Principal Ben Dale to Leave Mira Costa High SchoolMar 17, 2021 12:25PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Mira Costa High School Principal Ben Dale announced on Tuesday that he will be stepping down at the end of the school year.
"This morning I sent a letter to [MBUSD Superintendent] Dr. Matthews announcing this will be my final year as principal of Mira Costa High School," Dale wrote in a message to parents on Tuesday. "I end my 11-year tenure with a full heart and sincere gratitude for the time spent with students, staff, and the entire MBUSD community. Every day and every moment with students has been rewarding and memorable, and I look forward to finishing the year strong for kids."
Dale became principal of the 2,500-student school in 2010. Under his leadership, Mira Costa was named a California Distinguished School in 2011 and a Gold Ribbon School in 2015. Most recently, the school and district created a brand new $39 million athletics complex, replacing a gym that had been built in 1950.
'The Capstone' of a Career
Dale told DigMB that he had originally planned to leave last year, but when the pandemic hit, he decided to stay for one more year. "I told Mike [MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews] that I would feel awful leaving the school in the beginning of a pandemic when stability was so hard to come by, and wanted to offer any stability I could provide."
Following his departure from Costa, he is looking forward to taking the time to travel and visting his adult children (he has six children ranging in age from 10 to 29). Another goal is to do an educational video series on U.S. history with his 10-year-old son, live-streaming as they travel around the country and visit historic spots.
He said he is also hearing from people who are surprised that he is not moving on to a different job. "I don’t know think there are any second acts after being principal of Costa. It’s really the capstone of your career," he said. "Part of being the principal here so long is you don't have time to do anything but this. I don’t regret that - it’s been wonderful and fulfilling. I’m leaving with a full heart and nothing but gratitude, nothing but good things to say, and good memories."
Dale 'Bleeds Green and Gold'
MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews was quick to praise Dale for his work.
“Ben has been a thoughtful, enthusiastic, and effective leader of the Mira Costa Mustang family, and he has been a tremendous asset to all of us here at MBUSD," Matthews told DigMB on Tuesday. "I don’t think people realize the immense challenges of being principal of a large high school, with 2,500 students and over 200 employees. He has done an incredible job. I know Dr. Dale is making the best decision for himself and his family, and I am full of gratitude for all of his efforts over these last 11 years.”
News of his departure drew reaction from parents as well.
"Dr. Dale bleeds green and gold," said Andrea Hynes, co-president of the Mira Costa PTSA. "He keeps Costa students at the heart of every decision. Especially during this past year of tremendous challenge and change, nobody has fought harder or supported our students more enthusiastically. That relentless drive to continuously improve the Mustang experience has cultivated a solid foundation that will support the many exciting changes to come."
What Will Happen with Truckstop?
Dale graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Spanish and a focus on 19th and 20th century Latin American literature. After receiving a master's degree in Educational Administration, he became a vice principal at Littlerock High School; then assistant principal at both Redondo Union and Marina High School. He received his doctorate at Long Beach State in 2012.
He is known almost as much for his outside passions as for his leadership of the high school. He is the guitarist and lead singer in a country music band called Truckstop, which has played on the Mira Costa campus for the "Costachella" music festival. He is also an enthusiast of music from a variety of genres (see his music "best of" lists here) and a West Wing trivia expert.
For some reason, Dale said, everyone wants to know what will happen with Truckstop now that he will be on the move. He said that didn't have great expectations for the band, given that band members now live all over the country. "That’s always been just a fun distraction for me," he said. "I’ve never taken myself too seriously."