Student Activities Director Matt Hall departs Paly to pursue lifelong goal

Tara Kapoor and Ethan Chen

Following the announcement Monday of his resignation effective in June, Matt Hall, Palo Alto High School student activities director, is leaving to achieve his dream of becoming a full-time Japanese teacher, or sensei, at nearby Gunn High School.

Starting at the beginning of the 2020 school year, Hall said he will take over the Japanese program at Gunn High School. He will replace the current teacher, Yuki Hikida, who is retiring.

“When we heard that she was putting in her papers to retire in March, I put in my request for a transfer,” Hall said. 

Hall, who has advised the Associated Student Body as well as taught Japanese 1 at Paly for the last nine years, said he is resigning to pursue his goal of teaching Japanese full-time, a dream that he has held ever since he himself was a student.

“I always wanted to be a Japanese teacher, from when I was in high school,” Hall said. “That is the primary thing that I want to do. That is my first, best destiny.”

Hall said he looks forward to teaching courses of all levels at Gunn, from Japanese 1 up to Advanced Placement. 

“Now I get to teach Japanese 2, 3, AP and make moves,” Hall said. “I’m stoked on that. Everybody’s like, ‘more grading, more this,’ I’m like, ‘I love it, I can’t wait.’”

In response to Hall’s resignation, the Palo Alto Unified School District administration will need to find a replacement to direct student activities at Paly — a responsibility that Hall said he was able to balance effectively with his schedule teaching Japanese 1. The opening to instruct Japanese 1 will also need to be accounted for, either by current Paly Japanese teacher Teruko Kamikihara or a new staff member.

According to Hall, the student activities director position makes up 0.6 credits on the Full-Time Equivalent scale, which measures hours worked versus a predetermined salary, where one credit accounts for full-time work. The other class periods he taught, Student Government and Japanese 1, were 0.2 FTE credits each. Thus, anyone who takes on the position of student activities director must either teach additional class periods to work full-time or take a half-time position.

“I don’t know if they’ll be looking in-house at Paly or Gunn for people who can replace me in student activities,” Hall said. “I don’t know if there are teachers out there that want to do that gig. Most teachers say, ‘Hey, I’m happy doing economics or science.’ It’s totally a different gig.”

Although Hall said he will miss Paly and advising the ASB program, he looks forward to his new position fulfilling his dream at Gunn.

“I’m gonna be going back to what I think I do best,” Hall said. “Being a Japanese teacher, being sensei.”