Whistle Blows On Mosley’s Career

Published 5:03 pm Thursday, July 2, 2015

BUCKINGHAM — A colorful round parachute is boosted into the air by the small hands of children who surround it, grasping tightly to its edges, as they stand unified on the gym floor.

Their unification is focused on getting the parachute up, and sometimes crawling under the parachute before it lands, or bouncing balls off of the rainbow fabric while rustling it.

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The children laugh and excitedly scream as the parachute encloses them, and smile when they crawl out — all sounds and sights that have never gotten old to Waddell Mosley, their PE teacher, even though he’s been at his job for 41 years, having taught generations of students.

Donning a pair of blue shorts and a blue T-shirt, with a two-way radio clipped to his side and a whistle around his neck, Mosley smiled as a little girl tossed a bright orange basketball to him.

Just as basketball, baseball, the parachute game and other sports and activities have united his elementary school students for years, Mosley has unified thousands of youth for something more beneficial: success through teaching teamwork, respect and confidence.

And after four decades of teaching school, Mosley has retired.

As the 1969 Carter G. Woodson High School graduate was recently collecting basketballs, dodge balls and the parachute after a day’s work, three students came into the gym.

“Hey coach, why can’t we see you every day?” said one student as their beloved teacher packed up his supplies and locked his office door.

“I wish we had PE every day,” another said. Mosley flashed his signature smile in response.

Mosley was hired in August 1973 as a fifth-grade educator teaching all subjects under the tutelage of Allen C. Gooden, then principal of Dillwyn Elementary School, a building Mosley never left.

“Nervous,” he responded when asked about his first day on the job. “A young fella right out of college wondering what the kids are going to be like, what things I was going to have to worry about … Just nervous. Excited, but nervous.”

Raised by his grandmother Harriet Spencer, Mosley would begin in the classroom, later teach PE, return to the classroom, and then head back to gym, which was his final home in the small school. “I enjoyed it. It was a challenge, but, after a while, it was time for a change,” he said of being moved back and forth. He favors being on the hardwood rather than in front of the chalkboard.

Once he got to know the kids, Mosley said it became much easier to teach.

“You knew that if something happened at school, you’d let the parents know and parents took care of it,” he offered, comparing today’s student discipline to that of the past.

His years of working with students are highlighted by his witnessing them succeed and overcome challenges, he says.

“To see them do it. Learning a game, the smile on their face when they do it. It’s nothing like seeing a child succeed. Over the years, I’ve just seen so many of them [say] ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it.’ You can. And, when they come in and do that pull-up or sit-up or catch a ball, it’s nothing like that expression on their face or that high five that you get,” Mosley said.

The slender educator noted that younger students are more eager to learn and show more respect than older ones.

Deborah Steger was one of those eager students he taught. “He would push you because, he always said, ‘You never give up because you can do it.’”

“I had him,” said Jenise Shumaker, whose children were also taught by Mosley. “He was strict on the physical fitness test … He must be a pretty good teacher to still be around,” she said.

Cristen Reeves Givens, one of his co-workers, said that the students love his class. “He is respected and admired by his co-workers. He is always willing to lend a hand, and his positivity will be greatly missed.”

Mosley’s drive to teach PE came from his love for sports and being outside. “I probably got in more trouble when I was out there playing late than I did for doing stuff in the house … Now, you just don’t see kids out playing much now. I try to make it fun.”

He also was inspired by one of his former coaches, the late A.D. Wilson. “I watched him coach. And he would get out there and play with us,” he said.

Mosley did the same thing with his students.

His guiding principle when teaching students was to encourage them to treat others the way they’d like to be treated, and to encourage them to be their best, but not at the expense of others.

“We’ve had several [former students] to go on and play college ball, whether it’s football, basketball, and I try to keep up with them. And I tell the kids [to] do the best you can and keep those grades up,” he said.

Showing kids how to properly throw and catch a ball, being competitive, developing good sportsmanship and having fun are important parts of his teaching.

“I’m gonna miss the kids … I’ve made a lot of friends over the years … I’ll miss the kids,” he said somberly. “It’s going to be different not coming here and seeing the kids.”

Mosley, who has two children, Ebony and Derek, says he plans on hunting and fishing more during retirement.