Boardof Education Appoints New Horace Mann Principal

The Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) announced the new principal of Horace Mann Elementary School at the Board of Education Meeting on June 18. The board approved the hiring of Ontrece Ellerbe, a Horace Mann alumna, in a unanimous 4-0 vote. Later at the meeting, the board reopened the discussion about classroom technology after the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced a cellphone ban for all of its schools.

Ellerbe comes to the position with extensive experience in elementary education as well as expertise she gained while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in psychology and later, her master’s degree in education. She has previously served as Executive Director of the Global Education Academy and as principal at Tibby K-8 School and George Washington Elementary School in Compton.


Ontrece Ellerbe

“Words cannot express how excited I am to be selected as the new principal of Horace Mann Elementary,” Ellerbe said in a statement released by Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy. “As a former student of Horace Mann, it will be an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to pour into a school that once gave so much to me. I look forward to getting to know all of the students, staff, and parents of this great community and to all of the amazing things that we will accomplish together.”

At the meeting, Bregy noted that Ellerbe was chosen out of a handful of eligible applicants in the final round of interviews. “Our finalist, Ms. Ellerbe, just rose to the top with some extraordinary experience and with some real hands-on work with student achievement and culture and PLCs (professional learning communities),” he said. “A lot of the work that she has a proven success record for—they’re things that we’re just beginning in our school district.”

Just before the meeting, LAUSD announced the approval of a ban on cellphone use in all schools in a 5-2 vote. BHUSD Board Member Judy Manouchehri brought this to the attention of her colleagues, drawing a comparison between cellphones and iPads. Manouchehri, who opposed the use of iPads in classrooms at previous meetings, suggested that iPads are essentially extra-large cellphones. At the meeting on May 21, the motion to purchase iPads for TK through eighth-grade classes passed in a 3-1 vote, with Manouchehri voting against it. But on June 18, Board President Amanda Stern was quick to defend iPads for 3D printing and hands-on learning in Maker Space classes. 

“Make no mistake, LAUSD is not necessarily jumping off of tech,” said Stern, explaining that LAUSD is implementing AI technology in their schools. As an avid advocate for technology usage in moderation, she also argued that a flat out ban of cellphones at BHUSD schools would be completely unnecessary. “We also don’t want to punish responsible, good students, who literally just want to use their phone so that they can say ‘Hey, where are you right now for lunch?’” she continued. The board plans to move forward with new iPads in classrooms but will monitor how they are being used so that they can assess whether they’re benefiting students throughout the next school year.

During the superintendent’s report, Bregy announced that BHUSD received a project achievement award in the category of education by the Construction Manager Association of America. Board Vice President Rachelle Marcus, Stern and Bregy were recognized at the awards gala on June 6. The superintendent also announced that he sent an application for former Board President and current Board Member Noah Margo to be honored with the California School Boards Association’s Golden Gavel Award, which recognizes an individual who exemplifies the “best practices in effective governance and boardsmanship.”

Margo later announced that Bregy will represent BHUSD on an educational trip to Israel with other school leaders from around Los Angeles County. During the trip, he will meet with educators in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem who represent different faiths and perspectives. “It’s really an opportunity to bring people together to look to see how education is being facilitated halfway around the world,” said Bregy, looking forward to the trip. 

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