Memphis Teaching Residency

The Memphis Teacher Residency (MTR) was founded in 2009 to positively impact student achievement in Memphis’ urban schools by recruiting, training and supporting outstanding teachers, all within a Christian context.

MTR recruits both elementary and secondary teachers from both education and non-education majors.  The 09-10 initial class has 23 residents (13 secondary and 10 elementary). MTR anticipates a class of 32 residents (out of 159 applicants) for the June 2010 – May 2011 residency year.  One mid-term goal is to grow to staffing 20% of all Memphis City Schools’ 700 annual teacher openings with MTR graduates.

The MTR believes urban education is the single greatest social justice issue in America today.  It also believes that great teachers can absolutely make the difference in a child’s life.  So, it is their vision to call the most capable young leaders of this generation into urban education.  Christ, as the example, willingly left comfort and security for the sake of those (us) in need and as His followers, we are called to do the same. And they are asking the next wave of leaders to consider the places of greatest need for their vocation, and not to simply consider the places of greatest opportunity.  Or, as they like to say around MTR, need is the new opportunity.

As a window into this vocation, Director David Montague received a recent email from a MTR Resident:

I have a student named Andrea (name changed).  I’m cleaning out her seat sack today when I come across a few notes written about her.  At first I assume that an older cousin or bully could have written them…  One said, ‘Andrea House is ugly.  She is so domb.’  It broke my heart so I placed it on my mentor’s table….  My mentor later came back with a sampling of handwriting from the mother’s previous notes to the school.  It was a dead on match.  My heart was broken for this little girl.  Her own mother doesn’t believe in her or encourage her.   I was overwhelmed with grace for this child… we’ve had so many behavior issues with this girl…. kicking at teachers, running out of the room, hollering and screaming on a daily basis…. She has improved… but it’s been a daily battle. Today I finally saw past all her behavior outbursts… and saw this beautiful child of God.  It would be so easy to lower my expectations of her- knowing what she probably hears on a day- to-day basis.  However, I need to be professional and effective in the classroom.  I cannot lower my standards because I feel sorry for Andrea’s situation.  If I do that – I will ultimately fail her.

This is the big idea…  MTR is sending leaders into these places of high need equipped to be effective teachers and filled with high expectations for their students.  Their strategy is to send these teachers out en masse, in clusters, within strategic sets of feeder patterns (elementary, middle and high school networks) year after year after year. Over time, they hope to grow a majority number of MTR graduate-teachers within these schools and feeder patterns.  As they do, they hope to substantially impact not only classrooms but also entire school and feeder pattern cultures of learning.  Imagine the day when an “Andrea” might have a MTR graduate each year from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The article above was submitted by David Montague, director for Memphis Teaching Residency. For more information on the MTR, please visit

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Downline Ministries: Recruiting a Better Memphis

DownLine (DL) is a local ministry committed to the training and equipping of church, ministry, and lay leadership to more effectively make disciples. Many have heard of the DownLine Institute, in which 120 of the Christian ministry and lay leaders in the city are presently being trained. However, less may be familiar with an incredibly redemptive facet of the ministry taking root in the community, the Emerging Leaders (EL) Program.

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Kingdom Advisors Growing In Memphis

In the fast changing regulatory and economic climate, wouldn’t it be nice to find a financial advisor whose advice is tested, relevant and sound?

Recently, a group of Memphis financial professionals – financial planners, trust officers, estate attorneys – began meeting on a monthly basis to receive just that type of advice.  It is part of Kingdom Advisors Community and Small Group model.  Kingdom Advisors was formed to engage, equip and empower Christian financial professionals to embrace and implement the life-changing principles of Biblical stewardship.

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Journey of Generosity: Where Are You On Your Journey?

The Generous Giving (GG) organization based out of Chattanooga, TN in recent years has successfully grown generosity through leading weekend experiences called Journeys of Generosity.  Usually held over a weekend hosted by an individual or couple, these gatherings are guided by a trained facilitator and expose participants to the life changing message of generosity while engaging the heart around the topic of giving.

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Non-Profit Best Practices: Tracking Tangible Results

Research and common wisdom proves that donors prefer giving to a ministry or non-profit they know is having a significant impact.  Very few organizations take the time to measure results and share these tangible trackable numbers with their staff, board or donors.  As the economy tightens the budget for many donors, it is an industry best practice for organization to track the impact data in order to win donors’ attention and dollars. If a donor removes the emotions from the decision, how will they determine who to support in 2009?  One local non-profit that tracks their progress and that has the eye of many Hope donors is Advance Memphis.

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Affordable Alternatives to Public Schools

The state of education in Memphis has encouraged many concerned individuals, churches, foundations and other organizations to get involved with educational alternatives to inner-city children in order to provide the tipping point to turn around education in Memphis.  In addition to supporting several charter schools, donors of the Hope Christian Community Foundation have been quietly focusing on growing the critical mass of affordable, christian, private education options for inner-city children in Memphis.

Fifteen christian schools have been established over the past ten years.  This includes the re-opening of six Catholic schools in 1999.  These “Jubilee” Schools now include ten schools serving grades K-8 with an enrollment of almost 1,400 children with tuition as low as $100. New Hope Christian Academy offers grades K-6 for over 360 children with tuition based on the income and size of the student’s family.  Other schools with similar missions include Brinkley Heights Urban Academy, the Memphis Campus of St. George’s Independent School, Perea Pre-school and most recently, the Collegiate School of Memphis.  The Collegiate School will start with a seventh grade class in the fall of 2008 and add additional grades each succeeding year.   This middle and future high school will serve children primarily graduating from the other Christian elementary schools. The total enrollment for all fifteen schools will be approximately 2,800.

Charter schools are generally available for students of public schools failing to make adequate progress as defined by the state of Tennessee or students who fail proficiency tests at their school.  Charter schools require private funding since state funding does not cover all operating expense or the cost of facilities.  Ten charter schools are opened or planned with current enrollment of over 2,200.  Two of these are operated by Christian Churches:  Circles of Success Learning Academy by St. Andrew African Methodist Episcopal and Power Center Academy by New Direction Christian Church.  Other charter schools of note are Soulsville Charter School, Memphis Academy of Health Sciences, Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, and Promise Academy.  Grizzlies Academy represents a third category of alternative schools.  Technically a Memphis City school, it is considered a high performing, “break the mold” high school.

These christian and charter schools represent alternatives to public schools with affordable tuition (zero in the case of charter schools).  While relatively small versus the local public school system, these schools will continue to grow in the number of schools and, especially, in enrollment as many schools continue to add grade levels.  They represent a vital and important alternative for inner-city children while representing a competitive push to many struggling Memphis City schools.  If you are interested in finding out more of how you can get involved with affordable alternatives to Memphis public schools and specifically the schools mentioned in this story, please view our website for more information.

ReachLife Ministries is Changing Lives After the Music Stops

ReachLife Ministries is a 501c3 not for profit organization based in Memphis working within the Binghampton Community. It was established by the owners of Reach Records, a Christian hip hop label.  As Reach Record’s Christian hip hop artists traveled weekly across the globe performing and teaching to over 100,000 youth in churches and ministries, they saw first hand the influence of hip hop as a medium for teaching God’s word. When the concert was over, youth were left not knowing where to turn to grow and how to live out a biblical lifestyle. Ministry leaders, particularly in the urban setting, expressed a need for resources that unpacked the scriptures in the same language and cultural relevance as the music in order to continue the ministry beyond the concert.

ReachLife chose to be a part of the transforming work God has already begun in Memphis and wants to impact youth and empower leaders locally. There are over 148,000 youth between the ages of 10-24 currently living in Memphis who are daily being influenced by hip hop culture and its lifestyle. They want to extend the reach of the current organizations to reach those youth, engage them with relevant teaching of the word, and disciple them in godliness. ReachLife is providing a key element that empowers leaders to transform this city!

Reach has already had the opportunity to saturate Memphis with biblically solid, relevant music to over 6,000 youth through their relationships with over 20 different ministries. Reach is currently producing multimedia resources to equip these ministries with engaging, solid tools related to youth in their language. These projects include a 13 week DVD study of the Pauline Epistles with the biblical lessons applied in an urban setting. They are also developing a study on biblical manhood in the urban context. One in three inner city men will have a child without playing a role in their child’s life… the majority of young men in inner city Memphis will grow up with no concept of being a godly man. ReachLife wants to transform hearts, and raise up men who will lead their families and communities in godliness.

Visit ReachLife at or to find out more.  ReachLife also has an upcoming benefit dinner in March featuring Joe White, President of Kanakuk Kamps, as the guest speaker for those interested in learning more.

The Hope for Memphis Fund Awards Its First Grants

The Hope for Memphis Fund awarded its first grants to Advance Memphis and Families Matter.

Advance Memphis is an economic development ministry serving adults in the Foote and Cleaborn Housing Projects on Vance Avenue.  Advance offers “soft” job skills training, financial literacy and GED classes, and on-the-job training in an out-sourced manufacturing operation on the premises. Made in partnership with the Second Presbyterian Church Foundation, the grant will fund an additional staff person to increase the ministry’s capacity and improve effectiveness.

Families Matter is a partnership of Christ Community Health Services, Agape Child & Family Services, and Christian Psychological Center.  Its mission is to increase awareness of the value of marriage and the skills needed to grow a healthy family.  Made in partnership with the Lansky Foundation and Second Presbyterian Church Foundation, the grant will be used to hire an executive director to restart this ministry.

The two initial areas of focus for the Hope for Memphis Fund are to empower and strengthen existing Christian ministries in Memphis as well as to promote and encourage servant leadership.