When Jim Mathews became superintendent of Sasakwa Public Schools in 1996, the school district had no football, aging school buildings and only $16,000.
“We should have been history,” said Mathews, who retired last year.
Over the next 16 years, district leaders have been in a building process. For Mathews, building meant taking on many roles.
In 1998, the Sasakwa Vikings started playing football again. They found a home field a year later. Press boxes were built and Mathews was right in the middle of it as a coach and then as the public address announcer, his deep voice becoming a fixture of Friday nights in Sasakwa.
In 2000, the district built a new junior high school, and then a new high school in 2008. The new buildings gave the district confidence, Mathews said. The enrollment in the district when he arrived was 134 students. Now, it is up to 250 students.
Many times for students and teachers, the man they saw cleaning the floors or picking up a paintbrush to freshen up a building was Mathews. Or they may have seen him in the classroom teaching, something he tried to do every year.
“Those are just some of the things you have to do in a small school district,” Mathews said. “Plus, I liked to be in the schools working with everybody.”
Mathews, 60, has handed the role of superintendent over to high school principal Kyle Wilson for next year. He has retired to his home in Wewoka, but his booming voice will be remembered in the halls, classrooms and fields of Sasakwa schools.