Otis Mason was born and reared in the Lincolnville neighborhood of St. Augustine, Florida. Regarded by his peers as the consummate educator, he served the St. Johns County community as a teacher, a principal, an instructional supervisor and as the superintendent of schools. Mr. Mason was elected Superintendent of St. Johns County Schools in 1984, reelected in 1988, and retired in 1992 at the time the position was transitioned to a hired administrative position.
After graduating Excelsior High School in 1946, Mr. Mason earned an undergraduate degree with honors from Florida A&M in 1950 where he was named to the university’s Sports Hall of Fame for baseball. Mr. Mason began teaching school at his alma mater, Excelsior, in 1950. His first teaching year was cut short due to the Korean Conflict. He was drafted into the US Army and served two years before returning to the classroom at Excelsior. The following year he was assigned to work at the new Murray High School as a science teacher and assistant football and baseball coach. He received his master’s degree in education administration at New York University in 1958. In 1960, he was named Principal of W.E. Harris School in Hastings, where he remained until joining the staff of the St. Johns County School District as Supervisor of Elementary Schools in 1966. The Otis Mason Elementary School in St. Augustine bears his name. “Public education has been my life,” he said in a 1998 interview.
In his position as Supervisor of Elementary Schools, Mr. Mason was instrumental in the implementation of full integration of St. Johns County schools. While Superintendent, he directed major renovations to St. Augustine High School: the auditorium in 1986 and the media center, B Hall and cafeteria in 1991.
In addition to his work in the District offices, Mr. Mason has served on the boards of several organizations, including the Buckingham Smith Benevolent Association, the Dr. Martin L. King Celebration Committee, the Fort Mose Historical Society and the Venetian Club. He has also served as a middle and elementary school accreditation evaluator for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. He has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Historic St. Augustine , the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board, the Drug Education and Prevention Center and the state’s Community Health Purchasing Agency, District 4. Mr. Mason was appointed to the St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board in 1995 representing the Lower St. Johns River Basin and the Upper Coastal Basin. He currently serves as President of the Friends of Lincolnville, the support organization for the Excelsior Museum and Cultural Center of Lincolnville.
His honors include induction into the St. Johns County Sports Hall of Fame and St. Johns County School District’s Learning Legacy Lifetime Achievement Award, the City of St. Augustine’s de Aviles Award, Edward Walters College Public Service Ward, Alpha Phi Alpha Education Leadership Award, St. Johns Welfare Federation Volunteer of the Year, Phi Delta Kappa Service to the Community Award and M. L. King Award for Educational Leadership and Florida A & M’s Gallery of Distinguished Educators.
Mr. Mason is married to his high school sweetheart, Myrtis, with whom he shares two daughters, Pamela and Deidre, and one grandson, Jamil.