Gary Mooring could have chosen an easier path at this stage in his career. Certainly he knew the challenges that faced him when he took the helm at Tyler Independent School District. He’d been a deputy superintendent and an interim superintendent at TISD in the past.
But he stepped up and accepted a thankless job, and helped restore much of the community’s faith in our public school system leadership. For this, and for his years of quiet service to students and the district, Gary Mooring deserves our thanks.
Mooring is retiring as superintendent, effective June 30, due to health concerns.
For the TISD board, Mooring was the clear choice when then-Superintendent Randy Reid left in 2013 after the narrow defeat of a bond election under Reid. Andy Bergfeld, who was board president then, recalls that it was a tough time for TISD.
“Gary really was what we needed then,” Bergfeld says. “We needed someone stable. We needed someone who could handle the personnel side of things; morale was not where it needed to be. So the first person I thought of was Gary Mooring. He’s kind, he’s caring, he’s stable, he’s a man of his word. All of those things were what we needed at that time.”
Mooring was key to the passage of a bond proposal in 2013.
“The community of Tyler is a smart voting base,” Bergfeld notes. “They keep up with current events. You don’t get bonds passed with smoke and mirrors around here. The community does understand the need for quality public education, but they need to feel that you’re shooting straight with them. And Gary Mooring is a straight shooter.”
Mooring and the board sought to engage the public on the 2013 bond proposal, rather than simply telling the voters what the district wanted.
“Gary was able to talk with the community, to listen, to tell the community what we need and why we need it,” Bergfeld explains. “His honesty with the community shined through. People knew they were being told the truth about the needs.”
The end result was the passage of the bond proposal by a two-to-one margin.
Although his professional qualifications are impressive — in his 30-plus year career, Mooring has served in almost every capacity in education “except working in the cafeteria,” he says.
He has served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and superintendent — and for five years, as a bus driver also.
He’s worked for Tyler Junior College and the Region XIII Education Service Center, in addition to other school districts.
But it’s his personal qualities that set him apart. His authority to lead comes largely from his humility and willingness to listen and his insistence on treating people with respect. These are necessary qualities in an organization with so much potential for strife and bad blood.
“He has led the district through insurmountable tasks with a smile on his face and joy in his heart,” current President the Rev. Orenthia Mason said last week. “What a beautiful spirit.”
Thank you, Gary Mooring. You took a thankless job and performed it admirably.