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The News Gallery

May 2010

BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE - The Child Care Educational Program opens two child care centers and begins the process of developing young minds for kindergarten

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

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Randy Wallace, Donna Orozco, Nicole Zweifel and Michelle Bussey.

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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Children welcomed at two reopened centers
Child Care programs expanded in Visalia and Earlimart to create 44th and 45th centers

Child Care Program Anthony, a bright-eyed toddler at the La Sierra Child Care Center, smiled ear-to-ear as he repeatedly climbed the steps on the little slide set in the school’s play yard. He had reason to celebrate. Teacher Yvette Jarman reported that climbing was a milestone the special-needs boy had mastered that day at the center.

Anthony and his classmates can also celebrate the fact that their school reopened last month to bring learning opportunities to 36 toddlers and preschoolers. Anthony is a student in one of two toddler classes at the center — classes funded for the next 18 months by Early Head Start stimulus monies. Prior to coming to the La Sierra Center, he and the other toddlers had been on a county-wide waiting list known as the Centralized Eligibility List. The 20 preschoolers at the center were relocated from other Visalia centers to take advantage of the existing classroom space.

Child Care Program Across the county in Earlimart, another center opened to serve 20 preschool children. Inside the bright older home, children are already engaged in learning through songs, storytelling and art activities. Center supervisor Irma Ceja reports that staff will soon implement the Houghton-Mifflin curriculum utilized by many centers to prepare children for kindergarten. The Earlimart center on Market Street is an expansion of the Migrant/Seasonal Head Start Program. To qualify, families must receive at least 51 percent of their income from agricultural work.

Child Care Program Both the La Sierra and Earlimart centers have been operated by the Child Care Educational Program in the past. Their reopening last month brings the total number of centers operated by the program to 45. “We all appreciate the speed at which Child Care is able to mobilize staff and resources to serve additional children,” says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

“Seventy-seven percent of Tulare County preschool-age children are unable to have a preschool experience,” says Ray Chavez, administrator for the Child Care Educational Program. “The La Sierra and Market Street expansions open that preschool experience to several dozen more preschool-age children. This is a step in the right direction.”

Photos above:
~ Earlimart’s new center enrolled 20 Migrant/Seasonal Head Start children last month.
~ Lupe Huerta (l) and Jennifer Anderson (r) read to toddlers at the La Sierra Center.

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SCICON seeks to expand popular museum
Expansion plans for natural history museum include use of interactive technology

SCICON Museum At the annual SCICON Barbecue held last month, a pair of Visalia middle school girls visiting the campus with their parents relived the memories of the program they made as sixth-grade students. As teenage girls tend to do, they loudly sang old SCICON songs and loudly complained about the early-morning wake-ups. A visit to the Phyllis Wall Museum brought back even more memories for Chelsea and Sarah. “Remember having these walking sticks crawl on you?” Chelsea asked, pointing to a terrarium full of stick-like insects. Fascinated, the girls moved from gallery to gallery, reexamining the hands-on exhibits.

SCICON Museum “A visit to the museum is a memorable experience for our fifth- and sixth- grade students,” says Rick Mitchell, SCICON administrator. “It provides them with plenty of hands-on activities, plus they can observe wildlife specimens, reinforcing lessons they’ve learned on the trails.”

The Phyllis Wall Library and Museum was built in 1971 in honor of Phyllis Wall, a granddaughter of Clemmie Gill. “It is one of the finest museums of natural history in the Central Valley,” says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “We are very fortunate to have it available for our students.”

SCICON Museum With the growing student population and the expansion of SCICON into two villages (Bear Creek Village and Eagle Point Village), scheduling all students into the museum has become difficult. Plans have recently been developed to expand the museum by nearly 1,200 square feet. In addition to more exhibition space, the proposed expansion will allow for exhibits using state-of-the-art technology. “We look forward to the day when students can look at a Black Bear, then click on a touch screen to see a map of its habitat, and then click on another to find out what this bear eats,” says Mr. Mitchell. “Our hope is that we gain the space we need and the technology to tailor exhibits to the exact grade level curriculum.”

For more information on the proposed museum expansion, call Rick Mitchell at (559) 539-2642.

Photos above:
~ Expansion plans for the museum would increase the exhibition space as illustrated in the artist’s rendering.
~ La Joya Middle School students Sarah Herman (l) and Chelsea West (r) enjoy the museum’s hands-on activities while visiting the annual SCICON Barbecue.

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University Prep student artworks exhibited
Works from new school's Art Exploratory class featured at Visalia Convention Center

Modern art masters such as Paul Cezanne, Georgia O’Keefe, Alberto Giacometti, Vincent Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo would be proud of the bold work University Preparatory High School (UPHS) students have produced in their first year of the program’s Art Exploratory class. Under the guidance of arts instructor Michelle Bussey, students have not only been inspired by the masters, but they have found a way to exhibit their own works.

UPHS Art Show For the month of May, UPHS student artwork will be on display in the halls of the Visalia Convention Center. Additionally, a public artists’ reception will be held Friday, May 21 at the convention center to honor those featured in the exhibition. Students in the UPHS guitar and folkloric dance program will also attend to provide entertainment. The Visalia Convention Center and the Arts Council of Tulare County are providing support for the exhibition.

Photo above:
~ University Preparatory High School art instructor Michelle Bussey hangs a watercolor painting by Brandon Neveu — one of over 40 UPHS student pieces now on display at the Visalia Convention Center.

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Theatre Company to perform The King and I
Over 60 students fill spring workshop to prepare for popular musical production

The King and I The contentious yet humorous relationship between the King of Siam and his children’s very proper English schoolteacher is part of the reason Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical The King & I remains popular nearly 60 years after it was first performed. “This is a wonderful musical for students because it incorporates the widest range of theater performance — dramatic acting, comedy, dance and singing,” says Theatre Company choreographer Nicole Zweifel.

Over 60 Tulare County students have been working this semester to prepare public performances of The King & I. The production is the latest in the Theatre Company’s semi-annual workshop program which is offered each spring and fall. To obtain tickets to a performance of The King & I (listed in the calendar), visit either of the Tulare County Office of Education’s Visalia facilities: 2637 W. Burrel Avenue, or 7000 Doe Avenue, Suite A, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Tickets will also be available at the El Diamante Theater box office 30 minutes before each performance.

For information about the Theatre Company and the spring musical production, The King & I, call (559) 651-1482.

Photo above:
~ The Theatre Company production of "The King and I" stars Ryan Sanchez from El Diamante High School and Makenda Bickmore from Mt. Whitney High School.

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Students mentored by medical professionals
School-to-Career connects students to the workplace and employers to classrooms

Doc Band On April 15, the Tulare County Office of Education School-to-Career Project joined Visalia Unified School District, College of the Sequoias Tech Prep Consortium, the Visalia Economic Development Corporation and Kaweah Delta Health Care District in hosting the third annual Doc Band. The event paired 59 Visalia high school juniors with 16 local physicians and 18 nurses for a three-hour discussion on what it takes to work in the healthcare field.

Doc Band The purpose of Doc Band and other similar events supported by the Tulare County Office of Education’s School-to-Career Project is to improve high school students’ transition to college. “By engaging employers, such as Kaweah Delta, we can expose Tulare County students to opportunities that schools alone could not provide,” says Randy Wallace, School-to-Career project director. Mr. Wallace reports that a recent study found most students casually make decisions about the courses to take in high school with little help from parents. “Our goal is to connect schools and businesses so students make the right choices for their own career pathways.”

Photos above:
~ Dr. Walter Walters (with microphone) was one of over a dozen doctors who participated in the event designed for students interested in medical careers. Amy Shuklian, City of Visalia council-person, (standing) was the emcee.
~ Nurses, including Debi Doyle, RN, also advised students at the “Doc Band” event.

Local education partners join with United Way to promote college access

Last month, College of the Sequoias, UC Merced Partnership Office, Porterville College, CSU Fresno Early Assessment Program and the Tulare County Office of Education joined together with United Way of Tulare County to form the College Access Initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to identify and engage community partners in the development of resources and activities that support post-high school student transitions. United Way is one of 1500 national community organizations raising and reinvesting more than $1 billion annually to improve youth opportunities. With support from an expanded network of community partners, the College Access Initiative committee will focus on increasing: college and career awareness activities, college campus visitations, academic preparation and tutoring, the availability of college and career planning materials, and more. For information on the initiative, call Randy Wallace at (559) 733-6101.

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On People in Service and Support

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Sundale Union Elementary’s John Harbour, Braxton Gist and Michael Harbour (l-r) won first place in the lip synch portion of the 21st Annual Friday Night Live Lip Synch Competition last month for their rendition of Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer. Thanks to the efforts of County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, the trio will join the first place winners in the novelty and dance categories and perform at the Tulare County Fair in September. Tipton Elementary won first place in the dance category for their performance of 42nd Street and first place in the novelty category for TV Land.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support The La Sierra Military Academy was visited recently by nationally-known youth motivational speaker Gabe Salazar. His message, which drew from his own struggles growing up in Houston, Texas, was an encouragement to students to seek out adult mentors to further their career interests. Mr. Salazar, who also spoke to students at La Sierra High School in Porterville, was the featured speaker at the March 2010 Step Up Youth Summit.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Karen Osborn, Centralized Eligibility List (CEL) coordinator within the Child Care Educational Program, is the most recent recipient of the “Going the Extra Mile” Award. Ms. Osborn, who is pictured with Child Care Administrator Ray Chavez, is credited for her tenacity in maintaining the CEL and in helping to transfer child care provider payments to a new computerized system.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Mt. Whitney High School (Visalia) senior Ryan Chung is the winner of the 2010 Tulare County College Night Scholarship. He was one of 85 Tulare County seniors to apply for the award which pays $1,000 per year for up to four years while the recipient attends college or a university. Ryan impressed the scholarship judges with his grade point average and his extensive list of volunteer activities, including tutoring fellow students. He plans to attend University of California, Los Angeles to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry and become a university professor in the field.

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Gallery Notes

The Tulare County Child Care Planning Council is seeking nominations for its annual Business and Children Award. The award recognizes a Tulare County business with child-friendly employment practices, such as “flextime” or job-sharing options, company-provided child care benefits, or an on-site child care center. Previous award recipients include: UPS Corporate Credit Visalia, TPG Consulting, Inc., and Visalia Ceramic Tile, Inc. Nominations can be found at
www.tularecountykids.org. The winner will be recognized at the Council’s annual breakfast October 1 at the Visalia Convention Center.

Three elementary schools from Tulare county received the Bonner Center’s 2010 Virtues and Character Recognition Awards from California State University, Fresno. The honorees were Monte Vista Elementary School (Porterville Unified), Oak Grove Elementary School (Burton School District) and Sundale Union Elementary School. Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! Coordinator Kelley Petty, who serves on the Bonner Center Advisory Committee, reports that Tulare County schools have received a total of 47 awards since the program was founded in 1996.

Last month, Tulare County students continued various Science Olympiad competitions. Middle and high school teams (Divisions B and C, respectively) that had placed first, second or third in the Tulare County Science Olympiad, competed at the Norcal Science Olympiad in Clovis. Green Acres Middle School (Visalia) placed 11th overall in the state competition, achieving a first-place prize in the “Pentathlon” event. In Division C, Redwood High School (Visalia) placed 13th in the state competition. In Tulare County Division A competition, held at El Diamante High School for teams of students grades 3-6, Oak Grove Elementary (Visalia) took first overall, followed by Sundale Union Elementary (Tulare) in second and Hurley Elementary (Visalia) in third.

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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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