Edward R. Gore II arrives at Fairfield Court Elementary School each morning and first checks all the doors and windows, making sure the school is secure.
Then he grabs his JBL Boombox and plants himself in front of the school. He’s there every morning in the “drop-off zone” because the kids depend on him. Kids pile out of cars and run into his waiting arms. Gore greets each of them with a big smile, fist bump, hug, or kind word as they filter into school. Shouts of “Sgt. Gore” echo through the neighborhood as the kids race down the street to see him.
Gore is the school’s lead care and safety associate for Fairfield Court Elementary, a part of Richmond Public Schools.
“I’m out there every day to put a smile on the kids’ faces, put a smile on their parents’ faces,” he explains. “Sometimes they tell me their problems and I try to give them advice. That’s where you build the family engagement.”
He’s become an institution in the neighborhood. Parents tell him they don’t need an alarm clock because of his music; likewise, the kids know he’s waiting because they can also hear the tunes.
Gore got his sturdy work ethic from his father, Edward Gore, who labored full-time for 34 years as a UPS driver, in addition to operating Gore’s BBQ and County Kitchen in Aynor, South Carolina for more than 30 years with his mother, Henrietta. His father also operated a hog farm. Gore, Jr. laughs remembering his dad’s mantra: “When my feet hit the ground, your feet hit the ground.”
So the young Gore spent many mornings feeding the hogs before going to school. A championship wrestler, remembers his father never made it to his sporting events because he was always working. He understood the trade-off, realizing his dad couldn’t be two places at once.
Now Gore channels that family work ethic into making sure each child that arrives at Fairfield feels the love. He wants them to have every opportunity that the kids in the West End have, and often ends up donating his time, resources and expertise to that goal. He gives kids a ride home if parents can’t pick them up. He cooks barbecue for school functions. He buys supplies and operates as a protector in what can be a rough neighborhood.
One morning he shepherded kids from the neighborhood into an adjacent building when shots rang out.
“Whatever my mom and dad instilled in me, I try to instill in them. I wish these kids had what I had: both parents,” he says. “Some do, some don’t. You are their pastor, counselor, daddy, granddaddy. You are everything to these kids.”