Dr. Dorothy Travis Moore, lauded educational leader and founder of Milwaukee’s Travis Academies, recounts her life’s work advocating for at-risk children in this motivational memoir.
Moore’s foray into teaching began after working as a counselor at a home for troubled girls. This sparked a passion for administering and designing alternative educational reassignment programs. Believing she was “called by God” and with church funding, Moore eventually created Ceria M. Travis Academy, a middle school for at-risk boys. Later, the Academy incorporated high schoolers and girls, and eventually the Travis Technology High School was launched.
Here, Moore recounts her personal odyssey, laced with advice for educators. Key to helping endangered students realize their potential, she writes, is to lead them to perform in a way that “celebrates who they are.”
Moore’s tales of helping at-risk youths illustrate her methodology of love, nurturing, and compassion. Examples of rescued children abound: Group home resident Jarrod brings bullets to school and keeps a hidden gun there; bullied student Tim was jailed for threatening a teacher with a butcher knife at age 12; rebellious, smart-mouthed Leonardo’s offensive behavior causes trouble in every class. In each case, the students learn, with Moore’s system of rewards and peer involvement, to trust the school and rebuild their lives. Moore’s mantra to students is easily summarized: “I believe in you. Believe in yourself, too.”
Chapters end with bullet lists of guiding principles called TOMS (Tips on Moving Students) and practice scenarios.
One drawback is that Moore generally paints a rosy picture in most every student anecdote. Surely there were more nuanced—even disappointing—results that aren’t mentioned, making for a somewhat unbalanced account. Additionally, there’s little focus on the challenges and struggles of staff, which would also have been instructional.
Nonetheless, Moore’s prose is powerful and direct. Rich in anecdote and practical advice for teachers and administrators, this book will inspire readers.