#75 – Welcome Taylor James to our team!
Help us welcome Taylor James, our new Strategic Implementation Associate, to our team! Read more below about Taylor, her experiences, and what she’ll bring to our organization and those we serve.
Greetings! My name is Taylor James, a former educator, and writer. I grew up in Boston, MA, where I completed my K-12 education through the Metropolitan Education Council for Education (METCO). Growing up as an only child with a single mother, I have learned many valuable life lessons, which began with my mother’s foresight when she signed me up for the METCO program when I was only two months old. It was her investment in my education that has brought me to where I am today. Being in the METCO program meant that I was able to receive a better education outside of my district.
After graduating, I matriculated at Agnes Scott College, an all-women’s college in Decatur, Georgia. Attending a college surrounded by women was a unique and empowering journey. Since women were the majority in the classroom, I was always encouraged to participate and speak up. Education is essential to my personal growth. During my junior year of College, I studied abroad for a semester at the University of Johannesburg in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was after my semester abroad that I decided to write my senior thesis on the intersectionality of racial inequities of black African and black Americans when connecting across the diaspora. After graduation, I would publish my piece with two other black female classmates. South Africa was also where I applied and interviewed for Teach For America (TFA). Shortly after returning to the states, I was accepted into the Teach For America 2019 Cohort and was placed in Charlotte, North Carolina to teach 6th grade Social Studies.
Teaching pushed me to limits I didn’t know were possible. Although it did not come naturally, I was determined to overcome my shortcomings because TFA wasn’t just a career choice for me; it was a personal mission. As a young black girl, I had a scarcity of black teachers and found myself constantly having to prove my existence and advocate for myself in predominantly white spaces. When one of my students shared with me that no one had ever told her she was smart, I was snatched back to similar feelings I had in school where my white teachers rarely acknowledged me and often seemed surprised by and even suspicious of my exceptional academic performance. Talking with that student, I realized I didn’t need to be a perfect teacher. Instead, I shifted my priority to focus on being the teacher I wish I’d had — one who advocated for and encouraged students of color to excel. My classroom became a space of affirmation, where students could be authentic and have the tools and support to thrive in an academic environment. I quickly saw how their dispositions and attitudes toward learning shifted when they realized I was a dependable adult who acknowledged their identity and worth in my classroom. After my two-year commitment with Teach For America, I continued to teach Social Studies for a third year where I was promoted to the position of Sixth Grade Team Lead. It was then that I was able to not only teach but able to lead a team of teachers during the unfortunate Covid-19 Pandemic.
At the conclusion of my third year of teaching, I was accepted into the Urban Leaders Fellowship, where I engaged in education policy and advocacy workshops and training. During my summer as a fellow, I worked as an intern at the partner organization Tennessee of Educators of Color Alliance. It was shortly after my time as an Urban Leaders Fellow that I was fortunate enough to find SchermCo. I am thrilled to be a part of the SchermCo team and look forward to immersing myself in strategy and implementation work from a former educator’s lens.