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Cal State East Bay and Hayward Unified School District, partners in the Hayward Promise Neighborhood Initiative, have come together to launch the Farmers to Pioneers program — a pathway for first-generation Hayward High School students to begin college at Cal State East Bay.


According to organizers, the intention of Farmers to Pioneers is to help students and their parents develop the skills and motivation necessary for student success in higher education. The program promotes academic achievement in school course work, community leadership, family engagement and a “college-going culture.”


“Farmers to Pioneers is a natural extension of the work Cal State East Bay is doing with Hayward Promise Neighborhood, ensuring all students who want to go to college have the tools and resources needed to become successful in college, and transition to a rewarding career,” said Carolyn Nelson, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs for Cal State East Bay.


The name Farmers to Pioneers is a reference to the two schools' mascots — the Hayward High Farmers and the Cal State East Bay Pioneers. 


Through Farmers to Pioneers students will receive:

  • academic tutoring and study skills
  • mentoring
  • personal values and career assessments
  • job exploration and shadowing opportunities
  • college campus visits
  • financial aid information/application assistance and much more

A key component of Farmers to Pioneers is the inclusion of parents. Students receive weekly academic support and participate in various workshops once a month.


Simultaneously, their parents are enrolled in workshops designed to ensure they too are prepared to support their students in transitioning into college.


“By high school, parents are typically disengaged with their child’s academics,” said Hope Cranford, outreach and admissions coordinator for CSUEB’s Educational Opportunity Program. “High school is a crucial time for parents to be involved because their child is making academic, social and personal decisions that will impact the rest of their life.”

“Parent involvement is vital because it creates a strong foundation for parents to truly understand what is needed for their child to thrive in college,” added Janevette Cole, Hayward Promise Neighborhood community resident engagement specialist.


In its inaugural year, Farmers to Pioneers launched with 22 10th grade students from Hayward High School. The goal is to recruit 20 new first-generation, low-income and foster youth each academic year, who will participate in the program until high school graduation. Following graduation, each student will have the opportunity to automatically enroll in Cal State East Bay’s Educational Opportunity Program as a college freshman.



The students giggle, squirm and whisper to each other as their instructor gets ready to begin. It’s the start of a typical middle school class except for one thing: these 12-year-olds are taking a college course.


Being college-ready has a new meaning at middle schools in Hayward Unified, where some 7th- and 8th-graders stay after school to take introductory college courses from local community college instructors. While many districts in California give high school students the opportunity to earn college credit, Hayward may be the only district in California – and possibly in the nation – to offer college courses to middle school students after school.

Instructors at Hayward’s Chabot College teach classes at the middle schools ranging from Early Childhood Development to Engineering to Music.


Each of the five middle schools in the Bay Area school district offers one class per semester. Although the instructors adjust their teaching to be more appropriate for middle school students, the content is the same as courses offered at Chabot. The credits earned are transferable to community colleges and four-year universities.




Offering college classes for 12-year-olds might seem like another example of putting pressure on students at ever-younger ages, but the impetus for the program is quite different, Hayward administrators say.


Middle school occurs at a critical juncture for students, who face peer pressure as they try to form their own identity and envision their future. Hayward educates about 22,500 students, three-quarters of whom come from low-income families.

If they pass a college class and get credit, then “no one can tell them they’re not college material,” said Chien Wu-Fernandez, assistant superintendent of student and family services for Hayward Unified. “They have just proved that they are.”

Administrators in the district say that many of their students have no relatives or friends who have gone to college and are in danger of thinking or being told that college is not for them.



Seventh-grader Michelle Cruz talks with Chabot College instructor Nidia Sanchez-Rico after class.


If they pass a college class and get credit, then “no one can tell them they’re not college material,” said Chien Wu-Fernandez, assistant superintendent of student and family services for Hayward Unified. “They have just proved that they are.”




The district wanted to use after-school time to propel students ahead, rather than focusing only on remediation or support for classroom work, Wu-Fernandez said. “We thought, ‘What better way to promote college and career readiness?’”


Some students could possibly earn enough credits to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, she said, but the primary purpose of the program is exposure to college work.

In queries sent to public information officers from California’s community colleges and directors of the state’s after-school programs, no one offered any other examples of middle school students taking college classes. Officials with national advocacy groups for expanded learning programs, such as the Afterschool Alliance and Jobs for the Future, also said say they knew of no similar program.


David Farbman, senior researcher for the National Center on Time & Learning, an advocacy group for expanded learning programs, was surprised to learn that middle school students were tackling college courses during their after-school program.

“As long as they can handle it, it’s good to challenge them,” he said. “You don’t want to push kids too hard, but given the right support, they can achieve at high levels.”


Classes average 20 students, but music and theater classes can be as large as 35 students. Students must spend 18 hours in class per unit, and most classes are for three units. On days when the students are not in class, the after-school staff helps them develop good study habits and complete their work for the college class.

“It’s college with support,” Wu-Fernandez said. “They’re not doing it on their own.”


Roberto Mendez, who coordinates the program for Chabot, said the college chooses courses the middle school students can handle. “They’re not taking calculus or chemistry,” he said.



Joahan Nieto, front, and classmates, left clockwise, Daniela Pelayo, Oscar Angulo and Ernesto Contreras, all 7th-graders, are taking a college course on early childhood education at Ochoa Middle School in Hayward.


Likewise, Hayward school staff members select the students carefully to make sure they are ready for the class, Mendez said. “The assumption is that they are upper-level students who need to be challenged.”


Vanessa Cormier is manager of Middle College for Chabot, the program that typically offers college classes to students in high school. She counsels faculty who are interested in teaching courses at Hayward middle schools.


“I want to make sure they understand the audience they are teaching,” she said. Middle school students, Cormier said, have a more active style of learning, not just physically but mentally, too. They also do better working in groups, she said.


Besides learning the course content, the students are also learning the soft skills, Cormier said, such as persistence and self-regulation. Teaching those skills is not new for college faculty, she added. “The majority of our students don’t come out of their home ready to live on their own.”


But not all faculty are a good fit for the program, Cormier said. In one case, an art instructor who came to Ochoa Middle School did not handle the students well. The class was cancelled, and the instructor will no longer teach middle school students, she said.

So far, the Chabot College classes offered to Hayward middle school students, typically worth three units, include:

  • Anthropology 5: Cultures of the U.S. in Global Perspective
  • Business 12: Introduction
  • Early Childhood Development 56: Child Growth and Development
  • Engineering 10: Introduction (two units)
  • Entrepreneurship 3: Introduction
  • Entrepreneurship 5: Entrepreneurial Mindset
  • Humanities 68: World Mythology
  • Music 1: Introduction
  • Music 3: World Music
  • Sociology 1: Principles of Sociology
  • Theater Arts 1: Introduction to Acting



In an ongoing series of articles, EdSource will follow the Hayward Unified School District’s efforts to involve its community in its schools. The district wants to turn all of its schools into community schools – neighborhood hubs that offer expanded learning programs and wellness centers to meet students’ mental and physical needs.


The classes are funded by state and federal after-school program grants. The district pays Chabot $300 to $500 per student, depending on the course and cost of textbooks – about what it would cost the students to take the same class at the community college. The district charges students a $25 processing fee, but no students are turned away because their families can’t pay the fee.

Data from Chabot College show that for the first three semesters of the Hayward program – summer 2014, fall 2014 and spring 2015 – enrollment in the classes was 175, with some students taking more than one class. The students completed 72 percent of their classes with a grade of C or better.


These results demonstrate that Hayward students “will excel when given the opportunity,” said Superintendent Stanley Dobbs.

Wu-Fernandez said students who don’t pass a class are encouraged to try again the following year. Just taking the course helps them realize that college work is “much easier than they thought,” she said.


Students who took Early Childhood Development 56 this past fall semester at Ochoa Middle School said they signed up for the course to find out what college was like. Many of them are part of The Puente Project, a UC Berkeley program that focuses on helping educationally underrepresented high school students go to college. The Hayward program is a pilot to see if the project should expand to include middle school students.




One Million Fathers Asked to Lead

the Nation Back to School this Fall


600 Cities to Participate in the Largest, Organized

Back-to-School Effort in the United States


Media contact:  Sabrina Aranda

                          Cell (510) 999-4032   E-mail:  saranda@husd.us


WHAT: Million Father March provides an escort of safety, support, and encouragement to students of all ages on their first day of school

WHEN: Thursday, August 25, 2016 at 7:30 A.M. – 9:00 A.M.

WHERE: Longwood Elementary School, 850 Longwood Ave, Hayward, CA 94541





HAYWARD, CALIF. –The Hayward Unified School District will participate in the annual Million Father March 2016 an event organized by the Black Star Project on the first day of school in nearly 600 cities across America.  The Million Father March has become a special day that fathers and men use to make a commitment to their children, their families, their communities and their country with their dynamic presence at a school.  This is the real Father’s Day! The Hayward Unified School District encourages fathers and men to participate in the Million Father March 2016 and take their children or a child to school on the first day- August 25.


The Million Father March 2016 will play out at thousands of schools across American. An estimate 1 million men, women and children participated nationwide in 525 cities in 2014. This year, an estimate 1,000,000 men from 600 cities are expected to participate. The Million Father March provides an escort of safety, support, and encouragement to children of all ages on their first day of school.


Research shows that children whose fathers take an active role in their educational lives earn better grades, score higher on tests, enjoy school more and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college.  Additionally, children have fewer behavior problems when fathers listen to and talk with them regularly and are active in their lives.  A good father is part of a good parent team and is critical to creating a strong family structure.  Strong family structures produce children who are more academically proficient, socially developed, and self-assured.  Such children become adults who are valuable assets to their communities.  “Not only are our students excited, but fathers and males figures in their lives are excited as well. We issue this strong call to action for them to participate – on the first day and every day- in the educational lives of their students,” says trustee William McGee for the Hayward Unified School District.


Participants in the event include fathers, grandfathers, foster fathers, stepfathers, uncles, cousins, big brothers, significant male caregivers, mentors and family friends.   Although this event is created by Black men, people of any gender and ethnic identification are also encouraged to take their children to school on the first school day.  Businesses are asked to give fathers and men two hours off that morning, with pay, to take their children to school.  Participating men will also be encouraged to volunteer at schools throughout the year.  A special effort will be made to coordinate Latino Fathers in La Marcha De Un Millón De Padres.


The 2016 Million Father March is sponsored in part by The Black Star Project and the Hayward Unified School District. Please email disrael@husd.k12.ca.us call 510-723-3857 ext. 34182 for more information about The March.  


Hayward Unified School District will support this event at all school sites, with a special event scheduled at Longwood Elementary School on Thursday, August 25, 2016 from 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM.








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