At 6-foot-3-inches, Jim Moll – the new interim principal of – is difficult for anyone to ignore – except for teenagers. Not to be dissuaded, Moll is working hard to get their attention, even if it takes some “Magic.”
“I’m a pretty gregarious guy,” Moll said. “So the students don’t get to just walk by me. I say, ‘Hello! How are you doing?’ They are getting used to me. I am sure they think I am intrusive, but I am calling it 'hands on.'”
The 60-year-old administrator is subbing for for "possible financial irregularities" related to a student activities fund.
As part of his effort to get to know as many of the school's roughly 1,500 students as he can, Moll said he has made it a point to sit through all three lunch periods and be in the halls before and after school and between classes.
On his first day, Tuesday, Moll said he found a group of students playing a role-playing card game created by a mathematics professor in the '90s. “’I see these guys playing and I said, ‘You are playing Magic: The Gathering’,” he said.
Moll has a 29-year-old son who was a fan of the game as a teenager.
The students seemed surprised Moll was familiar with the game, but the next day the president of the Magic Club stopped him in the cafeteria and invited him to its club meeting after school.
“So I stopped by and there was a room full of guys playing this game and I thought, ‘How cool is that?’ The school is providing a place for this variety of interests,” Moll said.
Moll is a longtime teacher, counselor and administrator. He served in the Birmingham Public Schools district for nearly 40 years before retiring in June.
Moll has three children, all in their 20s, who graduated from North Farmington High School, the same school from which his wife graduated. “Pretty much like the folks do here, my wife wanted our kids to go through the same school system she did,” he said.
Moll is a graduate of Redford Union High School.
The interim principal has lived in the Farmington/Farmington Hills area the majority of his adult life. He currently lives in the 13 Mile and Drake roads area. “I just shoot straight across 13 Mile Road every day,” he said.
Moll graduated from Western Michigan University and has also attended the University of Michigan and Oakland University. He has a master's degree in arts and guidance counseling.
An actor at heart, the former drama teacher is a member of the community theater group. As a young teacher at Groves, Moll taught Sam Raimi, 52, who went on to direct the Evil Dead series and the blockbuster Spider-Man films. Cult actor Bruce Campbell, 53, who was born in Royal Oak and starred in many of Raimi’s films, is also a former student.
“Sam was here to shoot Oz: The Great and Powerful film in Pontiac, so he contacted four or five of his old teachers to visit him on set,” Moll said. The next thing Moll knew, he was taken to wardrobe, makeup and hair (where they gave him a big long beard) and then brought onto the set where 150 extras were already in costume.
“He put us in front of the group,” Moll said. “We even had lines.”
If he makes the final cut, look for Moll in the movie when it opens in March 2013.
“I am Townsperson No. 10,” he said proudly.
Meet & greet
in the school's media center.
Kelly Geyer, a Royal Oak High School parent and Royal Oak PTA Council vice president, attended the reception and said she found Moll "engaging and delightful."
"(Moll) was put in a very difficult situation at a very difficult time," she said. "But if you put a group of people in front of me, and he happened to be one of them, and I had to pick the new principal, based on what I heard on Tuesday, I would pick him."
Geyer said she has spoke to her son Zach, a senior, about Moll and the situation. "He's says (Moll's) OK, but he said he hopes Mr. Greening is back for his graduation," she said.
Senior Emily Collick said many students are struggling with Greening's absence. while he is on paid administrative leave.
"It's just hard for everyone with all this change," she said.