Bluff Dale ISD’s new superintendent is a relatively familiar face who will serve in a busy dual role for now.
John Taylor, who was already Bluff Dale’s principal, was named as acting superintendent when Dean Edwards retired from the post on Jan. 26.
The Bluff Dale board of trustees named Taylor on Jan. 5 as the lone finalist for the vacant position. He signed a three-year contract as the new superintendent on Feb. 19.
Taylor, who will also continue in his role as the school’s principal, signed a deal for $85,000 for the remainder of the current school year.
“We’re actively searching for a principal,” said Taylor, 59, who started taking on Bluff Dale’s principal duties on July 1, after 23 years working in the Clarendon ISD. “We hope to have a decision made by early April.”
Taylor’s duties span pre-K through the 12th grades at Bluff Dale, which is in its first school year of having high school once again.
With the additional four high school grades, the school district now has almost 240 students and 21 teachers in all.
Taylor was a school counselor in Clarendon for 14 years. After one year as district director of curriculum instruction and special programs, Taylor began the first of his eight years as the principal at Clarendon Junior high School.
“I walked away from a tremendously good job and it took something like this to pry me away from Clarendon,” Taylor said. “This is really a unique place, from my perspective. These guys made a very good first impression (on me). I love these kids. They’re a wonderful bunch.”
Edwards had worked six years in the Morgan ISD, then spent 31 years as the superintendent of Morgan Mill. He retired in 2016, but that didn’t last long. He accepted a position as Bluff Dale’s interim superintendent after Bill Morgan resigned to take a job in East Texas.
Edwards said he will resume what he had been doing after his first “retirement” working as a substitute teacher.
“I was genuinely blessed to be there,” Edwards said. “It was just a wonderful experience. I can’t say enough good things about Bluff Dale and all the good things ahead of them.”
That reference includes the much-needed expansion of the Bluff Dale school along with the construction of a gymnasium, which began after voters approved passage of a $5.1 million bond last year. The groundbreaking was on Nov. 8. School officials set a tentative completion for August 2019, hopefully in time for the 2019-20 school year.
Taylor graduated from Angelo State University with a bachelor’s degree, then earned his master’s degree in counseling from Texas A&M-Kingsville.
“I love Bluff Dale,” Taylor said. “What I tell everybody is that I left a wonderful job with friends, but I had an opportunity here to accept a challenge of finishing the high school, helping build the new building — really to help manage the transition from being a small pre-K to eighth grade school, to a growing pre-K to 12th school.
“The superintendent has a lot of things you do, whether you have one kid or a thousand kids. This is a very busy time of year for the principal. The challenge is to not let the principal job slide, to take care of the superintendency.”
Taylor and his wife Suzanne have two grown daughters — Amelie Wenner of Nacogdoches and Valerie Carroll of Jonesboro, Arkansas.
Asked if he might pop out of retirement again in the future, Edwards said, “I doubt it. I think I’m going to stay retired.”
When Edwards isn’t working as a substitute teacher in either Morgan Mill or Lipan in the future, he has plenty to do working on his cow farm near Stephenville.