William A. Taylor, Secondary Mathematics, Wheatley Education Campus
One of the biggest rewards that William Taylor can imagine will come in June of 2015, when DCPS’s graduating seniors will include students from his very first 5th grade class. “Even now, it fills my heart with joy to see former students being successful in all aspects of life after they have left my classroom,” he says. Mr. Taylor has already been widely recognized for his teaching practice, winning a Rubenstein Award in 2011, serving as a grade level chair and lead teacher, and being featured in the recent book, The Smartest Kids in the World—and How They Got That Way, and in the 2010 documentary Waiting for Superman. The education journalist Amanda Ripley observes that, “Mr. Taylor is never satisfied. Every school year, he stretches himself—trying new roles and experimenting with new incentives, lessons, number games, and strategies. That restlessness, that desire to do more, better, is the mark of a truly outstanding professional. Speaking as a resident of the District and a parent of a child in DCPS, I wish Mr. Taylor could be in every math classroom in the city.”
Mr. Taylor grew up in Washington, D.C., attending Gage-Eckington Elementary, Shaw Junior High School, and M.M. Washington CSHS. He recalls influential teachers and principals whose guidance inspired him to pursue education as a profession. “They helped to shape who I am today,” he says. He focuses on grooming his class to become self-governed, and believes in equal accountability for all stakeholders. Mr. Taylor’s classroom is a dynamic place, where every student eagerly participates and the excitement around learning is palpable. By his third year as a teacher, Mr. Taylor already ranked in the top 5 percent of all D.C. math teachers, based on his students’ performance, and he has achieved perfect or near-perfect scores on the district’s measure of student growth in each of the past four years—meaning that he leads his students to greater academic gains than almost any other teacher in DCPS. “The credit for these gains cannot be solely bestowed on me,” he says. “My students’ commitment is what makes them a reality.”
Watch William A. Taylor’s tribute video.