‘Every student’ includes the children of the migrant farm workers

The mission of Desert Sands Unified School District is…to inspire and nurture every student…one opportunity at a time.

Every student – that truly is our mission. “Every student” includes the children of the migrant farm workers who work in one of the primary industries of the Coachella Valley – agriculture.

Migrant Saturday Academy Nurtures Every Student

The November art project.

DSUSD is one of a number of school districts within the Riverside County Office of Education with a population of students from migrant farm working families. As part of Region 7, the programs serve students in both Riverside and San Bernardino counties. According to their website, this is a “supplemental education program that provides support through collaborating with school districts and other community agencies to maximize the potential of migrant students”. Within the program are after-school tutorial sessions, literacy services, camps, preschool readiness, family literacy, and parent development workshops.

This newest program allows students in grades K-8 the opportunity to participate in ten Saturday sessions that include not only assistance in math and English language and literacy skills, but guest speakers from throughout the community.

Taking place at Martin Van Buren Elementary School on ten Saturdays from November through April, the day includes both breakfast and lunch. “The theme for this new program,” said DSUSD coordinator Patricia Dougherty, “is ‘journey’ and dreams’.” The activities incorporate setting goals based on the theme and students will be assisted in the keeping of journals. The students will be placed into two groups, by age.

Already committed to assist in the guest speaker program are:

Yvonne Bluto, music teacher at Gerald Ford Elementary School, who will be instructing both groups in a drum circle. Mrs. Bluto is renowned throughout the district for her use of this educational technique. A drum circle is not a group of performers rehearsing to put on a show. Rather, it is a group of individuals creating rhythm. The circle offers equality because there is no first person or last drummer.

Migrant Saturday Academy Nurtures Every Student

Budders has a new personalized coloring book to share!

Budders, the famed DSUSD therapy dog, will be making an appearance with her “human” Sue Ann Blach. Educationally Related Mental Health Services therapist (ERMHS) for Desert Sands, Blach will not only explain the work accomplished by therapy dogs but invite the students to get to know Budders as they engage in art making to learn techniques to relax and reduce stress.

Our own DSUSD Director of Nutrition Services Daniel Cappello and Chef Carlos Montiel will enlist the assistance of the two groups of students as they talk about the local produce and ways to make some hands-on creations to enjoy and share.

Thomas Spiglanin, Ph.D., director of education at the Palm Springs Windmill Tours will be a guest speaker during the program and the Coachella Valley Water District has confirmed its participation.

Several slots remain available. Please reach out to Mary.Perry@DesertSands.us if you are interested in sharing your work with our students! You could be sharing a life journey or a dream that could change the life of a child. The children are eligible for this program if their parent(s) or guardian(s) is a migratory worker in the agricultural, dairy, lumber, or fishing industries and whose family has moved during the past three years. Later in the year there will be opportunities to provide an internship for a high school student enrolled in the program. On a personal note, an Indio High School student, Ariana Castaneda-Gutierrez, now a student at UCLA majoring in education and social transformation, spent a summer with me in the communications department and we, here in the district office, are so proud of her as she has begun her first year of college.

Photo caption above: Author with Ariana Castaneda-Gutierrez and DSUSD Communications Specialist Jan Diaz in August 2019.


Image Sources

  • Budders-has-a-new-personalized-coloring-book-to-share: DSUSD
  • Author with Ariana Castaneda-Gutierrez and DSUSD Communications Specialist Jan Diaz in August 2019.: DSUSD