Forty-eight years of dedication to education will come to an end next summer when Gary Matthews, the Executive Director of the Alaska School Activities Association, steps down.
Matthews, who submitted a letter of resignation to the ASAA Board of Directors on Tuesday at the spring meeting in Cordova, said it was time to simply hang up the keys.
“I’m approaching the end of my career ...,” Matthews said via phone. “I’m 69 years old, and I’m looking towards retirement.”
Matthews stressed that he will not be involved with the search for his successor.
Twenty-one of Matthews’ 47 years in education were with ASAA, and he will officially vacate the position on July 2, 2014.
According to a press release from ASAA on Thursday, Matthews spearheaded the creation of the Alaska High School Hall of Fame, which recognizes Alaska high school athletes, coaches, administrators, corporations and supporters for their exemplary careers and support of interscholastic activities.
He also implemented the Play for Keeps, Win for Life program which supports healthy living choices and abstinence from tobacco, alcohol and drugs during the high school career, and he has also been instrumental in the expansion of new state tournaments including the state basketball championship, which now brings 80 teams into Anchorage during the week of March Madness Alaska.
Matthews, who oversees operations of ASAA, said one of the things that he was most proud of during his career was the tenacity the organization showed in being able to stay in business in the 1980s.
“The fact that we’ve been able to continue to promote interscholastic activities across the state is great,” he said. “We used to be a part of the Alaska State Department of Education, and they essentially quit their funding in 1986.”
Having lived and worked in Haines for 25 years early in his career, Matthews also said the Kenai Peninsula schools always ran strong programs.
“At the time I knew only a little about the Peninsula schools, but I became aware of the people running them because they were very confident in themselves,” Matthews said. “They might’ve had different opinions than me, but they were respectful and I always enjoyed working with them.”