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Mathis Calvin III

Mathis Calvin III headshot

Affiliation: Alumnus
Program: Accelerated EdD, School District Leadership
Dissertation: Improving the Performance of Students with Learning Disabilities in Global Nine at Letchworth Central Schools: A Decision Analysis
Honors: 2010 Recipient of the Warner School’s Tyll van Geel Award

Mathis Calvin III has a long history of helping others, starting in high school when he would swap study hall for the chance to assist in a classroom of students with multiple disabilities. That led to his first job at a summer camp working with children who had special needs—a job ultimately responsible for his interest in becoming a special education teacher.

Heeding a spiritual call to serve others, Calvin was a junior deacon as a teenager and now is a minister, assistant youth pastor, and head of men’s ministries at a Pentecostal church in Rochester.

Most recently, after holding positions as a special and general education teacher, curriculum writer, staff professional development coach, charter school academy director, and special education administrator, Calvin accepted an offer to head the New York State School for the Blind in Batavia, N.Y. He had just begun to think about pursuing a superintendency when he was asked to apply to the residential school, which serves students from throughout the state. Three weeks later, he arrived on campus.

While amazed at how quickly things unfolded, Calvin, who graduated in 2010 with an accelerated EdD in school district leadership, brought a confidence to the post that he says grew out of his time at Warner.

“To be honest, you typically don’t go from being a special education director to the superintendent of schools,” he says, “but the Warner School has a great reputation. People know that folks who walk out of there are well prepared. It makes a difference.”

From courses that teach how to work with stakeholders, to internships that offer opportunities to turn classroom knowledge into hands-on experience, the process of earning a doctorate gave Calvin what he describes as meaningful exposure to the people and ideas behind today’s leading education issues.

On the day he graduated from Warner, Calvin learned that he had received the Tyll van Geel Award. Named for Professor Emeritus van Geel, a renowned scholar of education law and applied ethical issues in education, the award honors a commitment to thoughtful, ethical leadership and decision making, as well as rigorous application of scholarship to practice.

“That means so much to me,” he says. “I’m just waiting for that perfect frame.”

Calvin plans to move up the state’s career ladder. But for now, he is focusing on bringing his strengthened leadership skills to his new role.

“I just want to do a really great job for the kids and provide them with the best possible education,” he says.