Once told he wasn’t college material, Wichita pastor wins $500,000 for his school
In the early 1980s, Wade Moore was a young Black man living in Bassett, Ark., a rural area of 118 people — he and his siblings accounting for 10 of them. He went to school in nearby Wilson.
As he was entering his senior year, he went to see the school’s counselor to ask about going to college.
“He said, ‘Kids like you don’t go to college’ ” Moore said. “I put my head down and walked away.”
Anyone watching would have thought Moore was defeated.
However, he said, “That didn’t kill me. It motivated me.”
If his counselor could see him now. Moore, 59, eventually went to college, earned a six-figure salary, took a $75,000-a year pay cut to become a youth minister and associate pastor, started his own church and then his own school in 2014.
This month, the national Yass Prize awarded Moore and his Urban Preparatory Academy Wichita one of eight $500,000 STOP Prizes for embodying what it calls four core principles: sustainable, transformational, outstanding and permissionless education.
Moore said that means “you can educate and help children without the permission of local establishments,” especially in a state such as Kansas that he said has some of the weakest charter school laws nationally.
The award is a stunning achievement for someone who almost didn’t enter the competition, which attracted 2,700 applicants.
“At first I thought nah, this is too big for me; I don’t have a grant writer,” Moore said. “Time went on, and I just felt more compelled.”