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Superintendent's Newsletter

October 13, 2023

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

I hope this newsletter finds you well. Today’s issue highlights Robinson Elementary, a Mira Costa student honored by First Lady Jill Biden at the White House, and Pennekamp students take a break from the classroom at the Mind Lounge.

Spotlight on Robinson (Special Thanks to 2nd Grade Teachers Megan Montz, Jen Camacho, and Principal Jackie O'Sullivan)

Robinson second graders are practicing fluency, comprehension, and reading aloud with expression this month as they perform The Adventures of Frog and Toad for their parents.

The audience made up of proud parents, watched their students act out each chapter of the book during the final read. This Reader's Theatre approach helps even the most reluctant reader shine and helps students understand the nuance of storytelling by becoming the characters and living the story. Fluency research emphasizes the need to read a story several times for better comprehension and confidence.  

Staff Spotlight: Greg Selmi | Computer Science Principles Teacher

This week, we are featuring one of our newest teachers, Greg Selmi. This is his first year at MBUSD, and he is part of the MCHS Technology and Engineering team! Greg is very enthusiastic to be at MBUSD, and prior to coming to our District, he was an AVID teacher at Palos Verdes Penninsula Unified and also a tutor at Study Hut. At Mira Costa, he is a computer science teacher and instructs the AP Computer Science Principles course.

Greg says he was drawn to applying to MBUSD because of its reputation as a high-achieving school district. His favorite part about his job is the staff and students. “They keep me energized and focused on the work.”

Furthermore, Greg is excited to be part of the MCHS esports team action this year. In his free time, he enjoys gaming! Welcome to MBUSD!

Celebrating our Administrators

At MBUSD, we are celebrating the “Week of the School Administrator” (October 8-14). We are proud to honor our exceptional administrators and their passion for leading our schools. Daily, our administrators play an important role in contributing to our students' academic success! 

MBUSD Safe Campuses

We continually strive to provide a safe and welcoming learning environment for our staff and students. We do this every day by following the safety policies and procedures that have been put in place through careful planning on our campuses.  

At last week’s Board meeting, the District provided a presentation about safety in MBUSD. You can see that presentation here. We have many layers of safety on our campuses, and we are always collaboratively working to review and assess our safety measures.

Current safety measures include:

  • Community partnerships
  • MBPD collaboration in response to incidents and evolving situations.
  • MBPD School Resource Officers (SROs) staffed to support our schools.
  • MBPD SWAT Team training and review of school sites and emergency plans.

  • Comprehensive safety plans
  • Each school has its own plan, tailored to its site and programs.
  • Plans are reviewed, updated, and approved by the school board on an annual basis.
  • School site safety committees made up of parents, staff, and community members provide site level input. 
  • Regular safety drills and protocols to prepare for the possibility of a variety of emergencies, including earthquakes, fire, evacuation, shelter-in-place, and lockdown procedures.

  • Campus security procedures
  • School sites maintain locked perimeters during the school day.
  • All visitors and volunteers are only allowed on campus when properly registered and wearing an approved visitor’s badge. 
  • Campus supervisors and maintenance staff conduct security checks throughout their respective shifts.
  • Robust video surveillance systems are in place at all K-12 campuses. 

  • Digital tools
  • ContentKeeper provides districtwide filtering for the District’s network.
  • Bark monitors students’ online activity when they are logged into their District-issued Google accounts and provides real-time alerts about risky behavior.
  • GoGuardian provides an additional layer of filtering and monitoring at MBMS and provides tools that allow MBMS teachers to see what individual students are doing on their devices during class time.
  • Sprigeo allows students and parents to easily report bullying or school safety threats online by submitting a web-based form. The tip can be submitted anonymously.
  • SchoolMessenger allows the District to provide instant notifications to staff and families in the event of a major emergency.

First Lady Jill Biden Honors MCHS Sophomore Mona Cho at White House 

Mona Cho is one of fifteen young women leaders who were honored at the White House this week by First Lady Jill Biden in honor of International Day of the Girl. The young women were selected by the White House Gender Policy Council for leading change and shaping a brighter future in their communities across the United States. 

This is the first-ever “Girls Leading Change” celebration at the White House to “recognize the profound impact young women are having on their communities and their efforts strengthening our country for generations to come.” 15-year-old Mona Cho is dedicated to combatting online harassment and abuse and the harm it poses to youth and teens. She serves on the Beach Cities Health District’s (BCHD) Youth Advisory Council and is also part of the District’s newly created Youth Health & Safety Committee, where she leads a team of five students in a campaign to spread awareness on how to stay safe on social media and to prioritize mental health online. 

She also created a short film that follows real-life stories of the impact of damaged digital footprints. Through the Plan USA Youth Leadership Academy, she leads the Digital Online Safety and Empowerment Initiative. Mona hopes to continue deploying film as a tool to promote online safety and call for change.

First Lady Jill Biden, in a statement by the White House, said, “These young women are protecting and preserving the earth, writing and sharing stories that change minds, and turning their pain into purpose.” During the ceremony, the First Lady also applauded the honorees for taking action when they saw something wrong, and working to fix it. Youth in the audience were given the opportunity to ask questions of the young leaders.

Congratulations to Mona Cho for this incredible achievement. We are very proud!

You can watch the White House Live Stream Recognition Here

Read Daily Breeze News Story Here

Watch Mona's interview with CBS News Los Angeles!

Click Here to Read More
white house

Hometown Fair Highlights

Check out some of the highlights from the MBUSD Hometown Fair booth! Thank you to everyone who stopped by and visited us!

MCHS Girls Tennis Team Brings Home Win 

Congratulations to the Mira Costa girls varsity tennis team! They won the 5th annual Point Loma Invitational Tournament for the first time. 

The team played 4 matches total with a single-round, 2 set tournament format. West View and Westlake were the teams first 2 matches. The girls played back to back, winning the first one 5-1 and closing the second match, 4-3, against Westlake. Day two of the tournament was opened with a match against Punahou School, a high-level Hawaiian team from Oahu. Mira Costa won 49-45. The Mustangs’ final match was against Portola High School. Mira Costa won 35-29 in games. The team was ranked 5th out of eight teams. 

Thank you to MCHS Tennis team member, La Vista Editor-in-Chief Ava Nicols, and staff writer Avana Zenner for sharing this information.

We also want to congratulate the Mira Costa varsity volleyball team for winning the Redondo/Costa Molten Classic championship title! Our cross-country boys varsity team also ranked #5 out of 26 California teams during the Clovis Invitational. Also, we would like to recognize the MCHS varsity girls golf team for winning the Bay League Championship this week.

Mira Costa Band Member Selected for Tournament of Roses Honor Band 

11th-grader Yu-Chaun Elizer was selected to perform and represent MCHS in the Pasadena City College Honor Band for the 135th Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1, 2024!

Selected students were chosen from a pool of more than 500 musicians throughout Southern California for positions in the Pasadena City College (PCC) Tournament of Roses Honor Band, Pageantry, and Herald Trumpets. Yu-Chaun will be playing the baritone during the parade.

The PCC Tournament of Roses Honor Band is comprised of Pasadena City College Lancer Marching Band members, exceptional high school musicians, and color guard performers. 

Picture by Pasadena City College Band Program

In the Classroom, Featuring Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Teacher on Special Assignment, Patti McCullum

Our district supports a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework. To meet all students' needs, we must create inclusive systems, offer academic, behavioral, and social-emotional support, and adapt our practices for student-centered, evidence-based education.  

Patti McCullum, MTSS Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA), supports teachers in elementary classrooms during “What I Need” (WIN) time. When Patti visited Pacific Elementary School this week, she worked with a small group of third graders on Lexia Core5. Lexia is one of our district-supported digital platforms that is an evidence-based program rooted in the principles of reading science. It effectively boosts literacy skills in students of diverse abilities, enabling them to transition from the initial phase of learning to read to the more advanced stage of reading to acquire knowledge.

MTSS describes student achievement levels to help schools organize levels of support based on intensity so that students receive necessary instruction, support, and interventions based on need at every level.  

  • Tier 1: Core classroom instruction for all students 
  • Tier 2: Targeted small group instruction 
  • Tier 3: Intensive individual intervention 

At the elementary level, we have a system, What I Need (WIN) time, in place to support our students at all three tiers. WIN is a 30-minute intervention/extension block of instruction where students either work with their classroom teacher or a specialist for personalized learning. Patti also supports staff and students at the secondary level.  

MCHS Swimmers to Become L.A. County Ocean Lifeguards

Mira Costa varsity swim student-athletes from the MCHS varsity swim team are one step closer to becoming Los Angeles County Fire Department Ocean Lifeguards! Finleigh Pogson, Bella Blackman, Kalani Nelson, and Josh Truong recently passed the physical test, which is one part of the examination process. These swimmers completed a 1000-meter swim performance test, followed by a 200 and 400-yard swim test and a run. 

We wish them the best of luck as they move on to the next steps before becoming a candidate for the training academy in the spring. This is a rigorous 100-hour course held over consecutive weekends. They will learn about the principles of lifeguarding with an emphasis on ocean dynamics, rescues, first aid, rescue boat operations, and more. 

From left to right: Finleigh P., Bella B., Kalani N., Josh T., and Coach Heidi Nelson

Great California ShakeOut - October 19

MBUSD is participating in this year’s International ShakeOut Day. At 10:19 a.m. on October 19, students and staff across the District will participate in the statewide Great California Shakeout earthquake drill to prepare for the “big one.” All staff and students districtwide, before the drill, will practice and review earthquake and emergency procedures, including Drop, Cover, and Hold On. 


The ShakeOut is one example of safety preparedness activities taken during the school year. The safety of our students and staff is a top priority for MBUSD. Additionally, every school site has a comprehensive safety plan, developed and adjusted yearly, which includes procedures for various emergency situations. 

The Mind Lounge at Pennekamp

The Mind Lounge at Pennekamp reopened last week for the school year, providing students another space to take a break during the school day. The Mind Lounge opened during the 2017-18 school year thanks to first grade teacher Donna Barney-Nicholson. As a complement to the MindUp program, she wanted to create a place where students could go when they needed a mindful moment. After receiving a generous MBEF grant, she transformed a room near the office into what is now known as the Pennekamp Mind Lounge. 

During lunch recess, students enter the Mind Lounge, complete a breathing activity, and then choose from quiet activities such as mindful coloring, reading or looking at books, watching the fish tank, doing puzzles, or simply doing nothing in order to recharge for the rest of the busy school day. 

Parent social emotional learning (SEL) representatives, Sarah Dupee and Sarah Matloff, took the lead to expand the space onto the adjoining patio where students enjoy the outdoor seating, shade from the trees and the beautiful flowers. This year they expanded the program to become a Mobile Mind Lounge on the recess yard once a week with a mindful themed craft once a month. This month the students made breathing stick crafts with pipe cleaners and beads and practiced “belly breathing” as a way to combat stress. This peaceful space is funded by the PTA and staffed by parent volunteers.

Begg Pool Community Open House

Join the conversation! The City of Manhattan Beach is exploring options for modernizing the Begg Pool facility. 

City staff will be hosting a community open house on Monday, November 13, at the Manhattan Heights Community Center to hear your priorities on the vision of this project.

If you can’t make it to the open house, please take this survey. Learn more about the Begg Pool Modernization Study by visiting the City’s website here.

“Be Our Guest” Program 

In partnership with the City of Manhattan Beach Parks & Rec’s Older Adults program, the “Be Our Guest” program schedule is live! The program invites older adult residents in Manhattan Beach who are 55 years of age or older to attend performances for free at Manhattan Beach Unified schools. 

If you are interested, you will need to sign up and get a special pass at the Joslyn Community Center at the Older Adults Program office.

For the schedule, please visit This year, there are thirteen shows that “Be Our Guest” members can attend, including MCHS drama/tech, choir, band, and orchestra programming. Click image below for flyer.

Join the PTA!

If you have a child, you have experienced PTA! The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is the oldest and largest child advocacy association in America. Here in Manhattan Beach, the amazing, ongoing partnership of the PTAs and MBUSD continues. The seven PTAs’ collective contribution of over $2.2 million ensures our schools and programs are stellar. 

Our PTAs provide school supplies and technology; capital improvements; academic, social-emotional, and VAPA programming; field trips; staff appreciation and teacher professional development opportunities; community support; and cultural and school-wide celebrations. Various PTA parent functions provide a forum for parents to voice their opinions, engage in discussions, and learn about what is happening at our schools.

PTA is a constant voice for our children and strives to make our schools a better place to learn and grow! Thank you to everyone who has already joined the PTA; without you, our programs and projects would not be possible. Each school’s PTA strives for 100% participation. If you have not had a chance to join yet - it’s just a click away! 

Grand View PTA

Meadows PTA

Pacific PTA

Pennekamp PTA

Robinson PTSA


Mira Costa PTSA

Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk Registration Underway!

Register today for the Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk on Sunday, October 29! The annual fun-filled community event gives back to MBEF and our students!

Whether registering as a walker or virtual walker, please only indicate MBEF as a beneficiary during registration to ensure that your full contribution directly benefits MBEF and your school PTA! The walk supports both children with special needs through the Friendship Foundation and our students through MBEF. Please click here for the registration process and FAQs.

Click on your school’s official team page below to register:

Grand View Elementary School Team

Manhattan Beach Middle School Team

Meadows Elementary School Team

Mira Costa High School Team

Pacific Elementary School Team

Pennekamp Elementary School Team

Robinson Elementary School Team

MB Preschool Team

Give Today to the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation

What is the MBEF Annual Appeal?

Every year the MBEF Annual Appeal supports academic enrichment programs that instill Excellence in Education. From funding smaller class sizes, strong core academics, social-emotional learning with additional counselors, and specialized programs in STEAM and visual and performing arts, MBUSD families contribute to our excellent school system with annual donations. 

Please support the 2023-24 Annual Appeal by donating today!

We are grateful for MBEF and all that the Foundation has done for the past 40 years to make what MBUSD it is today! Please read MBEF’s Annual Report & Honor Roll to learn more about the impact, MBEF’s vision, and the people who supported MBEF to make a difference in our schools. 

Give Today!

Share Stories with Us! 

Do you have a good news story idea? Share it with us! There are great stories to be told across the District, from stories of accomplishment, perseverance, and noteworthy events to academic excellence unfolding in our classrooms. Please share a story with us so we can share it with our community!

Stories submitted are often shared in our publications, on social media, and with our local media partners. 

Submit your story here!

Complimentary Los Angeles Kings Tickets

The L.A. Kings have announced they will provide two free tickets (an estimated processing fee of $7.50 will apply per ticket) to each student and each staff member for upcoming games at the Arena!

You can find the full list of games and how to redeem your tickets here

An email was sent out recently to all staff and families with details on how tickets can be redeemed. Every student and staff member received a unique code that can only be used once. (Student codes were sent to parent/guardian). We hope you take advantage of this wonderful offer! Go, Kings, Go! 

Tedx Manhattan Beach 2023 Returning to Mira Costa 

Tickets are on sale now! 

In its 13th annual year, the event has a list of dynamic speakers, an interactive expo center, and delicious food/drinks throughout the day! This year we have two Mira Costa students speaking, Anthony Padnos and Winston Iskandar

Click Here for MBUSD Staff Registration
Click Here for General Registration

Check out our Social Media Directory

Following our eight schools on social media and our District accounts make it convenient for you to get real-time updates, news, and information!

Here is our directory!

Stay Updated! Download MBUSD App!

If you haven’t downloaded the MBUSD app, please do so!

You can go to an Apple or Google Play store to download the app by searching Manhattan Beach Unified or MBUSD. Once you download it, you will see a home page asking you to set up the schools you would like access to and announcements from, including the District.

You can toggle between the District and each school site screen from the top of the app. All elementary school sites have the same buttons, while MBMS and Mira Costa’s features cater to our families and students there. The app offers 42 languages from which to choose. You can update your app settings, and you can learn what is happening at the District and school site level every morning by push notifications! 

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 educational 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 October 20. 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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