Golden LEAF Scholarship Alumni Spotlight: Taylor Lynn Moore Cutler

Golden LEAF Scholarship Alumni Spotlight: Taylor Lynn Moore Cutler

Golden LEAF Scholarship Alumni Spotlight: Taylor Lynn Moore Cutler

Name: Taylor Lynn Moore Cutler
High School Attended: South Creek High School
Home County: Martin County
College(s) Attended/ Years Attended: Meredith College (2013-2017) / East Carolina University (2017-2018)
Major(s): English and Psychology / Masters in Teaching – English
Minor(s): Professional Writing
County Now Living In: Martin
Employer: Martin County Schools
Title: Teacher
Years Working for Current Employer: 3 

What are some of your major accomplishments during college?

In addition to the three internships I held thanks to the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program, I also completed two internships through Meredith College which helped mold me into the woman I am today.

What would you tell someone interested in applying for the Golden LEAF Scholarship about being a recipient?

The Golden LEAF Scholarship changed my life for the better. Because of this scholarship, I was able to pursue my dream of receiving a college education and furthering that education to receive a Masters. I have now reached the highest level of education out of my entire family and have paved a way for those who will come after me, and I could not be more grateful that the Golden LEAF Foundation believed and invested in me.

What helped you decide to live/ work in a rural area?

I am from a small, rural farming community in eastern North Carolina. I have felt the call to go home. Through the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program, I realized the need for more rural leaders, which inspired me to use my skills and experiences to make a deep, lasting impact on my community. I have made it my mission to spread awareness of rural North Carolina communities’ needs and possibilities. During my time as a Golden LEAF Scholar, I was able to complete three internships in my community in a school setting, one of which at the school where I currently teach. I found that many people move away from rural communities due to a lack of opportunities, which leaves the community in an economic downfall. One of my goals as a teacher is to instill a love of community within my students and teach them to be successful without moving away from rural North Carolina, and instead, build and create opportunities that will accelerate the growth and prosperity of our community.

What kind of leadership roles are you serving in currently?

To encourage students, I have donated time to five high school seniors from various schools across our community to help them in their process of seeking higher education. I help them apply for college, fill out their FAFSA forms, navigate financial aid and tuition, research and find available scholarships, and create resumes, personal statements, and college admittance essays. I hope that my efforts will aid my students to receive a quality education after high school so that they can return to eastern North Carolina and help build our community.

I was able to create and introduce a Walking Dead Fan Club for my students that was implemented during “Knight Lunch.” I saw a tremendous turnout as we discussed cinematography, foreshadowing, theme, plot, setting, and other elements of film that connect directly to literature.

Over the past year, my students have produced pieces of original writing which I have submitted to several writing competitions and contests. So far, over fifty of my students have been published. Through publishing and putting their work out into the world, students learn that their ideas and opinions are interesting and meaningful to others, and can be part of a larger, public conversation.

What would you like to share about your personal/ professional growth as a result of attending college?

My beginning teacher experience has been unpredictable. My mother passed away the day before I was supposed to begin student teaching. Because my younger sister was still in high school, I moved home and balanced student teaching and becoming a “guardian.”

During this unprecedented time, I realized that I wanted to ensure that my students received the education that they deserved. After the initial shock of what was happening dissipated, I was determined that the challenge of distance education would not define me as a teacher, but instead accelerate me as I grew into the teacher I aspire to be. While others may have seen teaching in a rural, economically distressed area of eastern North Carolina during a global pandemic as an insurmountable challenge, I have taken this opportunity to grow personally and professionally by using what has been given to me as a driving force behind my instruction. I have grown in a way that will allow me to problem solve and focus inherently on the most important issues that will impact my students. I am intrinsically motivated to continuously build instruction by focusing on developing content that is rigorous while also meeting the social and emotional needs of my students. I am resilient and determined to succeed in the face of adversity, and I hope that I can lead my students by example.

What did you learn during your experience with the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program?

During my internship, I experienced so much personal and professional growth. My internships allowed me to spread out and work directly in my community. I was able to try new things and develop skills I would need for my future career.

What internship experiences did you have?

I completed two internships at Hobgood Academy where I helped plan Graduation and the National Honor Society Induction, substituted classes, taught lessons, and tutored students who needed extra support. I completed my final internship with the program at Riverside High School where I helped organize Awards Night, compiled office files, and taught several lessons in an English classroom. This internship helped pave the way for me as I am currently teaching at Riverside High School.

Did your experiences help shape your decision to live/ work in rural areas? If so, how?

Absolutely! I now teach at what was once my internship site!

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