Skip to main content


MBUSD Celebrates Principal, Teacher Honors

Sep 21, 2015 08:46PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

MBMS Principal John Jackson, left, and Mira Costa teacher Michael Hernandez, right.

The Manhattan Beach Unified School District celebrated top leadership awards this week, as a principal and a teacher received national and regional honors.

Manhattan Beach MIddle School principal John Jackson was honored in Washington D.C. as part of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) State Principals of the Year Institute. The gathering brings together all of the State Principals of the Year in the country for a series of professional development activities and meetings with their members of Congress.

Jackson was named California Principal of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators last year. He took the helm at Manhattan Beach Middle School in 2005. Since then, he has collaborated with district administrators, school staff and the parent community to develop a clear 21st century learning vision for the 1,400-student campus.

He ensured implementation of 1:1 iPads throughout the school; led a shift in writing instruction to a Writers Workshop model; created a STEM program with a focus on female students; and worked with teachers to build collaboration and leadership capacity, among many other transformative initiatives.

Manhattan Beach Middle School is now an Apple Distinguished Program school, and teachers throughout the state visit the campus to find out how technology can work effectively.

"John Jackson is one of finest school administrators I have ever known," MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews told DigMB. "First of all, he loves being around middle school students. That alone makes him amazing. But most of all, he is tireless in making every experience at MBMS a great experience for his students. MBMS students know that Mr. Jackson is doing everything he can to make their middle school experience spectacular. On top of that, he believes it is his responsibility to do everything he can to help his teachers focus on the critical task of giving high quality lesson plans and care for the students each and every day."

Matthews continued: "I’ve seen him get out his tool kit to fix the copy machine, fix LCD projectors, and so many other tasks that go unnoticed by many but make a big difference. And most of all, his sense of humor and his dedication to his students and staff all reflect a job that he loves dearly. I’m proud to be his colleague."

Meanwhile, Michael Hernandez, photojournalism teacher at Mira Costa High School and the MBUSD Teacher of the Year, was one of 16 teachers to be honored with the Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year award on Friday at a ceremony in Los Angeles. Each of the L.A. County Teachers of the Year received a $1000 check from the California Credit Union.

Hernandez is an award-winning cinema and broadcast journalism teacher who founded the Media Arts program at Mira Costa in 1999. He believes in empowering his students to become digital storytellers who create work that will affect change in society. He advises the nationally award-winning Mustang Morning News broadcast journalism program, and has taken students to Cambodia and Cuba to make documentaries.

"To understand what Michael Hernandez is all about, you need to go see a live production of the Mustang Morning News," said Matthews. "You will see students operating as a team putting on a live broadcast. They have prepared extensively for the broadcast, and all of their preparations come down to a live performance. And where is Mr. Hernandez?  He is letting students do what they have been taught to do: be professional, highly skilled, and be amazing."

Matthews noted that Hernandez is a nationally recognized digital media teacher, video journalism teacher, Google Educator, and Apple Distinguished Teacher. "He is relentless in his efforts to find the best ways to reach all students. He is an outstanding example of a 21st century teacher," said Matthews.

At Friday's ceremony, another outstanding teacher - MBUSD's Maggie Mabery, who was California's 2014 Teacher of the Year - gave a keynote address to the leading teachers.

Subscribe to DigMB Emails * Don't Miss a Thing, Sign Up Today!

* indicates required
Email Format