Dr. Matt Pariseau is used to being on the go. As Spring ISD’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and workforce development, Pariseau is a familiar presence not just around the hallways of the district’s Gordon M. Anderson Leadership Center, but on campuses all around the district as well.
Whether celebrating student accomplishments at special events, participating in teacher and parent advisory group meetings, presenting to the Spring ISD Board of Trustees, or collaborating with teachers and fellow administrators to support the success of every student, every day, Pariseau rarely stops for long.
It’s a feeling he learned to be comfortable with early on in life.
“I actually changed schools 13 times from kindergarten through high school, and I changed high schools four different times,” Pariseau said. “So growing up, there was a lot of instability.”
Pariseau’s parents separated when he was young and, although his mother went back to school to improve her own employment opportunities after the divorce, making ends meet wasn’t easy. She and her children moved frequently.
“I grew up in poverty,” Pariseau said, “and I went through a lot of different types of schools. I went to public schools; I did homeschooling; I did private schools as well. A lot of time private schools do scholarships, and it was an opportunity my mom was able to take advantage of, trying to give us the best education that we could have.”
Going to different schools and living in different parts of the country taught Pariseau a lot – even when the lessons were hard ones, such as being bullied for being one of the poorly dressed “scholarship students” at a private school. It also made it hard for him to open up and get to know other students well, or to make plans for the future.
“You stop making friends,” Pariseau said. “You’re like, ‘I’m just going to lose them again once I move and change schools.’”
Through all those moves, however, one thing that helped Pariseau make it through and keep his hopes up was his love of learning and of reading, together with the relationships he was able to form with teachers along the way who inspired him to keep striving, to keep moving forward, no matter the challenges.
“My teachers were my heroes,” Pariseau said. “It became my teachers who were those people I really looked up to, and they were that constant in my life. They were the stable element, and I loved going to school because of it.”
From an early age, books also helped him see beyond the day-to-day difficulties and imagine new possibilities for himself and his future.
“They would encourage me,” Pariseau said of his teachers. “They would give me books, and I’d read and learn about all these experiences that I wasn’t experiencing in my own life. So it really opened up my world, and I think that’s what was most remarkable to me, was that teachers have the power to help students dream, and then to help those dreams come to fruition.”
Pariseau’s own journey into education was, in his words, “nontraditional.” After moving out when he turned 18 and enrolling in an alternative program where he could earn his high school diploma while also working as a manager at a local McDonald’s, Pariseau explored several career paths – including his first business venture running a tire shop, a stint as an area manager for a pizza chain, and a period spent working as an assistant pastor and youth pastor.
Through it all, though, he never lost his excitement for what education could accomplish in a young person’s life, or his own desire to be a part of that work.
“I wanted to be able to help others like myself,” Pariseau said.
It took him seven years, but Pariseau eventually became the first in his family to earn his bachelor’s degree – from Sam Houston State University – and he would go on, a few years later, to earn his master’s in school counseling from Lamar University in Beaumont. In 2019, he completed his doctorate in educational leadership from Sam Houston, focusing his dissertation research on literacy outcomes for special education students from different economic, racial and demographic backgrounds across the state.
His first years in the classroom were spent in Tarkington ISD, east of Cleveland, Texas, where he started out as a social studies teacher at Tarkington High School. He went on to hold several other roles there – including high school counselor – before joining Spring ISD as an instructional coach in 2013.
“My heart was to be able to make the biggest impact possible, and that still drives me,” Pariseau said. “That’s what drove me to Spring ISD and to the role that I’m in now.”
His own experiences moving around and changing schools as a child have left him especially attuned to the needs of the many students in Spring ISD whose families also move frequently over the course of their years in school.
“That’s why it’s so essential, as a district, that we have that curriculum that is aligned across campuses, because our kids are doing that same thing,” Pariseau said. “Our kids are moving from place to place, and they need to be able to connect to the same curriculum and the same instructional resources.”
Pariseau met his wife – also an instructional coach at the time – during his first year in Spring ISD. To fulfill a longtime dream of hers, seven years ago the couple purchased land and an old farmhouse near Iola – along the country roads out east of Bryan and west of Huntsville – where Pariseau found himself in yet another new role, as an unlikely rancher. There, along with his wife and their now-four-year-old daughter, Pariseau has learned about raising horses and cattle, alpacas and sheep, and litters of Great Pyrenees puppies.
For Pariseau’s daughter, it’s the only home she’s ever known – and that fact alone helps make the nearly two-hour commute to and from Spring ISD each morning and evening worthwhile for Pariseau. Having moved so many times growing up, and having been uprooted so often, he’s thrilled to be offering his daughter the grounded, stable existence he never had.
From instructional coach, to special education coordinator and director, to his current role as assistant superintendent, Pariseau said he never tires of seeing what Spring ISD students are capable of, and relishes what he’s able to do to support the work of teachers in the classroom – teachers who still, all these years later, remind him of the ones who inspired and encouraged him when he was younger.
“I don’t remember, growing up, any of the central office administrators. I remember my teachers,” Pariseau said. “It’s the teachers – they’re the ones that are making the impact, and we can never forget that. They are the key to our students’ success.”
“There’s so much that a teacher impacts that they don’t even know,” he said, “and I’m a living testament to that.”