Central Valley CMO is Closing the Achievement Gap, Placing Hispanic Students on Path to College

October 11, 2017

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This month is Hispanic Heritage Month, and to commemorate, CCSA is proud to recognize one of California's very own Latino charter school leaders who is helping to make our country, state, and public education system stronger for all, regardless of citizenship status. Paul Escala, Executive Director of Grimmway Schools (Grimmway) in the Central Valley's Kern County, is transforming the education of Kern County's rural community students.

Escala's passion helping rural Latino communities comes from his grandfather, who immigrated to America at the turn of the 20th century to come a farm worker and pursue the "American Dream." Inspired by his grandfather's bravery, hard work, and commitment to self-education, Escala developed a desire to help rural communities succeed, leading him to Grimmway Schools.

At Grimmway, which operates two high-performing college-prep K-8 public charter schools in the rural communities of Arvin and Shafter, Escala leads a dedicated team of professionals who work hard to help their students achieve academic success and college-readiness. Grimmway's student body is comprised of 90% Latino students, 50% English Language Learners (ELL) and 80% Free and Reduced Priced Meal Program enrollees. Additionally, in Kern County, Type 2 diabetes and obesity is prevalent as many families rely on cheap, fast food and lack well-balanced meals.

Recognizing the unique needs of their school community, Grimmway developed personalized learning programs to help their students improve their literacy, health, and wellness. The school utilizes a blended learning model that intentionally ties every subject back to literacy, as well as renowned ELL English language immersion program, Project GLAD. Additionally, Grimmway incorporate problem-based and experiential learning leveraging technology, an Edible School Yard, and a learning kitchen to bring education to life and teach kids the importance of healthy living.

Thanks to Escala and his team, Grimmway is achieving its mission to close the achievement gap of its students and set them up for success after high school. Of Grimmway kindergarten students, 92% are ending the year above grade level (65% of kindergarteners are ELL), and nearly 50% of students meet or exceed standards in English Language Arts. Additionally, upon entering high school, more than half of their 8th grade graduating class qualified for the Gifted and Talented Education Program (GATE) and exceeded students across the state and nation on the NEWA MAP assessment.

Grimmway plans to continue to develop more high-performing charter schools throughout the rural Central Valley, an area with immense opportunity for academic growth. As part of these growth plans, Escala has started to work with local high schools and junior colleges to create early college pathways for their students.

To learn more about Grimmway Schools, visit https://www.grimmwayschools.org/.