When Yadir Sanchez arrived in this San Joaquin Valley agricultural town at age 5, she joined a well-traveled path to academic failure that children of other Mexican farmworkers had been on for years.
Students like Sanchez — poor, Hispanic and barely bilingual — routinely fell through the cracks in the Sanger Unified School District, which had one of the worst records in the state. Lacking basic math and English skills, students were pushed into trades or allowed to drop out.
Sanchez appeared to be no different, speaking only Spanish in kindergarten and struggling with English until fifth grade.
But something remarkable happened that lifted the fortunes of Sanchez and so many like her. The district reinvented itself, making huge strides by shaking up the way teachers worked with students, parents and each other.