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The Manhattan Beach Education Foundation is a community driven fundraising organization, which supplements state funding for programs that inspire learning, enrich teaching, and promote innovation and academic excellence in the public schools of Manhattan Beach. We partner with MBUSD to ensure that we are meeting the priorities of district leadership, educators and parents to provide students with an excellent education from kindergarten through graduation.

MBEF introduced the In The Know podcast series in 2020 to provide information that is instrumental to the success of our Manhattan Beach schools and community.  Join host Ellen Padnos, MBEF Board member and parent, as she sits down with members of the community to address important information, concerns, and updates about the issues impacting our schools and students.

February 5, 2024 – At the Heart of Exceptional Education – Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment

At the center of high-quality education is the focus on student-centered learning – meeting the needs of students where they are in the learning process and cultivating an environment where that process continues to grow. MBUSD’s Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Dr. Jonathan Erickson, is charged with ensuring that this focus is at the forefront of learning in our District. As his title suggests, Dr. Erickson’s goal is to align the knowledge, skills, and abilities we expect students to acquire or master with the instructional activities and strategies in the classroom, and then assess the ultimate acquisition of that same knowledge, skills, and abilities.

November 14, 2023 - The College and Career Center - the Hub for Navigating the Future for Every Costa Student

All Mira Costa families have access to critical help in navigating the college admissions process and other post-graduation pathways through the College and Career Center (CCC) at Mira Costa High School. The CCC supports students with defining options, admissions testing, funding workshops, essay development, and over 100 visits from the admissions offices of over 100 colleges and universities worldwide. Through support of MBEF, the CCC is open to all Costa families Monday – Friday from 8am to 4pm, with extended hours to 7pm on Mondays and Tuesdays. Get to know the CCC Counselors and the wealth of knowledge they share in this next episode.

October 11, 2023 - Perspectives on MBEF

What does the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation mean to our community, our educators, and most importantly, our students? Host Ellen Padnos takes a trip to our neighborhood schools to talk with teachers and students around the district to learn more.

May 5, 2023 - MBEF's 40th Anniversary - 1983 to 2023

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation – it also marks a total of $100 million of directed funding to enrich our public schools with programs that elevate the education of all students. Past Presidents Bob Weiner, along with his wife Elaine, and Carolyn Leserman share the history of the foundation from their perspectives and independently bring light to the start of the remarkable effort that continues today. This look at where we came from truly illustrates the importance of MBEF in our schools still today. MBEF has not only brought incredible opportunities to students, but it has also help build this unique community where members have learned that we are stronger together.

March 20, 2023 - Get In The Know on Adversity with MBUSD Counseling Intern Steve Walker

Learning to face adversity and transform a challenge into motivation is a lesson that benefits us at any age. In this episode, host Ellen Padnos sits down with MBUSD Counseling Intern, Steve Walker, to hear his personal journey and the inspirational story he shared with MBMS students during the districtwide Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Week. Steve opens up about how his own blindness has taught him several critical lessons that everyone can benefit from to maintain a healthy perspective on life.

March 6, 2023 - Get In The Know on College Admissions Testing with Adam Ingersoll of Compass

The college admissions process can be daunting – especially with the ever-changing landscape of admissions testing. In this episode, host Ellen Padnos learns how students and their families can best navigate college admissions testing from expert Adam Ingersoll, co-founder of the internationally recognized Compass Education Group.

February 6, 2023 - Districtwide STEM TOSA Tanya Sanchez

In this episode, host Ellen Padnos talks with Teacher on Special Assignment Tanya Sanchez about her role in supporting MBUSD science teachers in NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) instruction, facilitating communication and collaboration, and inspiring a deliberate look at a student’s learning path in STEM.

December 12, 2022 - MBMS Instrumental Music with Denise Haslop

Host Ellen Padnos takes a deep dive into the MBUSD music program in a three-part series focused on the band, orchestra and choir during the festive holiday season. In this first episode, she sits down with Denise Haslop, MBMS band and orchestra instructor, and several current music students to learn more about how the instrumental music program provides middle school students with a sense of belonging, responsibility, and incredible joy.

November 14, 2022 - South Bay Community Coalition Against Hate

In this episode, In the Know host Ellen Padnos talks with Councilmember Stern and MBEF Executive Director Hilary Mahan to learn more about local efforts of the South Bay Community Coalition Against Hate to support more inclusive communities in the South Bay.

The recent rise in hate crimes and incidents that pose a threat to the safety and civility of South Bay neighborhoods and beyond has inspired our local community to create an open dialogue around the dangers of hate and the need for respect and civil discourse among all residents. The Manhattan Beach City Council and the Manhattan Beach Unified School District have taken steps to combat hate, including adopting the Inclusion Stand Up Commitment in 2017 and a joint Resolution Condemning Antisemitism last month.

Most recently, under the leadership of Councilmember Stern, many local community organizations have joined forces as the South Bay Community Coalition Against Hate to decrease the incidents of hate and foster a sense of belonging through programs that educate, raise awareness, and support the apprehension of perpetrators. Members include Coalition Chair Councilmember Stern, the City of Manhattan Beach, the Manhattan Beach Unified School District, the Manhattan Beach Police Department, and many other local community and religious organizations.

Kicking off their efforts with the nationally-recognized United Against Hate Week, the Coalition has several plans in the works to combat hate in Manhattan Beach.

October 31, 2022 - Fentanyl and other Dangerous Drugs with Dr. Alice Kuo and Dr. Ian Kramer

In this episode, In the Know host Ellen Padnos sits down with Dr. Alice Kuo and Dr. Ian Kramer, both members of the MBUSD Medical Advisory Board, to learn more about fentanyl and how parents can help protect their children. Its prevalence as the next epidemic and major parental concern has hit us like a ton of bricks. A synthetic opioid, fentanyl is 40-50X more potent than heroin and 80-100X more potent than morphine. It can be found in many forms, including pills, powder, and blocks that can resemble sidewalk chalk or candy – rainbow fentanyl has been identified as a new trend. Dr. Alice Kuo and Dr. Ian Kramer share details on their experiences with children today and their impressions on the potential impact that fentanyl and other gateway drugs have on growth and mental well-being.

October 17, 2022 - The Role of the Elected School Board Trustee, Bill Fournell and Ellen Rosenberg

In this episode, In the Know host Ellen Padnos sits down with two former Trustees of the MBUSD School Board, Bill Fournell and Ellen Rosenberg, to discuss the importance of the elected board on the success of a school district. With a combined 20 years of experience, Bill and Ellen reflect on their experiences as Trustees of the Board and the parameters in which a school board operates within a district and the broader community. Plus, hear their unique perspectives on the qualifications of an ideal Trustee.

May 6, 2022 - Academic Excellence with MBUSD Superintendent of Educational Services, Dr. Irene Gonzalez-Castillo

Host Ellen Padnos sits down with the MBUSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, Dr. Irene Gonzalez-Castillo, to talk about the district focus on academic excellence. The Board of Trustees Board Goal #1 to maximize academic success is being addressed from a number of directions, including professional development for teachers, improved assessments to determine needs, and intervention to support all students at all learning levels. Ensuring all students have access to the programs and support they need for success is an important priority for Dr. Gonzalez-Castillo. Learn more about her perspective and work in this behind the scenes look at strengthening personalized learning on our schools.

February 11, 2022 - MB Citizens for Schools with Hilary Mahan, Michael Sinclair and Wysh Weinstein

In this episode, host Ellen Padnos sits down with three parent advocates – MBEF’s Hilary Mahan, Grand View’s Legislative Rep Michael Sinclair and DAC President Wysh Weinstein. Last month, a group of local residents, MB Citizens for Schools, mobilized to bring an initiative to the community to adequately fund our MBUSD schools. Despite its high property values, Manhattan Beach is the second-lowest funded unified school district in the state. This citizen-led measure would aim to bring local control and stability to school funding by creating a 12-year, $1,095 per year ($3-per-day) parcel tax.

December 10, 2021 - Student Wellness with School Psychologist Janet Allen

In this episode, host Ellen Padnos talks with Mira Costa High School Psychologist, Janet Allen, about her role in supporting the needs of our high school students. Ms. Allen has focused on the well being of students in the Manhattan Beach Unified School District over the past 20 years. Learn more about the process in place to support the emotional health of students, including how student needs are identified, the resources available, and how families and peers can support as well. Her approach is informed, thoughtful and practical for how to embrace the challenges before us and help guide our adolescents to become responsible for their own success and healthy contributors to society.

November 12, 2021 - How MBEF Serves Our Community with Executive Director Hilary Mahan

Ellen talks with MBEF Executive Director Hilary Mahan about the history of MBEF and its impact on Manhattan Beach public schools. Hilary explains why our high property taxes don’t fund schools as many think they do, how we compare to other high-performing districts, and her the vision for sustaining our high quality schools long into the future. Plus, learn more about how her own experiences have shaped her role in leading the charge to support and strengthen education in our schools.

October 28, 2021 - The Parent Compass with Cindy Clumeck Muchnick, M.A

Ellen talks with Cindy Muchnick about following your parenting compass when it comes to being our best selves as parents.  Cindy shares tips from her book, The Parent Compass, with co-author Jenn Curtis, and her own advice on how to navigate through this challenging time with renewed confidence.

October 7, 2021 - PTA’s – The Making of the School Communities

Each school has its own unique priorities and culture…and behind them all is the school PTA. This week Ellen sits down with two district PTA leaders, District Advisory Council President Wysh Weinstein and Grand View PTA President Jennifer Cram to better understand how the PTAs function. Learn why join the PTA is important, how teachers are involved, and where PTA funding goes. Plus, get a better understanding of what membership in the PTA means to you and your family.

October 1, 2021 - The Future of MBUSD with Dr. John Bowes, Superintendent

Today Ellen sits down with Dr. John Bowes, the new Superintendent of MBUSD for our first In the Know Podcast of the new school year. In the conversation, we learn about Dr. Bowes’ experience and interests, how he plans to guide the district, the challenges we are facing, and how the schools are dealing with Covid at this stage.

Dr. Bowes is asking the community four specific questions to understand how he can best serve the community and our schools:

  1. Tell me something MBUSD is doing great.
  2. What are we doing that could use a second look?
  3. What’s something you’d like to see us try?
  4. What headline do you want to see on the Beach Reporter (about the district) 5 years from now?

The answers from the community will guide and shape his priorities. Please share your answers with him at [email protected]

Dr. Bowes also references a Covid dashboard, here is that url:

May 24, 2021 - Re-opening of Mira Costa classrooms with Dr. Ben Dale

Costa High School Principal, Dr. Ben Dale, joins Dan Hellie to talk about the re-opening of Mira Costa classrooms in person. Now that the majority of students and teachers have returned in some capacity, the attitude is markedly different than just one month ago. Dr. Dale shares his insights on student sentiments, and how academics and athletics are impacting their well-being. Plus, learn what is in store for Dr. Dale as he faces retirement and what he hopes for in the next leader at Mira Costa.

Feb 28, 2021 - Overcoming Learning Loss on Our Schools with Dr. Katherine Whittaker Stopp

This week Dan is joined by MBUSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, Dr. Katherine Whittaker Stopp, to discuss learning loss in students due to the pandemic. There is widespread concern across the nation that student learning has been negatively impacted and students will have fallen dramatically behind, especially in disadvantaged areas where students experience additional challenges like inadequate technology or lack of parental support. Even in our own community where resources and support are more evident, there are bound to be some shortfalls. Learn about the MBUSD’s plans to mitigate loss and ensure our own MBUSD students are on track. Plus, hear about the positive outcomes of the past year on learning that may change things for the better.

Jan 25, 2021 - COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Other BCHD Community Support with Ali Steward

This week In the Know podcast host, Dan Hellie, is joined by Director of Youth Services at Beach Cities Health District (BCHD), Ali Steward. BCHD has been instrumental in supporting the health and wellness of MBUSD students through a variety of significant programs. Now BCHD is leading the effort to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to the South Bay, including teachers. Learn about the process and what’s in store for the coming months.

Dec 15, 2020 - The Effects of the Pandemic on the Social-Emotional Health of our Students with Leah Niehaus, LCSW

Dan sits down with Leah Niehaus, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, to discuss how the pandemic is impacting the social-emotional health of children. With twenty years in the field Leah brings an experienced perspective on anxiety and depression and how that affects our youth, especially now. Leah shares her wisdom and practical advice for supporting our children in this challenging time.

Dec 1, 2020 - COVID-19 and Children with Dr. Alice Kuo

This week Dan is joined by Dr. Alice Kuo, Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and of Health Policy and Management in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Learn about the impact of COVID-19 on our children the perspective of a medical expert, what the medical field has learned from the data of schools already opened, and future projections for school openings.

Nov 10, 2020 - Re-opening MBUSD elementary schools with Dr. Mike Matthews

In our first In the Know podcast, Dan Hellie sits down with Dr. Mike Matthews, Superintendent of Schools, to discuss the recent approval of waivers for the district’s five elementary schools. Learn about the plans for students returning to school in the hybrid format, what it took to get here, and what is in store for the future.