Grimmway Academy is a charter school that serves primarily low-income, first-generation students in Arvin, California. Grimmway’s founder, Barbara Grimm-Marshall, is co-owner of Grimmway Farms, the largest carrot manufacturer in the world and the largest employer in Kern County. As part of their effort to give back to the community, Grimmway Farms started a college scholarship program to pay for the education of the children of Grimmway Farms’ workers. Despite the 7,000 employees, the scholarship fund received only around 20 applications per year. Grimm-Marshall would come to learn that the large majority of children in the area lacked the knowledge and tools to succeed in school, write an application, and apply to college.
In the wake of her realization, Grimm-Marshall founded the Grimm Family Education Foundation and the Grimmway Academy Charter School, today an award-winning innovator in blended education. Grimmway Academy, which has previously been featured in Lance Izumi’s Pacific Research Institute publication Short-Circuited: The Challenges Facing the Online Learning Revolution in California, is a replicable charter success story. It is valuable for both its personal impact on the disadvantaged and largely Hispanic students it serves and for the lessons other schools can learn from the blended-learning model. As Izumi explained, schools implement blended learning to give a more personal, individualized education to each student so that teachers can use their teaching time more efficiently. Furthermore, the blended-learning model uses technology to lessen the cost of education, which allows Grimmway Academy to do more with less versus regular public schools that too often do less with more.
In addition, Grimmway Academy identified nutrition and lifestyle as a significant, unique barrier to the success of its rural students. According to the CDC, academic success is correlated with physical wellness. In order to tackle the issue of bad health habits, the school studied a program at Martin Luther King Middle School and has focused on creating an edible school yard (ESY) and nutrition education. As a charter school, Grimmway leveraged its operational flexibility to address critical health challenges–something regular public schools have neither the power nor the agency to do.
As a leader in the new wave of more interactive, innovative, and responsive styles of schooling, Grimmway Academy delivers stellar results: 83% of third graders and 88% of fourth graders performed at or above proficiency on the 2013 state math exam, significantly exceeding the scores of their counterparts at three nearby regular public schools. Grimmway teachers receive more than 260 hours of professional development each year, and access to mentoring and enrichment programs. At Grimmway, efficiency and effectiveness is enriched with a love and dedication to learning, fulfilling the common American dream of great education for everyone.
For more information about Grimmway Academy, visit www.grimmwayacademy.com.
For more information about PRI’s Center for Education, visit www.pacificresearch.org.
About #ChartersWork: The Pacific Research Institute’s Center for Education is showcasing success stories from charter schools and individual charter school students to promote the benefits of school choice. To view more stories, visit www.pacificresearch.org/education/.