Press Releases Banner

AISD Teacher Awarded for Helping Reduce Freshman Course Failures, Dropouts

On Dec. 8, Austin High School teacher R. Keeth Matheny and two of his students will be featured on the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network’s monthly webcast, “Solutions to the Dropout Crisis.”

Matheny received the 2015 Crystal Star Award of Excellence in Dropout Recovery, Intervention and Prevention at the National Dropout Prevention Network Conference in October. The award is given for championing an innovative dropout prevention program for at-risk students throughout the district.

Matheny is the driving force behind the creation and implementation of AISD’s Methods for Academic and Personal Success program. The initiative provides support to freshmen as they transition into high school. MAPS provides students with skills to help them succeed in school, relationships, the workforce and life.

Over a four-year period at Austin High School, the MAPS program helped reduce freshman course failures by 41 percent, dropouts by 30 percent and discipline referrals by 71 percent.

“We’re very lucky to have Mr. Matheny leading the way in supporting at-risk students. Keeping students in school and helping them accomplish their goals for college, career and life is what AISD is all about,” Superintendent Paul Cruz said. “It’s programs like MAPS that help us reinvent the urban school experience.”

This program is part of a national education initiative, Social and Emotional Learning, which provides students with techniques for managing emotions, setting goals and building relationships, among other items. Matheny has conducted SEL training in AISD and in several states.

“Keeth is a man on a mission to help teens make safe, smart decisions and reach their life goals and potential,” said Julea Douglass, a Maryland-based SEL expert who nominated Matheny for the Crystal Star Award. “The content and environment of his MAPS classes have become a ‘game changer’ in the lives of hundreds of students, and provide them with skills and successes that will positively influence them throughout their lives.”

Matheny has more than 25 years of experience teaching . In the past three years, he has spoken at more than 10 national education conferences and spoke at a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., regarding the MAPS program and the importance of Social and Emotional Learning.

“Keeth Matheny exemplifies how teaching other teachers to use and implement outreach and intervention tools on behalf of students can make a real difference in their lives,” said John Gailer, assistant director of Outreach for the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network. “It is an honor for us to recognize his work in engaging students, preventing dropout and helping students prepare for college.”

The Crystal Star Awards of Excellence in Dropout Recovery, Intervention and Prevention are given annually. For more information, visit

About the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network

Established in 1986 with a mission to reduce dropout rates, the NDPC/N shares solutions for student success and dropout prevention through its clearinghouse function, active research and evaluation projects, publications, and a variety of professional development activities and conferences. The organization’s website——is the nation’s leading resource in providing effective, research-based solutions to engaging students and reducing dropout. The NDPC/N is housed in the Eugene T. Moore School of Education at Clemson University in Clemson.