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Get to Know Board Member Scott Moeller
December 7, 2021 - With roots in an Iowa farming community, a stint in the Peace Corps, and more than two decades in the teaching profession, Scott Moeller brings a unique perspective to the SSD Board of Education as a Director.
At Parkway North High School, Moeller teaches U.S. history, a subject that continues to intrigue him on both a national and local level. He’s also coached cross country and baseball, and sponsored student organizations that include student council and social justice groups. Helping students find their voice as leaders and problem-solvers is “the real thrill” of teaching high school, he says.
At home, he and his wife, Jodi, are busy raising three children—their oldest son is in college at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, where he hopes to become an engineer who designs roller coasters (a professional goal that really excites Moeller). Jodi teaches English at Pattonville High School.
“I’ve lived a rich life on not much money,” he says, reflecting on the places he’s visited and experiences he’s had. “Now the cherry on top is having a wonderful family – and I dig them tremendously.”
Moeller was selected by the SSD Governing Council to fill a BOE vacancy in May 2021. He represents the Pattonville (where he lives), Ferguson-Florissant and Riverview Gardens school districts. For him, the position has been an opportunity to voice the collective concerns, hopes, and observations of teachers and staff when decisions are considered by the Board.
Many people in the SSD community may not know that Moeller also has a creative side. He designed a board game in 2012—"Pitch It,” which challenges young entrepreneurs to develop product ideas for customers in target markets (e.g., fishing boat operators, cheerleaders, country music fans). Although the concept was well received in high school business classes, he decided to discontinue the product when big toy companies launched similar games. The game is still in circulation on eBay.
What led you to teaching?
I have humble roots—I grew up on a farm in Iowa, majored in agronomy in college, then volunteered with the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa for three years. I was fascinated the whole time— I loved the cross-cultural experience! That turned me on to studying history, a subject I hated in high school. So I got my social studies teaching certification in Iowa and later earned my master’s degree in U.S. history.
Do you think students have changed over the past 20 years?
I would say how students are wired has changed. Because technology is so engaging, their attention span has grown much shorter— it forces all us teachers to adapt as best we can to compete with that level of stimulation. But professional teachers do their best to adapt. We integrate as much technology as we can— we bring it all in! Tech also has changed the game in regards to reading and writing. The stamina students have for reading is diminishing, so we have to blend things like reading challenges and writing argumentation with tech resources. All of us teachers are aware of this – we just ask students to give us a fair chance.
Describe the school climate this year… are students supporting each other? How have they managed the transition from home to school after schooling from home for months?
I think students “get” each other in a remarkable way. They don’t trust adults very much nowadays, and there’s some antagonism and pettiness that sometimes emerges among them on social media. But when push comes to shove, the kids rally together remarkably well. And they’re inclusive of students with disabilities of any type. Maybe this reflects the bubble that I’m in in Parkway, but I sense it across their generation— an openness and inclusiveness that gives me hope.
I think there’s some hangover from COVID-19— we’re all still processing it even now. Of course, there are gaps in skill levels. They want to go back to that happy place of chat rooms and phones, and ignore the challenging stuff. Some students are making the transition from home to school in a decent way, but others still struggle and need services and help from teachers.
Why was it important to you to serve on the SSD Board of Education?
Getting an opportunity to affect growth and change, and to have some influence in decision-making, has been exciting. I’ve brought some perspective to the Board as a history teacher—I’ve studied a fair amount of St. Louis’ neighborhood history, such as the policies that have shaped some of the inequities in the region. I also had a summer school teaching position at Riverview before coming to Parkway. It all motivates me to do my homework and bring my best voice to the Board table for collaboration.
I’ve also co-taught with special education teachers over the years, so I’ve loved discovering remarkable and amazing qualities in students that don’t show up on IEPs. These students have tremendous strengths if we’ll just work to understand the whole child. Connecting that experience with what I describe as the regional reach of SSD is very gratifying. It’s also very exciting to be able to support our staff and help them do their jobs better.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life?
Probably my dad. We’ve had some political differences, but I try to remember the concepts of moderation, civility, and decency; to embrace all viewpoints; to not be a divisive figure. Dad was our school board president when I was growing up. The example he set, even in a small town—it made me want to contribute something to my own community.
What keeps you awake at night?
Racial inequities in our country and other forms of discrimination. The ways in which we still devalue others. Social inequalities. Wanting things to be fair. Making opportunities available for everybody— these are things my wife and I discuss a lot.
If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
Abraham Lincoln! I’ve heard there’s a lot of historical accuracy in Spielberg’s movie about him. I’m drawn to that sort of perspective, one with humanity. He’s brilliant.
What’s your favorite dish?
I’m a big fan of barbeque and burgers. I love food from Sugarfire Smoke House or Hi-Pointe Drive-In burgers.
What do you do for fun and relaxation?
I still try to run, but my knees hurt! And my Achilles tendons! I’m 52. I just want to be able to play basketball. I also like to read about current events, history, and social commentary.
Where would you go if money were no object?
My wife and I want to go to Italy and wander around. We could check out the il postino (the post office)!