Dr. Mann: hands-on leader, educator



Pleasanton ISD Superintendent Dr. Matthew Mann serves Thanksgiving dinner to students at the Primary School alongside staff on Tuesday, Nov. 16. Dr. Mann was a heart open, hands-on leader and educator who truly cared about the students, staff and community he served. COURTESY PHOTO

Pleasanton ISD Superintendent Dr. Matthew Mann serves Thanksgiving dinner to students at the Primary School alongside staff on Tuesday, Nov. 16. Dr. Mann was a heart open, hands-on leader and educator who truly cared about the students, staff and community he served. COURTESY PHOTO

The collective community of Atascosa County mourns the sudden death of Dr. Matthew Mann, who passed away Saturday, Nov. 20, following complications from a heart attack. In his short 49 years, the Pleasanton ISD superintendent significantly impacted the students, staff and community he served. Dr. Mann was a dynamic leader who made deep connections with the people he met. This story will focus on just that as we honor a man with a servant’s heart for the community in which he lived, worked and led.

Ralph Unger, PISD board president, says Dr. Mann will be remembered and missed by many.

“I had the privilege of working for and with Dr. Mann for many years. When he was a principal, it was always so easy to talk to him and that continued when he became superintendent,” said Unger. “I looked forward to the times we had to just visit and talk about family, our experiences and everyday life in general.”

An educator at heart, Dr. Mann had a commitment to the school district and community that all will miss. The staff at Pleasanton

Dr. Mann’s parking space at Central Office was filled with a “Pride, Pride” sign and flowers in his memory over the weekend. REBECCA PESQUEDA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Dr. Mann’s parking space at Central Office was filled with a “Pride, Pride” sign and flowers in his memory over the weekend. REBECCA PESQUEDA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

ISD truly feels the loss of their beloved superintendent, described as a true leader who genuinely cared about his team and, most importantly, the students.

“He took the time to get to know students and staff alike on a personal level, offering care and support. He believed in getting out of his office and being directly involved on all campuses, demonstrating how to lead from the front. When he spoke to you, you always felt that he listened and had a sincere interest in your well-being,” said Robert Leonhardt, PJHS Assistant Principal and Pleasanton Mayor Pro-Tem. “As the superintendent of Pleasanton ISD, he worked to build a strong relationship with the City of Pleasanton knowing that the school and the city are dependent on each other for success. He will be remembered fondly, and his absence will be felt deeply by all.”

Dr. Mann helped start the Pleasanton Education Foundation that raises money for teacher grants and student scholarships.

The Olive Branch placed a memorial wreath on the door of Central Office in memory of Dr. Mann.

The Olive Branch placed a memorial wreath on the door of Central Office in memory of Dr. Mann.

“I was among many other lucky individuals who were able to work along his side for every Education Foundation event. His presence in our meetings and going above and beyond helping with these events—on top of his duties as superintendent— was always appreciated,” said Sue Brown of the PISD Education Foundation. “I have my Eagle Feather awards in my scrapbook now, but they were displayed on my old Pleasanton Express bulletin board. He was an excellent supporter, but appreciated those in our community who supported the school district and more importantly … the students. There was never a time that he didn’t walk over for a hug or a handshake at any game. He always asked about my family as I know he did to everyone else. I will miss his smile and friendship.”

Dr. Mann who started the saying, Pride, Pride, Eagle Pride was a huge supporter of athletics.

“I want to thank Dr. Mann for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be the head football coach at Pleasanton. He was a great man with a clear vision and plan for how he wanted things done. A true educator that loved our kids in Pleasanton. He was a trendsetter, a man with a brilliant mind,” said PHS Head Football Coach Stephen Liska. “This is a tragic loss for his family and our school district. We will miss his leadership and strengths he brought to work every day at PISD. Pride! Pride!”

Members of the community placed flowers outside the window of the meeting room at Central Office, next to Dr. Mann’s office.

Members of the community placed flowers outside the window of the meeting room at Central Office, next to Dr. Mann’s office.

PHS Head Boys Basketball Coach, Ricardo Marquez commented on how incredibly supportive Dr. Mann always was, not only of the Eagle basketball program, but also the family it formed.

“He was a great man who accomplished so much, while still finding time to help those around him. Although he is unable to watch this basketball season physically, we feel his presence in the same program that he helped build,” said Coach Marquez. “He was not only my superintendent, but he was also a friend that I had the privilege to call him brother. He will be greatly missed.”

Dr. Mann with Coach Ricardo Marquez and the boys varsity basketball team at National Night Out. He was a huge supporter of PISD athletics. COURTESY PHOTO

Dr. Mann with Coach Ricardo Marquez and the boys varsity basketball team at National Night Out. He was a huge supporter of PISD athletics. COURTESY PHOTO

PHS Track Head Coach Mike Wood shared what a pleasure it was to work with Dr. Mann

“It was a pleasure working for Dr. Mann,” said Coach Wood. “He was a wonderful person and a wonderful man. I met with him once a month and we were always talking about what we could do with the school to make it better for the kids. That was his goal, to make this a better place for our faculty, our students and our parents. He’s going to be dearly missed.”

PISD Athletic Director Tab Dumont said, “Dr. Mann was a great leader. He led by example and treated everyone with respect! He had a great vision for the athletic program! He led the way for the remodeling of Eagle football stadium and the newly built tennis courts. He believed that our kids deserved the best and he made sure they got it. It has been an honor to be on his leadership team here at PISD!! He will be missed but never forgotten! Pride, Pride!”

The Mann family: Kaytlyn, Matthew, Emily and Sara COURTESY PHOTO

The Mann family: Kaytlyn, Matthew, Emily and Sara COURTESY PHOTO

The City of Pleasanton is flying the flag at half-mast and their lights will shine green in honor of Dr. Mann and his accomplishments through Dec. 1.

“I have had the privilege to work closely with Dr. Mann for many years. He was an outstanding individual and a huge asset not only to the Pleasanton Independent School District, but Pleasanton and the surrounding area,” said Pleasanton Mayor Clinton J. Powell. “He will be missed. He had a great personality and a passion for Pleasanton.”

Pleasanton Police Chief Ronald Sanchez says Pleasanton PD is still reeling from the loss of such a wonderful pillar of our community.

“He will be sorely missed by everyone in our department. He was a true gentleman,” said Chief Sanchez.

Safer Path Family Violence Shelter expressed their deepest condolences to Dr. Mann’s family and friends and the PISD staff, stating that the community is mourning and celebrating the extraordinary example of leadership set by Dr. Mann.

Dr. Mann could always be seen at school events where he participated and jumped in on photos with his students. COURTESY PHOTO

Dr. Mann could always be seen at school events where he participated and jumped in on photos with his students. COURTESY PHOTO

“He was more than a great superintendent—he was the kind of person you wanted your kids to look up to,” said Safer Path Executive Director, Rhonda Williamson. “Not because of his title, but because of how he showed up every day. As a parent, I respected Dr. Mann’s commitment to our children— he visited every campus, opened car doors to greet kiddos at morning drop off, read to classes and attended so many school and community events to support our children. As a leader, I respected Dr. Mann’s example of servant leadership and connection in action. He walked every morning from his office to the campus he was visiting. My daughters and I saw him most mornings on the way to school. When we would catch him picking up trash, helping a student carry something, greeting staff members or talking with a parent about their concerns, I would point these things out as important parts of leadership to my daughters. Being a leader isn’t about a title or an office; it’s about genuinely caring for the people you serve, connecting and creating an environment where those you serve can succeed. This kind of leadership was accomplished through Dr. Mann’s daily actions … an exceptional man has just left us. He will remain a source of inspiration and a reminder that what we do has a far greater impact than what we say. Pride, Pride, Eagle Pride!”

The Pleasanton Express was deeply saddened to hear of Dr. Mann’s passing as he was a huge supporter of community news. Pleasanton Express Publisher/Managing Editor Noel Wilkerson Holmes shared, “In your lifetime, if you are fortunate, you meet a person who is good and kind through and through. Dr. Mann was that person. He was the type of leader who you could count on to do the next right thing with the very best intention for the outcome of all. How wonderful it was to see him greet every child and, for that matter, every person with a gentle and caring heart and a smile that shined through his eyes. He was present. He had time for you. What a gift he was to our children … to our community. His loss is felt so deeply because he took the time to touch so many. He left his mark on our hearts, and I will truly miss him so.”

Prior to his career at Pleasanton ISD, Dr. Mann worked at Jourdanton ISD where he served seven years as Jourdanton Junior High Assistant Principal. Those who worked with him shared their memories of Dr. Mann, including JISD Superintendent Theresa McAllister who says he made an everlasting impression on students while building relationships with them that truly made an impact.

“I just keep telling myself ‘this is unbelievable.’ Dr. Mann, or ‘Matt,’ as I called him, due to our more personal working relationship, always had such high energy, a strong work ethic, the desire to get better each day and never quit fighting for what was best for students,” said McAllister. “Matt cared deeply about the staff at JJHS, always encouraging and motivating them along the way. The positive influence he made at JISD and most recently at PISD is insurmountable. My heart goes out to the PISD community, Sara, Kaytlyn and Emily; Matt will be missed by everyone!”

JJHS Counselor Gayla Reynolds added, “Dr. Mann gave his all in each endeavor he chose, making him an outstanding educational leader. Always guided by his strong sense of duty and service to others, he had such a positive impact on the lives of many educators, staff, parents and students. He will be greatly missed by these local school districts as well as these communities.”

Jourdanton Police Chief Eric Kaiser shared that his and Dr. Mann’s roles were very different in 2005, with Dr. Mann keeping the adolescent population in line and learning while Chief Kaiser was patrolling the streets. On occasion, Chief Kaiser was needed at the school where he would meet with Dr. Mann for a variety of reasons, and this is when Chief Kaiser says he got to know the future superintendent.

“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 Jourdanton and Pleasanton ISDs. I will miss those chats with him,” said Chief Kaiser. “… 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.”

Dr. Mann joined Pleasanton ISD when he was hired as the new high school principal on June 4, 2012. That next school year, Dr. Mann introduced the famous PISD chant, “Pride, Pride, Eagle Pride” to the district that will live on long after his passing. Dr. Mann was named Superintendent of Schools in March 2015 where he left a legacy that will never be forgotten in the Atascosa County community.

To Sara, Kaytlyn and Emily, thank you for sharing your beloved husband and father with our community. His legacy lives on in you and will never be forgotten. Pride, Pride …

Dr. Mann is survived by his loving wife, Sara Mann of Pleasanton, daughters, Kaytlyn Mann of College Station, and Emily Mann of San Antonio, his mother, Kayla McKinney Mann of San Antonio, his father, Anthony Mann of Lebanon, OH, brothers, Jason Mann (Christy) of Colorado Springs, CO and Bill Baker (Jen) of Simpsonville, SC.

Services for Dr. Mann will be on Saturday, Nov. 27 at the Cowboy Fellowship Church in Jourdanton, with the family receiving friends from 9-11 a.m., and the memorial service at 11 a.m.

Those attending are invited to share your connection to Matthew by wearing your Eagle Green or Indian Red.

In lieu of flowers, donations are encouraged to support a cause important to Dr. Mann and his family. Please see Dr. Mann’s full obituary on 9B.

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