Recipient of the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for service to Education, Vice Principal at Bridgeport High School, in Portmore, Paula Taylor, says she is elated about the award, having spent 30 years as an educator at the school. Recipient of the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for service to Education, Vice Principal at Bridgeport High School, in Portmore, Paula Taylor, says she is elated about the award, having spent 30 years as an educator at the school.Mrs. Taylor, who began her career as a Physical Education and Remedial English Language teacher, tells JIS News that teaching was not her first choice, but she was encouraged to pursue that career by her mother.She has excelled at the profession during her years at the school, having been appointed House Leader, Grade Supervisor, Dean of Academics and Student Council Advisor.Known as a strict disciplinarian, Mrs. Taylor was instrumental in establishing numerous initiatives to treat disorderly students.Three of the major initiatives implemented by her are the establishment and coordination of a voluntary service programme for problematic students; a mentorship programme; as well as the organisation and implementation of a behavioural modification workshop.She says that many of the students participating in these programmes have behavioural problems, as most of them have little or no help at home.Mrs. Taylor implores parents to be more supportive of their children. “You just need to work with your children, and you need to monitor them,” she advises.Another programme she spearheads with the aim of motivating students include the annual grade awards function for Child Month, where students are recognised for their strengths and improvements.Through these programmes, Mrs. Taylor says she has seen amazing transformation over the years, even noting that one student who had missed an entire year of school, and was performing badly, received a scholarship after his exceptional improvement following his participation.Mrs. Taylor also played a key role in implementing interventions to improve the performance of students.These include the summer academic intervention programme for students who fall below a certain average; the establishment of a homework centre, and introduction of the Caribbean School Examination Certification (CSEC) Religious Education syllabus at the Bridgeport High School.She says inclusion of Religious Education in the syllabus was important to her, in an effort to ensure that the students learn other religions and to practise tolerance.Mrs. Taylor says she is very strict; however, “they [the students]can rap with me, they can run jokes and I run jokes with them, but when it is serious time, it is serious time.”“I push school work because that is very important, but I also have my light moments when I sit with them, and speak their language. If they say they want a hug, I give them a hug, but when it’s time for work, I get serious with them,” she tells JIS News.In addition to teaching, Mrs. Taylor is an active community member as part of the Manchester High and Church Teachers’ College Alumni.The Vice Principal highlights that she has also made a second career out of assisting students outside the classroom by helping school leavers considered to be at risk in the community, to pursue skills training courses.Mrs. Taylor says she assists students with school based assessments (SBAs), explaining that even her family gets involved.She notes that her two sons, who are in sixth form and at university, help with these assessments, as well as with the homework centre.The educator carries her love for children even further by extending her home to foster children, having fostered two girls, and assisted two boys in finding homes.She says that in the 30 years in the classroom, she has tried many innovative ways to stay motivated and to keep the children motivated.Mrs. Taylor is encouraging teachers to “find ways and means to motivate yourselves, because there were times when I had a hard time. Now everyone has to beg me to take a day, because if I do I just worry that the children will fall behind.”The Vice Principal says she lives by the mantra: ‘Doing what I do best, serving the nation’s children”.Mrs. Taylor is among 40 distinguished educators who will receive the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation on Wednesday, June 27. Mrs. Taylor, who began her career as a Physical Education and Remedial English Language teacher, tells JIS News that teaching was not her first choice, but she was encouraged to pursue that career by her mother. Story Highlights She has excelled at the profession during her years at the school, having been appointed House Leader, Grade Supervisor, Dean of Academics and Student Council Advisor.