In an inspiring interview on the Born To Shine podcast, host Mike Sullivan welcomes Dr. Kim Moore, the dynamic superintendent of Richland School District Number Two in South Carolina. Dr. Moore shares her unconventional path from military service to educational leadership, her innovative approaches to school administration, and her deep commitment to student and community wellness.

A Non-Traditional Path to Education

Dr. Moore’s story begins far from the halls of academia, on military bases where she served as a Chemical Corps officer in the U.S. Army. Her role involved managing threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons—high-stakes work that seems worlds apart from education. Yet, it was here that Dr. Moore honed her leadership and training skills, elements she found surprisingly applicable to educational settings.

One of her most formative military roles was as a company commander at Fort McClellan, Alabama, where she was tasked with transforming new recruits into disciplined soldiers within eight weeks. This experience emphasized the parallels between military training and educational pedagogy, particularly the importance of structured, impactful teaching and the transformational power of effective leadership.

Transition to Education

After retiring from the military, Dr. Moore was inspired by a fellow officer to take up teaching. She translated her extensive experience in training and operations into a second career in education, beginning as a science teacher. Her career trajectory swiftly ascended through roles such as district resource teacher, assistant principal, and eventually superintendent. Each step in her journey was guided by a passion for education and a belief in the power of dedicated teaching.

Dr. Moore’s approach to education is deeply influenced by her military background, emphasizing discipline, structure, and the significant role educators play in shaping lives. Her story is a testament to the idea that effective leadership skills are transferable and can lead to success across varied fields.

Mental Health and Community Support

During the interview, Dr. Moore highlighted the mental health initiatives within the Richland County School District Two. Understanding the diverse needs of a large student population led her to prioritize mental health as a critical component of the school environment. The district has implemented several programs that encourage students to check in on their mental state and provide spaces within schools where they can seek calm and decompression.

Recognizing the interconnectedness of student behavior and family dynamics, Dr. Moore has also championed family counseling and partnerships with mental health providers. This holistic approach addresses the root causes of behavioral and academic issues, providing support not just to students but also to their families. A significant partnership with a mental health care coordination service helps connect families with mental health providers quickly and efficiently, navigating insurance barriers and reducing wait times, which are often detrimental to those in crisis.

A Community-Oriented Approach to School Leadership

Dr. Moore’s leadership philosophy extends beyond the classroom. She is acutely aware of the challenges that students face outside of school, such as food insecurity and family instability, which can profoundly affect their academic performance and mental health. By fostering a supportive community within the school district, she aims to mitigate these external pressures.

Under her guidance, Richland School District is becoming a model for other districts aiming to integrate mental health resources into their educational programs. Dr. Moore’s efforts demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of both students and their families, recognizing that academic success is deeply intertwined with emotional and psychological support.

Challenges and Visions for the Future

Looking ahead, Dr. Moore expressed a desire to expand mental health services and fill staffing vacancies, limiting the district’s ability to provide comprehensive support. She also highlighted the need for better insurance coverage for mental health services to ensure that families can receive the help they need without undue financial stress.

Dr. Moore’s closing remarks emphasized the importance of empathy and proactive engagement in solving community and educational challenges. She encouraged a culture of openness and understanding, where the struggles of both students and staff are met with compassion and support.

A Personal Reflection on Leadership and Faith

Dr. Moore also shared personal insights about her faith and its role in her decision to move from Florida to South Carolina to lead in what she describes as a challenging but rewarding environment. Her journey is not just about changing careers but about following a calling—a purpose-driven life that seeks to make a difference in the world of education.

In Conclusion

Dr. Kim Moore’s journey from a military officer to a school superintendent is a powerful narrative of transformation, leadership, and service. Her story inspires educators and leaders in all fields to think creatively about how their skills can be applied to new challenges, particularly in nurturing the next generation.

Mike Sullivan’s interview with Dr. Moore highlights her achievements and underscores the critical role of innovative, compassionate leadership in education.

Click HERE to view the podcast on YouTube.

Click HERE to view the Remedy for Anxiety webinar.


“When students are led well, they learn well.”

The views shared in the Educational Leadership Moment are solely mine and do not reflect the positions of my employer or any entity within the local, state, or federal government sectors.

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About the author

I'm Kim, your Educational Leadership Guide. I equip educational leaders with research-based and experientially learned educational leadership principles and best practices to promote student success.