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Portia Ross Taylor Elementary School Dedicated (September, 2006)

Milton TurnerFormer students and family of Portia Ross Taylor joined the parents and students in Frisco Independent School District’s new Taylor Elementary School to remember and celebrate the life of this fine teacher and the opening of the new school.

The school is the fourth FISD elementary school to open in the Plano portion of the Frisco district. It is named for a teacher and principal who taught at the Hamilton School from 1930 until 1964 at which time schools in FISD integrated. Taylor lived in Dallas and was driven to Frisco every Sunday afternoon by her husband. She lived with the families of various students until she left on Friday afternoons.

“She was not just a teacher, she was like the third parent. She visited our homes, she made sure our parents knew what was going on and that education was important,” Milton Turner, a former student recalled.

Turner had the audience laughing as he described the discipline of another era and Mrs. Taylor’s loving but firm control. “Sometimes she would have first, second, third and even fourth grade in one room, but she kept control.,” he said. He called the name of one former student who when he got in trouble, would just walk out the door and go home. “Mrs. Taylor walked several blocks to his house to get him and whipped him all the way back to school,” Turner said.

Turner said that Mrs. Taylor expected greatness of her students. “She would always say, D’s and F’s does not mean Doing Fine, it means you are failing.” Failure was something Mrs. Taylor did not accept.

Turner said that when Hamilton School closed and its students went to what had been the all-white schools, he had some trouble adjusting. He wrote her a letter about his feelings and Mrs. Taylor came to see him.

“She told me that as long as I thought of it as the “white school” I wouldn’t succeed . . . she said that I was in ‘school’ and I needed to dream big,” he said. Mrs. Taylor stayed in touch  with her students throughout the years.

A member of Mrs. Taylor’s family, cousin Ruth Stringer, said they had all hoped this beloved woman would live to be 100 but she died at age 99. She stated that she was always a teacher . . . that whenever she would see the children in the family she would always ask them about their grades. The family accepted a photograph of the school and helped unveil the bronze sculpture of Mrs. Taylor. Principal Tanya Hall Vargas welcomed everyone to tour the school.