wife, Moore said in accepting the award, said he was “honestly stunned” to be chosen as this year’s recipient.
The people in the room, what they do every day, are the ones who are really deserving of the award, he said. “You’re saving kids lives every day … giving hope to kids, giving voice to the voiceless.”
Moore said that his role, the essential job of superintendent, is to “make it easier for my staff to do the right things for kids.”
Moore said that the award is something he genuinely appreciates and will always treasure. “I do believe in the goodness of West Hartford because I believe in the people in this room.”
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