Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
WOODLEAF — When baseball season wraps up in October, Wade Moore heads home to western Rowan County.
A professional baseball player drafted by the Washington Nationals, Moore is an outfielder for the minor league Hagerstown Suns.
But when he arrives back in Cleveland, he trades the baseball diamond for a classroom.
“Baseball’s part of my life that I’m very proud of,” he said. “But, right now I’m Mr. Moore, the math teacher, the librarian, the friend, whatever they need me to be.”
Moore typically spends his off- seasons substituting at local high schools like South Rowan.
“I didn’t want to lay around all day because if I stay at home I turn into a slob,” he said. “I wanted to keep a routine.”
But this year, Moore got a call to fill in at Woodleaf Elementary in the exceptional children’s class on two different occasions.
“After the first day, teachers came to me about this great sub who worked so well with the students,” Woodleaf Principal Sue Herrington said. “On the second occasion, I had the chance to spend some time in the classroom and what the teachers observed was true. He was excellent with the children.”
Herrington said she was impressed with Moore’s ability to differentiate instruction to meet the children’s individual needs and keep them “authentically engaged.”
“That afternoon, I asked him to come to see if he might be interested in applying for the media/teacher assistant job that was open,” she said. “The rest is history.”
Moore said he never expected to work with younger children, but the happy accident has been one of the most “rewarding opportunities” of his life.
“When I first got here the thing I loved most about it was that the kids are so innocent,” he said. “I look at them and know they are relying on me to make some kind of impact on their life, whether it be helping with long division or finding a good book in the library.”
• • •
Moore grew up at Woodleaf Elementary, walking to the school each day from his babysitter’s house.
A dynamite Legion baseball player and the star of both West Rowan’s football and baseball teams, Moore went on to North Carolina State University to play baseball.
But injuries kept him in the dugout and eventually brought him back to Catawba College to play his senior year. From there, he was drafted by the Nationals.
He’s leaving Woodleaf next Friday to return to pro ball.
“Until I got to Woodleaf and had this experience, I thought athletics was such big part of my life that it almost defined who I was,” he said. “But athletics have done nothing but enrich my life. Experiences like working at Woodleaf define who I am as a person.
“It’s grounding, that’s one thing I really like about it.”
Fourth-grade teacher Tina Harrill said Moore has been a “great male role model” for the students at the school.
“He goes out of his way to come up with ways to help these kids really reach their potential,” she said.
Harrill said she’s been impressed by Moore’s work ethic.
“It would be easy for him to slack off, but he shows up on time every day and gets right to work,” she said.
Herrington said Moore has been a wonderful addition to Woodleaf.
“He tries to impress in our children the need not only to establish firm life goals, but the need to adjust life and your goals to achieve your dreams when necessary,” she said. “He is always ready to do anything asked and he is a delight to have on staff.”
Moore and the students relate well to one another, Herrington said.
“We wish him the best in his baseball career and hope to see him playing in the major leagues,” she said. “After baseball, I hope he returns to education.
“Wade is a natural.”
• • •
Moore said it will be tough to leave Woodleaf, but he’s looking forward to getting back to the diamond.
“There is nothing I want more than to play professional baseball. Baseball will end for me when they take the jersey off my back,” he said. “But these kids are so special to me, I know I will come back to check on them.”
And Moore is special to the kids.
Fourth-grader Megan Nicolosi said she’ll miss his positive personality.
“Whenever you’re around him he’s always smiling and that makes you smile too,” she said. “I’m going to miss him when he leaves.”
Keegan Hill, also a fourth-grade student, said Moore has been more than just a teacher to him, he’s been a friend.
“If think if he was my age and I got in a fight he would back me up,” he said. “He would be my wingman because I can depend on him.”
Moore said he plans to email the students pictures from the road. And he’s hoping to become pen pals with the them, writing letters and sending postcards.
“I’m really, really going to encourage them to write me,” he said. “It might help keep them interested in school or maybe trigger something that it didn’t before.”
Working at Woodleaf has also fueled Moore’s passion for life and taught him a couple of things.
“Seeing the kids and the way they are just so innocent, they don’t have a care in the world,” he said. “I think that’s beautiful.
“I really want to carry that with me, especially this season because in a game of failure, what better way to deal with it than to be done and move on to the next game.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
Facebook: Sarah.SalisburyPost