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The News Gallery

July / August 2006

SUMMER GARDEN - Theatre Company Brings The Secret Garden to the Stage This Month With Stephanie Jones Starring as Mary Lennox

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

Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Tom Byars, Jeanne Croson, Mike Stephens, Donna Orozco, Brian Roberts, Sara Sutton, Charlotte Hartman and Rick Mitchell.

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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Magical Garden Blooms on Stage in July
Classic Children's Book Brought To Life By Theatre Company


The Secret Garden Beginning in June, the Theatre Company launched its ninth annual drive to stage a spectacular summer production. In the short course of six weeks, the program will construct, rehearse and perform a major musical production of Frances Hodgson Burnett's timeless novel, The Secret Garden, utilizing Tulare County students. The process involves training students in Victorian-era style, building and decorating an elaborate stage, and rehearsing daily one of the most difficult scores the Theatre Company has ever undertaken.

"I've been excited to do The Secret Garden for a long time," says Theatre Company Director Brian Roberts. "I fell in love with the music when I first heard it and we have been fortunate to assemble an amazing group of singers for this production. I think audiences will be captivated by the story and delighted by the music."

The Secret Garden The Secret Garden is a Tony Award-winning production of the classic children's book. It centers around 11-year-old Mary Lennox, who is sent to live at Misselthwaite Manor, her mysterious uncle's enormous, drafty mansion looming on the edge of the English moors. A cholera epidemic has ravaged the Indian Village in which she was born, killing both her parents and the Indian servant who cared for her. Not long after coming to live with her uncle, Mary discovers a neglected, walled garden and releases the magic and adventure locked inside it  changing their lives forever.

"I'm sure the production will delight fans of the book," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Our hope is that it will also inspire parents and grandparents to share this wonderful story with the young readers in their lives." Seven performances will be offered July 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29 at the L.J. Williams Theater in Visalia. For ticket information call the Theatre Company at (559) 651-1482.

Photos above:
~ Choreographer Melissa Van Osch leads a dance routine set in the garden.
~ Theatre Company Vocal Coach Charlotte Garcia works with El Diamante graduates Josh Robinson, who plays Dr. Craven, and Allyson Haynes, the pianist.



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Tipton Parents Trained as Partners and Leaders
Child Care and Special Services Division Team With Tipton Elementary to Train Parents


Empowering parents and creating confident kids  that was the goal when TCOE collaborated with Tipton School to teach a class for parents of children in preschool through second grade. Emily Rivera, TCOE school psychologist, presented the idea to Tipton's Projects Director, Bud Case, after holding a similar class at Traver School. He was excited about the idea. "We chose parents of younger children to try to create a group of parents that will become partners with teachers and be an integral part of the school," said Mr. Case. "Our goal was to develop parent leaders, who would volunteer in the classroom and become involved in school committees."

Tipton Parenting Class Ms. Rivera, Isabel Valenzuela and Brenda Woodard from TCOE's Child Care Program (which operates a preschool at Tipton) and Rachel Borbolla, a TCOE family service worker, utilized curriculum called Parenting Partners for their program. During the spring, they taught a seven-week parenting class for 15 parents. Topics included parenting qualities and styles, discipline, communication, boundaries, behaviors and building children's developmental assets. The parents were all Spanish speaking and at first felt uncomfortable in the school setting, but they quickly became enthusiastic.

"Now, I listen to my children and they listen to me," said Dinora Contreras, one of the parent participants. "I learned discipline techniques instead of just grounding them. Now I don't argue with them. I communicate better. I relax, take time and think before I talk." The trainers felt the parents became more confident about talking to Tipton's staff. "The classes allowed parents to talk about parenting, and their concerns and dreams for supporting their children so they can do well in school," said Ms. Rivera. "You could see relationships being built."

"Supportive, engaged parents are as much of an asset to schools as they are to their own children," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Through continued support, some of these parents can become facilitators and train a new set of parents next year  building a model of school cooperation for Tipton."

Photo above:
~ Pictured with their completion certificates are 15 parents in the Tipton class, along with Bud Case (far left) and three of the trainers: Brenda Woodard (seated far right), Emily Rivera (standing second from right) and Isabel Valenzuela (standing far right).



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Friends of SCICON Awards Dinner Held
Outstanding Students, Teachers, Interns & Community Contributions Recognized


SCICON Honorees The Friends of SCICON is a non-profit organization that helps the outdoor education program with fundraising efforts, including the annual SCICON Barbecue. Each year, it also holds an Awards Dinner to give SCICON staff the opportunity to recognize dozens of students, teachers and community members for their service to the program. "This event is a great reminder of just how extensively our community supports SCICON," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Hundreds of teachers, students and committed community members volunteer for the program every year." The dinner took place Friday, June 16, at the John Muir Dining Lodge on the SCICON campus. The event began with a film recently produced to help staff raise awareness of the program's new village project, followed by honors for individual contributions and support of the SCICON and Circle J programs.

SCICON Honorees Receiving the Laurel Leaf Awards as the top high school cabin leaders of the year were Emily McCarter of Golden West High School in Visalia, Raymond Gonzalez of Tulare Tech Prep High School, Marsha Rivera of Monache High School in Porterville and Alex White of Tulare Union High School. They were selected out of 1000 high school students as being exemplary role models for the sixth-grade students at SCICON. In addition to their awards, they also received a college scholarship from the Friends of SCICON and the Association of California School Administrators Region XI.

The SCICON Interns were also introduced and honored for their service, along with 14 teachers, administrators and staff members, who received "Awards of Merit."

Photos above:
~ Laurel Leaf honorees are SCICON's top cabin leaders. They are (left to right) Emily McCarter of Golden West High School, Raymond Gonzalez of Tulare's Tech Prep High School, Marsha Rivera of Monache High School and Alex White of Tulare Union High School.
~ SCICON Director Rick Mitchell honors retiring trail guides, Tom Fischer and Bill Meeker, (left to right) for each giving 17 years of service guiding students on nature hikes. The men also had 30-year careers as sixth-grade teachers.



2006 Friends of SCICON Awards of Merit

Rob Herman, TCOE Public Information Officer
Priscilla Gomez, TCOE Secretary
- recognized for their contributions in promoting the SCICON program, as well as developing beautiful posters and flyers for SCICON events.

Janet Kliegl, Superintendent, Lindsay Unified School District
Steve Tietjen, Superintendent, Woodlake Union Elementary School District
- recognized for their leadership and their district's strong support of the SCICON Program.

Bonnie Armstrong, Guidance Counselor at Lindsay High School
Sally Pace, Guidance Counselor at Woodlake High School
- recognized for their leadership in training and recruiting quality high school students to serve as cabin counselors at SCICON.

John Caudle, Asst. Supt. Business, Tulare City Elementary School District
Sue Ann Hillman, Director II Curriculum, Tulare City Elementary School District
- recognized for their leadership and many years of strong support for the SCICON program.

Gerald Benton, Superintendent, Tulare Union High School District
Karen Davis, Vice-Principal, Tulare Western High School
- recognized for their leadership and many years of service in promoting the SCICON Program for their high school students.

Mary Eberle, SCICON Museum Specialist
- recognized for her diligent work in the SCICON Museum of Natural History and Raptor Center.

Dianne Shew, SCICON Naturalist
- recognized for her exemplary work in developing the SCICON Tree Nursery program.

Fidel Banuelos, 4th grade teacher, Burton Elementary School
Stacy Vehrs, Biology teacher, Granite Hills High School
- recognized for their work in developing student activities at the Circle J - Norris Ranch

also honored
2005-06 SCICON Interns

Nitcia Arreola, Dinuba, CA
Gabriela Cardenas, Porterville, CA
Clayton Fielding, Bradenton, FL
Veronika Foetz, Waldbillig, Luxembourg
Federico Mangold, Uruguay
Jordan Nobler, Evergreen, CO
Anita Ramirez, Tulare, CA
Betsy Rivera, Porterville, CA
Lauryn Smith, Exeter/San Diego, CA
Kevin Sullivan, Londonderry, NH




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Retirees Bid Emotional Farewells at Reception
Employees Served in Instruction, Special Education and Business Support


On June 7, friends, families and employees of the Tulare County Office of Education gathered in the Education Center to wish 32 individuals a long and happy retirement. County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jeanne Nava presented gifts as co-workers and managers spoke about each person. In total, these men and women dedicated 699 years to the students of Tulare County. Below is a list of those honored and the years they served their programs.

TCOE Retirees
Photos above:
~ Long-time receptionist Dorcus Mayben listens as staff members praise her for 42 years of service.
~ A tearful Elaine Maldonado holds a picture of her students she took years ago  a photo she later presented to Assistant Superintendent of Special Services Dr. Marilyn Rankin.
~ Speech and Language Specialists Charlotte Willenborg (left) and Carol Forbes (right) will be missed by Carol Barnett, program manager for Designated Instructional Services, (center) and colleagues within the Special Services Division for their dedication to Tulare County students and a combined 66 years of service.



2006 TCOE Retirees
Katie Alfaro (11 years)
Project Specialist, Child Care

Wanda Barnett (37 years)
Instructional Assistant, Special Services

Kay Bartel (8 years)
Teacher Assistant, Child Care

Brent Borum (32 years)
Teacher-Severely Handicapped, Special Services

Randy Conn (26 years)
Teacher-Court/Community School, Special Services

Marilyn De Mello (7 years)
Nurse, Child Care

Marji Denham (12 years)
Instructional Media Specialist, Educational Resource Services

Irene Espinoza (38 years)
Teacher, Child Care

Carole Forbes (34 years)
Speech & Language, Special Services

Hope Gonzales (31 years)
Center Supervisor, Child Care

Julia Koob (8 years)
Nurse, Child Care

Elaine Maldonado(31 years)
Instructional Assistant, Special Services

Hope Martinez-Raycraft (31 years)
Teacher-Court/Community School, Special Services

Patsy Mauricio (13 years)
Home Educator, Child Care

Dorcus Mayben (42 years)
Receptionist/Credentials Assistant, Human Resources

Sherral McBee (32 years)
Teacher-Severely Handicapped, Special Services

Pat Monno (29 years)
Secretary-General Services, External Business Services

Sharon Moran (14 years)
Teacher-Services for Education & Employment, Instructional Services

Alma Moreno (10 years)
Nurse, LVN/RN, Migrant Education

Cora Neill (11 years)
Resource Specialist, Special Services

Verna Pearson (22 years)
Instructional Assistant, Special Services

Berry Phillips (4 years)
Building Maintenance Supervisor, Child Care

Pam Putnam (32 years)
Instructional Assistant, Special Services

Gloria Ramirez (5 years)
Infant Toddler Teacher Assistant IV, Child Care

Joe Shaw (29 years)
Custodian, Child Care

Yvonne Velasquez (16 years)
Instructional Assistant, Special Services

Marilyn Wachner (8 years)
Program Specialist, Special Services

Gayle Westbrook (16 years)
Home Base Supervisor, Child Care

Garyalynn Wilhelm (11 years)
Administrative Legal Assistant, Business Services

Charlotte Willenborg (32 years)
Speech & Language, Special Services

Joyce Willis (30 years)
Business Services Technician, External Business Services

Terry Xavier-Fox (18 years)
Home Educator, Child Care



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Spotlight
On People in Service and Support


Special Education Graduation Last month, the Special Services Division held graduation ceremonies for over 30 students in Visalia, Tulare and Porterville. These students have completed programs operated by the Tulare County Office of Education for young adults up to 21 years of age. Many students elect to continue on in community programs. Miranda Lovero smiles as Program Manager Gary Biggs recounts her career at the Community Based Instruction (CBI) program and her future plans. County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and Assistant Superintendent of Special Services Marilyn Rankin present a certificate and a gift to Davoud Salehi, who was also a student in the CBI program.

Sam Pena with Hugh Mooney statue Mooney Grove Park has a new monument standing prominently just beyond a new entry structure. The seven-foot tall bronze statue honoring Visalia pioneer Hugh M. Mooney was created by artist and TCOE Impact Center Supervisor Sam Peña. The Tulare County Historical Society long considered commissioning Mr. Peña for a statue of the man who sold his family's farm to the County of Tulare  thus helping to create the well-known park. Mr. Peña assisted fundraising efforts for the statue by producing a limited number of smaller-scale statues for auction.

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Gallery Notes

On July 19, the Tulare County Office of Education School-to-Career Project, in coordination with the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board Youth Council and the Tulare County Youth Coalition, will recognize outstanding contributions of area business, education, and community leaders or organizations at the Partner Recognition event. Each year, local youth-serving programs identify individuals, companies and agencies whose exemplary efforts have advanced career development, educational achievement and youth support and leadership for area students or young adults. Tickets are $25 each, or eight for $200, and available through the School-to-Career office at (559) 733-6101.

The Tulare County Office of Education's Ticket to Work Program  called "A Ticket to Success" and operated through the SEE program  is getting national attention. Karen Davidson, program coordinator, recently went to Washington, D.C. to meet with managers of this Social Security Administration program designed to assist persons with disabilities obtain employment. While there, she met with Susan Daniels, former Commissioner for Disability and Income Security at the Social Security Administration (1994-2000). Ms. Daniels is now a consultant helping replicate SEE's model program throughout the nation.

Tom Byars and Odell Santos recently completed the "trainer of trainers" training for the research-based Life Skills program. Life Skills Training is an in-school substance abuse and violence prevention program for upper elementary and middle or junior high school students. It provides students with the necessary skills to resist social pressure to smoke, drink and use drugs; helps them develop greater self-esteem; and increases their knowledge of the immediate consequences of substance abuse. Mr. Byars and Mr. Santos will be conducting teacher trainings for the Life Skills program at individual school sites. For more information, contact the CHOICES office at 651-0155.


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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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