WE BELIEVE in Madera! Here’s Proof
By Todd Lile, Madera Unified School District Superintendent
Across the nation we see division and dysfunction but here we can do better. WE BELIEVE in Madera and are committed to uniting our community by learning from the past and building the future. Despite serving nearly 21,000 students in our district, Madera is still a small town at heart. Our sense of independence and rugged individualism still flourishes. From the very beginning, Madera was built by immigrants and migrants who toiled and scraped to survive. Our history is sketched by tragedy but colored with resilience.
Madera Unified is determined to teach the lessons of our culture for years to come!
Madera County Historical Society
The Madera County Historical Society (MCHS) has been very welcoming and gracious about renewing a partnership. With so many excellent former educators in their ranks, the Historical Society is an ideal partner to help our students understand their hometown’s story. Our Madera Courthouse Museum is one of the most impressive aspects of our community and luckily, 3rd grade social studies standards conceptually focus on “our community.” As students see artifacts and learn of their hometown, they will feel more connected to stories of migration, struggle, and success. Students will know Madera has always been a special place for kids and families. To prove it, the MCHS invited teachers to an open house and reception on October 10th to re-explore the museum’s incredible treasures.
During the same field trip, students also explored areas of curiosity at the Madera County Library. The welcoming staff has a vast array of titles and documents to help students internalize the value of literacy and discovery. We are excited to build a new relationship with such a strong partner. In a community without a bookstore, the Madera County Library and our school libraries have greater importance. A special lunch in the park concluded the trip before heading back to work on fun CA History projects.
Ed Gwartney California History Center
Since 1953 (65 years) Monroe Elementary has proudly served its neighborhood. Among its most inspirational educators were Ed Gwartney, Sandra Carter, and Susan Miller. Ed Gwartney’s dream of students interacting in a living museum full of hands-on learning began in 1997 and closed with his full retirement in 2016 after serving over 1,000 students from around the Valley.
On September 25, 2018, the MUSD Board of Trustees renamed the Monroe Children’s Museum to the “Ed Gwartney California History Center” to revive it for our 4th graders. A rededication of the museum is planned this semester to light it for the Holidays. This unique treasure sets us apart and will be a destination for other local districts to learn our history.
Many readers recall the Madera Method’s historical research projects, wagon trains and national accolades. Bill Coate always honors famous author Irving Stone for his collaboration on this dynamic student experience. WE BELIEVE the Madera Method should live on. Madera South High School has recently become the beneficiary of Coate’s collections of documents, papers, manuscripts and artifacts. Soon an entire library section will be open for the collection and archive. A UC approved course is being taught by Mr. Moosios for original research and publishing. Finally, a website will go live with documents, timelines, photographs and stories available to the entire community.
Partnerships with Madera County Food Bank and Madera Rescue Mission
The leadership of the Madera County Food Bank and Madera Rescue Mission conceived of an idea to mobilize the good will and civic pride of students. Small boxes will be given to each student to collect as much pocket change as possible for a few weeks. Every penny will support local families in need this Holiday Season. Families, students, and staff have always been incredibly generous and this longstanding tradition will continue with WE BELIEVE in Change for Change. We are proud to support the vision of Executive Directors Unger and McWherter to unite the community in the spirit of service.
Madera County Arts Authority
In August, the MUSD Board of Trustees unanimously voted to join the Madera City Council, and Madera County Board of Supervisors to form a Joint Powers Agreement called the Madera County Arts Authority. Currently, the board of three, led by Trustee Ric Arredondo, is seeking to add two members — one from the Madera Arts Council and one from the unincorporated areas of the county. This five member board will begin leveraging all its resources, partnerships, and talent to develop a public arts complex large enough to showcase the arts, support school events, sponsor smaller conventions, and attract entertainment. With our projected growth in the district and community, this kind of complex could be a powerful symbol to attract new families, redevelop downtown, and prove to large audiences just how outstanding our arts community and education has become.
This is an optimistic time in our history where many alumni are returning to their hometown to reinvest their careers and energy. We truly believe in valuing our past excellence to inspire the future. WE BELIEVE in Madera and hope you do too.