Educational Research Consultant and Speaker
Hi! I'm Matthew Courtney. I am an education professional with a passion for helping schools help kids.
I began my teaching career in 2010 as an Elementary Music Educator at Mayfield Elementary in Madison County, Kentucky. Mayfield was a highly diverse school, with a large free and reduced population. As the music educator, I was privileged to teach all students, kindergarten through fifth grade. I gave them opportunities to grow and succeed in a non-traditional academic setting. My student performed regularly and they were twice invited to perform at Historic Renfro Valley.
Seeing a need to increase access to high quality teacher professional development, I left the classroom to open the Bluegrass Center for Teacher Quality, a nonprofit organization exploring teacher led professional development initiatives. Through this work, I was able to facilitate leadership in other educators, providing teachers with in-depth training on leadership through professional development. I was also able to travel to speak and consult with other organizations and have spoken at 2015 SXSWedu conference in Austin, Texas and the 2015 and 2016 Leadership Summit for the National Education Association. In 2014, this work was featured by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the Teaching and Learning Conference when he said our program was "proving that [teacher] leadership matters - not just because it's good for the profession, but also because it helps the children they care about so much".
I currently work at the Kentucky Department of Education. As the Executive Staff Advisor in the Office of Continuous Improvement and Support, I support Kentucky's schools through research, data analysis, and rigorous program evaluation. My work targets schools identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI). I also lead KDE's Elevating Evidence initiative, which is the state's manifestation of ESSA’s evidence-based practices provisions. In 2020 I created the What Works Kentucky (WWKY) program, a year long training program for school leaders that teaches deep data analysis skills for decision making.
As a researcher, data nerd, and all around policy wonk, I love to explore questions related to school improvement and teacher quality.
My professional life has been dedicated to kids. I believe that education is the great equalizer and it is important to me that every child has an equitable opportunity to succeed.