• Academics
  • Leadership
  • UPrep
Leaders to Learn From: Jacob Taylor-Mosquera, Spanish Teacher

Spanish teacher Jacob Taylor-Mosquera's professional and educational journey has taken him to Europe and South America, providing him with a global awareness and social justice lens that made UPrep a perfect fit.

Mary Beth Lambert, Director of Marketing and Communications

Jacob Taylor-Mosquera is only in his second year teaching Spanish and coaching
JV soccer at UPrep, but he seems to know everyone. Walk the halls with him and you will hear Jacob joyfully calling out “hola” to students and faculty alike. Raised in Gig Harbor, Jacob’s professional and educational journey has taken him to Europe and South America, providing him with a global awareness and social justice lens that made UPrep a perfect fit.

What brought you to UPrep? Where did you previously teach/work?

Two years ago, I was teaching world history and an introduction to philosophy course at Colegio Bennett, a private bilingual middle and high school in the southern part of my native city, Cali, Colombia. Late one night, I did a Google search for “Spanish+Seattle+jobs” and one of the first results was a Spanish teaching position at University Prep.

While I was raised in the South Puget Sound, I wasn’t familiar with Seattle beyond the main tourist attractions, so I paused and clicked on the UPrep link. I was taken to the school’s website and read about Social Justice Day on campus. The fact that an independent school in Seattle had a day celebrating and exploring social justice intrigued me. I spent the next hour and half navigating the school’s website to learn more about the culture, faculty, athletics and the opportunities students had to travel abroad with the Global Link Program. When I was done, I was convinced that I wanted to be a part of the UPrep community!

What have been some of your favorite UPrep moments so far this year?

Culture Night arrived on the final Friday of a tumultuous couple of weeks for the school community. It was the ideal way for our community to stand up and categorically reject hate speech and hate acts. The dancing, food, music, information tables, and performances were a much needed boost of morale. I really enjoyed leading lessons on bachata dancing. 

How do you define leadership?

There are countless interpretations of what the word “leadership” means and I believe it depends greatly on a person’s individual experiences. I will not offer my definition, but instead submit that without sincerely listening, true and sustainable leadership cannot flourish. The traits that make a good leader--decision-making, patience, compromise, and honesty--simply fail to take flight without the leader first doing the work to listen to those s/he is attempting to lead.   

Who is a leader (current or a historical figure) you admire? Why?

I admire Jonas Eduardo Americo, known as “Edu,” a former Brazilian footballer (soccer player) and World Cup champion, whom I have had the honor of playing and coaching with. He views soccer as a way to bring together diverse groups of people. Every summer, he coaches at Northwest Soccer Camp at Bastyr University and even though he’s now in his 70’s, he’s like a kid on the field! Edu is someone you want to follow; he’s charismatic, listens well, and enjoys meeting and engaging with different types of people.

UPrep recently rolled out a new communications framework that amplifies our mission based on three key words: Include, Invent, and Inspire. How do you see these words come to life in our community?

The word that grabs my attention the most here is “Inspire.” From what I have seen in my short time at the school, faculty and staff at UPrep are fiercely dedicated to their subjects. Not only do they live active lives within their own fields, but countless members of the adult community lead parallel lives that are nothing short of motivating. They are coaches, parents, artists, athletes, designers, activists, world travelers, photographers, architects, singers, dancers, actors and much more. They embody what it means to be intellectually courageous and that energy and passion is passed on to the students.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to play soccer! In the fall and spring I play on a men’s outdoor team called Rainier Riot and our games are at varying fields around Seattle. During the winter, I play futsal, or a type of indoor soccer that emphasizes speedy foot skills, at a Capitol Hill gym.

I was adopted from Colombia in the mid 1980’s and raised in Gig Harbor. There is a large and active community of adoptees from Central and South America who live in the Pacific Northwest and we regularly come together for dinners and other social activities.

I have also begun working with a domestic, as well as international, editor on my memoir. Writing and publishing a book has been a dream since I took a middle school creative writing class. The dilemma was finding a theme or subject to write about. The story about how I found my biological family in Colombia, now almost 15 years ago, unfolded in such an intense and remarkable fashion that it seemed appropriate to write about it. The emotional highs and lows highlighted by a life-changing taxi ride, and all the intricate details therein, served as inspiration to make the story come to life. Why now? Simply because it feels like the right time. Chapters one through four (out of seven) are finished for the manuscript, and so the hunt begins for reputable publishers willing to explore publication both in English and Spanish.


More from PrepTalk