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School District Administrator Retires
A teacher and administrator in the Riverbank school district for 22 years, Susan Taylor is retiring this summer from her post as Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services.

The pretentious, long-winded title doesn't really do justice to a woman who is always smiling, gracious, and helpful despite the complexity of her job and press of business, note co-workers.

Taylor got her first job with the district teaching first grade at Rio Altura School in 1989. She had returned to San Jose State College to get her degree after becoming a wife and mother.

"I taught a year in Modesto but bought a house in Riverbank and then got the job teaching first grade. It was right down the street from my home. I could walk to work. One day my dog got out and followed me," Taylor reminisced. "I was looking out the classroom window and saw this dog that looked just like mine. It was mine. The secretary found a rope for a collar to take it home. The kids were excited. They loved it."

Honored in 1996 as Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year, she was assigned later that year to the district office as a teacher on special assignment in the area of curriculum. Then in the fall of 2001 she became a district administrator and in 2002 was named to her current post. This year she has also served as principal at Rio Altura School.

"I love teaching. I've always felt it an honor to be a teacher," she said. "But I also felt when I was asked to take on a new position or responsibility, it was an honor to be considered for a need the district saw. I was willing to work hard and do my best in whatever area I was needed."

Examples she recalled was becoming the Title I teacher at Rio Altura; coordinating an intervention program for students at risk including Peers at Lunch (PAL) program and fulfilling the accountability requirements of the No Child Left Behind legislation.

Taylor has seen many changes within the district during her career.

When she started teaching, Rio Altura held only first through third grades and fourth and fifth grades were at California Avenue School; Rio Altura changed from the traditional to year-round education schedule in the early '90s and then back again in 2010; the dual language immersion program started at Rio; and Riverbank switched from a K-8 to a unified K-12 district in 1998.

"As the mother of students attending Riverbank schools I really welcomed this change," she said of unification.

Other changes she has seen are the growing emphasis on technology, education driven by data and the increasing accountability required by state authorities.

There is also the extension of school hours and services.

"With the addition of social workers, a health clinic, a probation officer and adult literacy classes, we are no longer just serving up an 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. school day. It is 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. or later," Taylor said.

"It has really been a privilege to serve the community in as many effective ways as possible," she added. "Every day it has been a privilege to work with the staff of this district. I have had an awesome assistant and have learned so much from my colleagues."

For her retirement, Taylor said she plans to support her family, especially her sister Carolyn Searway, who is battling cancer. They hope to write some children's books together. She will spend more time with her husband Rod (a high school teacher in Modesto).

"He has been very patient as I worked long hours, recording books for me when I was a teacher and making various things for my classroom."

They have three sons, John, Jason and Matthew who are all teachers, and a daughter Emily who is a probation officer; three daughters-in-law; and, two grandchildren of ages three and 12.

"I hope to travel, read, cook, exercise - I love to walk with my Ipod - help adults learn to read, teach the children's program at my church and be a good community member."