The News Gallery
November 2009ENVIRONMENTALLY CONNECTED - Middle school students learn about the care of public lands at the second annual MyForest Summit
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
Contributors to this issue:
Christine Antilla, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Candy Hilvers, Pansy Ceballos, Sheli Silva, Nani Rowland, and Donna Glassman-Sommer.
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.
Event helps students connect to outdoors
MyForest Summit brings middle school students to SCICON for learning, service and fun
A remarkable thing occurred in the foothills in and around SCICON on a recent September weekend. Nearly 100 middle school students from Tulare, Kern and Fresno counties participated in the second annual MyForest Summit — giving up free time to work and learn about the importance and care of America’s public lands.
The summit was conceived by the Three Forests Interpretive Association — an organization which promotes an appreciation of the Sequoia, Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests through the publication of materials relating to Sierra Nevada history. The event — now in its second year — was designed to strengthen the bond young people have with the outdoors. "Students have powerful learning experiences at SCICON during their fifth- and sixth-grade years, but can sometimes lose that connection to the outdoors during their middle school years," says SCICON director Rick Mitchell. "We are proud to be a part of the MyForest Summit and keeping students involved outdoors."
From the time that students arrived on Friday afternoon, until they left Saturday evening, they performed conservation projects and participated in fun outdoor activities. The conservation projects included: tree propagation at the SCICON Tree Nursery; trail improvement at SCICON; wildlife habitat enhancement, including the construction of bird boxes near Bear Creek; the enhancement of a portion of the Tule River for the benefit of aquatic species; and the clean-up of the Vista Point look-out on Highway 190. "In a little more than 24 hours, the MyForest Summit gave students insight into the world of environmental science and the many career opportunities it holds," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "It's a powerful teaching tool."
~ Students worked on various service projects including planting trees at the SCICON nursery.
~ Students also participated in hands-on activities like learning how horses and mules are used to pack gear into the backcountry.
~ Tina Terrell, Forest Supervisor for Sequoia National Forest, addressed the students.
For information on MyForest Summit 2010, planned for September 24-25, 2010, contact Rick Mitchell at (559) 539-2642.
School Health begins free clinics
Partnership brings H1N1 vaccines to thousands of Tulare County children
This month, Tulare County school nurses will begin working with the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency to provide the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine to children at school. Vaccination clinics will be held at school sites throughout Tulare County after school or on weekends. The purpose of these free clinics is to provide vaccination opportunities to underserved populations and priority groups recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To qualify, participants must be: healthy children six months to 24 years of age, or a healthy caregiver of a child under six months of age. Children visiting the clinic must be accompanied by a parent/guardian. Children six months to nine years-of-age will receive two doses, at least three weeks apart.
"We have a close collaboration with Tulare County Health and Human Services," says School Health Programs manager Candy Hilvers. "This collaboration allows us to provide the students we serve with the latest and most effective health procedures."
~ Sandy Dutch is a registered nurse with TCOE School Health Programs. In cooperation with the county health department, Ms. Dutch and her colleagues, who primarily serve Tulare County's rural districts, will provide H1N1 vaccinations this month. For a schedule of vaccination clinics, call (559) 651-0130.
University partnerships aid teacher readiness
TCOE's California Teacher Recruitment Program to share in two federal grants
In the not-too-distant future, 40 Central Valley school districts from Tulare, Kings, Fresno and Kern counties will benefit from the availability of new and better-prepared teachers, thanks to a pair of federal grants awarded last month. The Tulare County Office of Education's California Teacher Recruitment Program (CTRP) is a part of two teams funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Teacher Quality Partnership Grants Program. Both teams consistent of partnerships between TCOE's CTRP and a university in the region. "These awards are tremendously exciting because they allow us to continue the work we have done on a regional and state level in developing a new generation of teachers," says CTRP New Teacher Development Program Manager Donna Glassman-Sommer.
At $12.6 million, the larger of the two grants is a partnership of California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB); California State University, Monterey Bay; California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly); the Tulare County Office of Education; and the Kern County Office of Education. With CSUB as the fiscal lead, the California State University program is reforming teacher preparation so that students can obtain a bachelors degree in education and their teaching credential in just four years, instead of the traditional five year time period.
CSUB and CSU Monterey Bay are developing the four-year "blended" degree and credential program initially for mathematics, science and special education majors. One of the unique components of the new program is the addition of instruction by CSU professors in area K-12 classrooms. There, professors will have an opportunity to demonstrate exemplary teaching methods. Undergraduates who successfully complete the blended program will graduate in four years having also obtained their California single-subject or special education credential. Under the grant, Cal Poly is developing an innovative on-line single subject credential. This program will enable students who already hold a bachelors degree to complete their credential entirely on-line in about one year. According to Ms. Glassman-Sommer, the CTRP will work with community colleges throughout the region to develop an awareness of the new CSU programs and to help them prepare their students to transfer to these programs.
The second grant, at $8.1 million, involves a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program with New York-based Bard College. In August, Bard opened the new Paramount Bard Academy in Delano — a college preparatory high school that will serve as a learning laboratory for the graduate students accepted to the MAT program. The MAT program is a one-year residency designed to award successful candidates a masters degree in mathematics, English, biology or social science and a teaching credential for New York and California. The program will also pay a one-year $30,000 living stipend to students who agree to work in select high-need schools in Central California for an additional three years. "Bard is a pioneer in education instruction reform. For their program, we will be looking for ways to bring local talent back to the Central Valley," says Ms. Glassman-Sommer. "We will target an ethnically-diverse population of young people who have left the area to complete four-year degrees, particularly those who are the first in their family to receive a college degree." "These grants will profoundly affect our ability to bring new teachers into our classrooms faster, and better prepare them for the demands of Central California's schools," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.
Torch Awards presented to eight schools
New awards program honors schools for academic effort
For teachers Darrol Davis and Mary Mills of Freedom Elementary in Farmersville, the news that they had received an award for their effort to improve student academic performance was a welcome one. The honor Freedom Elementary received, along with seven other Tulare County schools, is called the Torch Academic Achievement Award. It was created by the Tulare County Office of Education's Instructional Services Division this year to recognize local schools or districts for instructional practices that are improving student achievement.
At 740, Freedom Elementary doesn't have the highest Academic Performance Index (API) score in the county. The school also still needs to meet academic growth targets set for all student groups under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. "The purpose of the Torch Awards is to recognize schools that demonstrate a focused, campus-wide approach to improving student achievement," says Dr. Pansy Ceballos, assistant superintendent of Instructional Services. "While some of the winners still have room to grow, we commend their efforts in developing a comprehensive plan and working together to continually increase academic achievement at their school sites."
Mr. Davis says that student achievement has been a priority for the entire staff even before the school opened five years ago. "As the school was being constructed, teachers and classified staff began to meet to develop instructional strategies and evaluate programs we could use." In 2006, all teachers received training in the Step Up to Writing curriculum, which has been used successfully to improve language arts skills in students, including English Learners. Over the years, the staff at Freedom Elementary has continued their improvement work with help from Dr. Guadalupe Solis and the instructional consultants from TCOE's Educational Resource Services program.
The schools that received the Torch Award were nominated by the Instructional Services program managers based on the following criteria: improvements in student achievement substantiated by measurable data, such as a school's API scores; an innovation that has contributed to academic growth, such as student interventions, an attendance program, etc.; and/or a successful partnership with parents, businesses or an outside educational agency. Freedom Elementary was nominated by Migrant Education administrator Sheli Silva.
Freedom's new principal, Melanie Giannandrea, believes the Torch Award is an appropriate honor for the teaching staff. "There is a spirit of collaboration here unlike anything I have ever seen," she says. "The staff works together constantly — before, during and after school — to improve their instruction techniques for the kids."
~ Migrant Education administrator Sheli Silva presents one of the first Torch Achievement Awards to Freedom Elementary's Darrol Davis. Also pictured are Freedom Elementary teacher Mary Mills, principal Melanie Giannandrea and Migrant Education resource coordinator Ana Luna. Other Tulare County schools that received the Torch Award include: Columbine Elementary (Delano), Exeter High School, Mineral King Elementary School (Visalia), Mt. Whitney High School (Visalia), Mulcahy Middle School (Tulare), Pleasant View Elementary School (Porterville), Waukena Joint Union Elementary School (Tulare).
On People in Service and Support
Last month, College Offers Opportunities for Life (COOL) Night made a successful transition from being an annual spring event to one held each fall. COOL Night is designed for middle school students and parents interested in learning more about high school, college and career options. The transition was made to give parents and students earlier access to the valuable information presented at the event. COOL Night attendees in Visalia (October 6) and at Porterville's Granite Hills High School (October 20) visited with representatives including students from University Preparatory High School, pictured with teacher Helen Milliorn-Feller. Attendees also had the opportunity to attend breakout sessions such as one presented by Friday Night Live mentors Ben Pfeninger and Analisa Skeen from Woodlake, who spoke about preparing for college while still in high school.
Students from Waukena and Earlimart schools recently participated in the annual Cowboy Poetry event at Ritchie's Barn in Visalia. The highlight of their visit was an instructional performance by Grammy-nominated harmonica artist Gary Allegretto. Mr. Allegretto, founder of a music outreach program called Harmonikids, taught students several songs on harmonicas given to each attendee by the Visalia Cowboy Cultural Committee.
The Network for a Healthy California recently completed its annual essay contest. Open to fourth- and fifth-grade students, the contest helped develop participant's knowledge of the wide variety of fruits and vegetables available in the Central Valley. The top three essays were received from fifth-grade students at Alta Vista Elementary School in Porterville. Winners Jorge Leon (first place, shown in the photo with the Network's Nani Rowland), Brittany Wynn (second place) and Severo Nunez (third place) received gift certificates to enjoy the physical activities at the McDermont Field House in Lindsay.
Visitors to the Mooney Grove Park Centennial Celebration in October also had the opportunity to celebrate CHARACTER COUNTS! Week. Program coordinator Kelley Petty reports that nearly 9,000 Tulare County students were nominated and recognized for their acts of good character.
March 11, 2010, has been set as the date for the next Step Up Youth Summit. Principals from all public and private high schools in Tulare County will soon have an opportunity to select students to participate in the full-day program. The summit is being designed to inspire students to lead violence- and drug-free lifestyles, pursue educational achievement and connect to their community in a positive manner. The Youth Summit will be held at the McDermont Field House in Lindsay. Students will also have the opportunity to design the summit's logo, which will be used on the program and complimentary T-shirts. Watch for information on www.StepUpTC.com or call Jed Chernabaeff at (559) 636-5000.
The Annual Access to Higher Education event has been scheduled for Saturday, January 30, 2010, at the College of the Sequoias (COS). The event, which is designed to encourage Tulare and Kings County foster youth to pursue higher education opportunities, is a collaboration between the Tulare County Office of Education, CASA of Tulare County, COS, Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency's Independent Living Program and the Tulare County Superior Court. Students will be addressed by COS's Dean of Science, Math and Engineering, Dr. Robert Urtecho, hear from former foster youth who are currently enrolled in college and speak to representatives from area colleges. For more information on the event, call Christine Antilla at (559) 733-6302.
Graduating Tulare County seniors are encouraged to apply for the annual Tulare County College Night Scholarship. The scholarship application must be postmarked by February 1, 2010. The scholarship carries an award of $1,000 per year, renewable for up to four years. Applicants must plan to attend an accredited college/university as a full-time student (12 units or more) during the 2010-2011 academic year. The application and more information can be found at www.tcoe.org/CollegeNight.
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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