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By WILLIAM SNOWDEN
Melisa Taylor announces her candidacy for the Wakulla County School Board, District 2.
She will challenge incumbent Mike Scott in a race to be decided in the Aug. 14 election.
Taylor, who has been an educator since 1984 and has been at Wakulla High School for the last 12 years, said that running for school board is a natural expansion on her commitment to students and residents of the community "where I may broaden my impact, contributions, and education expertise to our entire district."
“As a teacher at Wakulla High, I’ve walked side-by-side with the students, teachers, and administrators on a daily basis," she said. "I know what struggles each must overcome to be the most effective at their daily roles. I know what concerns parents most in our schools and how to create a more cohesive and seamless dialogue between parents and school officials. My contributions and daily interaction with all levels of school administration, students and parents gives me a unique perspective.”
In her education career, Taylor has worked in public and private education ranging from Orange and Seminole county schools to teaching for a private company that served teen actors on movie and television sets.
Additionally, she has taught at Valencia Community College and Tallahassee Community College, but said she found a real home in Wakulla High School over the last 12 years. She has served as English teacher and department head, Senior Class Sponsor, National Honor Society Sponsor, Writing Coordinator, Advanced Placement Language and Composition Teacher, AVID Site Team Member, Mentor Teacher, Teacher Recruiter, and New Teacher Trainer.
As a National Board Certified Teacher and owner of The Learning Curve Tutoring Center, she has spent many years studying and investigating strategies for increasing student learning and success and plans to bring this experience to the office of School Board.
"At the same time as a new superintendent is coming in, I do think it's the perfect time for new energized blood to come in to the school board," Taylor said.
“I am extremely proud of how much my hard work and the dedication of our Wakulla County teachers has resulted in Wakulla County Schools being named an Academically High Performing District," Taylor said. "As teachers, we devote countless hours in college courses, professional development and internships in an effort to bring the most helpful and concise information to students, with great expense to us personally. However, we do it because we love the students and feel called to provide them with the best education possible to help prepare them for successful college and career experiences.”
“Just as I have felt called to teach all these years, I now feel called to contribute to the education of our students in a more comprehensive way.”
While Taylor is certain Wakulla County will continue to be a high scoring district because of the commitment of the teachers in our schools, she says the challenges we will face in the upcoming years will be more vast and require a deep understanding of the inner workings of the schools and classrooms to overcome the numerous unfunded mandates that continue to filter down into our county through federal and state legislation.
To additionally prepare for the position of school board member Taylor completed the Wakulla County School Board Education Leadership training offered in 2010-11 to have a more thorough understanding of the many facets that make up Wakulla County Schools. She met with each department of our school system -- from transportation and food services to risk management and the office of Chief Financial Officer. Additionally, she attended union negotiation meetings between the district and teachers.
“I understand that we are in tough economic times," she said. "However, I also know it has been difficult for teachers and school employees to pay for their own classroom supplies and professional development. Teachers have not received a pay increase since 2007-08 for either professional experience or cost of living," said Taylor.
“School employees have really felt the economic crunch since before the ‘economic downturn’ started.” She refuted the school board's contention that employees have been held harmless with increases in medical insurance, noting that single insurance rate coverage went up over $200 a year while family insurance rates went up over $500 per year.
“I believe it’s important to have an accurate picture of what we can do to keep our schools the best we can be by recruiting and keeping the best teachers," Taylor said. "It may not be possible to give teachers raises at this time, but it will be my responsibility to teachers and taxpayers to provide the best for all parties of our county."
Taylor said she believes it’s important as a school board member to be out in the schools on a weekly basis to truly understand the needs of students and teachers. "You need to be in the schools to see the challenges faced by teachers, administrators and students," she said. She plans to continue filling several of the needs she filled as a full-time employee of Wakulla High School as a volunteer, sponsoring clubs and activities in which she is currently involved, plus volunteering as a substitute teacher several hours per month.
“I believe I need to earn the pay that accompanies the responsibilities of school board member and be sure to stay connected with each of the schools and their administration on a regular basis,” Taylor said.
"It has been a a pleasure to work with David Miller and Beth O'Donnell and both of the principals at Wakulla High School and I just hope to be able to continue working in the people of Wakulla County," she said.
Taylor has been a resident of Wakulla County since 1996. She is married to Larry Taylor, a 1977 graduate of Wakulla High. They have two sons, Justin and Marshall Taylor, who both graduated from Wakulla High and Florida State University.
Visit Taylor's website at www.melisataylor4schoolboard.com.