Mathews admits interest in job in La. education

Gary Mathews

Gary Mathews

COVINGTON -- Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews has addressed his employees about being a possible candidate for Louisiana's superintendent of education.

In his Superintendent End of the Month Notes that he sent out to employees on Wednesday, he said he hasn't applied for the position, as it is not an open application period at this time, but admitted his interest in it.

Earlier this month, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education noted that it received a packet of information from Mathews' aunt that included his resume, employment history and a recommendation for the vacant position of the state's superintendent of education.

Mathews has a long history in Louisiana -- he was a superintendent for six years in the East Baton Rouge School District in Louisiana. He began his education career in 1976 as a high school teacher at JFK High School in New Orleans, and the Public Relations Association of Louisiana named him the Louisiana Communicator of the Year in 1996. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Louisiana State University in 1975 and a Masters in Educational Administration from Loyola University in Louisiana in 1979.

"I have a natural love for Louisiana," he said.

He noted in his message to staff members that Louisiana also is home to his father, stepmother, son Wes who is a graduate student at Louisiana State University and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

"I've had a lifelong penchant for state education policy, the likes of which I frequently testified to in the Louisiana legislature," he said. "And I have a belief that state superintendents can and should be instructional leaders, the likes of which I've not seen as the norm throughout my years in public education."

Unlike in Georgia, the state superintendent in Louisiana is an appointed position, instead of an elected one.

"As former K-12 colleagues, some legislators, and family in Louisiana have encouraged me to consider the possibility, I have not said no to them," he said. "And I would be dishonest to say that I was not interested in the possibility. The prospect is of interest to me, which I have stated to folks in Louisiana, Georgia and elsewhere."

Still, he said he is happy to be in Newton County.

"I believe our focus on securing best practice in each of our classrooms looms very important for our students," he said. "For the school system to begin performing above the state average and beyond, we must stay focused on research-based instructional strategies, building background knowledge for students and technology integration, no matter who the superintendent is or isn't."

Mathews began working at NCSS as superintendent in July 2010, after the retirement of Steven Whatley. Prior to coming to Newton County, Mathews was the superintendent of the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools in Virginia.