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The News Gallery

March 2010

FROM JOBS TO VOCATIONS - S.E.E. Youth's year-round jobs program inspires career choices in many young people

News Gallery - March 2010 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Antilla, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Rita Jahnke, Stephanie Rodriguez, Lois Sheffield, Kelley Petty, Frank Escobar, Sr., Adam Valencia, Paula Terrill 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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SEE Youth jobs spark career interests
High school students and young adults gain real world job experience

Mayra Flores answers phones at the Woodlake Family Resource Center after school. The Woodlake High School junior enjoys the part of her job where she gets to help people. "If I can help someone fill out paperwork, then it is my pleasure," she says. Does Mayra see herself pursuing some type of helping career after high school? "Oh, yes!" she says eagerly. "Since I’ve worked here, I’ve realized that I want to continue into social work after college."

SEE Youth
Mayra is one of approximately 500 young people in Tulare County that are employed on an annual basis through the Services for Education and Employment (S.E.E.) Youth Program. Funded by the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board, the program assists individuals with job placement in a position paid for by S.E.E. In some cases, placements can lead to permanent full- or part-time employment by the company or agency.

SEE Youth Mayra isn’t the only person whose work experience through the Youth Program has helped develop career plans. At the nearby Assistance Service Dog Educational Center, Rosalina Ramirez works to maintain the kennels and groom the dogs. The center, which is operated by Gerald and Donna Whittaker, has a long-standing program with Woodlake High School. Two classes of eight students each work daily to train dogs to receive their "service dog" certification. Rosalina, who works at the center with Alex Trujillo, was a member of the Woodlake High School program for two years. Donna Whittaker reports that Rosalina grew tremendously through the program, overcoming her shyness. "Helping the Whittakers and working with the dogs is something I really want to continue doing."

"It’s employers like the Woodlake Family Resource Center, the Whittakers and many others that are making a difference in the lives of these young people," says S.E.E. Youth Project Coordinator Martha Alexandros. "The care, guidance and training they provide are the keys to opening young minds to future careers."

Photos above:
~ Alex Trujillo and Rosalina Ramirez work to maintain the Assistance Service Dog Educational Center so that when Woodlake High School students arrive, the dogs are ready for training.
~ Mayra Flores enjoys helping clients who visit the Woodlake Family Resource Center.

Large Summer Youth Program Anticipated

The S.E.E. Youth Program is hopeful it will receive funding for another large summer jobs program this year. If funding is received, S.E.E. Youth would have several hundred jobs for young people ages 14-24 from low-income families. The jobs are paid positions that average 150 hours each. Martha Alexandros, S.E.E. Youth Project Coordinator, explains that prior to employment, young people will receive enrichment training on topics including workplace ethics, job safety and job readiness.

"We are also looking for public sector and non-profit organizations to give Tulare County students 'real world' job experience and exposure to career possibilities of their own," says Ms. Alexandros. Youth can be used for a wide variety of work including clerical, recreation aides, maintenance and construction. Businesses interested in employing young people this summer, should call Martha Alexandros at (559) 733-6730.

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TCOE Worksite Wellness Program formed
Committee makes plans to promote fitness and nutrition education for employees

TCOE Worksite Wellness Program Last fall, Christine Antilla and Marlene Moreno from County Superintendent Jim Vidak’s office attended a local seminar on corporate wellness. Fitness and nutrition experts shared the success other organizations had in improving the health of their employees. "Pumped" by the results they heard, Christine and Marlene returned to discuss the possibilities with Mr. Vidak. "I appreciate their initiative," he said. "Our goal should always be to better serve and support our students and the county’s school districts. A healthier workforce can do just that."

In January, enthusiastic representatives from every department of the county office met to discuss ways they could assist employees lead healthier lifestyles. The committee quickly created an employee survey and distributed it with the monthly payroll. The survey, which was designed to measure employee interest in nutrition and fitness activities, is being tabulated this month.

Christine Antilla reports that plans are underway to offer discounts at local fitness centers, invite inspirational and motivational speakers, provide useful nutrition information and organize support groups for weight loss. For information on the Wellness Program, call her at (559) 733-6302.

Photo above:
~ Barbara Leal, BTSA Induction Coordinator, and aerobic instructor with The Lifestyle Center, leads fellow co-workers in a ‘Zumba’ workout at the annual Valentine’s luncheon on February 12. As part of the new Worksite Wellness Program, she hopes to inspire others to become involved in fitness programs.

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New resources available to home providers
License-exempt providers and their children invited to attend fun-filled workshops

Michelle Garcia, her children and a few of their cousins nearly fill the small conference room at TCOE’s Doe Avenue facility. Ms. Garcia is there to hear a presentation on family literacy by Rita Jahnke of the Resource and Referral program. The kids are there to — well, have fun. Ms Garcia is a stay-at-home mother who cares for the children, but doesn’t run a child care center, per se. She is known as an exempt provider — one who cares for children within her family or the children of one other friend. As such, she is not required to have a license.

Child Care Program These caregivers — grandmothers, aunts and neighbors who may be receiving payment for their services through Child Care’s Alternative Payment program — are welcome to attend a new series of trainings that will make their job of educating young children at home much easier. This year, Resource and Referral’s California Exempt Care Training (CECT) Project has begun working with the Alterative Payment programs in recruiting providers and their children to attend free child care trainings and workshops.

"This is a great program for me to meet other providers and share ideas," says Ms. Garcia. "It is also fun for the children because of all the hands-on activities." After Ms. Jahnke finishes her presentation on the importance of reading to children for their own development, she and Angie Briseno, a student from the College of the Sequoias, lead the children in creating books of their own. The children were eager to complete their books and share the stories they imagined.

Child Care Program The family literacy workshop is typical of the trainings Ms. Jahnke and the staff have begun providing in Visalia. Future trainings, which she hopes to also offer in Tulare, Porterville or in private homes, will cover topics such as safety, health, nutrition, discipline and the importance of play. "It is our hope that CECT’s new focus will succeed in reaching out to many new providers who have not had the opportunity to attend our trainings and workshops," says Resource and Referral Coordinator Stephanie Rodriguez. "We look forward to meeting many new participants this year and providing them with the tools they need to serve the children in their care."

For information on registering for the CECT program or for a schedule of upcoming workshops, call Rita Jahnke at (559) 651-0862.

Photos above:
~ Rita Jahnke (l) and Angie Briseno read to children and adults at a recent literacy workshop.
~ Children are welcome to attend the new Resource and Referral workshops, where they can engage in hands-on activities such as designing their own book.

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Tulare high schools empower parents
400 parents enrolled in evening Parent Institute for Quality Education program

PIQE On Wednesday nights at Tulare Union High School, hundreds of parents file into classrooms occupied by their children just hours before. They are not there for a parent/teacher conference or a fundraising activity, but rather a course designed to help them assist their children in getting into college. The parents are participating in a program called Parent Institute for Quality Education, or PIQE. The same PIQE classes, which are taught in English and Spanish, are also offered at Tulare’s other comprehensive high schools — Mission Oak and Tulare Western. The PIQE classes are funded by family literacy grants received along with the grant that created the three Choices After School Programs at Tulare’s comprehensive high schools.

PIQE PIQE is a program founded over 20 years ago by San Diego State University professor Dr. Alberto Ochoa and parents at San Diego’s Sherman Elementary in response to their own children’s low academic achievement. The program evolved into a curriculum that has been used by hundreds of thousands of California parents to gain a better understanding of how they can support their child’s K-12 and higher education. Today, PIQE has a special partnership with California State University, which is supporting the acceptance of children of PIQE graduates.

PIQE "While the program was originally designed for parents who had not been to college themselves, it works for everyone," says Tulare Union assistant principal Luis Cobarruvias. Tulare Union parent Veronika Anderson agrees. "I’m going to take any insight I can in helping my son and his younger siblings get to college," she says. Ms. Anderson is one of about 25 parents in a class led by Fresno State student Janette Puga. So far, the parents in PIQE have learned about college admission tests, high school coursework, the importance of extra-curricular activities and student self-esteem. "I’m just here to facilitate," says Ms. Puga. "As parents open up and share what they know, they can be resources to one another." This semester, over 400 Tulare parents are expected to graduate from the PIQE program.

Photos above:
~ PIQE is designed so that parents lead the lessons each week.
~ Janette Puga, one of the class facilitators at Tulare Union, helps parents understand the various college admission exams.
~ Parents may bring their children to campus for enrichment activities.

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On People in Service and Support

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Native Child, created by Casey LaFave, a senior at Woodlake High School, will be one of the featured works in the annual "Best of Show" Student Art Exhibition this month. The exhibition can be viewed on weekdays at the Tulare County Office of Education’s main building at 2637 West Burrel Avenue in Visalia. Artworks for the "Best of Show" event are selected from two larger exhibitions, which began in the fall. Schools from throughout the county submit their students’ best work for the two preliminary exhibitions. This year, the "Best of Show" Exhibition features over 300 paintings, drawings and sculptures as selected by a panel of judges. A public reception honoring the students selected for the "Best of Show" Exhibition will be held on March 24 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Casey LaFave was also the winner of the annual Mock Trial art contest for her depiction of the recent courtroom competition.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Last month, Woodlake High School won the 2010 Mock Trial Competition, and earned the honor of representing the county at the state competition this month in San Jose. The Woodlake team is coached by Kevin Skeen, with assistance from attorney coaches Erin Klingele Leedy and Nathan Leedy. In the finals, Woodlake competed against Tulare Union High School. Tulare Union’s David Vasquez (r) addresses the court as Woodlake’s Analisa Skeen and Danielle Knapp look on.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Nearly 75 foster youth attended the third annual Access to Higher Education Summit event at the College of the Sequoias on January 30. The event, which is designed to motivate foster youth to explore educational opportunities beyond high school, is organized by the Tulare County Office of Education, Tulare County Independent Living Program, College of the Sequoias, Tulare County Superior Court, Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Tulare County and Tulare County Probation. Students enjoyed speaking with representatives from various area colleges and hearing from a panel of former foster youth now attending or recently graduated from college. The panel was led by former foster youth Tyrone Wilson, who graduated from Tulare Western High School and now works as a law firm intern in Hanford.

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Gallery Notes

For eight years in a row, a Granite Hills High School team from Porterville has won the annual Academic Decathlon Competition. The team will represent the county at the state competition in Sacramento this month. Coached by Elissa Lombardi, Granite Hills also captured the "large school" honors and won the Super Quiz. Harmony Magnet Academy/Strathmore High School won first place in the "small school" category.

Members of the Tulare County Youth Council (TCYC) recently selected the winners of its annual art contest which will be showcased in the 2010-2011 Friday Night Live Alcohol Awareness Calendar. The winners will be honored at the 21st Annual Lip Synch Competition on April 16, 2010 at the Visalia Convention Center. Naomi Durrence of Tulare Union High School created the artwork that will be featured on the cover. Students who will also be featured in the calendar include: Emily Hardin and Matt Gamble from Burton Middle School (Porterville), Jackie Brown from Springville Elementary, and Xai Xiong from Tulare Union High School. Winners from Orosi High School include: Darryl Trinidad, Maricela Aguilar, Ediberto Gonzalez, Isamar Quinonez, Mariana Marroquin, Samantha Trujillo, Eliazar Candelario and Luz Zepeda. For more information on the calendar, contact Angelina Huwe at (559) 651- 0155, extension 3616.

Last month, the Tulare County Office of Education’s CHARACTER COUNTS! program formed a new partnership with the Tulare Kiwanis to recognize student athletes for outstanding sportsmanship. Those honored were Sarah King and Pablo Palacios, Tulare Western High School; Alysa Palma and Reiley Johnstone, Mission Oak High School; and Addison Nunes and Jordan Searby, Tulare Union High School. The program is based on the "Pursuing Victory with Honor" curriculum developed by the creators of CHARACTER COUNTS!. For information, contact Kelley Petty at (559) 740-4303.

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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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