The News Gallery
May 2008LEARNING IN MOTION - Child Care Educational Program Pilots New Physical Exercise Program That Also Builds Pre-Writing Skills
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Vicky Contreras, Virginia Sepeda, Donna Orozco, Danni Frnaklin, Rick Mitchell, Larisa Rocha, Diane Cahill, Willie Dreith 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 Marlene Moreno at firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.
~ Teacher Irma Ceja leads Pixley Center children in a musical exercise that teaches them the concept of "around" and the months of the year.
Child Care Pilots New Physical Activity Program
I Am Moving, I Am Learning Program Uses Movement to Build Pre-Writing Skills
When the music starts, children in eight of the Child Care Educational Program's 43 Tulare County centers know it's time for some fun. It could be an exercise with a hula hoop or a Macarena-style dance based on the months of the year. Whatever it is, everyone is ready to start! Children in the Alta Vista and Granite Hills Centers in Porterville, Washington Center in Lindsay, Clinite Center in Tulare, the North Visalia #2 Center and centers in Pixley, Teviston and Tipton are part of a pilot program utilizing an exercise-based curriculum called I Am Moving, I Am Learning.
I Am Moving, I Am Learning infuses classroom physical activities with instruction to help children understand direction and sequence. These activities are designed to develop large muscle coordination, problem-solving skills and proper classroom behavior. I Am Moving, I Am Learning encourages the development of these skills to accelerate the types of small muscle control needed to read and write. For instance, children playing games dealing with "under," "over" and "beside" can grow to understand the sequence of letters and words.
Another important concept in writing is "crossing the midline." To aid with this skill, children are given a paper plate to decorate with streamers and a cut-out for their hand. Then they swish the plate back and forth in front of their body. The movement helps with pre-writing skills needed for crossing t's and x's.
Linda Lanting, Child Care program supervisor in charge of training teachers in I Am Moving, I Am Learning, is encouraged by the results reported from the classrooms. "It is helping with the pre-writing skills as we had hoped and because of the increased physical activity, it aids in classroom management," she says. For example, children are learning to respect each other's "personal space." A Porterville parent was amused to hear her child announce, "You're in my personal space." Ms. Lanting reports that the Child Care Educational Program hopes to integrate the program into more centers next year.
"Preparing children for kindergarten is a major focus of our work at Child Care," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Through programs like I Am Moving, children get the social, physical and academic development they need to succeed in school."
~ Tip Toe. North Visalia #2's teachers Alejandra Orozco (l) and Wendy Ruiz (r) use instructional cards to follow the letter "M" on the floor in an exercise set to music with many different tempos.
~ Xavier Nuñez enjoys a nylon covered balloon and racquet in a game of "back and forth."
SCICON Celebrates 50 Years of Outdoor Education
Men and Women Honored for Their Role in Shaping the Venerable Program
"SCICON as it exists today, is an amazing testimony to what the vision, hard work, and dedication of generations of people can create. Everywhere you look, you see well thought out buildings, enhanced outdoor spaces, and trails created with the students in mind. This site has outstanding community support and involvement especially evident in the building of cabins by individual communities and the SCICON foundation," read SCICON administrator Rick Mitchell at a special ceremony honoring men and women for their leadership in shaping the program over the past 50 years.
The commendation cited by Mr. Mitchell was included in a report written earlier in the year by a team auditing the program from the California Outdoor School Administrators. "This statement seems so fitting as we are here today to celebrate SCICON's 50th anniversary," said Mitchell. "I couldn't have said it better myself." The date chosen to celebrate the program's 50th anniversary coincided with the annual SCICON Barbecue and Wildflower Festival held April 20, 2008.
Those honored at the celebration included past and present Tulare County superintendents of schools, SCICON directors, members of the Tulare County Board of Education, SCICON staff members and volunteers. "SCICON is a success because of the work school districts, service clubs, companies and individuals have done in partnership with the program over the past 50 years," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "It is one of the finest examples of community support I've ever known."
Fifty years ago last fall, SCICON began with a vision of teaching Tulare County children about science, nature and conservation in an outdoor setting. In the mid-1950s, this was a bold idea. Charles Rich, the county science coordinator, started the first pilot SCICON program in the fall of 1958 at the YMCA site of Camp Tulequoia.
That same year, Mr. Rich approached ranching matriarch Mrs. Clemmie Gill, then 91 years of age, about donating a permanent site for the program. In 1958, she agreed to donate 35 acres of land "for educational purposes" in the foothills east of Springville. She died a year later, at the age of 92, but in her honor, the program was named the Clemmie Gill School of Science and Conservation.
By early 1962, several school districts in Tulare County were preparing to build cabins at SCICON. The cabins were to be large enough to house nine students and one counselor. They were also to be located in areas that would least impact the natural environment and be built of materials that would best represent the philosophy of conservation and wise use of natural resources.
Kathy Shepherd of Santa Maria, California remembers SCICON before the cabins were built. A sixth-grade student at Visalia's Sierra View Elementary, she took a day trip to SCICON's new site in 1961. "It was an awesome experience being here in the outdoors," says Ms. Shepherd. She says she was reminded of the program when she saw a photo that had been stored in a family trunk. "I found this image of a salamander we discovered under a log in a creek and I know that it must have been taken at SCICON." Ms. Shepherd researched SCICON on the internet and discovered that the program was celebrating its 50th anniversary. "I was happy to come," she says. "This is a very special place."
Ms. Shepherd's story is not that uncommon. Numerous men and women at the celebration shared SCICON memories from the late '50s and early '60s. The common thread in all their stories was the pioneering spirit with which the program was created and the beauty of the land it sits on.
In looking toward the future, Rick Mitchell shares with the group that plans are being studied for — among other things — an expansion to the Wall Natural History Museum. Regardless of its growth — from the first pilot program held at Camp Tulequoia and attended by about 600 students to the modern campus that serves 15,000 students annually — SCICON remains sensitive to its surroundings and committed to providing an exceptional science and conservation experience for Tulare County's students.
~ Kathy Shepherd traveled from her home in Santa Maria to visit the SCICON campus. Ms. Shepherd attended a one-day trip to SCICON in 1961 as a sixth-grade student before cabin accommodations made week-long stays possible.
~ A familiar welcome. More than 2,000 visitors to SCICON's annual barbecue came this year to help the program celebrates its 50th anniversary.
~ SCICON Administrator Rick Mitchell (r) holds up a commemorative quilt made by long-time SCICON supporter Donna Gill Luallen and donated to the event's live auction. Pictured with Mr. Mitchell are Friends of SCICON board member Al Watts (red jacket) and auctioneer Ed Morton.
~ Attendees to the anniversary celebration enjoyed traditional activities like bird house building, wildflower walks and special activities for children.
Students Experience College, Careers at EXPO
Giant Tech Prep EXPO Expands with More Competitions and Community Connections
Last month, the College of the Sequoias campus hosted the 14th Annual Giant Tech Prep EXPO. In the central quad, dozens of the college's academic clubs and programs gave demonstrations for hundreds of wide-eyed middle school students. In classrooms throughout the campus, high school students competed in 33 academic and technical events. In all, nearly 1,000 middle and high school students attended the event — which is a collaboration between School-to-Career programs in Tulare and Kings counties, the College of the Sequoias, West Hills College and area school districts. New for 2008 were demonstration competitions in veterinary science, human anatomy and sports therapy.
"The competitions are designed to promote student participation in career and technical education programs within the community," says School-to-Career Project Director Randy Wallace. Conversely, businesses and other community organizations are taking a more active role in the event. This year, students in the web site development competition designed a site specifically for Monet's, an Exeter-based bistro. Monet's has committed to utilize the winning entry created by Filip Pejovich and Florent Bonin from El Diamante High School in Visalia as the basis for their own web site.
While the high school students participated in various competitions, over 200 middle school students were given tours of the COS campus and participated in interactive career pathway demonstrations. "For middle school students visiting COS for the first time, Tech Prep EXPO helps them feel comfortable on campus, while showing them many of the available programs," says Mr. Wallace.
For a complete list of competition categories and winners, visit www.giantexpo.org.
~ Members of the Tulare-Kings Fire Academy talk with students from John Muir Middle School in Corcoran about careers as fire fighters.
~ High school students competed in over 30 academic and trade events ranging from automotive technology to medical careers.
On People in Service and Support
Neli Licea, a second grader in the Choices After School Program at Pleasant View Elementary School District in Porterville, is the winner in the "Name the Gecko" contest. Neli, pictured with Choices site coordinator Gustavo Ramirez, chose the name "Success" for the program's gecko mascot. According to Neli, "Success is the perfect name because Choices is going to help me be successful. It's fun playing games and it helps me do my homework... The leaders are helpful and important to me."
Tipton Elementary School took first place in the "novelty" category of the 19th Annual Friday Night Live Lip Synch Competition. Team members Cassandra Cunha, Jessica Bilbrey, Adrianna Cunha and Jocie Carbeajal performed to the song Stupid Cupid. For a complete list of winners in the novelty, dance and lip synch categories, visit www.tcoe.org/LipSynch.
Sister and brother, Kathryn and Daniel Keeley of Woodlake High School pose with their Science Fair project "Factors Affecting Competition for Food in a Woodland Bird Community." The Keeley's project is one of eight locally selected to compete at the California State Science Fair May 19-20 in Los Angeles. Visit www.tcoe.org/ScienceFair for a list of all Tulare County finalists.
Gina Cha (r) chats with CHARACTER COUNTS! Coordinator Kelley Petty, who was one of six judges responsible for selecting a student for the annual College Night Scholarship. Gina, a senior at Granite Hills High School, was chosen for the $4,000 scholarship based on her academic achievements and extensive list of volunteer activities, including work at a health-care practice in Porterville. She plans to attend UCLA, USC or UCI in the fall and credits College Night for showing her many educational opportunities. Gina's future career goal is to become a doctor and return to the valley to begin her practice. Other judges on the College Night Scholarship committee were retired Visalia Unified superintendent Bob Line, Cutler-Orosi Unified superintendent Dr. Carolyn Kehrli, retired Redwood High School teacher Margaret Moss, La Sierra Military Academy principal René Moncada and Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center teacher John Kelly.
Ticket to Work Regional Coordinator Karen Davidson and Job Developer Linda Singleton recently presented at a national Social Security Administration conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Over 400 representatives from Ticket to Work partner programs nationwide attended. Ms. Davidson co-chaired the employment track of the conference and presented a seminar on the "25 Essential Tools for Success." Ms. Singleton presented "Tips for Effective Working Relationships with your Local Social Security Office."
Last month, the Tulare County Office of Education's Choices Program received a $25,000 grant from the Tulare County Board of Supervisors to fund five youth-directed projects that focus on reducing adolescent violent crime, aggression, delinquency and/or substance abuse. The project, entitled the Step Up Service-Learning Grants Program, is open to teams of high school students from throughout Tulare County. Applications are available at www.stepuptc.com. The deadline to submit applications is Thursday, May 15. For more information, call Adam Valencia at (559) 651-0155.
Three Tulare County elementary schools were recognized by the Bonner Center for Character Education at Fresno State as part of its 21st Annual Virtues and Character Education Awards. Following an extensive application and site review process, Burton Elementary and Oak Grove Elementary from the Burton Elementary School District, and Monte Vista Elementary from Porterville Unified were honored for promoting core ethical values as the basis of good character, fostering these core values in all phases of school life, and providing students opportunities for moral action.
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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