The SMMUSD Wave- Dec 2022
A Message from the Superintendent
Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff, Students and Community Members,
I write this last message to the SMMUSD community with both a heavy heart and optimism for SMMUSD. My heart is heavy because this is, in fact, my last official message to you as your proud superintendent as I will be joining the Bellflower Unified School District (BUSD) as their new superintendent starting January 1, 2023. My optimism is due to knowing that we are collectively in the middle of something great with respect to us transforming the District. We have been working together to reach greater heights in the pursuit of:
- adjusting the system to increase student engagement and to instill the love of learning for our students
- adjusting our assumptions as educators and community in order to make better decisions and adjusting programing that will lead to ensuring that all students have what they need academically and socio-emotionally
- accepting and incorporating multiple perspectives of lived experiences in curriculum that will lead to a more rich, relevant, and holistic education experiences.
All of the above will lead to the district reaching its mission of providing extraordinary education for all students while closing the gap in achievement with historically underserved and marginalized students.
I am proud to have played a role in the development and execution of the difficult, but courageous and necessary conversations, and the development of strategies and programs. I am mostly proud of the shift and increased awareness of what needs to be done to reach the District's mission.
I want to thank the SMMUSD Board of Education for entrusting in me the responsibility of serving as steward of the most important job in the United States, aside from parenting, and that is the education of the youth in America. This is so they can acquire the skills to live fruitful and productive lives for themselves and their loved ones, but also attain the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to function effectively in a pluralistic democratic society, and to interact, negotiate, and communicate with people from diverse groups to create a civic and moral community that works for the common good.
To the staff, thank you for taking on the profession of education. I realize in today’s time, many of you, along with other public-serving agencies such as nurses, doctors, police officers, and so on, have had to deal with anger and frustration directed at you for wanting to help communities during a very challenging time in the world’s history with the impact of COVID, social unrest and awareness, and challenges to American democracy. To this I say, continue to be the beacon of hope, encouragement, and example for our youth and the world to see your significance to the stability of America and the world.
To the students, it has been an absolute pleasure watching you grow, succeed, and go on to join the world as productive citizens. I hope you know that you are the focus, treasure, and pride of adults, and we would do almost anything to secure your future, even though our actions as adults may sometimes appear confusing or contrary. Continue to reach for the stars, and while I will be admiring you from a different location, I will definitely be rooting for you.
To the parents, I want to thank you for your support, engagement, volunteerism, and partnership. Please know that you are instrumental in shaping the success of the District. The partnership between the school district and parents is essential and needs to be coordinated in a way that will align interests, goals, priorities, and expected outcomes in order for the partnership to deliver the promise of making the system better for all students. Please continue to advocate for your child, while respecting that decisions are made with the greater population in mind and to remember that if ever disappointed about a decision that is not in alignment with the one personal need. The staff will continue to engage with you and provide access to information, so we can all work together to provide an excellent education for all students. If you want to be connected to what is happening at your sites, please participate at the respective principal chat, PTA, school site council, ELAC, BAPAAC, Puente, LGBTQ+ and other official parent group meetings. These parent affinity groups are there to provide opportunities for systematic and coordinated involvement by parents. Please check with your school site for information.
To community partners of SMMUSD including: Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Monica and Malibu, City of Santa Monica, City of Malibu, chambers of commerce and various community partners such as Rotary, Santa Monica Education Foundation, Santa Monica College, Saint Johns and UCLA Hospitals, SEIU Local 99, SMMCTA, Kiwanis, PAL, SMRR, CEPS, local law enforcement agencies and other groups, your involvement in and support of the school district are essential, and I thank you for keeping the children of Santa Monica and Malibu in the forefront of your thoughts and supportive actions.
Lastly, I want to say that these past six years have been an experience I will cherish forever. I hope I’ve made some lifelong friends. I have certainly learned a lot from you, and my family and I will be eternally grateful for your welcome and allowing me to be superintendent of SMMUSD. I will be rooting for all of you, and I will not be a stranger to the community.
With the deepest gratitude,
Ben Amuku Drati, Ed.D.
Vea este mensaje en español aquí.
You can read the latest "Superintendent's Message" here.
Welcome SMMUSD Interim Superintendent, Dr. Mark Kelly
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) Board of Education approved the appointment of Dr. Mark Kelly as interim superintendent at its Dec. 15, 2022 regular board meeting. Dr. Kelly has served as the assistant superintendent of human resources for SMMUSD since 2015, and has been with the district for 23 years.
Dr. Kelly’s new role begins Jan. 1, 2023, following the recent resignation of Dr. Ben Drati, who announced he will be joining the Bellflower Unified School District as superintendent in January. Dr. Drati served SMMUSD for six years.
Read more here.
Thank you, Craig Foster, for your 8 years of service on the Board of Education!
Craig Foster served SMMUSD as the only board member from Malibu for the past eight years. Board members, Dr. Drati and community leaders thanked him for his service and commitment to all students in SMMUSD, along with his leadership on Malibu unification with regard to the framework now in place. Foster's expertise in finance, data and analytics as a board member serving on the Financial Oversight Committee and his thoughtfulness and problem-solving skills supported forward progress of the board's goals and initiatives. Foster's diversity, equity and inclusion lens played a strong role in improving opportunities and success for students in Malibu and Santa Monica. We appreciate his dedication and service and wish him and his family well in their next adventure!
Samohi and Malibu High Students Participate in Los Angeles County Students Election Worker Program
Eighteen Santa Monica High School and Malibu High School students spent Election Day serving the community and getting a direct experience of democracy in action, through the Los Angeles County Student Election Worker Program.
You can read more about the program here.
Samohi Students Make a Splash with Plankton Science Experiment
There’s a big world waiting to be discovered. By exploring what’s in their backyard Santa Monica High School students learned the importance of ocean conservation and how math and science can be used outside of the classroom.
Learn more here.
Watch students explore our vast ocean below.
Santa Monica High School Students Make a Splash with Plankton Science Experiment
There's a big world waiting to be discovered. By exploring what's in their backyard Santa Monica High School students learned the importance of ocean conservation and how math and science can be used outside of the classroom. Learn more here: https://bit.ly/Samohiexplore2022.
Forty-six Samohi Orchestra Students Chosen for CODA Honors Orchestra
Santa Monica High School (Samohi) announced that 46 orchestra student musicians have been chosen, by audition, to participate in the highly selective California Orchestra Directors Association (CODA) honors orchestra program planned for December.
You can read more about this honor program here.
Students at John Adams Middle School Enjoy a Tasty Lesson in History
Delicioso! Students at John Adams Middle School (JAMS) learned about the rich world history of food and where popular ingredients used in today’s modern-day cuisines originated from.
Read more about students exploring history here.
Dr. Drati Visits Webster Elementary School
As the students of Webster Elementary continued their work on the Botswana School Project, SMMUSD's Superintendent, Dr. Ben Drati, spoke to them about his life and family in Uganda, answering questions about the similarities and differences between the two countries.
The SMMUSD Spotlight
Madelyn Schwartz, McKinley Elementary School TK Teacher
Meet Madelyn Schwartz, McKinley Elementary School's TK teacher that is passionate about her students growing up to be confident and capable individuals. From the creation of Cookies TKafe in 2021 to something as simple as playtime filled with making paper wings and clothing for toys, Schwartz is an excellent example of a great teacher who is making an impact on her students.
Read more about Schwartz here.
SMMUSD’s Bond Overview and History
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) continues to evolve. The school District was founded in 1875 when the City of Santa Monica was established. As the city and population grew so did the need to expand and build more schools.
Watch SMMUSD’s Chief of Operations Carey Upton discuss the rich history and overview of SMMUSD facility program. Learn how the District was impacted by baby boomers and how the era led to the Malibu expansion and so much more.
Gain knowledge and insight on how bond dollars are allocated and what the difference is between general fund dollars and general obligation bonds.
Find out how bond dollars have continued to contribute to the modernization of schools and what’s in store for future campuses at SMMUSD.
SMMUSD thanks voters for continued support of bond measures providing the continuous improvements to our schools to benefit all students for generations to come!
Learn about the history and overview of SMMUSD below:
Building Futures - McKinley Elementary School
SMMUSD is completing its extensive modernization projects at McKinley Elementary School and preparing to start new construction projects. From renovating classrooms with state-of-the-art technology to upgrading and modernizing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, changes in every corner of the school can be seen and experienced. SMMUSD is in the process of transforming McKinley into a progressive, cutting-edge campus for 21st-century learning.
Learn more about upcoming projects here.
A message from the Santa Monica Education Foundation
The end of 2022 is drawing near, and if you have not yet donated to the Ed Foundation, this is the perfect time to do it. Our new Corporate Hero, Veo, is matching all December gifts to the Ed Foundation up to $25,000.
A gift of ANY amount this holiday season will support ALL students in our Santa Monica public schools.
Please donate at www.smedfoundation.org/donate.
Your gift will help fund important social-emotional learning programs for students, as well as arts, STEM, and instructional aides.
Best wishes for a wonderful holiday break and a happy and healthy 2023!
Malibu fundraising supports a variety of programs at all four Malibu schools
The Shark Fund, Malibu Middle & High School
The Shark Fund is the primary fundraising organization for Malibu Middle and High Schools, providing funds raised for the PTSA, Athletic Booster Club and Arts Angels. Your donation helps to make Malibu secondary schools exceptional by supporting the efforts of these three organizations to infuse the community, sports and arts across our schools. Additionally, the Shark Fund directly supports the schools by supplementing staff and staffed programs not provided by the district.
The Shark Fund is seeking 100% participation from parents. We request an annual donation of $2,500 per student, but welcome any amount you are able to contribute. Parent donations help complement the funding we seek from local businesses, the city and community entities.
100% of your tax-deductible donation stays in Malibu to support Malibu Middle and High School.
The Shark Fund is a parent-run volunteer organization. If you have questions or would like to get involved, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make your year-end donation to The Shark Fund today.
Webster Elementary School PTA
Webster Elementary PTA supports Webster students by providing programming, staff, and educational supplies above and beyond what the district provides. In-class instructional aides, arts and technology programs, STEAM lab, educational software, classroom supplies, field trips, and enrichment events are fully funded by parent and community donations raised by the PTA.
Make your year-end donation to Webster PTA today!
Malibu Elementary School PTA
Malibu Elementary PTA supports MES students by providing programming, staff, staff and educational supplies above and beyond what the district provides. In-class instructional aides, marine science, art, teacher / classroom supplies, digital learning, activities and events and operations are funded by parent and community donations raised by the PTA.
Make your year-end donation to Malibu Elementary School PTA today!
Events & Important Dates
- December 19, 2022 - Schools / offices closed (Legal Holiday & Winter recess begins)
- January 3, 2023 - School resumes for elementary, no school for secondary students
- January 4, 2023 - Secondary returns to school
- January 16, 2023 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Schools and offices are closed