Thomson native, Jameon Moss, recently graduated from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. with his Masters degree of Education and Arts in Education, with a concentration in Leadership, Policy, and Instructional Coaching.
“It feels surreal, it actually hasn’t really hit yet that I’m a Harvard graduate,” Moss said.
According to Moss, he received his graduate degree from Harvard, but he got his undergraduate degree in Arts and Music from Morehouse College, and he received his first Masters degree from Northwestern University in music with a concentration in Opera and Vocal Literature.
“So, I sang professionally for a number of years with different opera companies,” Moss said. “Then I was never too far from education, my mom and my auntie, it was all around me.”
Moss said after his time at Northwestern he taught music for a few years in the Chicago area. Then he started singing because he felt if he was going to teach in that area, that he should be doing it as well.
"So, I went out there and got the firsthand experience on the audition circuit,” Moss said. “You know, singing in front of thousands of people, getting paid to do that work. Then, I felt as though, after about two years or so, I felt as though I gained the knowledge that I needed in order to go back into the classroom.”
According to Moss, he is a lyric tenor. He would audition for opera companies, and they would hire him for the production. Sarasota Opera was his first opera company, and he covered Count de Lerme from Don Carlos by Guiseppe Verdi. He was also contracted to cover Tybalt from Romeo and Juliet by Charles Gounod in Aspen, CO, which is if someone who is singing the role gets sick, then Moss would take over. He was a part of the Kentucky Opera and performed the Showboat and Education Outreach. Moss was also a part of the Fargo Opera and performed Gherardo from Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini, Larry/Matt from The Face on the Ballroom Floor by Henry Mollicone, and Education outreach. He was in the Des Moines Opera and covered the roles Dr. Caius from Falstaff Guiseppe Verdi.
After all of that, it landed Moss in Connecticut, where he was coaching and started teaching at the Achievement First Charter School Network, which is a charter school network in the New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, according to Moss. Moss said his title in his first year there was the music teacher.
“When I got there the department was in disarray,” Moss said. “It was literally non-existent. So, we had to build that thing up, and so, my first priority was to teach some kind of instrument. So, that instrument was piano.”
During his second year, they did something with voice, so they built up a choir, according to Moss. Moss said he was then promoted to arts director at Amistad High School in New Haven, Conn., but shortly thereafter he applied for Harvard and got in. He was also given the Teacher of the Year award.
“Harvard offered me a full ride,” Moss said. “That’s hard to turn down, and the program it was a year-long. It’s an intensive, year-long program, and they essentially cut down two years into one year. So, it’s been a journey.”
After graduating from Harvard, Moss will be going to Columbia University to pursue his Doctorate in the education program for music education. His research focus will be on assessments and evaluations, according to Moss.
“Essentially, I will assess and evaluate arts districts,” Moss said.
According to Moss, he will give feedback to arts’ staffs, and will influence policy decisions. Moss said he will also create assessment tools and evaluations for practitioners, and system level work. There is a new assessment tool from Stanford University that most states are using, and it is called edTPA.
This tool is used for preservice teachers, and they take this test to become certified, and Moss will be the official scorer for Columbia for the test, according to Moss. Moss said this will be for music education. Another role Moss has is he will be supervising a unit of music educators and will be giving them feedback.
Moss said the third component is he will be working with Dr. Harold Abeles, who is in charge of the summer hybrid program. Moss will be supervising this program. According to Moss, he will be going back and forth between New York and Boston due to the work he will be doing with Match Charter Schools in Boston. Moss has had plenty of influence around him throughout his life when it comes to being the education field.
His mother, Bea Moss, was a part of the school board in McDuffie County for a long time, and his aunt, Anita Cummings, was the principal at Thomson-McDuffie Middle School.
“My mom, she’s the bedrock of, not only me, I think a lot of people in this community,” Moss said. “I tell her this all the time I really could not have asked for a better mother. She’s supportive, she’s brilliant.”
Moss said his research mind set started at home because his mom set the example to ask questions. As for his aunt, Moss said she was a second layer of support, and it didn’t matter if it was at school, her home, or at church.
“His story is to encourage, inspire, and uplift others in this neighborhood and this community,” Cummings said. “You can tell by his voice and what he has said here today that he’s about community. It’s not all about Jameon, it’s about helping the next person.”
According to Moss, community means a lot to him.
“These two women, black women, really set the bar for me in terms of making sure that there is community buy-in, and input in any decision that is made,” Moss said.
There were other people who believed Jameon was destined for bigger things, Reverend Ronald Toney, the former pastor at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, was one of those people. Jameon also taught Sunday School. Moss said he would love to come back home, to McDuffie County, after he graduated from Columbia to do work, but he doesn’t know if that could work out.
“I would love to do work in my community,” Moss said. “I carry Thomson with me everywhere I go, in classes, in meetings. It doesn’t matter where I am in life, you going to get two things, well three things. The love that I have for my family, the love that I have for Thomson, and the love that I have for Christ.”
Moss said he didn’t know if there was a place for him in Thomson. He also said he would love to come back and help out if there was an arts school, and that would be a dream come true, but the opportunity isn’t there.
According to Moss, he’s a country boy through and through. He loves the communal aspect of living in Thomson.