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The News Gallery

February 2007

A LITTLE EXTRA HELP - 20 New After School Centers Get Started This Month in Tulare County Schools

News Gallery - February 2007 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Kelly Brooks, Tom Byars, Rob Hudson, Bruce Adams, Jeanne Croson and Randy Wallace.

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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TCOE Opens 20 After-School Programs
New Program Offers Students a Source of Academic Opportunities and Enrichment

Second-grade students in "Miss Betty's" after school class at Roosevelt Elementary in Tulare sit quietly in a quadrangle of desks  doing their homework. Betty Weaver moves around the perimeter of the giant square  from student to student  checking their progress, addressing questions and challenging them for better answers. Weaver announces: "We have about five more minutes of homework and then we will start our reading circle."

Choices After School Programs Ms. Weaver's classroom works like a clock  a clock that starts for these students at 2:30 p.m. Roosevelt Elementary has one of a handful of programs now in operation under the Tulare County Office of Education's new Choices After School Programs. Over the next several weeks, 20 Choices After School Programs will open at schools throughout the county.

The Choices After School Programs received a portion of $5.4 million recently awarded by the California Department of Education to after school programs in Tulare County operating during non-school hours. Funding is provided through the After School Education and Safety Program (ASES), which was generated from the Proposition 49 initiative passed by Californians in 2002 and supported by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

All public elementary, middle and junior high schools were eligible to apply for funding, with consideration being given to low-income schools. In Tulare County, schools that have a student population with at least 50 percent of the children eligible for free- or reduced-price lunches were given priority for the after school funding. Class size in the new programs is kept low with a ratio of 20 students for every teacher or aide. "We are delighted to be able to serve as the after school provider for several Tulare County school districts," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "We are able to support the work teachers are doing in the classroom while bridging the gap between parents' work schedules and their children's school schedules. Students in the Choices programs stand to benefit the most from the additional academic instruction and access to the many enriching programs offered by the entire Instructional Services Division."

Choices After School Programs In the three hours most students spend in their after school program, teachers and aides reinforce the instruction students receive in their classroom. While homework time is part of the afternoon, it is only one component. Next door in Velvet Tosta's first grade class, the younger students are starting their reading exercise. Ms. Tosta says: "When the children read to their classmates, it builds their confidence  both in reading and speaking in front of a group."

"At Roosevelt, the students participating in the after school program are often recommended to the program by the teaching staff," says Choices Program Manager Tom Byars. "The cooperation between the school's teaching staff and our after school staff helps us customize student instruction, emphasizing a variety of language arts, math and critical thinking activities to meet individual needs."

Students receive instruction individually, as part of group activities or on their own through classroom computer challenges. Recreation is also a big part of the afternoon. "As the programs develop, we can integrate arts, music, nutrition, career preparation activities, gang awareness instruction and a variety of other options," says Tom Byars.

Choices After School Programs Recreation is clearly at the top of the list for students in Velvet Tosta's first-grade class. On a cool, sunny afternoon, students file outside and take turns leading their favorite physical activities  jumping jacks, hopscotch and a game called "squirrels in trees." Ms. Tosta is thankful for the balance the activities bring to the class.

"It will be exciting to watch the growth students in our after school programs experience," says Mr. Vidak. "The learning and personal development opportunities we create today translate into support for our economy in the future. For now, students benefit from a safe haven after school that balances learning with fun."

School Sites Receiving Choices After School Programs:
Alpaugh Elementary
Alpaugh Junior High
Dinuba Unified
Grand View Elementary
Jefferson Elementary
John F. Kennedy Academy
Lincoln Elementary
Roosevelt Elementary
Wilson Elementary
Washington Intermediate
Tulare Elementary District
Cypress Elementary
Lincoln Elementary
Maple Elementary
Mulcahy Middle School
Roosevelt Elementary
Wilson Elementary
Oak Valley Elementary
Pixley Union Elementary
Pleasant View Elementary
Strathmore Middle School
Waukena Joint Union Elementary

Photos above:
~ Students in the Choices After School Program at Roosevelt Elementary in Tulare participate in a variety of activities ranging from homework assistance (top photo) to shared reading (middle photo) to outdoor physical activities (lower photo). The Roosevelt program was one of the first to open this year as part of a significant state after school grant.

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Student Enterpreneur Challenge Launched
Students Begin a Three-Month Business Ideas Competition

Can wide-eyed high school and community college students propose economic solutions that will have a positive impact on the future of the San Joaquin Valley? Dozens of them are preparing to do just that as part of The Gas Company Student Entrepreneur Challenge this spring.

Student Entrepreneur Challenge Eager young entrepreneurs and teachers from Tulare, Kings and Southern Fresno County high schools gathered at Biz Talk Student Edition in Visalia on January 25 to kick off the Challenge. As they received instructions on the event, one couldn't help but wonder whether this event would serve to spark the talents of the next Bill Gates. Students attending Biz Talk Student Edition got plenty of other instruction, including critical-thinking exercises led by Dr. Ed Sobey, founder of Kids Invent!, plus time spent with local business leaders, entrepreneurs and representatives from colleges and universities, including the staff of the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Fresno State.

The purpose of the Challenge is to encourage students to develop products, services or other economic growth ideas that can be applied in the San Joaquin Valley. The Challenge's partnership between business and education, working together to promote entrepreneurship, also supports Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's recently released proposal for the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley.

"The Student Entrepreneur Challenge was created from the vision and support of The Gas Company," says School-to-Career Project Director Randy Wallace. "It was their goal to involve young people in creating locally applicable business solutions. We are delighted to have the assistance of the Lyles Center, the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation and the Kings County Economic Development Corporation in organizing the event."

"We greatly appreciate the support of The Gas Company in making the Challenge accessible to our students," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "The Student Entrepreneurial Challenge comes at the right time as we look for solutions to our regions most difficult problems. The experience students will gain in the Challenge will be a huge asset as they become leaders in shaping the Valley's future."

Cash incentives will be given to all teams participating in the Challenge, with an additional grand prize given to the winning team. The students will work with their coaches and local business mentors for the remainder of the semester  making presentations of their products or services before a panel of judges in May.

Photo above:
~ Ruby McKee (in purple) will lead El Diamante High School's team in The Gas Company's first Student Entrepreneur Challenge. El Diamante's team will compete against other high school teams to develop the most compelling business idea as judged by a panel of experts.

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Fans and Writers to Meet at Authors' Festival
Cherished Children's Book Authors Bring Works to Stage in Visalia March 3

Authors' Festival Authors' Festival 2007 will be held Saturday, March 3, beginning at 2:00 p.m. at the L. J. Williams Theater in Visalia. Four of America's most popular and critically-acclaimed children's book authors have joined together to bring their writings to the stage. The ensemble  which includes Walter Dean Myers, Sarah Weeks, Sharon Creech and Avi  will perform a variety of dramatic excerpts during the 90-minute program.

Authors' Festival is geared toward students in grades four through high school. Following the performance, the audience is invited to participate in a question and answer period and book signing. Books will be sold in the lobby. Tickets are available for a suggested donation of $5 per person by calling (559) 730-7349, or by visiting the Visalia Learning Center located at 630 S. Atwood St.; Borders Books in Visalia; or at the Burrel or Doe Avenue offices of the Tulare County Office of Education. For more information, visit

Photo above:
~ Newbery Medal winning author, Avi, is one of four featured authors coming to Authors' Festival, March 3.

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Vidak Begins Fifth Term as Superintendent
Staff Rings in New Term with Handbell Serenade

County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak At noon on January 8, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak stood in the lobby of the Tulare County Courthouse alongside County officials Greg Hardcastle and Rita Woodard. The three raised their right hands and repeated the Oath of Office administered to them by Judge Darryl Ferguson. A few minutes later, Mr. Vidak was on to sign an affidavit and shake hands with friends and staff members who had come to witness the ceremony.

That afternoon, Vidak was cheered at a reception attended by over 100 friends and staff members, including Trustee Leonard Hansen, former Trustee Chris Reed and her husband, Gary. The highlight of the reception was a handbell chorus of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." During the reception he thanked the staff saying: "You're the reason we are such an amazing team." And in his characteristic way, he said: "Remember, we're not done yet."

Photo above:
~ County Superintendent Jim Vidak shakes hands with Superior Court Judge Darryl Ferguson following an Oath of Office ceremony last month at the Tulare County Courthouse. The ceremony marked the beginning of Mr. Vidak's fifth term as Tulare County Superintendent of Schools.

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On People in Service and Support

La Sierra Junior Academy Eighth-grade students in Bruce Adams' history class at La Sierra Junior Academy recently enjoyed a live web broadcast from the Smithsonian's American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. An interactive lesson was taught by a member of the Smithsonian's education staff on our nation's westward expansion utilizing paintings from the museum's collection.

Alpaugh Elementary School
The Corcoran Correctional Officers Association provided new shoes for all of Alpaugh Elementary's nearly 200 students. Alpaugh Superintendent Rob Hudson says: "The pre-Holiday donation of properly fitting shoes was much needed."

2007 CAC Calendar The 2007 Community Advisory Committee (CAC) Calendar is available at the Tulare County Office of Education main office in Visalia. Entitled, "Meeting Challenges - One Student at a Time," the free calendar highlights some of the many ways students with disabilities are served on Tulare County school campuses ever day. CAC, which is made up primarily of parents whose children have special needs, publishes the calendar annually to build awareness of services for special education students.

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Gallery Notes

Cheri Anderson, teacher of severely handicapped students at L. B  Hill Learning Center in Porterville, was recently selected as one of six honorees in the annual Carolyn Dobbs Special Education Teacher of the Year Award presented by the Kremen School of Education and Human Development at California State University, Fresno. Ms. Anderson was praised by her supervisors for her thoroughness and focus on the needs of her students.

During the holidays, the Tulare County Office of Education Doe Avenue complex hosted the Sixth Annual Chili Cook-off. Teams of cooks sold bowls of chili in a competition to raise money for United Way of Tulare County. The donation to United Way, which also included proceeds from a silent auction and an October bake sale, totaled nearly $2,000.

The 22nd Annual Teacher Recruitment Fair is scheduled for Saturday, March 3, at the Visalia Convention Center. Fully-credentialed teachers and intern-eligible candidates are required to register for the event at
www.tcoe.org/HR/TeacherRecruitmentFair by March 1 to be admitted.

The names of four Tulare County Office of Education employees recognized at the annual Longevity Awards Dinner did not appear in the list of honorees published in the December 2006 News Gallery. We wish to congratulate two employees from the Special Services Division  Pauline Archuleta, Community School teacher, and Cristina Creason, instructional aide with the Court/Community Schools, for ten years of service. Business Services' Allen Austin, P.C. Technician, and Cindy Correia, Information Systems Coordinator, also celebrated ten years of service.

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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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