Taylor enjoys helping ‘Toppers find themselves
Passion pushed Angela Taylor to become the first college graduate in her family. That same passion has fueled her two decades as an English teacher at Science Hill and helped her earn the 2018-2019 Johnson City Schools Teacher of the Year for grades 9-12.
However, it’s the connections she’s made with students, and the impact she’s had, that haven’t allowed a boring day since she started at The Hill in 1998.
“I still love the interaction with kids on a daily basis,” said Taylor through a smile. “But mostly, I still believe this is a profession that you can make an impact. You can change kids’ lives. You can inspire them and move them to love reading. You can make them better writers and you can prepare them for college. That is what this job is about.”
Through Taylor’s time at Science Hill she has helped lead clubs like the Student Government Association and the Prom Committee. She said that being involved in those groups has been beneficial to build relationships with her students. She enjoys the opportunity to help mold the minds of young adults as they start to figure out what they believe and figuring out the life that they want to live.
“Kids will work harder for you if they believe you care about them as people and that you want to get to know them,” Taylor said.
Taylor said that she takes a little bit of extra pride in preparing her juniors for their next level of education, because everything that they cover at that level of English encourages students to start to think for themselves.
“AP English is about rejecting preconceived ideas and trying to fully understand what you believe and why you believe it and trying to find the proof to support it,” Taylor said. “It’s all about discussion and inspiring kids to speak for themselves.”
Students in 11th grade also look at American Literature and different American authors like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck and Tim O’Brien, whose titles introduce students to the “American Dream”.
“American Literature in novels is based around the American Dream and that isn’t dead,” Taylor said. “Or at least the idea isn’t.”
In some ways, Taylor is an example to her students of being successful at pursing your passion. When she found out she was selected as Teacher of the Year at Science Hill, she said that she was very happy.
“I was really humbled,” Taylor said of receiving the honor. “The other candidates are all people that I highly respect because all of us work diligently to prepare. We work extra hours and we work weekends. Most of my colleagues, you will see our cars in the parking lot on Sunday afternoons. This is not a job that we work 8-5, so humbled was one of the first words I thought.”
She said that she and her peers work hard to make sure that every student gets the best education they can.
“We are passionate about education,” Taylor said. "We are passionate about creating and helping teenagers develop into solid citizens. We are passionate about building a community where everyone feels safe and can grow, no matter where you start.”