W-S teacher gets pardon

W-S teacher gets pardon
January 05
09:00 2017

Photo by Tevin Stinson

Decades after she gave her life to God, McCrory grants educator-evangelist clemency 



Although it came on a few days after Dec. 25, local educator and international evangelist Janet Taylor received a Christmas present she has waited more than two years to receive.

As she sat at home nursing a cold last week, Taylor received a phone call from the Governor’s Office granting her a pardon for crimes she committed in the late 1980s.

While Taylor turned her life around nearly 23 years ago, it wasn’t until Thursday, Dec. 29, that Gov. Pat McCrory had pardoned the charges on her record on his last day in office.

Even though Taylor would go on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem State University after her release from prison in 1994 and had been working in the local school system since 2003, it wasn’t until after she received her master’s degree from North Carolina Central University in 2011 that her past seemed to hold the determined educator back.

Taylor said she never even thought about filing for a pardon until she was turned down for multiple principal and teaching positions here in Winston-Salem and other school systems across the state.

“I kept wondering why I couldn’t get the job I went to school for, then I started putting it together and thought maybe it’s because of my past,” continued Taylor. “I applied for jobs in Raleigh, Durham County, New Bern, and nobody would hire me, so in 2014 I applied for the pardon.”

Along with the application for the pardon, several of Taylor’s former students and members of the community submitted letters to show their support and to hurry the process. After submitting the paperwork, Taylor said all she could do was wait.

“Since it had been so long, I figured everything would be cut and dry, but they told me that it wasn’t a guarantee, so I had to wait,” said Taylor. “So, that’s exactly what I did.”

Last year after meeting with the North Carolina Clemency Board, Taylor said she had doubts that the pardon would ever come. She said after the meeting she had a long conversation with the man who had pardoned her over two decades ago: God. During her hiatus from the classroom, Taylor traveled the country preaching the Word of God. She said that was the only thing that kept her strong throughout the process.

“I told God if I don’t get this pardon, it will be OK because you pardoned me 23 years ago, and that’s all that matters,” she said. “So, I just left it alone. I never called them. I just put it on the altar and left it there.”

Just after 6 p.m. last Thursday, Taylor got the call from the Governor’s Office. She said when she got word that McCrory had signed the pardon, she couldn’t believe it.

“I just know it was a miracle,” smiled Taylor. “This is the work of God. It’s a miracle. God can do anything.”

Per Taylor, the pardon doesn’t completely erase her record, but it will be attached so when she applies for jobs, she will be covered.

Earlier this week, Taylor, who returned to the local school district this year to teach at Main Street Academy, received the official pardon in the mail. While most people try to cover up or hide their mistakes, Taylor openly shares her past with her students.

“I always tell my students my past because I want them to know what’s out there and how you can just get caught up,” said Taylor. “For me it was drugs, and I want to make sure that my kids never take that route.”

“I say it all the time: I’m not just a classroom teacher. I’m here to teach you about life.”

When asked what’s next with the pardon in her hands, Taylor said she plans to apply for a doctorate and continue to spread the Word of God.

“There’re two things I was born to do and that’s to preach and to teach. I discovered preaching later in life, but since the third grade I’ve wanted to become a teacher,” she continued. “I took some side routes and got distracted, but I got back to it, and so now I’m just living out my life’s goal.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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