Al Taylor completed his master’s in Educational Leadership at Georgia State University and moved forward to receive a doctorate degree in Educational Policy Studies. We caught up with Taylor to see how he’s doing.
- Employed by the Gwinnett County Public Schools system in 2002
- Taught at Sweetwater and Meadowcreek High Schools
- Became assistant principal at Meadowcreek in 2006
- Became principal of Radloff Middle School from 2011-2013
- Became principal of Berkmar High School in 2013
- Graduated from Georgia State University, Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies May 2017
- Assistant superintendent middle schools for Gwinnett County since 2018
What made you choose Georgia State University and the College of Education & Human Development over other schools in the area/country? Why the Department of Educational Policy Studies (EPS) and/or Research, Measurement and Statistics program?
I completed my master’s in Educational Leadership at the Georgia State University College of Education & Human Development and was thoroughly impressed with the level of preparation and readiness I felt after completing the program. I was also very impressed with the level of rigor and how my philosophies and beliefs were challenged. When I was ready to pursue my doctorate, I knew there was no other choice and opted to pursue my studies in EPS.
What is your current occupation?
I am the assistant superintendent for middle schools in Gwinnett County. Before that, I was the principal of Berkmar High School, also in Gwinnett County.
What fascinates you about research? What has surprised you about what you’re learning/have learned?
I think what has both fascinated and continues to surprise me is how limited our perspectives can be on any specific subject. This is particularly true when we hold some expertise and/or experience in an area. Most fascinating and surprising is how infrequently individuals are willing or able to substantiate their perspectives on authentic research. That’s also what makes my desire for further research so exciting.
Is there a professor you’d like to to mention that helped with your studies?
Dr. Janice Fournillier challenged me as a scholar more than any one individual has ever come close. I owe my entire Ph.D. to her and can’t thank her enough. She pushed me hard and expected far more from me than I believed that I could produce. I don’t know that I was able to thank her while in the midst of her constant pressure, but pressure creates diamonds!
How do you explain what you do (in school or for your profession) to your grandmother?
I don’t even try! She understands the role of a principal from when she was a student and a teacher, but she doesn’t quite understand how the role has morphed into what it is today.
What tips can you give a student just starting to help them be successful?
The best degree (regardless of what degree) is a completed degree! If you are waiting for the “perfect time” to begin, it doesn’t exist so you will never begin. If you never begin, you will never finish. Life happens. It is so much better to accept temporary inconveniences due to short-term sacrifices than it is to experience ongoing inconveniences due to sacrifice avoidance! Just keep pushing through!
Give us either a favorite quote, a song lyric or poem, or something a professor said to you that you find inspiring.
Dr. Janice Fournillier: “I sent you an email this morning and you haven’t responded. You have to finish your edits for Chapter 3 today so I can provide you feedback. You are not ready to defend what you have. This is a top priority.”
Me the next day: “I apologize for just getting back to you. I was in meetings for work all day.”
Dr. Fournillier: “I see. I wish I could just simply ignore important emails. Maybe I’ll try that sometime.”