2016-17 SMMUSD Retirees


The Santa Monica – Malibu Unified School District takes pride in the many awards and high rankings they receive every year but officials credited much of the district’s success to the its staff, including many of this year’s retirees.

Officials said many of the results are because of the leaders in the classroom and within the district, who spend countless hours each day creating curriculums, maintain the school grounds, and inventing new ways to teach students within the community.

This year SMMUSD will be losing 31 remarkable employees, as they begin to embark on their retirement journey.

On June 1, the Annual Recognition of Retirees took place at the SMMUSD Board of Education meeting. The BOE honored all 31 SMMUSD retirees, almost the same amount as last years 33 retirees.

Board members along with the Superintendent Ben Drati shook hands with each individual, expressing their gratitude and appreciation for each employee’s dedication to the district.

“SMMUSD is fortunate to have highly qualified, dedicated teachers throughout our district and we appreciate the contribution of our 31 retirees to our district and students,” said Dr. Mark Kelly, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.

Dr. Kelly called each employee up to the middle of the room to be recognized by family, and friends. The room was filled with laughter, and cheers as many of the employees cheered loudly for their fellow colleagues.

“We are grateful for their service and commitment to ensuring that the needs of all students are met and provided opportunities to reach their full potential,” said Kelly.

SMMUSD Board of Education President said, “It is always nice to see the retirees. Although it is a bit sad, it is still a nice thing to see and hear what they did for the district.”

Dr. Kelly ended the ceremony and said, “We wish them all the best in retirement. They will be missed.”

As for the 31 jobs left, it often leads to the question of, Is SMMUSD hiring?

“Every year the District has openings for teachers as every year people retire or leave,” said SMMUSD Communications Officer, Gail Pinsker. “This year is no different as we are looking to hire.”

For more information you can visit http://www.smmusd.org/hrs/index.html.


Below is a list of the 2016-17 SMMUSD Retirees


Ellen Edeburn has worked in education for many years, however she has worked with SMMUSD for the past four years as Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Edeburn has focused on secondary curriculum that brought considerable opportunities and equity to all students.

Anne Sadeghpour has been with SMMUSD for six years as an Elementary Library Coordinator at Roosevelt, and is known to bring excitement to her animated story telling to the students. She plans to spend part of her retirement time in Nicaragua, where she and her husband built a house from scratch.

David Jones has been with the district for nine years as a Fine Arts teacher at Santa Monica High School, and has served as the Visual Arts Department Chair and the curator for the Roberts Art Gallery.

Jan Maez has been the Associate Superintendent, Business and Fiscal Services for 10 years. When it comes to bonds, construction projects or budget updates within the district she has been financial guru.

Wende Miyamoto has been a Senior Official Specialist at SMASH for 14 years.

Nora McElvain has been with the district as a school nurse for 17 years. She is a proud Army veteran and has not only contributed to SMMUSD but also the city. McElvain has helped facilitate the collaboration with Venice Family Clinic and has worked towards establishing Samohi’s Wellness Center. She plans to spend retirement in North Carolina close to her family.

Teri Sachs began as a substitute teacher who served as a school nurse for 17 years, mainly serving the Lincoln community.

Stanley Perchlak served 18 years with SMMUSD, ending his career as a skilled maintenance worker.

Lori Pollack taught at Grant Elementary for 18 years. Teaching 2nd grade, she spent countless hours creating and reinventing new lesson plans to help meet the needs of each student. She is known for teaching a rap to learn number facts or performing Readers Theatre.

Donna McCoy served the district for 19 years as a Community Liaison at multiple sites, ending at JAMS. She has been an advocate for all students especially to parents of African-American students.

Harlan Tarbell has taught Special Education at Olympic High School for his 19 years of service. He has always been committed to his students and has provided a career counseling program and job search assistance for all students. He plans to retire in a house in the desert near Joshua Tree.

Kelly Bates has taught Spanish at Samohi for 20 years. She was a former Foreign Language department chair and has sponsored student field trips to local hostels in preparation for international travel. Bates retired in November and is currently living in Healdsburg.

Irene Ramos has worn many hats within the district, from a teacher, Student Support Advisor, Assistant Principal at Lincoln and Malibu High, and Principal at John Adams and is a currently a PE teacher at Samohi.

Cynthia Johnson has worked at Cabrillo and has become one of the original founders of Pt Dume Marine Science School in 1996. She has taught kindergarten through 3rd grade in her 23 years with the district. She was one of SMMUSD’s first national Board Certified teachers.

Leyla Platz joined SMMUSD as a substitute in the Personnel Commission, but has almost all of her 23 years as the certified Human Resource Specialist.

Denise Hentschell has dedicated 25 years, spending 8 years at a Children’s Center Assistant to a Child Development teacher at Samohi Infant Toddler Center.

Lilia Marquez has been with the district for 25 years, currently as a Bilingual Community Liaison at McKinley. She has spent much of her time serving as a parent volunteer, Children’s Center Assistant and an Instructional Assistant during her years of service. Marquez leaves her mark as she has been a consistent support in the planning and execution of McKinley’s annual International Day Celebration.

Margo Dunn has served SMMUSD for 27 years. Dunn has taught at Malibu Park and Cabrillo before becoming another of the founding member of Point Dume Marine Science School. Dunn is responsible for getting the Marine Science concept off the ground and has ultimately provided 4th and 5th graders a way to learn about their local environment.

Gloria Lai began with the district in 1989 as a Cook at Samohi, and for 14 years she was the Production Kitchen Coordinator at Malibu High School. She has served 28 years in food services within SMMUSD.

Raquel Plasencia retires as a Kindergarten teacher at McKinley. Plasencia has dedicated 29 years serving SMMUSD, and has taught in the primary grades, including bilingual classes. Many of her 2nd grade students look forward to the annual whale unit, where she culminates a whale-watching trip.

Virginia Hyatt was hired in 1987 and became Director of Purchasing in 1990 serving SMMUSD for 30 years.

Jeanie McNamara taught Spanish at JAMS from 1979 to 1985 and then became a Curriculum Specialist in Ed Services until 1989. Returning in 1997 for a total of 30 years with the District.

Tony Murphy has taught Physical Science for nearly 30 years. Murphy has taught both middle and high school students at Malibu High and Samohi, and has coached football, wrestling, and track. His dedication went beyond as he was a Science Decathlon coach and sponsored the Black Student Union.

Mark Black taught Science at Samohi for all his 30 years with SMMUSD.

Gail Ybarra was hired in 1983 and has been an instructional assistant at Edison, an infant program classroom assistant at Marine Park, a preschool classroom assistant at McKinley and Lincoln Child Development Center and a Special Education classroom assistant at Cabrillo. Her last ten years has been at John Adams Child Development Center. Ybarra has dedicated 34 years to SMMUSD.

Michael Donovan was hired in 1980 as a CDS teacher and in 1996 he became a teacher at Grant Elementary teaching mostly 5th grade. He dedicated 37 years of service to SMMUSD.

Ken Doty, a custodian who worked on every site within the district. Working as Lead Custodian multiple times, he served SMMUSD for 38 years.

Edward Jacobs started in 1979 as a substitute teacher and then began teaching 2nd grade at Cabrillo in 1982. He moved to Edison to teach Bilingual, to Muir and since 1994 he has taught Humanities at JAMS. He leaves with 38 years under his belt.

Lorna Loopesko began as a substitute teacher in 1977 and was hired to teach at Will Rogers. Since 1987 she has been at JAMS as a Humanities teacher for a total of 40 years of service.

Janine Galvan started as a CDS teacher in 1976, and then dedicated much of her time as a Kindergarten teacher at McKinley. She retires with 41 years of service to SMMUSD.

Yolanda Marmolejo, hired in 1974 to teach at Will Rogers, and has taught a number of grades including second, third, combination classes, and bilingual classes. Marmolejo has taught multi generation of Roger students, and has been instrumental in planning and hosting the annual Cinco De Mayo Festival. She retires with 43 years of service to SMMUSD.