IT Systems Specialist Becky Matsubara to retire

Chloe Wintersteen

School IT specialist Becky Matsubara, who will retire at the end of the month, sits at her desk in room 160.
School IT specialist Becky Matsubara, who will retire at the end of the month, sits at her desk in room 160.

Surrounded by three computer screens and mounds of equipment, Becky Matsubara sits at her desk in room 160. Students and teachers frequently stop by Becky Matsubara’s office in need of tech support. Matsubara, drawing upon her 15 years of experience at Redwood, knows exactly how to help. But soon, the job will be reprogrammed as someone new fills her shoes.

Matsubara, Redwood’s long-time Information Technician Systems Specialist (IT Systems Specialist), will retire on Sept. 30. A replacement IT Systems Specialist has been hired and will begin on Oct. 1.

As IT Systems Specialist, Matsubara manages all of the technology at Redwood. Matsubara is not part of the Applied Technology department, so she is not considered a teacher.

“I support basically anything that connects to a computer,” Matsubara said. “I do some server support, which is where we keep our files and manage accounts. A lot of that is automated but, if for some reason your account doesn’t work or you need to change your password, I’m there.”

Before Matsubara was hired in 1999, the teachers did most of the tech support.

“When I first came here, Mr. Goldsmith, one of our Applied Tech teachers, was the person who taught me the system,” Matsubara said. “He was the person who originally knew about the system more than anybody.”

According to Matsubara, Redwood currently hosts 1,100 computers, 450 iPads, over 100 printers, a projector in every classroom, hundreds of laptops, and complete internet access. In 1999, Redwood only had 150 computers.

“There has been a lot of evolution, but we also have the tools to do it. It would be very hard to do the same things with the 150 [computers] that I did by hand,” Matsubara said.

In 1999, Redwood’s computers primarily used modems and were not connected to the Internet.

“Most teachers would have used dial-up at home to get onto the internet. When I came here in 1999, I was probably the only person using broadband,” Matsubara said.

According to the TUHSD Personnel Service’s enrollment totals, only 1,380 students were enrolled at Redwood in 1999, so there was only need for one open-access computer lab.

“The other open access lab upstairs was actually a storage room because we had fewer teachers and fewer students, so we had several rooms that weren’t being used at all. Now everyone’s sharing!” Matsubara said.

In 1999, the Macintosh Classic was used in each of the art departments and by some teachers. The Bark classroom, however, was the only room with Apple’s first colored iMacs, the newest line of Apple computers at the time.

“There were not very many, and they were considered really fancy,” Matsubara said. “After a while we did have a lab of blue ones, but the ones in the Bark were the first ones I’d ever seen.”

Redwood primarily purchased PCs because the student information system only works with a Windows operating system.

“Before the iMac, Apple was about to collapse because they had so few people buying their products. At one time, I thought we were going to be entirely PC,” Matsubara said. “Even though we are reintroducing more Apple products, about 25 percent (of our computers) are Macs. I think we will always have a mixture.”

Matsubara said her biggest feat was imaging all of the computers and expanding the system. Computer imaging is where one machine is copied to another.

“When I first came, every machine I set up I had to do one at a time, so it took a long time,” Matsubara said. “In the last few years, we’ve had this system where I can push down an entire lab in a half an hour to an hour. Doing a large amount of computers at one time was a big improvement and something that is necessary to be able to support the number of computers we have [today].”

Matsubara predicts that Redwood’s storage will move to the cloud and become less server-based. Cloud computing uses a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store and manage data, as opposed to storing data on a local server or personal computer. Moving all storage to the cloud will help the possible transition from static labs to personal devices.

Matsubara said she most likely will not be able to come back and help with technology at Redwood.

“Sometimes you can do volunteer work in the library, but I don’t think I can do volunteer work with technology, so I probably won’t come back much,” said Matsubara.

Matsubara has big plans to travel the globe with her husband after her retirement.. They are scheduled to visit Croatia, Slovenia, and Montenegro for 12 days this coming October. In the spring, they will take a boat up the Arctic Circle and go to Norway.

Matsubara said she has loved working at Redwood and is grateful for her time here.

“This has been a wonderful place to work with wonderfully kind people,” Matsubara said. “I like problem solving, I like helping people, and the staff and students are so nice. It was just a perfect fit for me.”