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Fresno Schools Building Family Leadership through Gourmet Cooking?



FUSD Parent University Family Leadership Academy participants on a field trip to learn team building at Hands On Gourmet in San Francisco. (Fresno Unified)
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Fresno Unified’s Parent University has the laudable mission of trying to increase engagement and involvement among the parents of the district’s 70,000 students.


Check out earlier School Zone columns and other education news stories at Nancy Price’s School Zone Facebook page.

To help reach that goal, Parent University has organized Parent Leadership Academies for English, Spanish, and Hmong speaking parents, including parents of children in need of special education services. The parents are split into groups, or “cohorts,” and participate in 90-minute online training sessions.

The five-week series for each grouping is designed to “train and develop family leaders to become effective decision-makers and strong advocates for their children’s education.”

In addition to the online sessions, there are field trip opportunities “to advance family leadership capacities.” Parent University reported last month in a School Board communication that there were two such field trips in November. One, attended by 150 family leaders and students, was at Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

The other was a bit more exclusive: 20 “family leaders” traveled to San Francisco “to gain real world experience” in team-building at Hands On Gourmet. The company hosts private parties as well as culinary team-building events.

Hands On’s set menus now on its website include shrimp pad Thai (one of School Zone’s favorite Thai dishes), crepes Suzette (oo la la!), lomo saltado (Peruvian steak and potatoes), and lamb Kofta, a Moroccan dish that sounds yummy.

According to Hands On’s website, the cost per person is $190 (which would come out to $3,800 for the 20 Parent University participants).

That’s some mouth-watering — not to mention pricey — team-building.

Also in School Zone: 

  • A scholarship will help this childhood cancer survivor earn his degree at Fresno State.
  • Deadline nears to nominate Fresno State’s Top Dogs.
  • Best of the West Army All-Star Football Game features local talent.

Scholarships Open to Childhood Cancer Survivors

Jakob Barrera

It took years before Fresno resident Jakob Barrera would share his story as a survivor of childhood cancer, but as he grew older he realized his story could inspire others. Barrera now believes that he has the power to give back, and he plans to pursue a degree in public health at Fresno State and one day work as a firefighter.

Barrera will have an easier time with college costs — he’s one of 50 childhood cancer survivors or siblings of childhood cancer patients who is a recipient of Northwestern Mutual Foundation’s 2023 Childhood Cancer Survivor Scholarship. He will receive a $5,000 renewable scholarship (for a total of $10,000).

“My life was saved by the wonderful staff at Valley Children’s Hospital, and I wanted to be able to help save more kids like me,” he said in a news release. “Through the Childhood Cancer Survivor Scholarships, Northwestern Mutual is helping me earn a degree in public health and get closer to achieving my long-term goals.”

Applications for the 2024 scholarship program are being accepted through Feb. 1. To apply, go to or

Fresno State Seeks Your Help in Top Dog Search

Do you know any Fresno State alums who have made significant contributions to society, and whose accomplishments reflect well on their alma mater?

Fresno State is looking for nominees for the annual Top Dog Alumni Awards, but don’t delay — the deadline to submit nominations is 9 a.m. Monday.

Each year, the university honors 12 individuals: 10 from each of the schools and colleges, the athletics department, and the Division of Research and Graduate Studies, the Arthur Safstrom Service award that goes to an alum, faculty, staff, or friend of Fresno State who has made a significant impact, and the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor bestowed on a Fresno State graduate who has distinguished himself or herself professionally and made significant contributions to their profession, communities, and economy.

For more information, visit or contact Nicole Traverso at

Ready for Some (More) Football?

The Best of the West Army All-Star Football Game will return to Sunnyside High School’s stadium on Jan. 13 and will feature graduating seniors and local football stars.

In addition to the high school football game, there will be a Best of the West: All-Star Youth game featuring fifth and sixth graders from the Central Valley.

The youth game will start at 11:30 a.m. and be followed by the high school game at 3:30 p.m. The youth game will be Fresno versus Reedley, while the high school game will be LA All-Stars versus Central Valley All-Stars.

Tickets are $5 and are available at the entrance gates. Children age 5 and younger and veterans will receive free admission. Sunnyside High is at 1019 S. Peach Ave., Fresno.

The high school players will be honored on Jan. 12 in a pregame dinner and ceremony at the Memorial Auditorium of the Clovis Veterans Memorial District, with team photos, jersey presentations, and speeches from coaches.

The Best of the West Army All-Star Football Game is sponsored by the California Army National Guard, Mentor Matters, and Hand in Hand Mentoring.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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