From to middle school halls, Taylor does it all


Mr. Taylor sits at his desk completing work on Feb. 14. After being away from WCHS for over a month, Mr. Taylor has returned to his normal routine.

By Caroline Harless, Observations Editor

As students pass through school, going from class to class every day, it is not uncommon to see a familiar face in the hallways: Principal John Taylor. From catching up with students to meeting with staff, Mr. Taylor does way more than sit at a desk all day. However, towards the end of second semester, that well-known face was missing. Now that Mr. Taylor has returned, many have wondered: Where has he been?

“The internship program for Mr. Bilock was from the beginning of December to the end of January,” Taylor said. “While he was in charge of WCHS as the visiting principal, I was the visiting principal at Parkland Magnet Middle School for Aerospace Technology (PMMS). During that time, I was the seventh-grade administrator at Parkland, which was very exciting for me.”

Mr. Bilock, as many may already know, is the principal intern at WCHS. With the internship program, Mr. Bilock took over as the principal of WCHS in late 2022, and Mr. Taylor went to PMMS. Being a magnet school, PMMS had some significant differences from WCHS.

“The biggest difference between Parkland and WCHS is that Parkland is a magnet middle school,” Taylor said. “Because Parkland is in the Downcounty Consortium, it’s different from WCHS as kids apply to be in the magnet program. It’s a very different feel because we’re a neighborhood school—everyone goes to WCHS because they live in this neighborhood—whereas Parkland has students from all over. Another difference was in the schedules. As Parkland is a science-aerospace school, students have eight periods with two science classes, compared to WCHS, where students have seven periods with all subjects. The structure at Parkland is very different from WCHS.”

Although a considerable change from working in a high school, Mr. Taylor was not ill-prepared for his temporary seventh-grade administrator position at PMMS. From working in middle schools across MCPS for several years, Mr. Taylor knew what to expect.

“I have worked in middle schools for many years, so being at Parkland wasn’t that big of an adjustment,” Taylor said. “Over the years, I was a teacher and administrator at Cabin John, Neelsville, Roberto Clemente and other MCPS schools. Middle school is a unique time in everyone’s life when they’re figuring out how to be an adult and managing classes with different teachers. Hence, it was interesting going back to a middle school and working with seventh graders.”

Despite apparent differences between WCHS and PMMS, Mr. Taylor noted many similarities. Students at WCHS are very school orientated, priding themselves on good grades and achievements. These studious habits were something Mr. Taylor saw in PMMS students as well.

“Parkland is similar to WCHS in that there are a lot of students who are super motivated to do well in school,” Taylor said. “Being an aerospace magnet school, many kids are really into math and science and interested in engineering programs. I remember talking with students about their goals and interests and thinking they would fit right in at WCHS.”

While Mr. Taylor was at PMMS, he also learned new techniques and policies that can be applied to WCHS. Aside from just taking on a new role, Mr. Taylor had to adapt to how PMMS operated compared to WCHS. Even with lots of experience, Mr. Taylor still found himself learning new approaches—which he now wants to implement at WCHS—that he had not thought of before.

“One of the things that struck me was the highly systematic approach they have to collect student voices,” Taylor said. “Parkland has a large focus on getting students to give them feedback on specific things they are doing as a school, then analyzing it as a whole staff. The system stuck out to me because here at WCHS, we have many surveys, but not a systematic approach where we implement policies and then check in with students and staff. We’re not as good at that, and I think that’s an area we can improve upon, so I might borrow some ideas from Parkland.”

Like any principal leaving their school in the hands of others, Mr. Taylor worried about how WCHS would do without him. Despite his concerns, he knew that Mr. Bilock and the administration would do a great job running WCHS in his absence.

“When I left, I was confident in the team and the staff we have here, but to be honest, I was also apprehensive,” Taylor said. “We did check-ins where we talked about what was going on, which allowed me to stay connected to WCHS. I bent the rules a bit and went to as many away games as possible to see some kids and ask parents how things were going. But Mr. Bilock did a great job handling the school, and everyone continued to do what they’ve been doing.”

Returning at the end of January, Mr. Taylor has now been back at WCHS for over a month. Upon his return, he was happy to see familiar faces and return to his normal routine. As much as he enjoyed the experience, Mr. Taylor feels that WCHS is definitely where he belongs.

“Being at Parkland was a great experience, but I’m thrilled to be back,” Taylor said. “Even just walking in the hallways and seeing students again was great. People were telling me how their winter break was because I didn’t get a chance to talk to them about it. Seeing the staff and talking with parents at different events was awesome. Being around my kids and my staff in our community again feels amazing. WCHS is a very special place to me.”