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The News Gallery

December 2010 / January 2011

SERVING A NUTRITIOUS LESSON - Nutrition Advisory Councils get students involved in peer-to-peer nutrition education

News Gallery - December 2010 / January 2011 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Donna Orozco, Beth Olshewsky, Frank Escobar, Sr., Janet Hettinger, 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 passionate about teaching nutrition
Network for a Healthy California helps create Nutrition Advisory Councils at four sites

Nutrition Advisory Councils Working like a veteran teacher, fifth-grade student Sonia Ramirez delivers a lesson on persimmons to kindergartners at Palm Elementary in Orosi. “Did you know persimmons can help you build big muscles?” Sonia asked flexing her bicep. Moving back and forth in front of the class with charts and pictures, Sonia has their full attention.

Nutrition Advisory Councils Getting the message to schoolmates about the importance of good nutrition is important to Sonia and 13 other Palm Elementary fourth- and fifth-grade students who are members of the school’s Nutrition Advisory Council (NAC). While Sonia spoke to Ms. Garcia’s class, NAC members Carmen Lopez and Becky Martinez prepared a spinach salad with persimmons, dried cranberries and an orange juice/olive oil dressing. Once complete, each student was given a small salad to try. While not everyone liked it, they were praised for tasting it and for remembering that persimmons have lots of good vitamins. In the cafeteria, another group of NAC members talked to students about persimmons, November’s featured fruit or “Harvest of the Month.” At the conclusion of their presentation, they gave bookmarks to the younger students as rewards for eating the oranges and peas on their plates.

Nutrition Advisory Councils The Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District is one of 10 partner districts with the Tulare County Office of Education’s Network for a Healthy California which provides nutrition education support to schools. Janet Hettinger, the Network’s nurse, reports that other partner schools have also organized NACs, including Rocky Hill Elementary in Exeter, Castle Rock Elementary in Woodlake, and Grand View Elementary in Dinuba. Ms. Hettinger meets with the student groups and advisors, like Palm Elementary’s Carol Montag, once each month to help them plan activities such as classroom cooking demonstrations or assembly presentations. “At each of the sites, students are very passionate about NAC’s mission,” she says. “They are taking the lead in nutrition education, meeting with their principal and working with their advisor to make all the activities happen. It’s an amazing thing to watch.”

Photos above:
~ Sonia Ramirez teaches about persimmons to kindergartners at Palm Elementary while Carmen Lopez and Becky Martinez prepare a spinach-persimmon salad.
~ While not all students liked the salad, they learned that persimmons are healthy fruits, full of vitamins.
~ Korinn Lara works in the cafeteria distributing bookmarks to students who were eating their fruits and vegetables.

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210 employees celebrate service milestones
Employees dedicate over 2,000 years of service to students of Tulare County

This fall, the Human Resources Division and the Child Care Educational Program’s Human Resources department celebrated the milestone anniversaries of over 170 employees who have served 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 years in various programs. The Child Care Educational Program also recognized 40 employees who had served the program for five years.

Josie Gonzales, Susan Licking, and Mary Orduno
Photos above:
~ (l-r) Honorees include-40 year veteran Josie Gonzales (Child Care), and 35-year veterans Susan Licking (Special Services) and Mary Orduno (Child Care).

45 Years
Linda Stewart

40 Years
Josie Gonzales
Marina Gonzales

35 Years
Susan Licking
Carol Mosconi
Mary Orduno

30 Years
Martha Acevedo
Margaret Avila
Diana Bean
Mary Cadena
Rosa Caudillo
Blanca Chavez
Andrea Clark
Linda Fowler
Angie Mares
Ofelia Palomares
Elizabeth Rivas
Angie Rodriguez-Angeles
Susan Scott
Lois Sheffield
Angel Vazquez
Adelita White

25 Years
Annette Dinkins
Joan Ishida
Sylvia Lopez
Yolanda Lopez
Josie Martinez
Crescencia Pascua
Robert Ridenour
Roger Smith
John Wilborn

20 Years
Maria Arreola
Eduardo Ayala
Alice Castello
Oleida Encinas
Alisa Giltmier
Norma Gomez
Earl Johnston
Michael Keller
Sallie Kleppe
Ines Leonardo
Kevin Matteson
Linda Noel
Carla Pacheco
Karen Phillips
Patrick Rankin
Angela Rast
Shameem Rayani
Jill Roderick
Celeste Rodriguez
Alma Rooney
Patricia Russell
Connie Smith
Rhonda Souza
Scott Unser
Fernando Velazquez
Sally Wells
Sandra White

15 Years
Rosa Aceves
Imelda Aguilar
Michael Aulds
Cheri Barnes
Elvira Barron
Irma Benavente
Guillermina Cary
Mickey Chavez
Anne Clifford
Anna Contreras
Gary Cordell
Lorena Davis
Debbie Easley
Claudia Guerrero
Martha Hagan
Helen Harrell
Lizie Hernandez
Lilly Herrera
Marie Logan
Tiffany Manning
Connie Magana
Eloise Martinez-Raya
Flora Medina-Alvillar
Ruth Molano
David Mosqueda
Rebecca Ochoa
Donna Orozco
Karen Payne
Maria Perez
Melissa Prado
Norma Prieto
Sheryl Sawatsky
Rita Smith
Joan Soares
Anna Sonier
Pete Soto, Jr.
Dianne Thompson
Gloria Trevino
Maria Trevino
Rosario Verduzco
Judy Williams
Shirley Woods
10 Years
Adela Ariola
Connie Avina
Sadhana Awasthi
Maria Ayala
Maria Barba
Lorena Brown
Stacey Broyles
Nancy Bruce
Guadalupe Casas
Laurie Castro
Kathie Chavez
Marisela Chavez
Blanca Contreras
Patsy Cordova
Cindy Creech
Sally Dimas
Mary Eberle
Margaret Flores
Veronica Florez
Beverly Furnier
Jane Gahl
Virginia Garza
Eglantina "Kitty" Gonzalez
Yesenia Gonzalez-Neri
Shirley Gowett
Demetria Gutierrez
Patricia Gutierrez-Murillo
Paul Harrington
Estella Hernandez
Mimi Hernandez
Richard Hernandez
Norma Herrera
Trina Hickox
Stacey Jared
Lisa Keeley
Lucy Kunken
Nancy Lara
Kristi Lomonaco
Mercedes Lopez
Michelle Lowe
Nancy Magana
Josefa Martin
Ana Martinez
Richard McMullen
Alecia Myers
Maria H. Navarro
Esther Olvera
Jan Owens
Olga Palafox
Nancy Pallanes
Thomas Phillips
Julia Ponce
Ana Quevedo
Dora Quezada
Diana Quintero
Isabell Reyes
Araceli Rios
David Roa
Donna Rodriguez
Lucia Rodriguez
Sara Romero
Caroline Salazar
Amy Sanchez
Tina Sandoval
Elvira Santamaria
Ida Sepulveda
Virginia Tucker
Josie Vela
Mitchell Vidak
Nathanael Wills
Christa Wright
Shannon Younger

5 Years
David Alfaro
Maria Barcenas
Marcelina Basurto
Alicia Carrillo
Bertha Castro
Hortencia Cervantes
Leticia Cervantes
Susan Chinchilla
Guadalupe Duran
Jackie Engel
Rosa Esquivel
Linda Flores
Maria Garcia
Emilia Garibay
Diana Gonzalez
Maria Gutierrez
Criselia Guzman
Jeremy Johnson
Beatriz Martinez
Erminia Martinez
Marcela Martinez
Cristina McCulloch
Hulda Mendoza
Diana Murillo
Maria Navarro
Fedila Olivares
Maria Pacheco
Edward Pardo
Carmen Perez
Lilia Perez
Yvette Renteria
Luz Rodriguez
Beatriz Rodriguez
Rosa Romero
Rosa Sanchez
Stephanie Sanchez
Carlos Sandoval
Maria Serralde
Raul Smith
Soane Tonga

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Museum debuts Dust Bowl exhibition
Students learn of Dust Bowl migrants' struggles and contributions to Tulare County

Dust Bowl Migration exhibit This month, students visiting the Tulare County Museum of Farm Labor and Agriculture will be treated to a new exhibition entitled Winds of Change: The Dust Bowl Migration to Tulare County. The exhibition features the stories of migrant families who came to Tulare County during the 1930s. The photographs and artifacts displayed illustrate the shared experiences of many displaced families as they traveled from the Midwest to California, specifically to Tulare County. The exhibition also strives to provide the public with a medium for learning about the agricultural contributions made by the migrant families of the Dust Bowl.

The exhibition premiered November 20 and will remain open through April 2011. The museum, located in Mooney Grove Park, is open Monday, Thursday and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. To arrange a school tour, which includes a showing of the TCOE-developed video Rising from the Storm: Dust Bowl Migrant Experiences in Tulare County, call museum curator Amy King at (559) 733-6616.

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County Board bids farewell to Rod Burkett
Trustee has high praise for board and the Tulare County Office of Education

Rod Burkett A veteran of many community and professional boards, Rod Burkett had the highest praise for the Tulare County Board of Education on which he served for 17 months. Mr. Burkett, who left the board last month, was appointed trustee for Area 2 in April 2009 when longtime board member Leonard Hansen retired. “It was an absolute pleasure to serve on this board,” said Mr. Burkett. “The thing that made it so enjoyable was the professionalism of both the board members and the staff. Mr. Vidak and the staff conduct themselves with the highest proficiency, where every report is concise and every request for more information is met. I wish we could somehow clone this board and staff for other organizations to use!”

“On behalf of the board, I appreciate Rod’s service to the students of Tulare County,” says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “He was a valuable member who contributed his unique perspective to many key board decisions.”

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Challenge Course reopens at SEE Visalia
Course available to businesses, schools, and community groups for team-buidling

Challenge Course An interesting thing happened to Willow Glen students visiting the newly reopened Challenge Course at the SEE facility on Akers Road in Visalia. After a few minutes on the course, balancing on cables and walking across a swinging log, the individuals became a team. While one student crossed a cable, four others stood alongside for protection and assistance. “They definitely encourage and support one another,” parent Stacy Nelson observed. “The course also teaches cooperation and listening skills,” she adds. “And it builds friendships.”

Challenge Course The course, which was renovated and recently recertified, is now available to schools, community groups and businesses to use for leadership training and other activities. In addition to the low cables, the course contains balancing platforms, a rock-climbing feature and a large lawn. SEE’s Steve Tellez and a staff of trained supervisors are responsible for the course and the program activities. For groups interested in having the program at their own site, a mobile challenge unit is available. For reservation and fee information, contact Steve Tellez at (559) 733-6730.

Photos above:
~ It takes teamwork for students to move from the center of the balancing platform to the edge without tipping it.
~ Ashley Hernandez listens to instructions before taking her first steps on one of the course’s cables.

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Battle of the Books coming to Tulare County
New student competition reinforces literacy and encourages a love for reading

This year, Educational Resource Services (ERS) is introducing a new student event entitled Battle of the Books. Students nationwide are preparing for the competition by reading from a core list of titles released this fall. Once at the event, participants compete in teams of six, testing their knowledge of the books in several game show-style events. In Tulare County, the competition, which is scheduled for May 11 at ERS, is open to sixth- through eighth-grade students. Schools may send any number of students they wish by building their own teams of six, or by having their students join teams from other schools at the competition.

Battle of the Books is designed to reinforce literacy and the joy of reading,” says Beth Olshewsky, ERS Library Media Supervisor. “We are excited to offer this program to middle school students with the hope that it will help them sustain the love of reading through their high school years and into adulthood.”

Schools must indicate their intent to participate by January 21, 2011. To register, contact Larisa Atkinson at (559) 651-3031, or e-mail her at

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On People in Service and Support

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Rosario Palacios, Child Care’s social services specialist, was presented with this year’s Mary Jensen Award, the program’s most prestigious award. It is presented to an outstanding staff member who is involved in the community and taking classes to further his or her education. Ms. Palacios is a great resource to the family health social workers. For the last 10 years, she has coordinated the food basket and Christmas distributions to the program’s needy families.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support This month, Debby Holguin will join the Tulare County Board of Education as the trustee for Area 2, which encompasses the Tulare County school districts of Burton, Exeter Union, Sequoia Union, Strathmore Union, Three Rivers Union, Woodlake Union, a portion of Visalia Unified and a portion of Porterville Unified. Ms. Holguin was elected to a four-year term, having been a past member of the Woodlake Union High School Board.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support The Roots Conference, scheduled for February 17-18, 2011 at the Visalia Convention Center, has finalized its slate of keynote and breakout session presenters. Among them is Dr. Lois Davis, a Senior Policy Researcher at RAND in Los Angeles. Dr. Davis recently completed a report that provides a comprehensive look at disparities in the life chances of boys and men of color in California. She will present the findings from the report and discuss possible starting points for addressing them. Also presenting is Franklin Rossman, a New York musician who performs as “The Incomparable Shakespeare” and is the author of an English curriculum that looks at Hip-Hop music from a literary perspective. The conference is a partnership between the Tulare County Office of Education and local youth services organization, Roots Collective. For information and registration, visit

Spotlight on People in Service and Support In October, over 750 young women attended the 11th annual Expanding Your Horizons event at the College of the Sequoias. The participants, from grades 4-9, enjoyed learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers from women in the profession. Leonela Alvarado, a student at Fresno Pacific University, was a presenter in Dr. Karen Cianci’s session entitled Human Movement.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support The Access to Higher Education Summit — an event designed to encourage foster youth to attend college — will welcome noted author, musician and former foster youth Derek Clark to the event at the College of the Sequoias Saturday, February 5, 2011. In addition to hearing from Mr. Clark, students will also have an opportunity to speak to former foster youth who are now attending college. Representatives from area colleges and universities will also be available for attendees. For more information, call Robert Herman at (559) 733-6606.

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Gallery Notes

In conjunction with Human Resources’ Annual Holiday Tea (scheduled for December 10 from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.), the staff has partnered with United Way of Tulare County to collect lap blankets for senior citizens. Employees may bring a wrapped or unwrapped blanket to the event, which will be held in the Tulare County Office of Education’s Video Conference Room at 2637 W. Burrel in Visalia. Cash and checks made payable to United Way are also appreciated. For more information, contact Jeanne Croson at (559) 733-6302.

Red Ribbon Committee chairperson Marlene Moreno reports that $2,000 in proceeds were received during Red Ribbon Week 2010 (October 25-29). The money raised will be given to CASA of Tulare County (Court Appointed Special Advocates). CASA speaks up for the innocent children who are victims of abuse and neglect — advocating for their safety and well-being by training community volunteers to represent their best interests and be their voice in court.

On Saturday, November 20, 68 Tulare County elementary, middle and high school teams participated in the annual CyberQuest competition. Teams prepared multimedia presentations to grade-specific problems, each with a transportation theme. For results, visit

This month, visitors to the Tulare County Office of Education’s Burrel Avenue building will see the first installment of the annual Student Art Exhibition. Works from students attending schools in districts A-P will be exhibited through January 21, 2011. Student artwork from schools in districts R-W will be on display January 24-February 28. Pieces receiving “Best of Show” honors from both shows will be exhibited during the month of March. The exhibitions are open to the public weekdays from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

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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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