PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Former Pass Christian Superintendent Dr. Sue Matheson touched countless lives in the classroom and in the community.
Matheson, 69, died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. She left behind an influential education legacy.
"My heart hurts. It really does," said Freda Dedeaux.
A flood of emotions took over Pass Christian teachers after they learned about the loss of their former superintendent.
"Shocking, disturbing, hurtful," said Deborah Dodge.
Dedeaux and Dodge were both teachers at Pass Christian Elementary in 1994 when Dr. Matheson served as principal.
"She wanted us to do our best, to always do the best we could and always be there for the children, to put the children first," said Dodge.
Since Matheson took over as superintendent in 2002, Pass Christian's academic reputation has become a model for schools locally, statewide and nationally. The district ranked number one in Mississippi for three years in a row.
Pass Christian was also the first and only district to have all STAR rated schools.
"She did set the bar high. She had great expectations for everyone, including herself. Even when she was going through her cancer treatments.....I think she missed two days of work," said Pass Christian Schools Superintendent Beth John.
Dr. Matheson's greatest achievement was her leadership in guiding the district's recovery after Hurricane Katrina. Despite losing the central office, school buildings, even her own home, Matheson was determined to rebuild the schools and get children back in class.
"To have the school district rebuild right in the center of town, like, this is sent a great message that we are back. Once the schools opened, then families started moving back in. She had that vision," said John.
Matheson retired in 2012, but her legacy lives on in the tens of thousands of people she has inspired, challenged, and loved.
A visitation will be held Saturday from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. at Edmond Fahey Funeral Home in Bay St. Louis. In lieu of flowers, her family asks that donations be made to the Pass Christian School District.