For Rymfire Elementary School Teacher of the Year Caryn Taylor, some of the best moments in teaching are when the kids get excited about a science experiment or a virtual field trip, or ask to hear just one more chapter of a novel.
"Even in grade six, she is able to develop lovers of reading. She is always conducting read-alouds in her class, and you can often find her students begging for her to read one more chapter of the novel.'
— LaSHAKIA MOORE, principal, Rymfire Elementary School
"These are things that inspire me to be creative and to continuously look for new ways to challenge my students," Taylor wrote in her Teacher of the Year application statement. "That student who may have a troubled home life, or may have struggled in the past or have a negative attitude toward school — that student inspires me to find a way to build a relationship and create a classroom community to make their time in my classroom a success."
Taylor earned her bachelor's in psychology at North Carolina State University and taught in North Carolina and Tennessee before she moved to Florida in 2006 and was hired at Rymfire, where she started as a kindergarten teacher the same year her own son enrolled there as a kindergartener. Now, she teaches sixth grade.
Taylor strategically uses advanced texts and vocabulary to help her students gain language arts skills, and has created activities for students in a "Math Carnival Night” and “Math Lego Night" to encourage their budding math abilities.
"Even in grade six, she is able to develop lovers of reading," Rymfire Elementary Principal LaShakia Moore wrote in a letter of reference for Taylor's Teacher of the Year application. "She is always conducting read-alouds in her class, and you can often find her students begging for her to read one more chapter of the novel. She is not only a great in pedagogical practice, she 'gets results.'"
In the 2018-2019 school year, Moore continued, 80% of Taylor's students showed learning gains in English language arts, and 100% showed gains in math.
Taylor was a Google- and Apple-certified educator and technology model teacher before the pandemic began, hosting visitors from around the state who came to observe her use of classroom technology.
As the district prepared over the summer for a new school year burdened by COVID-19, Taylor worked with other school representatives and the district's Teaching and Learning to develop a set of virtual best practices, which she presented to her Rymfire colleagues during pre-planning days.
As a teacher who believes in the importance of collaborative work, Taylor — who's been teaching blended in-person/remote-learning classrooms because of COVID-19 — has worked hard to make sure her remote-learning students aren't left out of such opportunities, creating "breakout rooms" that include both remote-learning and face-to-face students.
"Students often work in groups or with partners, which gives them opportunities to explain their thinking and demonstrate understanding," she wrote in her Teacher of the Year application statement. "By focusing on these educational shifts, I am challenging my students to develop lifelong reading and math skills which will lead to a successful future."