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The News Gallery

July/August 2009

INCLUDING ME - Preschool Support Team helps children with special needs flourish in school and at home

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

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Antilla, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Jeanne Croson, Cara Peterson, Lupe Solis, Louise Kenny and Veronica Carmona.

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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Team supports preschool teachers and parents
Local special needs students make remarkable social and academic gains in preschool

Preschool Support Team "L is for Leslie," announced Juan, a delightful four-year-old in the Woodville Child Development Center. Juan was working with Play-Doh molds when he discovered one that represented the letter "L," making the association with his classmate, Leslie. This announcement was just one of many recent accomplishments for the English language learner, who also has some physical disabilities. When he came to the center, Juan did not speak, was unable to sit for any length of time, and he was not toilet trained.

For the past two years, special needs students and their teachers in child care centers throughout the county have been getting extra instructional support from Special Services Division's Preschool Support Team. The team works to make sure that the preschool staff has the knowledge, materials and skills to meet the child and his or her family's needs. Under the management of Assistant Superintendent Dr. Marilyn Rankin and Cara Peterson, the team meets every challenge with determination and a proactive strategy. "The social benefits for Juan being included at a child care center have been tremendous," says Ms. Peterson. "He is eager to learn alongside the other children and he has grown because of his great attitude."

Preschool Support Team Sebastian has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and has experienced communication challenges in his four years of life. "We did not know how we were going to reach him," says Terra Bella Child Care supervisor Sandra Andalon. "Two years ago, he had no communication skills and a very short attention span. Each day was a challenge, but with the help of the Preschool Support Team and a little humor, we feel successful," says Ms. Andalon. Terra Bella Center teachers have worked tirelessly to provide the structure, schedules and nurturing environment Sebastian has needed to build trust and show growth. He is beginning to say words and follow directions, which he will need when he transitions to Kindergarten this fall.

Abigail is a playful three-year-old who was born with Down syndrome. She is enrolled in a Head Start class in Strathmore along with her twin brother and her neighborhood friends. When she enrolled she did not speak, she appeared frustrated when asked to sit and listen at story time, and she did not want to wait her turn at lunchtime. With patience and consistency, Abigail's teachers have provided the structured learning environment she needs. Today, she is beginning to use words to communicate and loves to sit and listen during story time.

"These three children are just a few of the many success stories from throughout Tulare County," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "In these inclusive environments, they are growing emotionally, socially and academically to prepare for Kindergarten and beyond."

Currently, members of the Preschool Support Team and other programs within the Special Services Division are assisting the Tulare County Child Care Planning Council in developing a conference entitled Quality Care for Kids. . .Turning Disabilities into Possibilities. "This conference – with its impressive list of national experts – will be a valuable resource for any teacher or parent of a child with special needs," says Dr. Marilyn Rankin.

Photos above:
~ Woodville Center teacher Annette Dinkins leads Juan around the class in a counting exercise.
~ Sebastian enjoys play time at the Terra Bella Center.

Grandin to speak at conference on inclusion

Dr. Temple Grandin Author and educator Dr. Temple Grandin will be the featured speaker at the Tulare County Child Care Planning Council's upcoming conference: Quality Care for Kids. . .Turning Disabilities into Possibilities. Dr. Grandin, who was diagnosed with autism at age two, has authored numerous books on autism. Dr. Grandin has also had an admirable career in animal science — inventing improvements to the animal handling systems found in meat plants. She will be joined by Carol Gray, an internationally-respected author and teaching consultant on students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The conference, which will feature numerous breakout sessions on student behavior, parenting skills, speech and language development, literacy skills, classroom activities and more, is scheduled for September 11, 2009 from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the Visalia Convention Center. For more information, call Tina Shirley at (559) 651-3026.

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Theatre Company to perform Anything Goes
Veterans Bickmore and Vander Schaaf star in classic Cole Porter musical this summer

Anything Goes Musical theater lovers are in for a treat this summer as the Tulare County Office of Education's Theatre Company prepares a production of Cole Porter's classic Anything Goes. Familiar songs from the 1934 musical include Delovely, You're the Top, I Get a Kick Out of You and Anything Goes. Veterans of last year's popular Les Misérables production, Makenda Bickmore and Anthony Vander Schaaf, will play the roles of Hope Harcourt and Billy Crocker.

"We strive to give students the widest variety of experiences," says Theatre Company Director Brian Roberts. "In contrast to some past summer musicals, Anything Goes is a lighthearted romp which helps our actors build their comic skills." The musical will be performed seven times at the L.J. Williams Theater in Visalia beginning July 17. See
www.tcoe.org/TheatreCo for a complete list of show times and ticket information.

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English learners receive summer instruction
Partnership with Earlimart Elementary School District builds academic English skills

Thinking Maps English Learners This month, nearly 400 Earlimart students in grades K-8 are completing an important four-week program designed to give them a greater mastery of the English language. The Tulare County Office of Education has partnered with the Earlimart Elementary School District again this year to support and coach 20 district teachers providing the classroom instruction.

The summer program will provide intensive instruction utilizing the Thinking Maps curriculum with the goal of improving students' scores on the annual California English Language Development Test (CELDT). The test, which measures English language proficiency, is required for students whose primary language is one other than English. "We want to see these students move up one CELDT level on the next test," says Administrator for Student Support and Academic Services Dr. Guadalupe Solis. Many of the instructional consultants from TCOE's Educational Resource Services are involved in the project.

Thinking Maps English Learners There are five levels of proficiency on the CELDT exam: beginning, early intermediate, intermediate, early advanced and advanced. Students must reach the advanced level before they can be reclassified "fluent English proficient" and forego the test. "The students chosen for this program often score in the middle of the scale, with good conversational English skills," says English/Language Arts Instructional Consultant Sylvia Coats. "Together with the Earlimart team, we will build their academic English language skills."

Thinking Maps English Learners All students will be working to comprehend 28 process words from the Thinking Maps curriculum regardless of whether they are studying language arts, math or history reports Instructional Consultant Charlene Stringham. "Understanding the applications of words like 'construct', 'categorize', 'measure' and 'predict' is key to advancing academically," says Ms. Stringham. "These exercises also give their teachers new techniques to apply in the classroom next year." Students' progress will be measured by comparing a test given before the course with one given after four weeks of instruction. "We look forward to seeing the positive growth," says Dr. Solis.

Photos above:
~ Earlimart teacher Jessica Aguilar utilizes a Thinking Maps diagram to help students develop a list of jobs.
~ TCOE Instructional Consultant Sylvia Coats reviews a diagram eighth-grade students created.
~ Instructional Consultant Diana Ruiz checks in on a kindergarten class.

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June reception honored 20 retirees
Retirees provided over 500 years of service to the children of Tulare County

Friends and family gathered last month to honor 20 TCOE staff members who recently retired. The event is hosted annually by the Human Resources Division under the direction of Assistant Superintendent Jeanne Nava.

TCOE Retirees
Attendees like Kathy Williams (left photo) received a special gift basket and certificate from County Superintendent Jim Vidak, following a short presentation by her supervisors. Ms. Williams worked for both the School Health Programs and the Child Care Educational Program, represented by administrators Candy Hilvers and Ray Chavez. Migrant education program manager Olga Cortez (middle photo) is also retiring this year. She is shown surrounded by coworkers receiving the Service with a Heart Award at a luncheon in March hosted by Radio Campesina. Retiring Educational Resource Services program manager Elainea Scott (right photo) enjoys the celebration with her son, Xandy, and colleague Dr. Glenn Williams.

2 0 0 8 / 2 0 0 9   R E T I R E E S

Dora Cisneros (21 years)
Teacher Assistant, Child Care Educational Program
Olga Cortez (31 years)
Program Manager II, Migrant Education
Barbara Ellis (20 years)
Secretary/Clerical Assistant, Human Resources Division
Evangelina Garcia (26 years)
Teacher Assistant, Child Care Educational Program
Joseph Jimenez (17 years)
Regional BTSA Cluster Consultant
Cathy Jordan (32 years)
Secretary, Bright Start Parent/Infant Program, Special Services Division
Lidia Martinez (19 years)
Teacher Assistant, Child Care Educational Program
Bill Maurer (28 years)
Teacher of the Severely Handicapped, Special Services Division
Jennifer McKinsey (31 years)
Resource Specialist, Special Services Division
Sandra Mitchell (19 years)
Resource Coordinator, Migrant Education
Christine Moody (25 years)
Instructional Aide, Severely Handicapped, Special Services Division
Leigh Mosconi (30 years)
Program Manager, Special Services Division
Juanita Olvera (24 years)
Health Aide, Child Care Educational Program
Shirley Ready (34 years)
Secretary, Educational Resource Services
Beth Schmid (20 years)
Severely Handicapped Assistant, Special Services Division
Elainea Scott (10 years)
Program Manager, Educational Resource Services
Rebecca Springer (32 years)
Speech and Language Specialist, Special Services Division
Dr. Michael Stephens (37 years)
Administrator, Severely Handicapped Programs
Ruth Tobias (35 years)
Program Supervisor, Child Care Educational Program
Kathy Williams (18 years)
Program Specialist, Child Care Educational Program/School Health Programs

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On People in Service and Support

Spotlight on People in Service and Support The Tulare County Friday Night Live Partnership recently organized an art contest to promote alcohol awareness. Over 150 students submitted art with the theme "Adults Lose if They Provide Booze." The top twelve submissions were chosen for the program's first full-color calendar. Orosi High School senior, Jemimah Ostrea, produced the winning artwork, which appears on the calendar's cover. Jemimah, pictured with Friday Night Live community liaison Angelina Huwe said, "If adults provide booze to teenagers, they will risk their teenagers' lives and push them to a path of destruction."

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Last month, a record number of local school administrators attended the annual Summer Institute at Edison AgTAC in Tulare. The conference provided administrators up-to-the-minute information on topics ranging from cyberbullying and personnel issues to instructional strategies and school budgets. The school budget session was presented by Janelle Kubinec from School Services of California (left photo). During the conference, 20 administrators received local and regional awards from the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), including TCOE's John Caudle (right photo), assistant superintendent of Business Services.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support In May and June, the Tulare County Office of Education held five graduation ceremonies. La Sierra's high school programs in Porterville and Visalia and its independent study program graduated 49 students. Angel Bejarano (left photo), valedictorian for La Sierra Military Academy, credits the program for helping him complete his education. The Special Services Division graduated 33 students. Teacher Roger Brown leads his students in singing I Hope You’ll Dance at the Visalia ceremonies (right photo).

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Gallery Notes

County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak recently announced the winners of the 2009 Excellence in Education Awards. Honorees in the 15th annual awards program were chosen in three categories: Administrator/Manager of the Year, Teacher of the Year and School Employee of the Year. A total of 33 nominations were received this year from Tulare County school districts and the office of education. Dave Tonini, principal at Green Acres Middle School in Visalia was chosen Administrator of the Year. Tulare Western High School science teacher and cross-country/track coach Michael Young was selected as the Teacher of the Year. The School Employee of the Year is Maria Magallan, office manager at Freedom Elementary in Farmersville. Award recipients, finalists and nominees will be honored at a recognition breakfast October 7, 2009, at the Visalia Convention Center. For information, call Christine Antilla at (559) 733-6302.

The Tulare-Kings Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Roundtable are planning an event entitled Get Involved. . .con Ganas! for Saturday, July 11 at the Visalia Holiday Inn. The nonpartisan, nonpolitical event is designed to inspire and inform attendees about community service opportunities. Representatives from local boards, community service organizations and the Tulare County Elections Department will be on-hand to provide information. Lupita Lomeli, host of Univision's Arriba Valle Central will be the keynote presenter. For registration, visit the Tulare-Kings Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at

The second annual MyForest Summit for junior high youth will be held September 25-26 on the SCICON campus in Springville. The MyForest Summit will combine outdoor fun with environmental education and stewardship activities and will be the first overnight, outdoor event orchestrated by a multi-agency partnership called the Sequoia Youth Summit. For information, call SCICON Director Rick Mitchell at (559) 539-2642.

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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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