Matta values leadership, collaboration
New beginnings at Hope School District begin with Melanie Matta, the new superintendent and principal who is committed to creating a mission and vision together with all her staff.
“The board has entrusted me with a big task, it’s quite humbling. I’ve met with the board over the course of the last couple of months and they truly care about the kids and the community,” said Matta. “We are going to have the opportunity to create our goals for the board and staff. Together we will reach new heights as a team.”
Matta said her plan is to go into a slightly different direction than before. The board wants to focus on creating a curriculum map this year that all the teachers and students can follow together based on standards.
HSD has many new teachers, and Matta wants to get them on board by getting all of the background regarding what standards are and moving them forward to be able to provide excellent learning.
“I love to interact with the teachers. I often tell them to not get intimidated when I come out to their classrooms because I’m not coming in to evaluate you, I’m coming in as a coach and support,” said Matta. “I don’t look at my job as an administrator, but more as a support and coach of the team.”
HSD is proud of the growing student population said Matta, but they want to keep it small. They value the small community and the small class sizes that enable them to offer a more one-on-one type of education that other districts can’t offer.
Matta is product of Visalia. She graduated from Golden West High School and College of the Sequoias, and continued her education at San Diego State University, where she attained her B.A. in Liberal Studies, and then her Master’s Degree in Administration from Fresno State.
Matta has been a principal for six years and now is going into her seventh. She was also a teacher for seven years and a literacy coach for grades K-6.
“I am an educator at heart. When I have an opportunity (which I like to carve out at least once a week), I’m in classrooms to hang out with kids,” Matta said. “I love to watch them learn, and I get down on their level and ask them questions. I love to watch them think and work out problems.”
Parents are also a big concern as well, as they are really good in helping the district make decisions.
“My approach towards education depends on the situation. Sometimes it’s conservative or aggressive, but its always collaborative,” Matta said. “I do believe that if you take a collaborative approach on everything, people are going to have the opportunity to speak their peace and let their voices be heard and be a part of decision making.”
Matta had the opportunity to meet with the previous superintendent Deborah McCaskill and she said the Hope community is very involved with the school. The kids love coming here and get the sense of family.
Matta is married to Kevin Matta, who works at the Corcoran State Prison. They have four teenage daughters. One goes to junior high and the other three to high school in Visalia.
“We love to do things together as a family,” said Matta. “We are very adventurous. Wherever we travel we love to find a place to zip-line together.”
Matta mentioned she really enjoys down time, hanging out with family and friends, but most important is staying knowledgeable about current politics and education.
Matta is an active reader. She likes to keep herself updated with the latest on education and by researching new programs by using social media and Google for tips to implement at her site.
Matta mentioned a need in Hope facilities. They do not have an area where everyone can meet like a multipurpose room, and don’t have money for a new facility at the moment.
Matta’s vision for the school is to align all the curriculum and give the teachers the best opportunity to learn and instruct their kids the best way they can.
“We are planning to increase student achievement by at least five percent the next school year in every grade level,” Matta said. “Right now our student achievement is up and down, up and down. It’s going in a good direction, but we want it to go the best direction possible.”
Matta wants to create a new mission for Hope, together under her leadership and under their direction together.
“I feel very privileged and blessed to be able to be in a tight-knit community of people that really want to be here. Sixty-two percent of the kids here come from outside of the district,” said Matta. “I want to make sure that their child feels loved, safe and secure here at school. We are going to do everything possible to include them as partners, even if they can’t be here with us.”