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The News Gallery

October 2010

STUDENTS WITH A PLAN - Annual Leadership Summit challenges middle school students to create positive, inclusive programs at their schools

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

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Rick Mitchell, Karen Davidson, Adam Valencia, Gene Mendes, Tony Cavanagh, Tina Shirley and Nani Rowland.

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 trained as compassionate leaders
Junior High Youth Leadership Summit encourages 100 students to "Be the Change"

Junior High Youth Leadership Summit "You know who they are. They are the kids who sit alone at lunch every day,” Choices school liaison Tony Cavanagh told a group of middle school students. “Tomorrow, ask them to join your group.” Mr. Cavanagh’s challenge was directed at nearly 100 student leaders from 13 rural school districts who attended a session on bullying at the annual Junior High Youth Leadership Summit. The purpose of the event is to empower students to create positive, inclusive school cultures, where drugs, alcohol and violence are not tolerated. Participants also learned new event planning and marketing skills.

Junior High Youth Leadership Summit Students were challenged to “be the change” on their campuses and reject bullying in all forms, which they learned includes malicious gossip, hurtful words, rejection, threats and physical violence. To reinforce the message, participants saw a video that featured a bullying victim who admitted to having thoughts of violent retaliation, dropping out of school and suicide as the result of his torment. “As leaders, if you include all students in your group, your campus becomes a place where everyone feels accepted,” Cavanagh said.

The Summit also included workshops on leadership development and event planning, which focused on activities students can implement during this month’s Red Ribbon Week. Tipton student council advisor Tamara Lampe reports that her group is going to implement a “Friendship Ambassador” project this year. “Our student council officers will go out and make sure that kids are not being left out or picked on. They will also invite them to be their friend and feel included at school,” said Ms. Lampe. “I feel that this training ‘fired them up’ and empowered them to know that they can ‘Be the Change!’”

Junior High Youth Leadership Summit
Photos above:
~ School liaison Tony Cavanagh leads a discussion on the harmful effects of bullying.
~ Students participate in exercises designed to increase planning and cooperation.
~ In their event planning session, students discuss ideas for Red Ribbon Week events on their campuses.
~ California Friday Night Live’s Lynne Goodwin discusses the dangerous trend in alcohol-infused energy drinks.

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SCICON unveils new fifth-grade curriculum
Guide includes ten hands-on, standards-based lessons on water and trees

A new SCICON Fifth Grade Curriculum Guide will be available to teachers this month. This guide incorporates the appropriate state science standards and relates them to the one-day field trip available to fifth-grade students.

SCICON Fifth Grade Curriculum Guide Trees and water — two natural resources fifth-grade students study at SCICON — are the focus of the guide. While at SCICON, students learn about these resources as they hike through living forests or visit beautiful Bear Creek which runs through the center of the campus.

With the new curriculum guide, teachers have easy-to-teach and motivating lessons to capitalize on the SCICON experience. The guide is divided into two sections, with five lessons focusing on trees and five lessons focusing on water. According to SCICON Administrator Rick Mitchell, who served as the curriculum project director, “Teachers will find these lessons fun to teach because they incorporate games, hands-on experimentation and model-making. Yet, the lessons can be taught with materials found in a classroom; there are no special supplies needed.” As students work through the engaging activities, they learn concepts from the science standards such as specialized plant structures, photosynthesis, the source of Tulare County’s water and water conservation techniques. Teachers may utilize the lessons prior to or after their visit to SCICON.

In addition to the curriculum guide, each teacher will receive a full-sized, color poster showing the many plants, animals and landscapes of SCICON. The poster is integrated into many of the lessons as a teaching tool.

“We are delighted to offer this exciting teaching resource,” says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “We also appreciate those who served to create it.” The curriculum guide was developed over the past two years by Jonathan Janzen, Science Instructional Consultant for Tulare County Office of Education; Mike Milanesi, Science Curriculum Specialist for Tulare City Schools; Dianne Shew, Forestry Specialist at SCICON; and Carol Berryhill, fifth-grade teacher with Tulare City Schools.

The SCICON Fifth Grade Curriculum Guide will be available to teachers who attend a short in-service training. Specialized training will also be available online. To schedule a training for your school or district, please e-mail SCICON Administrator Rick Mitchell at
rickmit@tcoe.org or call (559) 539-2642.

Photo above:
~ The cover of the new Fifth Grade Curriculum Guide, created by artist Frances Pyles, illustrates the environmental importance of water and trees at SCICON.

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A Ticket to Success serves as national model
Hundreds receiving disability benefits return to work in Central Valley counties

Warm and personable, Arlene Lemos works in payment processing for ResCom Pest Control in Tulare — a position she has held for about three years. Prior to that, she was at home coping with the debilitating effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis — a disease she has had for over 15 years. An incision from a past surgery on her forearm hints of her condition, which she says is now more manageable.

Ticket to Success program For many years, Ms. Lemos — unable to work — received Social Security disability benefits. As her daughter entered high school, she began to think about returning to the workforce.

Arlene and more than 425 other Central Valley adults receiving disability benefits found assistance transitioning back to work through a Tulare County Office of Education program called A Ticket to Success. The program is part of a national web of 1200 Employment Networks (EN) helping Social Security disability beneficiaries find jobs. Under the authority of the Social Security Administration, it was created out of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 to give disability beneficiaries the opportunity to achieve steady, long-term employment if they are able to do so. The legislation also removed barriers to healthcare coverage as recipients began to work.

Since making its first job placement in 2004, A Ticket to Success has become a model emulated by other ENs across the nation. Last year, it was ranked third in the nation in revenues. In March 2010, A Ticket to Success hosted the first ever statewide Employment Networks conference, funded by a grant from the California Wellness Foundation. Program coordinator Karen Davidson reports that 52 participants from 26 agencies throughout California participated, along with Social Security Administration staff from Washington, D.C. In the past, the California Wellness Foundation and the Zero Divide Foundation provided grants to train over 45 ENs in California on duplicating the Tulare County program.

Currently, A Ticket to Success serves adults in Tulare, Kings, Fresno, Madera and parts of Kern counties. Of the 425 clients who have found work, 70 no longer receive disability benefits. “I’m very proud of the assistance our staff has provided to Employment Networks in California and ten other states,” says Ms. Davidson. “I’m even prouder of the work we’ve done helping local benefit recipients return to work.” For information on A Ticket to Success, contact Karen Davidson at (800) 540-0307.

Photo above:
~ Arlene Lemos is enjoying her work at ResCom Pest Control in Tulare. Ms. Lemos transitioned back to the workforce with help from the Ticket to Success program, which helps adults receiving disabilities benefits find employment.

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Community to honor top educators October 6
Annual Excellence in Education program to recognize 32 winners, finalists and nominees

The best of the best in Tulare County schools will be on hand at the Visalia Convention Center October 6 for a breakfast event celebrating 32 administrators, teachers and school employees. The men and women being honored were nominees in the 16th Annual Excellence in Education Awards program. Tulare County school districts and the College of the Sequoias submitted their candidates last spring in three categories: Administrator/Manager of the Year, Teacher of the Year and School Employee of the Year.

Brent Calvin Administrator of the Year Brent Calvin has been the College of the Sequoias’ (COS) Dean of Business and Social Sciences since 2007. Previously, Mr. Calvin was the COS Athletic Director. He is credited for significantly building attendance at the college’s Hanford site, reorganizing COS’s Weekend College program, creating a successful internship program and developing a partnership with the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at CSU, Fresno.

Katryn Gonzales Katryn Gonzales is a ninth- and tenth-grade Earth Science and Biology teacher at Lindsay High School and the 2010 Tulare County Teacher of the Year. Her principal, Mr. Virgel Hammonds said, “In my tenure as an administrator, I have had only one teacher request the ‘lowest achieving’ learners, and that was Katryn.” He adds, “Amazingly, all of her learners leave with a wealth of science knowledge and, more importantly, they become better people.” Katryn and her husband also formed The Legacy Scholarship Foundation to support local graduates’ higher education pursuits.

Pete Renteria School Employee of the Year Pete Renteria is employed as a part-time physical education aide at Rocky Hill Elementary in Exeter, but that is only a fraction of his service to the city’s students. In the past five years, this Exeter native has used his experience as a certified Nike SPARQ trainer to create an after-school program for student athletes. Today, approximately 60-80 elementary, middle and high school students attend his afternoon training sessions. Mr. Renteria is also the high school’s assistant football coach, strength and conditioning coach, and assistant soccer coach. Additionally, his Monarch Pals program uses football players to encourage elementary students through literacy and physical activities.

“We greatly appreciate the support of our partners, the Educational Employees Credit Union,” says County Superintendent Jim Vidak. “Together, we can recognize the many talented men and women who better the lives of children and young adults in Tulare County.”

Photos above:
~ 2010 Excellence in Education winners are COS’s Brent Calvin, Lindsay High School’s Katryn Gonzales and Exeter’s Pete Renteria.

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On People in Service and Support

Spotlight on People in Service and Support During the annual Tulare County Fair, four winning groups from the 21st Annual Friday Night Live Lip Synch Competition (held April 16) performed before a Saturday afternoon crowd. Former Tipton School District students (winners in the Dance Category) performed their act entitled 42nd Street. Other winning teams included Sundale Union (Lip Synch Category), Tipton (Novelty Category) and Tulare Union High School (High School Category).

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Also during the Fair, over 450 middle school students from 13 schools enjoyed the annual Physics Day event. New this year was a hands-on LEGO Robotics demonstration. Gary Cordell from Educational Resource Service (ERS) helps sixth-grade student Liam McElroy from Three Rivers Union program a robot (foreground) utilizing laptop-based directional software. Robots were then placed in a maze to test the accuracy of their programming. ERS has an increasing number of trainings and competition opportunities for teachers and students who want to utilize LEGO Robots in their classrooms. For more information, contact Dr. Glenn Williams at (559) 651-3047.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support On October 1, the Tulare County Child Care Planning Council will host its annual legislative breakfast to highlight a new study on the local economic impact of child care. The breakfast event, to be attended by nearly 200 community and business leaders, includes the presentation of the third annual Business & Children Award. The award, which recognizes a local business for its child-friendly employment practices, will be presented to Adair & Evans, an accountancy corporation in Tulare. Nominator Marilyn Gong is pictured with three of the firm’s partners (l-r) Mike Erwin, Lance Morris and Eric White.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support The Lisa Project modules arrived in Visalia last month. The public can view the powerful exhibition on child abuse and neglect prevention free of charge in downtown Visalia at the corner of Acequia and Court Streets. The exhibition will be open October 1-29 on Thursday and Friday evenings from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. It will also be open Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. Private tours can be arranged during weekdays. To arrange a private tour for your program, call Cheryl Lennon-Armas at the Tulare Youth Service Bureau at (559) 686-9772. For more information, visit

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Gallery Notes

The Tulare County Office of Education’s Network for a Healthy California program is preparing to deliver over 13,000 pumpkins to more than 30 school pumpkin patches later this month. The pumpkins are the centerpiece of a nutrition education lesson. At each school, students participate in a variety of learning stations including: storytelling, taste-testing roasted pumpkin seeds and nutritional facts on pumpkins and other winter squashes. At the conclusion of their visit to the pumpkin patch, students select their own pumpkin for further classroom activities. For a list of the Tulare County schools participating this year, visit the calendar at

Red Ribbon Week (October 25-29) is an annual opportunity for schools to make a visible stand against drugs, showing their commitment to a drug-free lifestyle through the symbol of the red ribbon. This year, committee members Marlene Moreno, Gerald Arellano, Virginia Baiza, Tony Cavanagh, Shelly DiCenzo, Priscilla Gomez, Kathleen Green, Jeanie Hahn, Caitlin Layton, Stephanie Mendoza, Bryan Patterson, and Claudia Ramirez have chosen the theme Celebrate – Not Just for a Week, but for Life! Proceeds from the sale of t-shirts and other items will benefit CASA of Tulare County. Copies of the t-shirt order form, a schedule of the week's events and a list of raffle prizes are available at www.tcoe.org/RedRibbon.

The annual College Night Scholarship application will be available online this month. The scholarship, which is entering its sixth year, pays $1,000 per year for up to four years while a Tulare County high school graduate attends a college or university. Applicants must be a graduating senior who will enter a college or university for the 2011-2012 school year. The deadline for the application is February 1, 2011. For more details, visit www.tcoe.org/CollegeNight.

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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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