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The News Gallery

March 2011

HELP WHEN HELP IS NEEDED - Support staff members give families the help they need and empower them toward self-sufficiency

News Gallery - March 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, Stephanie Rodriguez, Tina Shirley, Marsha Ingrao, Rachel Borbolla, Martha Murillo, Elaine Grande and Grace Duran.

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.

Cover Photo:
~ School Health’s Elaine Grande makes a home visit to assist a parent with her housing needs.

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Families supported so students can succeed
School Health and Child Care service workers empower families in times of need

Support for families Elaine Grande pulls up in front of a small house in Earlimart where she is warmly welcomed by Maria. Elaine, a family service worker with School Health Programs, is visiting her to help conduct a conference call with a local social services agency to resolve an issue with the house Maria is renting. Maria is the mother of two Earlimart students and a four-year-old daughter who will attend preschool next year. The conference call brings insight into Maria’s situation — she is in danger of losing her home. The situation is compounded by the fact that Maria’s daughter has a life-threatening illness, which requires costly, out-of-town treatments.

Elaine met Maria for the first time last year when the Earlimart School District asked her to follow-up on an attendance issue with one of Maria’s sons. It was during that first home visit that Elaine learned the severity of Maria’s situation. “My job is to help the districts I serve keep kids safe, healthy and ready to learn,” says Ms. Grande, a 30-year veteran of the Tulare County Office of Education. She assists the Allensworth, Earlimart, Pixley and Traver districts and the La Sierra Military Academy.

Support for families At the conclusion of the conference call, Elaine and Maria review all the paperwork that must be gathered for the agency to resolve the housing issue. Maria promises she will get right to it and then begins to cry, saying to Elaine, “You know I would be on the streets without your help.”

Between School Health Programs and the Child Care Educational Program, 26 women and men serve as family service workers, or family health service workers (FHSW) within the Child Care Program. On a daily basis, they help families of students facing unemployment, hunger, homelessness or domestic violence. The family service workers and FHSWs have a mastery of community resources and a keen ability to make connections for those in need.

Support for families School Health’s Rachel Borbolla knows the resources available to the Tulare and Tipton school districts she serves. From time-to-time, she turns to the Lighthouse Rescue Mission for women and students who are homeless. The mission offers them a clean, structured environment, meals, employment assistance and an effective savings program. Another one of Ms. Borbolla’s resources is Pastor Duane Hoppert and the members of the Tulare Missionary Baptist Church. Years ago, the pastor’s daughter, who worked with Ms. Borbolla at Lincoln Elementary, turned to the congregation for help for hungry families. Today, the members of the church regularly donate food baskets or provide gasoline vouchers for families in need. “When a child lays down at night hungry, it’s not their fault,” says Pastor Hoppert. “We can’t sit still and let that happen – not in our town,” he says. Pastor Hoppert is quick to credit Ms. Borbolla for the partnership’s success saying, “It’s all due to her credibility. Rachel is the tip of the spear; we are just a minor supporting role.”

Support for families “We appreciate all the private and public organizations that assist our programs with food, housing, utilities and health care,” says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “We are most proud of the work our staff does connecting these resources with families and supporting their children’s success in school.”

For Martha Murillo, FHSW with the Child Care Program in Porterville, one of the ultimate family resources is education. She delights in telling about many women she has seen improve their lives by going to the Porterville Adult School or Porterville College for GEDs and associates degrees. “I tell parents ‘don’t ever give up.’ I want them to become self-sufficient so that they don’t have to rely on anyone else,” she says.

Photos above:
~ School Health’s Rachel Borbolla meets with Tulare teachers Brenda Brown and Debbie Crass at Lincoln Elementary to discuss student needs.
~ Child Care FHSW Martha Murillo plays a little game to prepare a student for a hearing test at the Burton Child Care Center. In addition to providing social services, Child Care FHSWs assist nurses to record heights and weights and perform hearing and vision tests.
~ Ceci Wright, Clinite FHSW, and Rosario Palacio, social services specialist, assemble food baskets with support from FoodLink. In December, the Child Care program delivered 219 baskets, the largest number ever given away.
~ Visalia parent Melissa Prado checks out community services posted on the Parent Resources Board.

Child Care Educational Program Family Health Service Workers
Veronica Ayon, Earlimart Center
Lorena Casas, Tulare Home Based
Paul Cervantes, Richgrove Center
Graciela Cid, Cutler #2 Center
Marysol Cisneros, Porterville Home Based
Anna Duarte, Maple Center
Grace Duran, N. Visalia #2 Center
Julissa Estrada, Dinuba #2 Center
Veronica Florez, Woodville #1 Center
Carmen Gonzalez, Senaida Garcia Center
Xochitl Gonzalez, Porterville Center
Olga Olivas, Fairview Center
Angelina Magana, London Center
Martha Murillo, Porterville Educational Center
Maria Placencia, Exeter Home Based
Isabell Reyes, Visalia Home Based
Anna Reynoso, Ivanhoe Center
Leticia Rodriguez, Woodville Center
Luz Rodriguez, Dinuba Home Based
Monica Salcedo, Strathmore Center
Yessenia Sanchez, Farmersville Center
Rachel Vallejo, Porterville Center
Ceci Wright, Clinite Center

School Health Programs Family Service Workers
Rachel Borbolla
Elaine Grande
Elena Hawley

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Tulare Union prevails at Mock Trial
Students advance to state championship next month in Riverside

The battle for the Tulare County Mock Trial Championship took a familiar course this year. Sitting before Tulare County Judge Melinda Reed were returning champion Woodlake High School and returning challenger Tulare Union High School.

Mock Trial The case before Judge Reed and competition judges Tulare County District Attorney Phil Cline, Tulare County Counsel Kathleen Bales-Lange and Tulare County Public Defender Michael Sheltzer was a fictitious one involving a young woman charged with assault with a deadly weapon and violating a new anti-bullying and cyber-bullying statute.

This year, by a margin of only five points, the judges awarded the victory to Tulare Union High School. The team will advance to the state competition beginning March 25 in Riverside.

Photo above:
~ Patrick Kennedy presents arguments as part of Tulare Union’s championship team.

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Holocaust survivor returns to Tulare County
Visalia and Porterville-area students to hear Elane Geller's story this month

Holocaust Survivor Dr. Elane Geller doesn’t tiptoe into the details of her horrific childhood. At a recent presentation of her story before sophomores from Strathmore High School and Harmony Magnet Academy, the Holocaust survivor plunged into the numbing details of her captivity. Within hours of the Nazis’ arrival in her small Polish village, her mother, grandparents and several uncles were killed in the town square. For the remainder of the presentation, she describes her horrific captivity and how she and several family members survived.

At the conclusion, Dr. Geller challenges students in two ways. First, she asks them to involve adults when they see others being bullied. Secondly, she asks them to consider how they will be remembered when faced with adversity. After the war, she says the Jewish people decided to “start again” for a simple reason, “If I had become a criminal, then Hitler wins.”

This month, hundreds of other students from Visalia and Porterville-area schools will have the rare opportunity to hear Dr. Geller’s story. For more information, call Instructional Consultant Marsha Ingrao at (559) 651-0680.

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Agency seeks to honor Hands-On Heroes
First 5 Tulare County plans to recognize those who support children ages 0-5

First 5 Tulare County is launching a new way to honor adults who have been instrumental in improving the lives of Tulare County children ages zero to five. The new recognition program, entitled the Hands-On Heroes Award, will be given to individuals who have gone “above and beyond” in supporting children, but are seldom recognized for their efforts. According to First 5 Tulare County Executive Director Janet Hogan, “Heroes can be preschool teachers or aides, preschool support staff such as custodians and cooks, health care workers, volunteers, speech therapists, and others.”

Nominations for the Hands-On Hero Award can be found on the First 5 Tulare County website at
www.first5tc.org. Recipients will be acknowledged at an event on April 14, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Visalia Holiday Inn. Check the website for additional information as the date nears. For more information, contact First 5 Tulare County at (559) 622-8650.

Partners for this event include the Tulare County Children’s Services Network, the Tulare County Child Care Planning Council, and the Tulare County Office of Education.

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Child Care to hold 23rd Annual Conference
Popular author and educator Sharron Krull to be conference keynote presenter

"Stop, Drop and Play...Let’s have fun today!” is the theme of the 23rd Annual Child Care Conference which will be held on Saturday, April 2, 2011, at the Visalia Convention Center. This year’s keynote speaker will be popular author and educator Sharron Krull, whose teaching experience spans over 40 years. Sharron’s upbeat and enthusiastic seminars focus on the importance of combining learning with playing.

Child Care Conference This year’s conference will also offer 30 workshops for child care providers, teachers, and parents throughout California. Agencies such as CASA, Synchrony of Visalia, Fresno Central Valley Children’s Network, and the Parenting Network will be present, with information on topics such as child abuse prevention, diabetes, science activities for children, and fun with literacy.

“The annual Child Care Conferences are phenomenal learning experiences for any caregiver,” says County Superintendent of School Jim Vidak. “With a wide range of workshop topics ranging from nutrition and instructional activities to center management and student health, the conferences offer something for everyone.”

Registration for the full-day conference is $60 per person. Copies of the registration brochure are available from Stephanie Rodriguez at Connections for Quality Care at (559) 651-0862. Registration is due March 18.

Photo above:
~ The 23rd Annual Child Care Conference will feature author and educator Sharron Krull.

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On People in Service and Support

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Marvin Lopez, recruitment manager for the New Teacher Development Program listens as the Visalia Times-Delta’s Melinda Morales reads a proclamation from California Assemblywoman Connie Conway commending him for being selected as one of the newspaper’s “Five Under Forty Rising Stars.” Each year, the newspaper honors men and women under the age of 40 who are outstanding in their professions or in service to their communities. Mr. Lopez was recognized for his work in encouraging others to pursue careers in teaching, in filling teaching positions for rural districts, and in helping numerous first-generation students use their talents as soccer players to obtain scholarships for college.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Last month, author and musician Derek Clark delighted high school-age foster youth at the Fourth Annual Access to Higher Education Summit. Mr. Clark, a former foster youth, used his own story of abuse, destructive behavior and transformation to empower students to pursue their dreams. The event was attended by nearly 90 students, who also had the opportunity to speak with representatives from numerous area colleges and universities.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Granite Hills High School of Porterville won first place in the annual Academic Decathlon (AD) event last month for the ninth consecutive year. The team will advance to the state finals in Sacramento this month. At the conclusion of the event, students also received awards for high scores in AD’s 10 subject-matter competitions. El Diamante High School’s Danielle Corona (pictured receiving her award from County Superintendent Jim Vidak) was the top-scoring student.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support At the two-day Roots Conference held February 17-18, Dholrhythms, a Bay-area dance troupe, energized attendees with a quick lesson in Punjabi dance. One of the conference highlights was New York University’s Dr. Pedro Noguera, who received a standing ovation for his presentation on the U.S. education system. Dr. Noguera shared examples of several successful schools serving a high number of at-risk, low-income students. The unique conference brought together attendees and presenters from various fields — education, social service, mental health and the judicial system — to address ways of collaborating to serve students’ social, emotional and academics needs.

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Gallery Notes

The County of Tulare is launching an exciting new program entitled Summer Night Lights. The program is an anti-gang initiative that will keep Tulare County parks open after hours for eight consecutive Saturday evenings during the summer of 2011. Parks in Dinuba, Farmersville, Porterville, Tulare and Visalia will remain open for youth to enjoy positive programming, sports, food and other organized activities. The County is also seeking students to design a logo to communicate the intent of the program — to provide a safe place for young people to enjoy one another and positive activities and sports. The winning artist will receive a $250 gift certificate. Artwork is due to the County Board of Supervisors by 4:00 p.m., March 11. For more information, contact Jeff Forbes at (559) 636-5000.

This spring, La Sierra Military Academy will hold a series of information nights for parents of students entering the 7th-12th grades. Principal Anjelica Zermeño reports that the school is seeking middle school and high school students who have post-secondary ambitions and are committed to developing their leadership skills and community service. Information nights will be held March 17 and April 14 at 6:00 p.m. at the La Sierra campus, 1735 East Houston Avenue in Visalia. For more information, contact Mrs. Zermeño at (559) 733-6963.

The Theatre Company will hold a special 6:00 p.m. audition workshop on Wednesday, March 2 at the Doe Avenue Complex (Sycamore Room) for students interested in learning more about the summer musical, Hairspray. The workshop is designed to prepare students for actual auditions April 13-14 at 4:00 p.m. Any Tulare County student entering 7th – leaving 12th grade may audition. A copy of the audition application is available at

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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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