How do you prepare the next generation of leaders and innovators for dealing with problems that might not even exist yet? Mr. Portell may know the answer.

When Mathew Portell became the executive principal of Fall-Hamilton Elementary in downtown Nashville, he took a different approach. Everything in his school, from trauma-informed curriculum to ambient lighting choices, is designed to meet students’ social, emotional and educational needs. His transformative teaching and mentoring practices have been proven extremely successful, resulting in a better academic performance, stronger faculty support system and more confident, well-adjusted kids eager to take on the future. Fall-Hamilton’s success story is that of innovation in action—exactly what 4Front is all about.

Aside from teaching kids and mentoring his fellow educators, Mathew’s other passion is cycling. In 2008, he combined both interests to form an award-winning non-profit called Ride for Reading, an organization that has distributed over 500,000 books to underserved children via bicycle. In 2018, he started Paradigm Shift Education, an international consulting company that provides trauma-informed educator training. Recently, we asked Mathew to tell us a bit more about his goals as an educator, as well as what he hopes to accomplish at 4Front.

What made you interested in becoming an ambassador for 4Front?

The idea of bringing together professionals from four different sectors to share ideas in order to collectively and collaboratively focus on innovation is something I could not pass up. Education is the bedrock for all innovation as children are being prepared for jobs that do not even exist. Educators are often excluded from global innovation conversations, even though we are on the front line of producing innovators and thinkers. To be in a space with like-minded professionals who want to visualize the future with endless possibilities is exactly where I want to be. As the education ambassador, I am honored to be a part of 4Front.

How do you think an event like 4Front could create a positive future?

When collective focus, synergy and collaboration are at the forefront of any organization—a company, school or conference—there is sure to be a positive outcome. By tapping into diverse perspectives and experiences, 4Front is opening countless opportunities for what our future can be. We must reimagine how we live, learn, work and play through a different lens and 4Front can serve as the platform for planning and creating a positive future. 

What unique perspective do you hope to bring to 4Front? 

As a veteran educator, I have been a teacher, instructional coach and school administrator in elementary, middle and high schools. In the past five years I have led an internationally recognized trauma-informed elementary school that’s changing how we educate and support children. Because of this work, I have been given the opportunity to travel and speak, throughout the country and internationally, about the impacts of childhood trauma and how school innovation is imperative to the success of all children. The approaches that my school, Fall-Hamilton Elementary, has established have traveled the globe and impacted countless children. I believe now is the time to shift the paradigm and visualize what education should be for all kids.

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself than what’s on the current site? What are your passions? What makes you tick? What quirks do you have?

I have a remarkable family! I am the birth father to an amazing 9 year old boy and a foster father to two remarkably resilient boys who are 6 and 9. I find my self-care and spiritual motivation in cycling. Although my riding is much more limited now, it is still a significant part of me. In 2008, I combined my passions for cycling and education and founded Ride for Reading, a national non-profit organization that has donated over 500,000 books to children, via bicycle, in low-income schools. In 2018, I used my Ride for Reading experience to start Paradigm Shift Education, an international consulting company that provides professional training for educators on the impact of childhood trauma in kids. Making a positive impact on the lives of others makes me tick! It’s what inspires me daily and serves as my motivation. Also, I’m slightly obsessed with building Lego. As an adult whose brain rarely slows down, sitting down with a large Lego set allows me to calm and create. I find it therapeutic!  

Interested in meeting Mathew and other experts in media, health, connectivity, technology and more? Be sure to reserve your seat at 4Front, June 23-24, in Denver, CO.

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