The News Gallery
December 2007 - January 2008GARDEN OF LEARNING - Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center Expands Outdoor Education Opportunities
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Sylvia Karsten, Jan Mekeel, Klara East, Sara Sutton, Randy Wallace, Jeanne Croson and Leslie Converse.
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.
Grant Enhances Hands-On Outdoor Learning
Charter School Supporting Home-Schooled Students Begins Construction on New Garden
Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center (ERCLC) took an important step last month — by dedicating a new garden, the school is creating a unique learning laboratory for future classes of the home-schooled students it serves. Students of all ages gathered at the dedication ceremony to plant and encourage two apple trees. "We hope you grow big and tall, and give us apples for apple pie," said one student as shovels of soil filled the holes prepared for the trees. ERCLC is one of many schools in Tulare County to recently receive an Instructional School Garden grant from the California Department of Education.
The new garden is a natural for the school, where — on any given day — instruction of all kinds occurs outdoors. Located on seven picturesque acres near the Kaweah Oaks Preserve, east of Visalia, ERCLC places a high priority on hands-on learning. "We feel students learn best when they experience their lesson first hand," says Superintendent Klara East. At the dedication ceremony, Ms. East described the vision for a garden that will eventually include raised planting beds for fruits and vegetables, an area for chickens and rows of apple trees. "We will certainly use what we grow in meals and snacks for the students," says Ms. East. The school also has plans to restore a portion of its site — utilizing indigenous plants so that students can see what the region looked like before it became agricultural land.
Five years ago, newly created Eleanor Roosevelt bought the historic Venice Hill School, where it remains today. From the 100-year-old school building and an adjacent classroom, the school conducted some of its early enrichment classes in art, music and core subjects of math, language arts, history and science. Over the past several years, ERCLC has expanded several times. Additional classroom buildings have been added, along with expanded recreational fields and playground equipment for younger children. The amount of enrichment offerings continues to be diverse.
On a warm November morning, groups of younger students were outdoors with microscopes studying earthworms with instructors Dr. Barbara Brydolf and Rose Ann Gutierrez, while middle school students were helping instructor Bryan Shirk with a science lesson. Mr. Shirk, who drives a Mercedes-Benz diesel, was showing students the process of converting cooking oil into biodiesel to power his car. "It's non-polluting," he tells the students. "And my exhaust smells like tortilla chips."
The school now serves 222 kindergarten through 12th-grade students at its main campus and through a satellite in Porterville. ERCLC also celebrated its first class of graduating seniors last year. "The growth in service to parents who are home-schooling their children has been tremendous," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "From instructional trainings to enrichment activities, Eleanor Roosevelt supports parent-teachers with learning experiences that build inquisitive young people."
~ Superintendent Klara East stands among building materials (purchased with help from Lowe's) to present to students and parents the school's vision for the new garden.
~ The existing gardens at Eleanor Roosevelt will be greatly expanded with help from a state Instructional School Garden grant.
~ Rose Ann Gutierrez, ERCLC's reading teacher, works with students to record their observations during an outdoor science lesson.
~ Social interaction and physical activity are important parts of ERCLC's service to home-school parents.
~ Instructor Bryan Shirk measures ingredients for biodiesel fuel, which he refines from used cooking oil.
Human Resources Celebrates Milestones
Longevity Award Anniversaries Total Over 1,000 Years
Last month, co-workers and family members gathered for a dinner honoring the service of 69 TCOE employees. The event — hosted annually by Human Resources, under the direction of Assistant Superintendent Jeanne Nava — marked the employment anniversaries of those who have served 10, 15, 20, 30, 35 and 40 years. The number of years achieved by the honorees exceeded 1,000, with over 70 percent of them accumulated by employees within the Special Services Division. County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak praised the teachers, administrators and support staff who have dedicated so many years to the Tulare County Office of Education. "Year after year, you demonstrate extraordinary character through your creativity, caring and dedication to the students we serve."
View more photos of the honorees.
~ 30-year honorees (l-r) Enid Brinkman, Willie Dreith, Susanna Garza, Cathy Jordan, Rebecca Springer and Sandra Sweeney.
~ 35-year honoree Pat Wescott.
Multi-Media Theater Goes Digital
Popular History Programs Expanded with New Video Features
The slide projectors in the Multi-Media Educational Theater and the Peña Planetarium at the Impact Center are on the mechanical list of endangered species. It is no longer a matter of keeping up with technology — many planetariums and theaters are faced with replacing equipment that is no longer being manufactured or repaired.
The Tulare County Office of Education's Impact Center opened the 2007-2008 school season with a new five-screen digital theater. An eight-channel video server now replaces 15 slide projectors in the control room. The server was made by Enseo, a company located in Richardson, Texas, that builds systems for theaters around the world. The technicians at Enseo had never built a system for a five-screen theater, so specifications had to be clarified before construction of the equipment began. "They couldn't wait to hear how everything worked out," says Impact Center Supervisor Sara Sutton. "They thought it was such a cool new use for their product."
The server requires five separate videos be created and synchronized in order to present the program. The result is a show with high resolution images without the background noise of the old slide projectors. The new system also allows for displaying motion video on all five screens. "Our first adventure with the new five-camera system was at the Tule River Indian Tribal Pow Wow near Springville in October," says Ms. Sutton. "We are updating a program about Native Americans and wanted to film the young people involved in tribal dances. A preview of this show will be ready this month."
"The Impact Center digital process not only improves the visual quality of the shows, but preserves the content of shows students have enjoyed for many years," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. Sara Sutton and Tyler Groom, the new Impact Center media developer, have hopes of digitizing the Peña Planetarium shows next year. Ms. Sutton has been investigating available systems that project full-dome images. The goal is to begin producing original programs for the Planetarium with the objective of teaching astronomy and earth science while reinforcing positive values to the youth. These, in turn, can be distributed to other planetariums in the country.
~ Impact Center Instructional Aide Joni Jump welcomes a class to the Multi-Media Theater. Soon all shows presented in the theater will benefit from the new digital projection system.
On People in Service and Support
At its annual breakfast for school administrators, the Tulare County Farm Bureau presented grants to two Tulare County Office of Education programs. Michelle Kerr of the Farmersville Middle School Special Day Class and Jan Mekeel of La Sierra High School in Porterville both received $500 grants for their garden programs. Ms. Mekeel plans to combine her award with a $2,500 California Instructional School Garden grant the school received in October, which is being used to purchase a greenhouse. Pictured are (l-r) Cheryl Silva, Sylvia Karsten and Nani Rowland of the Network for a Healthy California, Michelle Kerr, County Superintendent Jim Vidak, La Sierra Porterville Principal Jan Mekeel, Robyn Cooper and Janet Hettinger.
During the month of October, pumpkin patches sprouted up all over Tulare County. The Tulare County Office of Education's Network for a Healthy California, in partnership with Changala Farms and Abe-El Produce, provided 4,075 pumpkins to 15 schools and special services sites. After enjoying some activities, this Maple Learning Center Special Services student is ready to roll with her favorite pumpkin held tight. View more photos from other pumpkin patches.
Beginning December 3, the 2008 Community Advisory Committee (CAC) Calendar will be available at the Tulare County Office of Education's Burrel Avenue office in Visalia. Entitled, "Meeting Challenges - Life and the Arts," the free calendar highlights the arts-based programs available to students with disabilities, particularly those offered for young adults through the Creative Center in Visalia. The CAC, which is made up primarily of parents whose children have special needs, publishes the calendar annually to build awareness for special education services.
On November 19, over 180 school board members and district administrators gathered at the Holiday Inn for the annual Fall Institute, an event hosted by Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, the Tulare County Board of Education and Tulare County School Boards Association (TCSBA). Following several informational breakout sessions, participants enjoyed a keynote address by Scott Plotkin, executive director of the California School Boards Association. Mr. Plotkin addressed the crowd with updates on statewide educational issues.
Red Ribbon Week 2007 was an unequivocal success! The Red Ribbon Committee, led by Administrative Secretary Marlene Moreno, wishes to thank the many generous donors who participated in the week's activities. Over $1,300 donated during Red Ribbon Week will be forwarded to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Tulare County. For a list of the lucky raffle prize winners, visit www.tcoe.org/RedRibbon.
Sandy Carl has recently joined the team of Instructional Consultants at Educational Resource Services (ERS). Prior to joining ERS, Ms. Carl was a mathematics instructor at Tulare Western High School. She is currently involved in providing instructional training to schools that have been designated "Program Improvement" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The Peña Planetarium will offer its second installment in the Tulare County Night Skies Series, entitled: The Hero, The Lady and the Stars of Early Winter. The program, which will be shown December 7 and January 11 at 7:30 p.m, is produced in cooperation with the Tulare Astronomical Association. The production features both an indoor planetarium show and outdoor star-gazing. For tickets and more information, call (559) 733-6433.
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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