Macon State College MVPs is a web feature that profiles notable students, alumni, faculty and staff.
Full Name: Stephen Wallace Taylor.
Originally From: Gaffney, S.C., “but I’m mostly recovered from that now.”
Family: “My wife of nearly twenty years, Margaret Anne Shannon; four feline children, Stormy, age 13; Zoey, age 4; Freddy, age 3; and Eliot, age 2. All of them are above average.”
Job Title: Chair of the Department of History and Political Science.
Degrees: Bachelor of mechanical engineering, Georgia Tech; master of arts and Ph.D. in history from the University of Tennessee.
Year he joined the Macon State faculty: 2000. 2000.
Some of his teaching career highlights are … “Building the bachelor’s degree program in history, and watching it grow from a handful to more than 150 majors; helping to assemble a department composed of such phenomenally talented faculty and students; and watching the light bulb come on over a struggling student’s head as he or she finally realizes how history fits together.”
He enjoys teaching at Macon State College because … “This place is a tremendous adrenaline rush. I never have to wonder if what I do makes a difference in the lives of my students - I get to see it almost every day. I’ve taught in a number of different places, but I’ve never had quite the thrill I get here. My students are juggling school, work, family, and other commitments. They have to be committed to their education in a way that students in other colleges don’t. There’s no safety net here. This is life on the front lines.”
His favorite course to teach is … “A new course, required for all history majors, called ‘Historical Methods.’ This class is a bridge from the often oversimplified world of introductory history courses into the world of research and discovery. We get to focus on how we know what we know - and on how much we don’t know. There are a lot of ‘light bulb’ moments in that class, and terrifically lively debate. It’s one of those classes where all I have to do is start the ball rolling, and direct traffic. The students learn a lot from each other - and I learn, too. If I ever stop learning from my students, I hope someone will have the good sense to tell me it’s time to retire.”
One thing people don’t know about Macon State is … “How strong our faculty really are. We have a reputation for great teaching, and for maintaining high standards, but not a lot of folks in the general public realize that our faculty aren’t just teachers - they’re genuine scholars as well. Our historians are recognized internationally for the quality of their research, and they are doing this while teaching anywhere from four to six courses per semester. I’m genuinely honored to be part of this group.”
One thing people don’t know about him is … ”Gee, I think they probably know all there is to know. I talk about myself way too much. But it always amazes me that people still stop me in the hallway to tell me that they saw me on the History Channel (particularly since I was on there for about three seconds).”
In his spare time he likes to … “Fantasize about actually having spare time. I make time to participate in the Macon State Chamber Singers, because music helps me keep things in perspective. Beyond that, if I sit still for more than five minutes at home, there’s usually a cat in my lap, along with a remote control and a box of Triscuits.”
The one person he’d most like to meet is … “Jesus Christ. I have some questions for him.”
If he wasn’t a college professor he would be … “In the course of my rather odd career, I’ve had a lot of other jobs. I’ve worked on cars, sold cars, publicized timeshares, delivered pizza, worked in publishing, been a chauffeur, worked in a clothing factory. What’s left? I’ve sometimes fantasized about being a professional musician, because it gives me the same adrenaline high as teaching, but my musical talent is strictly amateur."