Photo by Jordan Steinberg: Dr. Mattis poses behind his classroom chemistry equipment.
Dr. Clayton Mattis, who entered the MHS community last year, has been able to make lasting impacts on many of his students. He primarily teaches tenth graders Regents chemistry and from interviews of past and present students; he is widely successful in his quest for the “impartation of knowledge.” Before Dr. Mattis was a high school teacher here, he was a professor at Hunter College. There, he taught pre-med students for a number of years as a Carbohydrate synthetic chemist. Dr. Mattis decided to join the MHS community because he found that teaching in high schools was a less restrictive environment where he could focus on connecting with his students rather than just grading them.
Unfortunately, due to immigration circumstances Dr. Mattis may be leaving the Mamaroneck High School community for an unforeseen period. This is incredibly heart breaking to his students and all of the lasting connections he has been able to make in this school in such a short period of time. He will mostly likely have to leave around February to return to his home in Jamaica with his entire family.
We as members of this community highly anticipate his return back to this school system once these unforeseen immigration problems are resolved. Though nothing is certain for his future there is no denying the impact he left on his students.
“Mr. Mattis is one of the most caring teachers I have ever had- he genuinely wants his students to do well,” responded Sophia Molho, ‘18, when asked about one defining feature of Dr. Mattis as a teacher.
Dr. Mattis cares about his students well being and strives to make his classroom a warm and inviting place. He believes that all are welcome. Rooting for them, asking them about their lives and taking responsibility for their grades are only some of the many ways that Dr. Mattis hopes to improve his “pedagogue”as a teacher.
When confronted by an student last year, Wyatt Feldman, that explained his stress and anxiety in class Dr. Clayton Mattis stated comfortably to that student “You should never be anxious in my class.” Dr. Mattis stresses the importance of giving extra time and allowing students to learn at their own pace. He stated “I believe that there should never be a time limit on learning. I believe anyone should be given whatever time they need to take a test.” By giving students more time and allowing assignments dates to be more flexible for the students, Dr. Mattis hopes that it will lower daily stresses and make being in class more enjoyable. Dr. Clayton Mattis attempts lowering stress because he also strongly believes that “when the environment is stress free than optimal learning can take place.”
During midterms and finals, he allows students to come into his room, ask questions, and attend his study sessions. This policy for extra help is especially helpful for students who have busy schedules. Tanjina Jalil another student of Dr. Mattis describes how this policy helped make her life a little easier when she was in his class. “I have always had conflicts with my schedule and [Dr.Mattis] has always made the greatest effort to work with me. I’ve never had a teacher who would go out of his or her way to help a student.” Dr. Mattis explained the importance of being flexible with other students schedules but and how it is vital to be adaptive to different students’ learning abilities. He believes it’s important to give the students multiple environments to learn “ Some people are able to learn under any conditions [but] for other people it’s much more ideal to meet one on one.” Though being able to change his schedules around for all of his students’ can be a difficult feat, Dr. Mattis continues this practice because he strongly agrees with the idea that, “the more you give the more you get.”
Mattis is infamous for his immense passion for teaching. When asked about his dedication in the classroom, he responded, “I believe a passionate instructor brings passionate learners, one is connected to the other, they are bonded together.” This direct relationship is the driving force for his love of teaching and all the charisma he has in his classroom. His passion is infectious and his students are grateful for all the positive energy that he emits. For example, Emma Kaneti, a student of his, stated that “Dr. Mattis was definitely one of the most upbeat teachers I’ve had. His energy and passion was a refreshing change to the usual banality of the school day. He didn’t settle with just teaching us chemistry, but strived to make the class entertaining for us.” When asked why he has so much passion and appreciation for teaching he cheerfully responded “It’s the chemistry you know, it’s an emotional investment coupled with instructional practices that bring ultimate results.. for that reason I love it and that’s the truth.” This bonded relationship that led him down the path of teaching continues to bring him joy in his classroom everyday.
Not only has Dr. Mattis been able to create significant bonds with students here, but he is also beloved in the teacher community. Ms. O’Reilly- the head of the science department who teaches AP Biology and Forensics- is a close friend and colleague of Dr. Mattis. “ In the short year and a half he has been here I would truly call him a friend and that is not a word I use lightly.” Ms. O’Reilly’s classroom is located next to Dr. Mattis’s room and through close proximity and similar interests they have been able to form a strong friendship in the short period that they have known each other. Ms. O’Reilly recalls in the beginning of the year when the school asked teachers to greet each others at the beginning of last year with an African traditional greeting. Instead of saying “ hello” teachers would say “I see you” and the responding teacher would state “ I see you too.” Ms. O’Reilly cherishes this greeting that she and Dr. Mattis continue to use whenever they see each other throughout the day. After speaking about their personal relationship Ms. O’Reilly follows up by saying, “He is a great teacher and everyone of his students knows that they have a place in his [class]room.”
Students and teachers in this school may temporarily lose an amazing passionate man. A man that cared and continues to care about his teaching immensely. However, the fact that he has been able to help and support so many people in such a short time is something he should be incredibly proud of.
By Gabby Tucciarone