Tag Archives: Arvin

Does it take a village, or does it take a county? Thank you Kern County Board of Supervisors!

Arvin High Project Team

Rich McCrow, Gustavo Enrique, Jareth Regapala, Sonya Christian, Michael Turnipseed, David Teasdale, Alfonso Noyola

This morning I attended the County of Kern Board of Supervisors meeting to wait for a very special agenda item: the awarding of $400,000 to Arvin High School for a partnership with Bakersfield College that brings college courses to Arvin and helps students in the area achieve higher education completion sooner, and in fields of study relevant to immediate employability in key industries.

Bakersfield College has been focusing on improving educational attainment levels in rural Kern and the work in the Arvin/Lamont community has been critical.  With the funding from the County of Kern Board of Supervisors for the new 1+1+2=Game Changer program, Bakersfield College’s relationship with Arvin High School is expanding, and the opportunities for local students are increasing tremendously.

Much of what Bakersfield College does is guided by the Educational Master Plan, which directs the college to “explore new avenues” to educate the area’s socioeconomically disadvantaged population. Within the Educational Master Plan is the Rural Communities Initiative, which focuses on the rural communities inside Bakersfield College’s service area, and outlines specific strategies and tactics for reaching these communities with higher education information and access.

Richard McCrow, who came to Bakersfield College to oversee the operations at our campus in Delano, quickly became Bakersfield College’s lead administrator for all of our rural initiatives, designing programs and partnerships to take higher education into communities like Arvin, Lamont, Delano, Shafter, Wasco, and many more. The Rural Communities Initiative guides how Bakersfield College moves among communities where unemployment and poverty are often higher than statewide averages and educational attainment levels lower.

Rich has been expanding our offerings in the Arvin area. We already offer courses in the evenings at Arvin High School, and now the plan includes components focusing on dual enrollment and educational advising. Dual enrollment allows high school students to take courses that count simultaneously for high school and college credit, and these courses help students work toward their higher education goals.

I’m pleased that today, the County of Kern Board of Supervisors put their support behind the program by awarding Arvin High School $400,000 to make the partnership possible through more courses, a state-of-the-art interactive classroom, and technologically advanced equipment.

In brief, 1+1+2=Game Changer provides a program of study for incoming high school freshmen to take college courses at Arvin High School during the traditional school day. At the end of four years, these students will have completed their high school education and a full year of Bakersfield College classes, and will need just one more year at Bakersfield College to complete one of three educational pathways:

  • Transfer to California State University, Bakersfield for a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Supply Chain Logistics.
  • Completion of an Associate of Arts in Agriculture Business Management at Bakersfield College.
  • Application to the Bakersfield College Bachelor of Science in Industrial Automation degree program.

Bryon Schaefer

So many people made this program possible. I thank our partners, Kern High School District Superintendent Dr. Bryon Schaefer and Arvin High School Principal Carlos Sardo for their willingness to make differentiated educational opportunities possible. I thank the team that put together the proposal for their hard work: Rich McCrow, Delano Campus Director; Gustavo Enriquez, Student Success Program Manager at the Delano Campus; Veronica Lucas, Counselor at the Delano Campus; and Jareth Regpala, Counselor at Arvin High School. The 1+1+2=Game Changer program was supported among county administrative staff, including Assistant County Administrative Officer Teresa Hitchcock and Ricardo Del Hoyo from the office of Supervisor Leticia Perez.

The original momentum to making this happen came from Michael Turnipseed, CEO of Kern Taxpayers Association and Supervisor Leticia Perez, both not only committed to workforce development for the region but also able to take action quickly and decisively. I enjoyed the remarks made by Alfonso Noyola, City Manager for Arvin, as well as David Teasdale from Kern Community College District.

Amber Chiang

Amber Chiang

Things can happen rather fast here at Bakersfield College, and I’m glad we have a team working together who are willing to step in and take care of whatever may come up. That was the case yesterday when I received a phone call asking if BC could draft a press release. I called Amber Chiang, Bakersfield College’s public information officer, and gave her little more than three hours to talk to five different people and read a 25-page proposal in order to create a draft press release that could be distributed to news media as soon as the Board of Supervisors approved the funding. Of course, as she always does, Amber took the task on with flair and gusto, and produced a release that went out at 10:32 this morning. The release is posted on Amber’s page on the Bakersfield College website if you’d like to read it.

I look forward to telling you more about 1+1+2=Game Changer in coming blog posts. With this program, we are truly changing the game of education for current, and future, students in the Arvin and Lamont area of Kern County. We are BC!

Outreach and Arvin High School

IMG_1699I’ve made no secret of the fact that outreach is essential to Bakersfield College taking information on the importance of higher education into the various communities we serve. I know, as do others around Kern County, that many times, our residents don’t think college is an option – that going to work is their only path following high school.

After screening the movie First Generation last year, we came to understand exactly how important outreach is to making higher education an option for our community. Featuring a Bakersfield College student, the movie showed exactly what high school students go through as they plan the rest of their lives.

Our outreach team has been working hard in the community, at events and high schools, to take information about BC to potential students. I was able to accompany the team, led by Steve Watkin, to a visit to Arvin High School.

If you aren’t from the area, let me tell you a bit about Arvin. This is a small community southeast of Bakersfield. Primarily Hispanic, these residents support the agriculture industry in Kern County. It is a community with the area’s lowest college-going rate, lowest rate of college degrees, lowest unemployment, and lowest household income. We all know that education can change these factors – particularly the unemployment and household income – but when forced to choose between financially supporting the family and going to school, the immediate income benefit outweighs the future earnings potential education makes possible.

Steve and his team are doing a phenomenal job of systematically visiting the high schools in Bakersfield College’s service area. There are more than 30 high schools feeding to Bakersfield College, and Arvin High School supports the communities of Arvin and Lamont.

As I walked into the Library at Arvin High School, I was pleased to see about 100 students listening to one of our counselors, Alex, talk about options at Bakersfield College. Through our multiple measures efforts, a number of these students were already placed in appropriate coursework and has completed their educational plans! I can only imaging how much our student success and indicators will improve as we continue our outreach into high schools.

Steve talks so much about how important it is to bring opportunity into the high schools – to help students where they are comfortable so they can be successful transitioning to college work. I am so proud of the work we are doing to help students be college ready!

I also was able to talk to Cynthia Zamora, a senior at Arvin High School, who will be coming to BC in the fall. Let’s enjoy Cynthia.

Grimmway Academy Thrives in Arvin

barbara grim, the principal, jim young and a student

Barbara Grimm with the Principal of Grimmway Academy, a student, and Jim Young

Many of our BC students come to us from Arvin High School, so we are familiar with the city of Arvin and its population. In fact, we have a group of Arvin High students participating in our CalSOAP Student Success initiative. What you may not know is that, Arvin is home to one of Kern County’s newest and most forward-thinking elementary schools- Grimmway Academy.

Grimmway Academy is a “charter school” founded by Barbara Grimm-Marshall, co-owner of Grimmway Farms. The largest producer of carrots in the world, this company has called Kern County home for more than 30 years. Though her family’s business had supported education through various programs and activities since 1981, including starting a scholarship program in 1998, Barbara Grimm noted that the numbers of applicants to the company’s college scholarship was seemingly low. Through research, Grimmway discovered that many of these children were performing far below grade level in reading and math, as well as suffering from alarmingly high rates of Childhood Obesity and Diabetes. So, in 2010, Barbara Grimm-Marshall founded the Grimm Family Education Foundation to help raise expectations and outcomes for the students of Kern County. Wanting to make a positive impact on the education of these young children, the foundation sought to open its own charter school in Arvin, which had the county’s lowest rate of math and English proficiency in elementary school students.

Grimmway Academy has students in grades K-5th.  In January 2011, after overcoming numerous obstacles, Grimmway Academy opened its doors in August of that year with 280 K-3 students. Two years later, the school has added two grades and almost 160 students since. So, what makes this school so unique, what is the vision Barbara Grimm-Marshall fought so hard to unfold? To start, Grimmway Academy operates on a “block” schedule in which students cycle through four “blocks” a day of various subjects throughout the week taught by teachers who specialize in their fields, not unlike the way a typical high school schedule works. Grimmway Academy strives to build a solid relationship with students and their teachers by featuring an extended school day (from 8am to 3:30, with multiple enriching after school programs until 6), 20:1 student teacher ratio, and individualized student attention.

Grimmway Academy students

Grimmway Academy classroom

Grimmway’s curriculum combines creative classroom learning with state-of-the-art equipment.

In addition to its excellent teachers, Grimmway Academy has state of the art campus facilities privately funded by the Grimm Family Education Foundation. Along with brand new classrooms equipped with Smart Boards, the school features a full-sized soccer field (which holds after school soccer programs in partnership with CSUB Soccer). The school holds 25% of students’ instruction in its interactive learning lab. Filled with computers, shelves of books, and individual learning stations-it also has a gallery of college flags and banners lining its walls. One of the main goals of the school is to ensure every student who graduates is fully prepared to apply to college when the time comes, and it instills this in its students constantly.

Grimmway Academy Edible Schoolyard

Grimmway Academy’s curriculum features an Edible Schoolyard – teaching students the basics of agriculture.

Perhaps the most unique part of Grimmway Academy is its Edible Schoolyard. It is an organic garden and kitchen classroom located onsite, in which students learn about and develop a healthy relationship with the food they eat by growing, nurturing, harvesting and preparing food with their fellow classmates. This hands-on experience is like no other, and truly gives children a deeper sense of understanding of the natural world around them, and the “real life” process of how food makes it from the farm to their table. Additionally, the Grimmway Academy’s cafeteria (or the Cafe as they call it) chefs create meals that feature the same seasonal produce that the children engage with in the Edible Schoolyard, bringing the “curriculum” full circle.

Parents whose children attend Grimmway Academy are required as part of enrollment to volunteer in some capacity at the school. This is something that really solidifies the connection between school and home as part of the students’ overall community life. While some were initially turned off, many parents have come to enjoy the enhanced relationship with their students’ school life. This last year, 97% of parents completed the required hours, and 100% attended all parent conferences.

So, has it worked? The numbers seem to point to a resounding “Yes!”. Along with the parental involvement rates mentioned previously, in the 2012-13 school year student attendance was 97.5%. Additionally, the school’s Academic Performance Index (API, the score that California Department of Education uses to measure a school’s academic performance and growth) jumped from a 788 in 2011-12 to a whopping 839 the following year (39 points over the standard of 800 that California sets).

Congratulation Grimmway Academy!  Looking forward to having you enroll at BC while you are in high school and then later becoming a Renegade.