Michael Matsuda is Superintendent of the Anaheim Union High School District in California. He served on the board of the Network for Public Education.

Important Message Sent on Behalf of Superintendent Matsuda

Fifty years from now, when our students are old, when they have children and grandchildren of their own, they will look back and say, “Do you remember what happened?” I picture them pensively reflecting, staring silently, breathing deeply, perhaps tearing up, and then after reliving the experience to the very end, smiling, “Those were the times of amazing grace, when people came together with kindness and compassion to support each other, when they made sacrifices for complete strangers, when schools became beacons of hope for families who were food deprived, and when teachers transformed educational experiences through emotional connection, through affirming mental health, and through meaningful learning.”

It was a time when people realized that humanity has no barriers, and that love is limitless if we have the courage to embrace it and to share it near and far, with neighbors and strangers, with old and young, rich and poor, Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, LGBT, black, brown, yellow, and white. It was a time like no other, when the world came together, collaborated, communicated, created, thought critically, and acted with compassion to save humankind.

I know this will be true because I see it happening right now. I see it in our Food Service workers as they prepare and pass out food for thousands of our children. I see it in our teachers as they work tirelessly creating new curriculum and a new way of virtual learning through a completely transformed system. I see it in our students who connect and help each other virtually with enthusiasm and care. I see it in our IT workers who have refurbished thousands of laptop computers for kids to use. I see it in our counselors and social workers who reach out to young people suffering from depression, isolation, and emotional starvation. I see it in our administrators who work endlessly, filling all the gaps in a topsy turvy world. And I see it in total strangers, coming out of the woodwork, volunteering time and sometimes money to pitch in and to help heal a fractured world.

I am so proud and blessed to be surrounded by people in the AUHSD who are absolutely committed to our students, our families, and our communities.

But as we face this threat today, let us go forward knowing that things will likely get worse before they get better, that stress will mount and tempers will flare, and that we may take it out on those we love most – our children.

Remember that one day, our young people will become adults, and how we respond in these most traumatic times will forever imprint on them whether it was our darkest or our finest hour. It is up to us.

Let us take this journey by learning how to forgive, beginning with ourselves. Let us be gentle and kind to our loved ones. Let us practice mindfulness, self-compassion and prayer. Let us just love.

As we adjust our sails and hold fast to the rudder, I ask you to be comforted by the words of a great author of several parenting books, L. R. Knost:

Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break, and all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.

Michael Matsuda


Anaheim Union High School District