Mr. Mathson’s yearbook picture from his first of teaching at Eagan.

Mathson remembered as dedicated, engaging teacher

May 29, 2017

Recently, we lost a teacher, friend, and mentor who never ceased to make the halls here a little bit brighter. On Saturday, May 20th, Mr. Jon Mathson, ten-year science teacher at Eagan, passed away during a trail run in northern Minnesota when he suddenly collapsed partway through the 25K run. His death came as a shock to students, teachers, and parents alike.

When asked to describe Mr. Mathson to someone who didn’t know him, we received an array of answers. Selfless, empathetic, funny, enthusiastic, and genuine were just a few of the words students and teachers used to describe Mr. Mathson. Known for his love of science and the outdoors, he brought a unique perspective and attitude into the classroom. He intentionally taught the classes where kids struggled because he wanted to help them reach their full potential and develop a love for science. He knew how to get students excited about learning with his positive presence. As a physical earth science and chemistry fundamentals teacher, he made learning science enjoyable. “He was just a fun guy to be around and taught in an engaging way,” senior Jerry Ostrem, captain of the Science Olympiad team.

“I can’t count the number of times students have told me that, to him it wasn’t a quiz or test, to him it was a celebration of learning.” describes Ms. Catchpool. The passion he had for teaching and the commitment to doing the best he could, allowed him to build long-lasting relationships with his students in and out of Room 212. Paige Moy, a senior and Science Olympiad participant, shares her favorite memory with Mr. Mathson. “When we had our state tournament, he made sure to ask us how our event went and was always supportive and motivating, even though we all knew that we weren’t going to win the state championship.”

His infectious attitude was not only experienced by his students but also his colleagues. Mr. Dunn recalls, “Jon was always ready with a quick joke or one liner that served to break the mood and make everyone stop and laugh.” His had a unique sense of humor that was adored by fellow staff members and students alike. Similarly Dr. Reikowski adds, “He always looked like he was happy and ready to have a good day. He would show up in button down plaid shirts and sometimes he’d have a baseball hat on and sunglasses. He loved wearing sunglasses. And if he could wear shorts, he was in shorts.”

Along with teaching Mr. Mathson was actively involved in other activities at Eagan. His giving spirit and pride in Eagan was constantly seen in how he spent his time after school. He could be seen working in the weight room, sitting in the booth during football games, and timing the track meets. “All the things that people don’t see, behind the scenes,” explains Mr. Dirksen. With his loyalty and dedication to EHS, his job turned into something much greater. “As much as anybody, he lived for the high school. It was his job, his passion, and his social life. He loved being here,” Mr. Kissner explains.

Through times of hardship, our community has proven how it can come together. Support has come from many directions. “We’ve had lunch delivered to the science department from Apple Valley and cookies delivered from the elementary schools. When those things come into play, it just warms your heart,” explains Ms. Catchpool.  In the past few days, over $74,000 has been raised by more than a thousand people for Mr. Mathson’s wife, Becky and their two-year-old son, Dylan. If you would like to donate, click here.

Through having students write about their favorite memories of Mr. Mathson and teachers sharing stories about him, Eagan High School has started to heal. Junior Tram Nguyen explains that students have been encouraged to “write about the memories and write about the person he was. The counselors came in and talked to us about how we can seek help. I think talking about it aloud brings back the memories [too]” On Friday, May 26th, a celebration of life will be held to honor and remember Mr. Mathson. Inspired by his love for the outdoors, stickers with his initials will be available at the celebration on Friday for anyone who would like to take one to put on a water bottle, climbing helmet or other piece of gear in his memory. “He’s going to be so terribly missed, he’s just a real part of our hearts and our school, we’re not going to be able to replace Mr. Mathson. There’s no way. He’s a one of a kind guy,” Dr. Reikowski shares.

Mr. Dirksen reflects, “He would have wanted us to move on, celebrate his life. He would have asked us to get outside, to go on an adventure and drag your friends with you. To hug your parents and to love your kids, both the ones you have and the ones you teach. That’s the thing about Jon, he was always there and always wanted to get people going and find [their] passion in life, because he truly followed his.”

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