The News Gallery
November 2004A HEART FOR SERVICE - After 17 Years of Dedication to the Tulare County Board of Education, Chris Reed Retires
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Vera Rodriguez, Donna Orozco, Ray Chavez, Garyalynn Wilhelm, Rikki Leigh, Jim Kooler, and Marsha Ingrao.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.
~ Tulare County Board of Education president Chris Reed confers with Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak at a recent board meeting.
Chris Reed Retires From the Tulare County Board of Education
Next month, the Tulare County Office of Education will say farewell to a long-time friend and advocate, Tulare County Board of Education trustee Chris Reed. After 17 years of service, Ms. Reed will retire. "We are so fortunate to have had Chris on the County Board of Education," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "She has been a model of dedication and service to our programs." Ms. Reed has served Trustee Area Six, which includes the school district areas of Alta Vista, Citrus South Tule, Ducor Union, Hope, Hot Springs, Springville Union, a majority of Porterville Unified and the portion of Linns Valley-Poso Flat Union lying within Tulare County. In addition to her responsibilities as trustee of the County Board of Education, Chris' service included many years of work on committees for the Child Care program, an Alta Vista Elementary Healthy Start grant and most recently with the Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center.
Ms. Reed's plan to serve on the County Board of Education began one full year before her election. She says: "My interest really began when I learned that Josephine Witt, the trustee who served Area Six, was not going to run again. Because I had a challenger, I had to run a full campaign beginning the year before my election. So, I did a lot of research on the role of the board, made my own yard signs and spoke to service organizations."
Ms. Reed's desire to seek election to the County Board of Education grew from a personal commitment to community service. "Public service is a core belief for me and my husband (Gary Reed)," she says. "I decided to leave my career in banking after many years and began looking for somewhere to serve, with the conviction that public service is a way for me to give back to the community." Before serving on the County Board of Education, Ms. Reed had been active in Porterville community organizations including the Chamber of Commerce.
Some of Chris' earliest work was as a volunteer for the many student events hosted by the Tulare County Office of Education each year. "I have been fortunate in that I had the time to donate to events like Academic Decathlon and Math Super Bowl," she says. "In many ways, this position became my job. In it, I found many opportunities to tell our communities about the great work done by the Office of Education."
One of the programs dearest to her heart is Child Care, where she has served for approximately 13 years. Former program director, Senaida Garcia, challenged Chris to learn about the Head Start Program. "Senaida told me that I wasn't going to learn about it, unless I came out to the centers," Chris says. Since that time, she has actively served as a member of the Program Policy Council. She has also served as a committee team leader in charge of reviewing and assessing the areas of Program Governance and Program Design. She has also met with Federal Team leaders from both Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, who visit every three years to ensure that the program is abiding by the Head Start Performance Standards. Chris has been intensely interviewed by Federal Team leaders about decision making and sharing between the grantee and the program. Chris has always astounded the reviewers with her knowledge about its operations. "The federal guidelines for Head Start state there must be representation from the granting agency, which is the Tulare County Board of Education," says Mr. Vidak. "Chris has given countless hours to the program, not only during the review process, but on an ongoing basis with policy and planning committees."
Since its conception in 2002, Chris has also been an active member of Child Care's Program Planning Team. Duties of this team include: review of the program's mission statement; community assessment; and developing goals, plans and reviews for the program. "My greatest delight has been getting to know the staff and programs at the Office of Education," she says. "There are so many wonderful people doing wonderful work."
It was her experience on Alta Vista Elementary's Healthy Start committee that enabled her to see a broad range of TCOE programs in action. "Several years ago, (former superintendent) Paul Cannon obtained a Health and Human Services Agency grant for the school. He did a great job of organizing a community action committee consisting of a broad range of medical, social services and education members," she says. "There were many people from the Office of Education who came to work on that grant – from School Health programs, to Special Services, to Child Care. I was proud of their contribution."
Chris has seen many changes in the services of the Tulare County Office of Education. "I think we have seen a great many changes in the last three to four years alone," she says. "It is rewarding to see that parents have more choices for their children's education. Through Mr. Vidak's leadership and the positive environment he created, we have expanded our services to young children and provided parents of older students choices such as La Sierra High School and Military Academy located on four separate campuses and the Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center for home-school students," she adds. Looking toward the future, Chris Reed notes: "In the coming years, it will be exciting to watch the Office of Education support schools and districts in our area who have entered Program Improvement under the No Child Left Behind laws." It is that "can-do" attitude and commitment that will be missed by all who have worked with her. Chris Reed will call her last meeting of the Tulare County Board of Education on December 8, 2004.
~ Chris Reed attends the 2004 Excellence in Education awards ceremony, where she congratulates nominee Teresa Orth.
~ Ms. Reed and trustee Leonard Hansen enjoy another event in 1990.
~ Former trustee Betty Cornell and Trustee Area One representative Ruth Stouffer pose with Chris Reed in 1992.
~ Ms. Reed and former Child Care director Senaida Garcia tour U.S. Congressman Devin Nunes through the Porterville Child Development Center.
Students Capture Veterans' Stories as Part of National History Program
As students learn about Tulare County history, they can be proud of their heritage. Tulare County attracted the attention of a national organization, Stories of Service, because it has the highest number of World War II veterans per capita in the United States. Stories of Service brings together volunteer youth and adults to capture the stories of the men and women who have served our country. Participants help preserve their heritage and promote community and national service by using computers to produce digital stories that capture the memories of local "unsung heroes." In September, Tulare Union High School responded to an open invitation from Tulare County Office of Education Instructional Consultant, Marsha Ingrao, to pilot the Stories of Service project in Tulare County. Teachers Kent McNatt and Wayne Welch began with 12 teams comprised of students, mentors and veterans and plans to finish the first 12 stories by Veteran's Day. Simultaneously, Central Valley Stories of Service Director, Brandon Wright, contacted Tulare County Office of Education to partner on a regional level.
On October 8, students from Exeter, LaSierra High School and Farmersville, along with their teachers, participated in a groundbreaking videotaped interview of World War II POW and Tulare County Board of Education trustee, Leonard Hansen. He showed students — attending the professional filming session — the actual American flag he made to identify himself to Russian soldiers that freed him from a Nazi prison camp. "Stories of Service is a fine resource for teaching young people the value of service and preserving the legacy of our veterans," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "I am glad that Leonard took the time to tell his incredible story of service for this video project."
Exeter High teacher, Jim Stannaway; La Sierra teacher, Mike Franco; Farmersville High teacher, Tony De Caro; and Monache High teachers, Julie Hill and Greg Snyder have committed to produce additional Stories of Service. Once complete, these stories will be shared with family and the community, and with people around the world on the Stories of Service website. Local films are also preserved through the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project. For more information on becoming involved in this exciting project, contact Marsha Ingrao at 651-0680.
~ Farmersville High School teacher Tony De Caro and student Anthony Bishop prepare to video tape WWII veteran Leonard Hansen.
~ Leonard Hansen shares memorabilia with Instructional Consultant Marsha Ingrao and Stories of Service Coordinator Yvonne Toledo.
~ Leonard Hansen tells his story of capture and imprisonment in Nazi Germany.
Interns Have A Place at California Friday Night Live Partnership
Since 1995, the California Friday Night Live Partnership (CFNLP), housed by the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE), has been responsible for overseeing and directing the Friday Night Live system in 55 counties throughout California. Historically, youth programs have worked from a philosophical framework that viewed young people as having problems for adults to solve. But, Friday Night Live realized that an asset-based approach would be more effective — acknowledging youth as capable people with incredible resources to offer.
The FNL system adopted a mission statement that supports their commitment to California’s young people: "Friday Night Live builds partnerships for positive and healthy youth development." So, to put the words into action, CFNLP's goal is work every day with young people and provide jobs for them in the office. Internships were made available to local high school and first-year college students. The criteria and experience required to get the job was simply that you were a young person.
Four very talented young women were interviewed and hired to join the CFNLP team – Kristen Vasquez, Brandi Adams, Anita Fierro and Cristina Mendez. Reflecting on her experience working in an adult environment, Cristina Mendez said: "I could definitely say that I feel equal and as important as everyone else, which makes me want to do my best." Interns bring diversity and points of view, making it apparent that they are truly skilled and capable people. For all that the young people learn, it is the CFNLP that benefits most by having youth in the office.
Projects that the young people work on are personally meaningful. Brandi Adams says: "I learned new computer skills that are going to help me with school and future jobs." Cristina Mendez and Anita Fierro are assisting with the Teenwork Training Institute registration materials and conference packets and will attend the event as participants to see their efforts in action!
As a result of CFNLP's continuous outreach to other programs to create and develop meaningful opportunities for young people, the program was chosen as a host site for the prestigious American Legacy Foundation's Project 2030 Internship Program. CFNLP is one of only three hosts in California, and one of 10 nationwide. Interns in this program work to address tobacco issues facing young adults and utilize their knowledge to infuse tobacco awareness into events such as Teenwork. Additionally, with resources from the California Department of Education and the Stuart Foundation, the CFNLP will be adding a web development intern this fall.
Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak says of the partnership: "The Partnership's practice of giving young people the opportunity to contribute to the organization brings to life their own mission statement in a meaningful way."
~ CFNLP interns (left to right) Kristen Vasquez, Brandi Adams, Anita Fierro and Cristina Mendez.
Nominees and Award Winners Celebrate Tenth Anniversary of Recognition Program
On October 13, 2004, the Tulare County Excellence in Education Awards recognition breakfast was held at the Visalia Convention Center to honor 36 outstanding individuals and to also commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the awards program. With John Wallace as master of ceremonies, nominees, finalists and award winners shared this inspirational morning with friends, family members and colleagues.
Nominees and finalists were recognized for their dedicated service and then a video was shown to introduce the three 2004 award winners: Robert "Bob" Perez, Tulare County Administrator/Manager of the Year; Nancy Machado,Teacher of the Year; and Belen Gomez, School Employee of the Year.
Bob Perez is director of the Porterville Adult School. A graduate of the Porterville school system and a 30-year veteran with the Porterville Unified School District, Mr. Perez was honored for his work in gang awareness, counseling, vocational education and community relations. He describes himself as an "eternal optimist" who truly loves his community.
Nancy Machado is an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Alice G. Mulcahy School in Tulare and serves as the school's Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program coordinator. During the ceremony, Mrs. Machado said: "I feel passionately about teaching." Because of this dedication, she encourages her students to pursue their dreams and is highly regarded by her colleagues and local community. "Nancy has 'raised the bar,' for all her students," says AVID Coordinator Elaine Sotiropolus.
A 36-year employee of the Woodlake Elementary School District, Belen Gomez is a familiar face throughout the community. Mrs. Gomez was praised for her compassion, citing many examples including her initiative to make home visits and routinely serving as Spanish/English translator during parent/teacher conferences. She is described as an employee who always has the child's best interest at heart.
During closing remarks, County Superintendent Jim Vidak said: "Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of our awards program is not only a special occasion, but an historic one, as well. The recognition program captures the stories of outstanding administrators, teachers and school employees who make a difference in our schools and local communities. The last ten years, conversations we recorded on film with students, parents, colleagues and friends - along with the collected heartfelt letters of support - all serve to document the extraordinary efforts of men and women who have dedicated their lives to educating our children."
He extended gratitude to the Educational Employees Credit Union, its board of directors and President/CEO Bruce Barnett for hosting this elegant event and for their continued support of Tulare County schools. The 2004 Excellence in Education video is available for viewing online at: www.tcoe.org.
~ Excellence in Education winners Belen Gomez, Bob Perez and Nancy Machado.
~ County Superintendent Jim Vidak congratulates nominee Jackie Medeiros.
~ M.C. John Wallace praises nominee Mike Urias of Visalia Unified.
Tulare County Office of Education employees have a reputation of generously contributing their time and money whenever there is a need. October 8, 2004, was labeled Lee National Denim Day. Denim is Powerful Stuff — and our staff agrees. For a $5 minimum donation to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, participants received a pink ribbon pin and were able to wear jeans to work on that date to show their support for the fight against breast cancer. Wearing jeans can say a lot — the campaign raised $350 for the cause.
Red Ribbon Week was celebrated October 25 – 29, 2004, with events centering around the theme: "Team Up Against Drugs." TCOE employees take this opportunity to show support for creating a drug-free community. The logo to match the theme was designed by Lorena White, who works in the Information Systems Department. T-shirts were custom printed to adorn the colorful logo. Committee members accepted donations for Red Ribbon pencils, candy grams, and decorated water bottles (generously donated by Odwalla Water of Dinuba). As in years past, proceeds from the event will be donated to a worthy cause. This year, the money will be given to the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency (formerly Child Protective Services) to sponsor a holiday event for over 1,200 foster children in Tulare County. Thank you to committee members Elizabeth Rivas, Lorena White, Gail Kaulfuss, Gwen Coughran, Juani Rubio, Faye Bishop, Priscilla Gomez, Janis Killion, Molly Anzaldua, Shirley Ready, and Christine Chapman.
Adam Valencia, Project Coordinator for TCOE’s Reconnecting Youth Program, was recently recognized by the Tulare County Hispanic Roundtable as a Future Hispanic Leader in our county. Adam, who helped form a group called Champions for Youth, was honored for his commitment to working directly with young people.
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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