With the approval of Taylor Walker as a physical education teacher at Sachem High School North this week, not since, well, ever has the Sachem Central School District landed such a high profile faculty member.
A professional dancer, dance educator, free-lance broadcaster and physical fitness fanatic, Walker, 25, comes to Sachem this fall for her first high school teaching gig.
She grew up in Dix Hills, attended Half Hollow Hills West High School and recalls the days when her Colts dance team matched up against Sachem's girls at competitions.
"We were a much smaller school and to see a team of that caliber every year be so strong with so many girls was neat," she said. "They're very into their community and their program and it's a lot like a family."
With the hire, Sachem gains an individual with a multi-faceted core, one with the development of growing up the child of a professional athlete. Her father, Wesley Walker, is a former two-time Pro Bowl receiver for the New York Jets, who ranks sixth all-time in franchise history in receptions.
Then there's her brothers: Austin is a professional lacrosse player for the Toronto Nationals, who won a national title at Johns Hopkins, and John, a three-time All-American at Army, is an assistant lacrosse coach at the University of Virginia.
"We've all given 100 percent and followed through on what we love," said Walker, who is trained in ballet, jazz, modern and hip-hop dance. "I don't think we ever compared ourselves as much as we supported each other."
It's only natural that Taylor followed the athletic footprint of the Walker family and embarked on her own career in the fitness world. For two seasons she was a member of the New Jersey Nets dance team and was a co-captain for half a season before giving up the role to concentrate on earning her Master's Degree in physical education from Hofstra University, where she is an assistant coach on the school's dance team.
"It was a wonderful experience and the girls on the team were so talented," she said. "I had such a great time."
She was one of 10 dancers from the NBA selected to pose for Sports Illustrated's coveted Swimsuit Edition in 2009. Her good fortune struck again when she was able to dance for Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, as well as appear as the lead dancer in the movie Step Up and in commercials for Under Armour.
To think, she once worked as an intern for the Maryland State Senate after college and was hired in the first dance audition she ever attended. She did her undergraduate work in sports management at Towson University and earned a full-ride as a member of its dance team.
A go-getter at heart, Walker has spent time instructing at Royalenova in East Moriches, teaching with Dance Educators for America and pitching in at a local high school sports publication, doing broadcast pieces on the younger generation.
While more than qualified to coach and teach dance to high school girls, she has no intentions of messing with team chemistry at Sachem. Instead, she'll be there for support if it's needed.
"If I can ever give input or anything like that I'll be there," she said. "The program has been so successful for so many years. I look forward to seeing them at games and having them in class.
"It took me a while to get to this point, but everything I've done throughout my career has always come back to the kids."