JAY — Rob Taylor has always loved science and learning how things work.
The Spruce Mountain Middle and High School teacher has shared this enthusiasm with his students through organizing such projects as building wind turbine blades, aquaculture and hydroponic agriculture and other hands-on experiences.
Earlier this month, he was named one of two teachers of the year by the Pulp and Paper Foundation at the University of Maine's flagship campus in Orono. He was nominated by a former student, Lexi Deering, who is studying engineering at UMaine on a Pulp and Paper Foundation scholarship.
Taylor, 46, leads the school’s Envirothon and Lego League, helps out with Dan Lemieux’s robotics team, is an assistant Boy Scout master for the Wilton group and leads the Boy Scouts of America Explorer Post 897 at Spruce Mountain High School. He also is the Gifted and Talented coordinator for the middle school and teaches high school honors physics.
“It’s wonderful to be recognized by a student,” he said of Deering’s nomination. “And it’s kind of humbling to know that people appreciate the work we do.”
Taylor uses his classroom to make the connection between a scientific theory and words in a book and their real world applications, such as this year’s focus on aquaculture and hydroponic agriculture.
“You can talk about plants but the doing makes it meaningful. Kids are learning about chemical compounds, plant physiology and other science,” he said.
Taylor has devoted his entire teaching career to Jay and Livermore Falls schools.
After graduating from the University of Maine at Farmington in 1989, he taught at the former Livermore Falls Middle School and the former Jay High School before becoming the Gifted and Talented coordinator at the middle school. He has also earned a master’s degree in secondary education from UMaine.
He graduated from Hopkinton (Mass.) High School and moved to Wilton with his parents.
He said the Pulp and Paper Foundation is a significant scholarship donor.
“We have students at SMHS that are aspiring for those scholarships,” he said. “If they work hard and get the grades they need, there’s opportunity there.”
The other teacher honored for the Pulp and Paper award was Kathi King who teaches math at Messalonskee High School.
The Jay campus was similarly honored a few years ago with another recipient of the award. Math teacher Annette Girardin, who teaches at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay, also received the honor.
Deering could not be reached for comment.
Taylor and his wife, Julie, who teaches math at the middle school, are the parents of twins, Erik and Emily, who are juniors at the high school.