Matthew Pinchinat has learned: ‘The community is larger than you’

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

“God, I love being a teacher,” said Matthew Pinchinat, speaking at an anti-hate rally he helped students to organize at Guilderland High School last June.



Matthew Pinchinat was recently named as the director for diversity, equity, and inclusion — a new post for the Guilderland school district. 
Diversity, explains Pinchinat in this week’s podcast at, means recognizing people not from our background, and includes differences in thought as well.

Equity doesn’t mean everyone gets the exact same thing, Pinchinat said, describing an image where three people are trying to look over a solid fence to see a ball game. If they all were given equal crates to stand on, one person would be towering over the fence, a second would be at just the right height, and the third still couldn’t see over.

Rather, Pinchinat said, giving each what he needs would be equity.

Inclusion, he said, is having everyone seated at the table, able to benefit from one another.

Pinchinat has taught social studies for four years at Guilderland High School where he advised the school’s first Black Student Union and was passionate about teaching Focus students, who work closely with each other.

“They bond together, laugh together, cry together, learn together, and grow together,” he said, describing the students as being like family.

Pinchinat’s real family, he said, is very supportive of his work. He is the middle of five children, raised by parents who came to the United States from Haiti. His mother is a nurse and his father, a teacher.

His father, he said, didn’t view students as just a number. “He saw the humanity in every single student,” said Pinchinat.

His family started a food pantry at their church and he learned, “The community is larger than you,” said Pinchinat.

Becoming a teacher himself, Pinchinat said, is one of the greatest privileges of his life. He has saved every letter that a student has written to him and plans to keep those letters for the rest of his life.

Now, he will be shifting his influence from just the students in his classes to the entire school district, from kindergarten through 12th grade. He is hoping to bring about system-wide change. The work, he said, calls to his heart, reaching people “in that human core” and paying forward the support he has been given.

Pinchinat has always taught the whole child he said, and didn’t hide who he himself was. “I wanted people to be their authentic selves,” he said.

His Christian faith has been a big part of his life and he is pained that a lot of people now conflate Christianity with bigotry or hatred. “You can’t hate and truly follow the tenets of that religion,” Pinchinat said.

Understanding diversity and supporting feminism are, for Pinchinat, both part of Christianity. He believes Christians should be at the forefront of societal change for good.

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, several Guilderland graduates, all Black women, had talked to the district’s superintendent and some school board members about the racism they had encountered at Guilderland and problems with the curriculum.

Subsequently, the school board formed a standing committee to deal with diversity, equity, and inclusion. Then, when drafting the budget for the 2021-22 school year, the board created the post Pinchinat will now fill.

He said he will start his job with open ears. He cares about hearing people’s stories.

“The struggles in our district could almost be a microcosm for the U.S.,” he said.

Pinchinat plans to arm the Guilderland faculty with the tools to break down barriers that have been systemic.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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