New principal appointed at Point Dume Elementary

The Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education appointed Rebecca Johnson as the next principal of Point Dume Marine Science School. Johnson is a teacher at Grant Elementary School in Santa Monica and has taught for 15 years. Johnson is replacing the school’s current principal, Chi Kim (pictured), who is stepping down Aug. 31 to take a job with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Kim came to the school in 2002 after three years as a principal at an elementary school in the Bay area. PDMSS was named a California Distinguished School in 2010. She was recruited by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as an education program officer.

”Honestly, I wouldn’t ever have left [Point Dume],” Kim said Wednesday. But she said she could not pass up the chance to work for the Gates Foundation.

”It’s sort of a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Kim said. “They really are trying to change the world and make it a better place.”

Another highlight of Kim’s tenure is the “Teaching Garden” program, which engages students in hands-on experience with organic gardening. PDMSS students have traveled to other schools to help build organic gardens. Kim cofounded the program, which has been adopted nationally by the American Heart Association, with Malibu resident and child nutrition activist Kelly Meyer.

In 2009, PDMSS added 33 solar panels at the school with the help of private donations, becoming the first public elementary school in Southern California to add to the local power grid.

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Kim is moving to Seattle, WA to begin her new job Sept. 6.

”I’m so excited. You know it’s amazing,” Kim said. “It’s such an honor to be approached by the Gates Foundation.”

Kim began her teaching career in Inglewood after receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees at UCLA. She spent seven years as a classroom teacher, then spent two years as an assistant principal. From there she spent three years as principal of an elementary school in Tiburon, Calif., in the Bay area, before coming to PDMSS in 2002.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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