On Monday, Oct. 9, Oak Valley UESD, in Tulare, had a special visitor, State Senator Shannon Grove. Superintendent Heather Pilgrim reached out to the Senator and invited her to visit. The invitation was prompted by a suggestion from ACSA for all superintendents to reach out to their local legislators to encourage site visits in order to build partnerships, share the great things that are happening in our schools, and to discuss any challenges that districts might be facing.
The visit began with a warm welcome from Oak Valley’s student leadership class in which they presented the Senator with a bouquet of flowers. The Senator shook hands and gave a special Veteran coin to the ASB leaders. Senator Grove is the first woman Veteran elected to the California Legislature. She passed out the coins to other students throughout her visit, as well.
Senator Grove was intrigued by historical attendance and grading documents dating back to 1897 that were shared with her. Superintendent Pilgrim gave a brief history of four schools — Laurel, Walnut Grove, Enterprise, and Linder — that joined together in 1955 to create Oak Valley Union Elementary School. The Senator then presented Michelle Espinoza, principal, with Red Ribbon Week certificates for every Oak Valley student.
Superintendent Pilgrim gave the Senator a tour of various programs Oak Valley UESD has to offer their students. First of which was touring the Theater Arts class where 1st grade students were engaged in movement exercises. All K-8th grade students receive Theater Arts instruction through the year. This stop also included the ELOP TK/K after school program where students participate in a variety of camps.
Next, a visit to the History class where Senator Grove was able to watch the Raider News, a daily news broadcast that is produced by middle school ELD students and shared with the student body every day. Senator Grove was then taken by the Student Store which is operated by the Leadership students where they learn business skills. Then on to a visit of the Oak Valley Farm.
The middle school FFA students greeted Senator Grove and gave her a tour of the farm. The Ag class manages the farm and harvests various fruits and vegetables that are used in the cafeteria for their farm to table program. Students are proud to see their produce used in a variety of ways for breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria.
Senator Grove also got to meet the OV goats and chickens that live at the farm. The FFA officers explained that Oak Valley has an in-school 4-H program where every Oak Valley student is a 4-H member, along with having a middle school FFA chapter. The 4-H curriculum is taught to every K-8th grade student through the Ag department. Each year students show at the local fair — pigs, lambs, goats, dairy, rabbits and chickens.
The next destination was the Wellness room where students can visit during recess to find a peaceful place to hang out, calm their anxieties, or just rest in solitude. Students can also visit during class time with an adult if the need arises in order to meet the child’s socio-emotional needs.
The final destination was a visit to a 3rd and 4th grade class to highlight the innovative classroom furniture and equipment recently purchased to support a more rigorous curriculum. Senator Grove engaged in conversations with students and students presented their projects to her. This stop also included a walk through of the Intervention Resource Center where students receive tier 2 and tier 3 literacy and math intervention in a 1:1 and small group setting.
“Senator Grove’s visit was refreshing, with her … validation of all the hard work the Oak Valley staff puts in on a daily basis. The Board of Trustees and the administrative staff thanks Senator Grove for her visit. She is welcome back anytime,” said Superintendent Pilgrim.