Summer Programs in Kern Co., California

Recently returned from a 2-week tour through Migrant Education Summer Programs located at schools around Kern County, CA. And I mean AROUND this huge county. Stops included far-flung school districts in small agricultural towns as well as the outskirts of Bakersfield itself. Wasco, Taft, Tehachapi, Rosamond, Buttonwillow, McFarland, Shafter, the list goes on. 14 schools over 10 busy weekdays. Usually beneath a blinding sun amid temperatures just above or below 100 degrees. Gotta love these kids that come to class, ready to soak up stories and lessons, while their parents labor from the early hours, harvesting the fruits and vegetables we all eat.

One cool development I’ve seen, having participated as a touring guest speaker for these districts over the years, is that many Migrant students who participate in the summer programs now outperform the ESL students who don’t. The enrichment of summer school not only prevents academic “slide.” It pushes many Migrant students to achieve at or above grade level. Woo-hoo! Many of the students I worked with, on creative writing and English / Spanish cognates, will be joining the ranks of California’s college students in the coming years. I can feel it! And they’ll certainly have interesting personal essays to share when it comes time to apply.

Rise and shine at DiGiorgio School, in Kern Co., California, with Bear Mountain in background. With Migrant summer school students occupying one tucked-away classroom, their teacher Theresa Sawyer instructed me to “Call when you get to the basketball court—which doubles as the school parking lot. I’ll come out and get you, then we’ll get you set up.”

Rise and shine at DiGiorgio School, in Kern Co., California, with Bear Mountain in background. With Migrant summer school students occupying one tucked-away classroom, their teacher Theresa Sawyer instructed me to “Call when you get to the basketball court—which doubles as the school parking lot. I’ll come out and get you, then we’ll get you set up.”

Student homage to "Imagination Nation," "Uncle Snake" and "The Moon Was at a Fiesta" displayed for my stop at DiGiorgio Migrant Summer School (thanks to the able instruction of Theresa Sawyer and staff!)

Student homage to “Imagination Nation,” “Uncle Snake” and “The Moon Was at a
Fiesta” displayed for my stop at DiGiorgio Migrant Summer School (thanks to
the able instruction of Theresa Sawyer and staff!)

Close-up of the moon and star, clever comingling of the moon and sun looking at each other AND looking straight ahead.

Close-up of the moon and star, clever comingling of the moon and
sun looking at each other AND looking straight ahead.

Close-up of a rattle snake inspired by Uncle Snake (Tio Culebra in Spanish). Pastels on construction paper.

Close-up of a rattle snake inspired by Uncle Snake (Tio Culebra in
Spanish). Pastels on construction paper.

Yours truly with a handful of the student artists.

Yours truly with a handful of the student artists.

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