Engaging students with independent thinking

Kelly Magoolaghan, Head of School

Susan Odell Taylor School

Kelly Magoolaghan doesn’t go strictly by the book when it comes to elementary education. As Head of School for the Susan Odell Taylor School in Troy, NY, she’s challenging students to reach their highest potential with experiential, hands-on learning, and a school environment that’s unique in many ways. This outside-the-box approach to education has resulted in a 20% increase in enrollment this year alone. And Pioneer Bank has been a partner for Kelly, helping the school grow its campus, its student population and its business.

The Susan Odell Taylor School is an independent school serving families with children in preschool through 8th grade. The school seeks new ways to engage students, providing a nurturing learning environment that’s academically rigorous and teaches kids how to work together and communicate knowledge. One of their innovative programs is the “Think Tank” – a workshop/laboratory for elementary and middle school students that emphasizes thinking with your hands, problem solving and what Kelly calls “hard fun.”

Under Kelly’s leadership, the Susan Odell Taylor School is breaking new ground in other ways, too. It’s the first and only school in the region to locate their 5th to 8th grade classrooms on a college campus; the Russell Sage College Campus in an historic, downtown neighborhood in Troy. This stimulating learning environment not only opens kids’ eyes to new experiences, it supports their studies as well. While learning about the Industrial Revolution this year, students had opportunities to visit old factory buildings and housing in the city dating back to the 1800s.

Kelly has relied on the personal relationships she has with the people at Pioneer Bank to help realize these and other educational initiatives. If she has needs, they’ll listen and support the growth of the school the same way they would support a business. With Pioneer’s help, Kelly completed the expansion to the Sage campus, and has successfully financed the school’s last two expansions without need of capital campaign fundraising. So a school that’s committed to innovation and problem solving can continue to thrive and offer new opportunities for their growing student population.

Kelly Magoolaghan, Head of School, Susan Odell Taylor School