Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
2015 Classroom Fellow
New Haven, Connecticut
Bio/Overview: Matt Presser is currently enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Education doctoral program in educational leadership. As a Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow, Presser traveled to seven states to share information regarding federal policy and hold roundtables with teachers. He also authored the weekly Teachers Edition newsletter and spearheaded an effort to publish Voices from the Classroom on ED’s Homeroom blog. Most recently, he worked to leverage teacher voices to design and implement an elementary competency-based learning model that better meets student needs at King/Robinson Magnet School. 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 middle school and high school English in New Haven, Conn., including at a teacher-led school working without a principal that teachers run by consensus. 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.
Educational Values/Philosophy: Presser's commitment to equity in education is born out of his experiences at schools in very different environments. He is driven by an interest in finding creative alternatives to the prevailing school models, especially ones that better honor the voices of students and teachers in their development. In his classroom, he seeks to create authentic experiences that reimagine what school looks like and has piloted standards-based grading and competency-based promotion in an effort to report objectively what his students know and are able to do. He conducted home visits with his students' families to enlist parents as partners in their children's educations and 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.
Achievements: In 2016, Presser’s students won national recognition from the Think It Up Foundation for their innovative student-led passion projects. 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 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 served as an instructional coach for colleagues, leads professional development, and was 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:
- Innovative School Models
- Teacher Leadership
- Educational Opportunity and Equity Issues
- Competency-Based Education
- School Turnaround