By PRISCILLA GREEAR, Special To The Bulletin | Published Thursday, February 6, 2014
ROSWELL—Frank Moore left his position as dean of studies at St. Pius X High School to become a principal in 1998 at Bishop McGuinness High School in Oklahoma City, making changes to set it on a new path. But when the opportunity arose to become the founding principal of Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell, when it opened in 2000, he knew he was called back to Atlanta.
Indeed, Moore had come full circle, having been a pioneer pupil when Archbishop Rummel High School opened outside New Orleans.
“It was too exciting an opportunity to turn down,” he recalled. “What really made the position most attractive to me was the opportunity to open a new school. When I was in high school I went to a brand new Catholic high school. I saw that from a student’s perspective, and I was able to draw on those experiences as a student. I saw what the chosen teachers and administrators did to really get that school moving and was able to apply that many, many years later.”
And get the school moving he did. Starting with just 164 freshmen and 55 sophomores, he and his team toiled away during the early days to establish the curriculum year by year, build sports, fine arts and service programs, create spiritual life opportunities and tackle the myriad other tasks at hand.
But when he sat down to write his first business letters as principal, he realized he had no letterhead. He rushed down to the printer to pull together a temporary logo and stationery design to look “reasonably official.”
“There was no end to the little things that had to be developed from scratch,” he said. “It was drinking from a fire hose all the time, but it was very rewarding to me and just exciting to see the school develop from just a shell of a building to a very vibrant organization.”
The biggest challenge was to ensure they were developing the best curriculum for their population as teachers labored through summers to add new courses. As the school swiftly grew, he hired dozens of new faculty each year and pressed onward, relying on his organizing skills as a former math teacher. Today BT has 970 students.
“The school grew very, very quickly. We just kept moving forward,” he said. And when often asked how it took off so fast, “my answer was simple: ‘I’m a pretty good personnel guy. I just hired the right people and got out of their way.’”
For his 14 years of strong leadership the Archdiocese of Atlanta named him the 2014 Principal of the Year. “There’s really no kind of recognition better than recognition from your peers,” said Moore, 64.
Moore didn’t initially plan to go into education as a math major at Tulane University where he aspired to work for a major tech company. But an experience working with gifted, underprivileged minority youth set him on his teaching track and he went on to earn his master’s in math and in educational administration. He then returned to Archbishop Rummel where he taught math for 15 years and began one of the state’s first computer science programs.
He brought to BT his holistic philosophy developed through decades in Catholic education.
“It has always been faith first and depend on your personal spiritual faith life based on the teachings of the Catholic Church. That is what you always want to inculcate in Catholic school. And to reach your full potential in all areas: certainly in academics and spiritual but also to develop an artistic side … a sense of the importance of the arts,” said Moore, a parishioner at St. Ann Church in Marietta who has a son, daughter and three granddaughters.
“You want to be physically fit and have respect for your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, developing yourself and doing what is right for your physical well-being as well as spiritual,” he added.
Moore has marveled at the comprehensive growth of BT’s spiritual, academic, artistic and athletic programs. He said that the fine arts program “is a real source of pride for me,” having played saxophone and clarinet himself in high school.
He also highlighted “a very sophisticated community service program” at BT, including retreats and mission trips to Nicaragua.
“All the areas of the school have grown very nicely, way beyond expectations I laid out when the school was opened. The teachers have done a great job,” Moore said.
Perhaps the best affirmation came from the first graduates who came back for their 10-year reunion.
“They tell us how well prepared they were and how much they love the school and how much they come back,” Moore said.
As he leads BT onward, the veteran principal looks back over his career with gratitude.
“Catholic school education has been my whole career. … It’s what I do. Catholic education is the best available in the U.S. All research shows that, and I’m just proud to have been a part of it for such a long time,” he said.