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The News Gallery

June 2009

TRUSTED SUPPORT - Woodlake student continues to show steady academic and personal gains through use of new equipment provided by Assistive Technology Center

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

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Art Villarreal, Elena Hawley, Nani Rowland, Jesse Ruiz, Mike Aulds, Norma Erwin, Jennifer McReynolds, Clark Hawley and Mike Franco.

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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Assistive technology grows with student
Tenacious Woodlake student challenges technology to do more for him

Cody O'Dell is like many sixth-grade boys. He likes pizza, root beer, an Adam Sandler movie, amusement parks and camping with his family. The Woodlake Valley Middle School boy can tell you all about school and what he enjoys doing at home, thanks to a device provided for him through Special Services' Technology Center.

Assistive Technology The Technology Center employs three specialists who work with teachers, parents and students like Cody to select equipment that meets their needs in the classroom. Students with disabilities such as deafness, blindness or orthopedic handicaps can be referred by his or her school to the Technology Center for assistance.

Cody has Cerebral Palsy, but he's able to communicate  in volumes  using a Dynavox Series 5 machine. "This is the third machine we've obtained for Cody," said Special Services Technology Specialist Jesse Ruiz. "The difference between this Dynavox and models before it is that the Series 5 is a fully-functioning computer, in addition to being a communication device."

Assistive Technology To communicate, Cody patiently types using just one finger. When he's finished, the Dynavox speaks for him. The machine has an internet browser so that he can conduct research, as well as software called Kurzweil, which scans documents from the internet and reads them to him. Recently, he used the Dynavox to make a class presentation. In it, he describes his challenges and some of his triumphs, like marching in the Woodlake Rodeo Parade  playing the bass drum that a friend carried for him.

At a meeting with Mr. Ruiz, Cody's aide, Joy Haywood, asked whether it would be possible to put Cody's math assignments on the Dynavox for next school year. "Cody and Joy are definitely utilizing the system to its fullest potential," said Mr. Ruiz. "With any device we place in the classroom, we monitor whether the student has accepted it. With Cody, it's not a question of whether he has accepted the device, but if we can keep up with all that he wants it to do." For the tenacious boy who says he wants to be a truck driver when he grows up, nothing seems impossible.

Photos above:
~ Cody O'Dell shows off his new Dynavox and its internet browser, which he uses for school reports.
~ Cody's teacher, Mrs. Redfield (r), passes out photos of the class visit to SCICON, which he attended  staying in the handicabin. Cody's aide, Joy Haywood and TCOE's Jesse Ruiz look on.

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250 Migrant students receive enameling
Partnership with San Joaquin Valley College provides no-cost dental care

Migrant Education Program Dental Care The San Joaquin Valley College Dental Hygiene lab was a sea of activity last month. All 25 examination stations were filled with young people from Terra Bella Elementary undergoing an enamel protection process and receiving oral hygiene care from students in the college's dental program. At the helm of this operation was supervising dentist Dr. Barbara Watrous. "This program is a 'win-win' for us," she said enthusiastically. "We are able to give back to our community while our students get real-world experience."

Migrant Education Program Dental Care The Migrant Education Program, which serves students in Tulare and Kings counties, has organized dental sealant and hygiene clinics for more than 15 years with San Joaquin Valley College. "This is a wonderful partnership built on a shared vision for the health, education and success of these students," said County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Migrant nurses screen students in their home districts and make recommendations for the services. This year alone, nearly 250 students from districts such as Terra Bella, Woodville, Sunnyside, Richgrove, Earlimart, Pixley, Corcoran High, Dinuba and Lemoore High received 725 dental sealants. The value of all of these services, which include cleaning, X-rays and sealants, exceeds $65,000.

Migrant Education Program Dental Care Instruction on maintaining good oral hygiene goes hand-in-hand with the examination and cleaning services provided. "We realized many years ago, that one of the major causes of absences for school-aged children is dental problems," says Migrant administrator Sheli Silva. "This program has been a success because we're providing students with protection and the instruction they need to prevent problems in the future."

Photos above:
~ Migrant students visiting San Joaquin Valley College have their teeth cleaned, ...
~ receive dental health instruction, ...
~ and have molars enameled for protection.

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Special Services honors teacher, parent
Jennifer McReynolds recognized for her teaching of the severely handicapped

Each year, the Special Services Division selects a teacher of the severely handicapped to receive the Brent Rast Award, which was created in memory of an exceptional man who taught for the Tulare County Office of Education until his death in 1994. Now in its 15th year, the award honors an individual who is dedicated to achieving success with students, parents and within the community and who has high standards of leadership and superior abilities within the classroom.

Brent Rast Award winner This year's winner is Jennifer McReynolds, a teacher of the severely handicapped at Roosevelt Elementary in Dinuba. Surprised by the honor at the annual luncheon of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) in May, Jennifer says that she is, "very humbled by the award." In her classroom at Roosevelt Elementary, Jennifer manages 11 students ranging in age from five to 11. With a patient, supportive manner, she provides one-on-one instruction  whether it's reading or washing the dishes. "My reward comes from the progress I see the students making, and from the genuine delight they show in building new skills," she said. At the CAC luncheon, program manager Jill Santavanez described the 15-year veteran teacher as "highly structured and meticulous" in her work to ensure all students reach their highest potential.

At the CAC luncheon, Special Services also presented the first annual Linda Hess Award for Exemplary Parenting  an award named for the long-serving community liaison who retired last year. Jim Baker, a Lindsay parent, was selected for his cooperative work with the school staff in every aspect of his son's behavioral challenges.

Photo above:
~ Jennifer McReynolds, the recipient of the 15th Annual Brent Rast Award, teaches 11 children at Roosevelt Elementary in Dinuba with thorough care.

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ERS staff organizes regional literacy event

Despite budget concerns, San Joaquin Valley districts and county offices of education sent nearly 300 teachers and administrators to learn some of the latest literacy practices at the 4th Annual Literacy Conference. The event was organized by the Curriculum & Instruction Steering Committee for California's Region VII (Fresno, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced and Tulare counties). Instructional Consultant Charlene Stringham, with TCOE's Educational Resource Services (ERS) program, served as the event director. Other ERS staff provided breakout presentations, including Dan Roché and Instructional Consultants, Sylvia Coats and Carmen Friesen.

The highlight of the conference was nationally-respected researcher Dr. Isabel Beck, who was the keynote presenter. Dr. Beck is the Professor Emerita of Education and Senior Scientist at the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center. The award-winning researcher discussed her research on building literacy skills, a topic very popular with attendees teaching in schools with high percentages of English learners.

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Personal safety stressed to parents, students
Prevention program builds students' awareness and avoidance skills

CAN Prevention Program Hands waved eagerly in the air as Marisela Gonzalez asked for a volunteer for a role-playing exercise. Michael Colegio, a fifth-grade student in Paul Meadors' class at Traver Elementary, was the lucky one selected. Once in front of the class, Mrs. Gonzalez assumed the role of a stranger tempting Michael to follow her by offering him a new video game. Giggling, he reached for the game and Mrs. Gonzalez was able to grab him.

The exercise was part of a presentation of the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Program (CAN) seen by over 2,800 Tulare County students this year. Following the exercise, CAN Coordinator Elena Hawley asked the rest of the class what Michael did that was not safe. The students, who had already seen a video entitled Better Safe Than Sorry, knew the answers. "He was too close to her," they shouted. Others add, "He didn't tell her 'no' and run in the opposite direction."

CAN Prevention Program Mrs. Hawley and a small team of volunteers visited over 120 first- and fifth-grade classrooms this year with a message for students on how to stay safe. While the fifth-grade presentation includes discussions about abductions, with references to recently reported cases in the media, the first-grade presentation utilizes a more age-appropriate puppet named Safety Sam to talk about similar issues. The program is continually recruiting volunteers to help in the classroom. "We hope to attract some additional presenters when we hold our next training session in September," said Mrs. Hawley.

Thanks to a grant from the local Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC), this year Marisela Gonzalez has been able to speak to parent groups about the importance of keeping their children safe. "There are Hispanic customs that encourage children to be kind and helpful to strangers," she said. "I have made presentations to over 300 parents, sharing with them ways predators approach children. This has been particularly important for them to know at home and as they travel outside of the area." For information on scheduling a CAN presentation, or becoming a volunteer, call Elena Hawley at (559) 651-0130, extension 3712.

Photos above:
~ CAN volunteer Marisela Gonzalez tempts Traver student Michael Colegio with a video game in an exercise on personal safety.
~ CAN coordinator Elena Hawley and Marisela Gonzalez make a presentation to a first grade class with help from puppet Safety Sam.

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On People in Service and Support

Spotlight on People in Service and Support In May, 800 elementary students visited the annual Tulare County Arbor Day celebration at Mooney Grove Park. Dozens of volunteers from organizations like the U.C. Master Gardeners helped students learn the importance and care of trees in our environment. Students also planted a tree in Mooney Grove to help with the park's restoration efforts and were given their own seedling to take home to plant for Mother's Day.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Students at La Sierra Military Academy in Visalia have been working diligently to complete an enormous mural in time for graduation ceremonies June 2. The mural, which measures approximately 80 feet wide by 23 feet high, was designed by local artist Colleen Veyna (in sunglasses).

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Last month, Tulare County Office of Education's Network for a Healthy California introduced a new "Chef in the Classroom" program designed to support students in making lifelong healthy choices. Local chef, Daniel Cano, visited Rocky Hill and Lincoln Elementary Schools in Exeter to work with students in preparing a delicious avocado salad. Chef Cano, who returned to the San Joaquin Valley after serving as a sous chef at the acclaimed Maravilla Restaurant at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, will visit other Tulare County schools beginning in August.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support The Beginning Teacher Support & Assessment Induction Program (BTSA) recently honored two veteran teachers at end-of-the-year colloquiums. Richard Thornberry (seated in photo on left) was selected for his exemplary support of beginning teachers Robert Loer and Somphane Hunter in the Pleasant View Elementary District. Jonelle Conklin (seated in photo on right) was chosen for her exceptional support of Terry McReynolds within the Dinuba Unified School District.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Ruiz Foods Chairman and CEO Fred Ruiz was the keynote speaker at the first Day of the Family event organized by the after school programs serving Tulare's three high schools. Mr. Ruiz addressed a crowd of 300 in the Tulare Western gym, speaking on the importance of personal integrity and education. Day of the Family events are designed to bring families on campus to learn about the services offered through the after school programs and to encourage parents with their own educations, thus building overall family literacy.

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Gallery Notes

Principal John Kelly will be holding a series of informational meetings this summer about the new University Preparatory High School (UPHS) forming on the College of the Sequoias campus (COS) this fall. UPHS was created by the Tulare County Office of Education  in partnership with COS  as a high-performance, free, public high school. UPHS welcomes all highly-motivated ninth- and tenth-grade students looking for a rigorous academic program, including English learners needing to develop academic English proficiency and students who may be the first in their family to attend college. During their junior and senior years, UPHS students will earn college credits while still in high school by selecting courses in one of five career pathways, including: Allied Health, Business, Education, Public Safety and Social Services. Parents and students entering ninth or tenth grade may attend one of the information sessions June 2, 10 or 16 in the Tulare County Office of Education's main office at 2637 W. Burrel Ave., Visalia. Check
www.tcoe.org/uphs for updates, applications and more information, or call Mr. Kelly at (559) 730-2529.

Congratulations to Daniel Kruger, a seventh-grade student from Columbine Elementary, for his fourth-place finish in California State Science Fair competition last month in Los Angeles. Daniel's achievement was a project entitled "Got Trash?" entered in the Behavioral & Social Sciences category.

In April and May, 72 Tulare County public and private schools sent over 830 kindergarten through eighth-grade students to the annual Poetry & Prose On-Stage event. This year marked the 25th anniversary of the oral interpretation program, which was conceived and still directed by Nancy Bellin, Tulare County Office of Education's special events coordinator.

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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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