Memphis Teaching Residency

The Memphis Teacher Residency (MTR) was founded in 2009 to positively impact student achievement in Memphis’ urban schools by recruiting, training and supporting outstanding teachers, all within a Christian context.

MTR recruits both elementary and secondary teachers from both education and non-education majors.  The 09-10 initial class has 23 residents (13 secondary and 10 elementary). MTR anticipates a class of 32 residents (out of 159 applicants) for the June 2010 – May 2011 residency year.  One mid-term goal is to grow to staffing 20% of all Memphis City Schools’ 700 annual teacher openings with MTR graduates.

The MTR believes urban education is the single greatest social justice issue in America today.  It also believes that great teachers can absolutely make the difference in a child’s life.  So, it is their vision to call the most capable young leaders of this generation into urban education.  Christ, as the example, willingly left comfort and security for the sake of those (us) in need and as His followers, we are called to do the same. And they are asking the next wave of leaders to consider the places of greatest need for their vocation, and not to simply consider the places of greatest opportunity.  Or, as they like to say around MTR, need is the new opportunity.

As a window into this vocation, Director David Montague received a recent email from a MTR Resident:

I have a student named Andrea (name changed).  I’m cleaning out her seat sack today when I come across a few notes written about her.  At first I assume that an older cousin or bully could have written them…  One said, ‘Andrea House is ugly.  She is so domb.’  It broke my heart so I placed it on my mentor’s table….  My mentor later came back with a sampling of handwriting from the mother’s previous notes to the school.  It was a dead on match.  My heart was broken for this little girl.  Her own mother doesn’t believe in her or encourage her.   I was overwhelmed with grace for this child… we’ve had so many behavior issues with this girl…. kicking at teachers, running out of the room, hollering and screaming on a daily basis…. She has improved… but it’s been a daily battle. Today I finally saw past all her behavior outbursts… and saw this beautiful child of God.  It would be so easy to lower my expectations of her- knowing what she probably hears on a day- to-day basis.  However, I need to be professional and effective in the classroom.  I cannot lower my standards because I feel sorry for Andrea’s situation.  If I do that – I will ultimately fail her.

This is the big idea…  MTR is sending leaders into these places of high need equipped to be effective teachers and filled with high expectations for their students.  Their strategy is to send these teachers out en masse, in clusters, within strategic sets of feeder patterns (elementary, middle and high school networks) year after year after year. Over time, they hope to grow a majority number of MTR graduate-teachers within these schools and feeder patterns.  As they do, they hope to substantially impact not only classrooms but also entire school and feeder pattern cultures of learning.  Imagine the day when an “Andrea” might have a MTR graduate each year from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The article above was submitted by David Montague, director for Memphis Teaching Residency. For more information on the MTR, please visit

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