Theory of Change


The mission of MTR is not simply to prepare high-potential teachers for Memphis schools. Our mission is Christian love expressed in equal education. The change we desire is that our city’s most marginalized communities would have access to the same quality of education within their neighborhood-zoned schools as does any other child in Memphis.

To contribute to this positive change, we are working toward a critical mass of effective teachers in each of our partner schools. For sustainable change to occur, we need large numbers of effective teachers, kindergarten through 12th grade, working in the same schools and feeder-patterns for long periods of time. MTR aims to ensure each principal in a partner school has access to high-potential new hires whenever there are vacancies in their teaching staff. This will lead to the critical mass needed for measurable and sustainable change toward equal education.

To help build this critical mass of effective teachers in partner neighborhoods, we employ a five-fold strategy that includes (1) exposure to educational inequality; (2) strategic recruiting and rigorous selection; (3) innovative teacher training within a residency model; (4) teacher placement within partner schools; and (5) ongoing professional and community support—all within a Christian context.


1. Exposure to Educational Inequality

MTR offers a variety of introductions to both the need within and the experience of teaching in an under-resourced community. We hope that this website and our EdGap map serve to bring attention to the need for many more committed, effective teachers working in Memphis’ economically marginalized communities. Through our blog and social media , we aim to share the lessons, the joy, and the hope we have found in serving Memphis students. We work to offer personal experiences of education in Memphis through MTR Camp, Preview Days, weekend visits, and J-Term courses. We also invite college professors and career services staff to our University Preview Days to get to know MTR and consider how their graduating students might benefit from a residency model of teacher preparation specifically for marginalized schools and students. Ultimately we want a larger audience to be exposed to the important work of teaching for educational equality.


2. Strategic Recruiting and Rigorous Selection

MTR recruits high-potential teachers working toward educational justice. We do this through a variety of strategies including campus visits, strategic partnerships with education and ministry partners, and by offering personal and friendly responses to your questions. Our selection model focuses on identifying potential leaders that exhibit qualities of perseverance, good communication skills, content and cultural knowledge, and humility, among others.


3. Teacher Residency Model and Master of Urban Education

We believe an intensive residency experience where pre-service teachers are offered a blend of theory (Master of Urban Education) and relevant practice (internship) in schools under the guidance of a mentor teacher and an instructional coach is the most effective method of training teachers for service. We offer this training only within a cohort model to promote the valuable characteristics of Christian community, team, and family that are so helpful in the life of a teacher.


4. Placement in Strategic Feeder Patterns

Inconsistent exposure to effective teaching will not improve the academic trajectory of a child’s life. Connection with and the support of fellow teachers within the same school is a wonderful benefit and encouragement, increasing both teacher effectiveness and retention. Therefore, for the benefit of both the student and teacher, MTR works to place teachers only within our 38 partner schools. In addition, MTR Camp provides summer learning to elementary students within selected partner schools.


5. Ongoing Support, Development, and Community Life

MTR offers ongoing professional support through individual coaching in years 1-4. Additionally, graduates and alumni have access to MTR University (MTRU), a series of group trainings and seminars, to ensure teachers continue to grow in their craft for their entire career. For those who feel lead to leadership, the MTR Leader Residency trains four MTR Alumni each year to become school leaders in MTR partner schools.

We understand that the teachers are more than their job. We believe a healthy and balanced life is best for all. For their entire career, MTR teachers are offered and encouraged to participate in a variety of social events to maintain both perspective and friendship.

“MTR is the first place I look when I have teaching positions open.”
-Principal, Shelby County Schools