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The News Gallery

June 2010

MAKING SMART CHOICES - Fruit and Veggie Fest helps students and families make better shopping decisions at the market

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

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Michelle Bussey, Nani Rowland, Sylvia Karsten, Janet Hettinger, Eloise Martinez, Charlene Stringham, Ron Koop and Norma Erwin.

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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Students gain smart food shopping skills
Fruit and Veggie Fest reinforces the importance of physical activity and healthy food

Fruit and Veggie Fest Armed with a clue, “I am a long yellow fruit that grows on a tree. Monkeys in the jungle like to eat me,” Exeter elementary students bolt toward the produce aisle of their local Save Mart Supermarket in search of bananas. The students worked in teams on a scavenger hunt to find all the ingredients needed to make banana-berry pancakes. The exercise was one of many activities students enjoyed at the fourth annual Fruit and Veggie Fest organized by the Network for a Healthy California – Central Valley Region.

Fruit and Veggie Fest Elsewhere — inside and outside the supermarket — nearly 600 participants rotated through 11 centers that engaged students, teachers and parents in food demonstrations, Fear Factor-style fruit and vegetable taste testing, smoothie making, music, fun fitness exercises, a grocery store tour and storybook reading. The event is part of the Network’s mission to decrease the rate of childhood obesity by increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and daily physical activity.

Personnel from Network for a Healthy California’s Sacramento and Fresno offices assisted Tulare County program coordinator Nani Rowland and her staff with the event. “This celebration supports the nutrition education and physical activity promotion occurring in classrooms and school cafeterias throughout the county,” says Ms. Rowland. “By taking students to the market, we are building smart shopping skills that students can practice with their families.”

Fruit and Veggie Fest
“We appreciate all the generous partners that come together to make this event a powerful teaching tool for students — particularly Save Mart Supermarkets, Bella Frutta, the Exeter schools and Western Growers,” says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Photos above:
~ Exeter students gathered in Save Mart as part of Fruit and Veggie Fest.
~ Outside, Tony Trujillo leads a high-energy exercise.
~ Students search for, and then check out, items from their scavenger hunt.

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Beginning teachers honor veteran teachers
Second-year teachers share experiences at annual colloquium

Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment In the Education Center last month dozens of teachers, in their second year of the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program (BTSA), came to share presentations addressing the successes and challenges they faced this year. Seated around them in small groups were other beginning teachers and veterans, known in the program as Support Providers. The beginning teachers took turns presenting and receiving commendations for their efforts and innovations.

Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Upstairs in the Board Room, a small exhibit featured two of more than 100 Tulare County Support Providers who helped beginning teachers achieve their successes in the classroom. The exhibit was designed to honor the Support Providers of the Year for first- and second-year BTSA participants.

Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Lindsay High School’s Frank Schiro is the first-year Support Provider of the Year. His nominator was art teacher Amy Pohl, who says, “Frank is now responsible for four first-year teachers at Lindsay High School, all of whom have had great experiences with him. He is prompt, forthright, honest and provides the highest quality leadership.” Cutler Elementary’s Marla Johnson is the second-year Support Provider of the Year. Her nominators were Erin Selvy, Vennisa Guadiana and Bria Ledesma. They say, “Marla is an amazing woman and we are so glad that she was chosen to support us during BTSA year two. Marla has a vast knowledge base, amazing resources to pull from, as well as experience that is unmatched. If we have had a rough, trying day, she always helps us to see the positive and take notice of what we have accomplished.”

“Support Providers are the key to our program’s success,” says BTSA Program Director Ron Koop. “They provide support through lesson observation, demonstration, and assistance. They also play a key role in creating a collegial community where beginning teachers help their students achieve success.”

Photos above:
~ Support Provider of the Year Frank Schiro was nominated by first-year teacher Amy Pohl. Frank and Amy teach at Lindsay High School.
~ Cutler Elementary’s Marla Johnson is surrounded by her nominators — (l-r) Erin Selvy, Vennisa Guadiana and Bria Ledesma.
~ Second-year teachers were required to make presentations of their classroom experiences to their colleagues in the program.

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Six essays win Foundations for Life contest
Program combines critical thinking, character education and writing

This month, six Tulare County students will be recognized before the County Board of Education for being chosen as winners in the annual Foundations for Life essay contest. The students include Nick Collier of Sequoia Union School (Lemon Cove), Kindall Thompson of Cherry Avenue School (Tulare), Ashley Osborne of Divisadero Middle School (Visalia), Ashlee Flores and Jorge Gonzalez of Tulare Western High School and Candice Pacheco of Redwood High School (Visalia). For their efforts, each student will receive a $100 prize from the Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! Office.

Foundations for Life is a quotation-based program that promotes reading, critical thinking, and writing skills while simultaneously introducing or reinforcing character education. The program was developed by the creators of CHARACTER COUNTS! and is coordinated in Tulare County by Language Arts Instructional Consultant Charlene Stringham.

“Foundations for Life offers many benefits to teachers,” says CHARACTER COUNTS! Coordinator Kelley Petty. “It integrates easily into existing curricula and activities, and provides excellent practice for state testing or SAT exams. We are delighted to see students from all over the county now utilizing the program.”

To receive materials or more information on Foundations for Life, contact Charlene Stringham at (559) 651-0562.

"Don't Give Up"

In this excerpt, Tulare Western freshman Ashlee Flores uses the following quotation by Gabriel Heather as the basis for her essay, “Life is never so bad at its worst that it is impossible to live; it is never so good at its best that it is easy to live.”

I give my mom so much credit for remaining positive and encouraging my father to continue to fight even today. We soon learned that life was so much greater than “The American Dream”. We lost most of all our material items as medical bills began to multiply. My mom was forced to raise four children, care for an ill husband and work two jobs.

We continue to battle this illness and all its effects, but the truth is we have learned a great deal about trials life hands you. Many blessings have come in disguise, but most importantly everything happens for a reason. Perhaps someone can learn from this testimony or maybe they can feel that whatever their trial is they are not alone...

For a complete version of Ashlee’s essay and the other 2010 Foundations for Life winners, visit www.tcoe.org/FoundationsForLife.

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National literacy experts speak at conference
Educational Resource Services coordinates successful regional event

Four nationally-respected scholars and researchers were brought to the central San Joaquin Valley for the fifth Annual Literacy Conference in Fresno last month. Area districts and county offices of education sent nearly 300 teachers and administrators to learn some of the latest literacy practices from Dr. Kate Kinsella, faculty member at San Francisco State University; Dr. Lesley Morrow, professor of Early Childhood Literacy and Literacy Education at Rutgers University; Dr. Timothy Shanahan, professor of urban education at the University of Illinois at Chicago; and Dr. Michael Smith, professor at Temple University. The event was organized by the Curriculum & Instruction Steering Committee for California's Region VII (Fresno, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced and Tulare counties). Instructional Consultant Charlene Stringham, with TCOE’s Educational Resource Services (ERS) program, served as the event director. Dr. Kinsella will return to Tulare County October 9 to speak on building student vocabulary. For information on her seminar, call Carmen Friesen or Laura A. Gonzalez at (559) 651-3046.

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23-year veteran teacher wins annual award
Districts and community members honor those who support special needs students

Special Services Jodi Fortney, a teacher of the severely handicapped at Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia, would rather talk about her students than herself. “I am so proud of their contributions to this campus,” she says. “And I’m proud of how positively they interact with regular education students — building real friendships that carry on after school.” Ms. Fortney’s students have many campus duties, including operating a coffee cart for Mt. Whitney staff, cleaning the cafeteria and photocopying. “If the students are off campus for a day, they’re missed,” she adds proudly.

Ms. Fortney is the winner of the 16th annual Brent Rast Award, which was created in memory of an exceptional man who taught severely handicapped students for the Tulare County Office of Education until his death in 1994. She was honored at the annual luncheon meeting of the Community Advisory Committee on May 12. Special Services Program Manager Donna Martin praised her ability to transform those who have been unable to conform to the expectations of other classes into fully-integrated students. Staff members say, “Jodi is awesome — always.” She has worked for Special Services since 1987. Of her ten years at Mt. Whitney High School, she says, “It’s rewarding to watch students become responsible and independent.”

Photo above:
~ Jodi Fortney (r) received the Brent Rast Award from the Special Services Division for her exceptional work with severely handicapped students. She reviews a math exercise with Rosalva Landeros, one of her students at Mt. Whitney High School.

Award Recognizes Exemplary Parent

Special Services Also at the CAC luncheon, the Special Services Division presented the annual Linda Hess Award for Exemplary Parenting. This year, the award went to Blanca Florez, the mother of Mark Florez, who is an eighth-grade student at Divisadero Middle School in Visalia. Mark was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 11.

Ms. Florez was commended for persevering through her own disability and teaching her son to do the same. She advocated for Mark to be put into a mainstream art class at Divisadero, where he has excelled. Mark’s special education teacher, Janet Bonsall, says, “From a teacher’s point of view, Blanca is wonderful to work with. She cares so much for her son and has a great way of sharing her concerns without being negative. Mark has done well. I will miss them both when Mark goes to Mt. Whitney High School next year.”

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On People in Service and Support

Spotlight on People in Service and Support This year, the annual Kindergarten Day Parade in-service was held twice in the Education Center. Over 160 teachers, who are responsible for over 3,000 Tulare County kindergartners, attended to learn creative standards-based lessons from veteran teachers including Fresno Pacific’s Dianne Young.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Students at the annual Tulare County Arbor Day event encountered plenty of new experiences, including visits to the new History of Farm Labor & Agriculture Museum and activities such as building bird feeders from pinecones, peanut butter and seeds — an activity organized by the Sequoia Riverlands Trust. Over 400 students, grades 3-5, attended the event in Mooney Grove Park.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support This Alberto Giacometti-inspired sculpture, created by University Preparatory High School (UPHS) freshman Alaina Petlewski, was one of over 50 pieces produced by students and displayed last month at the Visalia Convention Center. On May 21, UPHS artists featured in the exhibition were honored at an evening reception. Students in the UPHS guitar and folkloric dance program provided entertainment.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Nearly 500 attendees at the annual Support Staff Conference were treated to a day full of informational and motivational speakers. During lunch, the audience heard two songs from the upcoming Theatre Company production of a new musical entitled Rancho Tesoro, which was written by Theatre Company director Brian Roberts. Mt. Whitney High School senior Makenda Bickmore sang Thistle and Thorn from the musical, which will be performed seven times beginning July 23 (see
calendar). Support Staff Conference event coordinator Christine Chapman thanked KJUG-FM radio Public Service Director Lisa Hamilton (r) for sharing with the audience her professional experiences and the value of positive personal interactions.

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Gallery Notes

Last month, six Tulare County projects competed in the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles. Of these, three received awards. John M. Perry, an eighth-grade student from Kings River School District placed second in the toxicology category with his project, The Ability of a Dove Weed Extract to Control Aphids. Two students received honorable mentions: Meredith Madison, a seventh-grade student from Burton School District for her project entitled Going Green While Staying in the Black: An Alternative Material for Packaging, and Elyssa Lawrence, an eighth-grade student from Porterville Unified for her project entitled Salty Solutions.

Winners of the 2010 Excellence in Education Awards were recently announced. Brent Calvin, Dean of Business and Social Sciences at College of the Sequoias, is the Administrator of the Year; Katryn Gonzales, science teacher at Lindsay High School, is the Teacher of the Year; and Pete Renteria, physical education aide at Rocky Hill Elementary in Exeter, is the School Employee of the Year. The winners, finalists and nominees will be honored at a breakfast event at the Visalia Convention Center October 6, 2010.

A team of sixth-grade students from Earlimart Middle School took first place honors in the 10th Annual Anti-Tobacco Challenge Bowl. Past champion Mountain View Elementary (Visalia) placed second followed by Three Rivers Elementary in third. The Challenge Bowl is run in a game show-style format to test students’ knowledge of a tobacco education curriculum, which reinforces the dangers of tobacco use.

La Sierra High School in Porterville is the recipient of a Step Up Service Learning Grant from the County of Tulare. Principal Jan Mekeel reports that the grant will be used to develop two documentaries on “local heroes” — one man and one woman from Porterville who have made differences through their community service. Students will conduct the interviews, develop the stories and film the documentaries this summer.

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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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