Head of School
Our Head of School search has successfully concluded and we are elated to announce Heather Harrison as our next Head of School, effective immediately!
Starting in December 2019, the Search Committee, Advisory Committee, our search firm (Job Fit Matters), and an organizational consultant launched a thorough, extensive national search process which generated 40+ initial candidates. Our Search Committee and Advisory Committee were composed of current and former parents, school staff, current and past MCS Board members, and a current MCS grandparent. They met regularly and often throughout this process. After multiple rounds of interviews, the Search Committee presented the unanimously-supported recommendation to the Board that Heather was the ideal choice for the next MCS Head of School. The Board approved this recommendation with a unanimous vote. Throughout this past school year, she’s demonstrated grace, humility, excellent communication, and exemplary, prayerful leadership, all while maintaining a sharp focus on God and His direction for MCS. She’s led her team fearlessly and successfully, as evidenced by the 100% of our teachers’ intent-to-return rate for the 2020-21 school year.
Heather brings 19 years of distinguished experience in education to this role, including 10 years of teaching, and 9 years of administrative leadership experience. She has served as Middle School principal at MCS since 2013, and most recently has also served as Interim Head of School after obediently answering God’s calling to that role in August 2019. She has a deep love for MCS, and she has clearly demonstrated her strength as a godly, prayerful leader during this school year which has presented many significant challenges. Heather holds a Masters degree in Education from Vanguard University. She and her husband Josh have three children: two MCS alum daughters Buze and Marta, and one current student son Elijah in Kindergarten. Josh is the co-lead pastor at Canopy Church and Heather serves in ministry with him.
Our Board’s focus has been and remains selection of a godly leader, revision of Board governance/policies and investment in building a high-trust culture. These efforts are intended to develop a lasting working partnership between the Head of School, Board, administrative team and staff and to maximize school leadership longevity. We’re committed to continuing a godly and supportive relationship with Heather and her team, laying out clear expectations and providing guidance and resources as needed. Importantly, our approach remains steadfast in maintaining MCS’s mission to build a firm foundation through Christ-centered education. Accordingly, we’re confident that His school is on a solid path with a strong strategic plan that’s been formulated in partnership with school leadership and staff.
We are deeply grateful for the support, feedback, and prayers we’ve received from the community throughout this search. Thank you!
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10
We’re sincerely appreciative of the time and energy that our Search Committee and Advisory Committee members have put into this rigorous process: Mark Nowlin (Co-Chair), Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi (Co-Chair), Marc Aneed, Tim Bahadoor, Lewis Brewster, Bob Bernatz, Clifton Chang, Melinda Choi, Jennifer Crowell, Sharee Pfaff, Jim Harmon, Aaron Hudy, David Giunta, Keven Kroehler, Susan Morehouse, Chris Stratton, Eleanor Tang, and Mitch Vance.
MCS Mission Prevails through COVID-19 Pandemic
On March 12, MCS announced a proactive school closure in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. In the weeks leading up to this decision, teachers and students were being prepared and trained to transition our TK-8th grade students to a full-scale remote learning program, which put us in a strong position for the closure. Within 72 hours, our administration, teachers, and IT team successfully launched the plan. Rooted in our Core Values, our remote learning program allows all MCS students to continue progressing through the 2019-20 school year in spite of present circumstances, connecting our MCS Community in Spirit and purpose as we walk this unprecedented journey together.
The MCS Mission is now more important than ever. Whether remote or in person, our staff is “building a firm foundation through Christ-centered education” in the hearts and minds of students. We are harnessing the power of Next Generation technology to ensure that each child’s academic and spiritual growth continues uninterrupted during this season.
Parent Preparation Key for Remote Learning
Preparation of MCS parents was paramount to a successful transition to home learning. Through a dedicated webpage, we provided parents with a central place to locate all necessary resources, including Daily Schedules, Community Updates, Enrichment Class Board, and 14 Helpful Tips for Supporting Remote Learning. Our parents have expressed their gratitude for the level of prayerful, intentional care provided by our staff during this sudden shift to home learning.
Foundation of Next Generation Technology is Springboard
Because of our historically strong integration of technology within academic programming, the vast majority of our students were well-equipped to make the transition. Middle School in particular had a solid foundation of student-ownership in learning via Schoology and a 1:1 iPad program, allowing for the switch from on campus to off to transition more smoothly. We quickly integrated the Zoom video-conferencing platform to support our instructional needs in all grades, while elementary teachers walked students through the process with loads of patience and TLC.
Continuation of MCS Exemplary Academic Program
To-date, every student has been equipped with the necessary technology and resources to continue learning pathways in all subjects, including enrichment classes for Whole Child instruction. Our specialist teachers created a phenomenal Enrichment Learning Board with videos, lessons, and options for students to supplement their core curriculum each day.
Students have been provided with daily schedules that require them to login to a video conferencing platform for lectures, group discussions/activities, and more. Their daily school schedule is supported by teachers who are dedicated to building relationships with each student, including 1:1 facetime and small group instruction with students who need extra support. In fact, our Student Support Program, which provides vital academic support for many students, is in full swing with study sessions and individual check-ins scheduled throughout the school day.
Parent feedback to our Remote Learning Program has been tremendously positive! Social media comments, emails, and texts have poured in with supportive feedback on the homefront. Passionate about their students, our teachers have been burning the midnight oil to build a program that is engaging and comprehensive as well as fluid and responsive to the present quarantine.
Prioritizing Spiritual Enrichment
MCS teachers and administrators have gone above and beyond to partner with parents and ensure students are including time to pray, worship, and study God’s word.
Our Bible teachers are producing a video curriculum for TK – 5th grade, as well as teaching two interactive middle school Bible classes every week. In addition to studying God’s word in the classroom, teachers are continuing to start each class with prayer, and incorporating times of worship when possible.
Daily Devotionals are being offered to students and parents. Each day, a new morning devotional is posted so that families can begin their day with encouragement and teaching from God’s Word.
Maintaining Connection as an MCS Community
MCS will not be deterred in our efforts to build community during this challenging time. In addition to providing daily devotionals, we’re leveraging our social media to maintain a connected community. We recently launched MCS Community Challenges which encourage families to share short videos of themselves participating in challenges like sharing something they’re thankful for or showing off their best dance moves. To read up and join the challenge, click here.
Even our Parents in Prayer committee has embraced the remote concept, and they are continuing to meet online weekly, lifting up prayer needs within our school community as well as requests for our nation and our world.
Coming soon will be “Acts of Service,” an opportunity for MCS students to be the hands and feet of Jesus, salt and light, to the hurting community around us. Our staff will provide practical ways for them to serve and encourage their neighbors and the world, even while social distancing.
Without question, this has been the biggest global crisis of the Century — yet as a Christian community, in all communications, we encourage each other to continue looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith. We may not know what will happen next, but we know that HE knows, and we can find comfort and peace in that simple yet irrefutable fact.
Dear MCS Community,
The impact of last weekend’s tragedy is profound and the heartbreak, felt across the community, families, friends and schools, runs deep. God’s Word clearly tells us that we are to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), love each other deeply (1 Peter 4:8), devote ourselves to praying for each other, meet one another’s needs (Acts 2) and, if someone falls, we are to help them up (Ecclesiastes 4:10). We want to be a community of believers that actively lives out these callings. It is with this heart that we invite the entire MCS community to participate in Koinonia Color Day next Friday, February 7th.
The Greek word, koinonia, can be translated as community. However, it is more than a word. It is an intention to be in communion or fellowship with one another in a manner that jointly meets a need and unifies the body of Christ. Our Koinonia Color Day will reflect this unified heart to demonstrate love and prayerful support to families and schools directly impacted by loss. We are hopeful that the entire MCS community will participate in the following ways:
- Support with Color Dress: As a grade level, wear the colors of the schools in our community who have experienced the loss of students, parents, and staff. The entire school will assemble for a picture at 8:10am which will be sent with a loving message to our brothers and sisters at these schools.
- TK-1st: Red for St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
- 2nd – 3rd: Blue for Ensign Intermediate
- 4th – 5th: Gold/Yellow for Harbor Day School
- Middle School: Orange for Orange Coast College
- Support with Prayer: By far, this is the most important thing we can do! Following our school wide picture, all students will return to class and be led in a time of community prayer by their teachers. In addition, all parents are invited to attend Parents in Prayer starting at 8:30am in the ASP room to pray together. How beautiful it will be to have our entire community praying, at the same time, for our brothers and sisters.
- Support with Generosity: Students are encouraged to bring in a cash donation of their choosing on this day. Teachers will collect funds which will be donated by MCS to the MambaOnThree Fund created by Vanessa Bryant to honor and support loved ones of the seven other victims of the tragedy.
Let’s be a community that carries burdens, loves deeply, and prays faithfully. Let’s be a community that stands with the hurting, responds willingly to meet needs, and humbly lifts one another up. Let’s be koinonia! Please join us so that we, the entire MCS community, Reflect the Son to those who desperately need to experience God’s comfort and the nearness of Jesus.
Interim Head of School
Dear Middle School Parents,
We are looking forward to our Middle School Grandparents and Special Friends Day event on Tuesday, February 11th. If you are new to MCS, this is a wonderful opportunity for the grandparents, or an important person in your child’s life, to come to our campus for a snapshot of our middle school.
Our guests are invited to view the exhibits, shop at our student vendor booth, and enjoy light refreshments in the gym at 10:30 followed by a special program at 11:00 in our Argyros Center for Worship and Performing Arts. Following the program, students with guests in attendance will be released from class to join them for the pre-ordered lunch.
To preserve important instructional time, we respectfully request that students remain on campus for the entire day. In order to provide quality time together, we are offering an opportunity for our guests to stay on campus to eat lunch with their student. This lunch will be provided by TK Burgers and ordered by middle school parents for their student’s guests. It is offered on a pre-order basis.
- Grandparents and Special Friends have been instructed on the invitation to contact you (the parent) about purchasing and coordinating lunch. The TK-Burgers online order link (for parents) is as follows: http://marinerscs.org/tot-feb2020
- February 11th TK Burgers Lunch orders must be placed no later than 02/08. Late orders will not be accepted. Please note: TK Burgers orders will not be accepted for elementary students as this event is exclusively for our middle school students and their guests.
- Grandparents and Special Friends are asked to RSVP to the event at this link. This link will be included on the invitation you send to them but you may want to remind them.
The invitation can be printed so that you may hand-deliver or email it to the grandparents or special friends in your family who may want to join us. Click here to download the invitation. You may also pick up a copy in the MCS lobby. Be sure to pre-order the number of lunches needed for your child and guest(s) no later than 02/08.
The RSVP does not include the lunch order which is to be submitted by parents separately. If you have questions about the event, please contact Mrs. Celek, Community Connector, at email@example.com.
We look forward to this event and the opportunity to meet the important people in your child’s life.
Heather Harrison, Interim Head of School and Middle School Principal