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A Georgia native, Matthew Kinnaird has made Western North Carolina his home for more than a decade. After completing a two-year program at Young Harris College in north Georgia, he took some time off to travel, then transferred to UNC-Asheville, where he graduated in 2008 with a degree in physics and his teaching licensure. Since then, he has taught physics and physical science in the Buncombe County school system. Initially, he taught at Enka High School for five years, and he has now been at A.C. Reynolds High School for three years.

A career in education came naturally for Kinnaird, as both of his parents were teachers. In addition to teaching, Kinnaird has worked as an assistant soccer coach for the past eight years. In-season, it’s a busy load, with early mornings and late nights on the job. “It’s tough, but I can barely manage it,” he says with a chuckle. “I have to ask my wife for permission a lot to spend so much time with it all.” The couple has two children, ages 3 and 5, he adds.

In regard to his upcoming trip to India, Kinnaird says what he is looking forward to the most is the interactions with Indian educators and comparing notes with them.

“I’m really curious to see what sort of experiments and models they use,” he says. “Are they research-based? Inquiry-based?” Most importantly, he wants to discover, “how they tackle problem-solving skills, which is something I have such a hard time with with my kids.”

“If they come across a problem,” he says, “too often they throw their hands up and ask for help instead of working through it. So I’m interested to see what Indian teachers’ strategies are for teaching critical thinking.”

Jon Elliston

Jon Elliston is an Asheville-based writer and the senior editor at WNC magazine. He has authored two books, including, with co-author Kent Priestley, North Carolina Curiosities. He has contributed to Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation, U.S. News & World Report and Popular Communications, among other publications.