Inside the Mind of Mr. Taylor

Central Kitsap High School welcomes aboard Blair Taylor, the new psychology and human civilizations teacher.


Courtesy of Blair Taylor

Blair Taylor catches air on his skateboard.

by Jada Cowley, Reporter, Assistant Editor

Skateboarding, punk rock, and live shows. A PhD, political theory, and environmental philosophy…

For Central Kitsap High School’s new teacher, Blair Taylor, the aforementioned fit together quite well. 

Taylor made his return to CKHS at the beginning of this year, teaching human civilizations and psychology. Three years prior, he could be found in Erik Randall’s classroom, working towards attaining his teaching certification by training as a student teacher. 

Since then, he’s had the opportunity to teach at multiple high schools in Washington, including the Tacoma School of the Arts, Tacoma Science and Math Institute, and Mount Tahoma High School. 

While he might be relatively new to high school, he certainly isn’t to teaching. 

Taylor began his work as a professor approximately 15 years ago at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, teaching classes on political ideology, social movements, and English. 

“My background was in political science and political theory, and I’ve done a lot of writing and publishing and speaking on the intersection of social movements and political philosophy, political theory, and sociology,” said Taylor. 

After three years of living in the Czech Republic, Taylor moved back to New York, began his PhD, and later departed for Berlin, Germany, where he taught and held a research position at the Free University of Berlin. 

In 2017, Taylor finished his PhD in Political Science and accepted a teaching position at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. 

In the end, he’d make his final move back to the Kitsap area, working for the Institute for Social Ecology. 

“It’s been a winding road, and I never expected to end up back here in my hometown, but it’s been really great and it’s been really nice to be back here– going on six years,” said Taylor. “I have a lot of family here and a lot of memories and friends.”

During the pandemic, Taylor made the decision to start training to be a high school teacher. After years of focusing primarily on research and publishing, he missed teaching and sought a position where it was prioritized more.

Taylor applied his background in political science through teaching social studies, and was paired with one of Central Kitsap High School’s social studies teachers, Erik Randall, as a student teacher. 

“Right away I noticed that he didn’t have that stereotype of a professor,” said Randall. “He’s a great high school teacher because he can connect with kids, like comparing stuff to ‘Star Wars’ or ‘The Hunger Games’, or talking to kids about skateboarding. He’s been interviewed by NPR about eco-fascism and stuff like that, but he’s kind of more at home in the high school setting where he can connect with people on the kind of level that he’s really good at, I think personally.” 

Aside from social studies and psychology, Taylor also teaches students how to skateboard. Central Kitsap High School’s new skateboarding club meets every Monday after school in Room 3202. Club goers can expect to discuss, watch videos, and plan out skate missions.  

Blair Taylor skates alongside two students for his skateboarding club at Mount Tahoma High School. (Courtesy of Blair Taylor)

Taylor had previously found success in starting a skateboarding club at Mount Tahoma High School. Prior to that, he organized a skateboarding program at a teen center in Redmond. 

“We had kids grow up there who became pro-skateboarders, like David Gravette, who skates for Creature Skateboards,” said Taylor. “He would come and win this contest that we organized like every year. He’d just come and destroy it. He was like this little kid, and now he’s a famous pro-skater.”

Taylor has been skating for over 30 years now, and it’s been a major influence on his life. In fact, according to Taylor, his long standing interest in political science can be traced all the way back to none other than skateboarding. 

“Skateboarding kind of starts in the late 60’s, and then in the 70’s it has its first big mass appeal,” said Taylor. “Then in 1984, I believe, ‘Back to the Future’ comes out and Michael J. Fox rides a skateboard around and then creates his hoverboard and every kid in America got a skateboard that year, and it became just this huge craze. I was in elementary school at the time.”

“The next trend came, I think it was breakdancing and hip-hop actually, and I just kept skating and I kept skating and suddenly it was cool and suddenly it wasn’t cool, and I was like, all of a sudden, ‘Wait a minute, I’m an outsider now. People think this is weird, but everybody did it last year, so why is that?’. So through skateboarding I got into punk rock, through punk rock I got into political activism,” said Taylor. “Also skateboarding, you know, especially then before we had skateparks, it was like you’d go out and get kicked out of parking lots and you’d have interactions with the police, so it kind of just got me thinking about law and society and being an outsider. That all, to me, led me to where I’m at today. Skateboarding, punk rock, academia, activism, all those things always went together.”

Alongside skateboarding, Taylor’s passion for punk music has stuck with him. By college, he had begun teaching himself how to play bass and guitar and was in a band of his own. 

Blair Taylor plays live with his band November Group. (Courtesy of Blair Taylor)

To Taylor, one of the best parts about being involved with the local scene were the lifelong connections and friendships he made. Small local venues made it possible to see bands from all over the world live. 

“We brought bands from California and from New York and even other countries to play here and play elsewhere,” said Taylor. “Then also at that same time, late 80’s through the late 90’s, when there were concerts here, there was a real problem with Neo-Nazis. We had Nazi skinheads that would come to punk shows and start fights and so this kind of anti-fascist anti-racist activism – that’s how I got politicized, through kicking Nazi punks out of the punk scene.”

Taylor can recall Neo-Nazis frequently invading the punk scene, but not without retaliation. He went to his very first show at Natacha’s, a revered West Bremerton music venue that recently burned down in 2018. 

“My first show, which was in a place called Natacha’s in Bremerton, that was an all ages club that has been doing shows since the 60’s,” said Taylor. “My mom went to her first concert there – Paul Revere & the Raiders. The Ramones played there, I mean, right here they played. Jerry Lee Lewis, Sir Mix-a-Lot… At that very first show, there was a big fight between punks and Nazi skinheads and I was like, ‘Woah!’. My parents are like, ‘You’re never going back!’. I was like, ‘Oh, I definitely am.'”

One thing that really stands out about Taylor is his passion for everything – students, hobbies, and career alike. 

Kamryn Hamrick, sophomore at CKHS, is currently taking Taylor’s semester-long psychology class. 

Blair Taylor passes out papers to his 4th period psychology class. (Jada Cowley)

“He’s very interactive with the students. So like, he’ll have a conversation with us or just be nice in general,” said Hamrick.  “It’s been fun. I like the little experiments we’ve been doing.” 

“If he starts talking to a kid about skateboarding he lights up.” said Randall. “When [my son] is in school, I hope that one day he can make a teacher light up by talking about  something, and I think that’s what Mr. Taylor has – if  you get him on the right topic, it’s like time and space no longer matter.”