Matthew Pinchinat has advised high school’s Black Student Union and served on Anti-Racism Committee
GUILDERLAND — High school social studies teacher Matthew Pinchinat was named the district’s first diversity director.
Pinchinat started his new role as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on Sept. 20. The newly created position is to help the district promote equity, social justice and anti-racism for its students and community.
“Matt has been a valued educator at Guilderland High School and we are so excited for him to assume this new role,” said Superintendent Dr. Marie Wiles. “Our primary DEI objective is to ensure all of our students, families and employees are heard, seen, safe, valued, respected and welcome in our school community and I can’t think of anyone more capable to lead this charge.”
Pinchinat has served the past four years as a social studies teacher for Guilderland High School. In addition, he advised the high school’s Black Student Union, served on the steering committee of its Anti-Racism Committee and worked with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of the Board of Education.
“I love being a teacher and will miss being in the classroom but this new position will enable me to have a much larger impact and make a broader change with students of all grade levels,” Pinchinat said. “I see this as a real gift. This position aligns with the very reason I became a teacher: to help students see the intrinsic value in themselves. I want to help them celebrate their diverse backgrounds.”
Pinchinat’s work with the committee gave him a head start on building relationships and collaborating with stakeholders. He served on a subcommittee tasked with creating professional development for staff, a student voices committee and participated in two book studies. As part of the GHS Anti-Racism Committee, he worked with students to build messaging in support of students of color and worked on the team that oversaw students’ planning of the Anti-Hate Rally, held in June. He would like to build on this previous work and leverage the relationships he has already established by leaning on the vast “web of experience at my disposal: staff, students, DEI Committee members, board members.”
These goals are part of a long-range vision, as Pinchinat said he recognizes lasting change doesn’t happen overnight but in small increments. He plans to build on the support in each of the spheres of the GCSD community: Board of Education members, administrators, teachers, students and families. This support, while meaningful, is the basis for necessary growth.
His initial goals are to become acquainted with areas of GCSD he is not familiar with, such as elementary students and faculty, and district staff. He wants to establish a strong presence on the internet and to connect with other area schools doing strong DEI work to learn best practices. In the long term Matt would like to expand programs such as National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) and Sources of Strength beyond GHS to other district schools. “I think it’s so important to build empathy, because empathy is the way we build bridges to each other.” Ultimately, his goal is to have systems in place for older students to interact regularly with younger students, creating stronger bonds within the district.
Pinchinat said he recognizes at the heart of this work is the basic human need to be accepted and to have a place to belong. He believes diversity, equity and inclusion applies to every person.
“I would like all members of the GCSD community to proudly say that everyone has a voice and a place at the table,” said Pinchinat. He said his ultimate goal is to elevate the district and have everyone included in this growth. “I do not want to elevate someone while tearing someone else down. I’m all about building up.”