#WhyIChoseEducation: ‘I’ve Personally Always Viewed Myself as a Teacher Educator’ Says Jerianne Taylor ’04EDD
The drafting classes Jerianne Taylor ’04EDD took as a high school student inspired her to become a technology education teacher. She spent more than five years in the classroom before deciding she wanted to broaden the impact she could make by earning her doctoral degree through the NC State College of Education’s Technology Education program. Now, she prepares future technology education teachers as a professor and director of the Career and Technical Education program at Appalachian State University.
“Everybody should be concerned about our next generation of leaders,” Taylor said. “I’ve personally always viewed myself as a teacher educator.”
In addition to preparing future teachers, Taylor also works with middle and high school students in her role as the North Carolina Technology Student Association‘s state advisor. The organization is similar to Future Business Leaders of America or Future Farmers of America, but for students who are interested in STEM and business education.
“It’s one of those things about providing them with opportunities, so that they can grow and be our next set of leaders in various STEM fields and, hopefully, maybe even some will go into teaching,” Taylor said
Taylor said working with the organization is another way to give back to the discipline that inspired her to become an educator.
“I have the opportunity to change the conversation and hopefully help students see the value of career and technical education — how it plays a role in their future success in the workforce,” Taylor said.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Why I Chose Education:
Because of my drafting teacher, Mr. McMakin. My junior and senior year of high school, I spent half of my time at the R.D. Anderson Area Technical Center and I just fell in love with drawing, and I was like, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be cool to teach drafting?” That’s what started it and it just continued to grow.
How Education Shaped Me:
I grew up in a family where my mom was a teacher and my dad was in construction. So, career and technical education has been something that’s been a common thread throughout my entire life. I think the beauty of it is, I know I see education from a different lens because I look at it through the lens of the workforce and career and technical education.
Being able to see those connections to education and society and the workforce, I think, has helped strengthen me. I don’t know what life would be like without being involved in education in some shape, form or fashion.
What I Enjoyed Most About the NC State College of Education:
The one thing that I really liked about the program and the department was that it was very close knit. It was a big campus, but the community within what is now technology, engineering, and design was tight. We were always together. Even though each of us had different paths, we were always connected back to our faculty and it was common for us to grab pizza for dinner and just eat and hang out.
That community was very important and it helped me process the fact that yes, this is a big campus, but they’re invested in me and want to see me do great things. I had the opportunity to serve as both a research and teaching assistant. That helped me understand research and its importance and the need for data — to be able to share that data and that research in a productive manner so that it can make a change, but also still to be able to connect back to students and teach.
The course that I actually taught was called Communication Technology at that time. Having the opportunity to teach that, it just kept me connected back to the community. Of course, working with [the North Carolina Technology Student Association] and having those big grants and teachers coming in really shaped me and helped me see that I could manage multiple things and still have a positive impact on education.
What Others Should Know About the College of Education:
The more you can be engaged in education while you’re working to become an educator, the more fun you’ll have, and I think NC State provides those opportunities through student clubs, extracurricular activities and research. The faculty who I know who are still there are also invested in the university and in the students, and I think that’s an important selling factor in regard to NC State.
Why I Still Choose Education:
The fact that I’m a CTE teacher educator, and my background is in technology, engineering, and design education, what better place to be? You have the pulse on what’s happening with the next generation; you’re helping prepare teachers to teach in those fields and you’re mindful of the workforce and the emerging technology. You have those touch points and that flexibility.
The Last Thing That Inspired Me:
My youngest daughter is a junior here at Watauga High School and she had the opportunity to share her faith. She is with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and to see her do that in front of a stadium of her peers, it was humbling, but it was true and authentic and real.