Taylor Brings Enthusiasm
“I have no reason not to be optimistic,” he said. “The conditions are right for something really good to happen.”
Taylor, who started his tenure in July following the retirement of Bert Bleke, said he believes
“We had a very good beginning and a great kickoff,” he said. “What we’re looking at is how we can help people to make GRPS their choice, because it’s my choice.”
Before starting the position,
“I had the benefit of a four-month transition period, so when I came in on the first day, this was familiar,” he said.
“They’re a very capable group of individuals,” he said.
Though he said his leadership style has varied by situation,
“I’ve been in situations where my leadership style had to be very situational,” he said. “This situation is markedly different.”
“We’re operating with the same ideas in mind,” he said.
He said the district is one where progress can be made if people are involved and engaged.
“I think that this school district has more strengths than it gives itself credit for having,” he said. “This is not a school district of last resort.”
Telling the story of the district is important to Taylor, who said he was impressed with the number of construction projects and improvements outside of new construction. He said the projects show the district’s worth and dedication to the students.
“This is a school district that has well-maintained facilities, well-maintained grounds,” he said. “There is a commitment to continuing to do that.”
Compared to his recent school district in
“I think this district is in a better academic situation than was
“Not only did we do what we said we’re going to do, but we saved money doing it,” he said.
Now that he has seen the worth of the district and its potential,
“I think we can provide a significant amount of choice for parents if they just give us the opportunity to prove that we’re worthy to serve their children,” he said.
The district’s unique, academically accelerated Montessori and environmental programs are successful and help retain those parents who believe their children are better served by these programs,
“They’re not content to rest on their laurels of success,” he said. “They’re popular because they continue to excel.”
Though the programs have their merits,
“I think we have to make sure that they are not first among equals,” he said. “Those schools have an objective to push kids even further to excel.”
While academics are important,
“We’ve got to do it when the students are with us,” he said. “Look at ways to mediate conflict so they don’t get out of hand.”
“Kids will tell you when something is going to happen,” he said.
While it is important for the students to be good members of the community,
“They really care about the community and they care about the school district, and it shows,” he said.
Heartwell said he also was impressed with
“He brings a great energy and enthusiasm to the job, and that’s contagious,” Heartwell said.
Heartwell said that when Bleke was superintendent, the public schools and the city shared a good relationship, and he is hopeful the same thing will happen with Bleke’s successor.
Heartwell said he and Taylor have had a good relationship from the start.
“He picked up where Bert Bleke and I left off,” he said.
Heartwell said he believes
“We can’t be a great city if we don’t have strong public schools. We are joined at the hip, or we should be, and we weren’t before,” Heartwell said, speaking of the time before his tenure as mayor. “It will, in the long run, both improve education opportunities for our children, and it will improve the quality of life in the city.”
Though he would like to see more parents involved in the schools,
“Sometimes a lot of that has to do with flexibility, it has to do with preparation, it has to do with confidence,” he said.
“I could count on having an overflow of parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles,” he said of asking for volunteers for field trips or activities.
As for the community,
“If I can get them in the door, I know we can serve them well,” he said.
He also served as the principal of Weil Technology Institute from 1997 to 2000 before becoming the executive director for school leadership in the
“I just don’t know any other way to be,” he said of his high visibility both in the schools and throughout the community.
“I think it’s an exciting time,” he said. “It’s a new beginning, but it’s a new beginning that has a good foundation.”