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Relationship-builder Takes GLOW Helm

By Teresa McLamb, posted Sep 3, 2021
Kate Tayloe started as principal of Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington (GLOW) on July 12. (photo by Michael Cline Spencer)
The principalship at GLOW Academy came at just the right time for Kate Tayloe.
“I had been principal at Alderman Elementary for four years and absolutely loved it,” she said, despite the challenges presented by Hurricane Florence in 2018 and COVID in 2020.
Tayloe’s approach to problem-solving led to improvements in the school. As she learned she was to be transferred to a middle school in the same district, she also learned that GLOW (Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington) needed a new leader.
“I knew it was for me,” she said. Tayloe started at GLOW on July 12.
“I’m a big advocate of public education and for whatever children I’m serving,” she said. “I’ve taught students from high poverty who are below grade level and need an extensive amount of support. I enjoy serving and problem-solving and creating unique service for students.”
A native of Edenton, Tayloe was an NC Teaching Fellow at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She’s been in Wilmington since graduating in 1997. “It was where I was supposed to go to school and live,” she said of Wilmington.
Her years here as a teacher, assistant principal and principal challenged her to find creative ways of meeting students’ needs. She says she was drawn to Alderman. Noting Alderman’s high percentage of students from low socio-economic households, she said filling that need is her niche.
Asked about the skill set she brings to GLOW, an all-girls charter school, Tayloe said that more than anything, it is the ability to build relationships and create structures where the entire school is building relationships with students, and more importantly, with families.
“Shifting the culture at Alderman was important and nurturing that at GLOW is important. I found the schools to be similar. Our primary goal this year is to nurture a culture based on meaningful relationships with students, with each other, among the students, and building relationships with families, with parents. When you have that level of buy-in and everybody is on the same page about supporting the student to achieve the next thing, school success is imminent.”
Tayloe noted the community’s overwhelming support of the school from its celebrity chef fundraisers to business community partnerships. “I think people desperately want it to be successful. There aren’t a lot of charter schools where its origin is based in trying to solve a larger social problem. Our unique common goal is for the greater good of humanity, first and foremost.”
A recent partnership with Sony is one example. GLOW CEO Todd Godbey, in concert with the school’s co-founder Judy Girard, approached Sony Pictures Entertainment with an idea to provide film industry education for the students. The idea aligns with the film industry’s somewhat recent attention to a lack of diversity in the industry, Tayloe said.
Through Sony’s Global Social Justice Fund, a media technology curriculum and studio is being created on campus.
“If we’re able to provide courses and real hands-on experience, that gives our students an edge to be able to get into colleges that have programs where they can continue to advance these skills or position them to be workforce-ready [in the film industry],” Tayloe said.
Two classroom spaces have been dedicated to the program, and equipment has begun to arrive, she said.
Students will learn many aspects of the industry, from writing copy to working in front of the camera and behind the camera.
When local media was invited to the campus, “It wasn’t lost on me that they were all women,” Tayloe said, adding that many expressed an interest in helping the students. “There’s a lot of excitement. The kids are fighting to get into the class.”
Instructor Mike Frederick “wants to create some authentic opportunities and projects as a way to celebrate what’s happening here and to promote what’s happening here. We’ll have students who’ll be able to help craft that,” she said.
GLOW’s partnership with the Food Network is well known and well supported, and Tayloe sees opportunities for expanding their sphere. They already have a relationship with Cape Fear Community College to provide course offerings.
“We want to get involved in philanthropy. I’ve been talking about how to get our students involved with grants,” Tayloe said.
She’s also exploring extracurricular activities that can be included on student resumes as they apply for college. GLOW officials are making connections that would enable students to play tennis, golf, cross country and other sports.
To make this happen, community partnerships are vital, Tayloe said.
“We want to be able to create a mentoring/tutoring program; it’s been more difficult with COVID,” she said.
The hope is to recruit professional women to partner with students for academic support. Internships are also on her wish list.
Providing a robust education for girls that will position them to be college- and career-ready has an impact on the community as a whole, she said.
“We did an entrepreneurship camp this summer facilitated through community partnerships,” Tayloe said.
The Shark Tank format involved community leaders and business professionals who donated their time and expertise.
Tayloe said, “When our students see investment from the community, there’s a lot of empowerment and confidence for our students.” GLOW is well-positioned to take off, she said.
Tayloe said, “There’s so much potential here that together we’re going to realize that potential. I think we’re in a great spot.”  
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