The News Gallery
July / August 2006SUMMER GARDEN - Theatre Company Brings The Secret Garden to the Stage This Month With Stephanie Jones Starring as Mary Lennox
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
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 email@example.com or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.
Magical Garden Blooms on Stage in July
Classic Children's Book Brought To Life By Theatre Company
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 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.
~ 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.
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."
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."
~ 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).
Friends of SCICON Awards Dinner Held
Outstanding Students, Teachers, Interns & Community Contributions Recognized
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.
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."
~ 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.
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.
~ 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.
On People in Service and Support
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.
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.
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.
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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