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Tag Archive | "Athletic Director"

Old trophies

The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.



To (former) Athletic Director Mattson and School Superintendent VanDuyn,

I remember as a freshman seeing all the old trophies on display at the trophy case at the south end of Mr. Welch’s classroom, plus also the trophy case at the front entranceway. Looking at all the old trophies told me Cedar had a past of accomplishments. It was a thrill to look at these trophies, even if the team photos were faded.

I wrote you and talked to you about the whereabouts of the 1970 and 1971 men’s tennis team trophies so a new team photo could be put in to replace the faded photos. Today’s young people should know that Cedar Springs sports had a past of accomplishments. You had 14 years to find trophies and display them so the young people may know.

Passing along the two 8×10 color team photos (to replace the ones in 1970 and 1971) and not having them replace the faded ones was a disappointment for me. But also to: Mr. Harold Maxson (tennis coach), John Venman, Randy Maxson (three-time state champ), Steve Maxson, Randy Swanson, Mike Clouse, Tim Welch, Brad Slaight, Todd Denton, Mark Clark, Tom Venman, Steve Pike, Dan Laszlo, Mike Welch, Scott French, the Class of 1970 and 1971, plus the young people who want to know about Cedar Springs sports and its accomplishments.

A good Captain of a Navy ship knows what is under his command and what he is responsible for. Same goes for an Athletic Director and Superintendent.

You let a lot of people down. I rest my case. Have a good day.


Mr. Lenn Perry, Cedar Springs

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CTA selects new dean of students/athletic director

Cutline: Autumn Mattson will become the new dean of students/athletic director at Creative Technologies Academy. She is shown here with her husband, Scott, and their two sons.

Autumn Mattson will become the new dean of students/athletic director at Creative Technologies Academy. She is shown here with her husband, Scott, and their two sons.

Autumn Mattson, the former athletic director and dean of students at Cedar Springs High School, has been selected to fill that same position at Creative Technologies Academy at the end of this school year.

Creative Technologies Academy, a Ferris State University-authorized public school academy located on Pine Street in Cedar Springs, made the announcement Monday, May 9, after a five-week search.

Mattson will assume her new position in June. She succeeds the school’s current and outgoing dean of students/athletic director, David Oldebekking, who will remain in the position until the end of the school year to ensure a seamless transition.

CTA School Leader/Superintendent, Dan George believes Mattson is the right person for this position.

“Autumn knows the Cedar Springs community well and has a passion for helping kids. We are excited to have her fill the position of Dean of Students at CTA,” he stated. “My goal for CTA since I came here over six years ago was for us to be a valued, and viewed as, a partner, not a competitor, with the other exceptional school districts that surround us in doing what is best for kids. I believe Autumn will help us in that endeavor,” George continued.

Mattson served as athletic director at Cedar Springs for almost 10 years and was both dean of students and athletic director for almost 3 years. She also held several other positions within the school district prior to that. She resigned in February 2016.

Mattson holds her Masters of Education and Leadership and Elementary Teaching Certification from Aquinas College and her Bachelor of Arts from Lake Superior State University. Mattson has received many honors, including the 2014 Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrator Association Regional Athletic Director of the Year, and the 2014 West Michigan Officials Association Athletic Director of the Year recognitions.

“I am so honored to have this opportunity to work with the staff, families and students of CTA,” shared Mattson. “From the minute I stepped on the campus I knew this was the place for me. The love and care this staff shows towards their students is inspiring. I am looking forward to getting to know the entire CTA family and working with our community to help each student dream big, reach their goals and experience success.”

Mattson is married to Scott Mattson, and they have two children.

Oldebekking, who was appointed in 2012 after spending six years teaching at CTA, led the school during a period of growth and also oversaw student athletic programs.

“My time at CTA has been great. I started as a teacher and the relationships with the students, staff and families are irreplaceable,” said David Oldebekking, current dean of students. “There are so many great people that make up this school family and I am going to miss them all.”

“Dave Oldebekking has exceptionally served CTA for 10 years,” shared Dan George, School Leader/Superintendent. “I am sad to see him leave education because he has been an outstanding teacher, administrator, coach, mentor, and role model for kids and staff. I am also excited for him and his family for the opportunity that awaits him in his new position.”

When Oldebekking’s new opportunity arose, he hoped that CTA would find someone who loved the school and wanted to see it flourish and believes that Mattson fits the bill. “I am confident that she will do great things and I cannot wait to see what she does,” he commented.


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N-Sunshine-logoResidents, teachers want answers from school board; others supportive of changes

By Judy Reed

“Why have four administrators left since Dr. Laura VanDuyn was hired as Superintendent two years ago? Why has the culture at Cedar Springs Public Schools changed?” Those are the questions that many residents and school employees are asking the Cedar Springs Board of Education, while many other residents and school employees say they are supportive of the changes.

The Board of Education heard both kinds of comments from a cross-section of residents and employees at Monday night’s standing-room only board meeting. Overflowing attendance has become the norm recently, as people on both sides of the issue yearn to have their voice heard.

The administrators in question have all resigned: assistant superintendent of teaching and instruction Steve Seward in fall of 2014; Cedar Trails principal Jennifer Harper, early 2015; associate superintendent of finance David Cairy, fall 2015; and most recently, athletic director Autumn Mattson, in February, 2016. Her assistant AD Tyler Wolfe resigned in December.

Of those that resigned, Harper was given a salary per her separation agreement, and was not allowed to talk about why she left. That led some people to speculate she was forced out. The Post talked to Dr. VanDuyn about it at the time, and told us it was an ongoing personnel matter. “We can’t reveal the nature because it is a personnel matter. But I think it’s important to say that it’s not a matter that has to do with criminal conduct or the safety of students.”

Van Duyn said Harper was put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. “We have clearly followed our district’s legal counsel in the matter,” she said.

At Monday evening’s meeting, teacher Sarah Holtrop spoke in support of the superintendent. “I’ve served under five different superintendents and five different principals,” she said. “I don’t feel it’s fair to blame Dr. VanDuyn for the resignations of four administrators. They could have chosen to accept her as superintendent. Personally I have found Dr. VanDuyn to be compassionate and caring.”

Teacher Lisa Schmidt also offered support, noting that change is difficult, and that Dr. VanDuyn is well-liked by many staff members in the district.

Resident Sam Gebhardt also offered his support to the superintendent and the board. “I graduated from here, raised my family here. I like the direction we are going right now. You hear a lot of negative comments, but a lot of people like it, too,” he said.

Former teacher and coach Ted Sabinas, who taught for 34 years and coached for 37, asked the board to look into why so many teachers and administrators are fearful for their jobs if they speak up or question how the district is being run.

Longtime teacher Mary Graf—a 39-year veteran—gave an impassioned speech to the board about her concerns with the changing culture in the district. She said she had heard remarks that the problems they are facing are because people are resistant to change, but she strongly disagreed. Graf noted that she had seen a lot of change over the years and hadn’t always agreed with it, but one thing remained constant, until now. “But through all of these challenges and difficult times, honesty and respect remained between the teachers, the school board, and the superintendent. Never did I experience the finger pointing, dishonesty, and disrespect that is currently permeating our school district. How does this type of culture help our students?” she asked. (Read her entire letter on here).

Teacher Josh Cooper spoke on behalf of the teachers at the High School, and showed support for their administrators, Principals Ron Behrenwald and Anne Kostus, and said they were deeply saddened at the loss of former Dean of Students and Athletic Director Autumn Mattson. He also talked about all the good things happening at the high school.

Resident Lee Mora asked the board when they were going to address Mattson’s appeal to the board for an exit interview. She had asked initially for an exit interview with the board of education, and since that is routinely done with human resources, was told by HR she could have an exit interview with them, but not with the board. She declined and appealed to the board. As of Wednesday, Mattson said she had not received a response from the board.

Mora asked the board why they wouldn’t want to gather all information possible from an administrator who had served there 14 years. Board president Patricia Eary told Mora that their legal counsel had said exit interviews were not to be done by the board, because they have only one employee—the superintendent.  (Read Mora’s letter on here).

Board trustee Michelle Bayink asked if they could possibly discuss some of these issues at the next board workshop, but Eary said she thought the agenda for that workshop was already set. Resident Sue Wolfe told the board she hoped they would discuss some of these concerns.

The Post contacted Board president Patricia Eary this week, and asked her whether the board was planning to address these concerns, whether at the next workshop, or through some other means, such as round table discussion with the board, superintendent, representatives of buildings, and the community. We also asked whether they would be responding to Mattson’s appeal; whether they wanted to know why these people left; and what did they think was the best way to restore unity in the district?

“The board employs one person and that is the superintendent,” said Eary. “The only exit interview the board would conduct would be with our one employee. In regard to the exit interviews for all staff members except for the superintendent, there is no right granted to anyone to have an exit interview in this state. Our school district does offer exit interviews and they are conducted by the Human Resource Department. The offer was made to Mrs. Mattson to have an exit interview with the HR Department.”

Eary offered a general response for the other questions.

“The Board of Education is committed to providing an excellent education for every child in the district. The Board of Education is committed to high expectations for excellence in all we do as a district. We hold ourselves and all others accountable and expect every person to work with integrity in all positions, whether the position be superintendent, teacher, administrator, support staff or coach.

“The Board is listening to the community and is responsive to their concerns and will continue to be in communication with the community in the days and weeks ahead.

“We believe our leadership team shares our commitment to our students and staff. Together we are confident the children and families are going to receive a great education at our district.

“The Board of Education would like to express our deep appreciation for the outstanding and dedicated staff. The teachers, administrators and support staff work very hard to provide a high quality education for our students. They do so during a time when education and expectations to meet high standards is continually changing. We are proud of our staff members.

“Finally, we would like to thank the many volunteers, parents and community members who continue to partner with us to serve the many students of Cedar Springs. We appreciate all who shared with us their concerns, suggestions and affirmations over the last several months.”

See several letters to the editor about this issue here.

Tell us—how do you feel about this? How do you think unity should be restored? Send your letters to the editor to us at news@cedarspringspost.com, and follow the guidelines (including word limit) on our Voices and Views page.

NEXT WEEK: Long range financial outlook—could district be headed into the red?



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Red Hawks Athletic Director resigns

Autumn (Waite) Mattson. Phnoto by K. Alvesteffer

Autumn (Waite) Mattson. Phnoto by K. Alvesteffer

By Judy Reed

All Autumn (Waite) Mattson has ever wanted is to live and serve in the community that she grew up in—a community she loves. So it was with a heavy heart that she turned in her resignation to Cedar Springs Public Schools on February 11, after 14 years of working with kids. “I didn’t want to leave,” she said.

Mattson, a former Red Flannel Queen, attended all 12 years of school at Cedar Springs, and graduated in 1997. Except for the four years she went away to college, she has spent her entire life here. “My family has been here since 1892, and my kids are the 8th generation to attend Cedar Springs Public Schools,” she explained. “My husband and I chose to come back here to live because this is a community that cares about kids.”

When an athletic secretary position came open in July 2002, Mattson jumped at the chance. She later coached both Girls JV and Varsity basketball for several years, before becoming athletic director in July 2006. “My kids were brought up in the gym,” she said with a chuckle. “I had both of them a week after basketball season ended.”

Mattson earned two AD awards in 2014 when she was named Regional Athletic Director of the Year by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrator Association (MIAAA), and Athletic Director of the Year by the West Michigan Officials Association.

She has also been active with the MHSAA, serving as a conference presenter on Women in Sports Leadership, and serving on various committees.

In addition to being AD, Mattson also served as Dean of Students at Cedar Springs High School for two years, until this past January. “I had some of the greatest growth of my career as Dean of Students,” she remarked. “It gave me a chance to work with other staff and students that I would not have had a chance to work with in athletics. That opportunity opened my eyes to what Cedar Springs is all about.”

Many of the students she worked with in that capacity are not happy to see her go. “Last week I had kids come up to me asking who are they going to talk to now? It really made an imprint on my heart. These are kids I wouldn’t have a had a chance to meet otherwise.”

One of her proudest accomplishments is as founder of the Athletic Leadership Council. It started out as student-lead group in 2008 with 14 members, and now has 62 high school athletes in grades 9-12. Their mission is to unite the students, staff, and community and promote Red Hawk pride. They develop leadership growth through bi-weekly meetings, doing community service projects, presentations to peers, community groups and collaboration with leadership professionals. For the second year in a row, they will be present at the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrator Association conference, where Mattson was asked to be a presenter. She has spoken at the conference the last two years about the Athletic Leadership Council. “More schools want to know about it,” she said.

Mattson also founded the Red Hawk kids club, a weekly program that partnered with elementary administrators. The mission of the program is to have High School athletes guide elementary students to uphold the Red Hawk creed.

We have the most amazing kids,” she remarked. “They are thought provokers, listeners, inspiring. They always thank us, but they are the ones that inspired me.”

If Mattson loves her job, and the kids, and the staff, why is she leaving without having a new job to go to?

This is the third superintendent I have worked under, and a lot has happened during that time. I was able to stand behind the things that happened. I loved that we had a real culture of learning, of love, and that it was ok to think outside the box. Teaching and learning was at the center of everything we did. That culture of being able to recreate yourself every few years is not there anymore. I just didn’t feel I could be my best self anymore,” she explained.

Mattson said she noticed a shift in teaching and learning when administrator Steve Seward left, and saw a change in the system with due process, when Jennifer Harper was put on leave. “The culture was changing,” she explained. Other events impacting her decision were when the board president read the letter at the October 12 board meeting that upset many staff members, and former associate superintendent Dave Cairy leaving. Her athletic assistant Tyler Wolfe also resigned in December.

Me leaving is a way that I feel I’m standing up for kids,” she said. “I’m always trying to instill in them to stand up for themselves. I had a student tell me, ‘Not many adults have the trust and respect from the students that you have. You alone brought a united family atmosphere to CSHS and the way you have chosen to make a career change, as much as I would love to see you stay, only make me realize that putting yourself first is not selfish, but the most important thing you can do. Thank you for letting me be a part of your legacy.’ To have that come from a student is amazing.”

Leaving was tough on Mattson. She said working that last day and then leaving for the last time was the most emotional thing she’s ever done. But it wasn’t just hard on her; her family feels it, too. Her kids asked to go with her to the last ALC breakfast so they could say goodbye to the athletes.

The Mattson family has had amazing adventures in that stadium, in that gym. They made us. I’m excited to explore my passions to see what my next adventure is,” she remarked.

Mattson asked for an exit interview with the board of education, which is not routine, so was denied. She appealed that decision, and was waiting to hear from the board when this paper went to press.

In her absence, teachers Justin Harnden and Julie Weiler will run the ALC. The new baseball coach, Michael Schaub, will serve as interim Athletic Director, and Deb Williams will be athletic administrative assistant.

Cedar Springs Public Schools will be posting a position for a full-time athletic director,” said Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn.

We wish Ms. Autumn Mattson the very best in her new position,” said VanDuyn. “Autumn served our district for 14 years in a variety of capacities. We know that countless students, staff and families will remember her work and passion for athletics and for Cedar Springs Public Schools. She did a fine job establishing and presenting to others the Athletic Leadership Council, which many of our high school students enjoy. All our best to you, Autumn! ”

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Autumn Mattson named Regional Athletic Director of the Year

Autumn Mattson

Autumn Mattson

Michigan’s professional organization of school athletic directors, the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA), has selected Autumn Mattson of Cedar Springs High School as regional Athletic Director of the Year.  One of only fourteen administrators state wide to be honored by the MIAAA, Autumn will be presented the award in Traverse City on March 18, 2014 at the annual MIAAA Mid-Winter Conference in which over 500 athletic directors participate.

Mattson came to Cedar Springs High school from Lake Superior State University where she played four years of women’s basketball and received her undergraduate degree.  She then received her Masters in Education and her teaching certificate from Aquinas College. Currently at Cedar Springs, Autumn serves as Athletic Director and Dean of Students. Mattson also served as president of the OK Bronze division in 2011 & 2012 and is involved in numerous MHSAA committees including: Women in Sports Leadership, Basketball Officials, and the Scholar Athlete committee.

In 2010, Mattson founded the Athletic Leadership Council (ALC) in Cedar Springs with the goal of uniting the students, staff and community and to spread the Red Hawk Pride to the community. One example is Staff Pride night when each athlete chooses a staff member within the district who has made a difference in their lives and invites them to attend a game. This allows past teachers to see that they are remembered and appreciated.

Brian Zdanowski, Athletic Director at Greenville High School, says Autumn is “very professional, dependable, and one who will do what it takes to get the job done. She is most definitely the leader of the athletic department and has gained respect from the coaches, athletes, and the parents that she serves.”

Steve Bennink, Athletic Director at Coopersville Area Schools, says “she has been the ultimate professional, always representing what is best for all student athletes, whether hers or the other schools.”

The MIAAA is a 52-year old association with nearly 700 members serving as athletic administrators in numerous high schools and junior high/middle schools in Michigan.  As partners with the Michigan High School Athletic Association, the MIAAA works to promote the educational value of interscholastic athletics and the role and profession of athletic director.  The MIAAA is very proud to spotlight the work of Autumn Mattson, an Athletic Director whose work and values best mirrors those of the association.


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