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State of the Schools Breakfast


Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s (NMUSD) State of the Schools Breakfast, in partnership with the Newport-Mesa Schools Foundation (NMSF), returned October 11 after a two-year hiatus. The sold–out event, hosted at Newport Harbor High School (NHHS), attracted 250 attendees, including elected officials, local city representatives, parents, community leaders, district and school employees, and event sponsors. More than $30,000 was raised to support the foundation’s Grants to Teachers Program

NMUSD Board of Education President Michelle Barto opened the event with comments on the need to conquer the effects of the pandemic on education, briefly touching on the priorities set by the Board of Education, which were the focus of a series of featured videos. 

NHHS Principal Dr. Sean Boulton gave a history of the campus, which opened in 1930, making it the oldest of the district’s high schools. Both the NHHS Vocal Music and Jazz Ensemble performed for guests. A highlight of the event was when the student media team, TAR TV, hosted a spoof of the TV show “Chopped,” with two teams of students from the award-winning NHHS Culinary Program cooking dishes in front of attendees, as TAR TV filmed and livestreamed the competition to screens in the gymnasium. Ultimately, the judges — high school principals from Corona del MarEstancia and Costa Mesa — unanimously selected the yogurt parfait over the avocado toast. 

During the State of the Schools address, Superintendent Dr. Wesley Smith highlighted the importance of relationships and a unified commitment from district and community to provide the best education and resources for NMUSD’s more than 18,000 students. 

In a video feature, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education John Drake explained the importance of early literacy on improving academic achievement. Dr. Smith added that NMUSD has funded transitional kindergarten programs as part of an effort to continually improve the quality of instruction and programs.

Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Kerrie Torres, in a video address, spoke about a focus on eliciting and responding to student thinking, based on their specific areas of growth, which helps students better explain their thinking and reasoning. She also noted the expansion of science and math programs, a concentration on Career and Technical Education, along with an overview of NMUSD schools’ strong arts and athletic programs.

Focusing on whole-child support was Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services Dr. Sara Jocham, who, through a video presentation, described an unwavering focus to provide students with services, programs and support to help their overall social, emotional, behavioral and physical well-being. She noted the importance of creating welcoming, accepting and understanding environments; and supporting students' confidence, ability to make friends and connect with others, resulting in reduced stress and improved academic focus. 

Dr. Smith provided an overview of efforts toward the district priority to more meaningfully communicate and engage with constituents. Since Dr. Smith joined NMUSD a year ago this month, he has remained committed to being visible, present and listening. “We will continue to foster two-way dialogue and relationships that help build adaptive teams that overcome adaptive challenges,” he said.

Assistant Superintendent, Chief Business Official Jeff Trader talked about the effort that goes into managing, operating and maintaining intentional learning environments. Through his video presentation, Trader gave highlights of the many behind-the-scenes efforts that go into managing a school district that’s nearly the size of Disneyland.  

In closing, NHHS ASB President Maggie McWhertor stood before ASB students from all district high schools and shared the importance of everyone using their talents and skills to work together as a community. “One of the biggest goals for all of our high schools is for everyone to feel included and recognized, and it has been amazing to see all of our campuses come alive again since March 2020,” she said.

All event proceeds benefit the NMSF Grants to Teachers Program, which offers teachers an opportunity to obtain grants to further improve classroom learning environments. Previous grants have been awarded for items that promote healthy habits, sensory boxes to help develop cognitive skills and regulate emotions, outdoor equipment like tricycles to develop motor skills and encourage movement, interactive field trips to expand learning opportunities, equipment and supplies for vegetable and flower gardens, alternative seating to help quiet wiggly bodies, science kits, musical equipment, books, art supplies, and more.

Among the sponsors of this year’s event were CignaPinner ConstructionOrange County Supervisor Katrina FoleyKyoceraMartin Bros.Newport-Mesa Federation of TeachersKeenanMesa Water DistrictOrange Coast CollegeParker & Covert, LLP, Attorneys at LawSchools First Federal Credit UnionVanguard University; and Ware Disposal Inc.

About the Event

Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD), in partnership with the Newport Mesa Schools Foundation, hosts an annual State of the Schools Breakfast at the beginning of each school year.

In previous years, this event has welcomed more than 200 attendees from throughout the Newport-Mesa community, representing the schools, district staff, parent leaders, city council leaders, and business and local community members. The goal of the breakfast is to expand the District's outreach, connect with our local community, and continue to build partnerships and relationships that enhance educational opportunities for our students.  

Proceeds from the $33 donation (represents $1 per school) covers the cost of the breakfast and will also go toward the foundation's annual grants to teachers program, benefiting teachers and students throughout NMUSD. 

Student ambassadors from Newport-Mesa Unified School District high schools will be in attendance to assist with the breakfast and are dedicated to making the event a success!