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My PCSD Story: The Taylor Family from Valley Forge High School

Valley Forge alumni and PCSD staff members, the Taylor family

 

February 11, 2019

 

 

Name: Jon Taylor

 


Graduation Year: 1982

 


Current career/position:

 


Art Teacher & Department Chair Valley Forge

 


How did your experiences at Parma City School District help you to achieve success in your career today? 

 


The district and curriculum definitely prepared me academically and artistically for college. Going to an art school, you would think I’d be surrounded by students from more affluent districts. But, my fellow Parma grads and I made up 10% of the college population, and we excelled. We had the foundation knowledge and knew how to work.

 


What is your favorite school memory growing up?

 


School field trips! Getting to see different places. From the zoo, Hale Farm, the Ohio Historical Center and Greenfield Village in elementary school, Washington DC in junior high, Boston, Williamsburg and New York in high school. To actually see places we’d only read or heard about, it was an adventure. To this day, every summer, we try to go somewhere we’ve never been before. For a lot of my classmates, that was their first opportunity to travel outside Cuyahoga County.

 


Who was your favorite teacher and how did they inspire you? 

 


So many teachers had so many influences, but, for where I am now, two stand out. Tom Dunford in tenth grade AP English—he really pushed us to think. His class was a taste of what college academia would be like. He had a Culture Bulletin Board in the classroom, and we were supposed to post tickets or programs of concerts and events we attended. He showed us there was a whole world beyond Parma Heights.

 


The second was Rand Laycock, assistant director in marching band and orchestra director. Besides teaching, Rand played in bands and orchestras all over town. Go see a musical at the playhouse, there he was in the pit orchestra.  Go see a big name concert at the front row and there he was in the band. He probably made more performing than he did teaching. He definitely destroyed the phrase, “Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach.” He wasn’t a teacher who thought music would be fun, he was a musician who decided to share his passion for music by teaching.

 


Looking back to your school years, what is one thing you learned that has stayed with you throughout the years? 

 


Academics, sports, music, clubs - they all taught me that what you get out of them is directly proportioned to the effort you put into them.

 


What does PCSD mean to you? 

 


PCSD is home. We were, and still are, all in it together - students, parents and teachers. We might have had different viewpoints, but we went through the same events and experiences. People cared about each other. When I came back to teach, teachers I had as a student were excited to see me, and accepted me as a colleague and friend. Teaching sons and daughters of people I went to school with, it’s like they are my nieces and nephews. 

 


What is one thing you want people to know about you?  

 


I don’t really want people to know but the answer to the question I always get is… I’m the older brother.

 


Why are you Parma Proud? 

 


Teachers and staff showed me the opportunities available despite the world and I’m proud  to be back doing the same for others.

 


 

Name:  Julie Sisunik (Taylor)

 


Graduation Year: 1990

 


Current career/position:

 


Secretary to the Assistant Principal at Valley Forge

 


How did your experiences at Parma City School District help you to achieve success in your career today?

 


One time, I attempted to call myself off sick from school.  It didn’t work.  The attendance clerk quietly said “Julie, get your butt to school and I won’t tell your mother about this.”  Needless to say, I came to school, on time and never tried that again. I guess you can say it has helped me be successful when I have to encourage a student, or two, and tell them that it was a nice try. 

 


What is your favorite school memory growing up?

 


There were so many. I enjoyed my time playing volleyball at Forge. I enjoyed being in the band. Freshman wake up, as a freshman and as a senior.  Making those memories.

 


Who was your favorite teacher and how did they inspire you?

 


Mr. Gary Maurer. He was my Biology I & Biology II Teacher.  I loved his passion for the Sciences. His teaching methods  encourage your excitement. When I was at Tri-C and was supposed to follow a teacher for a week, when you sit back and watch the class, he had me teaching. As a Taylor, he just knew I could handle it.

 


Looking back to your school years, what is one thing you learned that has stayed with you throughout the years?

 


There will always be someone in your life who will remain in your life.  You may not talk to them everyday, but when you do it’s like no time has been lost.  Those are the friendships to cherish.

 


What does PCSD mean to you?

 


The PCSD is a special place. The people you meet become family, if they are not already.  Every year I come to school and am reunited with a former classmate who has a child at Valley Forge. It’s a place to call home.

 


What is one thing you want people to know about you?

 


I LOVE my job.  It’s crazy, hectic and chaotic, but I wouldn’t haven’t any other way.  I love the opportunity to watch the kids grow up and be successful.

 


Why are you Parma Proud?

 


When times are tough people come together. When times are successful the same people come together.  

 


 

 

Name: Jeannine Taylor (Holz)

 


Graduation Year: 1986

 


Current Position:

 


Paraprofessional/Special Education Assistant at Valley Forge

 


What is your favorite school memory growing up?

 


Hanging out with friends at sporting events.

 


What is your favorite teacher and how did they inspire you?

 


Mr. Beyer for Math and Mrs. Tibbitts for English. I loved them because they took their time and really cared to teach us.

 


Looking back to your school years, what is one thing you learned that has stayed with you throughout the years?

 


Hard work pays off

 


What does the PCSD mean to you?

 


Pride, respect, family and friends

 

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

 


Joe and I did not date in high school, but we were friends. I actually knew Jon first because we worked together.

 


Why are you Parma Proud?

 


I’m Parma Proud because not only did I graduate from Valley Forge, but I also had the privilege to watch both of my sons play sports, be in the band and graduate from Valley Forge. Anthony has already graduated from Cleveland State University and Mitch is one semester away from graduating from Bowling Green State University.

 


 

 

Name:  Joe Taylor

 


Graduation Year: 1986

 


Current Position:

 


Math teacher Valley Forge High School since 1992, all 27 years at VF. I was the first to return home to Valley Forge.

 


How did your experiences at Parma City School District help you to achieve success in your career today?

 


Our mother insisted that I take honors classes, and I played football, track and I was on the basketball team my senior year. I learned to work hard in the classroom and on the field and court. My parents were not college educated, but they worked very hard, never stayed home, and they grinded through all the ups and downs that life threw at them. So I learned hard work, but I also learned that relationships are important. How you treat people matters. Everyone has a role at Valley Forge, from the students, to the cleaners to the principals.

 


What is your favorite school memory growing up?

 


My favorite school memory was game nights, either football games at Byers Field or basketball games in the gym. In addition to playing sports, I also played the saxophone as well. So, concerts were like our game nights. It was just great to see all our hard work come together, and so many people would come out to support us. Our parents were always there.

 


What is your favorite teacher and how did they inspire you?

 


I can not list a favorite teacher because I was molded by so many great people. I worked with all of them as a young teacher as well. I will mention a few of them:  football coach Bill McCleve, basketball coach John Stavole, math teachers Ms. Donna Zoloty, Mr. Art Byer and Mr. Paul Bodner, Two of my mentors include Mr. Bob Vicek and Mr. Gary Mauer. That is just a few of the great people I got to know as a student and a teacher.

 


What does the PCSD mean to you?

 


PCSD is a group of hardworking dedicated educators and support staff, that services a truly diverse group of students.

 


What is one thing you want people to know about you?

 


I want people to know I am younger than my brother Jon, no matter what he tells you. Really, I want people to know that my wife Jeannine and my sons Anthony and Mitchell are the best people that I know, and they make me a better man.

 


I have to be honest. I am Parma Proud, I am a little more Parma Heights Proud. I grew up in Parma Heights, I live in Parma Heights, I went to Valley Forge and I have worked my entire career at VF. I root for Parma and Normandy except when they are playing the Patriots.

 

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  The roots run deep at Valley Forge High School for the Taylor family, all PCSD staff members and proud graduates of the school. (L-R): Jon Taylor ’82, Julie Sisunik ’90, Jeannine Taylor ’86 and Joe Taylor ’86.