Park City High School band teacher recognized as Educator of the Year
Chris Taylor has taught and inspired music students in the Park City School district for 18 years.
After teaching in the junior high level for five years, he was the director of bands at Park City High School where he developed an award-winning music program that is known throughout the state.
Not only does Taylor teach music, but he also helps his senior students with scholarship applications.
These are the reasons why Taylor was given the Ray Smith Educator of the Year Award during the Caleb Chapman Music Awards Gala last Tuesday at Academy Square ballroom in Provo.
The award, named after Dr. Ray Smith, a highly regarded saxophonist and internationally renowned music professor who teaches at Brigham Young University, is given to public-school music teachers for the work they have done with their students and in the community, said Caleb Chapman, founder and director of Caleb Chapman Music.
"This is the third year we have given the award," Chapman said. "The first two recipients were John Miller from American Fork High School and Dr. David Fulmer from Timpview High School in Provo. Both of those guys have been teaching for several decades, so Mr. Taylor is by far the youngest recipient of the award, and that’s a testament of what he’s done in such a short time in Park City."
Taylor, who started teaching in the Park City School District 18 years ago, said he was "shocked and humbled."
"Those are the two best words to describe what I feel," Taylor said during an interview with The Park Record. "It’s nice to be recognized for the things I’ve been doing and it’s a nice affirmation that tells me that maybe I’m doing things the right way. There are times when I still don’t know what I’m doing, but I get a little better every year."
Taylor got his bachelors and masters degrees in music from the University of Wyoming and found his way to Utah by a fluke.
"Right out of college, I did 12 different interviews and didn’t get hired anywhere," Taylor said. "Then the band director at Park City High School, who at the time was Bill Huhnke, was a friend of a music-store owner in Casper. He called and said if you know of anyone looking for a gig, send him my way."
The storeowner contacted Taylor and after a whirlwind interview process, gave him the job.
"I interviewed on a Wednesday, accepted the job on Thursday and moved to Park City on Saturday and started the job on Monday," Taylor said with a laugh. "I had no idea about Park City, and my whole plan was to stay for only a year. All of a sudden, 18 years later, I’m still here."
When he began teaching at PCHS, Taylor felt a huge weight of responsibility.
"Bill had already set up an amazing program, and I was scared to death," Taylor said. "I looked at him as a mentor and he taught me a lot, so my goal at the time was to maintain the standard. Over the years, we have increased the standard and have given the kids more offerings."
While Taylor’s students consider him their teacher, he feels the lessons go both ways.
"To be truthful, I have learned a lot from the kids," he said. "I have learned what makes them want to practice. I’ve learned what things inspire them and try to find new ways to teach."
One of Taylor’s secrets of maintaining the high standard of music training is his staff.
"There’s that saying, ‘If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people,’ and with our band staff Bret Hughes and Derek Spitzer I can’t go wrong," Taylor said. "But it goes beyond them and into the community. There is so much support we get from the culture here. As much as I would like to take credit for this award, it really belongs to the community, and it’s a huge thing to know Ray recognizes what we’re doing here."
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