Our sponsor, Park Day School, is a progressive K through 8th grade co-ed school located in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland. We're excited to introduce their new Head of School, Angela Taylor.
Ask Me Anything with Angela Taylor of Park Day School
What brought you to Park Day School and what do you love about progressive education?
From the moment I stepped foot on Park Day's idyllic campus, I felt like I was coming home — coming home to Oakland and coming home to my progressive roots. I started my educational career as a teacher at The Children's School, a proudly progressive school in midtown Atlanta.
I love and am committed to progressive education because students are allowed to learn by doing. We focus on intrinsic motivation and building a love of learning. And, I am proud that social justice undergirds all that we do so students graduate and go out into the world as engaged and compassionate activists.
Why did you decide to become an educator and school leader, and what do you love most about this job?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t think about or love teaching. I was that kid who gathered all of my stuffed animals and dolls and played school from the moment I could talk. I cajoled my younger cousins into make-believe classrooms. Being with children, listening to them, helping them find their path– that’s the reason I formally decided to become a teacher. I love their energy, authenticity, and curiosity at every developmental stage. When I shifted from teaching to becoming a school leader, it’s because I wanted to have a larger impact on students by supporting and leading teachers. What I love the most about my job is that I get to connect with children each and every day. The decisions I make may ultimately touch their futures, hopefully in a positive and meaningful way.
How are you thinking about K-8 education in this pandemic year?
The pandemic is difficult in that the magic of elementary education happens in the sanctity of that classroom space and is based on each child being seen and known as an individual and as part of the class community. The transition to virtual classrooms has meant that teachers are having to be even more intentional about the social/emotional well being of their students and having to be explicit about getting to know each of them. More than ever, I believe we have to teach to the whole child– body, mind, and spirit.
How do you encourage children to be changemakers and guide them to a deeper understanding of social justice, especially during this time?
This pandemic has laid bare racial, educational, and socio-economic disparities for the world to see. We, at Park Day School, have doubled-down on our mission to prepare students to be informed, courageous, and compassionate people who shape a more equitable and sustainable world. The heart of progressive education is that students learn by doing. Teachers have been focusing on the election with some classes actively engaging in the get out the vote efforts all across the country, students created an art installation on campus in honor of this year’s Global Climate Strike, and our middle schoolers are partnering with an Oakland organization to help take critical services to those without homes in our local community.
What inspires you in education right now?
Teachers are inspiring me right now. They have had their entire professional lives turned upside down through the pandemic and now have to teach via Zoom. I am inspired by their grit, resilience, creativity, passion, and compassion. They are my heroes!
See Park Day For Yourself
While Park Day is opening for in-person learning in the lower grades on November 2, in an effort to fight the Covid-19 outbreak and protect families and staff, the Park Day admissions process is currently online. There are lots of ways to visit us virtually:
Park Day School is located at: 360 42nd Street, Oakland
If you want to hear Angela Taylor in her own words — including answering questions directly from the Park Day students, check out this Park Day School podcast, If you Knew me Mondays with Angela Taylor >
Thank you to our sponsor, Park Day School in Oakland.
[Photos provided by Park Day School and used with permission]