Taylor Stacey '03 Returns to Teach at The Willows

Taylor Stacey, class of 2003, is currently teaching in the 4th-grade. Before joining The Willows, Taylor honed her teaching skills working for City Year, an educational not-for-profit organization. Outside The Willows, Taylor is an avid reader and writer, with a particular interest in young-adult fiction. 

What do you remember about the school’s early days? The old multi-purpose room! The campus was so much smaller then, and I remember doing just about everything in the multi-purpose room, from culminations to Liza’s plays. 

How has the school changed? Obviously the school has grown a lot. So much of the vision and mission is the same, which is wonderful, but I feel like the way those things are carried out has been a little more cemented. I feel like the school has come into itself and really established itself as an amazing place to learn. 

What are your fondest Willows memories?  I have so many highlights from The Willows: playing the Gold Rush Game, learning the 50 States Song, all the amazing overnight trips. The best is that I get to recollect it all with my brother and sister all the time.

What schools did you go to after The Willows? After The Willows, I went to Archer for high school and Bryn Mawr College for undergrad. I’m currently finishing up my Masters and two teaching credentials at Pepperdine. Lots of school.

What’s inspired you come back and work at The Willows? Just before coming to work at The Willows, I finished two years of service with an educational non-profit called City Year. I was looking for a place to work where I could continue to work with students in a really holistic way and where my own growth as an educator would be a big priority. Willows is pretty much the perfect place for that. It didn’t hurt that so many of the people who knew me as a student are still here and are still incredibly supportive of me. 

What do you teach?  This is my second year teaching 4th grade and it’s going great! 4th grade curriculum at The Willows is fantastic, in fact I remember doing a lot of what I currently teach when I was a kid. I feel like a few weeks in, I’m really getting to know this group of kids and we’re getting into a lot of exciting stuff.

What are you passionate about outside of teaching? Are you bringing that passion into your Willows work?  I have always been passionate about writing and Willows definitely fostered that for me. I bring that into my work at Willows every day. I love questioning kids about whatever project they’re working on and pushing them to take their writing to the next level. Writing is an amazing outlet for me and I hope that it can have the same kind of satisfaction for my students.

When did you start writing?  At home, I have journals filled with fiction stories written from ages 6 through 25 (I’m 25 now)! I feel like I’ve been recognized as a writer by my family and my teachers my whole life.

Which writers have inspired you?
I still mostly read writing for young people or that has some element of fantasy or magic. "A Wrinkle in Time" and "The Dark Materials" series were some of my favorite books growing up. The YA author Francesca Lia Block is my all-time favorite. More recently, I’ve fallen in love with writers like Kelly Link, Karen Russell, and Lydia Davis. 

What are you working on? How long have you been working on it? I’ve been working on a YA novel since this past February. It draws a lot on my experience growing up in Los Angeles, as well as my love of the weird, subtle magic that’s in so much of my favorite writing.

What’s your plan for your work? Just to finish it!
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