After 40 years of Service to Darlington School and 55 years in independent school education, Sam Moss (‘63) will be retiring as dean of college guidance at the end of the school year. He will continue to live on campus and serve in a part-time role during the 2022-2023 school year, assisting Head of School Brent Bell in the external affairs of the school through special initiatives before retiring fully in 2023.
“I am happy for Sam, and while it will be unusual to not see him on a daily basis, his retirement and new opportunities are well deserved,” said Bell. “Sam has done so much to make Darlington a better school. In particular, the Darlington model of college guidance is recognized across the country and many come to visit campus and seek Sam’s counsel on the process. Most importantly, he has helped countless numbers of Darlington students find the right ‘fit’ in the college search process.”
A 1963 Darlington graduate, Moss received his B.A. from Sewanee: The University of the South, his M.A. from Jacksonville University, and completed additional study at Oxford University in England.
“Prior to coming back to my alma mater, I spent 15 years at the Episcopal High School in Jacksonville, Fla.,” said Moss. “It was my first job, fresh out of college at Sewanee – and an amazing adventure to be a first-year teacher in a brand-new school the day it opened! During my years at Episcopal, I taught English in grades 7 through 12, served as dean of boys, dean of students, director of college counseling, and administrative dean.”
Moss returned to Darlington in 1982 after receiving a call from then-President Jim McCallie asking him to be the successor to Doc Regester, associate headmaster and college counselor, who was also Moss’s teacher, friend, and “personal hero.” Regester was stepping down from his administrative role, but planned to continue teaching AP English.
“While Darlington remained familiar to me as the place that I had always loved, it had also changed in significant ways,” recalled Moss. “First of all, it had merged with Thornwood and admitted boarding girls. Secondly, it had become integrated. Third, it had become international. So, in many ways, it was a much more diverse and, in some ways, perhaps a more interesting school than the Darlington I went to … I became quickly convinced that the mix of students here would be fascinating to teach and work with.”
During his 40-year tenure at Darlington, Moss has taught English and served as dean of studies, Summer Session principal, and associate headmaster in addition to his role leading the College Guidance Office.
“Being a teacher, mentor, and friend to students as they learn and grow and develop into wonderful adults is the greatest job I can imagine,” he said. “It is amazingly inspiring, satisfying, and energizing! I wouldn’t trade it for any other career.”
His many significant accomplishments include increasing the foreign language requirement for graduation to three years, adding a fine arts requirement for graduation, helping to restore the Service of Lessons and Carols at Christmas, and creating Opening Convocation. For many years, he has also led a trip for students and parents to England during Spring Break.
“One of the best experiences that I’ve had as a teacher has been the opportunity to team-teach freshman Honors English for a number of years, first with Raymond Murray and later with John Cox,” said Moss. “Sharing the classroom with a colleague, tossing ideas back and forth, and exposing students to different approaches to teaching styles in the same class has been satisfying for us – and I think rewarding for students.”
But nothing has made him more proud than seeing students graduate and go on to colleges where they are happy and successful.
“As a college counselor, the greatest satisfaction comes in seeing students become self-motivated, self-directed, confident in their college search, and taking the initiative in advocating for themselves,” said Moss. “There is nothing better than seeing a student find a ‘college home’ where he or she will have a great experience.”
In addition to his work on campus, Moss is a nationally recognized leader in the world of college guidance. He has served as president of the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling (SACAC); as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC); as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Association for College Counseling Independent Schools (ACCIS); and served on admissions advisory boards at many universities including UGA, Auburn, Oglethorpe, and the University of Miami.
“I have been fortunate to have held a number of leadership positions in my profession, at both the regional and national levels, which have allowed me to expand Darlington’s visibility and reputation throughout the country,” said Moss. “It has been wonderfully satisfying to be able to spread the Darlington story to college admissions officers and secondary school colleagues all around the country and the globe. [Upon retirement], I will miss my professional friendships with colleagues from other independent schools and from colleges and universities – friendships that have developed through many years – friends with whom I have enjoyed so much about our lives together as college admissions professionals.”
As he looks toward retirement, Moss said the thing he will miss most is being surrounded by young people all day every day and campus life.
“I will miss the energy, openness, wit, quirks, talents, stories, excitement, and just sheer fun of working with teenagers!” he said. “They are wonderful, challenging, engaging, inspiring, entertaining – and all things that make life interesting. I draw amazing energy from working with them.”
He will also miss his colleagues.
“From colleagues in my early years here like Jim McCallie, Brad Gioia, Carl Paxton, David Rhodes, Sally Rudert (‘66T), Rick Buice and Jack Summerbell – to friends and colleagues in more recent times – they have all helped me grow. In so many ways, my colleagues have made me a better person – both by acknowledging my strengths and by helping me recognize my weaknesses,” he said. “Another great joy has been to have as colleagues young alumni who have chosen to return to work here. And no one could possibly have been any luckier than to work with my colleagues Madge Crawford (‘84) and Ivy Brewer all day every day!”
Moss is proud to have dedicated the majority of his career to his alma mater – a place that empowers young people to learn with passion, act with integrity, and serve with respect.
“From well-known alumni like Roby Robinson (‘58), John Thatcher (‘44), and George Johnson (‘54) to students who are in their first year at Darlington now, as is the case with one new student with whom I had a conversation just last week, I have heard the same comment: that coming to Darlington has been a life-changing experience for them,” he said. “Hearing students say that – even before they graduate – further increases my faith in Darlington and my belief in everything the school has stood for.”