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The News Gallery

September 2009

INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE - Young people from around the world come to Tulare County to serve as SCICON interns

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

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Antilla, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Pansy Ceballos, Jamie Burnitzki, Martha Alexandros, Rick Mitchell, Marsha Ingrao, Sara Sutton and John Kelly.

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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Interns become key members of program staff
New class of SCICON interns arrives from England, China, Argentina and California

SCICON Interns The week of August 17 was a milestone in the lives of college students Kim, Chris, Ray and Akala. The four arrived in Tulare County just weeks before to begin training as SCICON interns responsible for instructing sixth-grade American students. The four, and lead intern Julian Padro, are all international students who have committed to serve as outdoor education interns for the new school year. Four Americans complete the intern team.

Interns augment SCICON’s professional staff of program specialists and naturalists. They rotate through a variety of positions — such as trail guide, museum docent and village coordinator — in order to experience all aspects of the program.

SCICON Interns In their first week with Tulare County students, both Ray Gao and Akala Lee — SCICON's first Chinese interns — were impressed by the energy and creativity of their students. "They ask a lot of questions," laughed Akala, who was serving as a Tree Nursery Guide. Ray, who had shown students a ball python in the natural history museum, said that he is impressed by SCICON because it reflects, "the great deal of importance the community has put on environmental education."

Rick Mitchell credits the program's presence on the internet in attracting international students. "Web developer Lorena White has done a great job of giving young people around the world a picture of what it's like to be a SCICON intern," says Mr. Mitchell. "The application process is now much more convenient for everyone."

SCICON Interns Despite the long hours and hot days, an internship at SCICON seems to fit nicely with each member of the staff – Americans and internationals alike. Kim Cartwright and Chris Draper, both from Aberystwth University in Wales, are enjoying the experience as it fits well with their plans for careers in education. "For some, this is an opportunity to see if they like teaching," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "For others, it's a way to explore avenues in environmental science. But for Tulare County students, it's an opportunity to learn from young men and women from other cultures."

Photos above:
~ Akala Lee shares a laugh with students she found delightfully "curious and creative."
~ Chris Draper leads students on the bird trail.
~ The 2009-10 SCICON interns are (l-r) Kalle Larson, Sarah Bittick, Akala Lee, Desiree Shlunneger, Julian Padro, Kim Cartwright, Christoph Parker and Chris Draper. Ray Gao is pictured on the cover.

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Pair of federal grants support history education
New three-year Teaching American History program offers advanced training in instruction

History education is making history in Tulare County this year. Thanks to a pair of federal grants and the development of the county's soon-to-be-completed Museum of Farm Labor and Agriculture, teachers will have access to more instructional resources and advanced training – all designed to increase student achievement.

Teaching American History program Earlier this year, Educational Resource Services (E.R.S.) received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (N.E.H.) entitled the We the People Bookshelf. The grant includes 17 classic books on great Americans and complements another award received from the N.E.H. called Picturing America — a classroom aide that depicts national history through paintings and photographs.

To help teachers visualize the vast amounts of resource materials available through E.R.S. — including samples of the N.E.H. materials — staff members constructed a huge chronological display in the Education Center. Hundreds of teachers visiting the office of education saw the display last month.

Teaching American History program The second federal award, received by E.R.S. this summer, was the Teaching American History (TAH) Grant in the amount of $1,674,580. In partnership with the California History-Social Science Project at University of California, Davis, the TAH will fund an intensive three-year professional development program for 5th-, 8th-, and 11th-grade teachers called Developing Freedom in America. The training will provide 50 educators with the tools they need to broaden their students' understanding of American history and literacy and support their academic achievement. Teachers who participate in the full Developing Freedom in America program will be eligible to receive standards-aligned and research-based curriculum; presentations by scholars in the field of American History; opportunities to network with grade-level colleagues across the region; opportunities to purchase university extension credits; and $1000 stipends.

"Through this grant and other local history initiatives – such as the County of Tulare's Museum of Farm Labor and Agriculture – this generation of students will have a greater appreciation for our history and the role citizens play in shaping our great nation," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Photos above:
~ Information on the history materials available through E.R.S., shown on display in the Education Center, is available by calling (559) 651-3031.
~ Teaching American History - Teachers interested in participating in the Teaching American History program should contact Marsha Ingrao at (559) 651-0680.

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Confucius' birthday event celebrates teachers
Elementary, middle and high school teachers to be honored at Chinese Cultural Center

Three Rivers Elementary third/fourth-grade teacher Linda Warner delights in recounting the success a special needs student achieved in her class a few years ago. "I still get emotional thinking about when she competed with a team of nondisabled students at CyberQuest," she said. CyberQuest is an annual competition coordinated by the Tulare County Office of Education where students use technology for research and presentation purposes. "I was so proud that she succeeded alongside the rest of her teammates to share in a second-place trophy," she said. "My goal is to value the differences of every student and meet their needs while giving them a sense of worth," she says.

Educators of the Year On September 24, Ms. Warner will be honored for her achievements in teaching, along with fellow teachers Dean Miller of Palo Verde Union Elementary and Nancy Wills of Lindsay High School. Their honors are part of the Confucius' Birthday/ Educators of the Year Celebration, an annual teacher recognition program co-hosted by the Central California Chinese Cultural Center and the Tulare County Office of Education. Now in its 16th year, the event recognizes an elementary, middle and high school teacher on the birthday of Confucius — China's great philosopher and advocate for universal education. Around the world, Chinese often use Confucius' birthday as a day to honor teachers.

Educators of the Year Dean Miller is a seventh/eighth-grade science teacher at Palo Verde Union Elementary in Tulare. His goal is to convey an excitement that will increase students' interest in future science classes, competitions or careers, as well as help them make their education a higher priority. "When students become life-long learners, everyone benefits," he says. "Producing good citizens is another one of my teaching goals." In addition to his responsibilities as a science teacher, he continues to be a trainer and support provider for beginning teachers and is his school's Science Olympiad coach.

Educators of the Year Nancy Wills is a music teacher at Lindsay High School. She is respected within the community for her ability to reach students who have had limited success in school and – through her guitar ensemble class – draw out their personal best. "My hope is that as students learn through self-discipline and diligence that their efforts will result in continuous improvement; they will begin to apply those same traits to other areas of study and life; and they can, indeed, learn more than they believed possible," she says.

For information on the Educators of the Year honors, contact Christine Antilla at (559) 733-6302.

Photos above:
~ Three Rivers Elementary's Linda Warner
~ Dean Miller, science teacher at Palo Verde Elementary
~ Nancy Wills of Lindsay High School

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S.E.E. Youth represents county in Sacramento
Young people gain new skills and income through expanded summer jobs program

Aurelio Bernal lives in the small, rural community of London in northern Tulare County. Like many young people his age, Aurelio has earned his high school diploma and attended some college. He hopes to continue with college, but needs additional financial resources to do so.

SEE Youth summer employment Recently, he has been looking for a job and volunteering for various community projects. It was through his volunteer work at Hodges Community Center in London that Aurelio was encouraged to apply to the summer job program administered by the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board (WIB). This year, with increased funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), well over 1,000 of Tulare County's economically-disadvantaged young people were trained and employed. As one of three local agencies serving to place young people in summer jobs, Tulare County Office of Education's S.E.E. (Services for Education & Employment) Youth Program found summer employment for Aurelio and 800 other participants.

S.E.E. Youth staff noted that Aurelio displayed maturity, persistence and patience in completing the lengthy application process for the summer program. "He was the perfect candidate for placement as a youth aide at Hodges Community Center in London – a town with high unemployment and significant gang activity," said center supervisor Connie Huerta. "London youth desperately need good role models and that is exactly what Aurelio has been."

SEE Youth summer employment Working as a youth aide at the center, Aurelio soon became Ms. Huerta's assistant, helping to coordinate a variety of tasks such as lunch preparation and activity supervision, and assisting in the design and creation of a vegetable garden. Aurelio's hard work paid off. He was chosen to represent the county at a statewide ARRA event in Sacramento last month, having been selected from seven candidates nominated by service providers S.E.E. Youth, CSET and Proteus. Aurelio and his supervisor toured the capitol, met with state representatives and had lunch with other county ARRA representatives.

"We are proud of our participants' success this summer," says S.E.E. Youth Project Coordinator Martha Alexandros. "All have gained work experience, earned approximately $1,200 and learned valuable skills, and some – like Alex Picasso, who we placed at Kaweah Delta Hospital – have even been hired part-time by their summer employers."

Photos above:
~ Aurelio Bernal and Hodges Center supervisor Connie Huerta.
~ Alex Picasso turned his summer job into part-time employment with Kaweah Delta Healthcare. He is pictured with Kaweah Delta's Maureen Leak.

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On People in Service and Support

Working at the Speed of Trust Migrant Education's Rich Mullins and Reconnecting Youth program coordinator Adam Valencia have fun with a role-playing exercise as part of the Instructional Services Division's summer staff training. The training, attended by key members from eight of the division's departments, utilized Stephen M. R. Covey's Working at the Speed of Trust program, which teaches that the greater the degree of interpersonal and corporate trust, the faster and more economically work can be accomplished. For information on Speed of Trust trainings, contact Dr. Pansy Ceballos at (559) 733-6328.

Jason Dorsey County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak is hosting a special presentation for district superintendents and administrators featuring acclaimed speaker, bestselling author, and award-winning entrepreneur Jason Dorsey. Known as "The Gen Y Guy," Mr. Dorsey has been featured as a generational expert on 60 Minutes, 20/20, The Today Show and The View. For information on Mr. Dorsey's September 24 presentation, contact Christine Antilla at (559) 733-6302.

Impact Center Over the summer, the Peña Planetarium premiered three new shows as part of its public evening series. With the addition of these shows, visitors can now enjoy six programs that utilize the planetarium's full-dome projection system. The new shows include The Enchanted Reef and IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System, a program about a small Earth-orbiting spacecraft that is collecting high-speed atoms to create a map of our solar system's boundary. Visit
www.tcoe.org/ImpactCenter for upcoming evening shows.

John Kelly University Preparatory High School principal John Kelly welcomed 75 ninth- and tenth-grade students to the new program on the College of the Sequoias campus. Students will take core and elective courses, including art, photography and dance, in newly renovated classrooms provided by the college.

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Gallery Notes

The popular C.O.O.L. Night (College Offers Opportunities for Life) events have been moved to October from their traditional March/April timeslots. C.O.O.L. Night is an event for middle school students and parents to explore high school, college and career opportunities. Students can meet career professionals, as well as representatives from their respective high schools and community colleges. C.O.O.L. Night for north county students will be held Tuesday, October 6 at the Visalia Convention Center. C.O.O.L. Night South will be held Tuesday, October 20 at Granite Hills High School in Porterville. For more information, contact Tom Byars at (559) 651-0155.

This summer, Karen Davidson, Regional Coordinator for Services for Education and Employment (S.E.E.), initiated the formation of the Tulare-Kings Business Leadership Network. Nationally, the U.S. Business Leadership Network (BLN) was established in 1994 using a "business to business" strategy to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce. Locally, the BLN chapter will include employers who are interested in sharing best practices for the employment of people with disabilities. The project is being made possible through a grant from the Zero Divide Foundation. The first meeting of the Tulare-Kings Business Leadership Network will be held on September 1, from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at Buckman-Mitchell Insurance in Visalia. For more information, contact Karen Davidson at (559) 730-2737.

The County of Tulare recently announced the availability of new Step Up Youth Activities Grants due October 16, 2009. A mandatory grant-writing workshop will be held for all agencies applying for funding on Wednesday, September 23, at 2:00 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors Chambers in Visalia. For more information, contact Jeff Forbes at (559) 636-5000.

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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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