About Foulks Ranch & Mr. Bentley

Welcome to Mr. Bentley’s Class and Foulks Ranch Elementary School.

School History 
The Foulks Ranch was a pioneer ranch of the Elk Grove area. Euphemia Foulks was a widow with small children when she journeyed the many miles across the plains to start a new life in California in 1852. The family members spent their first winter living in the covered wagon, and in the spring, they were finally able to build a small house. Thus began the Foulks legacy that would last for more than a hundred years. Members of the Foulks family were prominent in the development of Elk Grove and south Sacramento and still live in the area. Foulks Ranch School was a pioneer in school construction, existing as a portable school, called a “hopscotch school” until the permanent building was built in 1993.

Meet Mr. Bentley 
A native of San Luis Obispo County, Jim Bentley attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. After graduating in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in Social Science and a concentration in Cross-Cultural Studies, Bentley began teaching science and P.E. in the Fall of 1995 as an 8th grade long-term substitute teacher in the Newcastle School District. From 1996-1998 he taught 7th grade in the Newcastle District before moving to the Dry Creek Unified School District where he taught 6th and 5th grades. In 2001, Bentley moved to the Elk Grove Unified School District where he has continued teaching both 5th and 6th grade students at Foulks Ranch Elementary.

Bentley is passionate about teaching writing, civics, math, and integrating filmmaking throughout the curriculum. In 2011, he was the elementary recipient of the American Civic Education Teacher Award for his work with students using both the “We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution” and the “Project Citizen” curricula created by the Center for Civic Education. You can see his award speech below:

In 2012, Bentley received the Allan Hinderstein Award for his filmmaking work with students.

Bentley believes in the power of students to transform their community and the world through project based learning.

Participating in Project Citizen, kids in his class have studied: landscape blight, improper battery disposal, elimination of library technicians, California Assembly Bill 1802 and the creation of running tracks at elementary schools in the E.G.U.S.D., light pollution, the E.G.U.S.D.’s Energy Conservation Guidelines.

The motto in Bentley’s class is borrowed from his university: “Learn by doing.”

Filmmaking is an excellent way to “do” school rather than just “go” to school. By creating films, students develop critical thinking, research, reading, writing, artistic, storytelling, and technological skills to name a few.

Want to get a look at what this looks like? Bentley and his students were featured on an episode of KVIE’s “Rob on the Road” in 2013. Check out the clip and see what kind of opportunities your child has in store!

Students don’t just “study” history, they “do” history by creating History’s Treasures, a series of short documentaries exploring the significance of artifacts found in The National Archives. Students don’t just study figurative language in the form of idioms, but “do” figurative language by producing Meet the Idioms, a series of short documentaries exploring the meaning and evolution of idioms in our language.

Recently, Bentley and his students were featured in George Lucas’s Edutopia. Blogger Suzie Boss interviewed Bentley to discuss the filmmaking work he and his students  engage in as a part of their project based learning experience. You can check out the article by clicking on the image below!

Filming HHW Film

Bentley’s class is fast-paced, dynamic, and not the traditional paper and pencil, workbook and worksheet environment. Students work hard, have fun, think deeply, and are coached to become independent learners with an insatiable sense of curiosity coupled with an unwavering work ethic.