The News Gallery
December 2008 / January 2009CREATIVE PROCESS - La Sierra Porterville students complete a Step Up Service Learning Grant with strengthened connections to one another and their school
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Jeanne Croson, Jan Mekeel, John Kelly, Sylvia Karsten.
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.
Pair of murals unites La Sierra students
Step Up Service Learning Grant leaves a beautiful legacy in Porterville
Students at La Sierra High School in Porterville discovered something while working on two murals for their school. The process of conceptualizing and executing the two artworks, funded by a Step Up Service Learning Grant, created camaraderie and bolstered school esteem. "It was a remarkable experience for our school," says La Sierra principal Jan Mekeel. "Many students who had never worked together or even talked to each other, found that they could paint together."
Three Rivers master artist Nadi Spencer and volunteer Shirley Keller guided the students through the development process for each mural. After hours of brainstorming, students chose a falcon (the school mascot) to be the central figure in the mural at the front of the building. "Under the wings, the students chose about a dozen animals they wanted to represent themselves," says Mrs. Keller. "The overall feeling depicts how La Sierra is a safe and comfortable haven where differences are respected." On a large wall facing the school's recreation area, the students and Ms. Spencer designed a powerful mural featuring "masks" of students and faculty with positive, personal statements woven throughout the artwork.
At the completion of the project, County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak remarked, "Not only do the murals beautify the school, but they increase the understanding of what it is like to work together toward a common goal." To show off their work, students held an artists' reception in October. Parents and community leaders were invited to celebrate the students' achievement. At the reception, Mrs. Mekeel announced that the grant provided for enough supplies — and motivation — to continue an art program at the school.
~ The larger mural features "masks" of students and faculty.
~ Volunteer Shirley Keller leads students through concept development for the smaller mural near the school's entrance.
~ Julio Bahena at work on the large mural.
~ The front mural depicts La Sierra's mascot, a falcon, sheltering animals the students chose to represent themselves.
~ Artist Nadi Spencer (r) reviews plans for the front mural with principal Jan Mekeel.
Author Andrew Bridge to speak to foster youth
Annual Access to Higher Education event planned for January 31 at COS
Andrew Bridge spent 11 years in Los Angeles County foster care. His memoir, Hope's Boy, is the moving account of his life with his mentally ill mother, of her efforts to keep and care for him, and of his life in foster care without her. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Mr. Bridge has spent his career bettering the lives of our nation's most vulnerable children. His work has garnered national media coverage including articles in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Time Magazine.
Mr. Bridge will be the keynote speaker at an annual event designed to encourage Tulare County foster youth to pursue higher education opportunities. The event, called Access to Higher Education, is a collaboration between the Tulare County Office of Education, CASA of Tulare County, the College of the Sequoias, Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency's Independent Living Program and the Tulare County Superior Court. Students will also speak to former foster youth who have recently completed college, as well as representatives from area colleges. For more information on the event scheduled for Saturday, January 31 at the College of the Sequoias, call Christine Chapman at (559) 733-6302.
~ Author Andrew Bridge
New charter high school approved by board
TCOE and COS partner to create University Preparatory High School for Fall 2009
Ninth- and tenth-grade students in Tulare and adjacent counties may have a new school option next fall. If funded by the California Department of Education, a public charter school called University Preparatory High School will open to approximately 125 students on the College of the Sequoias campus in Visalia. The mission of University Prep is to create a high-performance "Early College" high school that could grow to include as many as 400 students in grades 9-12.
The advantages of "Early College" high schools are many. For instance, they can serve to bridge the divide between high school and college, particularly for students whose parents and older siblings have not attended college. They can also serve to transition motivated students to higher education at a faster rate as they earn college credits simultaneously while completing their junior and senior years of high school.
To earn college credits, University Prep students will select one of four academic pathways at College of the Sequoias. These include a Social Sciences pathway with introductory courses in social work, psychology, sociology and history; an Allied Health pathway, which prepares students for studies in nursing, pre-med or a veterinary program; a Public Safety pathway with options including criminology, law enforcement, probation, firefighter and paramedic; and an Education pathway. Along with these academic pathways, University Prep students will receive instruction in character development, academic language acquisition, youth development opportunities, community service and service-learning.
The school was conceived by John Kelly, a teacher at Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center and former coordinator for Title IV prevention programs with TCOE's Choices Program. Mr. Kelly's background in youth development is reflected in the charter's priorities. "Our goal is to provide all students with opportunities for community service and leadership training and assist any English Language Learners to rapidly develop their academic English skills in preparation for the transition to college-level classes," says John Kelly.
Mr. Kelly's proposal was well-received by Dr. Bill Scroggins, president of College of the Sequoias, who was instrumental in founding the Valley Charter High School while he was president of Modesto Junior College. At the meeting of the Tulare County Board of Education last month, County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak praised Mr. Kelly's work: "John has devoted several years of effort to this project — with help from Assistant Superintendent Pansy Ceballos and many others on our staff. Thanks to the partnership with College of the Sequoias, Tulare County students may soon benefit from his vision of a unique academic road to higher education."
For more information on the University Preparatory High School, call Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services, Dr. Pansy Ceballos, at (559) 733-6328.
Longevity anniversaries total over 1,000 years
Human Resources celebrates service milestones of 68 employees
Last month, co-workers and family members gathered to honor 68 TCOE employees. The event — hosted annually by Human Resources, under the direction of Assistant Superintendent Jeanne Nava — celebrates the employment anniversaries of those who have served 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years. In total, this year's honorees have provided 1,005 years of service to the Tulare County Office of Education.
~ 30-year honorees (l-r) Robin Hoffman, Marie Holguin and Jennifer McKinsey.
~ Sonia Pavao and Mary Ann Luna.
~ Gene Mendes and Elena Hawley.
On People in Service and Support
Trustees Katy Rominger and John Baker were honored at the November meeting of Tulare County Board of Education for serving a four-year term on the board. Mrs. Rominger, who represented the Visalia area (Area 5), and Mr. Baker, who represented the Porterville area (Area 6), chose not to seek an additional term on the board. COS adjunct professor Joe Enea will be the new trustee for Area 5, and veteran board member and Child Care/Head Start board liaison Chris Reed will be the trustee for Area 6.
The Tulare County Office of Education's Network for a Healthy California program recently created pumpkin patches at 31 Tulare County school sites. Nearly 12,000 pumpkins were delivered for the educational events. At each site, students participated in a variety of learning stations including: storytelling, taste-testing roasted pumpkin seeds and more. Network school nurse Janet Hettinger leads a lesson on nutritional facts about pumpkins and other winter squashes. At the conclusion of their visit to the pumpkin patch, students selected their own pumpkin for further classroom activities. Third graders at Monte Vista Elementary in Porterville incorporated provided curriculum to create a lesson on the life cycle of a pumpkin.
This fall, Charlene Stringham joined the staff at Educational Resources Services as a new English/Language Arts Instructional Consultant. Ms. Stringham's responsibilities include assisting districts, schools and teachers with staff development in language arts and the implementation of state-adopted programs. She also provides professional development to schools that need assistance implementing research-based strategies to meet the needs of English Learners. Charlene can provide assistance with Thinking Maps and Step-Up-To-Writing training. She also coordinates four countywide student events: Storytelling, Young Authors' Faire, Foundations for Life and Expanding Your Horizons. Charlene was the District Title I Resource Teacher for Tulare City Schools prior to coming to TCOE.
CHARACTER COUNTS! Week (October 19-25, 2008) set a record for the number of Tulare County schools participating. 122 schools nominated 8,940 students for the annual "Kids of Character" Awards. This month, students will receive a certificate and a newly redesigned CHARACTER COUNTS! t-shirt.
Tulare County superintendents will honor retiring Chief Deputy County Counsel Gary de Malignon at a Holiday Luncheon on Monday, December 15. Mr. de Malignon provided legal advice and services to the County Office of Education and Tulare County school districts for nearly 29 years.
In conjunction with the Human Resources' Annual Holiday Tea scheduled for the afternoon of December 12, staff will be collecting TOYS for TOTS to be distributed to local children ages infant to 14. Gifts suitable for teens are especially needed. New, unwrapped toys valued at $10 or more should be dropped off at the Human Resources office at 2637 West Burrel in Visalia before 4:00 p.m. on December 12. The Human Resources staff greatly appreciates the support and looks forward to seeing everyone at the Annual Holiday Tea.
Red Ribbon Committee chairperson Marlene Moreno reports that over $1,900 was collected from Red Ribbon Week 2008 activities. This record-breaking amount will be presented to the Tulare County Youth Council.
In recognition of National Ag Week 2009, the Tulare County Farm Bureau and the Tulare County Office of Education's Network for a Healthy California program invite students to submit artwork for the annual Calendar Art Contest. The theme for this year's full-color calendar is "Tulare County Agriculture...A Healthy Choice." Artwork is due to the Farm Bureau by February 13, 2009. For contest rules and instructions, call (559) 732-8301.
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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