2006 Outstanding Teacher of America
English Teacher, Eastern Sierra Academy, California
Sarah Taylor is a graduate of Amherst University and received her Masters Degree in English from University of California and her teaching credential from University of California, Berkeley. She has been teaching for 13 years and brings a command of the English language and the written work along with a very high value for university study to her job teaching English at Eastern Sierra Academy., located in Bridgeport, California at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Eastern Sierra Academy has been recognized for excellence on a national level by the Washington Post and Newsweek and in 2005 was ranked 19th in the country.
Ms. Taylor’s students know her as a demanding teacher who requires excellence in all of their assignments. One of Ms. Taylor’s former students, Christine Hancock whom she taught at Lone Pine High School said, “Ms. Taylor is the kind of woman who showed up in the town with high energy and high expectations and she was going to use both to make things happen. She taught in a way that was unlike anyone else in the school. She started the mock trial program and the theater program and completely revamped the English curriculum. Lone Pine continues to use the curriculum Ms. Taylor prepared and has kept up with the mock trial and theater programs, even though she is no longer at the school. In Bridgeport and the surrounding areas, there are few parents who are college educated. Yet, Ms. Taylor maintains a philosophy of teaching that represents the benefits of a demanding college education, while preparing her students for this next step. Virtually 99% of the graduates at Eastern Sierra Academy go on to four year colleges and universities.
Ms. Taylor came to Mono County because of her love for the area, which she discovered on family backpacking trips when she was younger. She first taught at Lone Pine High School, then at a Middle School in Bishop, California and now teaches at Eastern Sierra Academy where she has been teaching for seven years.
Ms. Taylor is known as a tough teacher who continually assigns writing lessons to students. Past students credit this emphasis on writing skills with their ability to achieve success so easily in their university classes.
Ms. Taylor is also known for taking a personal stake in the future of each student and for putting in many additional hours working with individuals, both at school and at her home. Even when she took time off to have children, she made herself available for telephone and home consultations with students, the substitute teacher, and parents.
Because the school is so small (only 22 students) there are no athletic teams and limited extra curricular events for students. The entire staff of the school is made up of the Principal, a science teacher and Ms. Taylor. Therefore, she is inherently involved in the planning and operations of the school. Along with the other two staff members she helps determine the curriculum, schedules, interdisciplinary collaboration, strategies and rules. Since the entire school is housed in two portable classrooms, collaboration and consideration for students and other teachers are priorities and Ms. Taylor is known well for both. She also has a reputation for taking an individual interest in students, but maintaining a professional relationship.