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Superintendent's Newsletter

January 27, 2023

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

Today’s newsletter highlights Grand View, Robinson students spreading kindness across the City, and MBUSD launching its new mobile app!

Spotlight on Grand View (Special thanks to the Third Grade Team: Kelly Borah, Dawn Britton, Greta Dever, Nancy Robertson, and Principal, Tara Grings)

Grand View’s 3rd graders have been hard at work learning their multiplication facts through a variety of strategies including repeated addition, equal groups, number lines, distributive property, and arrays. These strategies help math fact fluency.

Visualizing multiplication was a favorite with the 3rd graders when they created Array Cities. Tapping into their inner-artists and inner-mathematicians, students created a city of skyscrapers where the windows were arranged in arrays. By grouping the windows in equal rows and columns, the 3rd graders realized how quickly they can calculate a total by multiplying the number of rows by the number in each row. The students extended their learning by understanding that the inverse of multiplication is division. Their masterpieces were very impressive!

Staff Spotlight: Theresa Tower

Theresa Tower started working at MBUSD in 1997 as a physical education (P.E.) teacher and has taught the class at every school site in MBUSD. She also educated students at MBMS and Mira Costa when they began the Yoga P.E. program there.


She moved from Michigan to Manhattan Beach to pursue her passion and says her favorite part of her job is seeing students running out to class with their hands in the air with excitement, ready for a high five, and ready for class.

During her time at MBUSD, she says her biggest achievement is being able to bring fun and movement to her students. “I am proud my students love to move and learn!” 

Theresa says that in our community, parents and students continue to value their overall health and well-being, which makes her job more fun! When she isn’t working, you can find her riding a mountain bike, taking a ski trip, and spending time with family and friends.

Theresa will soon begin a new chapter in her life and will be retiring by the end of February! Thank you for your dedication to ensuring that our students stay healthy! We appreciate your service. 

Congratulations! Meet our New Benefits and Risk Manager 

Carol Gerken is a familiar face at the District Office and we are excited to announce her promotion from Executive Assistant in the Business Services Department to now serving as MBUSD’s Benefits and Risk Manager!

Carols says her oldest child started at MBUSD in 2008 and after spending five years of full-time volunteering and supporting the PTA, she wanted to become part of the MBUSD family in a bigger way! She was hired as the Office Manager for Food and Nutrition Services and within a few years became an Executive Assistant in the Business Services Department, which provides all the back-office-support to the campuses and 780 employees including payroll, benefits, accounting, contract management, and technology to name a few.


Spectrum News 1: MBUSD Schools Slated to be the First District to Receive the "No Place for Hate" Designation at all Schools

Watch the News Story Below!

Kindergarten Information Day 2023

We had nearly 200 parents/guardians attend our Annual Kindergarten Information Day at Pacific Elementary last Saturday! It was a pleasure seeing all of you.

The morning started with a presentation introducing MBUSD’s vision, culture, and who we are. Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Dr. Irene Gonzalez-Castillo talked about the District’s Personalized Learning Framework, Special Education, and social and emotional learning. 

Pennekamp Principal Sharon Witzansky and Pennekamp Kindergarten Teacher Juliet Smith also presented. Juliet shared what Kindergarteners learn in the classroom and what the special programs offer. 

Student speakers, current parents, and Executive Director of the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation Hilary Mahan also were part of the program. Hilary shared how MBUSD and MBEF partner to bring our students the best in public education.

After the presentation, parents met with principals from each elementary school for a Q&A.

We look forward to meeting our future students and families next year!

Enrollment for the 2023-24 school year is already underway. Find more information here.

Check out more pictures here! You can watch the full recording of the program below!

Support our Schools by Supporting MBEF

Manhattan Beach Education Foundation has been a vital long-term partner to MBUSD and integral to keeping our one-of-kind programs going strong.

MBEF has funded and supported our schools for the past 40 years and it wouldn’t have been possible without your support. If you haven’t donated or pledged just yet for MBEF's Annual Appeal, please do so here. Your donations to MBEF ensure in return that the educational experience with exceptional staff and programs for our amazing students continues.

Now, more than ever, I hope you can continue to support MBEF by donating to its Annual Appeal before it comes to an end on February 3.

MBUSD is partnering with the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF) to host a first-of-its-kind event!

Please join the MBEF Board of Directors and myself on Tuesday, January 31st at 5:30 p.m. in the MCHS Small Theater for a look at MBEF's impact on the Manhattan Beach Unified School District. 

Learn about district initiatives, how MBEF and MBUSD partner, the criteria for MBEF grants, how stakeholder priorities impact programs, and the role of MBEF in sustaining high-quality schools.

Plus, get a look at MBEF grants in action and share your priorities for future grants. 

Makerspace Feature: Pennekamp Elementary

Pennekamp Elementary School 2nd grade classes took on the Chinese New Year Dragon Puppets Challenge! They took their creativity to the next level and made unique designs using a paper loop or a brass fastener technique.

Students were excited! One student shared, "It was hard at first making the paper loops, but it worked great and moved easily once I got it!”

Also, “The most fun part of the class was the Dragon parade at the end when I could see all the other puppets.”

Thank you to Makerspace Specialist Sharon Shambaugh for sharing this exciting story. Makerspace is one example of a program that is possible thanks to your donations to MBEF.

Learn more about Makerspace here!

In honor of Great Kindness Challenge Week, students took a field trip to Metlox in Downtown Manhattan Beach to unveil their art installation with the community! 

Robinson Elementary’s “Our Stake in Growing Kindness” project displays 300 succulents in the shape of a heart and each one of the plants has stakes with acts of kindness messages written by students. The hope is for visitors to take home a succulent and be inspired to participate in an act of kindness. During the dedication, students placed the final succulents in the installation and it was a proud moment for them.

The idea was created by parent and PTSA leader Yea-Lan Chiang who wanted to beautify the fountain at Metlox and tie in an environmental focus, which aligns with the Great Kindness Challenge theme of “Grow Kindness.”

Robinson Principal Jackie O’Sullivan says, “At Robinson, we believe kindness is contagious. When we are kind to others, be kind in return. Kindness can create more kindness. We all have a “stake” in growing kindness.” Students plan to place more “stakes” throughout Manhattan Beach. 

Last year, Robinson students displayed “Kindness Chains” at Metlox. 

The California Department of Education (CDE), in partnership with The Great Kindness Challenge, encouraged all teachers, staff, students, and families of California schools to participate in this special week.

Stop by and spread kindness across the City!

Read the Easy Reader Story Here!

Lunar New Year Celebration

Grand View students celebrated Lunar New Year with staff and families. The special assembly featured a Chinese silk ribbon and fan dance from Kaimera Wanderbeasts. The colorful and elegant dance educated students on how the dance connected to culture.

The next performance received cheers and smiles from students as the Majestic Lion Dancers brought a lion that symbolized a rabbit to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit. Students experienced the tradition of the lion who is fed oranges and lettuce to bring luck for the new year. The lion moved swiftly through the crowds and brought magic to the assembly.

Through this interactive experience, students learned the significance of the Chinese New Year tradition celebrated around the world.

Showcasing the Beauty of Inclusion

Pacific students attended an assembly by the non-profit Infinite Flow Dance company on campus. The performance included dancers of all abilities from a dancer in a wheelchair, a dancer who was hearing impaired, to a performer who had a visual impairment. The assembly showcased that dance is a universal language and inspired the students to see beyond each others’ differences. The engaging assembly also empowered students to take part in creating an inclusive environment.

The company employs dancers with and without disabilities to use dance to celebrate diversity.

Mira Costa Bands and Colorguard Perform at Disneyland

Congratulations to the Mira Costa Bands and Colorguard for their recent big performance at Disneyland. Bands and Colorguard applied to perform through the Imagination Campus and were accepted! 

Band Director, Joel Carlson says they marched this year with the largest Costa uniformed Marching Band Colorguard ever!

Click here to watch their performance!

Picture by Lana Lee Photography

Parent Gate Night at MBMS

Parents of students identified and participating in the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program attended an information session at MBMS. Two MBUSD teachers who recently completed a new GATE certification program that included thirty hours of professional development and a final capstone project shared with families their work.

Mira Costa English teacher Dave Piorek reviewed the unit that he put together on a depth and complexity approach to teaching. He explained that students took a look at events from recent U.S. History to compare events in The Crucible.

Robinson 5th grade teacher Teresa Scott shared that students read the Home of the Brave and discussed multiple perspectives, themes, and compared the book to the true stories. 

Dr. Jessica Manzone, an educator who is working with the District on the GATE certification, guided parents on other opportunities parents/guardians can create with their child to connect home and school for talent development.

For the most up to date, GATE testing information, please visit our website.

MBUSD District App Now Live!

We are excited to announce the addition of one more communication platform to MBUSD! We have officially launched the MBUSD app to assist our students, staff, families, and communities to stay connected with the latest news and information. It has been customized to our community's needs. You can access information instantly, and users will be able to receive push notifications from the District and school sites they choose to follow on the app.

The app provides a mobile-friendly version of the information most frequently accessed on the school district’s website and each school site. The app is free to download and you can find it in the Apple or Google Play store by searching for “Manhattan Beach Unified” or “MBUSD.” You can learn more about the app here

Watch a video on how to install app!

Upcoming Events!

Mira Costa Music Experience

You are invited! All incoming 9th graders and their families will have the unique opportunity to learn about the Mira Costa music experience. Click here to reserve a spot.

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

Complimentary Tickets to the 2023 LA Sevens Rugby Tournament

We are excited to announce that MBUSD is partnering with LA Sevens Rugby to offer all staff and students two free tickets for the 2023 LA Sevens Rugby Tournament and Championship at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The tournament takes places on Saturday, February 25th or Sunday, February 26th. The official amateur rugby tournament has teams participating from across the nation and the world to play rugby and compete in the World Series event. 

If you are a student/staff member at MBUSD, you are eligible to receive two free tickets per MBUSD email. The promo code can only be used once to redeem two complimentary tickets. In order to take advantage of this offer, students must use their account and staff members must use their email. 

To select tickets, visit here and use the promo code “MBUSD” to redeem the tickets with a $5.44 processing fee per ticket.

There is also the opportunity to upgrade or add-on tickets at a discounted cost. We hope you take advantage of this opportunity! 

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The next Superintendent's Newsletter will be published on Friday, February 3. 


Dr. John Bowes
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
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