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Instructor Matthew Stumpf Aims To Guide Students & Region Through Poetry, English

Posted December 19, 2023 at 8:52 am

Though he is in just his second year as a full-time English Instructor at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, Matthew Stumpf has already made a significant impact on his students while helping them gain expression both inside and outside of the classroom. 

Stumpf, a Punxsutawney native and a resident of Indiana, has used his love of poetry to develop multiple writing-based incentives that started solely in his home area but have now spread to Johnstown and the Penn Highlands population.

He is the co-organizer and host of “Poeming through the Dark”, an open-mic poetry night held once a month at local outlets. The idea started at a single coffee shop in Indiana before expanding to be held in different venues across the region, including The Indiana Theater and the Write Cup Coffee Shop near Johnstown’s Central Park.

“Our first-ever event at Write Cup had about 20 attendees,” Stumpf said. “We were excited when we saw the number of people that wanted to read theirs or others’ works of poetry. It felt like there was a latent need for it in Johnstown. At the two events we’ve held in Johnstown, the coffee shop was filled. We’ve had upwards of 75 people show up at events in the past, but usually average around 25, which is still a substantial number.”

Stumpf also serves as an editor for Red Flag Poetry, a publication that delivers a postcard once a month to subscribers’ mailboxes containing poetry with a related artwork.  

The publication also has a bi-monthly digital arm called the Poetry Express, aimed at promoting longer samples of work, as well as a press releasing full-length books of poetry two-to-three times per year which Stumpf helps edit, layout, and distribute through orders on the Red Flag Poetry website.

“It definitely is a lot to do alongside teaching, but it doesn’t feel like extra work being it’s something that I am very passionate about,” Stumpf said. “I discovered this love during my undergraduate days just by going to the same type of events that we host now. It really shows how much something can impact you after just stumbling across it.”

At Penn Highlands, Stumpf has taught six different English-based courses, with two more in American Literature coming in 2024, while also working with the ACE Program, which he supervises high school instructors, and serving on the Middle States Steering Committee to help the College with accreditation.

He is also collaborating with Penn Highlands students to develop the Tea Club, where members will read literature from the diverse cultures of tea they drink and converse with friends.

Also, Stumpf said he feels he can relate well to his students due to him being a first-generation college student like many of the Penn Highlands community.

“I’ve really been able to connect with my students and get a lot of positive responses,” Stumpf said. “My goal as an instructor is to better the future of this generation. That’s why I’m in this profession. I see teaching as the most direct way I can change and inspire students to create a better world tomorrow than we have today.”