Educator, former NFL star making a difference

Michael Moore
Michael Moore

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Michael Moore is a big man who about take on a pretty big job.

"Oh, it's huge," Moore said with a laugh.

Perhaps bigger than the job he used to do. Offensive guard in the NFL, 7 years protecting the quarterback for 3 NFL teams.

Now retired, Moore has to figure out a game plan to keep kids in school. He is the new Dropout Prevention Coordinator for the Butler County School District.

"A kid will come to me angry, hurt about some situation at home or at school. I have an opportunity to talk with those kids," Moore said.

And it's likely Moore will have plenty of chances to talk to those kids. Michael Moore is taking over the job from Willie Thornton who spent the last 3 years literally knocking on doors doing his best to prevent teenagers from dropping out of school.

CNN recently did a profile on Willie Thornton's efforts as part of a national look at high school dropouts.

"We serve about 70 students. We target those students who have high absentism, behavioral issues and those who haven't passed the grad exams," said Thornton.

Butler County is one of the few school districts in the state to have a dropout prevention coordinator and it seems to be paying off. Thornton estimates he was able to lure 85% back to school when he had the job. Thornton is going back to his primary job teaching special ed students at Greenville High School.

Ike Melton was a high school dropout, staying home for 20 days two years ago. Much of it because he lacked self-confidence and there were problems at home. But Melton credits superintendent Mike Looney and Thornton for helping him see the light and not giving up.

"They made sure I was okay. They gave me a place to stay for awhile. I was having trouble at home," said Melton.

Melton soon got back to work, doubling up on his classes and graduating on time. One child saved but so many more to go.

"This is what empowers me," said Thornton.

And it promises to empower Michael Moore. Instead of hitting the gridiron, Moore will hit the streets of Butler County, targeting one child at a time.

"I am here for a reason, If God feels I need to be here then there's a reason why I'm here," said Moore.

Moore's job as the county school district's new dropout prevention coordinator officially begins August 6, the same day classes begin in Butler County.

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