by Emily Rodriguez
Often seen as intimidating and strict, the job of being a principal is not always an easy or fun one. At the end of the year it was announced that our principal, Mr. Blackmore, and two of our vice principals, Mr. Fresch and Mrs. Sanders, were going to be leaving Tustin High. Replacing our previous staff are Mrs. Christine Matos as our new principal, Mr. Tim Grave and Mrs. Michele Boudreaux as our two new vice principals. Dr. CK Green is our only remaining vice principal.
Involved in the field of education for over 25 years, Mrs. Matos has worked at numerous schools and has managed to influence both students and staff while also improving school environments. She began as an elementary school teacher and then became a reading coach for teachers. In 1998 she moved from Sacramento to Southern California to work at TMA teaching second grade. In 1999 she became the assistant principal for Thorman Elementary and then became the principal from 2001 until 2006. From 2006 to 2010 Mrs. Matos was the principal of Utt Middle School until becoming the principal of Currie in 2010. In 2013-2014 Mrs. Matos combined both Currie and Thorman and was in charge of both schools before taking the position of principal at Tustin High.
Mrs. Matos chose her career path when she was in college. She attended Humboldt in Northern California. The career that she chose was influenced by her volunteer work at a shelter in Eureka for victims of domestic abuse. She worked as a crisis line worker answering the calls of women or men that had just been abused. She talked to them, offered advice and even helped them find a way out. “I often found myself providing food, shelter, and medical care for them so they could be taken out of the situation. And I always found myself drawn to the kids. The kids never had much of a voice.” Mrs. Matos would spend three intense days with these men, women, or children and then her shift ended and others would take over. She recounted that the faces of the children never really left her mind; she would worry about their fate. Because of the influence that these children had over her, she chooses to go to schools that she views as underdogs.
The day that seniors visited different college campuses was a day that truly demonstrated the personality of our new principal. “I think there’s so many great kids on this campus and I feel like we need to have that enthusiasm throughout the entire student body.” After a quick presentation on the rules by Dr. Green, Mrs. Matos attempted to excite the crowd of sleepy seniors before the buses were to scheduled to arrive. Two seniors, Jonathan Deprosse and Leah Baltes, joined in her effort to pump up the crowd by doing one of our football cheers “The Rollercoaster.” Mrs. Matos attempted to learn the cheer on the spot and continued to attempt to wake the crowd before allowing students to take over.
After sharing diverse stories about her personal life and history with students, I asked Matos whether she had any plans to change our school. She quickly turned serious and responded that she only wished, “to improve the Tustin community’s understanding of how amazing Tustin High is.” She then pulled out files and read me numbers and statistics reciting that only 45% of the student body considered they had hope for their future and only 46% were engaged in school. Her face showed nothing but concern. She wants to increase our college and career readiness, prepare us for our future, and give us a sense of hope.
In an attempt to end the interview on a happy tone I asked her if she was happy being a Tiller. She simply laughed and told me that, because she lives in north Tustin, some Foothill students had decided to chalk her home since she had a Tiller flag. “We laughed about it, cleaned up the driveway and then made sure that our flag was perfect. I’m thrilled to be a Tiller.”