WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The new superintendent of Wake County Public School System was sworn-in Friday.
Dr. Robert Taylor stood proudly next to his wife, Vivian, and son Miles as he was sworn in to lead the largest school district in North Carolina. He spoke to the crowd of supporters about the importance of his faith and this selection as evidence of something divine.
"Wake County to me is a district that's about excellence," said Taylor. "I want to work with this community and work with the board to continue that work to make sure we have all the resources and things in place to give every student an opportunity to access the curriculum and do great things."
Taylor described himself as a champion for equity that recognizes where students and teachers need more. When it comes to driver shortages and teacher retention, his solution is higher wages.
"I will always advocate for better compensation for teachers. We know it doesn't reside in my office. It resides down on Jones Street," said Taylor. "It's a problem when your beginning wage as a teacher is $39,000. Is that a living wage? Is that what we want to do to reward one of the most important professions in our society?
Other issues on Taylor's docket include assessing the district safety plan and looking at schools that are underperforming.
He said he believes his first 100 days will be critical as he plans to partner with staffers and the North Carolina Association of Educators to improve the quality of education.
"I will tell you that I've done every job from teacher assistant to state superintendent and none was more gratifying than being a classroom teacher," he said.
It's experience that state leaders call invaluable.
"It's knowing what teachers are up against and what teachers are up against is critical to have that understanding. He's going to lead and serve," said Catherine Truitt, NC State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
ABC11 asked Taylor what his legacy would be once he leaves the district one day. He said Wake County will be the national model for providing education to all children.
He's native to Mississippi, but he brings several decades of school system experience and has deep ties to the area.
Taylor spent two years as a deputy state superintendent for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
He worked at Cumberland County Schools as a middle-school teacher, assistant principal and principal.
Taylor received a master's degree in school administration and a doctorate in educational leadership from Fayetteville State University.
He'll now be tasked with handling the challenges of North Carolina's largest school district including crowded classrooms and teacher and bus driver shortages.
Under his new four-year contract he will get a salary of $327,000.