Miquon is in His Veins: Matt Taylor ’84
Miquon is where Matthew Taylor developed his love of language, adventure, independence and community.
For as long as he can remember, Matt Taylor ’84 has been in love with the English language. When most kids his age were making traditional puzzles, Matt’s puzzles were of the letters-and-words variety. He was—and is—fascinated with putting them together in different ways to tell stories, create community and expand his horizons.
At Miquon, which he first attended at age 2, he found lots of encouragement for his burgeoning desire to communicate through writing. Today, he is the owner of a successful public relations firm in Brooklyn, New York, and credits his ability to “learn people’s stories and tell them the right way to the right people at the right time” to the support he received early on in his elementary years.
The self-described communications generalist says journalism—feature writing—is his first love, but in the last 10 years, since co-founding Taylor Warwick Public Relations, he has discovered a love of helping his clients give voice to their messages. He does this by developing and overseeing a variety of content on different platforms and managing their media operations.
After graduating from Miquon, he attended Chestnut Hill Academy for four years, then finished high school at Germantown Friends School before heading to New England and the University of Vermont in Burlington, where he majored in English and Anthropology (which fed his fascination with the ‘why’ behind what people do). As an intern and then a reporter at the Boston Globe, he honed his journalistic instincts, later taking his storytelling skills back to Vermont as a correspondent for the Globe.
“It was great, I got to criss-cross the state, searching for and telling quirky feature-length stories for the Sunday paper,” he remembers.
Sense of adventure
When Matt’s parents moved their family to Philadelphia from Boston in 1972, his older sister, Eliza Taylor ’82, was 2, and his mom was pregnant with him. Young and progressive, the couple settled in Mt. Airy and searched for a school that would reflect their values, which they found in Miquon. The sense of wonder Matt felt in everything on Miquon’s campus—its layout, the creek (and being encouraged to play in it), and the woods—felt infinite and adventurous to him as a child.
“We were learning all the time,” he says. “To work with others, to stick up for ourselves, to solve problems by using our own skills and to learn to ask for help when we needed it.”
Overall, he says they were taught how to live and function in a community with others while not losing sight of their individuality and pursuing own goals and interests.
“Miquon has a wonderful way of allowing kids to chart their own course and make their own paths … great attributes and qualities to have.”
On most days, Matt was excited to arrive at school. In his mind, the possibilities were endless. Never knowing exactly what he was going to do that day was magical to him. “The campus was an adventure world where I could foster my own sense of self and learn how to work with a community of other kids and teachers—and to find the balance between the two.”
Of course, back then, his musings ran more to whether he and his friends would play Capture the Flag or take a hike through the woods at lunchtime. But today, he recognizes the values he gained in learning how to grow as a person while simultaneously growing with others through the skills fostered at the school.
“Miquon was my world. Even as a child, I think I knew it was the perfect balance of independence and community at the same time,” explains Matt. “And my classmates were my people. I know I had a unique experience that we all shared.”
He remembers some of those experiences, such as writing assignments in 4th grade. Given a topic, the children were then encouraged and guided to develop their writing in ways that spoke to them. “We were given the structure and then we would write,” he says. “The narrative was there, but the details could very well be quirky and bizarre, but creative.” Matt believes this type of self-directed learning has helped him grow as an independent communicator. He also recalls writing stories for the school’s literary magazine, Miquon Grass, about the adventures he had with his three closest friends where they would become superheroes, participants in Dungeons and Dragons or characters in the comic books they loved.
Another fond memory is of the mini-courses offered twice a year. He took “backpacking” several times, and enjoyed hiking in the woods and mountains and camping out under the stars with his friends. He recognizes the real-life lessons learned on the trips and while preparing for them.
“On one trip, we separated into two groups (of several students and leaders), and my group made a wrong turn. It was starting to get dark, and my backpack got heavier. It was scary to me (as a 10-year old), but we figured it out and solved our problem, and realized later that we could have stayed on our own if we had to,” he says. “Perseverance was the lesson learned, and that’s something Miquon does really well—translating real-life and real-world experiences into how you learn and how you grow.”
Prior to each camping trip, the children voted on the type of trail and area to visit, what food to bring and practiced first aid and survival skills. “We weren’t just learning about hypothetical situations, but learning how to navigate something we were actually going to participate in. It was relevant to our lives, which makes a real difference.”
Matt cites one other life-lesson memory as making a lasting impression. His 6th grade teacher, Lynn Hughes, created a mock economy in the classroom, by printing money and assigning jobs (tasks the students would do anyway throughout the day) for which the children were paid. The children were free to use these “salaries” to buy things sold by others, such as renting a cubby area. They could even “buy” stocks, and Matt says he checked the market daily with his father. If they didn’t budget appropriately, they could even go broke.
“It was a way of learning how the world works, in a safe environment, and making it fun and educational at the same time,” he says. The Philadelphia Inquirer even printed a story about the program and the different techniques the students used to buy and sell. “It was a fun way to learn about the economic nature of the world.”
Today, Matt refers to himself as a Miquon lifer. His father, a former editor for the Inquirer, served on Miquon’s board, as Matt does today. As an active member of both the Nominations and Alumni Committees, he helps other graduates remember the value of their Miquon education and encourages them to give back.
“Miquon is in my veins. There’s no better way to say it. The values I learned and the experiences I had at this school have done more to mold, impact and inform the adult I have become than anything else I can point to in my life, at any age. Miquon is always with me, and I’ll always be immensely grateful that this wonderful little school has been—and continues to be—such a huge and important part of my life.”