ROSELAND — Medgar Evers Elementary School unveiled its new computer lab at a Friday ceremony, which alumnus Derrick Taylor, the owner of several local McDonald's franchises, help make possible.
Derrick Taylor, a 1976 graduate of Evers, was in tears when students handed him thank you letters they had written.
"I can't take this anymore. I'm already sweating from the heat and now these kids got my crying," said Taylor. "I do what I do to help those that are less fortunate and to do what God has instructed me to do."
Kara Kimmons, 7, said she's glad her school now has a computer lab.
"I can come now to do my schoolwork here instead of waiting until I get home," said the third grader. "Mr. Taylor is a nice man who cares about us because if he didn't he would not have bought us all this expensive stuff."
Taylor, a 52-year-old husband and father of three sons and one daughter, also is a franchise owner of six McDonald's restaurants, including two in Chatham and one in Roseland near Evers. He said much of his success is a result of his wife, Cheryl.
"Behind every man is a good woman and God has blessed me with a good wife who supports what I do," added Taylor. "As an alumni I see it as my duty to come back to the school and help make it a better place for kids."
Caroline Ellis, principal of Evers, said Taylor donated upwards of $3,000 that helped the school buy a TV and 35 flat-screen computers.
"Mr. Taylor has a big heart and we cannot thank him enough. He always seems to find time to volunteer his time and resources to the school, and for that we are forever grateful to him and his lovely wife."
In addition to the computer lab, which now bears his name as the donor on a plaque in the hallway, Ellis said Taylor also sponsors their reading program and a family night for parents and teachers at his nearby McDonald's restaurant at 1637 W. 95th St.
"I provide the winner of their reading program with a free meal of their choice at my restaurant," Taylor said. "And one day out the a year I invite Medgar Evers teachers to my restaurant [at 1637 W. 95th St.] to eat, and whatever amount of money they spend I donate 20 percent back to the school."
The annual "McTeacher's Night" event is part of a McDonald's Corp. initiative to encourage franchise owners to become involved with schools located near their restaurants, Taylor said.
Other elementary schools that have participated in McTeacher's Night with Taylor are Arthur Ashe Elementary, 8505 S. Ingleside Ave., Arthur Dixon Elementary, 8306 S. St. Lawrence St., and Mary E. McDowell Elementary, 1419 E. 89th St.
It was a proud day for Taylor's mom, who attended the dedication.
"I am not surprised by too much by Derrick. He was always a good kid growing up and loves children," Bernice Taylor said. "I am proud to have a son like Derrick."
And on Saturday the good deeds Taylor has doled out over years as a member of the Black McDonald's Operators Association will be recognized again as he and 13 other Percy Julian High School alumnus are inducted into the school's first Alumni Hall of Fame, said Jerry Wade, a Julian alumnus and organizer of the Hall of Fame event.
"He is a man well deserving of many honors," Wade, 49, said. "It was a privilege to have gone to school with him."