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Superintendent's Newsletter

December 16, 2022

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

I hope this newsletter finds you well. Today’s issue highlights academics at Robinson, re-elected and new Board members’ swearing-in during the MBUSD Board meeting, and a Mira Costa student selected as finalist in the 2023 YoungArts national competition. 

Spotlight on Robinson (Special thanks to Amy Jenson, Megan Montz, and Principal Jackie O'Sullivan)

One of the California State Standards for second grade writing is to describe and explain familiar objects, events and experiences through opinion, narrative, and informational writing. Robinson students are learning about the writing process including drafting and organizing information. 

Second grade authors are working on narrative writing this month and how to grab the reader's attention using descriptions and sensory words. They have been using Mentor texts to model how authors do this and are currently revising and rewriting their pieces. 

Staff Spotlight: Megan Mackey


Our Staff Spotlight this week features MBMS eighth grade U.S. History and Associated Student Body (ASB) teacher Megan Mackey. Megan started working in MBUSD two years ago after serving at Santa Ana Unified. She says she pursued a career in education at MBMS because of its strong community, flexibility, and creativity. 

“I love seeing my students talk to, teach, and help each other. It helps me understand how they learn and create lessons that appeal to them personally.” Megan says that middle schoolers learn so differently from adults, so it’s great to see them grow and hear their thoughts about the lesson. Since being hired, Megan has expanded and grown the ASB program under her leadership.

She says it’s her biggest achievement and is proud of the program that has been created with the help of students. “We love bringing spirit and new ideas to MBMS. I am happy that I was given this opportunity.” She feels lucky to be part of the MBUSD community. Megan says MBUSD continuously maintains high, rigorous standards while also supporting the “whole child.” These standards are also set for staff as Megan says she has been welcomed into so many teams and given opportunities for learning, and professional leadership. She hopes to move closer to the South Bay one day. 


“I grew up near the ocean and love swimming, kayaking, free diving, and spearfishing.” We appreciate you being part of the MBUSD family!

Mira Costa Jazz Band Performs at Board Meeting

The Mira Costa High School Jazz Band, under the direction of Mr. Joel Carlson, performed Gordon Goodwin’s “Let it Snow!, Let it Snow!, Let it Snow!” at Wednesday’s Organizational Board meeting. 

The performance was amazing and represented how distinguished our music programs are! You can watch the performance here

Re-Elected and New Board Members Take Oath of Office

Congratulations to incumbent Jen Fenton and new Board of Trustees members Tina Shivpuri and Wysh Weinstein. It was an emotional night as MBUSD Board President Sally Peel (2018-2022) and Board member Jen Cochran (2013-2022) served on the dais for the last time as they finished their terms at the meeting.

Outgoing Board President Sally Peel swore in the Trustees before the reorganization took place as the newly elected Trustees took their seats for the Regular Board meeting. During that time, Vice President Cathey Graves was elected as Board President, Board member Jen Fenton was elected as Vice President, and Trustee Wysh Weinstein was elected as Board Clerk. 

Thank you to Jen Cochran and Sally Peel for their years of service. They both have worked tirelessly to make our District the best it can be and we are so grateful for their dedication! You will be missed.

You can learn more about our Trustees here

MBMS Drama Presents “No Place Like Home” Starting Tonight!


Don’t miss out on this modern take on the classic tale The Wizard of Oz. “No Place Like Home” tells the story of Dorothy Gale, the “new girl.” David Levy, MBMS Elective Department Chair who wrote and directed the show, says it’s about Dorothy who has to navigate a new school, friendships, and love! Twenty-two MBMS students in two casts have been rehearsing since the beginning of November to make this show possible! The performances are free to attend and all ages are welcome. 

The MBMS Auditorium doors open 30 minutes before showtime. 


Performances are: 

Friday, December 16: 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 17: 2:00 p.m. | 7:00 p.m. 

Sunday, December 18: 2:00 p.m. 

The Wizard of Mira Costa, Teresa Neilsen

Read this Easy Reader feature on our amazing AP Chemistry teacher and Teacher of the Year

Photo by Jefferson Graham

Meadows Garden Growing with Love


The garden at Meadows Elementary is thriving and it’s all thanks to the help and passion of first grade parent, Lilian Dunker Cruz. Broccoli, cauliflower, beets, kale, potatoes, sugar cane, and bananas are some of the delectable items growing in the garden. The garden looked different a few months ago before Lilian brought her vision to life by creating a space for students to grow something they have planted. Lilian volunteers several hours a day to collaborate with school staff to offer a range of learning opportunities at the garden.

Transitional Kindergarten through first graders visit the garden during class time to help maintain and grow the plants. They are also taught how various fruits and vegetables are grown. Grades second through fifth can join the Garden Club and all students can visit the garden during recess time. Most recently, students learned about a popcorn cob and were able to see firsthand the crop popcorn originates from. 

Lilian grew up in the south of Brazil where she harvested her own food with her family. Lilian says the goal is for students to learn what they are planting, see it grow, and then eat what they have produced to live a healthier lifestyle! Lilian says it brings her joy when she sees the smiles on the students' faces and their spark of interest when learning about the garden. 

Meadows Principal Michelle Krzmarzick says, “When you have volunteers who have a passion as Lilian does, you can just set their imaginations free and support their visions, which aligns with school goals. It all starts with a person who has the time and energy to share their passion with others.”

Lilian has created a makeshift greenhouse and worms are housed on campus for their castings to help naturally fertilize the soil. Local community partners have also supported the garden. Deep Roots Garden Center and Florist donated bags of soil and our community partner Beach Cities Health District provided seeds to plant. If you take a walk through the green space, you will notice a bamboo arch that will soon have a loofah gourd plant (which is a vegetable) to make loofah sponges. Lilian says “If you don’t put your time or love into it, the garden won’t grow.” 

MBUSD has always prided itself as a Green District. Our Green Committee is made up of parents from each school site. We can’t wait to share with you the work being done at our other campuses!

Anti-Bullying Assembly at Grand View

At Grand View, 3rd-5th graders participated in an anti-bullying assembly. It’s the second one of its kind that was hosted by the PTA and school staff. Child and Family Therapist Chloe Canton from our community partner Beach Cities Health District hosted the assembly and shared with students the types of bullying and bystanders. Students were given the opportunity to engage with one another and discuss different scenarios. This assembly is part of the long-term work to educate students on how they can work together with staff to provide a safe environment with MBUSD’s positive culture of care. 

Mira Costa Students Recognized on the National Level for the Arts


Congratulations to Mira Costa junior Cosmo Lieberman, who has been selected as an Alto finalist for his accomplishments in Jazz, Saxophone for the National YoungArts Foundation awards. He joins 720 artists from across the country who are honored for their excellence in visual, literary, and performing arts. Mira Costa Senior Maddox Chen received an honorable mention in the category of Film, Documentary. Awards are given in three categories including finalist, honorable mention, and merit. Selected through the organization’s prestigious competition, YoungArts award winners, all 15–18 years old or in grades 10–12, are chosen for the caliber of their artistic achievement by esteemed discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process. 

YoungArts award winners gain access to one of the most comprehensive programs for artists in the United States, which provides opportunities for financial, creative, and professional development support throughout their entire careers.

YoungArts award winners at the Finalist level, including Cosmo, are invited to participate in National YoungArts Week in January 2023 featuring in person classes, workshops, and mentorship from leading artists in their fields as well as virtual performances and an exhibition for the public. Finalists are also eligible to be nominated to become U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, one of the highest honors given to high school seniors, bestowed by the President of the United States. 

L.A. Times Features Mira Costa Girls’ Volleyball Player Charlie Fuerbringer 

Check out this story about Mira Costa student and athlete Charlie Fuerbringer!

She was chosen as the Los Angeles Times girls' volleyball player of the year and is also selected as one of the members of the 10-player Times All-State girls' volleyball team. (Picture from L.A. Times)

MBUSD leaders Spread the Holiday Cheer with Santa!


For another year I had the opportunity to join Santa during his annual tradition of visiting Manhattan Beach neighborhoods on his special sleigh float. I was joined by Board Trustees Jen Cochran, Cathey Graves, Jen Fenton, Sally Peel, Tina Shivpuri, and Executive Assistant to the Superintendent, Heather Hoffman, and Pacific Elementary Principal Rhonda Steinberg. It was so wonderful to see many of our families that night. 

The Manhattan Beach Santa Float returns every year thanks to the Manhattan Beach Kiwanis Club which has hosted this tradition for more than fifty years. Friday, December 16 is the last night Santa will be in town. You can find more information here

Healthy Holidays

The holidays are around the corner and we know for many of our families this is a joyous time filled with gatherings with loved ones. With this in mind, MBUSD wants to remind our community of steps you can take to help start the new year safe and healthy.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommends that individuals test for COVID-19 before and after celebrations and travel to keep everyone safe. If you need at-home COVID-19 tests, you can pick them up at your school site office. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is also shipping free tests again. Once you place an order, USPS will deliver one set of four free home tests to your home. You can order your tests here.

We ask that if your children are sick, please keep them home. Many respiratory illnesses are circulating in LA County, including COVID-19, RSV, and influenza, and even if you test negative for COVID-19, everyone should stay home if they have any symptoms of respiratory illness, including, fever, or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, congestion and/or runny nose. In addition to the common symptoms of respiratory illness, COVID-19 symptoms may also include new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, and/or diarrhea.

As we continue to adjust to this new normal, we thank you for your ongoing efforts to keep our school community safe. As a reminder, our schools will be closed for Winter Break, December 23 - January 6. 

Click Here to Learn More from LACDPH on Winter Health

For all MBUSD COVID-19 information, click here.

MBUSD Digital Safety Platforms

At MBUSD we continue to use digital safety and monitoring tools as an extra layer of protection to keep our students safer. Most recently we launched Bark and Sprigeo. Bark for schools is an important student safety tool that monitors student internet activity and is utilized to assist in protecting students at school and at home while they are on school-provided devices and accounts such as students' google suites they use through MBUSD google apps accounts. This includes monitoring texts, emails, apps, and social media platforms. It assists in observing school-issued student accounts for signs of digital dangers such as cyberbullying, suicidal ideation, sexual content, and threats of violence to name a few.  


Our reporting tool, Sprigeo, allows students and parents to easily report bullying or school safety threats online by submitting a form. The tip can be submitted anonymously.


MBUSD also has in place GoGuardian and iboss platforms. GoGuardian monitors student activity online, filters content, and much more, while iboss provides secure internet access when using District devices and networks. 


Digital safety is critically important to the Manhattan Beach Unified School District and we are confident that Bark and Sprigeo are another set of great tools that will help us keep our students safe.


Please visit our website here to learn more about each of these platforms we have in place at MBUSD

Save the Date! Kindergarten Information Day is on Saturday, January 21!

Join us! Learn more about MBUSD programs and transitioning into elementary school. Q&A by Manhattan Beach Unified elementary principals, teachers, parents, and Superintendent Dr. John Bowes.

Join the MBUSD Family!

We are hiring classified and certificated staff. We’re looking for individuals with a passion for helping students discover the joys of learning and creating a safe and engaging learning environment. If you are looking for a meaningful career, with excellent benefits, flexibility, and stability, MBUSD is the place for you! 

Click the links below to learn about the variety of MBUSD job openings currently available.

Classified Job Opportunities

Certificated Job Opportunities

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The next Superintendent's Newsletter will be published on Thursday, December 22. 

Thank you as always for your continued support and partnership. Have a wonderful weekend!


Dr. John Bowes
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
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