Not all graduates that should be college-bound have the benefit of a strong start to their high school academic career.
To begin to remedy that, Nacogdoches native and former Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Moses and his wife, Debi, want to help out at least one Nacogdoches High School student who completes a significant academic turnaround by the time graduation rolls around.
The couple were in Nacogdoches in April to establish a fund that will endow an annual award — the Debi and Mike Moses Turnaround Scholarship — to benefit the student that shows the greatest growth in grade point average from the end of their freshman year through their senior year. The first award will be made May 21 at the Nacogdoches High School scholarship assembly.
That freshman year — sophomore, too, sometimes — can be a bit rough before a student figures things out, Moses said. But even with strong academic performances at the end of a high school career, a student that is clearly college ready might end up in the middle of the pack of class rankings and out of the running for many of the academic-based scholarships.
“Research shows that a student that receives some financial assistance will go ahead and make that decision to go to a college or university,” said Moses. “Debi and I want to set up a scholarship that will help make that a reality for a student at NHS.”
The couple will pay for a scholarship to be awarded to that graduate this May while establishing the fund that will produce additional scholarships in the years to come.
The willingness of Moses and his wife to contribute financial assistance does not surprise NISD Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo.
“Dr. Moses is a giant in public education in Texas and the nation,” Trujillo said. “The fact that he and Debi want to make a difference in the lives of NISD students is indicative of a lifetime of service.
“We’re extremely grateful for their willingness to help out financially and greatly appreciate them providing the long term funding necessary to support this new scholarship.”
The contribution to Nacogdoches ISD is reflective of the couple’s lifetime commitment to public education.
Mike Moses served as a school superintendent – including overseeing Dallas ISD, the second largest district in the state. Moses served as Commissioner of Education in Texas during the 1990s. He and his wife are Nacogdoches High School alumni and earned degrees at Stephen F. Austin State University before beginning their careers in public education.
“I’ve got such fond memories of growing up in Nacogdoches,” Moses said during a lunchtime visit to the Fredonia Hotel’s 1st City Cafe. “Both of us do, and we’re grateful for that foundation in our lives.”
Mike Moses spent his early years in Nacogdoches, while Debi moved here for her sophomore year of high school. Both of their fathers were professors at SFA.
“The girls were just so nice to welcome me into town,” Debi said. “That was important to me.”
Following graduation from SFA, Mike and Debi Moses went into the classroom, and Mike Moses moved into administration before being named a first-time superintendent in Tatum. From there he served as superintendent of schools in LaMarque and Lubbock before being appointed Commissioner of Education by then-Gov. George W. Bush. Moses stepped down in 1999 and was named Deputy Chancellor of the Texas Tech University system before being hired as superintendent of Dallas ISD.