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Superintendent's Newsletter

September 29, 2023

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

I hope this newsletter finds you well. Today’s issue highlights Pacific Elementary, MBUSD ranking as a top school district in the Southern California region, and MCHS Girls Flag Football team kicking off their official first season in Mustang history!

Spotlight on Pacific (Special Thanks to 1st Grade Teachers Megan Marchini, Megan Rech, Gelane Skinner, and Principal Amanda Vavao)

The first grade students at Pacific were recruited as cadets for their first training session of "Writing Boot Camp."  Students wrote complete sentences using capital letters, proper spacing, and punctuation.

They also made sure to include the subject and the action! Some cadets even started “fixing up” their writing using a blue pen to practice editing in the writing process. Now, they are all experts at the three-part sentence.

Staff Spotlight: Dr. Jonathan Erickson - Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

Jonathan Erickson is in his first year at MBUSD. He was appointed this past summer as the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. Jonathan supports the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services. 

He began his career in education as a math teacher in Lennox, CA. He also worked as a charter school principal central office leader and, most recently, as a middle school principal in Redondo Unified. Jonathan's contribution to the field extends beyond the classroom, as he has also served as a part-time professor in teacher and leader preparation programs. 

Jonathan says he was eager to apply to this position because as a local South Bay resident, he was aware of the stellar reputation of the schools in Manhattan Beach, and the position was a perfect fit for his passion and diverse experience. He works closely with teachers, administrators, teachers on special assignment (TOSAs), and community partners to provide the best curriculum and instruction for all students. He supervises the TOSAs who are on the ground at our school sites and works to see the different ways to make our programs and practices stronger. Jonathan also says one of his focuses is to use data from assessments to inform decision-making for improved outcomes.

When we asked him about his passion, Jonathan shared, “I love learning! For our students, our staff, and everyone in the community, I think learning is a precious gift that we all deserve to enjoy. I also studied mindfulness and positive workplace outcomes for my doctoral research, and I believe that through compassion and self-awareness, we can thrive in our work and personal lives.”

Jonathan hopes to continue to collaborate to create systems that minimize or remove all obstacles to learning. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, cooking, reading, and making things!

MCHS School Profile 2023-24

We're happy to announce that the Mira Costa School Profile has been updated and published for the new school year! This data-packed informational piece showcases our exceptional college-preparatory high school. College admissions officers reference this important document when considering our student applicants.

Many thanks to MBEF for designing and printing, and thanks to the Mira Costa Counseling Department for compiling the information and supporting our students on their academic journey!

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

Manhattan Beach Unified Receives A+ Ranking by Niche

We are proud to share that for a consecutive year, MBUSD has been ranked in the top Southern California school districts in Niche’s 2024 Best Schools and Districts rankings released this week. 

Niche is the market leader in connecting colleges and schools with students and families. In its ninth year, the Niche rankings combine user input, including ratings from current students, alumni, and parents, with quantitative data from sources like the U.S. Department of Education. 

Overall, MBUSD has an overall rating of A+ with the same rating for academics. MBUSD is ranked as the #8 Best School District in Los Angeles County and #26 Best School District in California out of 504 districts. We were also ranked in the top 2% Best Places to Teach in the L.A. area.

The ranking showcases our staff, students, parents, and community’s commitment to academic excellence. 

Polliwog Park New Playground Unveiling 

We were excited to be part of the new Polliwog Park playground grand opening this week with the community. The new state-of-the-art equipment spans approximately 12,500 square feet with resilient safety surfacing. The project also has a new shade structure, extensive walkway additions, and walkway rehabilitation.

To pay homage to the playground’s history, there is a new galleon ship and other nature-based play elements, including a play area with boulders. We are grateful for the partnership with the City of Manhattan Beach and for making this project possible.

MCHS Inaugural Girls Flag Football Game

Congratulations to the MCHS Girls Flag Football team as they made history by playing in their inaugural California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section season opener! This week, they had their first and only home games of the season, where Palos Verdes, Peninsula, and Redondo Beach High Schools came to Waller Stadium to compete in a series of games. Mira Costa went head-to-head against Peninsula and Redondo. 

CIF sanctioned the sport statewide in February 2023, and the 2023-24 school year is a momentous milestone for girls flag football as it is the first official year recognized by CIF, leading MCHS to form their first official team. This summer, fifty-five students came out to tryouts during the beginning of summer. The girls flag football team is led by Head Coach John Weber, Assistant Coach Duke Dulagarian, and Assistant Coach Tracie Millea. 

There is only a varsity team, but they hope to have more teams soon.

Manhattan Beach Fire Department Visits Elementary Schools 

This week, the Manhattan Beach Fire Department (MBFD) kicked off its fire safety presentations at our elementary schools. Fire Inspector Suzy Contreras presented to 2nd graders at Pennekamp and Grand View. She educated students on home escape plans, responding to fire alarms, and practicing safety in the kitchen.

After the presentation, students are given a project assignment to design two home escape routes for the MBFD Annual “Home Escape Plan” contest. All students are given the opportunity to develop emergency preparedness plans with their families and submit those plans to the department. 

MBFD in partnership with local schools has hosted this contest for more than 15 years. Fire officials say they are focused on educating 2nd graders because statistics show that students in this grade level and age group are more likely to hide when they hear a smoke alarm rather than escape to a designated point outside their home. 

A winner from each school site is selected, and the grand prize is spending one morning with the MBFD members and riding to school in a fire engine. Students will also be recognized at the Manhattan Beach City Council meeting. 

Pacific Panthers Learn About Bike Safety

The fourth grade students at Pacific participated in Safe Moves City Bike Safety training this week. It was a fun, interactive educational event to teach youth how to be safer bicyclists.

Students rode through “Safe Moves City” with streets, intersections, crosswalks, bike lanes, traffic signs, signals, and railroad tracks. The organization simulates traffic hazards facing youth as they ride to school and to destinations in their community. Students learned how to recognize traffic hazards and avoid them under the supervision of traffic safety instructors. This rodeo was funded by the Beach Cities Cycling Club and conducted by Safe Moves.

Peace Chalk-Art Time Lapse 

Pacific Panthers were creative during “Teach Peace Week” and crafted beautiful chalk art! Check out the time-lapse video below.

Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk Registration Underway!

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

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

Walk & Roll to School Day - Wednesday, October 4

Annually, MBUSD participates in the international Walk and Roll to School Day that encourages families and staff to roll, walk, bicycle, or use any non-motorized transportation to get to school. This year we will celebrate on Wednesday, October 4, with our community partner Beach Cities Health District! This event encourages physical activity, creates a strong sense of community, and teaches pedestrian safety skills.

Click here to find out your student(s) school site route and departure time. We hope you will join us again this year and look forward to seeing our community next week! The Board of Trustees, myself, and Cabinet will be participating. Share your photos with us by using the hashtag #MBUSDWalktoSchoolDay!

Complimentary Los Angeles Kings Tickets!

We are so excited to announce that we are partnering with the L.A. Kings once again and offering our staff and families complimentary tickets. 

With the season opener in nearly two weeks, 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 on recently to all staff and families with details on how tickets can be redeemed. Every student and staff member will receive a unique code that can only be used once. (Student codes will be sent to parent/guardian). We hope you take advantage of this wonderful offer! Go, Kings, Go! 

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!

Upcoming Events

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 6. 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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