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The News Gallery

February 2011

HELPING STUDENTS HELP OTHERS AND THEMSELVES - SEE Youth grant helps high school seniors build life skills and work experience

News Gallery - February 2011 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Soliz, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Donna Orozco, Kelley Petty, Nou Cha, Marilyn Willers, Randy Wallace, Benny Rivera, Martha Alexandros, and Anjelica Zermeño.

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 Youth receives student jobs grant
High Concentration Grant helps special needs high school seniors gain job skills

SEE Youth Juan Fuentes Sanchez (pictured on cover) has a heart for nursing. The Mission Oak High School senior is eager to help patients and assist the nurses at the Tulare Regional Medical Center where he works part-time as part of a grant awarded to the SEE Youth Program. “When someone is in the hospital, they need people around them to care,” he says. “I believe that a friendly ‘hello’ and a smile can help them have a better day.”

The award — known as the High Concentration Grant — was received by the SEE Youth Program to serve 38 special-needs students on track for graduation this year. The one-time grant was given locally by the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board.

SEE Youth SEE Youth has worked collaboratively with high schools and staff from the TCOE Special Services Division to identify students who meet the eligibility guidelines. The grant is a welcome edition this year as districts may have exhausted their money to employ special needs students through the summer Workability Program. SEE Youth’s Marilyn Willers reports that once students are deemed eligible, they complete the program’s work-readiness workshop, which covers workplace ethics, workplace safety and sexual harassment training. Students like Juan will earn nearly $1,000 once they have completed 120 hours of work at various public and private employers.

SEE Youth To Monache High School counselor Dana Newkirk, the most important thing her students gain is the social experience. “These students don’t always get the life-skills training they need — skills like developing a resumé or learning how to conduct themselves on an interview,” she says. “Through the grant, they not only gain these skills, but they gain exposure in a work setting — and that’s key.”

“It has been wonderful to see how these students have grown,” says SEE Youth Supervisor Martha Alexandros. “We appreciate the local businesses that have helped build their skills and confidence for the transition into adulthood.”

Photos above:
~ Gerie Dale Domingo, who works in the Monache High School office, receives directions from counseling secretary Cindy Frederick. Gerie Dale says that the job has helped her overcome her shyness.
~ Across campus, Ricardo Velasquez cleans the boys’ locker room. Ricardo appreciates the work which complements his past construction experience. After graduation, he hopes to study engineering.
~ Cody Creamer has enjoyed his experience at Foot Locker in the Visalia Mall and appreciates that the job has helped him sharpen his scheduling skills.

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COOL Night moves to high school campuses
Tulare-area middle school students get first glimpse at high school, college & career

COOL Night Tulare Nearly 250 middle school students and their parents visited Mission Oak and Tulare Union High Schools last month to get a first-hand look at the campuses and to learn more about the high school-to-college connection. The program which brought them to each campus is known as College Offers Opportunities for Life (COOL) Night. While COOL Night has been around for many years, this is the first year Tulare-area middle school students have visited the high schools they will attend.

COOL Night Tulare At Mission Oak High School, groups of students moved among brief 10-minute sessions describing how to get involved in high school activities and sports, how to use the school’s college and career resources, which courses to take in high school to prepare for college, and how much college costs and ways to pay for it. Geena Reveles, a member of Mission Oak’s LINK Crew was one of the three presenters in the “Getting Involved” session. “I hope that students learn that high school is not an intimidating place, but a place to get involved,” she said.

COOL Night Tulare In the school’s Health Careers Academy, teacher Steve Holdridge gave students an overview of the careers available through the program, including the certifications and college credits they can pursue while still in high school. Attendees also heard from two Fresno State students, who are members of the Tulare County Youth Council, talk about their experiences and how they planned for college.

“We appreciate the students and staff who made COOL Night a fun and welcoming experience for the future students,” says event coordinator Randy Wallace, School-to-Career Project Director. Wallace adds that Tulare Western High School will hold a COOL Night later this spring.

Photos above:
~ Members of the Tulare County Youth Council, which includes two Fresno State students, addressed the crowd about the importance of planning for college.
~ Mission Oak’s Steve Holdridge introduced the attendees to the school’s impressive Health Careers Academy.
~ Mission Oak’s Natalie Mercado and Megan Rodriguez (l-r) discussed ways students can get involved in high school clubs, activities and sports.

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Child Care Centers diversify literacy lessons
Classroom performance and recitation bolster confidence and early literacy

When children really like a story, they tend to ask for it to be read over and over. This reality led teachers at two Child Care Centers to develop activities which allow the children to enjoy their familiar stories while supplementing their literacy instruction.

Child Care Literacy Lessons In teacher Bertha Acosta’s room at North Visalia Center #2, the children love the book Little Rabbit Foo-Foo — the story of a naughty rabbit who torments the mice in the forest. “They want us to read the book so often, I thought it would be good to do a little play,” says Ms. Acosta. “Every day, the children asked, ‘When are we practicing? When are we practicing?’” While the children learned their lines, the teachers and parent Maria Bustos made props and costumes. With so many children wanting parts in the play, the class presented it to parents twice, with different casts.

At the Farmersville Center, the children love the book David Goes to School, a story about a little boy who is always in trouble. Teacher Blanca Contreras reports that they’ve heard it so many times that now almost every child in the room can get up in front of the class and “read” it page by page — complete with different tones and voice inflections.

Child Care Literacy Lessons “I was impressed with the children’s presentation skills,” says Child Care Educational Program Administrator Ray Chavez. “This is an important part of literacy — storytelling. The children knew the story, knew when to turn the page and knew what it meant. I also value what Ms. Contreras has done. It is her job to encourage the children to be dedicated to learning. And they are. She also had to encourage these 3-year-olds not to be shy. The children didn’t hesitate; they wanted to read the story.” In addition to their classroom activities, Ms. Contreras sends home a backpack with the book and a David doll so the children can read it to their parents. “The parents are so excited!” she says.

Both the book reading and the play help develop the children’s literacy and confidence. They also work hand-in-hand with the Houghton-Mifflin preschool curriculum used in the Child Care Center to prepare students for kindergarten and beyond.

Photos above:
~ At North Visalia Center #2, The Good Fairy chastises Little Rabbit Foo-Foo as the grateful mice look on.
~ Students at the Farmersville Center enjoy reciting the book David Goes to School.

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Jason Dorsey to address support staff
Annual conference to honor "everyday superheroes" in Valley schools and districts

Over 500 school and district personnel from Tulare and surrounding counties are expected to attend the 19th Annual Tulare County Support Staff Conference on April 1 at the Visalia Convention Center. This year, the conference is themed “Calling all Superheroes,” which County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak notes was chosen “to celebrate the superhuman work that secretaries, clerks, aides and other support staff do for students, teachers and administrators in area schools and districts.”

Jason Dorsey A Tulare County favorite, bestselling author and humorist Jason Ryan Dorsey will be the conference’s keynote presenter. A national leader on generational dynamics in education, Mr. Dorsey has been featured on 60 Minutes, 20/20, The Today Show, and The View. In recent years, his generational strategies have created significant breakthroughs for schools and educational leaders around the world.

Conference organizer Christine Chapman reports that the event will also feature a wide variety of breakout sessions on topics ranging from personal organization, wellness, and fitness to ethics in the workplace and bullying prevention. “We’ll also have a lot of great entertainment, exciting vendors and wonderful food,” she says. Registration is just $35 per person. For complete information, visit

Photo above:
~ Jason Ryan Dorsey will be the keynote speaker at the Tulare County Support Staff Conference. His humorous and insightful presentation on the differences among the generations working in today’s schools has a valuable message for conference attendees.

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Schools to receive anti-bullying training
New bullying prevention curriculum offered by Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS!

Tulare County schools participating in the five-year, federal Partnership in Character Education Program (PCEP) Grant study will be the first to receive the new CHARACTER COUNTS! (CC!) Anti-Bullying Training February 28. The training will cover how CC! is a platform to address bullying. Using the values of the Six Pillars of Character, participants will learn strategies for developing a comprehensive definition of bullying, generating effective policy for dealing with it and identifying the best practices for reducing its incidence. Former Tulare County CC! Coordinator John Forenti will be the national trainer for the program.

Choices Program Supervisor Adam Valencia and his staff, including retired Sheriff’s Detective Joe Aguilar, will also attend the training to begin offering the curriculum as part of their overall prevention services. “With the availability of the new Anti-Bullying Training, the partnership between CHARACTER COUNTS! and Choices is a natural one,” says CC! Coordinator Kelley Petty. “Together, we share the goal of creating school climates conducive to learning.” Educators interested in attending the training or anyone wanting more information about the CC! Anti-Bullying curriculum should contact Kelley Petty at (559) 740-4303.

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On People in Service and Support

Spotlight on People in Service and Support In December, Anjelica Zermeño (shown accepting the flag of the La Sierra Military Academy) became the school’s new principal. Mrs. Zermeño had been a mathematics instructional consultant with Educational Resource Services for six years. Since 2008, she has worked directly with La Sierra as the team lead providing administrative coaching and staff development for teachers and students. She also served many other schools across Tulare County as a math consultant and coach.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Before the Holidays, students from La Sierra Military Academy (LSMA) volunteered as bell ringers for the Salvation Army. Pictured are Cadets Nadia Mueting and Albert Solis. Community service is part of a new Service Learning and Leadership course offered at the school this spring. Through this course, students work together to build community relationships, serve the community and support PESTO (Parent Enhanced Student Teacher Organization) in developing plans for the school. Community organizations interested in the services of LSMA students can call Mrs. Zermeño at (559) 733-6963.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support This month, 12 Tulare County High School teams will compete in the annual Mock Trial event at the Tulare County Courthouse. Woodlake High School (pictured on left from last year’s competition) is returning to defend their 2010 victory. Please refer to the calendar for the competition schedule.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Visitors to the Burrel Avenue office in Visalia this month can enjoy the latest display of artwork in the annual Student Art Exhibition. One of the pieces featured in the show is a painting entitled “Leopard” by Devon Welch, a senior at Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia. In March, pieces selected as “Best of Show” from the current exhibition and the fall show will be displayed. A public reception honoring the student artists will be held 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. on March 25.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support The Community Advisory Committee’s annual calendar is now available at the Burrel Avenue office. This year’s calendar features the work of the Tulare County Office of Education’s Bright Future Program which supports students with Autism and their families. For information on the calendar, call Norma Erwin at (559) 730-2910, ext. 5125.

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Gallery Notes

In December, the California Friday Night Live Partnership announced it had received two grants, both in the area of traffic safety. The first grant was provided by The Allstate Foundation in the amount of $120,000 to unveil Youth-to-Youth: Driving the Change. The grant program will assist youth leaders in hosting 30 traffic safety events across California focusing on the elimination of texting while driving. The second grant, totaling $400,000, was provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety. The new grant will be used to build upon the DUI Court in Schools program that features an actual DUI trial in a school assembly format.

Four administrators recently received honors from the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). Assistant Superintendent of Special Services Dr. Marilyn Rankin was honored as Special Education Administrator of the Year for Tulare County. CHARACTER COUNTS! Coordinator Kelley Petty, School-to-Career Project Director Randy Wallace, and SCICON Director Rick Mitchell were honored in their respective categories at both the local and regional levels, which represent Inyo, Kern, Kings, Mono and Tulare Counties.

The theme for the Tulare County Farm Bureau Calendar Art Contest (for students in grades K-12) is Tulare County agriculture...planting seeds to grow minds. Details of the competition, including the February 11 deadline, are posted on the Bulletin Board section of
www.tulcofb.org. The contest is annually sponsored by the Tulare County Farm Bureau, the Tulare County Office of Education and Network for a Healthy California.

The Tulare County Youth Commission recently released applications for summer service learning grants for high schools. The deadline to apply is February 25. For more information, contact Jeff Forbes at the County of Tulare at (559) 636-5000 or jforbes@co.tulare.ca.us.

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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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