Focus on Education (07/18/2104)


The Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District Board will hold a special meeting starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday with a closed-door session on negotiations with staff and teachers unions at the district office, 1162 Main St., Newman. An open session will follow to approve numerous staffing additions or changes, and contracts with Patterson Unified for bus service and with the Teachers College of San Joaquin for teaching interns. See the agenda at


A book illustrated by students at Aspire Summit Charter Academy and written by Summit music and art teacher Ben Phelps is available online. “Gus the Magical Moose” is sold in hardcover, $53.91, or ebook, $15.99, versions at The story is based on a song about a purple, winged moose named Gustav from Switzerland. See a shaky version of the students singing it on YouTube. Phelps and his band, Mr. Ben and the Eye-Birds, will be playing Gus songs and other kid-friendly tunes at 8 p.m. July 26 at Grizzly Rock Cafe, 4905 N. Golden State Blvd., Turlock.


Modesto City Schools has been named a finalist, one of five in California, for this year’s America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grants of up to $25,000. The district was nominated by local farmers earlier this year. Winners will be announced in early August. For more, go to


Columbia State Historic Park is a Gold Rush-era business district with working shops, restaurants and hotels. Stagecoach rides and gold-panning are available for a fee. Summer attractions include:

BIG BAND DANCE: Free, at 6 p.m. Saturday. Bring dancing shoes and a chair to celebrate 1945, the year Columbia became a California State Historic Park.

MYSTERIES: A live, two-hour re-enactment of a historic crime and trial of accused characters, 10 a.m. July 26 and Aug. 2, 16 and 30. Cost is $5.

GOLD RUSH DAYS: From 1 to 4 p.m. on second Saturdays, docents dress in period attire and answer questions from visitors. Historic toys and games, gambling and mining demonstrations.

TOURS: Free, hourlong tours start at 11 a.m. daily at the museum through Labor Day.

HANDS-ON: Free presentations daily at 1 p.m on daily life. Check at the museum for the location and topic of the day.

MUSEUM: Free, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Labor Day. Go to or, or call the park office at (209) 588-9128.

GHOST TOURS: By the Friends of Columbia State History Park, 3 p.m. Aug. 9, Sept. 13 and Oct. 25. Cost is $10. For more, call (209) 532-3184.

MUSICAL: “The Sound of Music” runs through Aug. 31. Cost is $18 to $32. For more, go to


SCHOOL SUPPLIES: The nonprofit Kids in Need Foundation, dedicated to providing free school supplies to economically disadvantaged schoolchildren and underfunded teachers, is offering grants to improve preschool to 12th-grade students’ reading levels. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s sponsorship of the Reading Scholars grants will award $100 to $500 to teachers who wish to conduct innovative classroom projects but lack the funds to do so. Applications will be available on the Kids in Need website, The deadline for submission is Sept. 30.

FINANCIAL LESSONS: CompareCards, a credit card comparison company, has added an education center on its website with free financial lesson plans and launched a grant program for financial education programs. Financially Literate Youth will offer four $5,000 grants to eligible K-12 schools that have already implemented, or are looking to implement, a financial education program. For more, go to

ENERGY TEXTBOOKS: Northern California public television station KQED has added a free iBooks Textbooks series on energy. “ Energy: The Basics” and “ Energy: Use and Efficiency” have accompanying iTunes U-courses created by KQED in partnership with the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University. They align with “Energy Literacy: Essential Principals and Fundamental Concepts of Energy Education,” published by the U.S. Department of Energy. The books expand KQED’s Multi-Touch science book collection, which includes “Biotechnology,” “Earthquake” and “River Delta,” and support the Next Generation Science Standards.


Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., and the By Kids For Kids organization will offer a competitive $1,000 scholarship to kids ages 9 to 16. The Sikorsky Helicopter 2050 Program and Challenge asks students to envision the challenges of the future and design a helicopter that overcomes them. Free materials are available for for teachers. For more, go to


Camp Green Meadows celebrates 50 years of outdoor education in 2014, and the Merced County Education Foundation is holding a fundraiser Sept. 6 at the outdoor school in Fish Camp, near the Wawona entrance to Yosemite National Park. The Merced County Office of Education runs the camp, an outdoor school for Merced County students and a recreation camp in the summer. The $100-per-person ticket includes round-trip travel from Merced to Fish Camp, appetizers, an authentic Western barbecue, a hosted bar, cowboy poetry and an optional tour of Camp Green Meadows. Proceeds benefit the MCE Foundation, supporting Green Meadows, foster youth, the arts, agriculture and science-math education. Camp Green Meadows is asking past students to share their stories on its Facebook page, For tickets and information, call (209) 381-6602.


The tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain, based in Aberdeen, Wash., will visit California ports this fall, offering K-12 education programs, public ticketed sails and walk-on tours at each stop. Lady Washington will visit Oakland from Oct. 10 to 19; San Francisco from Oct. 20 to Nov. 5; Half Moon Bay from Nov. 6 to 19; and Moss Landing from Nov. 20 to 30. Hawaiian Chieftain will be at the port of Oakland from Sept. 12 to 14. The ship will travel up the Sacramento River, visiting Antioch from Sept. 16 to 21, and spend from Sept. 22 to Dec. 5 in Sacramento. Title I schools may be eligible for discounts on education programs. For more information, call the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority at (800) 200-5239 or go to