Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teacher Finalist Uses Innovations Waycross Students Praise Instructor

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teacher Finalist Uses Innovations Waycross Students Praise Instructor

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski, Times-Union staff writer

WAYCROSS -- Charles Taylor looked more like a coach than a math teacher.

Placing yardsticks end-to-end on the floor, Taylor transformed a section of his classroom at Waycross Middle School into a standing long jump competition yesterday to help his sixth-grade students learn how to calculate averages, means and plot a line graph on a computer.

"Motivation to succeed in kids is the biggest challenge. My job is to get them to see that by doing their best, they can achieve success and that success is worth the effort it takes to achieve it," said Taylor, whose gift for motivating students and innovative teaching methods such as relating sports to math have earned him statewide recognition.

Taylor, an educator for 23 years, is among five finalists statewide for the 2002 Georgia Teacher of the Year Award.

He is the first Ware County teacher to become a finalist for the prestigious award that honors Georgia public school teachers for their commitment to education, dedication to helping students learn and efforts to develop better teaching methods.

Taylor, 47, also is the only South Georgia teacher among the finalists. He and the others were selected from 138 nominees. Georgia Department of Education officials and other selection committee members will interview the finalists today in Atlanta. State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko will announce the winner April 20.

Principal Randy Yonz as well as Taylor's students say he exemplifies everything that teacher should be.

Yonz said Taylor incorporates lessons from several different curriculums in his lessons. Although they are learning general math, his 77 students also keep a journal -- writing and illustrating how math relates to the real world.

"He's truly a unique teacher," Yonz said.

Students say Taylor is a good teacher because he cares and makes learning fun as well as interesting.

"Mr. Taylor is one of the nicest teachers. He's always coming up with different things like this for us to do so we'll learn math better," said Kimberly Barkley, 11, as she huddled with two classmates to plot out their long jump distance line graphs.

The youngsters are rooting for Taylor to bring home the state award. They have written notes and made posters congratulating him on becoming a finalist. Those encouraging words hang on his classroom wall amid motivational posters that Taylor put up to inspire them about math.

"He really deserves it. …

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