Texas to Nevada: Mathis leaving AP post

Kimberly Mathis holds gifts that her students gave her in appreciation. Photo by Aja Bryant.

When Kim Mathis made a surprise appearance on KHS TV news on Friday, December 9, her announcement soon had news anchor senior Jonathan V. in tears.  The assistant principal told the school she would not be returning to Kerr after the winter break; instead she would be moving to Nevada.

Mathis’s husband was laid off in June and had been searching for a job in his field; in November he found one inReno, Nevada, so the whole family will move on December 28. She said she was upset and heartbroken when she heard about the move, but she knew she had to do what was best for her family.

“I’m moving from hot, humid Houston to dry, desert Reno, ” Mathis said. “I’m going from the fourth largest city in the United States to a city with [a low population].”

Moving won’t be easy for Mathis because of the bonds she has created in the district. She has been an assistant principal for many schools in Alief ISD, including various middle schools and Elsik High School. She has been the assistant principal for Kerr for the last two and a half years. 

“I love the equality for all here; it doesn’t matter what you look like or what you do…there’s a sense of acceptance,” Mathis said, “[I’ll miss] the students and the staff and this is where I grew up — Houston. I’ve been in Alief from kindergarten through 12th grade; I[even] graduated from Elsik.

She said she will miss the students at Kerr in particular.

“I like waking up to come to school and the interaction with the kids. You guys know where you’re going…you’re very driven and bright kids. Where do you find 800 great kids?”

Her move will impact many other staff members as well.

“She’s going to be missed…she added energy, was focused…I enjoyed working with her for two and a half years,” principal Greg Freeman said. “The school is never the same, you lose a part of you. There’s always change, it’s a part of life and you have to be flexible…something new comes along—you have to make the best of it.”

Mathis has created strong bonds with students and in return, many appreciate her just as much.

“There is a kind of community between the teachers, staff, and students, and her leaving breaks up the community,” senior Denny D. said. “I feel like so many of the teachers are leaving and I’m sad to see that. In a lot of ways, everyone spoke more to Mrs. Mathis than [to] Mr. Freeman, so our outlet is gone. Whenever there was a problem, we’d talk to her.”

The assistant principal position will be temporarily be filled by counselor Sarah Tones. Tones was sad to see her fellow staff member go, but knows that it is an opportunity for both Mathis and her.

“She’s a great co-worker and friend,” Tones said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for her family and I respect that.”

Tones says that she’s prepared for a challenge of a new role. Even though she will not make most of the schedule changes for the students she has been counseling, she will help them make good decisions.

Janie Gatlin, a retired counselor from Taylor High School and Alief Learning Center, will temporarily fill in for Tones as counselor of students with last names beginning with M through Z.

Even with these significant staff changes, business will go as usual. Mathis still plans on participating in the 2012 graduation and ends with a few words of wisdom to her students.

“I’m telling you guys this: get excited about the new chapters in your life…embrace it and accept it,” Mathis said. “I just wish the best for all the students; they definitely made a large impact in my life.”