Back to School: Mathis takes PHS reins

By Messenger Staff | Published Wednesday, August 6, 2014
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Like every other campus in Paradise ISD, the leadership at the high school has switched hands.

Mark Mathis and Rayma Young

Mark Mathis is the new principal at Paradise High School, after former principal Mac Edwards moved over to administration as the district’s Chief Financial Officer.

Rayma Young is Mathis’ assistant principal. This is Young’s 18th year in education – her 14th with PISD.

Mathis has been with the district for the past six years, starting as assistant principal at the elementary campus in the mornings and assistant at the junior high campus in the afternoons.

“It was challenging to go from little ones to teenagers in the same day,” Mathis said.

Prior to his stints as assistant principal, Mathis taught in Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD at Wayside Middle School, then at Mesquite Poteet and Eastern Hills in Fort Worth. He went back to EM-S for three years while he earned his master’s degree from Tarleton State.

Working in Paradise seems to have been in the cards for him since the beginning, as he student taught and coached at PISD while earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas.

Mathis said he is really looking forward to working at the high school.

“This is a veteran staff, so I’ve been getting prepared for them and the students,” he said. “This is a new administration around here so we are all getting ready.

“Our main goal is to provide challenging educational opportunities in academic, career and technology, and leadership areas for all students,” he added. “We want our students to be lifelong learners who make successful contributions to society.

“We have to challenge ourselves to continue to get better every day.”


Kristin Gage

Kristin Gage may be a new principal, but she’s a familiar face at Paradise Intermediate School.

The longtime educator has worked at the campus for the last 15 years as a teacher and the school’s counselor.

“This is home,” she said. “I love Paradise and the families and just felt like I could do more working with the families and the kids in this position.”

Although Gage may make a few changes, she also plans to continue many of the programs that she started as counselor, especially those that encourage parent and community involvement. She also wants to raise student achievement and improve communication with families.

“That’s my no. 1 thing with teachers – parent communication,” she said.

She explained that parents can help their students in the classroom just by knowing what’s going on and being an active part of the campus when possible.

Gage wants her building to be “kid-centered and parent-involved.”

“Before I make a decision, I’m going to ask, ‘what’s best for the kids?'” she said. “I love this age group. They’re independent, but they still love you and they’re eager to learn. Just to watch their eyes … it’s neat. They get excited over the smallest things!”

Gage is a 1981 graduate of Decatur High School and earned her college degrees at Texas Woman’s University and Dallas Baptist University. She’s a member of Friendship Baptist Church in Boyd and spends her free time chasing after four grandchildren and working in her garden.

As summer draws to a close, she’s ready for the first bell to ring Aug. 25.

“I’m ready for the kids to get here,” she said. “It’s dead … It’s like the building is sad. The kids need to get back!”


Robyn Gibson

A new face will welcome young Panthers when they return to school in two-and-a-half weeks.

In her 20th year in education, Robyn Gibson takes over as principal of Paradise Elementary School.

“I hope to bring servanthood,” she said. “You get to work with the community and parents, the teachers and the kids. You aren’t just one piece. You get to serve and do so many things with all three pockets.”

The West Texas native graduated from Iraan High School before earning a degree in multi-disciplinary studies at Texas Tech University.

Although her father – who’s served as inspiration throughout her career – encouraged her to continue with graduate studies, Gibson opted to begin working immediately.

She taught a year each of first and second grade at Frenship ISD, near Lubbock, before serving as a second-grade teacher for four years in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district.

It wasn’t until she was teaching fourth grade in Keller ISD that Gibson decided she wanted to pursue a master’s degree.

She enrolled at the University of North Texas and in 2004 graduated with a Master of Education, educational administration.

She applied the degree serving, as an elementary school principal for three years and elementary principal for four years – all at Keller.

Gibson then trekked to Wise County where she served as assistant principal at Bridgeport Middle School last year before returning to the elementary level at Paradise this year.

“I just love the energy and the enthusiasm of the little ones and also just building that foundation – what they’re going to need,” Gibson said. “I’m here to serve the teachers and meet the kids’ needs and help the parents as they need. It’s already a very team-, family-oriented place, and I just want to continue that and help us all to continue to grow – kids, staff, community everybody.

“I’m so excited to be here.”


Greg Fletcher

Paradise Junior High has a new look this year – and it’s a good one.

Greg Fletcher will lead PJHS as it’s newest principal after a five-year stint as the assistant high school principal.

Fletcher earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Tarleton State University and this is his 12th year in Paradise ISD. He was the junior high and high school technology teacher before he became the assistant principal at the elementary campus. Later he became the assistant principal at the high school.

“Coming [to the junior high] is a bit different. It’s not as busy,” Fletcher said. “High school has so many more activities that we don’t have to worry about here.”

Fletcher said he is really excited about working with a new staff and seeing some of the same faces he remembers from his days at the elementary school.

“We have a great staff and great kids. Junior high is going to be fun. The kids are excited,” Fletcher said.

“I know many of these kids. I had them in elementary school and a lot of them remember me,” he added. “I have a veteran staff around me, and they are the ones who make this school what it is.”


Paradise Elementary School

  • Robyn Gibson – principal
  • Josh Rutledge – assistant principal
  • Tobi Morris – fourth grade
  • Toni Jenkins – second grade
  • Shelley Thigpen
  • Kristen Dagley

Paradise Junior High School

  • Darlene Hager – reading
  • Gretchen Krug – teacher/coach

Paradise High School

  • Cody Chandler – basketball coach
  • Steven Grigsby – science teacher/coach
  • Shane Lunceford – social studies teacher/coach

District level

  • Sheila Farrar – bus driver/cafeteria worker
  • Christy Gee – bus driver/custodian


Paradise ISD

Superintendent: Robert Criswell (interim)

Board members: Homer Mundy, Doug Bryant, Kevin Howerton, Rusty Ford, Carrie Preather, Ronnie Pewitt, Ben Sanders

Meet the teacher nights

Elementary School: Kids with last names starting with A to M 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 21; kids with last names starting with N to Z 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 21
Fourth grade 5:30-6:30 Aug. 19
Fifth grade 6:30-7:30 Aug. 19
Junior High: 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 18
High School: 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 18

Paradise Calendar

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