I have been writing this weekly blog on Education and inspiration since March of 2014. Occasionally, I write about a person I admire, and one whom I believe to be inspiring to others. Such is the case of today's subject, my friend Tom Taylor.
Tom Taylor had a great career as an elementary teacher in the North Hills School District. His positive "can do" attitude, sunny disposition, and infinite patience, along with his love of teaching and of bringing out the best in students, won him acclaim and awards throughout his career. Every teacher carries the burden of teaching - the endless hours of planning, correcting, parent phone calls, and the clerical work of the job are all-consuming. Yet, for 47 years, during his entire career and beyond, Tom served as the Director of Music Worship and Music Ministries at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Allison Park, PA. Not only did Tom direct the Wesleyan choir, but he also added programs of handbells for children and adults, children's music, and live musicians to the worship services. Tom initiated programs of musicals and theater, using the church talent, bringing together the entire congregation to work on projects larger than themselves, thus creating a true community within the church. Tom found a way to include everyon - children and adults - and he guided many people to discover their abilities and new-found self-confidence, unknown to them until Tom helped them to grow within themselves. Tom is a true teacher in every aspect of his life. Additionally, Tom worked with many ministers through the years to connect the sermon text with the songs of praise, embellishing and strengthening the message from the pulpit. Together, the clergy and the music communicated thousands of important lessons through the years.
Tom inspired many people to study music and to become musicians, He inspired others to become teachers. If a scale of positive influencers existed in our world, you would see Tom Taylor's name in the "TOP 10 POSITIVE INFLUENCERS OF ALL TIME." I must point out that Tom did not work for his own glory, but rather to honor the Lord, whom he praises freely and openly.
Tom Taylor announced his retirement from his position as Minister of Music at St. Paul's a few months ago. This past weekend, St. Paul's honored Tom with a gala party, a roast, and special music and a presentation during the Sunday service. It was a beautiful weekend and experience, and I am so glad I had the chance to be a small part of it. (I have only known Tom since January, when I first attended St. Paul's in my years' long search for a new church. In fact, I joined the choir before I joined the church! The way Tom made me feel welcome and important to the choir was one of the reasons I chose to join St. Paul's, especially since I had been a Presbyterian my entire life.) Folks came from as far away as Hawaii, Arizona, and Florida to honor Tom, and Walter Greenwood, former church organist at St. Paul's for 30 years, was the guest organist on Sunday, and he even composed and played a special postlude to honor Tom, called Grand March for a Humble Gentleman.
Although I have known Tom Taylor for only 5 short months, I the impact he has had on others is apparent everywhere I turn in the church. His goodness and light shines through in everything he does, and so does his kindness. To honor Tom, the choir commissioned a special musical composition, by Daniel Blosser, which we learned and sang on Sunday, a great surprise for Tom. The text of the song speaks so eloquently the words I am grasping for to honor Tom, as Tom truly is a blessing of light to all who know him. The song is based on this poem:
BLESSING OF LIGHT
May the blessing of light be on you – light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight warm your heart like a fire,
So that stranger and friend may warm themselves in its glow,
Bidding wanderer shelter from the storm.
May the blessing of rain be on you, cleaning your Spirit and washing it clean.
May the blessing of great rains fall upon your soul,
So that flowers may spring up and shed sweetness into the air,
And leave many shining pools, and sometimes a star.
May the blessing of earth be on you, a kindly greeting for all whom you pass.
May the earth be soft beneath you when you rest at the end of the day;
May it lightly rest upon you, that your soul shall always be free.
It is a pleasure to honor those who impact our lives in such a positive way. Blessings to Tom and his family as he transitions into retirement, with special thanks from so many who honor and love him. The weekend's accoladesa re so well-deserved! Tom leaves a legacy of love - love for the church, love for music, and the love of friends and family. His 47 years of work will live on in others.
"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." Henry Adams
I am adding a link to the service so you can see some of the highlights of the service, along with the numbers for where you can find them on the video.
Children at 32:30 (very funny and poignant); spoken poem at 1:27:39; world premiere of commissioned song at 1:29:51; Walter's original postlude at 1:35:51.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Rittman Publishing, LLC ®
Visit Dede's web page for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
Connect with Dede!