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Superintendent's Newsletter

December 23, 2022

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

I want to take this opportunity to extend my best wishes to you and your families this holiday season. Our schools are the centers of our community, and this year again we saw our educators, staff, families, and community partners provide outstanding support for our students and District. I am appreciative of your dedication to providing exceptional educational opportunities to maximize the academic success of all students. During this time, it’s always a reminder to reflect on how grateful we are to have such a strong community that rallies behind our schools. 

I want to thank all of you - our incredible administrators, teachers, and staff for your many efforts to keep our District operations running and meeting the needs of children and families. 

As we move into the second half of the school year, we will continue to provide strong academic programs and opportunities, serve the whole child, foster a climate of care at all of our campuses, and support the social and emotional needs of every student in our District. 

I hope you have an opportunity to relax, spend time with loved ones, and have a joyful and safe holiday break. I look forward to seeing the great accomplishments ahead and seeing you in the new year!

Today’s issue highlights the music program at MB Preschool, the Annual Math Competition at MBMS, and Mira Costa celebrating the retirement of three employees!

Spotlight on MB Preschool (Special thanks to Karina Sam, Marilyn Smith, and Director of Children's Services Kim Johnson)

The students at MB Preschool love music and participate in a weekly music class. In music, they work on beat, rhythm, listening, pitch matching, movement, and playing with instruments. Preschool students learn through repetition of music, movement, and having fun. 

The age group is introduced to engaging songs that have a variety of animal and nature themes, seasonal songs, holiday tunes, and more. The students recently had their holiday concert and they performed multiple songs for friends and family who came to watch the performance. It was apparent that students are developing a lifetime love of music that will help them in their educational development. 

Staff Spotlight: Christine Jewett


This week we are highlighting Christine Jewett, who started her career at MBUSD in 2015 at Robinson Elementary as a 5th grade teacher. She served in this position for four years before moving to her current role as an English Learner Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). Christine says before moving to the South Bay, she lived in Connecticut where she taught for five years. 

Christine says she recalls her first interview for MBUSD with the principal at Robinson Elementary who at that time was Nancy Doyle. “I distinctly remember how proud she was to tell me all about the teachers and staff at Robinson and their innovation, cohesiveness, and enthusiasm for teaching. Several of these kind teachers invited me into their classrooms with open arms even before I was offered a teaching position and I knew that MBUSD would be the place for me!”

Christine’s favorite part of the job is supporting students and their families that recently moved to the area from another country. She assists them by providing community resources to assist in acclimating them to their new home, arranging translators, and interpreters, and advocating for their children’s needs. 

When asked about her biggest achievement so far at the District, Christine says it’s being able to work in her current position to organize the District’s Annual International Day! Each year it’s bigger and better showcasing the diversity in our community. Christine says she works with our international and multilingual families to organize the large event. The day brings families from all backgrounds together to learn and celebrate one another’s heritage and culture from around the world. Christine along with parent volunteers has improved and expanded the event each year. This year, she is hoping there will be more than 300 visitors to the event that is scheduled for April 29, 2023! 

Christine says MBUSD is great because of its high-quality, passionate staff, its commitment to innovative teaching practices, and its culture of inclusion. 

When she isn't working you can find her practicing yoga and chasing her nearly two-year-old around! 

Happy Retirement to Jeff Mullikin, Karen Cunningham, and Chris Schiraldi!

Mira Costa staff held a retirement celebration lunch to honor three very special individuals who completed their last week of work at MBUSD! Jeff Mullikin, Mira Costa’s plant manager, is retiring after more than 37 years of service to MBUSD. Jeff began his career as a custodian and served many school campuses over the years before becoming a swimming pool technician.

Karen Cunningham was honored for her 32 years of service. She was hired at MBUSD as a classroom assistant and through the years worked in many roles including choral music assistant and her most current position as a science lab assistant. Chris Schiraldi is embarking on a new chapter as well after more than 8 years of service as the College and Career Center office specialist. 

(Left to right) Jeff Mullikin, Dr. Karina Gerger, Karen Cunningham, and Chris Schiraldi

After enjoying lunch with their fellow colleagues, each retiree was recognized by Mira Costa Principal, Dr. Karina Gerger and they were able to say a few words. Dr. Gerger said, “Every time I called Jeff and said I needed something, he was right there. You have done so much for us at Mira Costa and there are no words to thank you enough for what you’ve done here.”

Jeff Mullikin reminisced about when he first started his career at MBUSD and recognized his colleagues for their support over the years. “I have worked with a lot of great people here. I never thought that retiring after 37 years would be such a nerve racking event but it is. I will miss my MBUSD and Costa family. I remember starting out as a custodian at the old middle school site and seeing some students who are now teachers at the high school level. My wife and I are looking forward to driving our RV across the country for months at a time.”

Dr. Gerger said that she and Karen Cunningham have worked together for a long time. “We are so sad to see you go. We just want to say best of luck in your new endeavors and are excited for you.”

“It’s going to be hard to leave. I’m sure I will be back to visit. I thank all of you. You are my Mustang family,” said Karen Cunningham. 


Dr. Gerger shared how much she will also miss Chris Schiraldi. “It will be a loss and it will be sad to not see your smile at the College and Career Center. You were always willing to help.”

"Thank you, it has been my privilege -the staff at Mira Costa is amazing. A special thank you to the CCC Counselors - I really consider you my Mustang family,” said Chris Schiraldi. 


We thank you for your countless hours and dedication to our District. We wish you the best of luck on your retirement and you will be missed. 

We want to remind our community of steps you can take to help start the new year safe and healthy.


The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommends that individuals test for COVID-19 before and after celebrations and travel to keep everyone safe. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is shipping free tests again. Once you place an order, USPS will ship 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. 


Upon the reopening of our schools on January 9, please be sure to send students to class only if they are healthy. Per LA County Department of Public Health guidelines, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days and may come out of isolation early (after day 5) only if they are fever free, have improved symptoms, and have a negative COVID-19 test dated on or after day 5. Please consult with your school office if your student tests positive and you have questions about their isolation timeline. 


If you or anyone you know are looking for free testing sites, LA County DPH and the LA County Office of Education are offering three opportunities just after the New Year. You can find more information here.


Click Here to Learn More from LACDPH on Winter Health.


For all MBUSD COVID-19 information, click here.

Hydration Station Installed at Mira Costa Pool


The Mira Costa swimming pool has a new feature. Athletes and spectators can now use a hydration station to refill their water bottles without having to leave the pool area. 

A portion of the project cost was covered by a grant from the West Basin Municipal Water District. The newly installed water bottle filling station reduces plastic waste while encouraging the use of reusable water bottles. 

Balfour Beatty Features Pennekamp Elementary!


Below are some of the pictures our construction company Balfour Beatty shared on social media. The modernization project features the installation of a new 12-classroom, 2-story modular structure from Silver Creek Industries, replacing a number of aging portables that have been demolished, as well as updates to all permanent classrooms, improvements to site work, and the construction of a new parking lot for the campus. Construction is nearing completion. Check out the pictures below!

Nationwide Middle School Math Competition Returns In-Person at MBMS 

The MBMS MathCounts academic competition had more than 80 students participate in twenty-two teams this year!

In the multipurpose room, the competition was underway with four rounds. Two of those rounds were individual ones. The “Sprint Round” challenged students with thirty math problems without a calculator, while the “Target Round” emphasized problem-solving and mathematical reasoning with the use of a calculator. The “Team Round” focused on problem-solving and collaboration. The “Countdown Round” was the final round as the top performing individuals competed head-to-head and responded to open-response questions. While the competition was underway, in the staff lounge, parents and staff worked fast to grade all of the responses.

Congratulations to our student winners:

1st place: Sam C.

2nd place: Hao L.

3rd place: Ayaan A.

We also want to congratulate the top teams: 

1st place team: Sam C., Charlotte F., Katie M., Hao L.

2nd place team: Connor H., Ayaan A., Avi K., Kellen L.

3rd place team: Aman P., Elliot W., Wyatt N., Ethan S.

Along with results from the AMC8 competition in January, the winners will now represent MBMS at the regional MathCounts competition and the Los Angeles County Office of Education Math Field Day. The MathCounts competition series has 4 levels including school, chapter, state, and national. Thank you to MBEF for making this event possible and covering the cost.

A special thank you to our Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs), Julie Stewart and Tanya Sanchez for organizing and facilitating the event, which was a huge success! 

Click here for more pictures!

Social Emotional Learning Week Art Contest

We are looking forward to bringing back Social Emotional Learning Week (SEL) to the District. This year we are asking middle and high school students to get creative and share their vision of this year’s 2023 national theme “Uplifting Hearts, Connecting Minds” and featuring one "focus" on the MBUSD Social and Emotional Learning Framework. Check out the graphic below for more information.

MBMS Winter Choir Concert

The Manhattan Beach Middle School Winter Choir Concert "Silver Bells" lit up the multipurpose room on campus. It was a pleasure to attend and see our talented students impress the audience with their singing of popular holiday selections! The performance was outstanding under the direction of Choir Director Kate Crellin as choir groups Sand and Sea (6th grade) and the Ocean Wave Chorale (7th and 8th grades) brought the holiday cheer to the stage. Kate says both of these groups have spent weeks preparing the repertoire while growing their vocal skills and musical literacy.

The end of the show had a special moment when MBMS Alumni joined in on the singing with the current MBMS choir members. You can find more pictures here!

In the new year, the choir groups will also perform at Disneyland!

"No Place Like Home" a Huge Success!


MBMS Elective Department Chair David Levy wrote and directed a whimsical modern take on the classic tale The Wizard of Oz. Congratulations to our students for a one-of-a-kind show.

Here is a highlight of Mira Costa’s recent Orchestras' performance.

Led by Director of Orchestras Peter Park, the night was filled with multiple standing ovations!

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

Mira Costa Choirs Presents Pops Concert

On Thursday, January 26, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. you can enjoy the annual Pops Concert at the Mira Costa small theater!

Click image for PDF

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 Friday, January 13. 


Dr. John Bowes
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
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