I am in the business of hearing bad news. In the policing world we typically have a protocol or a plan for how we are going to handle things that most people aren’t prepared to deal with. We like to think that we are mentally ready for anything. Occasionally … we are not.
Let me share some memories about a friend of mine with you.
Most of you knew Dr. Matthew Mann as the Superintendent of the Pleasanton ISD. But, years before he held that title, I met him as just “Matthew Mann, Jourdanton Junior High School Assistant Principal.” In 2005 both his role and mine were very different. He handled keeping Jourdanton’s adolescent population in line and learning, and I was patrolling the streets. These were before the days of a School Resource Officer, which meant that on the occasions that an officer was needed at the Junior High, it was often me that would respond. It was in these roles that I got to know the future superintendent. I recall on numerous occasions walking through the Junior High secretary’s office with her just pointing to his open door as my non-verbal instruction to go on in and see what he needed from me. Often times my presence wasn’t because a crime had occurred, or because a student was breaking the law. Many times our meetings happened just because he wanted to share a concern about a kid with me. Maybe it was because there was a bad home life. Maybe a family didn’t consistently have enough to eat, or maybe clothes or other necessities were in short supply. Whatever the reason for my visits, they always started with him telling me “I wanted to run something by you,” and from there we’d brainstorm ways that perhaps we could help improve a kid’s situation.
Later, as we both progressed through our careers, with him going to PISD and me being on the streets less, we would run into each other at various events. Somehow he always seemed to come up behind me and with a slap on the back and a “Officer Kaiser, what have you been up to?” to start the conversation. Even when we only had a minute or two to talk, the conversations were genuine and he was really listening to what I had to say. How do I know? He would remind me, sometimes months later. “Remember when we talked about …”
Regardless of the title he held over the years, Dr. Mann was never above connecting with students, staff or the public. Whether we agreed on a topic or not, he was ready to discuss and hear whatever was brought to the table with the ultimate goal of doing what was best for the students of Jourdan- ton and Pleasanton ISDs. I will miss those chats with him.
Superintendents come and go though school districts around the state, but few make the impact that Dr. Mann did on our school districts, and as I searched for the right term to sum up his impact only one came to mind:
Indelible; adjective – that which cannot be removed, washed away or erased.
Even though this week brought us the loss of a husband and father, a superintendent, and a friend to many, the mark Matthew Mann made is one that will last in perpetuity through the family he raised, the kids he taught and the staff he mentored.
Sara, Emily and Kaytlyn, thank you for sharing him with us.