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Superintendent's Newsletter

December 9, 2022

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

I hope this newsletter finds you well. Today’s issue highlights academics at Pennekamp, details on the upcoming Kindergarten Info Day, and a closer look at Robinson’s Math Lab.

Spotlight on Pennekamp (Special thanks to third-grade teachers Mike Warner, Liana Kuklinski, Megan Howard, Ian Jones, and Principal Sharon Witzansky)

Third-grade teachers have been utilizing literature to develop literacy and social-emotional skills at Pennekamp. Teachers utilize the California English Language Arts Standards for Speaking and Listening (SL.1), to engage students with a variety of texts and build understanding through collaborative group discussions.

Students learn how to gain the floor respectfully, listen to others with care, and speak one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion. To put this into practice, Pennekamp third-grade teachers introduced students to the book The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig. Click here to listen to the story. Following the read-aloud, students shared and discussed how simple acts can make individuals feel excluded or included. Students expressed their ideas clearly while also building upon others' ideas.

Staff Spotlight: Tara Grings


This week our staff spotlight is Grand View Principal Tara Grings. She began her career at MBUSD in 2016 as a Vice Principal overseeing freshmen at Mira Costa High School and has fond memories of their graduation four years later during the 2020-21 school year.

After being part of the Mira Costa administration team, Tara became the principal at Grand View. 

Tara says she always dreamt of working at MBUSD. “When I was a teacher, I filled out the MBUSD job application, but would get cold feet when it came time to drop off my application at the District Office.” But after several years of working at Hawthorne Unified teaching musical theater and choir, she applied to MBUSD! 

Tara loves working with students and says they show the promise of a brighter tomorrow. “I treat each day as a new opportunity to help change the world for the better.” Another aspect of her job that she enjoys is connecting with her families. Tara is a mother of three and two of her children attend Pennekamp. “I feel so fortunate to be part of this community of parents. We can always find common ground because we all want what is best for our kids,” says Tara Grings.


Tara is most proud of creating spaces where students are motivated to succeed at their highest potential and feel included, safe, and nurtured. She also says this includes having a space for families and staff. ”I believe we need to go beyond the superficial and ensure that all stakeholders want to be a part of our school community. For me, social emotional wellness starts by taking care of each other. I want teachers to know that I care about their mental health. I want students to know that I empathize with how they feel, and I want families to know I love and care about their children as if they were my own. We can do anything when we value and understand one another.”

Tara says MBUSD is great because it has allowed her to grow personally and professionally. “I found my voice here, and the District has always encouraged me to use it.” Tara loves sharing joy and laughter with our community members and her colleagues.  

If you are a Grand View student or parent, you know that Tara has an amazing voice! She is passionate about singing and songwriting, and she even has her own Christmas album! 

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.

Ethnic Studies Parent Application Now Open!

California Assembly Bill 101 mandates that all high schools offer an Ethnic Studies course by the 2025-26 school year. The Manhattan Beach Unified School District School Board approved the Equity, Diversity, Social Justice, and Inclusion (EDSJI) Action Plan on April 20, 2022, which included a commitment to offer this course by 2024-25.


To accomplish this goal, MBUSD has established an Ethnic Studies Committee to review and follow the Los Angeles County Office of Education toolkit in the creation and adoption of this program. 


We are currently seeking 4-5 parent volunteers to participate in the Ethnic Studies Committee. At a minimum, it’s a two-year commitment, starting in January 2023 through November 2024. To be considered for this committee, please click on the button below to complete the form. The deadline to apply is Friday, December 16 at 4:00 p.m.

If you have any questions, please contact Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Dr. Irene Gonzalez-Castillo.

Click here for the Ethnic Studies presentation from the recent Board meeting.

Click here to apply

Mira Costa Model United Nations (MUN) Hosts 28th Annual LAIMUN Conference on Campus

Mira Costa High School’s nationally-ranked Model United Nations program has had a successful fall semester!

Most recently, the MUN team hosted the Los Angeles Invitational Model United Nations (LAIMUN) conference on December 3 and 4 at Mira Costa where 850 delegates representing 19 middle and high schools from across Southern California were in attendance. Mira Costa delegates prepared for the conference by writing topic synopses of issues currently being discussed in the United Nations to assist delegates in developing a stronger understanding of their subjects to foster productive, educational, and diplomatic debates. The event was a culmination of planning that began last May.

The MUN team also attended travel conferences recently, including the William and Mary High School MUN (WMHSMUN) and Berlin MUN (BERMUN) where they received top honors. The WMHSMUN was held at William and Mary University in Williamsburg, Virginia and it was very successful with seven delegates placing, or gaveling. The Mira Costa MUN program was awarded second place at this conference. 

The BERMUN conference in Berlin, Germany was the first international travel trip Mira Costa MUN attended since before the COVID-19 pandemic. While the conference did not rank the team's overall performance, it was a unique experience as students acted as lawyers or judges during the conference. Others participated in discussions to create real-world solutions to implement here in the South Bay. Outside of the conference students explored the city and visited the Holocaust memorial and former concentration camp Sachsenhausen.

Click Here to Read More

School Site Construction Updates

The District’s facilities projects continue to progress.

At Pennekamp, construction is nearing completion. The last phase of this project is the construction of a new parking lot at the northeast end of the campus. This work is anticipated to be finished by the end of winter break. 

At MBMS, you can’t miss the sight of the new music building that is also near completion. Contractors are finishing the installation of the electrical and HVAC systems and backing for all of the equipment scheduled to be built into the room. This will be followed by the interior finishes and the installation of the fixtures, furnishings, and equipment. We look forward to having students in the new facility in the near future. 

The work at Grand View is ongoing, with the construction of the three-story multi-purpose building - which will house administration offices, multi purpose room, classroom, staff lounge, work room, and cafeteria - nearing completion. Work is also beginning on the new upper field, which will hold two U6 soccer fields! The Grand View project will be completed in the next few months. 

Next up, we will be preparing to begin the work to install HVAC at the preschool campus and to reconstruct Stadium Way to provide the MCHS Athletic Complex the entryway it deserves. Stay tuned for updates on these projects!

Grand View Construction Site

MBMS Music Building

New Parking Lot at Pennekamp

Boosters Christmas Tree and Wreaths Sale!

For yet another year, the annual Christmas tree sale by the Mira Costa Baseball team brought joy to our community and beyond. Nearly 700 trees from Oregon were sold to community members. Athletes unloaded and prepped the trees upon arrival. The 8-9 ft. Douglas Firs were also donated to Camp Pendleton through Trees for Troops, the local Boys and Girls Club, and the Richstone Family Center. This tradition is organized every year by the Baseball Boosters. 

While the baseball team was busy unloading trees, at the same time, Mira Costa’s Dance team unloaded holiday wreaths! More than 900 were sold! 

For all athletics booster information and events, visit 

Click here to watch the Instagram reel on the event!

Students from MBUSD Elementary Schools Recognized at City Council Meeting 


Congratulations to five MBUSD second-graders who were selected as winners of the 2022 Manhattan Beach Fire Department Annual “Home Escape Plan” contest. The program, which started fifteen years ago, was one of the first public education fire prevention programs in the country. It encourages students to develop emergency preparedness plans with their families. 


Every year, the Fire Department visits second graders across the city and shares a presentation about the department and fire prevention safety tips. During that time, students are given a project assignment to design two home escape routes for the contest. Grand Prize winners from each MBUSD elementary school and American Martyrs are selected and earn the opportunity to spend the morning with the MBFD and ride to school in a fire engine!


Here are the MBUSD students who were honored at the meeting: 


Taylor W. (Grand View)

Annabelle C. (Meadows) 

Kathleen M. (Pacific)

Brady C. (Pennekamp)

Phoenix V. (Robinson)

Photo by Jefferson Graham

In the Classroom: Math Lab


At Robinson Elementary, third-graders in Ms. Price’s class participated in a Math Lab where they completed the activity “How Far from 100” where students explored the relationship between addition and subtraction with sums and differences to one hundred. 

Students used number lines, hundreds charts, and manipulatives to represent their thinking. This year, third through fifth grades participated in Math Labs, a new initiative across the District. The labs address foundational math concepts and assists in building students’ motivation and confidence in doing math. During the lab, teachers reteach and support mathematical concepts using manipulatives, games, and paper/pencil practice. 


Thank you to Math TOSA Holly Compton for sharing this story!

Ms. Price Explores Math Concepts with 3rd Graders

Mira Costa Students Selected for 2022 All-Bay League Football Team


Congratulations to Sophomore Nico De La Cruz, juniors Jacob Goldberg, Reese Leonard, Michael Sultemeier, and seniors Jack Clarke, Cole Crotty, Ty Culligan, Murphy Glasgow, Matt Kraskouskas, and Cade Salceda who were selected to be part of the team.

There were two teams made up of athletes from Redondo, Palos Verdes, Culver City, Santa Monica, and Peninsula. Athletes were selected by head coaches from these districts. 

All of Costa’s sports compete in the Bay League and there are All-League awards for every sport/season that they compete in.

Mira Costa Choir spreading Holiday Joy Across City

Keep an eye out and you may be lucky enough to run into our Costa Choir around the city. They will be caroling in Downtown Manhattan Beach from 12:00-3:00 p.m. on:


  • Saturday, December 17
  • Sunday, December 18

They will also perform at the Manhattan Beach Holiday Fireworks on December 11 from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Peak Flu Season

The peak of cold and flu season is here. It is expected that California will have higher than average levels of flu activity this season. The best prevention against the flu is still the seasonal flu vaccine. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the flu shot for everyone 6 months and older.

We want you to protect yourself and your family against the flu. There are simple steps to prevent the illness:

  • Know the signs and symptoms of the flu
  • Frequently wash hands with soap
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth 
  • Keep sick children at home; do not send children to school if they are sick
  • Teach your children to wash their hands
  • Teach your children not to share personal items
  • Flu vaccine is available to private physicians and pharmacies

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

Upcoming Events

Fentanyl Town Hall by the Los Angeles County Office of Education 

Monday, December 12, 2022 | 6:00-7:30 PM

Join Here:

Orchestra Winter Concert | Friday, December 16 

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The next Superintendent's Newsletter will be published on Friday, December 16. 

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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