The San Francisco Bay Area is consistently among the nation’s most educated metropolitan areas. With that distinction, there’s not only a continued need for outstanding educators at the university level, but also for exceptional teachers in the primary and secondary levels. Although the technology and health care industries continue to lead the Bay Area in job growth, both sectors can credit education as a dominating factor. Matt Smith, a highly respected East Bay educator with 30 years of experience, took a few moments from a very busy schedule to share expert advice on a career in education.

(Photo Courtesy of Matt Smith)

(Photo Courtesy of Matt Smith)

What is your current position and educational background? 

“I am Superintendent/Director of Mare Island Technology Academy, a grade 6-12, 800-student public charter school in Vallejo, CA.

After graduating from CSU East-Bay in 1986 with a B.S. in Mathematics, I went on to earn an M.S. in Educational Psychology from Alliant University in San Diego, followed by a second Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from St. Mary’s College in Moraga.”

Can you talk briefly about the curriculum at the Academy?

“As its name implies, MIT Academy places a strong emphasis on hands-on technology, with 28 computers in each classroom, along with a Smartboard, projector and document camera. The kids use technology every period daily, but the real secret of MIT Academy is its emphasis on personalized learning for each student. We use an extensive response-to-intervention program (called RTI for short), which provides additional and multiple layers of support for struggling students. This system is recognized as an industry ‘best practice’ and using it, we’ve become one of the highest performing secondary schools in the region.”

As an educator, what type of advice can you offer for people interested in a career in education?

“I highly recommend education as a career for youthful-minded people of any age. In my 30 years, I’ve never regretted a minute of it, and get tremendous satisfaction in helping young people flourish and grow far further than they thought they were capable. But a word of caution, it’s a lot of hard work, and young people are energetic and hard to keep up with. They certainly keep you on your toes though, and help keep you young of heart. It’s a great feeling knowing you’re not just building widgets, you’re building futures.”

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on


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