Dr. Angela Moses: Really leading the way
Nayaba Arinde | 3/20/2014, 1:20 p.m.
Onward and upward.
“Getting my master’s degree changed my life,” Moses said assertively, “because I had a speciality in substance abuse and a background in criminal justice, and at this time, the AIDS epidemic was happening.
When her first daughter was 4 months old, Moses got pregnant with her second child and started teaching college-level courses in English at the New York Institute of Technology and at Pratt, which had a program for underserved people. Then, she said, the Board of Education was looking for people who understood education and the criminal justice system.
They had a juvenile diversion program that was housed in all five boroughs in daily court, and she was picked to head the Brooklyn segment. Within six months, she became the director of the entire pilot juvenile diversion program. “We were to make sure that children were placed in their right schools, and to see if anything they were in the courts for was due to negligence in the education system. And yes, it was,” she said.
She told the story of a young girl who was in court because she cut someone with a box cutter. “What helped me get off was when I did a full assessment and I found out that she was being bullied. She was a substance abuser, her uncle was a heroin addict and she smoked and drank everyday. So she was high at the time, and that’s how I saved her from going to jail. I said she didn’t need jail, she needed help, and that’s how I got her into a juvenile home facility.”
Overlooking the Brooklyn landscape at Restoration Plaza, Moses mused, “My passion has always been saving people.” She seeds her motivation from “what I went through as a kid. I was the oldest girl, and they always depended on me to make sure that we had food. I would do people’s hair to go buy food to cook for dinner. I just always had to be in charge [of my two sisters and two brothers].
“But I got here and got the degree. My brother said, ‘Oh, you left us. I would have been alright if you didn’t leave me.’ So I brought my brother up here and put him in treatment along with my sister. They have been in treatment I don’t know how many times. My brother just passed away in September 2013 because he wouldn’t take his medication. He would rather drink.”
This is her life. This is part of her book. But moving on up, “I also worked at Restoration running their programs. I spent many years there, and then back at the Board of Education in District 13, I was the district clinician. One of the questions that the superintendent asked me was, ‘What do the children need?’ I said, ‘Well, what they don’t need is to be sitting on the couch talking to me and tell me what’s wrong, because they don’t know what’s wrong.’ Basically, they are products of their environment.