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The News Gallery

March 2009

ALL THE COMFORTS OF HOME - State Migrant Family Child Care Network offers complete social and educational care for children and support for their families

News Gallery - March 2009 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Rick Mitchell, Donna Orozco, Lois Sheffield, Molly Anzaldua, and Gene Mendes.

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 marlenem@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.

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Network provides education and social services
Resource & Referral Program supports home providers in creating rich learning experiences

State Migrant Family Child Care Network Irma Gomez knows about long days. Her business opens at 6:00 a.m.; during the summer months it's 5:00 a.m. Her days end at 6:00 p.m. or later when the last of her little customers are picked up. Ms. Gomez is one of the 80 hardworking providers in Child Care's State Migrant Family Child Care Network (SMFCCN).

The network serves over 200 infants to elementary-age children in homes throughout Tulare County. Ms. Gomez and others work to accommodate the schedules of migrant parents who often head to the fields or packing plants early in the morning. "For families most in need of child care services, the Migrant Family Child Care Network is a caring and comprehensive service," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

State Migrant Family Child Care Network
Step into a provider's house  like Laura Martinez's in Porterville  and it is immediately obvious that a tremendous amount of time and resources have been invested to provide services to migrant children similar to a Tulare County Child Care Center. Indoors, Mrs. Martinez and her husband have devoted their entire garage to the instructional center. Shelves are filled with books, puzzles and games and bulletin boards are covered with art projects and photos of the children. Outdoors, children have access to slides, swings, playhouses, tricycles and painters' easels. Television is permitted for no more than 30 minutes per day, and only if it's an educational program. Children in a SMFCCN home receive carefully supervised nutrition, much like a Tulare County Child Care Center. The network of providers has quadrupled in recent years and so has the support provided through Child Care's Resource & Referral program. Four teams of project specialists support the providers. The project specialists work in pairs. One specialist works to support the children and their families with social services such as health and dental care, housing and clothing. The other specialist supports the children's educational needs, providing annual assessments and developing an instructional plan to meet individual needs. Project specialists visit providers on a monthly basis to assess the safety of the home and to review areas of instruction including art, music, manipulatives, reading, science and more.

State Migrant Family Child Care Network
State Migrant Family Child Care Network SMFCCN coordinator Molly Anzaldua and her staff coordinate informational meetings quarterly for both providers and parents. Parents have appreciated information presented on topics ranging from domestic violence and nutrition to legal services and children's disabilities. Providers come to learn about social services and instructional techniques.

"The response to these meetings has been phenomenal," says Resource & Referral Contracts Manager Lois Sheffield. "We are impressed by the dedication and ambition of these women and men to better themselves and the children in their homes." Despite the demands of being a SMFCCN provider, Ms. Sheffield notes that many of them also find time to attend college classes in child development. For more information, about the SMFCCN, contact Ms. Sheffield at (559) 651-3026.

Photos above:
~ Many providers, like Rosaura Lopez of Porterville, care for several preschool children in the morning and older children after school.
~ The State Migrant Family Child Care Network accepts infants and toddlers  a service not always available at other child care centers.
~ Providers can borrow a wealth of instructional materials from Resource & Referral in Visalia, or utilize the library's equipment and materials to create their own instructional aids.
~ Irma Gomez shows Resource & Referral's Bea Hernandez some of the play equipment she has been able to acquire through a grant from First 5 Tulare County.
~ Kaweah Delta educator Missie Ruth was the guest speaker at last month's provider meeting. Ms. Ruth demonstrated how providers can make instructional materials with a die-cut machine.
~ Providers, shown making picture books, meet quarterly to gain instructional techniques and to learn about children's social services.

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Grant helps expand mentor program
Tulare high school students work with middle school students in rural districts

Mentoring Program About a dozen middle school students at Palo Verde Union Elementary School anxiously await the arrival of students from Tulare Union High School. With sporadic energy typical of middle school students they ask, "Is Matt coming? Is Zeke coming?" The Palo Verde seventh- and eighth-graders gathered in a classroom after lunch are looking forward to seeing the high school students who are serving as their mentors this semester.

Choices School Community Liaison Gene Mendes patiently directs the excited Palo Verde students to the schedule of the day. "When your mentors get here, let's start by sharing something fun you've done since we last met and teach them that new game." When the high school students arrive, the room becomes quieter and more relaxed. It's evident that bonds are being formed between the two groups after just four meetings. The Tulare program utilizes the Friday Night Live (FNL) Mentoring model, which encourages the development of caring relationships to strengthen a young person's resiliency to challenges in life. The FNL model engages teams of older high school-aged youth to mentor teams of middle school-aged youth in a structured, one-on-one setting.

Mentoring Program "Tulare Western has had a mentoring program for six years, but this is the first year we have been able to implement one at Tulare Union and Mission Oak," says Gene Mendes. The rural middle schools participating in the program all feed into the Tulare high school district. Tulare Western mentors students at Oak Valley, Mission Oak mentors students at Sundale and Tulare Union mentors students at Palo Verde. The expansion of the mentor program was made possible by a large U.S. Department of Education Grant to Reduce Alcohol Abuse, awarded to the Tulare Joint Union High School District.

After students play an icebreaker game, Mr. Mendes challenges them to work in groups and come up with answers to the questions: "Why do people drink alcohol?" "Why don't people drink alcohol?" and "What are the consequences of drinking?" Antoinette Garsa, an athlete and a junior at Tulare Union, is one of the mentors leading the discussion about consequences. In group presentation, she points out that young people caught drinking alcohol can ruin their chance to play sports and even get a scholarship to college. In speaking about her motivation to be a mentor at Palo Verde, she says, "I just hope that I can keep these kids from going down the wrong path."

Photos above:
~ Tulare Union students Matt Enriquez and Katie Mitchell work on an alcohol awareness discussion with students at Palo Verde.
~ Mentors from Tulare Union, like Antoinette Garsa, were members of a Friday Night Live club when they were in middle school.

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Ecological projects benefit field study program
Annual event provides opportunities to learn and serve at Circle J-Norris Ranch

Over 80 Tulare County high school students rolled up their sleeves recently for a weekend of service and study at SCICON's Circle J-Norris Ranch program. The annual Field Science Weekend attracted participants from high schools including Tulare Western, Tulare Union, Strathmore, Orosi, Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center and Granite Hills and Monache in Porterville. Students attending the event indicated an interest in conservation and environmental science.

Field Science Weekend at Circle J Students had the opportunity to participate in seven different study groups on topics such as Fish Biology, Silviculture, Water Quality Monitoring, Wildlife Surveying, Grazing and Forage Assessment, Vegetation Studies, and Hydrology. The student groups made presentations about their findings and proposed a ranch management plan which will guide future restoration projects. On Sunday morning, the students concluded the event with ecological service projects that included: restoring riparian vegetation, designing and building floating islands (for water purification and duck nesting) and creating fish habitats using Christmas trees.

Photo above:
~ Students create fish habitats using Christmas trees.

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IBM donates award-winning learning centers
Seven Child Care Centers given computers to benefit children with disabilities

Child Care Centers receive computers Children at seven Tulare County Child Care Centers are enjoying a computer designed specifically for young learners, including those with disabilities. The Child Care Educational Program was one of only three organizations in California to receive several of the 600 Little Tikes computer learning centers IBM donates annually to the PACER Center, a national organization for parents and professionals working with children with disabilities, such as autism, vision loss or other learning disabilities and physical impairments.

Children at the Senaida Garcia Center in Visalia (pictured above) test out the system's award-winning software. Computers were also placed at the Cutler #2, Dinuba #2, Maple (Tulare), North Visalia #1, Terra Bella and Woodville Child Care Centers.

Photo above:
~ Children try out one of the new computers.

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On People in Service and Support

Tulare County Academic Decathlon For seven years in a row, a Granite Hills High School team from Porterville has won the Academic Decathlon event. The team will represent the county at the state competition in Sacramento this month. Coached by Mark Harriger, Granite Hills also captured the "large school" honors. Students who amassed the highest number of points in the ten-event competition to win the individual awards were also from Granite Hills: Karen Harriger in the honors category, Julio Gonzalez-Maya in the scholastic category and Amy Minor in the varsity category. The categories represent students' "A, B or C" grade-point averages respectively. Strathmore High School received the highest number of points in the "small school" category.

Tulare County Mock Trial Competition Visalia's Redwood High School earned the honor of representing Tulare County at the California Mock Trial competition this month in Riverside. The Redwood team is coached by Mike Tinnin. In the semi-final round, Redwood competed against El Diamante High School. El Diamante's Nick Santos challenges Redwood prosecutor Stephanie Chamberlain.

Access to Higher Education Over 100 foster youth attended the second annual Access to Higher Education event at the College of the Sequoias January 31. The event, which is designed to motivate foster youth to explore educational opportunities beyond high school, is organized by the Tulare County Office of Education, Tulare County Independent Living Program, College of the Sequoias, Tulare County Superior Court, Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Tulare County and Tulare County Probation. Students enjoyed speaking with representatives from various area colleges and hearing from a panel of former foster youth now attending college. The panelists, including Fresno State senior Charles Williams, spoke about overcoming obstacles and personal fears and offered advice on finances and helpful resources.

Larry Helms Dr. Larry Helms will deliver the keynote address at the 17th annual Tulare County Support Staff Conference, May 1 at the Visalia Convention Center. Call Marlene Moreno at (559) 733-6172 regarding registration information.

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Gallery Notes

The Visalia Downtown Kiwanis and Tulare County Office of Education's CHARACTER COUNTS! program honored nine Visalia students as part of a new "Pursuing Victory with Honor" Sports Recognition program. The student athletes, selected for their exemplary character and sportsmanship on the field, included: Kaitlen Stallings and Jesus Soto, El Diamante High School; George Montiel and Jennifer Krage, Golden West High School; Anneke Verhoeven and Thys DeHoop, Central Valley Christian High School; Bianca Flores and Matt Wykoff, Mt. Whitney High School; and Brooklyn Miller and Ramiro Valle, Redwood High School. For information on the Pursuing Victory with Honor Program, contact Kelley Petty at (559) 740-4303.

The Tulare County Office of Education's California Teacher Recruitment Program has partnered with the Teacher Quality Enhancement teams at CSU-Monterey Bay and San Jose State University to host the inaugural PRIME Partnerships Conference March 5-7 in Monterey. The conference will bring together California university and K-12 administrators to explore ways to collaborate, recruit, and prepare math and science teachers for 21st century schools. Dr. Glen Thomas, California's Secretary of Education, will be a special guest speaker. The conference is sponsored by a U.S. Department of Education Teacher Quality Enhancement Grant.

La Sierra Military Academy has been awarded a $29,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation as part of its Youth Retention/College and Career Readiness program. Through the grant, students will receive specialized training in career and workforce readiness and participate in service-learning projects that benefit the local community.

The board of the Tulare County Office of Education Foundation met recently to discuss plans for the foundation's growing assets and expressed appreciation for employees who contribute to the Foundation through a payroll deduction program. For information on making a contribution, contact Robert Herman at (559) 733-6606.

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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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