Monday Teacher Highlight: Matt Cowan

Mr. Matt Cowan

Sixth Grade, Aspire Hanley Elementary

Hometown: Memphis

Education: Central High, University of Memphis

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Author: Matt Cowan | Excerpt from MTR 2014 Yearbook: Community Matters

After I graduated from the University of Memphis, I talked to my pastor about teaching. She had been a teacher and told me about MTR. I fell in love with the vision. I identified with many of MTR’s values— grounded in Christ, grounded in equality, grounded in leveling the playing field for everybody regardless of socioeconomic circumstances. I remember thinking, what better way can you do that than by becoming a teacher? You go into the places of greatest need, and you love the kids unconditionally.

By going to MTR, I could learn to be a teacher and also grow in my faith—by being surrounded by other believers and seeing how they worship and study. The residency year has been really faith-challenging. Sometimes when you are working hard, it can go totally wrong. Maybe you spent three hours planning a lesson, and it bombs. Or you tried your best to love a kid, and he resented it. You are trying and trying and it seems like you are failing. However, you eventually see progress. You begin to experience success. I realize that in those sufferings, my faith has been made stronger. That is something I’ve learned here: the practice of being faithful, of doing what I’m supposed to do so that God can do what he will do.

The MTR basement [where the resident workroom is located] is a wonderful place. I am there a lot, and other residents are there too. It is helpful to be able to teach your lesson to other residents or talk it out with them. You can shoot an email to the community of MTR teachers asking a question and get a response from somebody who has a great idea or resource. I can serve my kids better through that collaboration. The best thing is going through this year with a cohort of residents grounded in Christ. You have people with you, in the trenches, in the struggle, who are going through similar challenges. They can show empathy, understand that struggle, speak life into you, affirm you, and provide the feedback you need to get better.”