By the looks of Matt Thompson’s office, he is quite an accomplished hunter and fisherman. He has a large Barr hog head, several deer mounts, and pictures of fish he’s caught that are taller than his son. He’s always been an outdoorsman, which is why he is perfect for the job of Grounds Supervisor for the district.
“We take care of everything outside – grounds, sporting events (his favorite), mowing, edging, field marking, pest control, asphalt repairs, landscape, fence repair, irrigation system, flowerbeds,” he said.
He continued, “And we work traffic at the football games so we’re the last person to leave the stadium, the last one to turn out the lights.”
The grounds department takes care of 400-plus acres covering 15 campuses with just 13 employees, and Mr. Thompson manages the day-to-day planning and implementing to make sure the district is in tip top shape. Mr. Thompson began his career as a helper in the Grounds Department in May of 2000. From there, he became a full-time grounds employee, then a foreman/pest control technician, and in 2010 became the supervisor. Ironically, his father was the LISD Grounds Supervisor for 31 years previous to Mr. Thompson taking the position.
Mr. Thompson is from the Pollok area where he graduated from Central ISD. He enjoyed playing on the basketball team when he was in high school. Now he is married to Brielle, and he and his wife have two children, Hunner, age 15, and Halle, age 8. As no surprise, he loves to hunt and fish with his family. They look forward to building a home on his father’s 25 acres in the nearby future.
“Hunting and fishing is my life. I hunt mostly local but also in South Texas. It’s about a 7-hour drive. I hunt with friends and family. The Barr hog on the wall was caught in Etoile. He weighed 397 pounds,” he said.
It was on one of these hunting trips to South Texas when Mr. Thompson felt that something just wasn’t right.
“It was last December. I was heading to South Texas, and I had a hard time seeing. I was having double vision in my left eye. I was down there 9 days, and I told my wife something wasn’t right,” he said.
He first went to his eye doctor, Dr. Robinson, who said his vision looked fine so he referred him to Dr. Sunil Cherry, a neurologist who immediately scheduled an MRI on January 2nd.
“The doctor called on my phone at night. I knew this wasn’t going to be good. He said I had paraganglioma, which is a mass in the left side of my skull base. I went to Houston,” he said.
There he lived for six weeks in an RV receiving radiation at MD Anderson for 30 minutes Monday through Friday. The pressure from the tumor was pressing on his optical nerve.
He said, “To receive the radiation, I had a simulation mask. It looked like you were from outer space. It’s formed to your face. It was an experience. You learn what’s important in life real quick.”
On May 9th, the radiation treatments were finished and his check up in September looked promising.
“It doesn’t shrink the tumor, it makes it stable and turns it into scar tissue. I can’t feel it, and it doesn’t bother me. My left eye was turned for a while, and I still see double if I turn my eye hard to the left. The doctors give it a year to correct itself, and they can do surgery if I want. I feel good. The radiation would make me feel weak. I didn’t want to do anything, just go to sleep. I’m a very active person, an outside person.” he said.
After his treatments and recovery, Mr. Thompson was back at work eager to make sure the district looks good. He gets to work at 6 a.m. and leaves his house extra early in the morning because he lives 23 miles away. On Mondays, he plans out the week and looks at the weather. He said the weather is a huge factor to his planning. The district has lots of sporting events going on at one time and those are first priority.
He said, “We have to move things around sometimes to play sporting events. Sporting events are the number one thing. I enjoy making things look nice. We have everyone in place – it’s a great group of guys here.”
His day ends at 2:30 p.m., which is simply perfect for him to do the things he loves most in the afternoon.
He said, “It allows me some time to hunt in the afternoon or be with the kids. We do a lot together.”
Thank you, Mr. Thompson, for your work ethic and attention to detail to make sure 400–plus acres are prepared and ready for our students and their events.