Mr. Nick Taylor proud to call North Penn his new home

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Mr. Nick Taylor proud to call North Penn his new home

Mr. Nick Taylor feels that he can be a mentor to all students by using his upbringing to guide students.

Mr. Nick Taylor feels that he can be a mentor to all students by using his upbringing to guide students.

Mr. Nick Taylor feels that he can be a mentor to all students by using his upbringing to guide students.

Mr. Nick Taylor feels that he can be a mentor to all students by using his upbringing to guide students.

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TOWAMENCIN-  Mr. Nick Taylor walked out of three interviews for the position of assistant principal for home office K025 at North Penn High School. After each interview, he believed the job would go to someone else. 

“I got an email amongst a lot of other applicants to come in for the first interview. I did the first interview. I have to be honest, I did not think I did well at all. I am pretty good at interviewing, and I killed on my interviews as a teacher. For an administrative interview, because I didn’t have any experience, I lamented the fact that a lot of my answers would be grounded in naiveté,” explained Taylor.

In March, Taylor attended a minority recruitment fair hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. It was at that event where Taylor came into contact with Dr. Cheryl McCue, the Director of Human Resources at NPSD.

“I had a good conversation with [Dr. McCue] and I gave her my resume. She said that they were looking for qualified applicants because one of the big goals of the district is to try to make the teaching staff and administration reflective of the student population since the student population is growing ever more diverse,” said Taylor. 

Taylor had a second interview for the position in front of the superintendent’s cabinet and a third interview, where he had to give a 20-minute presentation in front of NPSD administrators. The presentation allowed Taylor to highlight the contributions he could bring to the high school. 

“I used my background and upbringing, especially because of my race. I am multiracial. I am African American and White, and I really spoke about how that upbringing plus an instance I had with a teacher, who really advocated for me, allowed me to pursue education and to reciprocate the advocacy she did for me,” said Taylor.

The teacher that advocated for Taylor was Mrs. Sartain. In his sophomore year of high school, she encouraged Tayor to move to higher-level courses because. Throughout his secondary education, Taylor was in what was equivalent to 4.0 classes. 

“What I noticed in my classes was that even though the school population was majority white, my classrooms would be majority people of color. It seemed like we were on a lower track. At least that was my perception then, but my perception proved to be the reality. There are numerous reasons why that [was] the case. I was lower- tracked when it came to math, and that, of course, impacted my placement in other classes because it impacted the teacher’s evaluations,” explained Taylor.

Taylor believed that he was not as intelligent as other students, even if he was achieving high grades in his classes. Mrs. Sartain offered Taylor the opportunity to challenge himself and move to what his high school called “college prep” courses, which are similar to 5.0 courses. 

“In my mind, I knew ‘okay if you do college prep, hopefully, that will put you on the track to college’ because I always wanted to go to Temple University. [Mrs. Sartain] put in the request to my guidance counselor and of course, my guidance counselor expressed some skepticism. Whether the skepticism was based on concern for me or whether it was just because she was subscribed to this belief in deficit thinking that I didn’t really have the abilities and [they] couldn’t take the risk, but she declined the request for me to be transferred to all 5.0 classes,” said Taylor.

Mrs. Sartain continued to push the request and eventually succeeded. Taylor was transferred and aced his college prep courses. He also later graduated from Temple University with a degree in education. 

“The fact that she did that just shows how beautiful of a human being she is, and she taught me the importance of tapping into the human potential [and] making sure you foster that. Honestly, I am where I am today because of my family, but a large part of where I am is because of her,” explained Taylor. 

After college, Taylor entered the police academy to study law enforcement. He soon found that the field of education was where he was meant to be.

“When I was in the academy, I had opportunities to try to help out some of my fellow recruits. I remember there was a  five-page paper we had to write on something. Some of their grammar and writing composition was pretty limited, so giving them advice and showing them how to do stuff like that reminded me of the excitement that I initially experienced when I was going through my undergraduate studies in education,” said Taylor.

Taylor later landed his first teaching position at John Bartram High School in the School District of Philadelphia. He also taught at Downingtown S.T.E.M Academy for seven years. Both of these schools perform at inverse ends academically and are at different ends of the economic spectrum, leading to different experiences as a teacher. After years in the classroom, Taylor felt his personal attributes could be better served in a different area of education. 

“With administration, I knew I would be given more flexibility to wear those different hats. To sort of be a counselor, to help with discipline, but to [use] more of the restorative justice approach to discipline, [and] to be a liaison between the school and the community. I wanted to make sure that I could be in a bigger role for that because I think that gap needs to be bridged a lot more strongly sometimes,” added Taylor. 

After his first marking period as assistant principal, Taylor views it as a period of growth. His position as an assistant principal has allowed him to utilize his experiences at prior secondary schools to understand the issue of disproportionality in education, which is an issue he has experienced himself.

“When I did go into higher tracked courses and I did go into college, and I would be the only African American in a lot of my courses, I would be perceiving that my teachers and the professors questioned my capabilities, my efficacy, and my intellectual potential as a student. That oftentimes would make me second guess myself and put pressure on myself, and sometimes that would make me struggle in my work. Now that I went through that experience, as an administrator, I now know the research plus my own anecdotal experience,” explained Taylor.

As assistant principal, Taylor is always aware of a concept called the stereotype threat, which describes the phenomenon of people perceiving themselves a certain way based on negative stereotypes. 

“[Students] are questioning their efficacy because they are perceiving that the teacher is questioning their efficacy because they are part of a marginalized group and there are stereotypes that suggest they are not as capable. Because I am more cognizant of how that could be a possibility, I think it helps me open up dialogue with the students,” described Taylor. 

Taylor’s ultimate goal is to assist the success of students in any way he can, and he is grateful for the opportunity to achieve that at North Penn.

“What I’ve always known about North Penn is that it’s a very prestigious school district that is steeped in tradition and it’s known for its academic excellence and its sports excellence. To be able to get this job among the hundreds of applicants who applied for this job, it is still kind of surreal to me,” said Taylor.

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