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The News Gallery

March 2004

A Legacy of Service - After more than 37 years of service, TCOE's Senaida Garcia Retires

News Gallery - March 2004 Editor: Pamela Kunze
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Donna Orozco and Nancy Bellin.

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 chrisc@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.


Cover Photo:
~ Senaida Garcia



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Senaida Garcia to Retire after 37 Years of Service

Senaida Garcia, the project director for the Tulare County Office of Education Child Care Educational Program, recently announced her retirement, after more than 37 years of service to the Tulare County Office of Education and the children and families of Tulare County.

Senaida Garcia Throughout Garcia's many years as director, the Tulare County Office of Education Child Care Educational Program has flourished. Considered by many as a "pioneer" in the field of early childhood education programs, Senaida Garcia worked to create the first program that utilized a variety of funding sources to meet the needs of parents beginning in 1967.

"Senaida Garcia is a role model to us all. Senaida's belief in the importance of each person attaining their educational goals to create change in the community is apparent in the way she lives her life and encourages others to do the same," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Senaida Garcia and Rosi Mendoza A Fresno State University graduate, Garcia was the first female and Hispanic board member of the Visalia Unified School District. Inducted into the College of the Sequoias Hall of Fame in 1989, chosen as the Visalia Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year in 1996, recognized as one of the Visalia Soroptomist International Women of Distinction in 2003 and lauded as the Manager of the Year in 2003 as part of Tulare County's Excellence in Education Awards, Senaida Garcia has made a difference in the lives of many residents of Tulare County. Garcia is the longest seated member of the Food Link Board of Directors and also champions United Way. In addition, Garcia is a board member on the Tulare County Children and Families Commission.

Senaida Garcia Throughout her career, Garcia's philosophy was to recognize that parents are the first teachers and that early childhood education is vital in creating life-long learners. One of her career goals of providing early childhood educational services in every community of Tulare County became a reality under her tenure as director. The program now has a center-based, home-based or licensed family child care program in all the communities with 43 Head Start child development centers in the county, including recently opened centers on the Tule River Indian Reservation and in Dinuba.

Jim Vidak with Senaida Garcia At the time of her retirement, she oversaw more than 600 staff members and provided services to more than 6,000 children and their parents. Garcia says one of the greatest honors she has ever received came in September 1998 when Child Care opened its model center and training site and the vote was unanimous to name the center the "Senaida Garcia Child Development and Training Center."

"While I am sorry to have Senaida retire, I respect and understand her decision," says Superintendent Vidak. "I have been honored to work with her and to see the children and families she served benefit from her vision and untiring devotion."

"Senaida's day-to-day presence will be missed by her friends and TCOE family, but her legacy lives on in her namesake center and the outstanding programs and services that she's nurtured over the past 37 years," continues Vidak.

"I don't know many people like you, Senaida," Board of Education President Chris Reed said to Garcia at a recent board meeting. "You can see the fruits of your labor. I feel honored to know you," Reed continued.

Ray Chavez, a program coordinator, is serving as the acting director of Tulare County Office of Education Child Care Education program until a permanent director is hired later this year.

Photos above:
The many faces of Senaida.
~ Pictured at a center in September 2000, in commemoration of the Child Care Education program's thirty-fifth anniversary.
~ Rosi Mendoza presents a check on behalf of program and center supervisors. Mendoza explained the $1 million value referred to Senaida's worth, not the actual amount donated on Garcia's behalf to Food Link.
~ Acceptance speech at the 2003 Tulare County Excellence in Education breakfast.
~ Following the February Tulare County Board of Education meeting, Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak presented Garcia with a basket full of items to help her enjoy her retirement. Board members unanimously praised Garcia for her vision, commitment and dedication and thanked her for her service to TCOE and the families of Tulare County.



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Dinuba #2 Head Start Center Opens

Dinuba Head Start The Tulare County Office of Education's Child Care Educational Program opened its second Head Start child development center in Dinuba in February.

The center, located at 1171 N. Alta Avenue (the former Enchanted Garden child care center) is unique among the 43 centers operated by TCOE's child care program because it is located in an historic house. While not a traditional building structure for TCOE's center-based care, the facility is now fully functioning and providing services and opportunities to Dinuba-area families that would have otherwise not been possible.

Dinuba Head Start According to Treva Hancock, center supervisor, "The center has a nice homey feel to it that seems to be very comforting to the children."

"The dramatic play area is especially nice in this setting, because the house allows us to have a separate room devoted to dramatic play, making it more realistic for the children," says Hancock. "The children and staff really enjoy it!"

The center will serve 30 children and their families who meet income guidelines and other eligibility requirements. In addition to an education program, the child care program offers Head Start services including health, nutrition, special needs and social services.

Photos above:
~ Staff members and children enjoy the dramatic play area in the converted historical home.
~ Educational aspects of the center are evident as children work with letter and number shapes.



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Ten Area Teams vie for top Honors in Annual Academic Decathlon

Academic Decathlon Tulare County Office of Education hosted the Academic Decathlon, a ten event, scholastic competition for teams of high school students.

This year, ten teams of Tulare County's best and brightest students from nine area high schools competed. Schools fielding teams were: Dinuba High School, Exeter High School, Farmersville High School, Granite Hills High School (Porterville), Lindsay High School, Orosi High School, Porterville High School, Tulare Western High School and Woodlake High School.

Each team had six to nine members who competed in ten grueling events. Team members tested their knowledge of subjects including economics, mathematics, music, art, language and literature and social science. In addition, the contestants presented prepared and impromptu speeches, wrote an essay on a given topic and were interviewed by a panel of judges.

The final competitive event was the academic relay known as the oral "Super Quiz." This year's Super Quiz topic was "America: A Growth of a Nation." The Super Quiz round of competition was open to the public and was immediately followed by a reception to honor the students and their coaches. An awards ceremony recognizing the top teams followed the reception.

Awards were presented to winning teams and individual students. The top scoring team for all divisions was Granite Hills, Team 1, who will go on to represent Tulare County at the California Academic Decathlon in March. Granite Hills, Team 1, was also honored as the top scoring large school team and top scoring team for the Super Quiz round. Lindsay High School was honored as the top scoring small school team.

"Academic Decathlon is a very competitive event with some strong rivalries among our schools. I particularly enjoy the level of friendly competition and excitement that always surrounds the Super Quiz finale," said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

"It's great to watch our students competing and the oral quiz format can be quite lively at times," he added.


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CSET Workshops Now Available

The Tulare County Office of Education's Teacher Induction Programs and the Central California Teacher Recruitment Center are cosponsoring the first in a series of test-preparation workshops to be held in February and March. The workshops are designed to assist recently credentialed teachers (specifically, those teachers credentialed on or after July 1, 2002) in preparation for the Multiple Subject California Subject Examination for Teachers or CSET. Additionally, test preparation workshops are available to students who are currently enrolled in teacher preparation programs leading to a multiple subject credential.

As part of a Federal mandate for all teachers to become "No Child Left Behind" compliant, all California Multiple Subject teachers must demonstrate subject matter competency. To become compliant, those teachers who obtained their credential after July 1, 2002, must demonstrate subject matter competency by passing either the MSAT or CSET test. The CSET examination consists of eight subtest areas including History, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Physical Education, Art, Music and Human Development.

Prior to taking the CSET, teachers are encouraged to take practice CSET-style exams to help them determine the subject areas in which they may need additional test preparation. Any teacher who determines he or she would like more preparation can enroll in a particular subject area workshop to obtain additional instruction and preparation materials prior to taking the actual exam.

Registration information for all workshops and additional test preparation information is available at www.tcoe.org or by calling the Teacher Recruitment Center at 559/624-1035.


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School-to-Career Kicks off Annual National Groundhog Job Shadow Day

On February 2, over one million young people began their journey into workplaces across the country as part of the National Groundhog Job Shadow Kickoff 2004. The Tulare County Office of Education and local School-to-Career partners were pleased to be part of this national initiative, not just for the day, but throughout the year.

In Tulare County, more than 1500 students annually participate in Job Shadow activities. In addition to traditional, short-term job shadow activities and community-based projects, thousands of Tulare County students participate in mentoring, internship, and work experience programs which further develop an understanding for the opportunities and expectations of today's workplace.

Job shadowing is an academically motivating activity designed to give kids an up-close look at the world of work and to answer the question, "Why do I have to learn this?" Beginning with a nationwide kickoff and continuing throughout the school year, students across America "shadow" workplace mentors as they go through a normal day on the job. The students get to see firsthand how the skills learned in school relate to the workplace. Job Shadowing is led by the National Job Shadow Coalition and is supported through a national sponsorship by Monster.com and co-sponsorship by News Corporation.

"Career development is a life-long process that begins before young adults set out to find their first job," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

"Each year, the Tulare County Office of Education's School-to-Career project and area schools are excited to help match students with mentors who will introduce them to some of the career possibilities available today," Vidak continues. "Shadowing a workplace mentor can be an important first step for any student on the road to future employment success," says Vidak.


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TCOE Staff Enjoys "The Patchwork of Sharing" Luncheon

Thanks to Jim Vidak's attention to the creation of a happy and productive workplace, TCOE employees were again invited to participate in a creative Valentine's Day staff luncheon. This year's luncheon, "A Patchwork of Sharing," was an hour and a half of great stories, personal exchange, office rejuvenation and pizza and pies.

Keeping with the patchwork theme, the Education Center was appropriately wrapped in quilts that extended the feeling of comfort, warmth and hominess. In addition to the ambiance created by each uniquely beautiful quilt, staff members were welcomed by background piano music provided by talented and skilled music teacher, Scott Horton, from Buena Vista.

U.S. Marine Color Guard A Marine color guard from Fresno paraded and raised the colors for the event. Nancy Bellin added her own personal touch to the inspirational ceremony by playing a recording of a young child singing numerous verses of "America the Beautiful" while the Marines held their steady salutes. (The Marines were later heard to comment that they'd "never seen it done like that before.")

After thanking the Marines for their time and service, Jim Vidak took the opportunity to thank staff members, Mike Elick and Pamela Kunze, for their service in the United States military reserve forces. Vidak also congratulated Kunze on her recent promotion to the rank of commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. As a small token of appreciation for Vidak's ongoing support, Kunze presented the County Superintendent with a commemorative coin and lapel pin from the Pentagon.

Betty Branum's handmade doll collection With that, the program began in earnest with a tribute to recent retirees, Vera Creek and Senaida Garcia. Lolaletha Hill and Jeanne Nava performed stirring vocal renditions of personally significant songs and proved, once again, that television's "American Idol" has nothing on TCOE's talented staff. Nancy Bellin showed one of her memory slide shows, a highlight of which was a photo of Bellin dressed up as fellow staff member, Pat Monno. The slide show was followed by Vidak performing an O. Henry-type story that made everyone laugh.

Next, numerous staff members offered interesting stories, anecdotes and heartfelt expressions of gratitude. Dr. Pansy Ceballos was clever with a "What's My Line?" twist; Mary Ann Luna and Farmersville Interim Superintendent, Helen Bauer, told of a wonderful friendship quilt; Ruth Teves and Joe Guerrero spoke touchingly of the fine TCOE support they've had that has helped them to reach their personal and professional goals; Betty Branum brought her delightful collection of dolls; Allen Austin shared amazing computer-generated art and of course, there was the moving story of the Jonathan Janzen family's Korean adoption process. Proving that pictures can, in fact, speak hundreds of words, Bellin pointed out a photo display of Superintendent Vidak turning his bare foot green on St. Pat's Day for a room full of Kindergartners.

"It was indeed a time of share and share alike," said event coordinator, Bellin. "Insights were gained, and we all felt enriched by being together at this special Valentine's Day staff luncheon. Isn't that as it should be?" she concluded.

Jim Vidak, Ruth Teves, Joe Guerrero

Photos above:
As if to prove that you really CAN combine them for a successful event,
~ a U.S. Marine color guard from Fresno
~ a handmade doll collection by Betty Branum
~ our story-reading county superintendent Jim Vidak
~ a snake "T puppet" made by Ruth Teves, and
~ a talk by a grateful employee, Joe Guerrero,
were all part of the TCOE Valentine's Day staff luncheon.



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Gallery Notes

Tulare County Superintendent of Schools, Jim Vidak, is pleased to make Child Lures Prevention Program Parent Guides available to interested staff, their families and community members.

Written by nationally recognized author and child abduction expert, Ken Wooden, the guides are designed to teach parents and children how to recognize and thwart frequently used child abduction "lures."

The Child Lures Prevention Program was founded in 1984 by Wooden and his family and teaches life skills to protect children and youth from sexual exploitation, abduction, Internet crime, drugs and school violence. It provides an understanding of the specific Lures used in these crimes and teaches proven prevention strategies so children can readily take steps to remove themselves from potentially dangerous situations.

An integral part of the program is a 20-page illustrated Child Lures Parent Guide that Wooden believes is the definitive guide for keeping youngsters safe from sexual exploitation, abduction, Internet crime, drugs, and school violence.

The guide includes detailed explanations of the 16 lures commonly used by child molesters and abductors, prevention strategies, tips for keeping children safe, ways to explain the concept of law to children, categories of missing children and steps to take if your child is missing.

"Tulare County Office of Education has a long-standing relationship with Ken Wooden," explains Vidak. "Children and their safety are top priorities for us. We're fortunate to have Ken Wooden, the Child Lures Prevention Program and associated resources available to us to teach our children and parents how to recognize and avoid frequently used abduction lures," says Vidak.


Child Lures Prevention A must-have resource for parents, care providers, educators and others, the Parent Guide handbook to the Child Lures School Program is available free-of-charge to TCOE staff, families and community members. Please call 559.733.6300 or visit the front reception area of the main office at 2637 W. Burrel Avenue in Visalia for your copy. Supplies are limited.


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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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