[From the Hattiesburg American, Sept 27, 2008 By Ben Piper]

PETAL SCHOOL DISTRICT- Early childhood educator Thomas Moore used music and his opera background to entertain and enlighten children Friday at the Petal Performing Arts Center. Moore has performed at Carnegie Hall as a vocalist, but now he works to help kids enjoy music – and being a kid – through child-friendly concerts, including two Back to School Concerts on Friday in Petal. “This concert is more about giving kids what they need to succeed in life,” he said. “This is about balancing out what happens in children’s lives. “We can focus on what young people need to focus on, which is play. They learn more in play than we can ever teach them.” Moore danced around the stage while singing children’s classics including “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and “Old McDonald.” Children from Petal Primary School, Sacred Heart and the University of Southern Mississippi’s Children’s Development Center danced along with Moore, singing loud enough to send a ringing through every teacher’s ears. The concert was sponsored by the Petal Education Foundation, local businesses and Excel by 5. The Excel by 5 initiative attempts to produce more learning opportunities for children by the age of 5 to prepare them for kindergarten. Excel by Five Director Nadine Coleman said this event, which had more than 1,000 kids at the two concerts Friday, excited her. “You feel so much energy because they were so excited,” she said. “They got to go to a concert, not one where you sit there, but where you get to participate.” Lou Boyles, a second-grade teacher at Petal Primary, said she loved the performance. Upon returning to the school, Boyles and her class talked about the concert and went over the songs again. She said music is a special way for children to communicate. “Music is a natural thing for children and opens up new avenues for them in that they can express themselves,” she said. “It’s a form of language for them and all of us.” Boyles thought the participation of the children in the concert made it more enjoyable for the children. “The children loved it because of their involvement with him,” she said. “And the songs made it very enjoyable for them. I think it’s one of the best musicals we have had.”

Thomas Moore, Ph.D is a keynote speaker, workshop leader, early childhood consultant, and children’s recording artist. He is author of Gryphon House award-winning teacher resource books “Where is Thumbkin?” and “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”. He is contributing author of Wright Group/McGraw-Hill’s curriculum, DLM Early Childhood Express and author of their literacy series “Music, Movement and More”. He has also produced ten recordings for children.