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Matt Nix '85 | From Community Member to Community Leader

Analy High School '89
University of California, Los Angeles '94
Burn Notice
He may have attended SCDS for only seventh and eighth grades, but Matt Nix has formed a deep attachment to our community. As a founding student and son of Founding Headmaster Philip C. Nix, Matt, his sister Esmé, and the children of the other founding families shared their parents’ sense of purpose during our start-up.
“We were at SCDS when it was an office in an office park,” Matt says. “We knew our parents were doing something special and we stay connected because of that involvement.”
Matt, who became the school’s second alumni trustee last year, credits SCDS’s first alumni trustee and fellow founding student, Rob Fisher ’85, for prompting his involvement. “My decision to accept Scott Lummer’s very persuasive invitation to join the board had a lot to do with Rob already being a trustee. That he would still be involved in the school, especially as a trustee, had a huge influence on me.”
He also accepted because he loved going to school when he was at SCDS. “The junior high years are hard for many, but I remember being twelve years old, and every Sunday being excited to go to school the next day. For me, weekends were no better than weekdays; no part of me didn’t want to go to school.”
Matt remembers an upper division that had far fewer students than our current grades 6-8. “There were only a few of us in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. We enjoyed a unique individualized experience driven by students learning as much as they wanted and could learn,” he says.
“I was with really smart people (students and teachers) who were passionate about what they were doing and ridiculously smart and enthusiastic about what they were learning. One of my buddies advanced through pre-Algebra, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus before graduating from eighth grade.
“But, SCDS also was a place where people with different skill levels co-existed and understood each other’s strengths. The school wasn’t just about academics or gifted students, though. We had athletes, actors, musicians. There was diversity so that people were able to contribute to the community according to their strengths.
“I also realized that school is an opportunity to learn from smart people things I could know and use. I became very excited about what I could get out of school and sought those opportunities.”
In addition to his strong academics, Matt gravitated to school leadership. He was senior class president at Analy H.S., and is an active alumnus at UCLA, where he graduated magna cum laude with honors. He also enjoyed a unique relationship with an SCDS leader…his dad.
“I rode to and from school with him every day. I got to see what my dad did. I also got a wonderful understanding of what work was, and what it could be. My dad was creating an environment for me and all of our friends. Being witness to that experience influenced who I became and what I do as a professional,” Matt says.
“I learned what my dad did to create community, how he spoke to people, and see how he dealt with issues. He was running a community of one hundred to two hundred people engaged in common enterprise, and everyone worked together to make it happen. Perhaps not coincidentally, today I’m managing a community of two hundred people engaged in common enterprise, and everyone works together to make it happen.”
Matt’s experience as an SCDS student has also provided him a unique frame of reference for judging the strengths of the schools his children—Charlie, Esmé, and Mateo—attend in the Los Angeles area. “I look for involved parents—a level of involvement and commitment that is special. I’m interested in whether there really is a sense of community and how the members of that community treat its members. SCDS flourished as a young school (and continues to do so today) because of a community that is deeply committed to the school and to each other.

Sonoma Country Day School

4400 Day School Place
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
phone: 707.284.3200
fax: 707.284.3254
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The premier, fully accredited, independent TK-8 college preparatory school in Sonoma County. Located in northern Santa Rosa and proud home of The Jackson Theater, SCDS offers a challenging academic program rich in fine and performing arts, music, world languages, and social and emotional learning. For more than thirty years SCDS has been the school that brings learning to life.