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Mira Costa High Principal Takes Top ACSA Honor

May 18, 2019 04:48PM ● By Liz Spear

Ben Dale, principal of Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach schools and staff continue to win awards and gain acknowledgment for their outstanding achievements and excellence.

Just this month, Mira Costa High School Principal Dr. Ben Dale was been named the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region XIV Secondary Principal of the Year for 2019. The distinction is awarded to a principal who demonstrates: 
  • strong support for the school management team
  • exceptional leadership in managing school programs
  • commitment to educational quality and student achievement
  • commitment to professional growth
  • creativity and innovation in dealing with issues and problems facing public education. 
“Being a principal of a 2,500-student school can be especially difficult in today’s climate," said Dr. Mike Matthews, district superintendent of the Manhattan Beach Unified School District. "During Dr. Dale’s nine years, he has dealt with bomb threats, online threats, tragic losses, student protests, and contractual disputes. These difficult events require different styles of leadership every time. Dr. Dale has been strong, compassionate, present, and has communicated effectively during all of these times," said Matthews, who recommended the school board hire Dale for the position in 2010.

"When he interviewed for the job, he made it clear that being principal of Mira Costa was his dream job. He wears green and gold almost every day, and will talk to anybody about why Costa is the greatest high school in the country. He lives and breathes Costa, and that permeates through everything he does as principal," noted Matthews.

Dale, a graduate of Texas A&M University, where he majored in Spanish, earned his teaching credential from Chapman University and his master's degree in education from Cal State Bakersfield. He earned his doctorate from Cal State Long Beach.

Before joining MBUSD, Dale served as assistant principal at Marina High School in Huntington Beach for three years and held the same position at Redondo Union High School from 2004 to 2007.

In a press release, MBUSD calls Dale "an advocate for constant improvement at Mira Costa High School," nothing that Mira Costa is one of the top performing high schools in the nation. "Dr. Dale has always sought to make Mira Costa even greater than it is. He is a strong proponent of student-centered teaching. He loves seeing students active and talking in the classroom."

Under his leadership, Mira Costa has seen "a dramatic increase of students engaged in science labs every day. When he started back in 2010, technology for teachers was substandard and there was little to no technology for students. Now, Mira Costa has an incredibly robust infrastructure for technology, teachers are equipped with high-quality technology, and students come to school ready to use technology with the Bring Your Own Device policy instigated by Dr. Dale." 

Under Dr. Dale’s tenure, Mira Costa has also gained funding for instrumental campus build outs and facilities. "He was an instrumental leader in making sure that the Measure BB project, passed in 2008, finished everything it promised and was on time," said the press release. "The result was a beautiful new 21st century Math and Science building, new Visual and Performing Arts facilities, completely renovated classrooms, and a spacious central quad that makes Mira Costa feel like a college campus.

"Dr. Dale was also an essential part of the Measure EE campaign to fund the new gym. The athletic program at Mira Costa has been recognized as one of the finest in the nation, and the new athletic complex will reflect the excellence and serve students and the Manhattan Beach community for decades to come. 

"Under Dr. Dale’s leadership, the campus has focused on improving the social and emotional health of students. He helped create and implement a new bell schedule incorporating Office Hours on Wednesdays, where students can meet with teachers, makeup tests, complete homework, or meet with student groups. Likewise, teachers have time to collaborate with each other. He also helped create a policy that limits the amount of AP classes a student can take in one semester, limiting students from pushing themselves in an unhealthy manner." 

Robyn St. Germain, who worked with Dr. Dale as co-president of Mira Costa’s PTSA from 2016-2018, lauded “Dr. Dale’s commitment, devotion, and passion he puts into everything he does to advance the well-being of our students. It’s something to see! His rapport with the student body is one of mutual respect. He is dedicated to each and every student’s ultimate success. His partnership and cooperation with the PTSA, through his role as principal, was unsurpassed. For that partnership, I will always be grateful.”

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