Principal Toni Klugh (Myko Lyric/ L.A. Sentinel)

Community Magnet Charter School (CMCS) is a National Blue Ribbon and California Distinguished elementary school located in Bel-Air, Los Angeles. Despite its predominantly White neighborhood, CMCS is a highly diverse magnet school that believes “every effort should be made to reflect the diversity of the city within our school population and all students should have equal access to the curriculum.” It is fitting that they now have a Black woman as the principal and her name is Toni Klugh.

Klugh’s mom was a teacher in Detroit who taught primary school special education students,and it was through her mother’s subtle influence that Klugh began to feel that she, too, should dive into being an instructor. She started as a district intern, substitute teacher, sixth grade teacher, and eventually worked her way up to assistant principal at two schools simultaneously.

Instead of being complacent in her already impressive career, Klugh’s eyes began looking towards being a principal. As fate would have it, a position opened at CMCS and she was accepted as their new principal, eager to begin this new chapter.

The visual values of community. (Myko Lyric/ L.A. Sentinel)

“I felt strong coming in. Everything was going great, and then there was COVID!” Klugh shared with the Sentinel. Her first year transformed into a remote position that was more operational over instructional. However, in comparison to many other schools within Los Angeles and LAUSD, CMCS was highly fortunate in its rather seamless adaptation to virtual learning.

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In the years since Klugh began, LAUSD distributed funds to further enhance programs that bridge the gap between the higher performance of Caucasian and Asian students versus the inconsistent performance of Black and Latinx students. The Black Student Achievement Plan allowed CMCS to collaborate with their Black families, focusing on a collaborative vision to enhance the Black student experience at CMCS.

CMCS developed a summer program with UCLA in 2020, invested in anti-bias and anti-racism training as well as cultural and linguistic relevance education, identified fictional books with black-centric stories, and implemented those books into the school’s overall curriculum.

The visual values of community. (Myko Lyric/ L.A. Sentinel)

Although Klugh acknowledges that there’s a lot of work to do, others acknowledge the work that has been done. Being appointed principal at a school whose values she aligns with was certainly an honor and that honor is a boomerang.

Klugh has greatly contributed to the school not only by being a strong and compassionate leader for all students, but also by intentionally serving and representing a population that, in multiple facets of daily life, often goes underserved and underrepresented.

Her favorite part of it all? “The students! Being able to talk with them…when they come into my office just to say hi…it just makes me so happy”.

The CMCS student gardening program. (Myko Lyric/ L.A. Sentinel)

She understands that school is a place where children spend the majority of their formative years, and it is her intention to continue “bringing home here. I think of a principal kind of as a tree, and all the branches are students, parents, teachers, faculty, staff, the community, the district.”

With Toni and CMCS’ alignment of values, it’s clear she’s committed to fostering an environment that upholds and strengthens the multidimensional meaning of community.