Expanded learning … and achievement

Sports, robotics, agriculture, computer science, fitness, nutrition and more – that’s what Visalia Unified School District students enjoy after school each day. VUSD provides programs to the middle schools, while partner ProYouth delivers programs for the elementary and high schools.

These after-school programs extend what teachers can do during the normal school day.

The result is improved school attendance and better behavior. Students learn communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and civic-mindedness so that they can achieve academically.

Opening doors and dreams

All it took for Jose Guerrero was a presentation in middle school on the new Engineering and Architecture Academy. He knew that this was “exactly what I wanted.”

Jose, now a junior at Redwood High School, says the academy opened the door to a paid summer internship with Mangini Associates Inc., an architectural firm. “I like taking on a challenge, and every moment, there is something new to learn,” Jose says. “I am very grateful for what the academy is doing for me.”

Investing in success

All Visalia kindergartners now benefit from a full day of instruction as part of VUSD’s focus on creating bright futures. Studies have shown that full-day kindergarten academically enriches and benefits children and reduces differences in academic readiness. The extended day for more than 2,500 Visalia kindergartners gives teachers additional time for English language arts, math, technology and more.

This investment in staff and facilities is an investment in our students’ future success.

‘I get to help change lives’

Over the past 30 years, teacher and principal Cheri LaVerne has seen dramatic changes in education, including the enhanced role that a principal can play in a child’s success.

“It’s so important that we build relationships with kids. I encourage, but hold them accountable for their choices, and give unconditional love. They need to know we care.

“As a principal, I get to hear them say ‘Thank you for listening to me’ and I know I made a difference to that child. I help prepare students for an awesome future with all kinds of possibilities. I get to help change lives.”

‘Hey, I know this stuff!’

“I had amazing teachers at Redwood,” says Jenna Miller, a senior in the kinesiology program at the Smittcamp Family Honors College at Fresno State University. “I remember thinking, ‘Hey, I know this stuff!’ during my chemistry and stats classes, and I realized that I was very well prepared. Extracurricular activities like band and tennis helped me learn about myself. They taught me about leadership and how to handle myself with groups of people … real-life situations.”

‘I wanted something more … I wanted an education’

Pam Heath married young and became a stay-at-home mom. Many years later, she found herself and her son in a domestic violence shelter and she was in need of a job.

“I needed a GED so I could support myself and my son, so I went to Visalia Adult School. It was scary for me to be back in school, but everyone was so encouraging. They made me realize I can do this – I can achieve my goals.”

Visalia Adult School offers a traditional diploma and a general education diploma (GED), along with welding, nurse assistant training/CNA, basic math, basic language arts and more.

Today, Pam is majoring in business management at College of the Sequoias and plans to transfer to Fresno State University.

A measure of success

Measure E, passed by Visalia Unified School District voters in 2012, made possible the construction of Ridgeview Middle School and the two-story academic building at Redwood High School.

These were the two most significant new construction projects funded by support of Measure E, but the bond also made possible a range of upgrades and improvements to schools throughout the district.

Today, Visalia’s schools have more accessible playgrounds, new instructional technology, enhanced security, remodeled offices, upgraded landscaping and more. Golden West High School has a remodeled music building, and solar panels throughout the district are saving more than $1 million in energy costs each year.

By all measures, E was a success. Visalia’s students and teachers thank you for investing in the community!

Measure E: Still at work

A key piece of Measure E is matching funds from the state of California. VUSD is at the front of the line to receive these funds once they are released by the state, and much work has gone into ensuring that the district is ready to quickly put the funds to work.

Projects to be funded include a nearly $19 million investment in Golden West High School to replace aging heating and air-conditioning systems, updated restrooms, instructional monitors, new flooring and more.

Several elementary schools will see improved accessibility, new instructional technology, classroom furniture, flooring and paint. Redwood High School will receive much-needed improvements to science labs and replacement of aging heating and air-conditioning systems.