This California school puts health and wellness at the center of the learning environment
Bakersfield's Grimmway Schools uses hands-on teaching to cultivate successful students
This is part of an ongoing series highlighting innovative new schools recognized by the nonprofit NewSchools Venture Fund, which supports educators and social entrepreneurs who are transforming public education. See the full list of schools that are receiving investments from the nonprofit totaling nearly $4 million.
Bakersfield, Calif.—Located in California’s Heartland, just outside of Bakersfield in the rural communities of Arvin and Shafter, Grimmway Academies are K-8 charter public schools that are closing the achievement gap through its innovative blended learning model instruction. With a focus on literacy across all subjects, and a curriculum that includes practical and academic applications in the kitchen and garden classrooms, these academies provide students with broad-based, innovative tools to succeed.
Grimmway Academies are led by Grimmway Schools, a charter public school management organization. With a home office in Bakersfield, Grimmway Schools believes educational excellence is achieved when health and wellness are at the center of a child’s learning environment. To accomplish this, students learn through personalized instructional methods, using technology, hands-on instruction, and direct learning pedagogies. As a result, students succeed academically, emotionally, and physically, maximizing their potential to be prepared for the rigors of college, career, and life.
The Grimmway Schools model integrates an edible schoolyard program that includes a garden (a whole acre!) and a kitchen classroom where students learn to plant, grow, and prepare healthy recipes from their harvested crops. These healthy food choices are reinforced in the school’s café, where students receive breakfast, lunch, and a snack each day. These meals and snacks are prepared from scratch by the academy’s chef with the help of nutrition experts every day and often include vegetables from the schools garden.
The first Grimmway Academy opened in Arvin in 2011 and was awarded the honor of California Distinguished School in 2013. Ninety-two percent of Grimmway kindergarten students are ending the year above grade level (65 percent of Kindergarteners are English Language Learners), and nearly 50 percent of students meet or exceed standards in English Language Arts. In the Spring of 2017, the Arvin Academy promoted the first group of eighth-grade students into high school, with over 50 percent of the students performing at or above proficiency in both math and English, as well as exceeding the national average in math and reading scores (NWEA Spring 2016). The Arvin Academy is the model for Grimmway Schools’ newest campus, Grimmway Academy Shafter, which also works to replicate Arvin Academies’ success to continue providing the framework for future growth into other rural communities across the region and beyond.
A Wellness Evaluation conducted by the Grimm Family Education Foundation in 2017 found success in the implementation of the edible education curriculum. The survey examined health and wellness data collected over the past five years at Grimmway Academy Arvin. This survey showed an increase of 60 percent in students’ preferences as eighth graders towards all four of the surveyed items compared to their responses as fifth graders.
Through a process of continuous learning, evolution, and growth, Grimmway Academies offer an innovative school model to families, especially the historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged, offering new educational opportunities and creating an environment of achievement for all its students and communities.
For more information, visit www.grimmwayschools.org.