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The News Gallery

May 2005

UP AND AT 'EM - In Its Fifteenth Year, Mobility Program Helps Orthopedically Disabled Students

News Gallery - May 2005 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Garyalynn Wilhelm, Jeanne Croson, Veronica Carmona, Nicole Zweifel, Priscilla Gomez, Marilyn Willers, Rick Mitchell, Mike Stephens, Cheri Anderson and John Forenti.

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:
~ Instructional Aide Laurie Melton encourages Jose Aguirre at Porterville's L.B. Hill Learning Center.



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Love, Patience and Technology Key to Movement Opportunities Via Education Program
Program for the Severely Handicapped Aids in Mobility


Instructional Aide Laurie Melton's Incredibles smock is a big hit with her students at L.B. Hill Learning Center. Covered with characters from the popular animated movie, her students love it. They're excited to see heroes "Dash," "Elastigirl," "Violet" and, of course, "Mr. Incredible." Part of their appeal is a superhuman ability to run, jump and fly things all kids want to do.

M.O.V.E. Program Under the direction of Dr. Marilyn Rankin, this long established program within the Special Services Division, helps orthopedically disabled students achieve not superhuman skills but, given the severity of their disabilities some incredible results. It's known as M.O.V.E. (Movement Opportunities Via Education) International, and it is an integral part of the Severely Handicapped Program in five Tulare County special education centers. M.O.V.E. was established nearly 20 years ago by a Kern County teacher of the severely handicapped utilizing some locally developed equipment. Since then, it has been adopted by educators throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.

M.O.V.E. helps children and young adults with severe disabilities acquire independence in sitting, standing and walking. As a result, they gain greater mobility, better health and enhanced personal dignity. With increased abilities to sit, stand, and walk, the burden of care for families and other care providers is decreased, thereby bringing new opportunities for fuller participation and involvement in family life, as well as integration and inclusion in the wider community. L.B. Hill teacher Cheri Anderson says: "These skills also aid in physiological development. Children who can sit and stand have better digestion, bone and muscle development and circulation overall better health."

M.O.V.E. Program A few years after M.O.V.E. Pioneer Linda Bidabe began her program in Bakersfield, Special Services Administrator Dr. Michael Stephens, Janet Rogers (who became Tulare County's trainer), and a few other teachers from L.B. Hill Learning Center went to observe the program. "It was something we were very excited to offer our students. After time in training, we acquired some of our first pieces of equipment and piloted the program at the L.B. Hill Learning Center in Porterville in spring 1991," says Dr. Stephens. "M.O.V.E. has been a great program for many students who years ago may have been confined to a chair. Every year at Special Services graduation, it's gratifying to see young men and women who have improved mobility and communication skills gained through the program," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

From L.B. Hill, M.O.V.E. has spread to Learning Centers in Tulare, Visalia and Yettem. With the expansion came the acquisition of additional equipment and training. "I appreciate Mr. Vidak's support of the program. Whenever we needed equipment for new centers or to improve our instruction, he was there," says Stephens.

M.O.V.E. Program Since its implementation, teachers have seen significant progress in students. The program has proven to be extremely flexible with staff constantly developing new ways to implement its features. M.O.V.E. does not replace traditional therapy but rather works along side such programs.

M.O.V.E. classrooms are full of equipment and aides working with students on individual plans in one of three phases of the program. Gait walkers, prone standers, advancement chairs and other pieces of equipment are the most noticeable element of the setting, but they're just part of the curriculum. M.O.V.E. is an activity-based curriculum designed to teach students basic motor skills needed for adult life within the home and community environments. Ms. Anderson notes that activity frequency as organized by aides, therapists and teachers is one of the keys to building skills. M.O.V.E. combines natural body mechanics with an instructional process to help the students acquire increased amounts of independence. The curriculum also provides a foundation for parental involvement in the selection of student activities.

Students progress through three skills levels to the highest "Graduate Level." Students at this level have independent mobility in the home and need minimal assistance in the community. Participants, who complete this level, graduate from the program and can expand their motor skills through traditional programs. "Because of their individual disabilities, not all students reach the graduate level," says Dr. Stephens. "Regardless, there are valuable skills learned at each level. Once achieved, we have given both the students and their parents some tools for a fuller life." For more information on M.O.V.E. and programs for students with severe handicaps, contact Dr. Michael Stephens at 730-9917.

Photos above:
~ L.B. Hill (Porterville) Teacher Cheri Anderson and therapy aide Dian Moore help Max Mora stand from a sitting position.
~ Visalia teacher Greg Owens and student, Mari Cisneros, in an advancement chair.
~ Instructional Aide Sandra Goerzen helps Martin Barrigan in a prone stander at L.B. Hill. Other L.B. Hill Instructional Aides include Tiffany Manning, Francis Lopez and Lisa Conrad.



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SCICON Expands Student Accommodations
Outdoor Education Program Undertakes Three Major Projects and a State Survey


As the wildflowers bloomed outside, SCICON Director Rick Mitchell and his staff were inside the Porterville Learning Center presenting to the Tulare County Board of Education plans and progress reports on three significant projects along with results from a statewide survey on Outdoor Education.

Rick Mitchell and Maximo Saenz The survey was designed to measure the impact of outdoor education on at-risk sixth graders and focused on 255 students attending programs in Los Angeles, San Diego and Tulare Counties. Highlights from the survey included a 27 percent increase in science scores and significant gains in self-esteem, conflict resolution, relationships with peers, problem solving, motivation to learn and behavior in class. Further details of the survey can be found at www.tcoe.org/scicon.

The construction projects Mitchell described are designed to expand and enhance student accommodations at the respected outdoor education program. Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak explains: "The projects will enable us to continue to serve 100 percent of our student population, including those with special needs, well into the future."

Trustee Ruth Stouffer Circle J-Norris Ranch. The first construction project is underway at the Circle J-Norris Ranch the field study site used by students of all ages six miles west of SCICON. The building, which will be completed in August 2005, is a welcome center nestled into a hillside to minimize its impact on the beautiful site. It contains a student receiving area, restrooms for boys and girls, office and storage space, a covered area for displays and an assembly area.

SCICON Special Education Center. In 1979, the award winning SCICON Handicabin was built so that male and female special education students could participate in the week-long outdoor education program. A second cabin for special needs students is expected to be constructed during the 2005-06 school year. The addition of this cabin will double the number of accessible bedrooms for special needs students, provide indoor classroom space, as well as separate quarters for the parent or guardian of a severely involved student who needs close monitoring.

New SCICON Student Village. Late last year, SCICON received an $811,000 gift from an anonymous local donor. The donor's gift has been designated exclusively for the purpose of constructing a new student village. Once completed, the new village will include six new student cabins, boys' and girls' restroom facilities, an outdoor arbor/classroom structure, an amphitheater and a building to house staff. The village is planned for the western side of the site - within walking distance of the dining hall. "This location gives us opportunities to develop new activity centers and trails for our students, while at the same time minimizing the environmental impact on the existing cabin sites," says Mr. Vidak. "The addition of these cabins will mean that 60 to 70 more Tulare County students can visit our incredible program each week."

Photos above:
~ Rick Mitchell and intern Maximo Saenz present concept plans for the new student village to TCOE Board members.
~ Trustee Ruth Stouffer studies the plan for the new Special Education Center.



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Acclaimed Business Ethics Training Available
SEE Program Receives Grant from Tulare County Workforce Investment Board


Tulare County businesses requested it and now Tulare County Office of Education's Services for Education and Employment (SEE) program can provide it. Armed with a $250,000 grant awarded from the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board, Inc. (TCWIB) and training from leading ethicist Michael Josephson, SEE is beginning to provide Workplace Ethics Training to Tulare County employers and job seekers. Ethics training was identified as a critical need by local employers that participated in community conversations held by the TCWIB. Based on this finding, the TCWIB authorized funding for the program being developed by SEE.

"We are delighted to make this training available to local businesses and employees," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Ethics training has been an important part of our support to local school districts for over a decade. Training for businesses, through our SEE Program, is a natural extension of our service in this important area," says Mr. Vidak.

Michael Josephson The training is based on the Ethics in the Workplace program, pioneered by Michael Josephson, founder of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Program. In April, Mr. Josephson conducted several seminars for workplace trainers the same training he has given to leaders of Fortune 500 Companies, government agencies including the FBI, Department of Defense, the CIA, California State Legislature and major charitable organizations like Goodwill International and United Way.

Under the 18-month grant, ethics training will be free of charge to any Tulare County employer as well as to any resident seeking employment. For businesses, training will cover a wide array of topics including on-the-job theft, employee attendance, workplace conflict and inappropriate conduct. SEE's Marilyn Willers and Frank Escobar, Jr. are the lead trainers for the program. Mr. Escobar will focus on the job-seeker workshops, while Ms. Willers works with businesses. For businesses, she explains: "We begin with a questionnaire that identifies an employer's areas of concern. The Ethics in the Workplace curriculum we received is so extensive that our trainers can design classes specifically geared to meet the employer's needs." Training can be conducted at the employer's job site, tailored in duration and offered with follow-up sessions.

To measure the effectiveness of the program, SEE is prepared with pre- and post-training tests. Each employer will be given a pre-test at the first meeting. Following their second session, participants will complete a post-test that will, hopefully, demonstrate positive changes promoting better attendance, greater productivity and better work habits. SEE is committed to providing nearly 300 workshops to employers and 144 job-seeker workshops at the Employment Connection offices in Visalia, Tulare, Porterville and Dinuba. Ms. Willers reports that she is beginning to work through Business Resource Centers and local Chambers of Commerce to solicit their support and marketing assistance for the program. For more information on the Ethics in the Workplace program, contact her at (559) 733-6730.

Photo above:
~ Founder of the Ethics in the Workplace program Michael Josephson leads a "training the trainer" session recently in Visalia. Nearly 40 job developers and managers attended.



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Superintendent Vidak Wins SSDA Award
Charles Binderup Award Honors County Superintendent for First Time in Its History


On April 1, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak received the Charles Binderup Award at the 22nd Annual Small School Districts' Association (SSDA) Conference in Sacramento. The Binderup Award is given annually to one of California's outstanding superintendents. Mr. Vidak, who is the first County Superintendent of Schools to receive this honor in its 10-year history, was chosen for his vision, integrity and dedication to the public education system.

County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak Serving his fourth term as County Superintendent, Jim Vidak began his career in education approximately 45 years ago. In addition to providing services to 46 school districts and College of the Sequoias with a variety of business, personnel, instructional support and special education services on any given day you'll find Mr. Vidak listening and advising concerned parents; assisting district superintendents and board members; collaborating with government agencies; and overseeing activities and programs that directly benefit students.

Tulare County has a high concentration of small school districts over 80% of the county's districts have less than 2,500 students. "I'm proud of Tulare County Office of Education's history in serving our many fine small school districts," says Mr. Vidak. "This award is a direct reflection on the commitment to service shared by every employee of the Tulare County Office of Education." At a recent Tulare County Board of Education meeting, he praised staff and said the award was a team effort. "In reality, the plaque could go home with a different employee each night."

Photo above:
~ County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak



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Theatre Workshop Culminates with SEUSSICAL

Seussical The Musical Imagine a world where anything is possible an elephant in a tree, a person too tiny to see. Imagine a magical, musical world and you've got Seussical the Musical an amazing Broadway show that appeals to audiences of all ages. The production creates the witty, wild and whimsical world of Dr. Seuss as it has never been seen before. Seussical weaves together many of his most famous stories and characters in unexpected ways, with a score by the Tony Award winning team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty.

Students enrolled in the Theatre Company's semester-long workshop will perform Seussical this month. The workshop, available to Tulare County students in grades 1 - 12, features instruction in musical theatre methods such as dance, acting and voice. In addition to appearances at community events, students also perform larger productions like Seussical. "The Theatre Company's workshops and Performing Troupe continue to offer bigger and more challenging opportunities to students throughout the year," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Performances of Seussical the Musical will be held at El Diamante High School Theatre, 5100 W. Whitendale, Visalia on May 6 at 5:30 p.m.; May 7 at 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.; and May 8 at 1:00 p.m. Tickets are $5.00. For more information, call 651-1482.

Photo above:
~ Seussical the Musical



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Gallery Notes

California Department of Education released the names of this year's California Distinguished Schools including Live Oak Middle School in Tulare. The program was formed in 1985 to identify and honor some of the state's most exemplary and inspiring public schools. Live Oak Middle School was the only Tulare County school to receive the award this year. At the same time, Tulare Union High School was one of 12 schools honored statewide for excellence in vocational education. This award is part of the state's Exemplary Career Technical Education Program.

Four of the ten middle schools that received the 2005 Virtues and Character Recognition Awards presented by the Bonner Center at California State University, Fresno were from Tulare County. Pixley Middle School; Alice G. Mulcahy Middle School, Tulare; La Joya Middle School, Visalia; and Live Oak Middle School, Tulare were among Central Valley schools to receive the prestigious award. The Virtues and Character Recognition Awards were presented Wednesday, April 20, by the Fresno State University Bonner Center for Character Education and Citizenship. All four Tulare County schools use the CHARACTER COUNTS! Program provided by the Tulare County Office of Education.


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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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