One of the newest additions to the Fine Arts Department is Mr. Taylor, an accomplished musician and very cool guy. This is the man behind the Tesla: Jack Taylor exposed.
As I walk into the room, I’m greeted by Jack Taylor and the mass of instruments strung around his office. Saxophones hung on the wall, guitars leaning against the far corner, and even a flute held up by a stand adds to the room décor. Mr. Taylor has worked at Central High School as Assistant Band Director for two years, and is well known throughout the school as the teacher with an ineffably cool Tesla. When I asked him for an interview he happily agreed.
Mr. Taylor, son of Anne and Carter Taylor, grew up in Rapid City. He went to elementary school at Wilson; middle school at Dakota; and high school at Central. After graduation he attended Augustana University in Sioux Falls and gained his music education degree. “I’m really proud of my music education degree and all of the work I had to do in college,” he told me. “I wasn’t necessarily a practicer in high school, and I didn’t learn practice skills until I got to college. I think all of the work I put in during college really paid off and made me who I am.”
Mr. Taylor acquired his interest in music early on and credits a certain music teacher as his main influencer. “Where I really got my itch for music was from my guitar instructor, Dave Kramer,” he said. “He did a really nice job of pacing our learning around the songs we were interested in.” Although Mr. Taylor’s life had always seemed to be intertwined with music, he never considered becoming a band instructor until later in his high school career. “I never thought about becoming a band teacher until my senior year when I was the drum major,” He told me. “I started to see the ‘behind the scenes’ of what Mr. Rath and Mr. Belsaas were doing and I thought: I think I could do this for the rest of my life.” When Mr. Rath (Central’s former Band Director) decided to retire, his retirement year lined up with Mr. Taylor’s college graduation year. Mr. Taylor jumped at the opportunity of being Central’s new Assistant Band Director.
Mr. Taylor has been met with much success teaching here at Central, and although the ongoing pandemic presents it’s challenges it shows no signs of slowing down the major progress our Fine Arts department continues to make. “The most delightful surprise for me [while working at Central] has been the comradery in the Fine Arts department: how well we get along and how well we collaborate,” Mr. Taylor explained to me. “We’re super fortunate to be able to work together and collaborate as well as we do.” The pandemic has changed the way Mr. Taylor teaches classes and has increased his workload. Mr. Taylor now instructs all of the band classes alongside Mr. Belsaas, the head band director. Taylor also directs two jazz band classes.
Mr. Taylor brings a contagious, positive attitude and friendly personality to the Fine Arts department and motivates students to do the same. “My goal with teaching music is always to teach life skills through music,” says Taylor. “I think a lot of the aspects of being a musician translate into being a good human being”.