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Superintendent's Newsletter

May 10, 2024

Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

I hope this letter finds you well. Today’s issue highlights MB Preschool, an update on the 2024-25 school year calendar, and announces our National Merit Scholarship Corporation award recipients!

Spotlight on MB Preschool (Special Thanks to Teacher Karina Sam and Director of Early Learning Shannon Huston)

As the school year nears its end, excitement is brewing in Karina Sam's classroom as students embark on a captivating journey through the alphabet. With a creative twist, Karina has designed a special 26-day countdown, aligning each day with a different alphabet letter. This engaging approach reinforces letter recognition and provides hands-on, developmentally appropriate activities for the young learners to participate in.

From "A" to "Z," each day is filled with educational adventures tailored to captivate young minds. Whether it's "B" for bubbles or "S" for silly socks, Karina ensures that every lesson is brimming with interactive experiences. These activities reinforce the phonetic sound of each letter and offer practical ways for the children to engage and demonstrate their understanding of the alphabet.

In Karina's classroom, learning extends to various centers where children can immerse themselves in meaningful experiences. As the countdown progresses, anticipation builds, and the children eagerly anticipate each new day's adventure. With each letter introduced, they gain confidence in their literacy skills while fostering a love for learning that will undoubtedly stay with them for years to come.

Karina's dedication to creating a stimulating and nurturing environment is evident in the smiles and enthusiasm radiating from her students. Through the alphabet countdown, she imparts valuable academic knowledge and cultivates a sense of curiosity and wonder that will serve these young learners well beyond their time in her classroom. 

2024-2025 School Year Calendar Update

We are pleased to share that through productive bargaining with the Manhattan Beach Unified Teachers Association (MBUTA), we have made considerable progress on the calendar.

While bargaining on the calendar will continue, we have agreed upon the start and end dates for the 2024-25 school year. The first day of school for students will be on Wednesday, August 21, 2024. The last day of school for students will be Thursday, June 12, 2025. We will provide additional updates as they become available.

Staff Spotlight: Jeannette Shaw-Bueno - 4th Grade Teacher 

Picture of Jeannette Shaw-Bueno

This week, we are proud to spotlight Jeannette Shaw-Bueno, a dedicated 4th grade teacher at Grand View Elementary, marking her 19th year as a Gator educator. Alongside her teaching role, she actively serves on the District’s Health and Safety Committee. Prior to MBUSD, she worked at Laguna Beach Unified in a K-2 Special Day Class and in 4th grade. 

Jeannette’s passion for teaching was inspired by her family. Growing up in a household of educators - her mother an elementary teacher, her father a school psychologist and Director of Special Education, and her aunt a principal - she learned invaluable insights that shaped her into the effective educator she is today. 

“From my mother, I have memories of helping in her summer school classroom as a kid and singing so many songs with her class as a way to make learning fun. In my classroom, I sing songs daily with my students, ranging from patriotic songs about our state to ways to remember key concepts, such as the “Big G Gallon Rap” for math. It’s a way to connect with students and make learning memorable.” She also recalls the encouragement she received from her aunt about her being a hard worker who exceeds expectations, which she remembers to get through challenging times. 

Her journey into education began during her college years. She took the opportunity to teach reading to students in underserved communities, which led her to pursue a teaching credential and a Master's in Cross-Cultural Education. 

Jeannette’s affinity for 4th grade stems from her enjoyment of working with this age group, especially teaching them about California geography and history. 

“A fulfilling aspect of my career journey has been the opportunity to make meaningful connections with families, build friendships with colleagues, and be part of a tight-knit community of teachers who have given me an invaluable support system. I am especially grateful to my fourth-grade teaching partners because we have a strong team dynamic, and each member brings unique strengths and ideas to the table, creating a well-rounded and effective professional learning community.”

When we asked Jeannette about her recent honor of Grand View Teacher of the Year, she said it has been heartwarming and rewarding. “It makes me feel that my nineteen years of teaching in this community have been impactful.”

Outside the classroom, Jeannette loves being a mother! Her two children, Liam and Finley, attend Grand View, and she is excited to have her son be a fourth-grader next year. In her free time, she explores restaurants, immersing herself in live music, and spending quality time with loved ones. 

MBUSD Teacher Appreciation Week Celebration

Our teachers and staff were celebrated by grateful PTAs and families with massages, breakfasts, lunches, heartfelt messages, and gifts all week long. Students, guardians, and the community expressed their gratitude for our educators' commitment. Teachers embody various roles - they are advocates, inventors, and problem solvers. They are also listeners, explorers, role models, motivators, mentors, and much more!

Thank you to all of the MBUSD teachers and staff for supporting and educating our students. You are the true exemplars of leadership!

MBUSD Recognized for Outstanding Attendance Improvement Program by the State

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced model school attendance review board recipients for 2024. Twenty-three school attendance review boards (SARBs) were designated as model programs by the State SARB exemplary practices that contribute to reducing chronic absenteeism rates and improving student attendance.

Among the honorees is School Attendance Review Board 16, made up of four South Bay school districts, including MBUSD, which was recognized at the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance State Conference with this honor. This Board represents twenty-seven school sites. The Model SARB Recognition Program recognizes improvement programs that practice prevention efforts. 

You can learn more about SARB 16 here.

Two MCHS Seniors Earn National Merit Scholarships

National Merit Scholarship Winners Photos

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) has unveiled its second wave of winners in the highly esteemed 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program. This round of scholarships is for the National Merit $2500 Scholarship recipients, awarded to a select group chosen from an impressive pool of 15,000 outstanding finalists.

We are proud of our two Mira Costa High School finalists for being among the 2,500 students who earned this honor!

Congratulations to:

  • Kina Desai
  • Charles Hiatt

Kina has plans to attend Duke University and major in Public Policy. Charles Hiatt will serve a two-year mission in Curitiba, Brazil, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and then attend the University of Southern California (USC) to study Cybersecurity and Risk Management.

These scholarships are given to those in each state who have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation provides funding for this award. Two more announcements of scholarship winners will be made in June and July. MCHS has seven more finalists who are in the running for scholarships!

This year’s National Merit Scholarship Program began in October 2022 when high school juniors took the PSAT/NMSQT, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named Semifinalists on a state-representational basis, with only 15,000 advancing to become finalists. 

Mona Cho Participates in Town Hall about Youth Mental Health with California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom

Mona Cho participating in roundtable

MCHS Sophomore Mona Cho was one of six students selected to participate in a roundtable discussion and town hall about the mental health crisis among youth and the challenges families face while navigating an ongoing crisis. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the event was hosted in partnership between First Partner Sibel Newsom’s California for ALL Kids initiative, the California Partners Project, Child Mind Institute, and the Los Angeles Unified School District. 

Mona represented the student voice and discussed the impact of social media, economic challenges, and social pressures on youth mental health. Lisa Ling moderated the roundtable. 

Last year, in celebration of International Day of the Girl, First Lady Jill Biden honored Mona Cho as one of fifteen girls for leading change and shaping a brighter future in communities across the United States. She was recognized for her efforts to combat online harassment and abuse and the harm it poses to youth and teens.

Mira Costa Drama/Tech Footloose Production Nominated for 18 Awards!

Photo of a scene from Footloose

The excitement over Mira Costa Drama/Tech’s Footloose Production continues! This week, Drama/Tech staff received the news that John Raitt Awards for Youth (JRAY) nominated the production, staff, and cast in eighteen categories. Congratulations! One of the categories they are nominated for is Musical Drama of the Year. Here are the nominations:

The nominees will compete against twenty-six high schools from across Southern California in the designated categories. We are so proud of our staff and students!

Students and staff will attend the JRAY award ceremony at the San Gabriel Playhouse at the end of May. The JRAY mission is to promote and support high school education by recognizing musical theater excellence in all performance and technical production categories and providing outstanding students with unique opportunities and professional exposure. 

The Footloose production had nearly 5,000 attendees across the seven shows. Opening night had the largest attendance ever to fill the MCHS auditorium for a Mira Costa musical, and ticket sales surpassed any previous show. Thank you to our community for supporting the arts and our excellent Drama/Tech department. We can’t wait for next year!

The MCHS Footloose cast was made up of thirty-six students, thirty-five crew and front-of-house members, and a band of nine musicians. 

“Mira Costa High School’s Musical Production of Footloose Breaks Records”

The Los Angeles Times Featured the Mira Costa musical. Read the story here!

MBMS Drama Students and David Levy Advocate for the Arts in Sacramento

Left to right: David Levy, Harper Forbes, Sydney Pennino, Camie Cho, and Senator Ben Allen

Recently, three MBMS Drama students and Drama Director David Levy traveled to Sacramento to represent the Drama Teachers Association of Southern California (DTASC) at the annual Stand Up 4 Arts Advocacy Day. Mr. Levy said they started their two-day trip with acting and advocacy workshops. Students Harper Forbes, Camie Cho, and Sydney Pennino performed a scene in Capitol Park and engaged in discussions with legislators, emphasizing the significance of funding and supporting arts education in the state.

Mr. Levy worked with the students on writing essays and statements to present. Their visits included meetings with Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi and Senator Ben Allen. They also met Governor Gavin Newsom. They performed a drama scene for Senator Ben Allen and spoke with him about the need for more theatre education in middle school. Here’s a glimpse of their insights: 

  • Harper shared that "drama carves out a safe space in the day" for students and that "without it [she] wouldn't have met so many of her friends."

  • Sydney explained that drama helps with her anxiety and has made her more confident as a public speaker. She said, "I wouldn't be standing here and talking to you (the senator) like this before taking a theatre class."

  • Camie advocated for schools outside of MBUSD. "We are fortunate to have a strong drama program at MBMS," she said, "but schools all over the South Bay aren't as lucky, and they need to be supported."
Students on a Tour in the Capital
Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi and MBMS Students

Mr. Levy says, “The girls got a private tour of the Governor's offices. They were surprised to start their tour with a quick meeting with Governor Newsom before spending an hour meeting his entire staff! They looked at how state government works and spoke at length with legislative, legal, and public relations teams.”

Theatre advocacy efforts such as Stand Up 4 Arts are responsible for advancements in theatre and arts education, such as the newly-minted Dance and Theatre credentials and Prop 28 funding, which guarantees the expansion of arts education throughout primary and secondary schools. Levy shared that programs like this also give students practical experience advocating for what they care about and seek to teach them to use their voice constructively. Thank you to David Levy for sharing this story. 

MTSS Project-Based Learning for WIN Time

Student showing his work

Patti McCullum, the Multi-Tiered System of Supports Teacher on Special Assignment (MTSS TOSA), and Brittany Brashear, the Elementary Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA), teamed up to leverage their expertise and passion for innovative teaching by securing an MBEF teacher grant to use towards their goal of pioneering project-based learning (PBL) lessons spanning from Kindergarten through fifth-grade.

Students during WIN Time

In Renee Sokol's third-grade class at Meadows, students dove into a PBL project, "Ready for Anything," during “What I Need” time, also known as WIN time. This initiative empowered students to delve deeper into their studies, exploring the guiding question: "How can we keep our communities safe and prepared for natural hazards?"

They embarked on a research journey, tapping into diverse resources to inform their understanding. Their ultimate task was to craft comprehensive preparedness guides, a testament to their newfound knowledge and dedication to community safety. Through this collaborative effort, McCullum, Brashear, and Sokol provided a universally designed lesson to support students as they tackle real-world challenges.

Mira Costa’s Vocal Ensemble Performs at the Walt Disney Concert Hall

MCHS Vocal Ensemble at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Mira Costa’s Vocal Ensemble joined twenty-nine high schools from Los Angeles at the iconic Disney Concert Hall for the 35th LA Master Chorale High School Choir Festival! The event is a long-standing arts education program that connects communities through music in the heart of LA with an exciting show of a 1,000-voice choir!

The Los Angeles Master Chorale has proudly presented its annual High School Choir Festival since 1989, offering students a chance to deepen their exposure and understanding of the choral art through a year-long experience leading up to the celebratory Festival Day.

Congratulations to MCHS Junior Varsity Baseball!

Mira Costa's JV Baseball Team finished the season with a 22-7 record. Five of the seven losses were by one run. They clinched the Bay League title, beating Redondo Beach 3-1 on April 23.

Coach Brad Angeleri shared that the team went into each game confident and competitive making a truly successful season.

“The 2024 JV Baseball team was one of the best of my 22 seasons of coaching at Mira Costa. This team came together before each came for meditation and prayer built a strong brotherhood among the players. Each position was loaded with talent, and the players pushed each other competitively. The practices the team worked hard and had fun and it made it for a great atmosphere.”

Meet and Greet with Incoming Robinson Principal Katie Cavallaro

There was excitement in the air as staff and families spent Friday morning with newly appointed Robinson Elementary Principal Katie Cavallaro.

It was an opportunity for Ms. Cavallaro to meet the Robinson community and for families to get to know their future principal. Katie will start in this role on July 1.

She has been part of the administration team at MBMS for three years and is in her 15th year at MBUSD. Before joining MBMS, she was an elementary orchestra teacher at all five MBUSD elementary schools.

Community Provides Feedback on MBUSD Facilities Master Plan 

This week, we hosted a successful MBUSD Facilities Master Plan Community Workshop with our architectural firm, DLR Group. Community members learned about the completed modernization projects funded by Measure C and EE bonds, stemming from the 2015 Facilities Master Plan. This plan identified more than $300M in improvements and needs. 

Measure C and EE provided funding that supported about half of the needs identified in the original Master Plan. During this week’s gathering, school principals, guardians, and community members engaged with representatives from the DLR group to explore potential campus updates and provided input on their priorities for our schools. All of the feedback gathered will help create the blueprint for the 2024 Facilities Master Plan Update. 

In the upcoming November election, MBUSD has the opportunity to pass a new facilities bond worth $200M without increasing taxes. 

Watch Community Workshop Here 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

We join millions across the nation to raise awareness about mental health. As part of our commitment to educating the whole child and our efforts towards social-emotional learning, we know that mental health and wellness are important to the success of every student.

During May, we are partnering with Beach Cities Health District’s (BCHD) “Mental Health is Health” campaign to share resources and promote BCHD events throughout the month to our families. BCHD's focus this year is on taking action to combat loneliness and fostering meaningful connections to better mental health. 

At our upcoming May 15 Board meeting, the Board of Trustees will have the opportunity to approve a proclamation for May Mental Health Awareness Month by Beach Cities Health District.

Visit Here for MBUSD Health and Wellness Resources

BCHD Health and Wellness Bond Community Meetings


Beach Cities Health District will host three public meetings to inform and answer questions from the community ahead of a proposed Health and Wellness Bond in November 2024.

Join the conversations on May 15, May 16, and June 3 and share your questions and ideas on:

  • State of our Campus
  • Youth Mental Health Services
  • Open Space
  • Seismic Safety, Environmental and Sustainability Improvement

Click here to register for any of the meetings.

Read MB News Story: “Costa Swimming, Beach Volleyball Win Back-To-Back Championships”

Pictures by MB News

MBUSD School News Publication

Check out our second MBUSD School News Edition! We have a lot to celebrate and look forward to.

Upcoming Events!

MCHS Chamber Strings Concert | Friday, May 17

Click image to enlarge

UCLA Blood Drive at MCHS | Thursday, May 23

Click here to register

Join the MBEF Team!

The Manhattan Beach Education Foundation is seeking professionals dedicated to the MBEF Mission of enriching the educational opportunities for all students with supplemental funding. MBEF is hiring for the following positions: 

  • Communications Manager
  • Donor Relations Manager
  • Donor Relations Coordinator

In addition to the skills essential to each position, the ideal candidate adheres to high personal and professional standards, understands non-profit fundraising practices, and appreciates the collaborative effort required to achieve success with a small team. 

Please refer to the job opportunities on the MBEF website to learn more about the positions and how to apply. 

Join the MBUSD Team! 

We are hiring classified and certificated staff. We’re looking for individuals passionate about 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!

For all job opportunities, please visit here.

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The next Superintendent’s Newsletter will be published on May 17.


Dr. John Bowes
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
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