Almost two decades in the classroom hasn’t dampened The Force for Patricia Taylor, who was recently named the Johnson City Schools’ Teacher of the Year for grades PreK-4.
Taylor, a first grade teacher at Towne Acres and a self-described Star Wars geek, has integrated themes from the Sci-Fi film into her classroom, from the number chart bordering her room to the “dark side” of her behavioral chart. You may even see her don her Jedi robe and lightsaber from time-to-time.
However, the themes and costumes are all in good fun, as she uses her playful personality to connect with the students on their level and help illustrate different concepts.
“I just thought there are so many different illustrations that I can use, like being a Jedi in training and to master something that you have to practice; so there are a lot of little lessons that I thought I could use,” Taylor said.
Taylor has done more than inspire her students with her imagination; she has also been a catalyst for creativity in the school.
“Mrs. Taylor is one of the most creative and innovative teachers I’ve ever had the privilege to work with,” Towne Acres Principal Dr. Josh Simmons said. “Her passion for student learning as well as her own professional learning is remarkable. She is constantly searching for the best ways to engage students in her classroom. She is a true teacher leader and serves in a variety of ways at Towne Acres. Mrs. Taylor helps lead the way at our school with the implementation of STEM activities and with our Science initiatives.”
The costumes may change with the concepts she is teaching, but Taylor said she enjoys molding young minds and loves watching the strides that students make in first grade.
“In first grade, it’s amazing the growth that you get – especially in reading – from their first day of school to their last,” Taylor said. “There is something magical watching young students evolve.”
Taylor has taught first grade for over a decade at Towne Acres, after spending time as a kindergarten and second grade teacher. She says she loves teaching her first graders and her two favorite subjects are science and writing.
“I tell the kids from the get-go that writing is my favorite thing to teach and all of a sudden it’s their favorite thing to do,” Taylor said.
Taylor said that she enjoys reading each student’s work and having one-on-one time to discuss their writing.
“You get to sit there and get to know them a little bit better through their writing and that is always special,” she said.
The costumes and creativity can sometimes drive her crazy, but coming up with new ideas on how to teach concepts keep her and her students intrigued.
“I don’t want to get bored and I don’t want them to get bored,” Taylor said. “So trying to change it and learning new ways to do things.”
Heading into this year, she thought about changing her classroom theme. However, the fact she is now referred to as the “Star Wars Teacher” through the halls of Towne Acres; she realized ditching the Sci-Fi film wasn’t an option. One thing she won’t change are the tools and techniques that helped her earn the distinction of 2019 Johnson City Schools’ Teacher of the Year for grades PreK-4.
“I feel honored and overwhelmed,” Taylor said. “There are so many great teachers in this school and around our district, I just felt very honored.”