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Meet Our #FeelGood2020 Educator of the Year Runner Up Heather Taylor

We started our #FeelGoodFriday initiative last year, and it was certainly a bright spot of 2020. If you aren’t familiar with #FeelGoodFriday, it’s our small way of recognizing the amazing educators who serve students, families and communities by showcasing a new one on our social media pages each Friday, using the hashtag, #FeelGoodFriday. You can learn more about the initiative, as well as meet all of our 2020 recipients here. At the end of the year, we launched our #FeelGood2020 Educator of the Year contest as a way to celebrate these educators a little bit more. Heather Taylor, band teacher at Lakeshore Elementary with Greece Central School District was the contest’s runner up. Today, we are excited to introduce you to Ms. Taylor!

Tell us a little about your teaching career…how long have you been a teacher? What grade(s) and subject(s) have you taught?
This is my 12th year of teaching and it has all been with the Greece Central School District located in Rochester, NY. I have worked in 7 different buildings in Greece teaching various music classes from Pre-K through 12+ grades. I have taught general music, chorus, special education music, instrumental lessons and band. I have also participated in many school musicals as a choir director, pit orchestra musician and guest conductor. Three years ago I landed my dream job of teaching elementary band at Lakeshore Elementary. I love the school and the students- I hope to be in this position for the rest of my career!

Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher?
Yes! I am the oldest of three kids and would come home every day from school and teach my younger brother and sister about what I had learned that day. I particularly remember teaching them a lot from my French classes in middle school! School was always a safe place for me and something I was good at. I took as many classes and joined as many clubs as I could to be at school all the time.

Who was the most influential teacher you had growing up?  What sticks out most about him/her?
My most influential teachers were (no surprise) my music teachers! When you are a music teacher you have the benefit of being able to teach students for multiple years in a row. This creates strong bonds and relationships with the student and teacher. Both my middle school and high school band teachers are the reason why I became one: thank you to Lorraine Jones and Holly Manaseri. Besides creating music together, what I remember most about both of them is how much they cared about me and how much they went out of their way to help me during some difficult times in my childhood. I want to be (and hope to be) that same influential teacher for my students. 

Think back to your first year teaching…..what one piece of advice would you give that teacher?
I taught at Athena Middle and High Schools during my first year of teaching. More specifically, I taught instrumental band lessons, general music and special education music classes. I also was taking classes to earn my Master’s Degree at the same time. In looking back, the advice I would give myself as a first year teacher would be to be more confident in my teaching abilities and to RELAX! I was worried all the time about trying to be a perfect teacher. I would love to thank my colleagues at Athena for helping me through those first few years of my career! I learned so much from them which helped shape me into the teacher I am today!

How has technology been beneficial to you as a teacher?
The use of technology has been beneficial to me this year more than any other year of my teaching career. Because playing an instrument is a very hands-on activity, there is little to no use of technology in my classroom. The restrictions that have been put in place because of COVID have greatly altered how I teach this year- mainly the inclusion of more technology than I have ever used! Because playing a band instrument requires the blowing of air, my students are not allowed to take lessons at school this year but instead have virtual lessons from home. As their teacher, I have had to navigate how to best utilize various technology items and apps to successfully teach and assess virtually this school year. I hope to use what I have learned this school year to meet the needs of all my students in the future (whether virtually or in person).

Later this week, we will be introducing you to the EdIncites #FeelGood2020 Educator of the Year. Stay tuned! In the meantime, we encourage you to nominate an outstanding educator in your life!