F. Robertson Hershey Distinguished Faculty Award

Story by Jordan Adair, Upper School English Teacher // Photo by Leslie King

In 1988, the Durham Academy Board of Trustees established the F. Robertson Hershey Distinguished Faculty Award in recognition of former Headmaster Rob Hershey’s decade of dedication to faculty excellence. Since that time, 34 teachers have been recognized for their extraordinary talents and contributions. These teachers represent the best in teaching at Durham Academy by:

  • Inspiring enthusiasm in the classroom and encouraging academic aspiration
  • Demonstrating sensitivity to the academic and personal needs of the individual student
  • Encouraging and supporting the efforts of colleagues
  • Promoting the cooperation of a broad spectrum of the Durham Academy community
  • Contributing to school life outside the classroom

Since arriving at Durham Academy almost 20 years ago, Middle School learning specialist Dr. Cindy Moore has made her mark across the widest possible spectrum of the community, from students to faculty, administration and parents. As integral to the life of the Middle School as anyone could hope, she has, as one of her fellow faculty members writes, “the ability to inspire enthusiasm and encourage academic aspiration [as] part of her DNA … she gives of her time selflessly, never complains and is always willing to take on extra duties.” This is the depth of commitment of this year’s Hershey Award recipient.

Cindy’s Middle School colleague Virginia Hall writes, “she is one of the biggest cheerleaders of our students and can often be found outside of school attending extracurricular events to enthusiastically promote the abilities and dreams of our kids.” Her attentive support of our students came most clearly into focus during the pandemic and remote learning. Her kid-friendly, engaging and motivating presentations on study skills were lifesavers in a time when everyone needed tools for survival in a world that had been turned upside down. She held countless Microsoft Teams meetings with students to give them the tools and strategies they needed to maintain focus and get the most out of each and every session.

Cindy reached out to her colleagues one-on-one and in smaller group meetings to provide them with helpful ideas for designing assessments that would meet the needs of all of our learners. She gave them direction by sharing the latest informative emails, videos and helpful articles, all in an effort to provide her colleagues with a variety of teaching tools and advice. Most crucially, she applied her accumulated knowledge of both learning successes and failures to help teachers discover new approaches that made a critical difference in our students’ growth throughout remote learning, and she made it fun for them!

It is easy in the hectic pace of the school year to hunker down and stay hyper-focused on the most immediate tasks of one’s job, but that’s not the way with Cindy. In addition to her work at the Middle School, her knowledgeable outreach to other divisions and to Hill Learning Center is legendary. She recognizes the unique and highly variable learning needs of all students, which has made her an invaluable resource for teachers, administrators and tutors across divisions. As a regular and essential attendee at grade-level meetings, her timely and precise contributions give teachers just what they need to take steps to support their students. She is always available to work with her colleagues to coordinate both advisory activities and class lessons that complement grade-level objectives.

Though her office is a safe space for students, it is her willingness to move beyond those narrow confines that sets her apart from others. She has served on numerous search committees, task forces and smaller, more intimate groups as a way of helping to make a difference at Durham Academy. Cindy helped start student affinity groups, is a longstanding participant in the People of Color Conference, and has encouraged colleagues to step outside of their comfort zones and participate with her. She will do whatever it takes to help shape DA into the most inclusive, welcoming and progressive school it can be.

But perhaps what resonates most profoundly in this year’s recipient is the way she carries herself in this world. Words like: “friendly,” “cheerful,” “sincere,” “honest,” “compassionate,” “sensitive” and “dedicated” leap to mind when colleagues reflect on their relationships with her. As one Upper School colleague has said of her, “She always arrived at our meetings without an agenda, with an open heart and a desire to listen and learn.” You cannot put a price on qualities of this kind.

As one who has spent the bulk of her professional career at Durham Academy, Cindy has contributed to our school as a parent, a student advocate, a counselor, a listener, a coordinator, a friend and a cheerleader for her students. It is with distinct pleasure and deep gratitude for all that she has brought to DA to celebrate Cindy Moore as this year’s F. Robertson Hershey Distinguished Faculty Award recipient.

Editor’s Note: Jordan Adair was the 2021 recipient of the F. Robertson Hershey Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award has been presented annually since 1989 and was established in honor of Rob Hershey, head of school from 1978 to 1988. The Hershey Award was presented to Cindy Moore in June 2022 at the Middle School closing exercises.