June Taylor has put a premium on the written word for her entire career in
education. Whether teaching high school students or engineers, she always
emphasized the importance of writing as a key to success.
Taylor devoted 30 years to teaching, most of it at the high school level. She
credits UNF with changing her perception of her job. "One of the things I did
learn at UNF was I wasn't teaching writing, I was teaching students. When I was
finished at UNF I knew there was an important difference between the two."
Taylor already had her bachelor's degree when she and her husband Bruce
arrived in Jacksonville in 1974 after 10 years of travel with the Navy and
graduate school. Teaching 6th grade at the time, Taylor needed Florida
certification and was directed to take courses at UNF. Before long, she realized
she was halfway to completing a master's degree and decided to finish. She
received a master's in English education in 1979.
In those days, she said, writing wasn't considered a major focus of English
education and she set out to change that perception. While chairing the English
department at Nease High School, she proposed establishment of a summer writing
institute for faculty throughout St. Johns County. To her surprise, she was
given the job of planning and presenting an institute despite never having
attended one. Nevertheless, the institute was so successful she was given the
assignment to prepare one the following year.
In the meantime, Taylor's husband was discovering one of the biggest
stumbling blocks he was encountering in his engineering firm was the inability
of employees to write. She noted that although the employees were well-versed in
math and science, many didn't know the basics of writing, an important skill for
a consulting engineer who must write reports and proposals.
Consequently her husband, who is now chair of the UNF Board of Trustees,
instituted a mandatory writing program for his employees and asked his wife to
teach the first program. The initiative was so successful the company has hired
a full-time writing specialist/technical editor to work with the company's
engineers and scientists.
Whether in high school or private business, Taylor said writing is like any
other skill. "Writing is a process that can be taught. People can get better at
it. It isn't just something in your genes."
Perhaps the biggest change she has witnessed in writing is the importance of
being selective in one's research. With the development of the Internet as a
tool for student use, a vast array of information is available and Taylor said
this has forced writers to be more discriminating in their research.
Although retired from teaching, Taylor is still involved in education. She
has served as a member, co-chair, and chair of the Dean's Education Advisory
Council in the College of Education and Human Services over the past five
The Taylors, who are the parents of two children, Ben and Matt, love to
travel. She enjoys gardening, walking, reading and of course writing, especially
journals of their trips. The Taylors' three grandchildren are also an important
part of their life today.
As she looks back on her career, Taylor believes her accomplishments will be
manifested in the generations of young people she has taught to write. They will
be the leaders who will volunteer for boards and shape the future of their
communities. When teaching, her students were required to write about
contemporary community concerns. If those assignments not only improved their
writing and research skills but also stimulated possible solutions to these
issues, Taylor's time will have been well spent.
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