The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 16, 2011

‘I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do’

Mathis has served as educator and in the National Guard

By Joe Malan, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

— Paul Mathis has worked his way up the educational ladder.

He has earned an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, and he is working on obtaining a doctorate.

It should come as a surprise to no one, then, the Northwestern Oklahoma State University professor is a big supporter of education.

“Education is the reason why I am where I am currently,” Mathis said. “It’s totally changed my status, my life. I think education’s a difference maker. I think in America it’s the great equalizer, quite frankly.”

Mathis is an assistant professor of education at NWOSU. He is in his third year at the school and previously taught seventh- and ninth-grade English at Longfellow Middle School. He did that for 11 years.

But he has done all of this while serving in the Army National Guard — for 21 years, to be precise.

Mathis has served many different communities during his tenure in the Guard, including in the summer of 1998, when he helped transport hay from one end of the state to another to aid drought-stricken farmers.

“It was a fascinating mission,” Mathis said. “I learned more about Oklahoma than I’ve known my whole life.”

Last June, another event Mathis served in was Operation Golden Coyote, a mission to deliver firewood to American Indian tribes in South Dakota.

“Different units would do it annually,” Mathis said. “It just happened to be our unit.”

Serving on these different missions has not only taught Mathis flexibility but gratefulness as well.

Seeing the conditions of poverty in Iraq has taught him to be continually grateful to live in America, he said.

Throughout his experiences, whether it be the Army or education, he has maintained humility.

“I feel like I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do,” Mathis said. “I’m not a big self-promoter.”

Mathis’ future plans in-clude finishing his dissertation and obtaining a doctorate through Oklahoma State University. He hopes to stay at Northwestern for a while and maybe expand into some administrative duties.

“I do a lot of administrative duties through the military,” Mathis said.

But, he said, he goes wherever life takes him.

“I just want to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

Mark Luetkemeyer, assistant principal at Emerson Middle School, said he has known Mathis for many years and has always gotten along great with him.

“He had a lot of students who enjoyed his teaching style and the (activities) he would do in class,” Luetke-meyer said.

Veterans Day activities also seemed very important to Mathis, he added.