McKinley Elementary School is one of four schools that will provide free meals while schools are closed. (File photo)


On Tuesday, June 26 the Santa Monica – Malibu Unified School District Board of Education appointed Dr. Ashley Benjamin the new McKinley Elementary School Principal.

In a recent press release, Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati said, “Her strong commitment to providing access and opportunities to all students so they meet their full potential will serve McKinley families well.”

Benjamin replaces Susan Yakich, and begins her new duties on July 1.

As the principal of a school, Benjamin is held responsible for the academic success of all of McKinley’s students.

“I am thrilled to be joining the team at McKinley where diversity is valued, teachers care about the whole child, collaboration and teamwork are a norm, and a positive school community and student learning is a priority,” said Benjamin. “This is exactly the kind of school I want to be a part of.”

Before joining the McKinley family, Benjamin served as assistant principal at Franklin Elementary School for the past three years. There she oversaw testing, special education, emergency preparedness, scheduling, bullying prevention program, along with behavior and discipline.

“Here in SMMUSD, I find myself continuously inspired by those around me and feel privileged to be part of one of the top school districts in the country,” said Benjamin.

Benjamin received honorary service award from Franklin Elementary PTA and previously served as an at large director for the Associate of California School Administrators and was a member of the SMMUSD Local Control Accountability Plan consultation and advisory committee during the current school year. She was also recently appointed by the Board to be a member of the District Advisory Committee for Intercultural Equity and Excellence.

With a new principal the question rises, what plans does Benjamin have for McKinley?

“My goal in this first year is to get to know staff, students, and parents in order to build a foundation of trust, and to recognize strengths so that we can build upon them,” said Benjamin.

She also expresses her plan to work closely with the McKinley staff to work toward closing the achievement gap and to promote school traditions and activities as they are fundamentals of what makes McKinley great.

As Benjamin takes on her new position she understands the level of commitment and time that is now required of her. However, she plans on being a ‘Lead Learner’ in her spare time, by collaborating with staff to analyze data to identify students needs and improve instruction.

“Overall my goal is to foster a safe, positive climate that is conducive to collaboration, and where there is school pride and true join of learning,” said Benjamin.