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Faculty in focus: Professor Anthony Taylor

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Oles involved in St. Olaf basketball are already familiar with Anthony Taylor. Many students recognize him as the assistant men’s basketball coach, but what they might not recognize him as is a new member of the department of education.

Before setting foot on the Hill, Taylor earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Gustavus Adolphus College and the University of St. Thomas respectively. He then spent nine years teaching social studies in various public high schools throughout Minnesota, most of them within the Minneapolis area. A specialist in counseling, Taylor conducted multiple research projects during his time here on inclusiveness throughout the school’s environment. In his research he addressed the causes of various forms of discrimination and exclusivity in schools.

“The main idea is for students, teachers, and administrators to acknowledge the existence of various ‘isms’ such as sexism, classism, racism and ageism in schools and to create a general awareness that can lead to its removal,” he said.

Even though Taylor only started teaching at St. Olaf this September, he has been familiar with the Hill for a while. Currently in his fifth season as the assistant coach for the St. Olaf men’s basketball team, Taylor helped lead St. Olaf to its first NCAA Division III tournament and MIAC Playoff title in 2014, as well as its second in 2015. Throughout his time spent coaching, Oles have boasted the most All-MIAC picks in any three-year stretch.

Taylor endeavors to bring new meaning and purpose to future teachers, starting with his course about counseling and communication in schools. In his opinion, teachers nowadays have to be more dynamic when handling a classroom, which are increasing in size. But more than that, they also have to care about the well-being of each and every student in their class and make the necessary efforts to understand them on a personal level, while still creating clear and professional boundaries between students and teachers.

“I’m not teaching future teachers to be counselors, I’m teaching them to be helpers. I’m also giving them the necessary skills to do better in helping and guiding students,” Taylor said.

Taylor believes that education students have to be flexible as well, particularly in their efforts to find the right place for them to contribute to the education world after graduating.

“When you are in education, there are so many types of schools around you. Finding your fit is the key to be able to contribute more. If you go to one school and it seems to be not worthy of your effort, then keep looking. It all matters in finding your correct fit,” he said.

In addition to coaching and teaching, Taylor is planning to conduct research about methods of teaching in this country.

“It is an issue now, where we crammed so many people in a single class, and we simply expect them all to pass with flying colors. We should be focusing more on the development of individuals to become a whole person from a younger age,” he said.

Having spent almost five years on the Hill, Taylor’s new position in the education department enables him to have a new outlook on the St. Olaf community beyond the basketball courts.

“The way this college focuses on the well-being and continued growth of the students, it makes me proud to be a part of this community,” Taylor said. “The students themselves have a high sense of maturity too. They really work so hard, and they do want to become better persons and be better at what they do.”

We’ve seen your work on the court, Professor Taylor, and we’re looking forward to seeing it in the classroom. Um Ya Ya!