Baldwin residents join forces to publish book. ‘Educating with Passion and Purpose’ published just in time for teacher appreciation week


One Baldwin resident is celebrating teacher’s appreciation week by promoting her newly published book about teacher burnout.

Baldwin resident Meredith Matson co-authored a book called “Educating with Passion and Purpose.” Matson, along with co-author Rebekah Shoaf, was very fortunate to have met a fellow community member who helped get their book published. Meeting Jamaal Solomon at a PTA meeting changed the course of Matson and Shoaf’s publishing journey.

Matson is a principal from The Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction in New York City. Seeing teacher burnout firsthand, she wanted to write a book on ways to give teachers their drive back. Matson also wanted to remind teachers of their purpose as an educator.

“The book is about trying to help teachers get to their purpose, their why, what drives them to do their work,” Matson said. “The book is to help teachers think of their life as an educator.”

“Classrooms are transformational spaces, places where great change happens every single day,” Shoaf said. “(Classrooms are) an assemblage of humans brought together to question and explore and dream, where on any given Thursday at 10:06 in the morning, a young person will suddenly see something in a new way that will change the course of their life. And teachers are the stewards of that transformation.”

Matson explained that each chapter starts with student quotes. Afterwards, there’s an intro that gives you what to expect for each chapter. “I go through personal stories about how I found my purpose as an educator,” Matson said. “Then there’s a ‘your turn’ section with information on what you can do to help your community.”

Matson and Shoaf worked with each other years ago and they both came up with the idea about writing a book. “It was April of 2020 during Covid when I told Rebekah that we should finally write the book,” Matson said. Durng the time they started working on the book, Matson would attend PTA meetings for her son’s school in Baldwin, which unexpectedly rapidly sped up the process of getting the book completed. This was because she met Jamaal Solomon.

Coming from a family of educators, Solomon has a lot of respect for teachers. “I got nothing, but love and appreciation for teachers,” Solomon said. “And when she told me about the book, I was like ‘people really do care about those issues’ and I wanted to help her.”

After Matson told Solomon about her struggles with publishing her book, Solomon knew exactly how to help. “It dawned on me,” Solomon said. “I told her that I have a sister who has worked in the publishing business for over 25 years.”

Solomon made no promises to Matson, but he was able to get her in contact with his sister, Wiley. “All I did was make the introduction between them two and then Meredith told me that the book was being published,” Solomon said. Solomon is very happy to see Matson publish her book.

“It couldn’t have happened to a better person,” Solomon said. “She honestly loves what she’s doing and I felt the passion in her.”