“Dr. Matt Finch [is] an impressive speaker with a passionate commitment to literacy development.” – David Bradbury MP, Assistant Treasurer to the Australian Treasury
“Matt is one of the most outstanding individuals I have encountered in my quarter century in university education. His rare set of gifts combines intellect and professionalism with all-round humanity and commitment.”
-Dr. Warren Boutcher, Dean for Taught Programmes (Humanities and Social Sciences), Queen Mary University of London
“Auckland Libraries employed Dr Matt Finch on a fixed term contract from February until August 2013. We appointed Matt to push the boundaries in how our large public library network creates innovative programmes for children and young people. His brief was to inspire others to experiment and learn from the experience of working in fresh, even unexpected ways. We wanted to increase the library’s involvement in interactive play for people of all ages.
In response, Matt created novel opportunities for teams to learn about meaningful play through actually doing play and gaming. He convinced us to buy a store of Nerf guns which, unleashed, became the means of attracting teens into learning experiences. Matt wrote the storyline for a time-travel themed school holiday programme that piloted a vibrant approach to self-directed learning across the library network.
Urging colleagues to see possibilities beyond the library walls, Matt brokered relationships with community and business partners that resulted in a rich array of offsite events and opportunities for library activities in art spaces and retail environments around the city. He built valuable relationships between Auckland Libraries and youth-focused organisations here and overseas.
To drive innovative thinking, Matt sometimes chose to take the lead role and move us into a completely new space. He conceived and created our first Dark Night Festival, a season of adult-focused cabaret and burlesque events to celebrate, challenge, and question sex and sexuality on page, stage, and screen. Dark Night was so successful that it attracted the attention of a city art festival, for which Matt hosted a follow-up event exploring the history of censorship in New Zealand.
Internally, Matt transformed our annual in-house training event for children’s and youth librarians into an international programme, arranging guest speakers from Christchurch, Wellington, Melbourne and New South Wales. This dynamic two-day event created a sense of urgency around the new rules of engagement that a library needs to stay relevant: will we see rules as constraints or a springboard?
Matt delivered on the promise to shake us out of business as usual and engender innovative thinking, collaboration and risk taking. His time at Auckland Libraries created tangible and lasting results in both programmes and mindsets.”
-Greg Morgan, Manager Service Development, Auckland Libraries
“Matt was an invaluable addition to our web content team, able to work unsupervised and deliver superb work on time, every time. I would love to have Matt as a full time content editor and hope to work with him again in the future.”
-Dr. Ashley Tucker, Digital Channels Programme Manager at Herefordshire Council and NHS Herefordshire
“Dr. Finch’s contribution to Behind the Book has been vital to our mission in moving the organization forward. His educational background has allowed him to create materials appropriate to all ages from kindergarten to high school. He has also provided useful advice and insight from his extensive experience. I have no hesitation in recommending Dr. Finch for work in educational consulting, curriculum design and community outreach.”
-Jo Umans, Executive Director and Founder, Behind the Book, New York City
“Matt has visited Wellington City two years in a row to run region-wide workshops on ‘outside-the-box’ literacy for libraries, and he continues to be impressive. Instantly grasping the concept of these workshops, Matt was adaptive and happy to cater to our unique requirements. He is a friendly, down to earth and very likeable character, who related well to the workshop attendees, regardless of their various levels of knowledge, experience and backgrounds. He runs his workshops in a relaxed, yet professional style with the perfect blend of static and dynamic activity, and, in response, we’ve received nothing but positive comments from the attendees. We would count ourselves very fortunate to have Matt back to Wellington City again in the future.”
-Adrienne Hannan, Children’s and Youth Services Coordinator, Wellington City Libraries, New Zealand
“In 2012 students at Tullamore were involved in the initial [zombie survival] workshop with Dr Matt Finch. This workshop was a great starting point for many of our students – some who are reluctant writers - to immerse themselves in the world of creative writing. In 2013 our students were given the opportunity to assist in giving students from both Parkes High School and Trundle Central School to experience the same workshop – except this time we were the zombies!
Our students continued to develop their skills in drama, character profiling and writing as part of this workshop. It also required students to work in teams to complete the human pinata task which required students to problem solve. The two days gave students a starting point to write some creative pieces in lessons after the workshops that were about not only survival but how to plan a battle strategy which brought in the text types of the narrative, recount and procedure. This again hooked in our reluctant writers with many producing a sustained piece of writing as a result.”
-Natasha Shankelton, Head Teacher Secondary Studies, Tullamore Central School
“In 2013, our students participated in the Zombie Day at Tullamore. The day was well organised and all students were involved and immersed in the world Dr. Finch created for them. Students thoroughly enjoyed the “zombie experience” with its role playing elements, creativity, and use of higher order thinking skills. Students developed skills in cooperation and teamwork and the writing elements were cleverly incorporated into the activities, for example, using zombie texts to write book reviews. Students had to review if the books had any strategies or tips on surviving zombie outbreaks as well as devising a break out plan. As the kids were immersed in the task they were keen to write! Dr. Finch’s genuine, down to earth, helpful, and playful approach to the experience was really fantastic.”
-Cara Cracknell, Principal, Trundle Central School
“Matt is a gifted speaker with a talent for relating to his audience and engaging them in his subject and passion. He has a vast knowledge of libraries around the world and was happy to talk about their innovations and share information with us. He understands the issues libraries are facing and customised his workshop to suit our situation. Flexible and thoughtful, he was willing to adapt his subject matter to the needs of his participants as he quickly grasped where their attention and zeal lie. The participants were led on an active journey of discovery into pop culture phenomena. They left the workshop excited, engaged and full of new ideas and knowledge, and with a good dose of enthusiasm – ready to seize and craft new opportunities. We are looking forward to having Matt return next year to delight us with his lively personality and enlighten us further with his new discoveries.”
-Rose Barker, Manager, Wellington City Libraries
“When Parkes Library works with Dr Matt Finch, we always know we are going to receive a dose of the extraordinary.
His approach to literacy is not only completely engaging to students of all ages but shows a preparedness to work outside the norm that consistently provides our library with positive results. In real terms this means that we make connections with students and schools that we’ve missed in the past, fill teen workshops to capacity in record time (and negotiate extra sessions to meet demand), while increasing our visitor, borrowing and membership numbers.
Through working collaboratively with Matt we know that we are providing Parkes children with unique opportunities. It is so satisfying watching the kids participate in the full-sensory workshops then becoming so totally immersed in their writing and drawing that they don’t want to stop.
With Dr Finch in the library, usual policy is suspended occasionally. Instead of frowning upon mobile phone conversations, the staff can’t help but smile. After all, it’s only a bunch of parents telling other parents to do themselves a favour and get them, and their kids, down to the library, ‘because I don’t know where they got this guy from, but he’s amazing!’ We can work with that…”
-Tracie Mauro, Branch Librarian, Parkes, New South Wales
“It was lovely to have someone like Matt Finch as presenter for our recent blogging workshop. He really engages the kids and it’s great to see them responding to him so well. We are all very keen to put our new skills into practice and produce some new and interesting tasks.”
-Sam Anderson, teacher at Tullamore Central School, New South Wales
“Your talk on children’s literacy was really insightful. I’ve been reading the articles about comics in the classroom on your website – it’s great to realise that initial ideas I have had can so easily be implemented. I feel like I am one step closer to assembling the Avengers in an everyday classroom!”
-Kylie Xerri, participant in professional development staff meeting, The Oaks Public School, New South Wales
“From my point of view, Matt’s book trailer workshop was a big hit. His enthusiasm had the students ‘eating out of the palm of his hand’ and they all produced some really creative presentations on books!”
-Jo Pilon, Librarian, TAFE Parkes, New South Wales
“In a world of globalised business, internationally aware educators like Dr. Matt Finch make a vital contribution to the training of the next generation. Matt’s ability to understand the worlds of academia, business and the wider community is supremely valuable in developing the next generation of the workforce. At PMD Magnetics, his work in training and community outreach has made a huge impact on our work as corporate citizens and our long term commitment to the UK economy.”
-Geoff Dance, Managing Director, PMD Magnetics, Stratford upon Avon
“Matt’s contribution to Paint the Town REaD in 2011 has been a game-changer for our organisation. From managing our website launch to developing workshops and presentations for schools and public bodies, he has made a vast contribution to all our activities as we prepare for 2012′s Year of Reading. His energy, enthusiasm and talent for community education are limitless and Paint the Town REaD is pleased to recommend his services to clients in Australia and beyond!”
-Rhonda Brain OAM, Founder, Paint the Town REaD
“The students were captivated and you left an excellent impression on all of us!” – Mireia Barrachina-Plo, Development Leader for Student Voice, Heart of England School
“Matt did a brilliant job and his presentation was pitched at the right level, giving pupils very interesting examples from the real world of business” – Cornelia Smith, Head of Languages, Queen Elizabeth School, Atherstone