Reflections on Martin Mathews’ Passing, by Don Danforth

Martin L. Mathews

1925 – 2022

Martin Luther Mathews passed away peacefully this week at the age of 97.  He was a pillar in our community who touched people from across our region with his positivity, his optimism and his belief in young people.  

As founder of the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club in 1960, Mr. Mathews shaped generations of St. Louisans, including me. He was my mentor and cheerleader since I started as a volunteer at Mathews-Dickey in 1989, almost 35 years ago.  A few years later when I first talked to him about the idea for City Academy, he had this advice: “Build it as if it is for your own children, and make it the best.” His encouragement and belief made a big scary idea seem possible, and his high expectations formed the backbone of our school. He has been with me and City Academy every step of the way.

Mr. Mathews dedicated his life to serving others, especially children.  His three R’s: “Respect, Restraint and Responsibility” guided him, and his emphasis on the importance of “preparation, opportunity and possibility” shaped his vision for Mathews-Dickey, and mine for City Academy.  When children are prepared and receive equal opportunities, their possibilities are endless, their futures are bright, and we all benefit.  

At City Academy’s graduation each year, we present the Martin L. Mathews Award to a sixth grader who has demonstrated great character and citizenship.  It is a special tradition.  Mr. Mathews was unable to attend last year’s graduation, so I visited with him a few days before and asked for his advice for our graduates. “Always strive for your best.  Don’t waiver from this. And don’t be afraid to make your best better.”  As usual, Mr. Mathews summed it up perfectly and succinctly!  We would all do well to take this advice and strive for excellence for ourselves and encourage that from those around us. Mr. Mathews did that every day, and everyone who knew him benefited from his wisdom, kindness and open-mindedness.  

I will be forever grateful to my mentor and dear friend, Martin Mathews, and I am proud that his legacy lives on through our work at City Academy.

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An Important Message from Don Danforth

Dear City Academy Family,

I am writing to share that Nikki Doughty has accepted a position at Washington University’s Institute for School Partnership. Nikki will be “graduating” from City Academy at the end of this school year, after 15 amazing years.

At Washington University, Nikki will continue the important work of removing barriers to transform lives through exceptional education, by working with multiple schools and districts. This will no doubt make our community and region stronger. I am pleased that Nikki’s new role at WU will allow her to continue to help broaden City Academy’s impact by building a collaboration between two amazing institutions, City Academy and Washington U, and helping implement our Strategic Initiative of building an institute for educators. Like our City Academy graduates, Nikki is fully prepared for her next exciting challenge. Nikki shares about her next steps in the video below.

Jeff Horwitz, our Interim Principal, will be our Interim Head of School for the 2021-22 academic year. We will not fill the Principal role. A search process will begin late this summer to identify our next Head of School.

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