Manhattan Beach Unified School District

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Superintendent's Blog - January 10, 2014

Happy New Year to all!


The event that caught me most by surprise in our first week of 2014 was the “MBMS Night” offered by Manhattan Beach Middle School staff to incoming 5th grade parents.  This was a new event, and Principal John Jackson had no idea what kind of turnout to expect.  He thought it could be 100 parents and students choosing to attend, maybe 300 and 500 at the most.  What was the turnout?  We had over 700 parents attend the evening.  Wow!


Yes, it’s only January, but we know that parents are already thinking about their children’s transitions from 5th grade to 6th grade.  Principal Jackson has increased the ways that he helps students and parents with that transition over the last few years.  There are now regular parent tours, visits to the elementary school campuses, summer orientation sessions, and more.  This evening was another welcome addition helping that transition.  


The night brought all of our MBUSD school community together.  Mira Costa Principal Ben Dale spoke to parents about the transition from the perspective of a principal and a father.  Elementary principals were there as to support their students and parents.  Vice Principal Toni Brown introduced three poised 8th grade students who spoke to the group of 700.  I don’t think I ever did anything like that in my middle school years!  It was very impressive, honest and informative.


Attending parents and students then went to three different classrooms, where they heard more details from parents, teachers and students, followed by a time for questions and answers.  I heard from many parents that they absolutely loved the evening.  


To me, it was a defining moment for our middle school.  Yes, MBMS is an award-winning middle school with extraordinarily high test scores, but they take nothing for granted, and they want to make sure all incoming parents and students feel incredibly welcomed.  The way in which teachers lined up at the door like a receiving line to greet new parents and students was inviting, warm and impressive.  Involved parents were able to answer question from an experienced parent perspective.  And of course the student voices were strong and evident throughout the evening.  It is crystal clear that our students feel valued by many adults at MBMS.  


I am filled with gratitude for all of the students, parents and teachers who demonstrated that they are committed to building a safe community where students can learn in a variety of ways.  I believe that parents walked away from the evening feeling quite fortunate that their children will be a part of this incredible community in the 2014-15 school year.  I walked away feeling the same way, and feeling so proud of our MBUSD community’s commitment to excellence and improvement.


Mike Matthews

MBUSD Superintendent of Schools

mmatthews@mbusd.org