Janet Taylor loves the classroom and enjoys helping students reach the next level.
The Union Middle School (UMS) teacher was recently recognized by the Sampson County Schools Board of Education for being named the Jean P. Powell Honored Educator Scholar for 2016-17 through the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), a program that provides professional development.
“I’m extremely honored,” she said. I was very shocked when I received my notice that I’ve received it.”
At UMS, Taylor teaches English Language Arts to eighth graders. She recently completed her fourth year at the school. In all, she has about 17 years of experience when it comes to working with students. Before UMS, Taylor was a special education teacher at Hobbton Middle School. She was also a long-term substitute teacher and teacher assistant for Wayne County.
The scholarship honors Jean P. Powell, the 1983 Teacher of the Year for North Carolina. According to school officials, Powell’s vision and determination led to the creation of NCCAT. In 1985, North Carolina Legislators established NCCAT. Her four children established a scholarship in her honor. It pays tribute to educators and individuals making a positive difference in the lives of others.
Each year, educators are selected from SCS or Clinton City Schools (CCS). Jesus Centeno of Langdon C. Kerr Elementary was also honored for his work in CCS. They are given the opportunity to attend an NCCAT program for free. Taylor attended training based on helping struggling readers.
“The session was phenomenal and I learned a lot of information that I can bring back and share with my colleagues,” Taylor said. “We also made connections with other teachers across the state. You form friendships in a network of like-minded teachers who are doing everything they can to assist our students.”
The scholarship covered instruction, program materials, substitute teacher reimbursement, expenses for travel, lodging and meals. It also includes a $250, which may be used in their classrooms.
Taylor was selected as the Teacher of the Year at UMS and is the school’s chair of the Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) program. The goal of PBIS is to use a proactive approach to establish support and a social culture for students to have social, emotional and academic success.
“It’s a way to keep kids in the classroom by setting high expectations and awarding kids when they meet those expectations for behavior,” Taylor said. “We’ve already decreased our discipline referrals in a year’s time. It’s working.”
Some of her goals is to push for excellence in schools and keeping up with current research and strategies to improve student learning, especially in reading.
“Literacy rates are not as high as they should be and that affects all aspects of a student’s life,” she said. “That’s extremely important.”
As an educator, Taylor’s philosophy is never stop learning. She feels the best way to teach that is to show it. The Sampson County native graduated from Hobbton High Schools. High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from East Carolina University. Taylor later obtained master’s in English from Liberty University, where she is currently working on her doctorate as an educational specialist.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be happy outside of a classroom,” she said. “That where my heart is.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.