Jill Taylor, the inclusive schooling co-ordinator at Diamond Jenness Secondary School, was inducted into the Department of Education, Culture, and Employment’s Hall of Fame on May 30, in recognition of her many years of work in the North and her achievements in educating young people at all levels.
“It’s very humbling,” said Taylor. “Of course I’m honoured, but it’s more of an honour for me to work beside so many amazing people; not everyone can say that.”
Taylor has taught everything from high school classes to Grade 3, and has been a principal as well as a vice-principal in her 25 years in the NWT.
She said the people she has been lucky enough to work with care so deeply for the students here that it’s contagious. Now her mission is to find ways to help students learn, no matter what their previous experience in school.
“I know it sounds cliché, but I really do believe that all kids can learn,” she said. “They just sometimes need extra encouragement and support.”
But beyond what Taylor has accomplished as an educator, she is appreciated at Diamond Jenness for her ability and willingness to work at finding funding for various projects, including $1.2 million for the leadership and resiliency program at the school.
“We’re very lucky to have her,” principal Heather Pedjase told The Hub. “She does an awful lot to get additional funding for the school, whether it’s for education against drinking and driving or other health and wellness initiatives. She gets all the community groups involved and that really makes for good projects.”
For Taylor, the real motivation is always the next goal. Instead of confining learning opportunities to the classroom, she advocates recognizing that, from the minute children get to school, they need to be ready to learn, and she works towards making that happen for every student.
“We are truly blessed in Hay River,” Taylor said. “There are so many coaches and volunteers who are constantly giving back and never recognized. They are my heroes.”
— Sarah Ladik