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Moore: Five terms on MUSD board & still going

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Moore: Five terms on MUSD board & still going

Manteca Unified School District Board of Trustee Evelyn Moore, second from right, hands out promotion certificates to Brock Elliott eighth graders in May in the Sierra High School gym.

Rose Albano Risso/

POSTED July 1, 2013 1:01 a.m.

Evelyn Moore may have found the secret to the fountain of youth. Stay as active as you can.

“I do think it helps keep you young,” said the retired Manteca Unified elementary school teacher who could probably be called the doyenne of the school district’s Board of Education. She is currently serving her fifth consecutive term, completing 20 straight years by the time her elected position as MUSD Area 5 representative expires in 2014.

To say that she is even busier these days than she was before she retired 20 years ago from Nile Garden School in 1994 is no exaggeration. From the confines of the classroom, she jumped right into the bigger world of community and church volunteerism. Lesson plans were replaced by long to-do lists outside of the classroom.

She is one of the volunteer tutors of Give Every Child a Chance, a non-profit organization of which she is a charter member. She is a regular volunteer at the Manteca Historical Museum. She is involved in the South County Crisis Center and is a member of the Children’s Commission of San Joaquin. She belongs to not one but several reading clubs – at St. Paul’s and a group comprised of Manteca Federated Women’s Club members. This past week, she taught Summer Bible School every day in the evenings at her church, St. Paul’s United Methodist. That does not even include the official and non-official school-related events such as graduations and the annual Planet Party and AgVenture that she attends, either to cheer the students on or just to see for herself how the students are doing in school.

When her three grown children were growing up and she was a stay-at-home mother, she also stayed active in all of their undertakings. She was in Girl Scouts for five years, and in Cub Scouts for two years. She also taught Sunday School at First Baptist in Manteca during the years she belonged to that church.

The Oklahoma City native and Bryn Mawr College alumnus recalled Trustee Sam Fant asking her one day, “what keeps you going?”

The 82-year-old mother of three and grandmother of six said she honestly does not know the answer to that. But when asked the same question during the telephone interview, she replied matter-of-factly, “Just put one foot in front of the other. I don’t do anything I’m not really interested in. Nearly everything I do has some involvement with children in some way. That’s just the way I am.”

So, while she has stepped out of the classroom, she has not left her concern for schoolchildren behind.

“As crazy as it sounds, I enjoy it,” she said about serving on the school board for nearly two decades, about the same length of time she has been retired from teaching. “I enjoy what’s going on in the schools. I enjoy the interviews. We (the board members) interview for higher positions like the principals. I greatly enjoy going to some of the (school) performances. I went to the Lathrop High School’s ‘Guys and Dolls’ (stage play), and I went to the one at Manteca High. I enjoy going to the graduations.”

From Oklahoma City to

Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania

Moore grew up in Oklahoma City. She ended up going to Bryn Mawr, an all-women private college founded by the Quakers in Pennsylvania, because of her father’s desire to send his daughter to a “smaller school” than the university in Oklahoma. Her father learned about the women’s college while he was working at an educational publishing company in Oklahoma City. The vice president of the company happened to have a daughter who was at Bryn Mawr. So Moore’s father started looking into the small women’s colleges back East, and one of them was Bryn Mawr.

“So that’s where I got accepted and that’s where I went,” said Moore who confessed that she was never in any sorority in college even though her father was “a frat man” at the University of Arkansas.

“He just wanted us to get a good education and not to go to college for the wrong reasons,” Moore said.

She actually majored in modern history, but also took several classes in education. Teaching was not even a gleam in her eye at that time.

“It’s a matter of attitude,” she said about pursuing a specific career in life, citing an uncle as an example, who, after being drafted in the military during World War II, ended up taking an exam and receiving further training that ultimately led to working on the Manhattan Project, a research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs during the second world war.

“I was kind of intrigued with science, but I didn’t do well in chemistry,” she said candidly.

She has also considered going to get a master’s degree.

“At that time, Harvard was offering a special one-year master of education and I was thinking of doing it. Instead, I got married,” Moore said.

After she and her late husband, Paul, were married, they went to live in Oklahoma City where Moore cut her teeth in the teaching profession. She started teaching kindergarten. And talk about classroom overcrowding. She and another teacher shared duties teaching a classroom of 113 students.

“I learned how to herd large numbers of children,” she said with a laugh.

When she was teaching primary grades in Manteca Unified, her classroom sizes topped 32. She first taught at Lindbergh Elementary for a year and a half. The youngest of her three children – one girl and two boys – was three years old at the time. That was followed by a three-year stint at French Camp School. Finally, she was transferred to Nile Garden Elementary. That was the time when the principal was the late Travis Branscum. She was no stranger to the Branscum family. The principal’s wife, Bev, happened to be not just a friend from church but someone who babysat Moore’s young children.

Besides Branscum, Moore also worked under principals Joe Cook and Bill Whiteside. She was at Nile Garden for 15 years, long enough to establish close friendships with her co-workers.

“I liked it there. The faculty when I was teaching there were kind of like a family,” Moore recalled. Some of them are still working there. They became such close friends they still get together socially every other month.

Moore doesn’t rule out a run for sixth term on school board

Moore, who was the oldest of three siblings, grew up in family that valued education. Her younger sister later followed her to Bryn Mawr. Her brother went to the University of Oklahoma and later at Harvard for his medical studies. Her sister lived in Wales for 25 years but she is back in the United States and lives in New York state to be near her son and her husband who is suffering from Alzheimers. Moore’s brother is also now retired and is living in Norman, about 25 miles north of Oklahoma City. They are scattered all over the United States but have constantly kept in touch. In fact, they are planning on having a sibling reunion in August.

“That’s why it’s such a miracle that my kids live in the same town,” said a laughing Moore, referring to her three children who all ended up graduating from California State University in Fresno where they all live and work today. Her son, the middle child, teaches English; her older daughter works for Aetna insurance, and the youngest is a manager for Caltrans.

As busy as she is with volunteer work, Moore said she hardly has time for hobbies but enjoys reading, crossword puzzles and solving cryptograms.

With five four-year terms on the school board, Moore said she is not ruling out a sixth term.

“If I’m healthy, I probably will,” she said. “Your health is the key. You can’t do much if you don’t have it. I haven’t seen anybody run against me who do it any better – yet.”

Being in that physical condition also has something to do with family, she reckoned.

“I do have good genes in my background. My mother died at 90; she had Alzheimer’s. My dad was 86. My grandfather was 94, and another one almost made 90. So, in the family bible, a lot of them was quite old,” she said.

Contact Rose Albano Risso at or at (209) 249-3536.

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