Moffitt honored as Grand Marshal for his dedication to Winters youth for over a decade

Greg Moffitt is being honored as Youth Day Grand Marshal for his dedication to the youth of Winters schools for over a decade.
Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express Winters Elementary Schools Principal Greg Moffitt was named the 2019 Youth Day Grand Marshal for his dedication and work with Winters youth for over a decade.

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As an undergraduate at Brown University Greg Moffitt had the full intention to go to Washington D.C. upon graduation to get involved in politics and make big changes in the world. However, everything changed one day when a political science course gave him the assignment to observe elementary school classrooms to see if some of the politics and policies being discussed in government were actually being implemented. In one classroom he observed children being given opportunities to have debates and act out scenes from William Shakespeare’s play, “Romeo and Juliet.” He said watching what was happening with the students when they were given opportunity to engage and lead was powerful and fantastic. Yet at another school, he observed students who were not given these same opportunities. Instead these students were watching a movie version of “Romeo and Juliet” and had coloring book activities. He asked the teacher of that classroom why and the response given was that “this” was what those children were capable of. “I was a 19 year old. I was incensed. I was enraged. I couldn’t believe this was what we were doing,” said Moffitt. “It was the tale of two classrooms. The tale of the haves and have-nots.” Moffitt asked a professor what he could do to change this and he was told, “If you want to change a school, you have to go work in a school.” And that was the turning point at which Moffitt decided that he wanted to be in a classroom instead of lobbying in the Capital. “It was really that moment where I had that realization that we need to be focused on equity, on creating meaningful experiences for all students, and being able to see that happen by watching incredible teachers do the work,” Moffitt said. While the honor of being selected for the Winters Youth Day Grand Marshal has left him speechless, which is a rarity according to his wife Jenny, the community members that nominated him see him as a champion for Winters youth. Youth Day Chair Mike Sebastian told the Express Moffitt was chosen for his dedication to the students of Winters schools and the youth of our community for over a decade. “His interaction with his students went well beyond what a principal does, and the students appreciate that interaction,” Sebastian said. “From his outlandish costumes and hats in past Youth Day and Halloween parades with his kids, to online nighttime reading to his students, Greg is the perfect example of dedication to youth.” Moffitt said he works with children, their families and teachers because he wants Winters’ youth to know that they can change the world. He sees the work of school to be preparing youth and giving them opportunities to lead. “We’ve got big problems in our world that need changing. The youth are our future and they are the ones who are going to be needed to make those changes,” said Moffitt. “But they can’t be the change-makers of the future if we don’t give them opportunities to be change-makers and leaders now.” Each moment of his career in working in a school setting Moffitt has fully believed in and lived by the line, “It is up to us to make a difference. It is up to us to care,” from the book “The Jester Has Lost His Jingle” by David Saltzman. He said in one line it sums up that it is up to the adults in a child’s life to make a difference and to show those kids that we care about them. “Whether you are a parent, educator, aunt, uncle, neighborIt is up to us to make a difference and to care,” said Moffitt. “I hope that message is relayed to kids that they have to care to make a difference in the world.” Moffitt wears a jingle bell on his lanyard, inspired by the story, to serve as a reminder when he needs it most. He shared that his jingle bell is also a reminder that school should be fun and joyful. At the beginning of the school year he told Winters Elementary School students that he will wear a fun hat every fun day of school and that every day should be a fun day at school. Moffitt wants youth to know learning new things is fun and it is up to us adults to model that. “Learning can be challenging. There are things we don’t always want to do,” said Moffitt. “If we can approach it with a positive attitude and a sense of wonder it makes it easier.” Moffitt’s inspiration and guidance when it comes to working with youth was influenced by his superhero and mentor Dr. Jim Fitzgerald from SLTP, a student leadership training program he attended as both a young student himself and later as a member of the leadership staff in college. “When I made the decision in college to go into teaching, I joined the leadership staff of the camp for that summer,” Moffitt said. “I learned so much about teaching and working with kids and about leadership and life from him.” Fitzgerald teaches that there are some folks in the world that think the job of a school it to get youth ready for real life,and those people are wrong. Moffitt said he listened in as Fitzgerald told a group of teachers, “School is already real and our kids already have real lives. So while we are preparing kids for the future we are also preparing them for now.” Moffitt said his teaching philosophy is based Fitzgerald’s examples of providing a relational, experiential, authentic and learner-driven experience for youth. “To create a learning experience where we build relationships and connections with the people and the things we are doing, we do this by creating memorable experiences. We then try to make those learning experiences as authentic as possible. We give our learners some choice in the process,” Moffitt explained. “For me, Dr. Jim Fitzgerald has been my educational hero and someone that has been a big mentor for me.” As Winters Youth Day Grand Marshal, Moffitt has this message for Winters youths. “I want youth in Winters to know that they matter. I want them to know that we need them to make the world a better place. And I want them to know that we are counting on them to be the change that is needed in our schools and communities. I also want them to know that we love them and believe in them. We know that they can do this.” Moffitt holds a deep regard in Fitzgerald’s words that the purpose of any educational institution is to inspire youth to have dreams for their futures and to ensure that those youth have the confidence and skills to pursue those dreams. “He (Fitzgerald) always said we are in the business of making memories. That is our job. We can make happy memories or sad memories. We are in the business of making memories so that is what I try to do,” Moffitt said. Moffitt believes that Winters is a special place for youth to get opportunities and memorable experiences. “There are so many champions for youth in Winters and so many folks who do heroic things every day who do it because that’s just what you do in Winters,” said Moffitt. “You take care of our youth and that’s what makes Winters one of the best places to work and to live and to grow up.”]]>

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