Taylor cuts class after 35 years

Published 7:38 am Monday, April 25, 2005

By By Lee Weyhrich
Several thousand Atmore residents owe their high school degrees to John Taylor.
Last week the Escambia County School Board officially accepted his retirement announcement.
Students have described Taylor as someone who could make any subject interesting.
"Just wanted to say that it's really sad to see Mr. Taylor go," Gia Rod- riguez-Johnson posed on the Atmore Advance website's message board. "I graduated from ECHS in 2003 and had him my senior year. He will be greatly missed."
Several other former students also posted messages to that effect.
Taylor has been at ECHS longer than any other teacher of faculty member. Coach Bell is the second most tenured teacher at the school
"He was actually here when I got here in 1976, I think he's been here at least 30 years," Bell said. "I know I've been here 29."
Taylor has been teaching for 35 years. He was a young man recently out of college when he came to the school.
"I was a senior at Troy and I saw a job advertisement for a teaching position at Fairhope and got tired of driving from Eufala," Taylor said. "I got tired of driving and ended up in Atmore. For the first few years, I had a family and I had to work three side jobs; selling insurance, laying bricks and selling various things. For the first 10 to 15 years, I wanted to find a better job, to make more money, but I stayed in Atmore and Atmore's become my home."
Teaching has been a huge part of Taylor's life and he has a lot of experience doing it.
"I taught some in the Army, I taught my sister and her friends, I taught at Faulkner and Jeff Davis and Leadership Atmore," Taylor said. "I've been teaching so long I just don't even want to teach a duck to swim."
Most of his teaching career has been focused on history, but some of his subjects were a little less common.
"In the military I taught the effects of thermonuclear war," Taylor said. "I've taught at the high school for 35 years of course, I taught law, economics, government, communism v. democracy – that was back in the 70s and early 80s. I taught a lot of Russian history, personally I think communism was the dumbest thing since flying. I taught for 12 years at Faulkner and taught both courses in U.S. history and both in World History. At Jeff Davis, I taught Alabama History – both courses, U.S. history, economics, psychology, both courses in world history and I taught on the Foley campus, the Brewton campus and the Atmore campus, Fountain Prison, Holman Prison and death row."
Taylor has seen a lot of history being made as he taught the subject to his students.
"I've been there longer than anyone else has been, and I guess I've taught most of the people in Atmore," he said "Most everybody knows me. From '70 to '71 we had the integration riots, the school had to close three times, that was my first year here. I've gone through several superintendents and about a dozen principals and assistant principals."
Taylor has enjoyed his years teaching students in Atmore.
"I love what I'm doing, teaching's been my life," Taylor said. "I love the people of Atmore. I love what I do. I've taught between 8,000 and 10,000 people in this area in all the teaching I've been doing. For a lot of years I've been teaching the children of my students and now I'm teaching the grandchildren of my students and I thought it's time I retired."
Retirement came as a surprise to a lot of people.
"I really don't know how it's going to be when I retire, I thought and people thought I'd just stay in a classroom until I died," Taylor said. "I love Atmore and the people of Atmore and they've been wonderful to me and for me too.
So what will Taylor do with his retirement?
"I love woodworking," he said. "I have a lot of tools and a big barn to work in. I have five acres and I like mowing. I want to spend some time panning for gold and digging emeralds. I want to travel, visit with family and relax. In the last 15 years, I've wanted to write a consolidated history of Atmore and a history of the school system in Atmore, of course this is the first county school in Alabama and I'd like to write a history. I want to learn how to play the banjo; I've always wanted to do that."
So the man who has taught history to thousands of Atmore residents is retiring in the hopes that he can make a little history of his own.

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