School of Education — History teacher becomes Baker's first CAS graduate to earn doctorate from University
Baldwin City, Kan. — History teacher Andy Taylor will be making Baker University history during commencement ceremonies on Dec. 15 at the Collins Center.
When Taylor walks across the stage for the traditional hooding and acceptance of his Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership degree, Taylor will become Baker's first graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences to earn an Ed.D. Originally from Shawnee, Kan., he received a bachelor's degree from Baker in 2003. The University began offering the doctoral program in 2006.
"My four years as an undergraduate at Baker were the best," said Taylor, a seventh-grade history teacher at Aubry Bend Middle School in Overland Park, Kan. "It's going to feel like going home. When I was completing my doctoral coursework, there wasn't a whole lot of connection to the Baldwin City campus. Graduating with a doctoral degree from Baker will mean more because it is from my undergraduate institution."
Before joining Aubry Bend the year it opened in 2011, Taylor taught five years at Blue Valley Middle School and three years at Countryside Elementary School in Olathe.
"My goal as an undergraduate was for someone to hire me for a teaching job," he recalled. "During my first couple of years of teaching I realized leadership appealed to me and I knew I wanted to be in education for a lifetime. Different leadership styles pique my interest."
While an undergraduate on the Baldwin City campus, Taylor served as senior class president and was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and Student Activities Council. As a freshman, he was unsure of a career path and considered majoring in history until an intro to education class taught by Peggy Harris influenced him.
"I felt good about what I was doing with the education classes because it was something that was important to me," he recalled. "Educating students the right way is extremely valuable."
Taylor visited the campus in the late 1990s and was struck by the kindness of the faculty and staff he encountered.
"I had the feeling that I was known and mattered," he said. "The people were very approachable and I felt the most comfortable."
Taylor experienced the same atmosphere after starting the doctoral program in 2008. In November he defended his dissertation, which explored the academic achievements of students who play multiple sports in middle school. Dennis King, assistant professor of education, mentored Taylor throughout his coursework and research.
"I would not have finished the dissertation paper without Dennis," Taylor said. "He held me to a high standard, pushed me and got the best out of me. Decisions in education are based on research. It was a rewarding experience because it was challenging."