Exeter High School principal to resign after 15 years
Taylor longest-running principal for the district
Robert Taylor, principal for Exeter High School, announced that he will be retiring from his position, and education after 15 years as principal.
A Macks Creek native, Taylor said he believes his decade-and-a-half may be the longest run any principal has ever had at the district, and one he feels has been a good one.
After serving 25 years in state education, he is eligible to take retirement.
“That’s the good thing about being a teacher in the public school system — the retirement is really good,” he said.
Taylor attended school at Missouri State in Springfield, before taking his first teaching position at Wablo.
“I taught middle school science and coached,” he said. “The next year, I went to Seymour. I was there a year, then went to Marshfield, where I taught high school science and coached basketball for several years. During that time, I was working on my master’s, and started looking for administrative jobs.”
A friend from Wheaton and fellow coach told him a position was available in Exeter for principal.
“I asked him what he thought about it, and he said Exeter was a pretty good school,” Taylor said. “So I gave it a shot, got the job and moved down here.”
One thing he has always liked about Exeter is that it is similar to his hometown.
“It kind of reminds me where I’m from,” he said. “It’s a small town so it’s familiar to me. Before, I’d been working at a bigger school. I liked the small schools a little better.”
Taylor said he is retiring to devote more time to his family, and while not sure of his future plans yet, will cross that bridge when he comes to it.
“I’m going to finish out this school year, then decide where we’re going to go,” he said. “I don’t know what the future holds exactly.”
In his time at Exeter, Taylor viewed his accomplishments in light of the team he works with each day.
“I don’t know that I’ve accomplished anything by myself; it’s been everybody working together,” he said.
He was particularly proud of getting the A+ designation.
“Having the governor coming down to present that to us was pretty neat, and we were in the ‘Most Improved School’ list one year,” Taylor said. “There have also been different programs that we’ve started, like speech and debate, and academic teams. But that wasn’t me. It was the teachers. I hope that I’ve been a part of some of those things, but I think it takes everybody working toward it. I just try to give people the means to do things.”
During his time in education, like any field, there were always challenges to contend with.
“I think the biggest challenge is striking a balance between treating people right, and being strict on certain things,” he said.
Another challenge in education is keeping up with what can be stringent state requirements.
“The state has a lot of demands as far as testing goes,” Taylor said. “We’re kind of at a disadvantage when it comes to that, so that’s a challenge because our numbers are so low. Our senior class has 17 students this year, so I can’t have anybody miss the test. In a large school with a 100 kids, if three or four miss the test, that’s fine, but I can’t have any miss. We don’t have the numbers to offset that.
“So, if just two or three kids miss in a small class of 20, it makes a big difference and skews your percentages quite a bit. Or, if you have two or three kids that move in, or move out, that can make a difference in your test scores, too. There’s a lot of emphasis on improvement.”
When he does retire at the end of the school year, more than anything, Taylor said he will miss the people he works with.
“There’s a lot of good people here, and I’ve made a lot of friends and been a part of this community for a long time,” he said. “I’d like to thank this community and everyone here for the 15 years that I have been here. If you look back, I’m pretty sure that I’m the longest-tenured principal at Exeter, ever. But I’ve had a lot of good support from the community and the school board and I appreciate that.”
Ernest Raney, Exeter superintendent, said Taylor has provided good leadership.
“Mr. Taylor is a man of integrity and character,” Raney said. “With every challenge, he remains steadfast in his approach to keep the focus on what’s best for students. Everyone has enjoyed working with him over the last 15 years, and we will miss the leadership he has provided for the district.”