Taylor Darden, Manager of Instruction, Mid-Atlantic
Originally from Georgia, but counting Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania among the states he's called home, Taylor is the most migratory member of our species, a traveling actor and teacher who has worked as an SAT tutor, a theater director, and — as we'll soon discuss — a singing telegram. These days, Taylor hangs his hat in South Philadelphia (or "Sow Philly," as the locals call it), somewhere between the Dave & Buster's featured on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the home where Sylvester Stallone stands outside, hollering "Yo, Adrian!" to actress Talia Shire. (Rocky was not a big fan of doorbells.) Prior to becoming Catalyst's Manager of Instruction for Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., Taylor was an all-star guru, a dynamic tutor who wielded his brainpower and charisma to keep teenagers entertained during class — no small feat when the subject is SAT math. In addition to tutoring, Taylor managed a theater program for adults with Down's Syndrome and worked as a singing telegram, a gig that required donning a bellhop-like outfit and surprising strangers at home and work. Taylor has serenaded folks with happy birthday singing telegrams, Valentine's Day telegrams, and even "Sorry for being a jerk" telegrams and is proud to report that he has not once gotten laughed at or tasered. The company he worked for even offered a singing telegram to deliver divorce papers, but thankfully Taylor was never drafted for that role. When Taylor isn't recruiting top-notch teaching talent to Catalyst, he enjoys reading (favorite authors include Zadie Smith, Anne Lamott, Michael Cunningham, and John Updike), tackling formidable crossword puzzles, practicing yoga, and generally keeping fit. (Though he doesn't want to "sedentary-shame" anyone, Taylor is proud to have finished his first half-marathon this year.)
Why He Works for Catalyst
Knew, if he accepted the job and waited patiently, oh so patiently, the opportunity would finally come to mortify Catalyst's CEO with a happy birthday singing telegram in front of hundreds of tutors and team members.
How the Universe Has Punished Him for Being a Freakishly Good Test-Taker
You know how some people, despite having lived in the same town their whole lives, can't remember how to drive to Trader Joe's without using GPS? Well... Taylor is way worse than those people. Afflicted with severe topographical amnesia (from the Greek word topos, meaning "location" or "place," and amnesia, meaning "tendency to wander around parking garages, wondering where the f**k you parked"), Taylor is utterly incapable of finding his way from point A to point B, even if he writes out explicit directions beforehand, uses Google Maps, or, as is often the case, utilizes his forearm to draw a detailed, bird's-eye view of his itinerary. Dr. Akira Nagayoshi, Catalyst's staff neuroscientist, has hypothesized that Taylor's navigational woes stem from a shortage of "grid" cells in his hippocampus, the region of the brain that governs spatial reasoning and memory. However, Dr. Spielvogel, Catalyst's staff psychiatrist, vehemently disagrees, arguing that Taylor's lack of direction stems from some sort of childhood trauma, most likely getting lost in the "Molasses Swamp" during a heated game of Candyland. Whatever the etiology, we, Taylor's comparatively Magellan-like colleagues, are there to support him, listen to him, and — if he gets lost one more damn time — implant a subdermal tracking chip in his neck.
Favorite 80s Movie / Favorite 80s Nobel Laureate
Ferris Bueller's Day Off / William Golding (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1983)