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.

Beautiful Bakersfield…Beautiful Bakersfield College

Mary Jo Pasek

Mary Jo Pasek and the Beautiful Bakersfield Award

Each year, our friends at the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce celebrate excellence in the community through the Beautiful Bakersfield awards. Nominees from across the community are accepted in various categories — all from their efforts to enhance and promote the quality of life in our community.

Two of Bakersfield College’s own were honored with Beautiful Bakersfield awards!

Humanitarian – Group Award

Mary Jo Pasek, Community Relations and Events Manager at Bakersfield College was among the happy recipients of the Humanitarian – Group award, which was presented to the Rotary Club of Bakersfield Breakfast. The group was recognized for work in three areas: Habitat roofing (35 roofs), SEAL Project to provide important positive influence to a group of forgotten kids and above all for the five years Breakfast Rotary has raised all of the money in the community to place wreaths on the Bakersfield National Cemetery as part of Wreaths Across America. Mary Jo founded this project five years ago, and with the help of Congressman McCarthy’s office in Bakersfield, was able to have our National Cemetery put on the register so her Rotary could handle this important event.

Jack BrighamHumanitarian – Individual Award

Bakersfield College’s retired history professor Jack Brigham was honored with the Humanitarian – Individual award. Jack has dedicated himself to developing students in governance and constitutional principles through the “We the People” program and has given $20,000 in scholarships to needy and deserving students. Jack also founded the Center for Kern Political Education (CKPE) which is housed within the Bakersfield College Foundation.  Ed Borgens, faculty member in the Political Science department is a member of the Board of Directors of the CKPE.

Congratulations to our amazing winners from Bakersfield College!

Chemistry Research – at Bakersfield College

OChem Letters April 2014Sometimes, community colleges get a bad rap. Naysayers don’t respect these hallowed halls for their educational offerings, and students aren’t lauded for their scholarly work.

Our students prove those naysayers wrong. Here’s one example.

Chemistry professor Dr. Kenward Vaughn challenges his students to write about their alcohol chemistry findings, and publishes the best of the bunch in the OChem Letters journal.

This year’s journal features the scholarly work of six Bakersfield College students, who each conducted experiments and studied their findings, before writing research journal-quality manuscripts.

If you have a moment, I encourage you to take a look. The things Bakersfield College students can do are simply amazing!


EMT Students Help Children at Jamison Center

Want to hear about the great things Allied Health students do in our community, and have your heart touched at the same time? See the note from Brent Burton, the training coordinator for Hall Ambulance and adjunct instructor in Bakersfield College’s Emergency Medical Technician program. Nine EMT students volunteered their time and money to help 24 children at the Jamison Center celebrate Easter. The Jamison Children’s Center is a 24-hour emergency shelter and protective custody facility, operated by the Human Services Department of Kern County. As the only emergency shelter in Kern County for abused, neglected, and exploited children, Jamison provides temporary housing for children taken into protective custody by law enforcement or social workers. The children at Jamison Center are from all backgrounds and walks of life.

Thank you to our students Chris Collier, Victor Jaquez, Mitch Royal, Natalie Roberts, Larra Collins, Victoria Saldana, Veronica Sanchez, and Ruth Alvarez, and especially to Brent Burton, for making this possible.

“We had two bounce houses for the kids to enjoy as well as coloring books, crayons, Easter Baskets for every kid, and a wonderful BBQ of hotdogs and hamburgers and all of the fixings that goes along with a BBQ and even music with our very own DJ for the festivities. This was all donated by our students in the EMT Program at Bakersfield College. We all had a great time and especially the kids. We had 24 kids age from 4 to 17 who were there enjoying the festivities all afternoon. All of the kids expressed their gratitude and excitement throughout the event. Some of the kids had said this was their best day ever. One of the staff members from the Jamison Center said that one of the kids who was there had never showed a happy expression or even smiled since she had arrived at the center and Saturday she was all smiles and enjoyment. Our students and I truly enjoyed the experience!!!

I look forward to many more events with the kids from the Jamison Center. Next one will be this summer during our next class of EMT students. I have a 4-hour block already set-aside from the City of Bakersfield McMurtrey Aquatic Center.”

Congratulations to BC’s 2014 Leadership Academy Participants

Proud leadership moment! Pictured with me and Anthony Culpepper, BC’s Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services (2nd from left) and Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, BC’s Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs (far right) are the six Bakersfield College employees in the graduating class of the 2013-14 Kern Community College District Leadership Academy.  The Academy is our district’s grow-your-own leadership development program for employees. The BC graduates of this year’s Academy are (l-r) Greg Cluff, Jason Mattheus, Craig Rouse, Lisa Kent, Richard Marquez and Laura Lorigo.


Bakersfield College’s 2014 Leadership Academy participants!


I received a letter commending our BC Leadership Academy graduates from Michele Bresso, KCCD Associate Vice Chancellor and former BC administrator and faculty member, who directs the leadership program.



Michele writes:

Six Bakersfield College employees are ready for the next step in their leadership journey after celebrating their completion of the annual Kern Community College District Leadership Academy last month. Richard, Lisa, Greg, Laura, Craig and Jason shined on behalf of BC with their commitment to learning about improved ways to serve our students. In the process, the BC team members grew their understanding of the California community college system and our district.

The BC Six joined colleagues from our sister colleges, Porterville College and Cerro Coso Community College, to participate in team projects addressing KCCD’s strategic plan goals. Talk about stepping up to the leadership plate! We are very proud of the BC contingent that worked on three different projects to support meeting student needs. One team gathered best practices from faculty and staff so that they could share great ideas with colleagues district wide. Another team addressed student needs by collecting gently worn professional clothing and then giving away the clothes to students to help them look their best in job interviews. A third team organized campus beautification days at each of our three colleges and involved employees and students in the work crews.

Strong leadership is essential to Kern Community College District. Bakersfield College can certainly be proud of the leaders in its faculty, classified and management ranks!


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