An accomplished educator with deep roots in Jackson County has joined the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) faculty.
Dr. Mandy Taylor has been named Senior Content Specialist. Taylor joins the NCCAT faculty, which served all school districts in North Carolina last year. NCCAT provides teachers with new knowledge, skills, teaching methods, best practices, and information to take back to the classroom.
“NCCAT offers a unique professional learning opportunity for educators across North Carolina,” Taylor said. “NCCAT provides experiences for teachers to elevate their work while valuing their contributions and nourishing them as individuals. Even as NCCAT has evolved to keep current with the needs of educators, they have held fast to the foundational practices and beliefs that have always held educators in high regard.”
Taylor is a product of North Carolina Public Schools. She attended public schools in Jackson County before attending UNC-Chapel Hill for her undergraduate degree (Middle Grades: ELA/Social Studies), Appalachian State University for her master’s degree (Curriculum & Instruction), and UNC-Greensboro for her Doctorate in Teacher Education and Development.
She began her teaching career in Kings Mountain City Schools as a 6th grade Language Arts and Science teacher. Taylor then moved to Ashe County Schools and served as Academically/Intellectually Gifted (AIG) Specialist for K-6. After almost 15 years, Dr. Taylor joined the NC Department of Public Instruction as a Professional Development Coordinator. In 2018, she joined Yadkin County Schools as the Middle Grades Instructional Coach and was the MTSS District Coordinator for two years.
“Dr. Taylor brings a wealth of experience and depth of knowledge to us at NCCAT,” NCCAT Executive Director Dr. M. Brock Womble said. “We are thrilled to have her joining us to help advance our professional development programming.”
Taylor will be working out of the NCCAT Cullowhee campus. She is no stranger to the area, having been born in Jackson County. Her father, Dr. Jay Oliver, practiced medicine in Sylva for over 40 years, and her mother, Brenda Oliver-Holt,
was the first woman elected mayor of Sylva and held that position for more than four terms.
Taylor’s step-father, Paul Holt, practiced law in Jackson County just days shy of 6 decades.
Mr. Holt helped shape education in Jackson County. He was part of establishing Southwestern Community College, serving on the Board of Trustees from its inception. He also served many years as the School Board Attorney for Jackson County Public Schools.
“I attended Fairview Elementary School where I fell in love with learning, thanks to the dedicated teachers who encouraged me,” Dr. Taylor said. “I attended Smoky Mountain High School for three years. I was dual-enrolled with Smoky Mountain and Western Carolina University for my senior year. At that point, dual enrollment allowed me to attend classes exclusively on WCU’s campus. One irony from that experience was I never had an actual high school diploma. Thanks to Mr. Holt, the day I received my PhD was also the day I received my high school diploma.”
Sue Nations, a former superintendent of Jackson County Schools and past director of programming at NCCAT, is excited to see Taylor join NCCAT.
“I was absolutely delighted when I learned that Mandy would be joining the faculty of NCCAT,” Nations said. “Of course, I’m proud that this remarkable young woman is a product of Jackson County Schools, one who has demonstrated her ability, determination and commitment to education. She recognizes the vital role of a teacher, not only in imparting knowledge, building skills, competency and confidence, but also the necessity of the “human touch” in learning. In her position at NCCAT, she will provide relevant, germane professional development for teachers from all across North Carolina. Henry David Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.” I’m so glad that Mandy’s dreams lead her to a career in education and have brought her to NCCAT, a place where world class professional development makes a positive impact for both our teachers and our students.”
Taylor looks forward to being part of the NCCAT professional learning environment and promoting it in the sessions she facilitates.
“I hope to continue those practices and build on them by working with educators to deepen content and pedagogical knowledge,” Taylor said. “Through NCCAT I
hope to express my deep commitment to education and educators in North Carolina.”