Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
2015 Classroom Fellow
New Haven, Connecticut
Bio/Overview: Matt Presser is currently an instructional coach at the King/Robinson Magnet School in New Haven. Presser's teaching career has taken him through a wide cross-section of the American education system, from an elite private school to low-performing turnaround schools. Across this spectrum, he has analyzed Shakespeare with high school seniors and taught the alphabet to kindergarteners. He taught high school English at High School in the Community, a teacher-led school working without a principal that teachers run by consensus. As a middle school language arts teacher, at Celentano Museum Academy, he worked to amplify his students' voices, publishing their writing in the local newspaper and driving significant growth in their reading. Beyond traditional English classes, he taught a course on local history that involved field trips via city bus to tour different neighborhoods and another that had his high school students delivering speeches to and reading with elementary schoolers. Most recently, he has worked to leverage teacher voices to design and implement a competency-based learning model that better meets student needs at a high-poverty New Haven elementary school. Prior to teaching, Presser trained as a journalist and worked briefly in that field, writing breaking news and feature articles in three states.
Educational Values/Philosophy: Presser's commitment to equity in education is driven by his experiences at schools in very different environments. In the last few years, he has conducted more than 100 home visits with his students' families to enlist parents as partners in their children's educations. He has achieved some of his greatest successes with students outside of the traditional classroom, during long after-school study sessions and at the public library on Saturday mornings. He believes in expanding teacher leadership roles and ensuring that teachers are at the table when decisions are made affecting students and classrooms. He also believes in developing new models of schooling that better prepare students for the future. He has piloted standards-based grading and competency-based promotion in his classroom in an effort to report objectively what his students know and are able to do.
Achievements: In 2012, Presser served as one of 50 Teacher Fellows with the National Academy for Advanced Teacher Education. In 2011, he was the winner of the NBC Education Nation teacher essay contest, appearing on a nationwide TV broadcast with Brian Williams. In 2008, Presser also coauthored a research article on the experiences of student-teachers which was presented to the American Educational Research Association.
Leadership Experience: Presser represented teachers as a union steward and as a teacher representative on several district-level committees working on issues related to teacher evaluation and equity. He serves as an instructional coach for colleagues, leads professional development, and is a member of his school's leadership team. He designed and implemented a freshman academy model at a high school that led to substantially improved academic and behavioral results.
Affiliations: American Federation of Teachers; National Academy for Advanced Teacher Education; National Endowment for the Humanities; New Haven Educators for Progress, Innovation, and Collaboration
Education: Presser received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He went on to earn a master's degree in urban education studies from Yale University.
Areas of Interest:
- Teacher Leadership
- Educational Opportunity and Equity Issues
- Competency-Based Education
- School Turnaround