BULLHEAD CITY — Make no mistake: Even though he’s a Massachusetts native, Jon Moss has Arizona written all over him.
Mohave Valley Junior High School’s new athletics director has a background that’s indicative of a quintessential local resident.
How does Moss belong in Mohave County? The reasons range far and wide, like his cross-country trek from the Northeast two decades ago.
While growing up in Bullhead City, he attended area schools including Bullhead City Junior High before graduating from Mohave High. But his days of studying were far from over.
For many people, procuring an associate’s degree from Mohave Community College, a master’s in mathematics and a bachelor’s in business administration from Northern Arizona University would be sufficient. Not so with Moss.
“I’m currently working on my doctorate in educational leadership,” said the 26-year-old who married Kimberlie (“my best friend”) in 2017. What’s more, Moss’ family — his wife and daughter, Layla — recently moved from Bullhead City to Fort Mohave.
Moss’ education and dedication to the community were enough to convince MVJH that he should be its next athetlics director.
Before retiring June 30, Supt. Whitney Crow — recently replaced by Cole Young — hired Moss. Crow had nothing but praise for MVJH’s new athletics director and his local loyalty.
“The Tri-state area isn’t for everyone, and considering Jon not only grew up here but began his career here is a bonus,” said Crow. “He knows the area: The heat, the students, the families, the rural nature. That he has chosen to raise his own family here is half the battle we fight with teachers from outside the area.”
Most recently, Moss was coaching basketball and teaching at Mohave Accelerated Learning Center, where he earned AIA division 3A Coach of Year honors in his first campaign with the Patriots.
“I found my way there thanks to (superintendent) Casey Mulligan and loved my time there,” Moss said, adding that he also served as a member of the WAVE Career and Technical Education Governing Board.
Before joining MALC around August 2016, he worked at the Boys & Girls Club of the Colorado River and had a stint as human resources manager at Avi Resort & Casino. “In all of my jobs, I have found myself either working with others or teaching in some capacity,” he explained.
His time at MALC was no Moss (so to speak) after Crow came calling.
Said the former superintendent: “What initially caught our attention was Jon’s teaching ability as shown by his track record. For someone so young, he is on the fast track to becoming a true master teacher. The fact he is interested in administration and our AD position was truly icing on the cake.”
Upon accepting his latest role, Moss met with principals Hayley Moss (no relation) and Charlotte Hansen to become acclimated.
“The three of us have a similar approach to sports at the middle school level. Our teams are developmental and designed to be feeders for River Valley and Mohave. I want to continue to support the excellent work that has already been done and continue to improve on it,” said Moss, who played baseball and basketball while growing up but was more interested in music.
They’ve rewritten the school’s athletics handbook and added a few policies, he noted, to improve the students’ experience — though he hasn’t met many of the MVJH athletes. He wants to ensure they can stay connected, “even if it is as simple as a Google Classroom for a team to share at-home skill training and watch game clips.”
Like many in his position, Moss has thoughts on how schools ought to proceed as COVID-19 persists. Although he said he thinks communities should utilize medical and scientific data to make decisions locally, it isn’t cut and dry.
“What works in Phoenix is not always the same as what works in rural Arizona,” said Moss. “What works for one school district may not be best for the next.”
In any case, he said, Mohave Valley Elementary School District and MVJH leaders have been conscientious while striving to ensure “a safe and realistic approach” to the upcoming school year. “I am confident that our district can offer rigorous and valuable learning experiences to students this year.”
Despite Moss’ role of athletics director, he knows that sports must take a back seat to the driving forces of safety and academics.
“We have student-athletes and the student part of that will always come first on our campus,” he said. “We miss seeing them in the classroom, on the court and on the field, but we want to make sure it is safe.”