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County schools office promotes student proficiency in English
Mark Condit of the San Joaquin County Office of Education prepares to present Shona Aphayraj with a special award last Wednesday morning at Shasta Elementary. - photo by Photo Contributed
Mark Condit wants to make sure that students who understand a second language are not looked down upon.

And for the better part of five years, Condit, a staffer at the San Joaquin County Office of Education, has slowly been building a program that does not only that but has also garnered corporate support to help further the program to even more students.

Last Wednesday morning, Condit met with representatives from Pacific Gas and Electric as well as administrators from Shasta Elementary School to receive a $15,000 grant that he plans to use to purchase a dictionary and grade-level book as well as a certificate for each of the students in the growing program.

“Becoming proficient in a second language at any age is a significant educational achievement,” Condit said. “Doing it at the age these students are doing it is even more amazing.”

It wasn’t until he went to a conference in San Jose that he discovered that schools in San Joaquin County didn’t have any programs similar to the one that he felt strongly about, and upon returning started Ch.A.M.P. – Children Achieving Multiple Proficiencies.

The entire process started out as a two-year pilot at two Manteca schools, and by the third year he was handing out 441 certificates to students that had completed the project. Just last year that number grew to more than 1,000 students in Stockton, Manteca, and Tracy.

And it isn’t like he hasn’t done his homework.

Of the qualified English learners in Manteca, 81 percent of them are Spanish speaking – providing a perfect opportunity to continue a program that helps make students bilingual and be able to learn and understand what goes on inside the classroom.

“Over the past four years I’ve gone from presenting 25 certificates at two schools, to this year awarding 783 certificates and books.  Thanks to a generous $15,000 grant from PG&E I was able to order and present each of these students with a dictionary, thesaurus and grade-level book.”

Additional information about the Ch.A.M.P. Program can be found at