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I am making the world better by developing open resources that help new programmers learn more efficiently, and by developing open tools that help solve long-standing issues in education.


Introduction to Python is a resource for students who want to learn Python as their first language. It is also a resource for teachers who are looking for a free and open curriculum to use with their students. The project is based on a series of IPython Notebooks that I started developing for an Introduction to Programming class I teach each fall. The notebooks are hosted on GitHub.

Open Competencies gives educators control over education standards. It allows anyone to create, share, and revise the standards we want our students to meet. Open Competencies aims to: - Bring continuous revision to education standards. - Allow any school to fork another school's standards system. - Allow schools to create different “pathways” to graduation, depending on students' individual post-high school plans. - Help lessen the impact of for-profit companies on education.


I first learned to program from my father on a kit computer in an unfinished basement in the early 1980's. I studied physics during undergrad, and then went into teaching. I taught middle school math and science for 7 years in New York City, before moving to southeast Alaska in 2002. I have been teaching high school math and science at a small alternative school since then.

I have always enjoyed programming for fun on the side, but when my father passed away two years ago I decided to take my programming work more seriously. When I was going through my father's computer after he passed away, I found a number of projects he'd been working on for years, which would never see the light of day. During this time I decided that I wanted to develop my programming skills to the point where I could help solve some of the long-standing problems in education.

Programmers have had high quality open tools such as emacs and vim for almost 40 years now. These dedicated tools let developers focus on the interesting and challenging problems in their field, while most teachers still write their lesson plans in Word. Educators need high quality, free and open tools that let them focus on the difficult and challenging problems in education. Good proprietary software is not a problem in and of itself, but proprietary software will never foster a widespread revolution in educational practices. Good open tools can do that, and I aim to help make those tools come about.


My goal is to earn $150 per week through Gittip, which would cover my family's student loans. My 'stretch goal' is to use anything above that to pay off my student loans as quickly as possible.

I am a teacher, and my wife is a counselor with a background in art therapy. We are currently making student loan payments of just under $600 per month. We are both really good at what we do, but neither of our professions pay people based on how good they are. I have thought about leaving education, but I am having a stronger impact on students than I ever have, and I am starting to have an impact on the field of education as a whole. I don't want to leave education for financial reasons if I have other options, and I am hoping that Gittip can be part of my path to a healthier financial situation.

My family is not in a bad situation, but I can't overstate the difference $150 per week would make for us. A dedicated source of income for our student loans would free us to consider buying a home, and let us feel at home in our community for once. It would free me to focus more on bringing my open source projects to a higher level. I will keep working at these projects regardless of my funding level, but I will be able to focus on them more consistently if they are bringing a concrete benefit to my family as well.

CONTACT INFO @ehmatthes I blog at


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