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The News Gallery

April 2010

PUTTING EXPERIENCE TO WORK - Rene Garcia is one of hundreds of adults who have found employement with the Fast Track program offered by the County of Tulare and S.E.E.

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

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Antilla, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Paula Terrill, Marilyn Willers, Martha Alexandros, René Moncada and Juani Rubio.

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 brings hope to the unemployed
Fast Track program accelerates training and placement for adults seeking employment

On a recent Friday afternoon in March, Rene Garcia was at work in the Central Valley Martial Arts Center in Visalia. In a corner of the center, he works with a young student on balance and strengthening exercises. His patient, supportive demeanor makes him ideally suited for training the boy.

SEE Fast Track Just a few weeks before, Rene Garcia was one of thousands of unemployed Tulare County adults. An army veteran with a background in martial arts, Mr. Garcia was looking for employment so that he could finish his bachelor’s degree in emergency management. Several weeks later, he was connected — through Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) — to Services for Education and Employment (SEE) and its new adult employment training and placement program. "Every week we see dozens of men and women like Rene," says SEE’s Martha Alexandros. "These are people who have lost their jobs or who have graduated from college and can’t find a job. These people need to work and they are ready to work."

SEE Fast Track Last July, at the height of the Summer Youth Program, SEE was given the green light to be a provider of training and placement services under a new federally-funded HHSA program called Fast Track. Under the guidelines of the program, HHSA refers adults who are receiving aid and/or food stamps to providers, which in Tulare County, includes SEE, Proteus and CSET. The providers have just 7-10 days to train and place the adult in a job paid for with Fast Track funding, which will be available through September 2010.

SEE Fast Track A few years ago, Yao Sachao completed the Pharmacy Technician program at San Joaquin Valley College. After graduation, he moved to Michigan, where he found employment in a pharmacy. When Yao moved back to Tulare County in the fall of 2008, he looked for a job for more than one year without success. Within four days of his referral to SEE, Mr. Sachao was placed in the pharmacy at the Hillman Health Care Center in Tulare. "Going through the Fast Track program was a big help," he says. "Now I have my foot in the door. Even if they are not able to hire me permanently, I’ve gained some great experience and a good reference." Yao’s supervisor, Sam Boulos, agrees, "Yao has been a fantastic addition to the staff."

SEE Fast Track For all Fast Track participants, the SEE staff conducts week-long trainings on topics including interview skills, resume development, workplace ethics and job retention training, while job developers like Marilyn Willers search for suitable employers. "We’re proud of our success," says Ms. Willers. "For participants who are ‘job ready’ and complete the training program, we have been successful in placing over 85 percent of them with local companies and agencies. That equates to more than 200 people employed in the past eight months."

"Through Fast Track, the staff at SEE has done a remarkable job of giving hope to those who need it most — helping build people’s confidence and find them meaningful work," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Photos above:
~ Yao Sachao at work in the pharmacy at the Hillman Health Care Center.
~ Leshelya Lott (r) participates in a mock interview at one of SEE’s weekly trainings.
~ With her past work experience at Tulare County Courts, Rebecca Wallace was placed at the Visalia Police Department.
~ Ranae Lauricella (l), who has a background in special education and nursing, appreciates her placement at TCOE’s Network for a Healthy California, where she helps Janet Hettinger prepare a Fiesta Salad for Monson-Sultana students.

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Allensworth exhibition sparks hand-on event
Students and teachers introduced to new Farm Labor and Agriculture Museum

Allensworth Exhibit To commemorate Black History Month in February, the Tulare County Office of Education organized an event in partnership with the new History of Tulare County Farm Labor and Agriculture Museum. On February 22, hundreds of students visited the museum to tour its exhibition about the historic Tulare County town of Allensworth which was founded in 1909 by pioneering African Americans. Students also saw a film about Allensworth in the Regional Learning Center narrated by actor Danny Glover, and listened to Mrs. Alice Royal, a descendant of one of the founding community members. Mrs. Royal, 87, is also the author of Allensworth: the Freedom Colony.

Allensworth Exhibit In addition to the exhibition, staff from Educational Resource Services led students in various hands-on activities around the museum. "The activities were designed to illustrate how different daily activities were for the people of Allensworth," says Instructional Consultant Marsha Ingrao. For example, students learned how to churn butter, make candles, write with a fountain pen and craft a doll from corn husks. "The event was a great success for many reasons," says Ms. Ingrao. "We were able to introduce hundreds of students and their teachers to the County’s wonderful new museum and begin thinking about other events we can hold there."

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Students apply science to solve problems
Visalia and Exeter teams advance to state Science Olympiad competition

Science Olympiad "The golf ball drops onto this ramp," Redwood High School’s Eddy Gubler explains. "It rolls onto a mousetrap, which uncovers this photocell and that turns on this fan. The wind from the fan pushes this board over and pops this balloon. Another motor is activated, which raises the golf ball to another mousetrap and that raises the flag for the finish." Eddy is explaining the workings of a machine he and his partner, B.J. Yebisu, built for the annual Science Olympiad competition. The contraption was entered into the "Mission Possible" segment of the competition – one of nearly 50 segments high school and middle school students entered. While Eddy and B.J.’s entry didn’t win the "Mission Possible" competition, their team — Redwood’s Blue Team — amassed enough points to capture first place overall and advance to the NorCal Science Olympiad in Fresno April  17.

Science Olympiad Science Olympiad for middle and high school teams is held annually on the College of the Sequoias (COS) campus. While some high school teams were competing in events such as "Mission Possible" and "Mousetrap Vehicle," middle school students were testing their abilities to solve crimes, build bridges and fly gliders. The individual and team events encompass disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology. "Science Olympiad is a great program because it shows students the many ways science can integrate with various careers," says Science Instructional Consultant Jonathan Janzen. "Through the competition, students are exposed to scientific applications in medicine, transportation, manufacturing and law enforcement, to name a few." This year, 15 middle school and 13 high school teams competed in the event. The top three teams in each division advance to the NorCal Science Olympiad.

"Elementary students get to show off their science skills at the Division A competition this month," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "It’s a high energy event that gets younger students excited about science and its uses." The Division A Science Olympiad will be held Saturday, April 10 at El Diamante High School in Visalia. For more information, call Jonathan Janzen at (559) 651-3043.

Photos above:
~ Sundale students work together in the "Science Crime Busters" competition.
~ Eddy Gubler readies his "Mission Possible" entry.

2010 Science Olympiad Winners

Middle School (Division B)
1st Place - Green Acres (Visalia) Green Team
2nd Place - Green Acres (Visalia) Orange Team
3rd Place - Green Acres (Visalia) Black Team

High School (Division C)
1st Place - Redwood (Visalia) Blue Team
2nd Place - Exeter Gold Team
3rd Place - Redwood (Visalia) White Team

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Young Authors' Faire adds live readings
Students enjoy sharing their writings with an appreciative audience

Young Authors' Faire Visitors to the annual Young Authors’ Faire have always enjoyed reading the books written and illustrated by students from throughout the county. This year was no exception. Last month, the Education Center was filled with nearly 125 books created by kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

As a bonus, Instructional Consultant Charlene Stringham held two evening receptions and invited students to read from their books. "Hearing them read aloud, everyone gained a greater appreciation for the creativity of these young authors," said Ms. Stringham. "We are excited to make these readings part of Young Authors’ Faire."

Photos above:
~ Springville’s Daniel Fearnside reads from a book he wrote about tanks as Educational Resource Services’ new Library Media Supervisor Beth Olshewsky looks on.
~ Zane Barbeau of Mountain View Elementary shares a portion of his book, The Big Space Battle, with family members.

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20 History Day projects headed for state
Students explore Innovation in History through videos, exhibits and performances

History Day Challenged with the theme of History Day 2010 — Innovation in History: Impact and Change — participating Tulare County students developed projects on subjects ranging from flight and vaccines to radio waves and telescopes. For middle school students Branson Kelly and Logan Stanley of Sundale Union Elementary, the subject of roller coasters seemed like an innovation worth studying. The judges agreed. Branson and Logan’s project, The Evolution of Roller Coasters, was one of 20 entries selected to advance to the state finals next month.

Instructional Consultant Marsha Ingrao reports that participation in the event is growing, particularly with high schools. "We are excited to see more high school students involved in History Day," she says. "For teachers, using the History Day model is a great way to deliver the curriculum. Students take responsibility for their own learning, and will remember for the rest of their lives what they learned from these projects." For a complete list of winners in the Tulare County History Day competition, visit

Photo above:
~ Branson Kelly (l) and Logan Stanley (r) with their winning History Day project.

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On People in Service and Support

Spotlight on People in Service and Support After 27 rounds, Christian Suarez (l), an eighth-grade student at George McCann School, was declared the winner in the 11th Annual Tulare County Spelling Championship. Thanks to the event’s partnership with the Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register, Christian will compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. on June 2. He is pictured (l-r) with second-place finishers Sabrina Boggs from Green Acres Middle School (Visalia) and Joseph Maluyao from Divisadero Middle School (Visalia). Daniel Seyed (r), a sixth-grade student from Linwood Elementary in Visalia placed third out of 212 spellers.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Yesenia Alcala, an eleventh-grade student from Orosi High School (center) produced the winning artwork for the cover of the 2010-2011 Tulare County Farm Bureau Calendar. Yesenia is pictured with County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, a graduate of Orosi High School, and classmate Maria Guadalupe Diaz Rojas, whose art is featured for the month of December. Copies of the calendar, which is filled with fun food facts courtesy of the Network for a Healthy California, are available through TCOE’s main office at 2637 W. Burrel Avenue in Visalia.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Artwork created by another Orosi High School junior, J. Guadalupe Salazar, was selected out of approximately 300 entries in the 2010 Step Up Youth Summit t-shirt art contest. As the contest winner, Guadalupe had his design featured on the t-shirt worn by 800 attendees at the March 11 event. He is pictured with his art teacher, Lynn Parker.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support During the recent crisis that shook Haiti, students at La Sierra Military Academy campaigned to raise funds for the relief effort. Cadets, together with their families and teachers, raised $513.13 for the American Red Cross-Haiti Relief Fund. A representative from the American Red Cross presented La Sierra Military Academy with a certificate of appreciation for the donation.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Caleb Sager (center) and teammates, Spencer Jones and Gunnar Little of Three Rivers Elementary, had a winning project in the 25th Annual Science and Engineering Fair. Their project, "The Heat Is On," which examined the effect of heating golf balls to improve travel distance, is one of six Tulare County projects competing in the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles May 17-18. For more information, visit

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Gallery Notes

The SCICON Barbecue & Wildflower Festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. The event, scheduled for Sunday, April 18, is a continuation of the Clemmie Gill family tradition of holding a picnic on their ranch during branding season. When Clemmie Gill donated 35 acres of her ranch to begin the SCICON program, the tradition continued. Today, over 40 school districts and organizations donate food and services to make the barbecue possible. Several thousand people attend annually to enjoy great food, music, educational displays and, of course, spectacular wildflowers! Admission to the event is free. Tickets for the barbecue lunch are available at the event.

This month, Dr. Pansy Ceballos, assistant superintendent of Instructional Services, and program managers from the division, will honor ten schools for their progress in student academic achievement. The recognition is part of the second annual Torch Awards for Academic Achievement. The awards were created last year to recognize Tulare County schools or districts for effective instructional practices that are making a difference in improving student achievement. The recipients of the 2010 Torch Awards are: Dinuba High School, Jefferson Elementary (Dinuba), Golden Valley Elementary (Cutler), Earlimart Elementary, Alila School (Earlimart), Sundale Union Elementary, Ducor Union Elementary, Goshen Elementary (Visalia), Santa Fe Elementary (Porterville) and Richgrove Elementary.

On May 19 the Network for a Healthy California, and Save Mart Supermarkets will host the fourth annual Fruit and Veggie Fest at Save Mart in Exeter as part of a month-long, statewide effort to empower families to make healthy, active living a priority. Free to the public, Fruit and Veggie Fest will include a variety of fun and educational activities designed to give low-income shoppers the tools and tips they need to put healthy foods in their shopping carts and on their tables. For information, call Nani Rowland at (559) 651-0130.

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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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