Campus Director Spotlight: Q&A with Matt Wheeler from Citizen Schools Texas

mattwheelerMatt Wheeler is Campus Director at the Edison Middle School in Houston, TX As a Campus Director, Matt ensures students have a quality Extended Learning Time program that offers many different authentic academic experiences. Which is a multi-dimensional task and requires flexibility. Matt is in his second year as a Campus Director, currently leading a team of three Citizen Schools staff members.

What brought you to Citizen Schools?

It was the apprenticeships. In the education field you hear of authentic activities and authentic assessments stressed as instructional practices and how powerful they are for student achievement. When looking at the different program elements that Citizen Schools offered, I thought to myself that this is authenticity in the classroom. As a former classroom teacher, I strove to create authentic opportunities for students but often found it difficult to do so frequently primarily due to the lack resources available. Citizen Schools provides teachers and students with the resources, the expertise through Citizen Teachers, and the planning and structure through the driven Team Leaders (Americorps National Teaching Fellows and School Support Staff) to create these powerful and authentic opportunities for our shared students.

What has working here meant to you?

Working here has meant learning to serve our students through supporting my Americorps National Teaching Fellow campus team. Whether it be supporting them logistically, operationally, instructionally, or simply listening to them during our one-on-one meetings, I have learned that when I do everything I can to support their needs, they are better able to serve our students.

What was your biggest achievement since you began working here?

My biggest achievement is a collection of the many fascinating and powerful observations I have seen as a result of the Citizen Schools program on my campus. Some of these include seeing 6th -graders creating electrical circuits and intelligently discussing ohms with a NASA engineer, watching a group of students finish a 5k run and receive medals, and playing a computer game created by 6th graders. These are simply a few of the apprenticeships and examples that I have had the opportunity to be a part of at Citizen Schools. An exhaustive list would be impossible because it would also include numerous, less noticeable, but equally important, moments. Such as seeing a father’s pride as his son received a value star award from an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow or a student frequently checking his tie because he wants to look as professional as possible before sharing what he learned in his apprenticeship with his parents and community members.

What are you looking forward to in your next 6 months at work?

I am looking forward to Edison Middle School’s next WOW! event. Students finally saw what it meant, the exposition of what they learned, and the celebration with their families at the December WOW!. Now, everyone from the school community - the schools’ staff, Citizen Schools’ staff, students, families, and I - are all looking forward to the students showcasing what they’ve learned at the end of the semester at the WOW!