Ladder of Success: From school custodian to superintendent

Posted at 5:48 AM, Aug 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-21 09:46:08-04

In 2015, Premont ISD was close to being shut down by the Texas Education Agency. Now, the district is celebrating a B grade under the state’s new accountability rating system.

The recent success of the school district comes from the help of its superintendent Steve VanMatre.

Moody is just one of the many CCISD schools he worked at before landing in Premont.

VanMatre, who was a coach, a teacher, and a principal, said he has traveled a long road to get to where he is today. He left West Virginia in 1981 with no job, ending up in Texas.

This is a rags-to-riches story for VanMatre. Cleaning rags, that is.

“Took a job as a custodian at Woodlawn Elementary,” VanMatre said. “I was the night custodian from 4-8 and then started taking college classes, at the time it was Corpus Christi State University.

“(Then) Woodlawn Elementary, working for John Bowie who was the campus principle there, cleaning toilets, and classrooms, and that was my first-ever job in a school,” said VanMatre.

The West Virginia native started his career in education in the 1980s, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1986 from then-Corpus Christi State University. In 2003, he earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

“It is interesting when you start a career, you have this gung ho motivation to do something, and really, I had no desire or really love or interest in being a teacher,” VanMatre said. “I just wanted to be a coach.

“Then I really fell in love, particularly at Moody High School, with the classroom and developing those relationships that I still have today.” .

VanMatre, 62, says it has been a challenge to get his 500-student school district to where it is today over the past couple of years.

“Are we where we want to be? No. We still have a long way to go, but the results from the state of Texas that were released last week are certainly affirmation that we are on the right track,” he said.

VanMatre says the best thing that ever happened to him when he moved to Texas was meeting his wife, Barbara, while he worked at Blanche Moore Elementary School.