Patience, Adaptability, and Focus: Nibley Elementary's Teacher of the Year, Taylor Stephenson

Taylor Stephenson


A summer of teaching English in India helped Nibley Elementary’s Teacher of the Year, Taylor Stephenson, discover his life’s passion for education. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Utah State University in Elementary Education, he went on to get a Master’s degree in Gifted and Talented Education from Arizona State University. Since then, Stephenson has been at Nibley Elementary for all four years of his teaching career. He currently teaches fourth grade.


Stephenson credits his growth as an educator to the school’s amazing faculty. “This award could have gone to any teacher here. I have grown so much in this profession already because of the great examples and leadership from my colleagues,” he said. 


Stephenson’s coworkers aren’t the only people who have taught him how to be a better teacher. He said that his students have also taught him many lessons. 


“One main lesson I have learned interacting with students is that patience is key to understanding,” he explained. “Whether it is the teachers that need the patience to understand the students or the students need the patience to understand what the teacher is trying to teach.”


As it is for many teachers, online learning has been a challenge for Stephenson. He loves every aspect of helping students learn, but ideally, he would rather be in the classroom with his students every day. However, he said that he feels that teaching online has provided him some fun learning opportunities that will influence his teaching style for the rest of his career. 


Stephenson and students


“It has taught me to make sure that my teaching can be adaptive.  I have been able to expand my tools and resources — but most importantly, it has helped me to refocus and remind myself what is actually important when it comes to teaching,” Stephenson said.  “Too often, we focus on the unimportant and the menial. Transitioning to online learning has forced us to step back and remind ourselves what is most important.”