Dunwoody High School junior Matt Bartel has built a stellar résumé based on his values and hard work.
The son of Larry and Fran Bartel, Matt constructed an outdoor learning center and pavilion as part of his Eagle Scout program, served as a page in the Georgia Senate, appeared in Atlanta Hawks TV commercials, and plays offense and defense on the varsity football team.
He is the only DeKalb County student serving on the Georgia Department of Education student advisory board, representing over 102,000 students.
Lean in as he gives advice on parenting and traces the foundation of his success.
Jaffe: Tell us about your experience in the Senate.
Bartel: That experience was like no other. The Georgia state Senate has an incredible program allowing students to page for their senator, mine being Sen. Fran Millar. They are only in session for 40 days and have the tendency to run close to midnight toward the end of the session. I had the honor to page the second-to-last day of the session, where I was on the Senate floor from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. I was the only page to make it past 4 p.m., and at the end of the night, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle recognized me for perseverance with a standing ovation from the senators. I stood there strong, doing my best to soak it all in and take a panoramic picture in my head.
Jaffe: What were the rigors of building the outdoor learning center?
Bartel: Approval, approval, approval. Sometimes I felt like I had to get approval to ask for approval. I had to go through dozens of processes to confirm building permits, Boy Scout project eligibility, and I even had to get permission to use the school’s water supply. Getting that green light was a critical yet challenging step. At the end of the day, I was fortunate to have support from my Boy Scout leaders, high school administrators, local politicians and family.
Jaffe: What’s your involvement with the Hawks?
Bartel: I was the youngest member of the Hawks Kia Sixth Man Section, with free tickets and cheering with other Hawks fanatics. I starred in a commercial on Fox Sports Southeast. I attended close to a hundred games and made countless friends. Unfortunately, there were a lot of late nights, and it wasn’t in my best interest to stay on with the extreme academic rigor I’m taking. (Matt has a 4.2 GPA.) I watch every game and stay in touch with my Hawks bros and hope to get involved in the sports clubs’ front offices in the future.
Jaffe: What advice would you give parents on guiding, disciplining, structuring (or not) teenagers?
Bartel: I firmly believe the only way to live a life of self-fulfillment comes from a dedicated mind-set. I feel like one of the best ways to transform a mind-set is to see it done or basically have proof of success — one of the reasons I hope to get involved in public speaking in the upcoming years. I would encourage children to give Scouting a chance. Their principles of being “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, caring, curious, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent” are universal ideals. I also advise all parents to let children make their own decisions. Mistakes are part of life. By realizing their own mistakes, they’re able to process it. That’s the only way to achieve a mind-set instead of temporary actions.
Jaffe: What is religious life like at Dunwoody High?
Bartel: There are a lot of Jewish students, and we have wonderful friendships. I am really looking forward to going on a Birthright trip to Israel, hopefully before college.
Jaffe: Tell us about your family life.
Bartel: My maternal grandparents, Iris and Marvin Wynne, moved recently from Mississippi to be close to us. We love being near them. I have twin preteen siblings. The funniest claim to fame for my family is my mother’s appearance on “The Price Is Right.” Talk about bucket lists!
Being treasurer of the junior class, Matt rushed off to the High Museum of Art to plan the prom.