Cone-tastic: The highs and lows of Matt Cone’s Plano-centered life

Alyssa Matesic, Staff Writer

     Room A207 is filled with patriotic paraphernalia. Two flags hang side-by-side on the left wall, a collage covers the front podium, and any visible white space is covered by posters or artwork. The white board holds a bulleted list of historical events of the date titled “Today doesn’t suck because…” in charismatic, all-caps handwriting.  In the back of his classroom sits American History teacher Matt Cone.

     Cone has taught here for 15 years and is the youngest of four to go through PISD. The legacy has carried on in his own family; he met his wife, who went to Plano East, teaching at Plano.  The couple bought a house nearby where their two boys could feed into Plano and continue on the family tradition.

     “It helps that I have ties to the community and to the school,” Cone said. “That has really made it more meaningful to me.”

     The teachers Cone met throughout his Haggard, Vines and Plano education inspired his passion for history and ultimately his career.

     “When I graduated from college, I wanted to, just like anyone else, go to the place that’s going to be the best at what you do,” Cone said. “There was no doubt that Plano was where I wanted to be.”

     Outside of the classroom, Cone also appears as the pep rally announcer and as the front-man for his band Custer’s Last Band. The group started as a filler act for the Mr. Plano pageant and took off from there. Cone is the lead vocalist and plays some harmonica and, as he claims, a mean tambourine.

     “None of us are quitting our day job,” Cone said. “Some guys play golf. This is what we do. It’s a lot of fun. I love working with those guys. It’s a blast.”

      Cone said that one of the greatest times of his life, however, did not involve Plano at all – rather the entire western U.S.

     “When I was in college, my two best friends from high school and I packed up our camping gear and just headed west, we just took off,” Cone said. “We had no plan at all, and we spent three and a half weeks on the road and put 7,200 miles on my parents’ suburban and had a really, really good time. It was a level of freedom that we hadn’t really had before.”

     The pack traveled to New Mexico, Phoenix, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Yellowstone National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Kansas and back. Cone still tries to travel spontaneously when he can with his wife.

     “The idea of not having a plan in mind is really cool,” Cone said. “Just letting you see where the experience takes you.”

     Cone took a moment to consider one of the harder times of his life and landed on an experience that affected Plano years ago.

     “I was around when we had that rash of heroin deaths,” Cone said. “One of my students died over Homecoming weekend of an overdose, first time she ever tried heroin. It drove that point home to me. That’s always hard, to see young people miss out on the rest of their lives, and I think it’s one of those things about teaching that makes it difficult sometimes.”

     Despite its faults, Cone plans to stay in the city he grew up in for a long while. He finished his story by describing himself in one word.

     “Cone-tastic,” he said. “I don’t know any other word it would be.”