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Stockton Unified Announces the Opening of Newest K-8 School

 

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For Release on September 11, 2020
Contact: Shelley Spessard, (209)933-7035 ext. 2064, sspessard@stocktonusd.net 

(Stockton, CA) – Stockton Unified School District is proud to announce that its newest K-8 school, Flora Arca Mata Elementary School, will open and allow staff on site beginning Monday, September 14, 2020. The school is located at 5600 Alexandria Place in Stockton, Ca.

The new school is named after Flora Arca Mata, the first Filipina teacher in California and Stockton Unified School District. Mata’s work as California’s first Filipina teacher is credited to have paved the way for other Asian Americans in education. The SUSD Board of Education chose Mata as the new school namesake during its December 18, 2019 meeting.

“My grandmother believed deeply in the benefits of having an education, and truly loved being an educator,” said Aaron Mata, Principal of SUSD’s Health Careers Academy and grandson to Flora Mata. “Every time you had a conversation with her, she would remind you that graduating from high school and college would provide an opportunity for a positive bright future."

“This moment in time will demonstrate that the Flora Arca Mata School is special. Special- not because we are going to occupy a brand-new building, but because our school is going to overcome adversity, just like our namesake, to deliver a high-quality education to your scholar,” said Henry Phillips, Principal of Mata Elementary School. “We are going to prove that a school is not a building. A school is a group of people coming together to fulfill the mission of preparing Stockton’s youth to be leaders in our global community.”

For general information opportunities, please contact Dr. Shelley Spessard at (209)933-7035 ext. 2064 or at sspessard@stocktonusd.net.

About Flora Arca Mata
Originally from Hawaii, Flora at age 2 moved with her family to Stockton where she attended the local schools. Flora received her teaching degree from the prestigious University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she also had the distinction of being a pioneer as the first Filipino-American to graduate from UCLA.

After World War II Flora started her long teaching career in California under the SUSD’s jurisdiction, a service that spanned more than three decades. Flora continued to work in the school system even after her retirement as a substitute teacher until she was 80 years old.

She passed away at the age of 95 in December 2013 and is survived by her son, Eddie Mata, and daughter, Vida Mata-Longley.

The Little Manila Rising campaign notes that Mata is a former resident of Stockton’s Little Manila in the 1920s. It went on to recount how Flora Mata had at first been discouraged from teaching in the United States even after having received a teaching degree from the University of California-Los Angeles.

Mata questioned a school dean who had said her being of a minority ethnicity will make it impossible for her to be a teacher. ‘Why is it that America would educate the minority and not give them an opportunity to use this education?’ she questioned. ‘Why is it that they need a college education to be dishwashers?’

Little Manila Rising states: The Matas first lived in the Philippines and then returned to Stockton after World War II. Answering an advertisement in the Stockton Record for substitute teachers, Flora was urged by the person on the phone, ‘You must come in- you don’t sound like a minority.’ She told the newspaper near the end of her career that she was hired as a substitute and the next year taught full-time kindergarten classes. ‘They seemed to think there would be less prejudice with little ones than with older students,’ she commented.”

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