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Buddy Taylor Middle’s Winnie Oden Moving To Pathways in June, Carla Taylor To FPC

| March 7, 2012

Carla Taylor has been the principal at Pathways Elementary for over four years. (© FlaglerLive)

Winnie Oden and Carla Taylor both started their careers in Flagler County schools almost simultaneously 22 years ago at Old Kings Elementary—Oden as a specialist who worked with struggling students, Taylor as a media specialist. They both rose through the ranks to become principals. Taylor has led Pathways, the district’s alternative school, for over four years. Oden has been principal at Buddy Taylor Middle School (named after Taylor’s late husband) since 2005.

The district is moving both in June. Oden, who was paid $90,200 last year, will become the principal at Pathways. Taylor will be an assistant principal at Flagler Palm Coast High School—FPC’s sixth assistant principal—in charge of the school’s at-risk students. Taylor’s salary was $82,000 last year. No one has been chosen yet to fill Oden’s position at Buddy Taylor. That job will be posted.

Oden has been in charge of the district’s school deputies for several years, keeping abreast of related issues, School Superintendent Janet Valentine said. “She can bring a new, fresh perspective at Pathways and how we’re going to help make these kids successful,” the superintendent said. Oden is also in the state’s Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP), which requires retirement within four years.

Winnie Oden has been synonymous with Buddy Taylor Middle School--as a teacher, dean of students, assistant principal and principal--for well over a decade. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

But a move to Pathways is not generally seen as a step up, even though some of the administrators who’ve filled the job eventually took to it. Administrators in the district can and occasionally are moved at the district’s will, and those who get moved around will put the best face on it even if they’re not  necessarily overjoyed. In this case neither administrator volunteered for the new assignments.

“I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited with the change,” Oden said Tuesday afternoon. “I love Buddy Taylor.  I’m leaving good friends, I’m leaving a strong faculty, I’m leaving competent people. That school will continue doing well.” Oden said her philosophy of working with children has always been about second chances: “Everyone is entitled to a second chance, everyone is entitled to a second opportunity,” an approach that fits well with Pathway’s mission.

The school, often and unfairly seen as a dumping ground for the district’s problem students, is a world on its own behind the Flagler Palm Coast High School campus. Four high school teachers, two middle school teachers and a small administrative staff are in charge of 67 students (the number fluctuates) who are assigned there after getting in trouble at their home schools. They have to attend Pathways a minimum of nine weeks before earning their way back to their home school.

“I love what I’m doing, I love these kids,” Taylor said, speaking in her office with affection about students she doesn’t like to refer to as problem students, but rather as students who’ve made mistakes or been dealt a bad hand. “But I’m looking forward to working with the at-risk kids at FPC.”

The high school was docked a grade—from A to B—because of the performance of students in the bottom quarter. The state’s standardized testing and the degree of improvements a school can show for specific groups of students from year to year largely define a school’s grade, and school grades define the schools’ (and the district’s) reputation. The district is placing added emphasis on lifting the scores of at-risk kids, which, year after year, have dragged FPC’s grades down. That’s extra pressure on Taylor.

It’s also a risky move for the district, because FPC already has five assistant principals. The position will be paid for with Title I dollars—that is, federal funding the school qualifies for because of its at-risk population. “Nobody is going to be leaving at this point,” Valentine said of the other five assistant principals, and Jacob Oliva, the principal, will be staying on, she said.

Taylor has also been an assistant principal at Matanzas High School and a principal at Wadsworth Elementary, and spent a brief time at Academies of Excellence, the precursor to Heritage Academy, the charter school now facing shut-down by the district because of poor performance in its last two years.

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13 Responses for “Buddy Taylor Middle’s Winnie Oden Moving To Pathways in June, Carla Taylor To FPC”

  1. Bullgator2410 says:

    Another demotion for Carla. Three more years and the Title 1 monies will be gone and she’s made her 25 and she can just slip out of the picture. Mrs. Oden is wonderful and the kids @ Pathways will definitely benefit from having her there.

  2. Shelly Edmonson via Facebook says:

    Congrats to Ms. Carla Taylor.

  3. Bullgator2410 says:

    She went from Principal to one of five vice principals, so congrats aren’t really in order. I like Carla as a person but an administrator, she is not. She is a WONDERFUL teacher and if put in a PreK setting or even early education years, she would flourish.

  4. Jim N says:

    What I know of Carla Taylor say’s she puts kids in front of politics.
    Her whole life is about giving the kids the best and most that resources allow. She expects and encourages, and even push’s people to do more, just a little every day. Yeah I am a fan of what Carla does, and who she is as an educator and an instructor!

  5. Former ESE says:

    I would go easy on the wonderful Ms. Oden, Buddy Taylor is one of if not the worst run school in Flagler county. She needs to retire sooner than four years, Actually Flagler county has no interst in educating problem children. The ESE dept is one of the worst run I have ever had the displeasure of working with, the mighty dollor always out weighs the child, darn shame.

  6. knowsalittle says:

    Ms. Taylor has done a remarkable job at Pathways. I had the pleasure of working with her for a few years and she always put the student’s needs ahead of everything else. She cares very much for her students at Pathways and helps make them feel they are worth it.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Ms. Carla is the BEST principal ever. She understands the kids she deals with. My son attended Pathways, and I must say, Ms. Carla had a huge influence on him and how he makes decisions to make better choices. With Ms. Carla, everything is about the kids. She loves her kids. And yes, while they are at Pathways, they become hers!. She has even helped me understand why my son was having some of the issues and how I could help him at home. Ms. Carla goes above and beyond the call of being a principal. FPC is lucky to be getting someone like her. I wish Patways continued success even though I don’t think it will be possible without Ms. Carla there.
    Not ashamed to sign my name,
    Jennifer Pickett

  8. Bullgator2410 says:

    Jim N, that’s exactly what I said. Carla is great at Education, not Administration.

  9. Rocco (The more famous Rocco with two c's) says:

    I know both Principals and know both of them act with the students best interest in mind. In my last 7 years in the district, I have seen many different changes with principals. I wish them both the best of luck.

  10. Bullgator2410 says:

    That is definitely a point to be made. The Board seems a bit neurotic. Stewart Maxcy was comfy, move. Carla was moved from same job before Stewy and has been moved again since. Do we ever get an explanation of their thinking? It must interrupt the ‘flow’ when this happens and even have a small cost.

  11. concerned says:

    Really six assistant principals, How many students at fpc? At a price tag of how much? How many principals are there? Now I understand why the county is broke. How many mayors do we have?

  12. Mr. Knowitall says:

    I worked closely with Ms. Taylor & Ms. Oden for a number of years. Both are amazing individuals and major assets to the Flagler County School system. I wish them good luck in their future positions.

  13. Jennifer says:

    i don’t see this as a demotion for Mrs. carla at all. She will be doing what she loves the most. She has turned around alot of kids. She brings these kids up. She makes them want to do good and they respect her. She has that effect and it is a good one. If you make a promise to her that you are going to do somehting she will stay on you till you accomplish that goal. These kids need to be remnded that they are good and can accomplish everything they set there minds too, and she is the right person for that.

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