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MBUSD Announces New Leadership Appointments

Jun 01, 2017 10:17AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Dr. Katherine Whittaker Stopp, left, and Dr. Karina Gerger

Recent departures at the Manhattan Beach Unified School District have led to new appointments in the leadership ranks, as MBUSD this week announced a new assistant superintendent and a new principal of Pennekamp Elementary School.

Dr. Katherine Whittaker Stopp has been nominated to serve as the assistant superintendent of educational services for MBUSD. MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews will bring this recommendation to the Board of Trustees at the June 7, 2017 board meeting.

Stopp will be replacing Dr. Brett Geithman, who is moving to become the superintendent of the Larkspur-Corte Madera School District.

Stopp has served for 24 years in the Manhattan Beach Unified School District, as a teacher in grades K-5, as a science and visual and performing arts specialist, as a teacher on special assignment for writing and literacy, and as principal of Meadows Elementary School since 2014.

“We had a highly competitive field of applicants for this position from all over the nation," said Matthews. "I believe we have hired the absolute best applicant, and I love the fact that she is one of our own. Katherine has been nothing short of spectacular in every one of the positions in which she served. She loves the students, employees, and parents in each of these positions, and they love her right back. She knows curriculum backwards and forwards, and I know she will be a rock star in this critical position.”

Stopp said, “I wholly believe in the MBUSD vision and I am invested in the process, the people, and most importantly, the students. I am committed to this community and passionate about curriculum and instruction. To serve MBUSD in this new capacity is both humbling and exciting. I am appreciative of this privilege, and I’ll give everything I’ve got to support every site and everyone.”

Jennifer Cochran, president of the MBUSD Board of Trustees, added, “Dr. Whittaker Stopp has already played an instrumental part in curriculum innovation and professional development, and we are fortunate that she will be in a position to help drive both of those things at the district level.”

The District will immediately advertise the Meadows Elementary principal opening and anticipates completing the hiring process in mid to late June.

Meanwhile, Dr. Karina Gerger has been named to serve as principal of Pennekamp Elementary, with her nomination also coming to the school board on June 7. Gerger will be replacing Dr. Toni Brown, who is leaving to explore career opportunities in higher education.

Gerger joined MBUSD in 2004 and has served in several positions throughout the district including elementary teacher, English learner coordinator, a teacher on special assignment for 21st century teaching and learning, and a vice principal at Manhattan Beach MIddle School. For the last two years, she has been a vice principal at Mira Costa High School overseeing the counseling department. Prior to joining MBUSD, Dr. Gerger taught multiple elementary grades in Riverside, CA.

Matthews said, “Dr. Gerger brings to Pennekamp a wonderful variety of experiences in our district and a deep knowledge and passion for curriculum and instruction. She is known for her great rapport with students, staff, and families - and I couldn’t be happier about her taking on a leadership role at Pennekamp.”

“To be selected as the next Pennekamp Elementary principal is an amazing honor," said Gerger. "I am passionate about MBUSD and now extremely excited to be a devoted member of our Pennekamp family. I am so eager to begin this journey and look forward to getting to know and work with everyone at Pennekamp soon. Go Dragons!”

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