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 Education

We believe an intensive residency experience where pre-service teachers are offered a blend of theory (Master of 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 partner schools. In addition, MTR Camp provides summer learning to elementary students within selected partner schools.

5. Ongoing Support, Development, and Community Life

Graduates and alumni stay connected through MTR University and social events.

MTR University seeks to:

  • Provide on-going quality professional development
    We know that we are never done learning, so we want MTRU Conferences to be a place where educators can come to learn about effective, research-based practices. We are always asking for feedback so we know what our teachers want to learn about, and we strive to provide those opportunities. We also know that teachers need to care for themselves, so we always offer Life Tracks, which are focused on topics related to faith, family, and finances.
  • Nourish the relationships and communities formed during the residency year
    We acknowledge that teaching is hard work, and we think that work is best done in the context of community. We deeply value the relationships our graduates and alumni have with each other and want to foster those, and that’s why we have mingle time, a devotional, and eat a meal together at the end of conference. We want MTRU Conferences to be a place where teachers connect with each other, share ideas, and feel dignified and cared for.
  • Offer formative leadership opportunities to graduates, alumni, and mentors
    We want to equip our graduates and alumni to leverage their expertise and gain experience presenting to their peers, so all MTRU Conference presenters have the opportunity to meet with an MTR Department Chair to plan their presentation. Following the Conference, presenters receive purposeful feedback so they can continue to improve.

Community Life
We understand that 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.