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The News Gallery

Summer 2003

WELCOME! Congressman Devin Nunes Recently Visited TCOE's Child Development Center in Porterville

News Gallery - July 2003 Editor: Pamela Kunze
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Lorena White, Marta Mott, John Forenti, Rick Mitchell, Jeanne Croson, Donna Orosco, and Sally Bakke.

The News Gallery is published monthly with the exception of double issues printed for July/August and December/January. If you would like to receive the News Gallery, please contact Christine Chapman at (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.


Cover Photo:
~ Children hold signs of welcome for Representative Devin Nunes.



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Congressman Devin Nunes Visits TCOE's Porterville Child Development Center

Congressman Devin Nunes Visits Congressman Devin Nunes recently paid a visit to some incredibly important constituents in the 21st Congressional District of California. While a representative paying a visit to constituents may seem somewhat routine, this visit was anything but. The Republican congressman's visit began with waving signs, cheers, clapping and shouts of "Welcome!" and "Bien Venido!" Still, not terribly remarkable for a congressional visit, until you realize the welcoming was being done by children who are not yet old enough to attend grade school. The constituents Nunes was paying a visit to were the children served by Tulare County Office of Education's Porterville Child Development Center.

Once properly welcomed by the children, Representative Nunes was escorted through the center by Tulare County Board of Education President Chris Reed, County Superintendent Jim Vidak, Child Care Program Director Senaida Garcia and other staff members. Nunes visited several classrooms, the center's kitchen, the children's garden and outdoor play area. Along the way, Nunes was briefed by his escorts on relevant issues and entertained by children singing and dancing in his honor. As the tour was winding down, the children presented Mr. Nunes with stacks of hand-made art works for decorating his office and a copy of a cookbook created by the child care program and filled with traditional recipes.

Following the tour of the center was a round-table discussion of the needs of the children and families served by the center, funding issues and proposed changes within the Federal Head Start Program. Mr. Nunes listened intently to the concerns voiced by the TCOE representatives.

Congressman Devin Nunes Visits "It was great to have Devin come to visit our Porterville Child Development Center," says County Superintendent Jim Vidak. "I can think of no better way for Congressman Nunes to gain an appreciation of our programs and the families they serve than seeing and interacting with the children and staff members at one of our centers," continues Vidak.

The Porterville Child Development Center is one of 41 centers throughout Tulare County operated by Tulare County Child Care and based on the Head Start Performance Standards. Families in these programs receive support services which strengthen the child care services education, health, nutrition, parent involvement, social services, special needs services and training/technical assistance. Families must meet income guidelines and other eligibility requirements. The center serves children from 2.9 to kindergarten age.

Photos above:
~ Congressman Devin Nunes is welcomed by Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and TCOE's Child Care Program Director, Senaida Garcia.
~ Mr. Nunes and Tulare County Board of Education President Chris Reed visit students in the classroom.



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TCOE Recognizes Administrators and Educators at Annual Summer Institute

ACSA Awardees As more than 200 administrators, educators and other guests arrived for the annual TCOE Summer Institute symposium and awards luncheon, they were met by bales of alfalfa and a large banner that read "Lessons Learned: 26 Survival Tips for Making it to the Big Retirement Ranch." Most took it all in stride, knowing of Tulare County Superintendent of School Jim Vidak's family's history of ranching and Superintendent Vidak's penchant for wearing cowboy boots and western-style clothing. Additionally, some attendees were already familiar with the conference's keynote speaker, a Texan named Steve Knagg, who was actually responsible for the "Big Retirement Ranch" title.

Steve Knagg Steve Knagg has spent 26 years in the school communications and public relations business and admits to learning more than a few lessons the hard way. During his presentation he shared some of those lessons, as well as what he sees as the top 26 survival tips.

A career school communications and public relations practitioner, Knagg uses his unique sense of humor to send a strong message to audiences about the importance of balancing requirements and finding rewards in all parts of their personal and professional lives. Members of the audience were treated to humorous vignettes and anecdotes that allow them to gain insight that will help them to recapture a love of life, both at work and after hours.

One example Knagg used in his presentation began with a picture of himself in a fishing boat. Knagg pointed out that this picture was taken on a Monday morning when he could have been at work. Knagg said that he'd called his boss that morning from his truck while he was pulling his boat to his fishing spot and let his boss know that he would not be in to work that day. When asked why he was calling, Knagg simply replied, "I am calling in because I am well."

Steve Knagg In addition to Knagg's keynote, the Summer Institute agenda included sessions on topics such as state budget updates, public records, teacher tool kits, ways to deal with the NEW news media, ways to lower the flame of burnout and the stories of the Columbine survivors. Nineteen Tulare County administrators, including four TCOE employees, were honored as ACSA Award recipients. Outstanding entertainment was provided by TCOE's own Theatre Company.

County Superintendent Jim Vidak says, "I always enjoy hosting the Summer Institute. Not only is it an ideal opportunity for Tulare County administrators to get together to network and recognize their peers, it is a a nice way to end the school year on a high note," adds Vidak.

"Steve Knagg always does a great job for us," says Vidak. "He has a unique way of forcing you to take a hard look at yourself, all the while keeping a smile on your face," Vidak concludes.

Photos above:
~ TCOE's ACSA awardees were Jeanne Nava, personnel; Joseph Jimenez, cental office administrator; Linda McKean, special education administrator; and Luis Leal, classified manager.
~ Steve Knagg, keynote speaker for the Summer Institute, explains on of his "26 survival tipes for making it to the 'big retirement ranch.'"
~ Steve Knagg facilitates a break-out session entitled "Dancing with Wolves: Dealing with the NEW News Media," which addresses strategies for effectively dealing with today's news media and "taming today's media wolves."



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Team TCOE Competes in Marine Corps "Volkslauf" Mud Run

Marine Corps More than 400 runners competed on teams or as individuals in the 10th Annual Marine Corps "Volkslauf" Mud Run which was held June 7 at Naval Air Station Lamoore. Five of those fearless 400 were TCOE employees who made up "Team TCOE Mud Runners." TCOE's mud runners were Randy Wallace (School to Career coordinator), John Forenti (CHARACTER COUNTS! administrator), Rick Mitchell (SCICON administrator), Denis Pertuis (SCICON intern) and Chris Wright (SCICON intern).

The race kicked off promptly at "0900 hours" with Team TCOE Mud Runners (easily identified by their team t-shirts emblazoned with the words "NO WHINING" across the backs) on the far end of the starting line. Knowing the approximate course distance was 4.8 miles that consisted of various surfaces to include pavement, dirt roads, farm fields and mud trails, Team TCOE started conservatively, but still in the top half of the racers. Nearly a mile into the race, Team TCOE and the other racers encountered their first military-style obstacle, a "low crawl" pit. Other "highlights" of the race the competitors faced were vertical walls, a rope swing, a two-rope bridge, waist-deep trenches, more low-crawl pits and plenty of mud.

Marine Corps A little more than an hour later, a slightly tired and completely mud-covered Team TCOE Mud Runners finished the course. Although not aware of their official placing, team member Randy Wallace stated confidently that they were in the top half of race finishers.

When asked to describe the course, John Forenti says, "That course was not about running. That course was about mud. And a lot of it."

When asked if they'd do the course again, Wallace and Forenti are in agreement.

"Absolutely," says Wallace.

"Sign me up!" says Forenti.

More information and pictures of the race are available at http://www.lemoore.navy.mil/matsg/mudrun.htm.

Photos above:
~ Team TCOE Mud Runners (top) before starting the Marine Corps "Volkslauf" Mud Run and (bottom) finishing the race in one of many mud-filled trenches. Team TCOE Mud Runners consisted of Denis Pertuis, Chris Wright, Rick Mitchell, Randy Wallace and John Forenti.



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Tulare County Students Recognized by Board of Supervisors

History Day students More than 40 students from throughout the county were recognized on June 3 by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. Supervisors each presented certificates of recognition and pins to students from their areas for placing in the county-wide competition and advancing to the History Day state finals held in Pasadena earlier this year.

History Day is an exciting, history-based learning experience for students in grades four through 12, in which they learn about issues, ideas, people, and historical events and apply what they have learned through creative and original productions. Students create historical papers, imaginative exhibits, original performances, multimedia documentaries, historical web sites, and posters related to the annual theme, which was "Rights and Responsibilities in History" for 2003.

History Day students Students research an historic event or person and draw a connection to the theme from an historical context socially, culturally, physically, politically, and economically. They explore differing perspectives and draw conclusions about the impact of that event on history based on their findings.

While all of the displays were interesting and informative, the second place winning poster by Jordan Laemmlen of Kings River Elementary School was particularly relevant for TCOE, as it featured board member, Leonard Hansen. The poster, entitled "Leonard Hansen: A Courageous POW" displayed photos, graphics and text recounting Hansen's military service as a pilot in the Army Air Corps, including his capture and experiences as a POW in Germany during World War II.

According to Marsha Ingrao, TCOE's History Day coordinator, "The History Day program is structured in a competitive format, but most important are the rewards participants gain from developing skills and new knowledge."

She adds, "The research, writing and communication skills that students improve by taking part in History Day will help them in all academic endeavors. Students will increase in self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment and pride through their efforts."

Photos above:
~ County Supervisor Jim Maples presents students with certificates of recognition.
~ County Superintendent Jim Vidak stands with the winning students, coach and superintendent from Kings River Elementary.



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Retirees Honored at Annual Reception Held June 11

2003 Retirees Twenty-four retirees were recently honored for more than 450 years of combined service to Tulare County Office of Education. Those present included (from left to right) Maria Lanteri, Diane Floyd, Anita Bailey, Sally Bakke, Anita Mares, Frank Escobar, and Mr. Jose Garcia.


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Assistant Superintendent Dr. Sally Bakke Retires after 40 Years in Education

Dr. Sally Bakke Following more than 40 years in the field of education, Dr. Sarah (Sally) Miles Bakke retired in June. Starting as a classroom teacher in 1963, Dr. Bakke culminated her career as Tulare County's assistant superintendent for Instructional Services. Along the way, Dr. Bakke served as a resource teacher, publisher's consultant, adjunct professor, principal, and directed programs such as state preschool, child care, special projects and staff development.

When asked about her retirement plans, Sally says, "First, the alarm clock is going in the dresser drawer. I'll be returning to my natural state as a night person." Sally adds, "Please, don't call before nine a.m."

Sally also plans to design and teach fine needlework designs featuring motifs in cross stitch and other counted-thread stitches, stitched with silk on linen. Additionally, Dr. Bakke will spend time with family and friends, travel and read.

She adds, "Until now, my idea of yard work was writing a check. But, I've developed a yen to garden and have plans for my yard."

County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak says, "I know I speak for all of TCOE in extending my appreciation and sincere best wishes to Sally as she begins the next leg of her journey."


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Gallery Notes

Head Start, the major funding source of Child Care, has mandated that 50 percent of Head Start teachers have A.A. degrees by this year. For the last several years, Luci Castanon, professional development coordinator, has been working with teachers and teacher assistants to encourage them and help them further their education. Currently, 53 percent of Child Care teachers have at least an A.A. degree.

This year, 18 Child Care staff earned degrees, overcoming many obstacles to achieve their goals. Many are single mothers, balancing the demands of children, work and school. A number were the first to graduate in their families.

The graduates were honored at a reception in the Education Center on June 12 and presented with certificates from Project Director Senaida Garcia and a rose from Sally Bakke, assistant superintendent of Instructional Services. Of particular note, after sharing many classes along the way, five staff members from the Maple Center (Diana Quintero, Yolanda Herrera, Rosio Gonzalez, Carla Pacheco and Laura Campos) graduated together.


On Friday, June 20, the Friends of SCICON held their annual Awards Dinner at the SCICON campus. Following a delicious meal and the evening entertainment, individuals and organizations which had greatly contributed to the SCICON program were recognized.

Administrators, teachers, students, organizations and volunteers were all recognized for their outstanding contributions to SCICON. Two TCOE employees were among those recognized: Randy Mitchell, R.N., who has served as the SCICON Nurse for the past nine years, and Sally Bakke, Ed.D., who has strongly supported the SCICON program as the Assistant Superintendent of Instruction for Tulare County Office of Education, both received the Friends of SCICON Award of Merit for outstanding service to SCICON.


Sam Pena recently underwent open-heart surgery. Sam is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery. Following his return to work later this summer, TCOE will host the grand opening of the Educational Enrichment Center and Sam Pena Planetarium. Until then, Sam is taking full advantage of doctor's orders to rest and is spending his time painting and sculpting at home.


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Jim Vidak, County Superintendent of Schools
Tulare County Office of Education
All mail to: P.O. Box 5091, Visalia, CA 93278-5091
Physical address: 6200 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia, CA 93277
phone: (559) 733-6300 • fax: (559) 627-5219

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