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The News Gallery

February 2010

OUTDOOR LABORATORY - High school students participate in Circle J-Norris Ranch's annual Field Science Weekend

News Gallery - February 2010 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, Tom Byars, Kari Wilson, Nancy Bruce, Roger Brown, Lois Sheffield, Kelley Petty and Kathleen Green.

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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Weekend filled with hands-on science
High school students get a glimpse of environmental and conservation careers

Field Science Weekend Working downstream from their classmates, Granite Hills High School sophomores Isabel Perez and Sonya Lopez hurriedly returned to report their exciting discovery to Tulare City Schools science consultant Mike Milanesi. While measuring the turbidity  or clarity  of the stream, the young women found that the murkier water had a higher temperature. "Why do you think that is," Mr. Milanesi asked. Isabel and Sonya  talking over one another  reasoned that the particles in the murky water must hold more energy from the sun. Delighted with their findings, the young women headed off to collect more data.

"Creating this type of excitement for outdoor science is the ultimate goal of the Field Science Weekend," says Circle J lead teacher Nancy Bruce. "In the 60s and 70s, there was a great movement of people into field science and conservation careers. Now 40 years later, these men and women are retiring. We hope this program ignites in our students the same kind of interest in environmental service."

Field Science Weekend Over 80 students from various Tulare County high schools attended the program last month. On Saturday, the students worked in small teams with scientists, including men and women from the Sequoia National Forest and the California Department of Fish & Game, on wildlife and water studies. Because Circle J-Norris Ranch is an ongoing field study site used by teachers in all grade levels, the data gathered from the wildlife and water studies can be compared to data collected during past years. In addition to the field studies, other groups concentrated on conducting an archeological study and illustrating wildlife in a session led by Frances Pyles, who has created much of the plant and animal artwork used at Circle J and at the SCICON outdoor education program.

On Sunday, the students finished the program by teaming up to complete several environmental service projects, including creating nesting boxes, planting berry-producing shrubs, and constructing a floating island for the pond. "The combination of science and service under the guidance of local experts is a great formula for shaping young lives," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Photos above:
~ Archeologist Doug McIntosh demonstrates how the location of a Native American milling site on the Circle J-Norris Ranch can be uploaded to the state historical preservation office via satellite.
~ Artist Frances Pyles works with students who created a bas relief wildlife sculpture featuring native plant and animal species.

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Step Up Youth Summit set for March 11
Three top speakers to address 1,000 Tulare County high school students

Over 1,000 high school students from every school in Tulare County have been invited to the second Step Up Youth Summit, March 11. This year's event will be held at the McDermont Field House in Lindsay.

Step Up Youth Summit Gabe Salazar (right), a nationally-known speaker and founder of The U Turn Youth Center on San Antonio's South Side, will provide the keynote address on making positive choices. Mr. Salazar will be joined by Dr. Bill Michaelis and Ezra Holland, and representatives from Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. Homeboy Industries is the nation's largest gang intervention program, assisting at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become contributing members of society through job placement, training and education.

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New museum exhibitions tell pioneer stories
Students can learn about two of Tulare County's many ethnic groups this semester

Tulare County Farm Labor & Agriculture Museum Beginning this month, students visiting the new History of Tulare County Farm Labor & Agriculture Museum, located in Mooney Grove Park, can enjoy two exhibitions on local immigrant groups. The first is a Tulare County Armenian exhibition, developed by members of the Historical Society and descendents of local Armenian immigrants. The exhibition is complimented by a 22-minute video developed by TCOE's Impact Center entitled Three Armenian Gentlemen.

Tulare County Farm Labor & Agriculture Museum The second exhibition, entitled Allensworth: 100 Years of the California Dream, was obtained from the California State Parks. It also features a video  narrated by actor Danny Glover  about the pioneering African Americans who created Allensworth in southwest Tulare County.

"This spring, students get twice the experience at the new Farm Labor & Agriculture Museum with shows on two important ethnic groups," says County Superintendent Jim Vidak. The exhibitions will run through August, when a new display on Dust Bowl immigrants will open. For tour and video availability information, please contact museum curator Kathy McGowan at (559) 733-6616.

Photos above:
~ Tulare County Armenian exhibition
~ Allensworth: 100 Years of the California Dream

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After school leaders begin year with new skills
500 site leaders train to boost student academic achievement

While many school employees were still enjoying their winter holidays, 500 after school program leaders and site supervisors attended the Tulare County After School Staff Development Training. The free full-day seminar  organized by the Tulare County Office of Education, in partnership with the Region VII Lead Office for After School Programs  was held January 4 to help leaders improve the services provided at their school sites.

After School Staff Development Training
Attendees came from after school sites operated by agencies such as HEART, the Tulare County Office of Education, Boys and Girls Club and municipalities and school districts throughout the county. Participants selected sessions ranging from classroom management and strategies for special-needs students to environmental education and techniques for boosting student achievement.

Photos above:
~ A wide variety of trainings were available, including art lessons which support math skills, ...
~ ... classroom management strategies taught by Ron Howerton, ...
~ ... and "readers theater" for building reading fluency and comprehension.

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TCOE administrators receive regional honors
ACSA recognizes Vidak, Vazquez and Peterson as Administrators of the Year

Three administrators from the Tulare County Office of Education have won 2010 Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Administrator of the Year Awards. The awards were given to Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, Court/Community Schools Program Manager Angel Vazquez, and Special Services Preschool Program Manager Cara Peterson. The three won the awards for the Tulare County ACSA Charter, as well as for ACSA Region XI, which represents charter organizations in Inyo, Kern, Kings, Mono, and Tulare counties. As regional winners, Vidak, Vazquez and Peterson will compete for honors at the state level this month. They will also be honored at the Tulare County Summer Institute for School Administrators on June 16 at Edison AgTAC in Tulare.

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On People in Service and Support

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Anthony Kilgore, a graduate of Special Services' Community Based Instruction (CBI) Class in Visalia, is the newest employee at The Clay Cafe. This fall, Anthony's class worked with the Clay Cafe to complete and distribute stuffed animals to children in need (News Gallery October 2009). CBI classes appreciate local businesses that will provide work for adult students. For more information on CBI classes, contact Dr. Marilyn Rankin at (559) 730-2910.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Paula Statman will be the keynote speaker at the 22nd Annual Child Care Conference  scheduled for March 27 at the Visalia Convention Center. Ms. Statman is an award-winning author, educator, psychotherapist, and musical comedienne "all rolled into one." She has been a regular guest on local and national programs, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show and CBS Evening News. At the conference, she will help child care providers gain the survival skills needed to sustain their spirits and manage stress. The conference will also feature workshops on topics ranging from planning imaginative activities and preparing healthy meals to identifying different learning styles and effective discipline techniques. Registration is $60. Call the Resource & Referral office at (559) 651-0862 for information.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Youth Gang Intervention Consultant Joe Aguilar and Prevention Program Coordinator Adam Valencia presented a workshop for school administrators and board members at the annual Fall Institute. The workshop focused on how school districts can develop a framework involving law enforcement and community partners to relieve the pressures of gang activity at all school settings. To arrange for Mr. Aguilar to speak to your school or organization on gang issues, call (559) 733-6302.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Granite Hills High School (Porterville) senior Zoë Kisling recently received the 2009 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) "Spirit of Sport" Award. Zoë is a member of the school's volleyball, soccer and softball teams. She has also started her own community service project called "Knots of Love." Through the project, she and her volleyball teammates make blankets for Child Protective Services and other local agencies. Zoë's volleyball team, under coach Rich Lambie, is also to be commended for their use of Pursuing Victory with Honor (PVWH), a program developed by the creators of CHARACTER COUNTS! which teaches good sportsmanship. For information on PVWH, call Kelley Petty at (559) 740-4303.

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Gallery Notes

The 18th Annual Tulare County Support Staff Conference, scheduled for May 7, 2010 at the Visalia Convention Center, will feature motivational speaker and comedian Judy Carter. Ms. Carter was the memorable keynote speaker in 2008 who spoke on managing stress and coping with change. The 2010 conference will feature a number of other speakers presenting information on fitness, nutrition, school legal issues, stress and time management. For registration information, visit

During the holidays, the Tulare County Office of Education made a record-breaking donation to FoodLink for Tulare County. The donation of cash and groceries equated to over 13,500 pounds of food available for local families in need. This year, FoodLink was able to maximize their inventory by purchasing 10 pounds of food for every dollar donated versus five pounds per dollar in past years. TCOE's next largest donation was 6,834 pounds of food in 2003.

The new University Preparatory High School (UPHS) on the College of the Sequoias (COS) campus is enrolling ninth- and tenth-grade students for the current semester. UPHS students attend core high school classes in the college's Sequoia Building. At the end of their extended day, students enroll in a variety of COS classes for which they can earn college credits. For more information on enrollment, call Principal John Kelly at (559) 730-2529.

In March, the Human Resources Division will offer free Health Assessments for TCOE employees and their adult dependants. The assessments will be held on select days at TCOE facilities on Burrel Avenue and Doe Avenue in Visalia, the Maple Learning Center in Tulare and the L.B. Hill Learning Center in Porterville. All participants will receive a copy of the popular book Eat This, Not That!, plus a chance to receive cash awards by completing an online assessment and enrolling in a Digital Health Coaching program. For registration information, visit www.tcoe.org/HR/EmployeeInfo.

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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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