If you are a parent, Matthew Sayers is the type of teacher you would want your kids to have the opportunity to learn from. If you think History is one of the most boring subjects you have to suffer through in school. Matthew will make it your favorite class.
We met Matthew when he sent us a press release on a project he was working on telling the story of World War II veteran John Goodman. We get a lot of requests for coverage and we read them all. Something about Matthew’s note struck a cord. One of the popular feature articles we published told the story of Medal of Honor Recipient Maynard Smith from Caro, Michigan. Mr. Goodman lives here in Fenton, sounds like an interesting story. I added Matthew’s request to my follow-up list to give him a call.
Dr. Matthew Sayers, a Fenton resident for the last 15 years, is a World History/Social Studies Teacher at Bendle High School in Burton. In 17 years at Bendle, Matthew’s had the opportunity to influence the lives of countless students walking the school halls and setting in his classes.
His teaching philosophy centers around his concept that “Learning is the most fun you can have.” Think about that, we learn new things every day. Most of what we learn comes from our experiences, the majority of which are positive. When you frame life in this perspective you can see why Matthew’s classes are not just ordinary old boring history.
Matthew earned his Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University. He earned Master’s and Specialist’s Degrees from Oakland University. At the conclusion of his formal studies Central Michigan conferred upon him a Doctorate Degree. Yes, Matthew loves Michigan and speaks highly of the State’s University system.
Matthew’s love of history can be traced to a childhood sitting with his Dad in front of the television watching History and Discovery Channel programming. Another constant in Matthew’s life has been music. “It seems like music has always been a part of me while growing up. I was in bands when I was younger, writing and performing songs.” Matthew plays the guitar, drums, and bass guitar.
While history does not inspire everyone. We all have a musical connection of some sort in our lives. How many time have you been listening to the radio and that one specific song comes on? The one that transports you to another place and time. The melody or lyrics remind you of that special someone or memorable moment. It is interesting how music invokes memories. Matthew recognized this early in his career and began to incorporate the magic of music in his teaching.
Social media is such a part of young peoples lives, Matthew decided to record some songs where he incorporated his musical talents with a lesson on history. He would lay down the music tracks one at a time. Then, with the assistance of his videographer Sean Ritchey, a video track would be paired with the audio. The result, a YouTube video is born and a teaching tool is developed. Here is Matthew’s rap on “The Cold War.”
According to Matthew. “If I can create something fun for myself, the kids find it fun as well. Sean and I don’t mind making a fool of ourselves if we can produce something funny, I don’t take myself too seriously.” Matthew’s YouTube channel has a fair number of subscribers. Reading the comments on videos you can pick out the students appreciation of his efforts. My favorite, “Battle of Verdun” who knew a World War I conflict could be so cool.
Here is Matthew’s Tribute to Fenton WWII Veteran John Goodman.
Check Out All of Matthews Videos
Matthew’s videos are a quirky form of genius. If you watch them I bet you learn something you did not know before. What a great way to interact with young people. Tie that music memory to an event in history and suddenly it not so difficult to remember. Here is a link to all of the videos Matthew has on YouTube.
We subscribed to Matthew’s YouTube channel, can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. He hints that a series on WWII and Holocaust Survivors is in the works. Sounds interesting, we’ll be watching.