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The News Gallery

March 2006

LEARNING AT PLAY - The Bright Start Parent Infant Program Is Part Of The Tulare County Office of Education's Early Intervention Efforts

News Gallery - March 2006 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Priscilla Gomez, Lorena White, Hope De Leon, Julio Vazquez, Jonathan Janzen, LouAnn Lubben, Shannen Akers-Cox, Kelly Wine, Maria Gaston, 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 chrisc@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.

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Early Intervention Month at Bright Start
Parents and Children Receive Comprehensive Evaluation and Instruction

Bright Start teacher Kelly Wine A dozen toddlers busy themselves at the 10:00 a.m. session of the Bright Start program in Visalia. They are content to drag around brightly colored toys, bounce on a tiny trampoline, and try on hats  happily oblivious that they are there for anything other than playtime. But as teachers Kelly Wine and Shannon Akers-Cox explain, the group sessions are filled with opportunities to develop the children's abilities and to assess their progress.

Bright Start teacher Shannon Akers-Cox Early in the session, children sit in a semi-circle on mats, singing songs, clapping and shaking rattles. "These activities and those at our art center develop fine motor skills," says Ms. Wine. At the art center, children make a painting of Sesame Street favorite "Elmo"  dabbing red tempera paint on paper and pasting on his eyes and nose. The kids focus intently on taking Elmo's precut nose and eyes from their teacher and placing them on their painting. After the art lesson, children crawl into and out of a tent, and roll in a soft pit filled with teddy bears. What they don't know is that they are working on their gross motor skills. Near the end of the session, children enjoy snack time. Here too is a teaching opportunity  this time it's communications. Children are encouraged to say or sign "more" or "finished."

Bright Start activities Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared March "Early Intervention" month  the very focus of Bright Start's program. When a child under the age of three is not meeting his or her developmental milestones, because of identified developmental delay or handicapping condition, an established risk, or a high risk for developmental disability, Bright Start provides individualized special needs services ranging from hearing, speech and vision therapy to physical and occupational therapy. "Bright Start is a model of convenience and support," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Parents and their young children benefit from the integrated approach to assessment and instruction."

For more information on Bright Start in Visalia or Porterville, contact LouAnn Lubben at (559) 740-4321.

Photos above:
~ Bright Start teacher Kelly Wine gets Jennifer Morris ready for an art lesson.
~ Shannon Akers-Cox works on communication at snack time.
~ "Hooray for Andrea!" Andrea Pena listens as teachers and aides sing a song about each child. Kids are encouraged to clap along.

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Migrant Students Get Acquainted With College
Students Spend Day Learning About Degree Opportunities and Application Process

Migrant students receive encouragement After a full morning of presentations on degree plans, admissions, testing and financial aid, the high school students visiting Porterville College were ready to get out into the early spring weather. Outside on a sunny patch of lawn, guides lead several, fun team relay exercises designed to re-energize the information-saturated students, who are visiting college as part of an annual Migrant Education event called the Health Professional Career Day.

Migrant students participate in a team-building exercise "We have had organized tours of both Porterville College and the College of the Sequoias for about four years," says Migrant Education Program Manager Julio Vazquez. "This month, we were able to familiarize about 80 migrant education students from Exeter, Strathmore, Farmersville and Porterville High Schools with Porterville College. In addition to helping students get more comfortable with the college, this event was also an opportunity to explain how their bilingual skills are in real demand in health and education careers."

Mini Corps members lead tours of the campus During the afternoon, groups are led on a tour of the campus by members of the Mini Corps program. The Mini Corps is made up of former migrant education students now attending Porterville College or COS. The program is funded by Migrant Education to aid these students in becoming teachers. While attending school at either college, Mini Corps participants serve in local schools as classroom aides. They also may work in migrant's summer programs and assist with other student activities such as the Health Day.

"College application can be a daunting task for any student," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Migrant's Career Days are one of the reasons so many of our students go on to our community colleges."

Photos above:
~ Migrant students receive encouragement during a visit to the college's counseling center.
~ Taking a break from the presentations, students have time for a team-building exercise.
~ Mini Corps members toured students around the campus, adding their personal experiences along way.

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Granite Hills Captures Academic Honor
Two-Day Competition Concludes With Some New Winners and Some Familiar Ones

Academic Decathlon Anxious high school students await the next question: "Who strongly advised Charles V to keep Milan's 'Gateway to Italy' in the family by bequeathing it to his son, Philip? Was it : a. Diego Mendoza, b. Gonsalvo de Cordoba, c. Lord Darnley, d. Sieur de Chievres or e. Don John of Austria?" After a few seconds marking their answers, they hear: "Pencils up. The correct answer is 'a'  Diego Mendoza." These and dozens of other questions related to the European Renaissance were part of the Super Quiz  the final segment of the two-day Academic Decathlon.

Academic Decathlon This year, 11 teams  with six to nine members each  from eight high school districts competed in the ten-event, scholastic competition. "Each team includes students in three different grade-point categories," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "It's not a competition limited to students with 4.0 GPAs, but an opportunity for many to test their knowledge and writing and speaking abilities." Prior to the Super Quiz, contestants take exams on subjects including economics, mathematics, music, art, language and literature, and science. In addition, contestants present prepared and impromptu speeches, write an essay on a given topic, and sit for an interview by a panel of judges.

Again for the fourth year, top honors went to Porterville's Granite Hills 'Team A', coached by Mark Harriger. Granite Hills also won the top large school honor. The small school honor went to Strathmore High School. Top student winners were Monache High School's William Dunn in the Honors Category; Monache High School's James Franco in the Scholastic Category; and Granite Hill's Victoria Worthington in the Varsity Category. Granite Hills will go on to compete in the state Academic Decathlon competition in Los Angeles March 17-19.

Photos above:
~ "Pencils Up!" Students mark answers to the Super Quiz portion of the Academic Decathlon in the Porterville College gym.
~ County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak presents a trophy to the winning team from Granite Hills High School in Porterville.

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Field Science Weekend Attracts 60 Students
Professors, Researchers and Teachers Develop Event to Expand Program's Use

Field Science at Circle J-Norris Ranch Sixty high school students from five local high schools spent the weekend at Circle J-Norris Ranch January 28-29, sampling, measuring and observing alongside top scientists from institutions that included the Sequoia National Forest, U.C. Merced and U.C. Davis. The students were part of the new Field Science Weekend, which was established to provide hands-on science experience and a glimpse into field sciences and conservation career opportunities. "We appreciate the involvement of all who have come together to make the Field Science Weekend possible," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "This event furthers our vision to see a permanent research center established at Circle J-Norris Ranch."

Field Science at Circle J-Norris Ranch The intensive research focused around Heron Pond, a large man-made pond created in the 1940's. The Field Science work revolved around different scientific studies of the environment such as: soil characterization and infiltration; pond microbe assessment; wildlife survey; water quality testing; and entomology research.

World-class scientists like Dr. Rob Atwill, of U.C. Davis Veterinary Medicine and Research Center, and Dr. Samuel Traina, director of Sierra Nevada Research Institute at U.C. Merced, took time out of their busy schedules to work with the students. Not only did the students learn from their work with the science professionals, they also gained an appreciation of the importance of staying on track with science and math courses necessary for success in higher education. Ivan Cabanban, a junior from Monache High School in Porterville stated: "Working with Dr. Traina has allowed me to see what type of major I want in college. I want to work in science as a career and coming up here helped answer some of my questions."

Photos above:
~ Students get instruction on pond microbe assessment led by Drs. Rob Atwill and Xunde Li of U.C. Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center.
~ Mike Milanesi, science consultant with Tulare City Elementary School District demonstrates an electronic probe used to assess pond water quality.

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On People in Service and Support

Support Staff Conference Speaker Jack Gallagher Over 450 classified, confidential and classified management staff will find a "pot of gold" worth of information and fun at the 2006 Tulare County Support Staff Conference. Scheduled on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2006, at the Visalia Convention Center, the conference will include timely breakout sessions and speaker Jack Gallagher, who has been in the entertainment field most of his life and appeared in "Heartbreak Ridge" with Clint Eastwood. The conference will also feature Cindy Suryan, public relations/news manager for Community Medical Centers in Fresno, who is also a former anchor/reporter on radio and television. For more information, contact Darlynn Billingsley, administrative assistant to the Tulare County Superintendent of Schools, at (559) 733-6302 or e-mail darlynnb@tcoe.org.

Shelly DiCenzo, Jennifer Saechao, and Marie Holguin Last month, the Business Services Division held a dessert reception to welcome three new members. Pictured left to right are: Shelly DiCenzo, Administrative/Legal Assistant; Jessikah Saechao, Accountant; and Marie Holguin, secretary for External Business and General Services Administrators, John Wilborn and Rich Graham.

Benjamin Walkowiak's Mock Trial Competition artwork As the courtroom drama of the 2006 Mock Trial Competition unfolded over three weeks in January and February, student artists were there to capture it on paper. The artist judged best in the competition for the third year is El Diamante High School Senior, Benjamin Walkowiak. Benjamin is an honor student, an athlete and a member of El Diamante's Mock Trial team. He has served as a witness and an attorney, while also being an artist. He will advance to the state competition in Riverside March 17-19, along with the winning team from Visalia's Redwood High School.

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Gallery Notes

Launched at the beginning of the year, the Autism Resources Website was created to assist parents, professionals and other community members by providing information on Autism Spectrum Disorders. The site, which is a project of the Tulare County/District Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA), can be accessed at www.tulareselpa.org/autism. Visitors to the site will find general information on Autism Spectrum Disorders as well as links to specific information from a variety of sources. A number of educational approaches are described and "downloadable" materials are available. In the future, the site will contain information on other resources and training opportunities. It was developed by Special Service's Kaye van Gilluwe, administrator for Student Support Services, and Carol Barnett, program manager. Paul Harrington, programmer analyst with Information Systems, was responsible for the design.

An updated version of the Tulare County Office of Education's Injury and Illness Prevention Program is available to all employees through Rich Graham, administrator for General Services, who is responsible for implementation of the program, or by checking the TCOE website at www.tcoe.org/hr/SafetyCommittee. The goal of the program is to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all employees and to eliminate occupational injuries and illnesses. The priority of workplace safety and health is of such importance that it is placed above operating efficiency and productivity whenever necessary. A Safety Committee comprised of representatives from TCOE's divisions and major programs meets quarterly to review and update the plan.

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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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