Matthew Rosen: Lover of Literature, Legendary Advisor


In a non-pandemic year, students can normally be seen sitting around a large, rectangular table in room 208 discussing an important piece of literature in one of Matthew Rosen’s captivating English classes. One such discussion could be as simple as the significance of the iambic pentameter in Romeo and Juliet, a ninth grade staple. Another discussion could question how readers should use the Hegelian Dialectic to analyze Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus. (If you want to learn more about this, you should definitely take “The Postcolonial Writer” with Matthew!) Coronavirus pandemic or not, Matthew strives to always engage students intellectually in and out of the classroom. 

Growing up in Brooklyn, Matthew enjoyed reading and writing in his free time, leading him to pursue a major in English Literature at Swarthmore College. Subsequently, he attended New York University for graduate school, focusing primarily on postcolonial literature, Caribbean literature, and magical realism. After leaving NYU, Matthew took a job at HarperCollins Publishing for ten years. 

With an abundance of built-up English knowledge and expertise, Matthew started teaching at the notable Pre-Kindergarten-12 SoHo private school, The Little Red Schoolhouse, and stayed for sixteen years. “I loved it there, but I also wanted to try something new,” he says. “I was really intrigued by Quaker education. It had a lot of parallels to the progressive pedagogy at my former school.” 

Drawn to Quakerism and life in Philadelphia, Matthew arrived at Friends Select at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year and began teaching eighth and ninth grade classes for his first two years. “I love seeing middle schoolers grow, and it’s an awesome privilege to teach ninth graders the fundamentals.” While teaching middle school and freshman classes gave him great joy, Matthew wanted to gradually start creating more niche electives for upperclassmen. “As a twelfth grade teacher, I could really put my graduate studies into use,” he explains.

Over the course of two years, Matthew has taught semester-long electives including “The Postcolonial Writer,” “Caribbean Voices,” and “Magical Realism.” Sophie Cucinotta ‘21 says that taking “The Postcolonial Writer” with Matthew in eleventh grade “gave [her] a lot of perspective about the impact of colonialism today and it went over a lot of current issues.” She feels that she “genuinely came out of that class feeling more worldly,” adding, “Postcolonial was the best class I’ve ever taken.” 

Student writing improvement over four years is a progression that Matthew cherishes greatly. “I love seeing how a student I had in ninth grade takes an elective of mine in twelfth grade and comes back with a more sophisticated writing palette.” 

Peter Ryan ‘21, a former student in Matthew’s ninth grade English class and later in his electives, “The Postcolonial Writer” and “Caribbean Voices,” says, “Matthew taught students basic literary devices and English writing content very well during ninth grade. In “The Postcolonial Writer” and “Caribbean Voices,” he made students read relevant academic writing pertaining to the reading, and encouraged students to consider the academic pieces along with the literary pieces and how they work together to tell you something about a part of the world.” 

In addition to his English classes, Matthew lends a hand to students in activities outside of the classroom. Matthew’s dedicated involvement in Cauldron, the school’s creative writing club and annual literary magazine, underscores the constant support he gives his students. Senior Hannah Dubb, co-editor of Cauldron along with senior Olivia Shuman, says “Matthew always checks in with us about how we’re doing, what needs to be done in the club, and how he can help.” Olivia says, “Matthew is very supportive and that shows through not only in how he interacts with the students but also in his engagement with the club in general.” 

Suzanne Morrison, eleventh grade English teacher and co-faculty sponsor of Cauldron, says that Matthew “works with me to support students in their creative writing.” Matthew, an avid creative writer, believes it is important to “help young people find their voices and help them prepare something for a more formal publication.” To him, being a teacher advisor for Cauldron is “almost like an extension” of his earlier work at HarperCollins. 

Matthew is also widely acknowledged for his leadership as an advisor. After being promoted to the position of senior class lead advisor in 2018, Matthew immediately recognized that the job was a tough undertaking and that he needed to “step it up,” even more so during the pandemic. Senior Jonah Berrong, one of Matthew’s advisees, says, “Matthew has always seemed like a very trustworthy person who I believe genuinely wants to support his advisees.” Jonah adds that Matthew’s advisory “has always felt like a very safe and comfortable space for everyone to express themselves free of judgment, and he’s always conducted advisory in a way that is centered around the students.”

Tony Lian ‘21 agrees with Jonah’s sentiment. As an international student who arrived in ninth grade, Tony felt immediately supported by Matthew in and out of advisory. “He always paid a lot of attention to students like me. He would always invite me to the conversation in advisory when I was a bit too shy to speak English during my first few months at FSS.”

In the future, Matthew hopes to introduce even more electives into the English curriculum. Currently, his interests range from different types of short stories to literature detailing the complexities of the African American male identity. In the next few years, Matthew says, “I would love to teach an elective on literature of India—it’s always been an interest of mine.”