South Heart superintendent enjoys new job, residence
SOUTH HEART -- It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood for new South Heart Public School Superintendent Riley Mattson. Mattson and his family walk to the school just up the street from their new home every school day. It's just one part of what ...
SOUTH HEART -- It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood for new South Heart Public School Superintendent Riley Mattson.
Mattson and his family walk to the school just up the street from their new home every school day. It's just one part of what he loves about the new job and residence.
"When the weather is nice we all come up here every morning," Mattson said.
Mattson started as superintendent July 2. His wife, Vicki, is a resident teacher at the school's resource room and their two youngest children go to the elementary school. Daughter, Jada, is in fifth grade and son, Jett, is in first grade.
"I've always worked where my children go to school," Mattson said. "They like it here, being with the older students and going to ball games."
Their oldest son, Reid, is a bit farther away at North Dakota State University studying accounting.
Education has always been an important part of Mattson's life and his family's lives, he said. Vicki is currently working on her master's degree in special education. Becoming a superintendent for the first time has been a great learning experience, Mattson said.
"In June, I worked with (retired superintendent) Loren Mathson who took me under his wing and helped me tremendously with all this," Mattson said. "He gave me a leg up on stepping in. I'm just getting to know and learn about all staff and students right now. I'm getting to know the space, school procedures and working on paper work."
The school board was willing to give Mattson a chance despite not having been a superintendent until now, board member Ken Koppinger said.
"A plus was he had worked in the area too," Koppinger said. "There was a little concern he had not been a superintendent before, but we wanted to give him a shot. That's the only way a person learns, by doing."
Mattson found out about the job last spring. The South Heart Public School board interviewed four people for the position including Mattson in February. He was hired in March.
"All of those interviewed were from in-state," Koppinger said. "We had no assistance in the hiring process. We just advertised through the North Dakota School Board Association."
Mattson was the board's first choice, he added.
"I'm really glad we hired him and he will do very well," Koppinger said.
Mattson is originally from Rolla and got his undergraduate degree from NDSU in Bottineau. Mattson received a degree in elementary education and physical education with minors in reading and coaching from Valley City State University in 1987.
"My first position was in Scranton in 1987, which also was my first time to southwest North Dakota," Mattson said. "I love the people here. I knew I'd want to come back here."
After being at Scranton Public School District for two years as an elementary teacher and basketball coach, Mattson moved onto New England where he stayed for the next 16 years.
"I was a fifth grade teacher, and for the first seven years I was the head boys basketball coach, but while I was there I coached a little bit of everything," he said.
During the summer of 1992, Mattson worked on his education administration degree at the University of Mary. He became an elementary school principal in 1996 in New England. He still taught classes, such as Title I math and reading, seventh and eighth grade math and high school physical education.
In 2005, Mattson moved to Williston, where he was an elementary school principal and the federal program coordinator helping out with programs such as Title I.
"My two years there gave me a good foundation to deal with budgeting and finances. It was a good experience to help me where I am now," Mattson said. "I'm looking forward to keeping the quality education here at South Heart which is a well established school. It is my job to keep the ship afloat and steered straight."
Having spent 18 years in the region, Mattson was excited to return.
"I know South Heart has a good reputation for academics as I was in the region and am familiar with South Heart," he said. "What drew me here was a combination of things. I saw very good Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) reports and testing scores which indicates strong teaching, a school with a good administrative base and students and family who make education a priority."
The school building is in good shape which also drew Mattson to the position, he added.