Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Love Makes A Family. Love Goes On

The high school that both May and Jessie attended in Tallahassee is an alternative school, although publicly funded. It is an amazing place and a place where students who value truly individualized learning and teachers who care find a home. Everyone in the school is called by their first name, from principal to custodian to the security officer to students. Everyone knows everyone. It is a family.
Hell, they even talked me into being the president of the PTSO at one point if you can imagine that. And I loved every minute of it.
SAIL high school. A School For Arts and Innovative Learning.
It's where Jessie learned to play mandolin (the school band is a bluegrass band) and May found a home with peers and teachers when she needed them. It's a school where every student is treated with respect and every student's talents and needs are recognized and honored.
And as you can imagine, the teachers are very, very special.

The SAIL family lost one of its most valued and respected members this morning. His name was Rodd Moorer and he was known always and forever as Brother Rodd.
Here's a picture of him at his retirement celebration last year.

I love that picture. It sums up the energy and just damn love that SAIL represents and of course, Brother Rodd is right in the middle, hand over heart. 

It makes me cry.

Isn't it odd how some people can die and you're sad but you have no real emotional reaction and then someone else can pass over and even if you didn't know them that well, it just jerks your heart right out of your chest and you can't help but cry? 

Brother Rodd's death did that for me. He was just always such a presence with his dreads, his rasta cap, and mostly his beautiful, beautiful smile. He walked with his soul wide open and had no need to keep any of it from his physical bearing. Here's a picture of that smile. The student was wearing his cap. He was generous with his very heart. 

I could write a book about SAIL but the person who needs to write it is a woman named Rosanne Wood who was its first principal and who, with a band of teachers who were as colorful and varied in every way as the student body, made such a difference in so many people's lives. Rosanne is retired now too and every time I see her I tell her to write that book. 

In these days of such confusion and let's face it- failure in our educational systems- SAIL is a model that needs to be studied and emulated. Although- how do you find educators like Rosi and Rodd? 
I don't know. But instead of so much teaching about testing and teaching TO the test, maybe teachers could be nurtured to be more like the teachers of SAIL because in my heart, I think that people go into teaching because they do want to make a difference in students' lives. They DO want to be able to teach with heart and soul. It's certainly not for the money or the ease of the job. 

Here's what Rosanne wrote on Facebook about him today.

Brother Rodd Moorer, beloved SAIL High School teacher, colleague and true friend "transitioned" early this morning after a fierce, but thankfully brief, battle with pancreatic cancer. Rodd was the most transcendent human being I've ever known. He was very clear before he "crossed over" that he would always be part of everything and in each of us, forever. He changed so many lives in his brief 63 years. Everyone who knew him is grateful to have had him on this earth; he will always be our "Brother".

Thank you, Rodd, for making a difference and the earth was better off for having your smiling face, your shining grace upon it.

I didn't really know you that well but I didn't have to. That's the sort of man you were. 
I mourn you but I trust that your spirit is just damn fine. I trust that with every molecule of my soul.

Love...Ms. Moon, Always And Forever, A Member Of Your Family


  1. What a lovely tribute. The world needs more people like him.

  2. Gone far too soon. Why do the best ones have to leave this planet early?

  3. What a beautiful tribute. 63, too young.

  4. Mama, thank you for writing this. Rodd was a beautiful human being, a starburst of a man. Taylor told me he died today in the middle of service. I think she was shocked. I burst into tears. Everything stopped for a moment.
    Rodd, as a teacher, was so easy to get off topic, but then so quick to bring our tangents back home.
    His smile was always there.
    His arms were always open.
    I saw him two months ago. He told me I was beautiful. He told me I hadn't aged. He told me that every time I ever saw him, which was approximately every two months since I graduated high school. We both loved health food stores and dance, how could we not see each other?
    He danced like a phoenix, all fire and swift. He made quick look slow like no one else. His face ashine with god. He is what God would look like if He smiled more often.
    He never aged.
    He also loved the hell out of some oatmeal cookies. And some us. He loved the hell out of some of us.
    I haven't been able to speak about this all day, I'm sorry about this long comment. Michael and I both had him. We just hugged and hugged.
    I also want to say that Rodd was such a thoughtful man, and by that I mean he thought with his brain and his heart in equal measures.
    Thank you again Mama. I wish I could hug him again. I really do.

  5. Oh how beautiful. I am do deeply grateful there are people like him in the world and now I know something more of how your children got to be the bright lights they are. Thank you for sharing this wonderful soul with us.

  6. Well, between your photos and descriptions and May's comment, I'm in tears. Good tears. Thank you both for sharing him.

  7. That sounds like a terrific school. I admire anyone who can make such an impact on people's lives.

  8. jo(e)- The world desperately needs that. But they are so rare.

    Denise- Now you do, just a little.

    ditchingthedog- I do not know. It is very strange.

    Maggie May- May's comment did it much better. Thank you.

    May- That is the best comment I have ever gotten. I'm so glad you wrote it because you really knew him. He really knew you. And he was right- you are so beautiful.

    Angella- Yes. Exactly. It does take a village and the village that helped raise my kids was such a very special one.

    Elizabeth- You can just look at the pictures and know, can't you?

    Steve Reed- It IS a terrific school. A little firestorm of a school. It's changed a whole lot of lives.

  9. He was such a beautiful and gentle man. He taught me so much about acceptance and love and equanimity. His smile could and did light up any space he was in. He was and is so very loved and will be so very missed.

  10. Thanks for your tribute to Bro. Rodd! the student in the picture is my son John doing an homage to Bro Rodd at his retirement. I am so thankful he was my son's teacher & mentor. He made such a difference in everyone he encountered. He made every student feel like feel like he or she was his only student.

  11. Amy A- I loved that picture. Still do. When I went through so many pictures, that was the one that seemed to sum him up in so many ways. And yes- you are right about the way he was. He was joy.


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