PERRYSBURG – After 40 years in education, Ron Matter has started to think a day of golf is a good day indeed.
Matter, who was superintendent at Penta Career Center for the past 10 years, retired from his post Dec. 31. He will stay on as a consultant through July 31, then plans to move to Florida with his wife, Laurie.
They have been married 39 years and have two children, one who lives in New York and one who lives in Florida.
On his first day in Florida, he admitted he could be playing a round of golf or stepping into the Gulf of Mexico.
“Right now I have no visions of pursuing anything employment-wise unless somebody wants to hire me to mow grass,” Matter said. “I’ve always talked about getting a job on a golf course, mowing grass.”
Ed Ewers, assistant superintendent, took over Jan. 1.
With long-term planning coming up and hiring of staff for the new year, “this puts Ed in that position to make those recommendations to the board,” Matter said in November when he announced his intent to retire early.
He has been an administrator 32 of his 40 years in education. In 2015, he retired and then was rehired through July 31, 2018. The board then extended his contract for two more years with a new retirement date of July 31, 2020.
A 1980 graduate of Bowling Green State University, Matter started his career as a business teacher and basketball coach in the Cincinnati area. He also was a teacher and coach in the Pandora-Gilboa Local School District before being named middle school teacher.
The similarities of coaching and being a principal are in the ability to make decisions like that, Matter said while snapping his fingers.
His ability to make decisions under pressure and on the fly came from being a coach.
“As a superintendent, you have a little more time to make the decision.”
The one thing he learned from being a teacher is every child can learn, but not at the same rate and the same time.
“We’ve got to remember that in education. Young people that come to us come with a variety of different skill sets and we’ve got to take them where they’re at and move them along to the next level.”
He joined Northwood Local Schools in 1991, first serving for five years as principal of Lark Elementary, then high school principal for two years and then from 1998 to 2005 as superintendent.
He received a master’s degree and certification in administration from the University of Dayton.
While at Northwood, he remembered talking to then Penta Superintendent Fred Susor about his next step.
Susor asked him to apply for the assistant superintendent post and he ended up getting offered the job.
He was assistant superintendent from 2005-09, when he took over as superintendent.
“I probably would still be at Northwood today if I wouldn’t have taken this position. I loved it at Northwood.”
His leaving Northwood was bittersweet, but Matter said he felt he left them in a great position.
“I have enjoyed every stop along the way, but I have really enjoyed this,” he said about his years at Penta.
Matter spent his entire youth at the pool in Bluffton, first swimming then as a lifeguard as a sophomore in high school. He managed the pool while he attended BGSU. He said that is where he developed his love of mowing – looking out over the finished product.
He recalled the early years when Penta – which opened in 1965 — was still located in the former Rossford Depot site, which now is part of Owens Community College.
As with his departure from Northwood, he said he is leaving Penta in great shape.
“It’s because of the staff, the students, the administrators of why we are a great opportunity for young people. Because of what they all do allows me to do what I have done as a superintendent and that’s advocate for Penta, advocate for career tech education both locally, regionally and statewide.”
The difference between working for a local school district and Penta is going from two state legislators to 11 based on the school’s footprint in five counties.
That tie to Columbus has sent him to the state’s capital at least once a month.
While Matter enjoyed the political side, he said he wished Columbus wouldn’t constantly change what is required of school districts.
“At times it’s like drinking from a fire hose at the local level.”
And when changes happen the unintended consequences aren’t considered.
His team created a flow chart of all the things they do at Penta, with various items highlighted.
Matter said 95% of the items required of them came out of Columbus.
“Let us get good at what you want us to get good at and stick with that for a while as opposed to keep adding and adding and changing and changing,” he advised.
The State Report Card is a sore point as is the volume of testing. The report card had good intentions but it’s not doing what he thinks the intent of it was.
As for testing, a student who attends Penta takes more tests than a student that stays at their home school, Matter added.
“You’ve always represented Penta in a very positive way,” said board President Judith Paredes at Matter’s last board meeting earlier this month.
Board member Paul Walker praised Matter for his public service and dedication to public schools.
“You’ve been a fantastic leader.”
Matter said he has been blessed to work with great people at Penta.
“I’ve been able to do what I do because of what all of them do.”