There is someone new at the helm of Clovis Unified School District (CUSD), the 16th largest school district in the state of California with an enrollment of 42,980 students this academic year. She is Eimear O’Farrell, Ed.D., a native of Ireland and a part of the district since 1996.
After teaching in Ireland for a decade, O’Farrell came to California in 1993 as an elementary school teacher at Our Lady of Victory Elementary in Fresno. Three years later she joined the staff of Clovis Unified, first as a teacher and later as a guidance instructional specialist, a learning director, a principal and an assistant superintendent.
Last spring she applied to replace Dr. Janet Young as district superintendent and in late May, after an extensive statewide search, she was chosen by the Governing Board in a unanimous decision. O’Farrell assumed the role on July 1.
“Clovis Unified is very unique and exceptional in its core values and culture of excellence. I have woken up every morning for 21 years feeling that I belong to an organization that cares deeply about all stakeholders – students, employees, families and community members. This precious legacy, gifted to us by our Founding Superintendent Dr. Floyd “Doc” Buchanan, is something to be valued, and something to be nurtured and grown into the future, and I am honored to be charged with the opportunity and responsibility to make sure that we succeed in doing that for all our community members,” Dr. O’Farrell told the Clovis Independent.
“My first goal will be to strengthen my existing relationships and build new relationships with our team throughout the district. Dr. Buchanan always reminded us that, ‘It’s people not programs that make the positive difference,’ and I completely believe in the importance of fostering relationships with our entire team,” she said in that Clovis Independent interview.
“In Clovis Unified we believe that every employee is an educator, and we are a large group of educators working daily to make a difference in the lives of our 42,000-plus students. Our office managers, our bus drivers, our groundskeepers and custodial staff – we are all using every moment of every day to educate our students,” Dr. O’Farrell added.
The CUSD is a mammoth district that covers 198 square miles, but it still manages to take a personal approach with each student and to win accolades for excellence in a wide cross section of its 50 school sites. In addition, it grows by an average of 500 to 800 students per year as more and more people choose to make the Central Valley their home, presenting a continuing challenge.
This past summer, California released student achievement numbers from annual tests in math and English/language arts and once again Clovis Unified students outperformed their peers around the state and Fresno County by large percentages, according to Chief Communication Officer Kelly Avants.
CUSD had the highest academic performance in English Language Arts of any of California’s 20 largest school districts and second highest academic performance in mathematics (using testing data from spring 2017).
Within the District, 70 percent of students achieve at or above standards in English Language Arts (compared to a state average of 49 percent) and 57 percent of CUSD students achieve at or above standards in mathematics (compared to the 38 percent state average).
So it is not at all surprising that the district has achieved an enviable graduation rate of 94.2 percent.
“Our standard of excellence is not isolated to one part or segment of the community. All of our schools are held to the same standards and we know that our students are capable of great things,” Avants added.
Clovis Unified is also a sports powerhouse. Students from the district won one national, two state and two Southern Regional athletic titles in 2016-17, as well as 17 out of 23 Valley and 21 out of 24 League titles.
As far as sports facilities go, CUSD’s are second-to-none. In fact, the track and field facilities in the Veterans Memorial Stadium at the Buchanan Educational Center are so incredible that the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has chosen to hold their state track and field championships there for the past nine years and two years ago the United States Track and Field Federation held their Junior Nationals competitions there, too.
The CIF has also held the state cross country championships in nearby Woodward Park since 1987 and for the past three years has been holding the state swim and dive championships in the Olympic pool complex at Clovis West High School.
Clovis Community College
Clovis Community College is one of the state’s newest community colleges and it already serves more than 10,000 students in the Central Valley, joining Fresno City College and Reedley College to comprise the State Center Community College District. They hold true to their goal and mission statement of “Creating opportunities – one student at a time.” This goal is achieved with a highly qualified staff of educators and support personnel who celebrate the diversity of the Central Valley, embrace a flexible attitude toward change and encourage the spirit of innovation.
“We are thankful to have the opportunity to serve students in the Central Valley,” said Dr. Lori Bennett, president of Clovis Community College. “We offer state-of-the-art technology and facilities, along with a variety of courses and programs to fit the needs of our diverse student population.”
There are a variety of programs for everyone. New high school graduates, returning adults, veterans, current high school students, and other community members can attend the college to prepare for transfer to four-year institutions, earn associate degrees and career technical education certificates, or expand their workplace skills through lifelong learning.
Clovis Community College offers many beneficial programs and services including:
- More than 500 classes per semester
- More than 45 associate degrees
- Associate degrees for transfer to CSU or UC campuses at a fraction of their tuition prices
- Counseling, tutoring and other student support services to help you succeed
- Comprehensive library with research databases, streaming services, e-books and print materials
- Veteran’s Center, Career Center and Transfer Center
Visit Clovis Community College at www.cloviscollege.edu or at 10309 North Willow Ave., Fresno, or call (559) 325-5200.
San Joaquin College of Law
Three dozen of the judges and commissioners working in California today are graduates of the San Joaquin College of Law (SJCL), located in Clovis. California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley is also an alumna.
SJCL has an outstanding reputation in the legal community. While a bachelor’s degree in any major qualifies an individual to apply, the law school also attracts MBAs, medical doctors and others who choose to earn a law degree to supplement their qualifications.
“Because we are the only law school in a 150-mile radius, our students have many opportunities for externships that become pipelines into a first job,” said SJCL Public Information Officer Missy Mckai Cartier. “There are always jobs available for attorneys in the valley. Since most of our students have roots here, they are more likely to stay and practice here, which makes them very attractive employees.”
SJCL is a private, nonprofit law school that was founded in 1969 and began instruction in 1970. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and approved by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California.
Since 1996 the law school has been located in an historic Clovis building, dating back to 1920. Thanks to a multi-million dollar renovation there is even a courtroom where students practice their skills. Many students
work full-time and take evening classes to complete their degree in four years.
Students can complete their Juris Doctor in three, four or five years, depending upon their work commitments.
SJCL is well known for the San Joaquin Agricultural Law Review, which it has published annually since 1991. Circulating nationwide, it is the oldest of only three law reviews in the United States that focuses on agricultural law. Articles in the annual journal have covered such topics as agro-terrorism, sexual violence among undocumented immigrant farm workers and whether a farmer can still be considered an “organic grower” if he or she sprays for the Asian Citrus psyllid insect that is threatening the state’s citrus industry.
The Law School is also renowned for its New American Legal Clinic where students work with legal immigrants to help them gain citizenship and seeks legal status for victims of violent crimes, while training future attorneys in the area of immigration law.
For more information, visit www.sjcl.edu.
Clovis Schools And Area Schools
Clovis Unified School District is made up of five educational areas with one high school, one intermediate and multiple elementary feeder schools.
Alta Sierra Intermediate
Buchanan High School
Dry Creek Elementary
Clovis High School
Mickey Cox Elementary
Red Bank Elementary
Sierra Vista Elementary
Clovis East Area
Clovis East High School
Fancher Creek Elementary
Clovis North Area
Bud Rank Elementary
Clovis North High School
Copper Hills Elementary
Granite Ridge Intermediate
Mountain View Elementary
Clovis West Area
Clovis West High School
Fort Washington Elementary
Maple Creek Elementary
Valley Oak Elementary
Clovis Online School
Community Day Elementary School
Community Day Secondary School
Enterprise High School
Gateway High School
Clovis Adult School
Sierra Outdoor School at 5-Mile Creek