Most people know Mr. Jim Taylor as the longtime principal of Central Junior High, the Superintendent of the Elementary District or a Commissioner for the City of Zion. Many do not ever get the opportunity to hear the rest of his story, until now…
Jim Taylor was born in Marietta, Mississippi. In 1950, his father moved his family to Zion in search of better employment opportunities. Jim attended East and Lakeview Elementary Schools, Central Jr. High and Zion Benton Township High School. While in junior high, a teacher and coach, Don Ower, encouraged Jim to become a teacher and coach. Don’s influence continued in Jim’s decision to obtain a Master’s degree and pursue a career in administration.
While attending Zion Benton Township High School, Jim played basketball and came to know Lynette O’Rear, a cheerleader. In 1962, after Jim graduated from high school, he continued to play basketball at Mississippi State University. In 1967, Jim graduated from Carthage College, then married Lynette in 1968. In 1972 he earned a Master’s Degree from Roosevelt University in School Administration and Supervision.
Jim began his political career by running for Zion Park District Commissioner in 1976. Having lived in Zion most of his life, he had an interest in the future of the Zion community and wanted to be a part of determining the city’s growth and development. He won and served on the Zion Park District Board until 1983, when he ran for City Council and served until 1987.
Following, Jim ran for Mayor in 1987, but was defeated by State Senator Geo-Karis. In 1994, Jim was asked by Mayor Billie McCullough to serve as interim commissioner when one ofthe officials became too ill to serve his position. Jim’s interim role lasted for 19 years and he was elected 5 times.
In 1995, Jim continued his postgraduate work and earned a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration from Loyola University in Chicago, and served as Superintendent of Schools for Zion Elementary School District 6 from 1997 until 2002 when he retired.
Jim has held many distinguished positions, which include Principal at Central Junior High (serving for 20 years), Superintendent for Zion Elementary School, Dean of Studies (5 years), Assistant Principal, Athletic Director, Coach, and Teacher.
When asked what his most rewarding experience was, Mr. Taylor did not hesitate to say that it was working directly with children. His most memorable experience as Superintendent, he stated, was his instrumental role in changing the half-day Kindergarten program to a full-day Kindergarten program, upgrading the technology program of the district, and many improvements in the curriculum. While serving at the Zion Elementary District, Jim worked part-time as a licensed Realtor with Century 21 and Coldwell Banker in Zion for over 20 years. In 2002, after retiring as Superintendent of Schools, Jim became a full-time realtor. Jim knows the housing market of Zion and works hard to ensure Zion is a good place to purchase a home.
Jim and Lynnette have been married for over 43 years and have 4 daughters: Tammy, Tonya, Tiffany and Tara; not to forget the family dog, Tia Bella. When asked what it was like living with so many women, he responded that he has always liked females better as opposed to males, and that his family makes him feel like a king. He is very appreciative of the life they have all shared together. Jim is also the proud grandfather of Brittnee, age 19, Blane, age 11, Tucker, age 9, and Jaxon, age 1. His biggest lesson he learned was the need to set goals. “I have learned that you get out of life only what you put into life.” Another lesson was to “Be careful with assumptions.” And, “A positive attitude will take you much further in life.” The other tip was one that is evident in speaking with Jim…“Be thankful for what you have.”
On a personal note, Jim loves gardening, landscaping and reading. When asked his favorite childhood experience in Zion, he replied: “Zion was a wonderful place to grow up. My fondest memories are probably the great times I had at the Zion Park District. There were scheduled activities all day long and little leagues games at night. My friends and I literally lived at the Park District, returning home for lunch and dinner. We were well supervised by coaches Fred Stanton and Dick McGrew. It was a great period of my life.”
Jim’s global vision is for the World to make peace and for all military loved ones to return home safely. He also wishes for more employment opportunities and funding for education.
His vision for Zion is to see continuous economic development, an upgrade in housing and lower taxes. Jim encourages the people of Zion to get involved by attending council, school board, town board and community meetings, where their voices can be heard. Jim concluded
by sharing that with such a rich history in Zion, he feels honored to serve the Zion community.