The News Gallery
September 2007PRESCHOOL FOR ME - Special Services Division Creates a Preschool Support Team to Assist Programs That Have Students With Special Needs
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Donna Orozco, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Brian Roberts, Cara Peterson, Kaye van Gilluwe, Adam Valencia, Jim Kooler, Linda Horsting, Donna Glassman-Sommer and René Moncada.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.
Added Support Given to Special Needs Children
New Preschool Support Team Begins Work Throughout County
Keianna Cruz and her classmates at the Child Care Center in Terra Bella are preparing for recess. As students begin to line up at the door, an aide leads Keianna over to a board where picture cards, or "icons" are posted. Keianna, who has an autism spectrum disorder, is asked to find her "outside" icon before she can join her friends in line at the door. It doesn't take her long to find the card and pull it from the board. She runs out of the classroom — clutching her card — to the shed where the tricycles are stored.
The icon board for Keianna and other children with autism is just one example of the new tools and trainings customized for Tulare County preschool teachers who serve students with special needs. This fall, the Special Services Division, under the direction of Dr. Marilyn Rankin, launched a new preschool program to meet the needs of district and child care preschoolers with special needs. Special Services currently serves special needs and at-risk children from birth to three years of age through programs like Bright Start. At three years, children are eligible to enter a preschool program.
Preschool programs range from 90-minute "mommy and me" programs to a special day class program to an all day preschool program. As a result of the wide variety of programs offered to parents and their children, it became necessary to look very closely at how and where special education services are delivered.
Most special education children now receive their preschool education alongside their non-disabled peers in a typical preschool setting. Special education children are educated in the least restrictive environment to the maximum extent possible. To ensure that special education students are successful in the regular education setting, Special Services developed the preschool program. The preschool program is under the direction of Cara Peterson, Preschool Coordinator, and two program specialists: Carol Rosenfield and Susan Licking.
The preschool team works very closely with Bright Start to ensure that when children transition from the infant program to preschool at the age of three, they will have a preschool program waiting for them in their community based on their individual needs.
The team also works very closely with Bright Start's FACESS team to develop programs for students with autism spectrum disorders or with other developmental delays. School districts and the childcare programs are very pleased to have the knowledge level and understanding of classroom interventions and strategies that this team is able to provide the staff. "The team approach to serving students with special needs ensures that the preschool experience is a meaningful and successful one for the child, the parent and the preschool staff," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.
One of the beneficiaries of the new preschool support program is the Tulare County Child Care Educational Program, which operates 43 Head Start/state preschool centers for preschoolers and some infants and toddlers throughout the county. Child Care teachers appreciate the additional help and training to work with this special population, reports Alisa Giltmier, Child Care disabilities coordinator. "I'm very excited about this new program," says Ms. Giltmier. "The Special Services preschool team will provide extra support and education for the Child Care teachers on site."
"Our goal is to support the implementation of educational programs and help students make progress toward their educational goals. By working together, we can see that all preschoolers have the opportunities they need to achieve their highest potential," says Student Support Services administrator Kaye van Gilluwe, who oversees the new program. For additional information about the preschool support team, call Ms. van Gilluwe at (559) 733-6714.
~ As a child with autism, Keianna Cruz utilizes communication icons.
~ Preschool support team members Cara Peterson (l) and Carole Rosenfield (r) visit Terra Bella Child Care supervisor Sandra Andalon.
~ Special needs students like Maria Rodriguez and Cecilia Barragan enjoy the activities and responsibilities of their preschool in Woodlake.
SEE Youth Program Makes Perfect Match
Student Turns Passion and Internship into Employment
When not in school or at work this summer, Lauren Eshelman enjoyed, "getting my friends to go with me to Best Buy" – the popular home electronics store in Visalia. "They got so sick of me asking them to go there every day," laughs the 19-year-old.
Lauren was one of hundreds of young people who found work through the SEE (Services for Education and Employment) Summer Youth Employment Program. Although Lauren is a special needs student, her deep desire to work with electronics made her an ideal candidate for a job in the Educational Resource Services (ERS) audio-visual repair shop. "Placing some of our youth in TCOE programs is a definite advantage. The worksite staff provides excellent supervision and teaches them relevant work skills, ensuring that they have a meaningful experience," says SEE Project Coordinator, Martha Alexandros.
SEE enrolls approximately 600 students on an annual basis. The program provides career guidance, vocational counseling, job placement, follow-up services and educational tutoring, when necessary. Funds for the program are provided by the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board to assist Tulare County residents, ages 16-21 with employment. Over the course of the summer, most students receive 150 hours of work experience and earn about $1,000 at minimum wage.
ERS Program Manager Elainea Scott reports that Lauren initially worked with the Ellison die-cut machines to make bulletin board kits, duplicated videos, and re-shelved library materials. "She had an incredible work ethic and she completed her jobs in record time," says Ms. Scott. "However, it soon became apparent that her love was with the repair shop. She continued to do everything we asked – again, in record time, but she was always driven to finish the library tasks just so that she could get back into the shop to repair projectors and clean computers."
Lauren's mother reported that her daughter is a changed person – happy, productive, animated, and thrilled to be working. It's a change that will serve Lauren well into the future. This month, she became a permanent employee at ERS, doing what she loves most.
~ SEE Youth summer intern Lauren Eshelman worked part-time this summer with ERS Technology Specialist Gary Cordell in the program's AV Electronics/Computer Repair Shop. Her exceptional work ethic and enthusiasm for electronics led to a permanent position with the program last month.
Recruitment Fills High-Need Positions
Outreach Builds Numbers in Teacher Recruitment Program
Auto industry giant Lee Iaccoca once said, "In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less." For the men and women working in the California Teacher Recruitment Program, Iaccoca's statement fuels their efforts to not only find the state's best candidates, but reinforce the importance of a teaching career, particularly when serving students in the lowest performing schools. Last year, Tulare County Office of Education was awarded a contract from the Sacramento County Office of Education to lead the California Teacher Recruitment Program (CTRP). The challenge to Jeanne Nava, program manager, and Donna Glassman-Sommer, assistant program manager, was to recruit 2000 "highly qualified" math, science and special education teachers in the central San Joaquin and Salinas Valleys, and in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties for schools ranking in the lowest three deciles on the state's academic performance index. Generally, a highly qualified teacher is one who holds a California teaching certification and has proven subject matter competency.
"The challenge of recruiting highly qualified teachers for the schools served by the program required a multi-prong approach," says Ms. Glassman-Sommer. "We are targeting people at all points on their career path — from university students to teacher interns to career changers." The program has worked closely with the California State University (CSU) System as a primary partner in the project. Ms. Glassman-Sommer reports that exciting instructional changes have occurred with CSU partners in the Los Angeles area. "The deans of colleges of education on the Los Angeles and Dominguez Hills campuses have given CTRP recruiters access to their candidates in the teacher prep program, as well as students in their math and science programs. They have also made changes in their admission process, making it easier for students to enter their programs," she says.
"The effect the Recruitment Team has had on our universities in smoothing the path to a teaching degree, plus the systems developed for marketing and placing highly qualified teachers, will continue to benefit California school districts for years to come," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. Holding intern job fairs in all the regions has been very successful in connecting math, science, English and special education candidates with districts experiencing significant retirements. The program has also reached out to career changers through informational sessions in rural communities. All of these efforts have been supported by a strategic marketing campaign that has included advertising both in print and on the web for such community events. "Presently we have identified over 400 teachers hired to work in the high-need content areas. In the next few months, we expect to reach 600-700 new hires in our region as a result of the CTRP efforts," says Donna Glassman-Sommer. For more information on the Recruitment Program, call (559) 624-1035.
~ Students at a UC San Diego job fair explore teaching opportunities in the state's high-need areas with Arlena Allende. Ms. Allende is the California Teacher Recruitment Program representative from CSU San Bernardino.
On People in Service and Support
Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the Tulare County Office of Education Theatre Company, under the direction of Brian Roberts, performed CATS! to standing ovations in July. Over 3,500 attended one of seven performances of the musical at the L.J. Williams Theater. This year's production included 60 cast members, 15 orchestra members and a total of 18 on the backstage crew — all students from throughout Tulare County.
This summer, the Reconnecting Youth (RY) program held two trainings, including a session of Coping and Support Training (CAST). This high school-based suicide prevention program was attended by 50 individuals representing family resource centers, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), after school programs, mental health and education throughout Tulare County. RY students (shown in the photo with Ernest Rodriguez from the Hanford High School District) served as actors in small group training sessions.
A downloadable edition of the 2007-2008 Tulare County Student Events Brochure is now available on the home page of www.tcoe.org. The brochure includes descriptions of nearly 40 different student events and their dates for the 2007-2008 school year. The booklet, which was distributed to Tulare County Schools last month, also includes event contact information for teachers and students who want to participate in the events.
René Moncada (pictured with Corporal Kirk Mills, an eighth-grade student at La Sierra Junior Academy) was recently selected as the new Services for Education and Employment (SEE) Administrator. In addition to his duties overseeing the La Sierra Charter School, Mr. Moncada also supervises other programs including SEE Youth and Ticket to Work. Most recently, Mr. Moncada worked as a Vice Principal at Valley Oak Middle School in Visalia. He is also a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and was director of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) at Reedley College. For three years, he also served as national chair of the TRIO Youth Leadership Congress, hosted by the Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, D.C.
Recently, the California Youth Council, in collaboration with the California Friday Night Live Partnership, was successful in petitioning the State Board of Equalization (BOE) to tax 'alcopops' as distilled spirits. Alcopops are sugary-sweet, mixed drinks in a bottle such as Mike's Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice. Among the students petitioning the BOE was Kellie Goodwin, 17, daughter of California Friday Night Live Partnership Program Analyst Lynne Goodwin. Efforts to reclassify alcopops began just two years ago with an awareness video produced by the California Friday Night Live Partnership that featured El Diamante High School students.
Applications for the third annual College Night Scholarship will be available on-line later this month at www.tcoe.org/collegenight. Information about the scholarship will also be available at College Night on Monday, September 10 at the Heritage Complex in Tulare. The scholarship, which pays $1,000 per year for up to four years, is open to Tulare County seniors graduating in May 2008. For more information on the scholarship or College Night, call Elainea Scott at (559) 651-3031.
High school teachers interested in assembling teams to compete in the 2008 Gas Company Student Entrepreneur Challenge are invited to contact Randy Wallace, School-to-Career Project Director at (559) 733-6101. Teachers who register their teams by September 14 may be eligible for free student admission to the BizTalk Business Conference October 5 at the Visalia Convention Center. Teams entered in the Student Entrepreneur Challenge will compete for prizes by developing innovative plans for products or services that address any number of critical issues facing the San Joaquin Valley. Teams will present their ideas to a panel of judges in May 2008.
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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