MEMPHIS TEACHING RESIDENCY: EDUCATION REFORM WITHIN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Recently Christianity Today published an article highlighting Memphis Teaching Residency in their This Is Out City segment. Hope is proud to sponsor MTR and share its success story in Memphis.
Training teachers in urban education is Memphis Teaching Residency’s (MTR) main goal. However, unlike other teacher-training organizations, MTR staff realize that a great teacher is only part of the answer. When they leave the school building, students return to the cycle of poverty, drugs, and violence. One teacher in one classroom for one year can only do so much.
Thus, from the beginning, MTR chose to focus on four Memphis neighborhoods known for failing schools and high crime rates. Each MTR resident is strongly encouraged to take a job at one of the 15 schools in the four neighborhoods. With well-trained, caring teachers filling up the schools, a child is more likely to have a consistently positive experience in the classroom.
“We’re only willing to do education reform within a community development approach,” says Montague, “so that a child can be born in [a given neighborhood] and have a great teacher from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade.”
Resident Kevin Mattice, a transplant from Ohio, says that during his months at MTR, he’s learned “the power of being there for the kids and them knowing what they can expect from their teacher, the power of staying in a city for more than a year or two, and in a new way.”
This alone seems like a vast vision: to give children not only a great teacher, but a series of great teachers throughout a school, and to challenge young teachers to care more about renewal than about themselves. MTR desires not only great teachers, but great Christian teachers who do their job well and love the children they teach. Yet, Montague insists that even this vision is limited. “What we’re trying to do is redeem the city for God’s glory; and to redeem the city you redeem the community; and to redeem the community you redeem the person.”
With this goal in mind, Montague, brother Robert, and Drew Sippel, executive director of Cornerstone, a Memphis preparatory school, identified public sectors they consider key to revitalizing a community: education, youth, housing, and health. With information from public-education nonprofit Strive Initiative in Cincinnati, they considered statistics like test scores, graduation rates, crime rates, teenage pregnancy, and HIV rates, creating a metric to measure what a Memphis neighborhood growing toward health looks like.
Practically, this means that several organizations work together in one neighborhood. Two or three tackle education from early childhood through graduation. Other organizations provide youth programs, mentoring, and job training to teenagers. Perhaps two more work on improving housing conditions and removing blight. Finally, at least one organization monitors the health of the neighborhood, providing free or cheap care to residents. As the neighborhoods begin to improve, neighbors begin to know each other, to look out for each other, and to care about their neighborhoods again. And, more importantly, they are empowered to make their own changes.
This article originally appeared on christianitytoday.com on Jan. 24, 2012 by Monica Shelby. Be sure to go and read the full article on Christianity Today. Find out more about Memphis Teaching Residency online.
AMERICAN THE GENEROUS
Despite the economic hardships of so many Americans, the nation remains charitable. According to a recent report from the Britain-based Charities Aid Foundation, America is by far the most charitable country on Earth. We give about 2% of our national income to charity; most other countries give 1% or much less.
According to the study of more than 150,000 interviews conducted in 153 countries, people were asked about their behavior in the previous month, including whether they had donated money to charity, volunteered time to an organization or helped a stranger. Sixth-five percent of respondents in the U.S. said they had given money; 43% had volunteered; and 75% had helped someone they didn’t know. The top-ranked U.S. was followed by Ireland Australia, New Zealand and Britain.
Adam Meyerson of the Philanthropy Roundtable commented, “In America people don’t wait for the government to solve problems. We step up and solve problems ourselves.“ He added that charitable giving also helps the U.S. maintain a thriving civil society. It is the “life-blood” of our public discourse, he said. “Name a great issue that we’re wrestling with today – the role of government in our health care, pensions, retirement security, same-sex unions, school choice, all these issues. It’s charitable giving that has made possible a vigorous debate on both sides.”
TOYS OR TOOLS? ETERNAL INVESTMENT WITH YOUR KIDS by ALAN BARNHART
When we talk about spending money with our kids, we use tool and toy terminology. A toy is something we would buy for our own pleasure, comfort, or fun. A tool is something we would buy that God could use in His service. We try to minimize the investment in toys and maximize the investment in tools.
One of the tools we have spent a fair amount of money on for our kids is international travel. They’ve been able to see what God is doing all over the world.
It has been a blessing for my children to not grow up as rich kids. They have the privilege of sitting around our dinner table with people from dozens of different countries as they come through the U.S. to hear what God is doing in Libya, in Iraq, or in China. They have grown up hearing about how great God is and seeing firsthand what He is doing all over the world. I think that is so much better than video games, trips to Disney World, or the things that they’ve not been able to do.
Several years ago, when we went through the process of basically giving our company away, it was not a traumatic experience for them. They were totally on board with it. My oldest son said, “Thank you, thank you for doing this. This saved me a lot of potential heartache.”
We don’t indulge their every desire, but that’s freeing for our kids. We spend a lot of time with them, and we opened their eyes by taking them around the world.
The Bible says to leave a rich inheritance for your children, and I think that has little to do with money. I want to leave a rich inheritance of faith, education, ability, and motivation.
Alan Barnhart and his wife, Katherine, have six children. Alan was a recent speaker at the Hope Foundation’s Celebrate Generosity in Memphis 2009 Fall event. To view Alan’s testimony along with other Stories of Hope, please visit http://www.hopememphis.com/recent-news/stories-of-hope.