JMCSS mourns the loss of a beloved educator
JACKSON, Tenn. – He was the teacher who made math fun for fourth graders and made even the toughest day more bearable for his fellow educators. Derrick Taylor was a special man whose absence is undeniable at Rose Hill School.
Taylor, an avid outdoorsman, was killed in a single ATV accident over the weekend near his family’s home in McNairy County. Taylor was married to his college sweetheart, Sonya, whom he met at Freed-Hardeman University. They share two children Zane, a student at FHU, and Ella, 14.
“Mr. Taylor left a legacy at Rose Hill with his gift for teaching, passion for making learning fun and his steadfast love for his students,” said Dr. Teresa McSweeney, principal of Rose Hill School. “The shock we felt in hearing about his accident has quickly shifted to the great sense of loss we all feel.” Known for his unique and memorable approach to teaching, Taylor often brought his guitar to class and even dressed up as a big foot in a spoof YouTube video with students. In fact, Taylor was known for chronicling his life, including his classroom time, in videos posted to YouTube.
“Mr. Taylor was an awesome man, friend and teacher,” said Kim Huckabee, Educator Assistant and Rose Hill parent. “He loved life and had many special talents that he loved sharing, especially music.” Huckabee went on to say he had previously given her two sons guitar lessons after school. Taylor’s musical and teaching talents made local headlines following the September 11th attack when a performance of he and his class singing “We Stand Strong” made its rounds on local radio.
Though he often took a fun approach to learning, Taylor was also known to be tough. “Students, even parents, often complained about the amount of homework Mr. Taylor gave,” recalled fellow teacher Carol Ann Alphin. “But he was committed to holding his students to a high standard and that never wavered.”
Taylor joined JMCSS in 1999 as an interim teacher at Beech Bluff Elementary School and was hired full time the following year. He taught at Beech Bluff until he was transferred to Rose Hill during Vision 2020.
Counselors from across the district were on campus at Rose Hill, Monday, and will be available to students and staff for as long as they are needed.