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The News Gallery

October 2011

Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Marlene Moreno, Jennifer Fisher, Priscilla Soliz, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Carol Sonier, Xay Xiong and Mary Baltazar.

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 Jennifer Fisher at jenniferf@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.

SMART Boards
Classroom technology boosts participation
25 SMART Boards make their way into Tulare County Special Education classes

Students in teacher Rusty Range’s Special Day Class at Tulare Union High School look forward to being called to the front of the room to demonstrate their mastery of mathematics concepts. This wasn’t always the case. With the introduction of an electronic SMART Board last spring, students are eager to share what they know. “Students are so attuned and comfortable with the technology,” says Mr. Range, who estimates that 50-60 percent of his instructional day is spent utilizing the SMART Board. “It’s also a fantastic tool for students with limited fine motor skills.”

SMART Boards “We’ve noticed a significant increase in classroom participation with the introduction of the SMART Boards,” says Technology Manager Xay Xiong. “Teachers are empowered with new and more exciting ways to teach the day’s lessons.” Teachers can show news broadcasts and utilize a wealth of interactive materials for the SMART Board, ranging from simple math lessons to dissecting a frog.

“Math is hard for me,” says student Desiree Scott. “The SMART Board makes learning easier and more fun.”

Photos above:
~ Desiree Scott works a finance problem as teacher Rusty Range looks on.
~ Diego Gutierrez practices his handwriting using the new SMART Board.

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Sound Beginnings Preschool opened
Preschool students with hearing loss prepared for success in kindergarten

Sound Beginnings Preschool Teacher Shelby Hamby calls seven preschool children over one-by-one to join her for a morning snack. “Melanie, I want you to sit in the chair with the red plate,” she says. Throughout the snack-time exercise – as the children enjoy and discuss carrots and broccoli – Ms. Hamby delivers intentional instruction. The children are expected to listen and respond to her questions. “By using this intensive interaction,” says Special Services Program Manager Carol Sonier, “we are developing listening and spoken language skills students will need to be successful in kindergarten.”

That’s important because three of the seven students have some degree of hearing loss. Melanie, Abel and Kevin are the first students enrolled in the new Sound Beginnings Preschool. The other children at the preschool are reverse mainstream students serving as peer language models. Sound Beginnings occupies a special education classroom on the Liberty School District campus, south of Visalia. Melanie, Abel and Kevin attend an oral preschool daily from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Mrs. Sonier reports that a second “total communication” class will begin meeting each afternoon this month. Students in the total communication class will receive both oral and sign language instruction.

Sound Beginnings Preschool The Sound Beginnings Preschool was conceived to provide deaf and hard-of-hearing students a continuity of instruction beyond what they receive from Special Service’s Bright Start Parent/Infant Program. Bright Start serves children from infancy to their third birthday. For children with hearing loss, Sound Beginnings can offer three- and four-year-olds speech and listening instruction with the goal of having them begin school at the same level as their normally-hearing peers.

Last spring, Sound Beginnings operated a pilot program in partnership with Sundale Union School District. The program included three children who were born deaf, but had received cochlear implants. “We appreciate Sundale for welcoming our program and investing the time to train their staff,” says County Superintendent Jim Vidak.

Sound Beginnings Preschool Back in class, Melanie, Abel and Kevin have moved to individual work exercises involving sorting, color recognition, numbers and letters. “It’s a great opportunity for us to have these wonderful children in Sound Beginnings this year,” says Mrs. Sonier. “Our work is particularly important as Melanie, Abel and Kevin are English learners. We look forward to our work in preparing them for kindergarten.”

For younger children with hearing loss, Special Services staff will work with parents to navigate the complex process of obtaining hearing aids if they are deemed appropriate. The Special Services Division has also obtained certification from California Children’s Services to conduct diagnostic infant hearing testing. Audiologist Dr. Jim Beauchamp at the Hearing and Speech Center in Tulare can test infants up to nine months old utilizing electronic equipment. “The certification offers Tulare County parents with the convenience of having the screening performed locally and it expands the services we provide to deaf and hard-of-hearing students,” says Dr. Marilyn Rankin, assistant superintendent of Special Services.

Photos above:
~ Melanie, who wears hearing aids, enjoys a numbers matching exercise.
~ Sound Beginnings aide Josie Espinosa works with Kevin on his colors.
~ Teacher Shelby Hamby leads snack-time instruction, which incorporates social skills.

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All About Me stickers help in emergencies
Free stickers available to families using child car safety seats

All About Me stickers Imagine the frustration of emergency workers arriving on the scene of an automobile accident as they discover the driver is unconscious and the toddler in the back seat needing medical attention is unable to communicate his own name or who his parents are.

Fifteen years ago, reports of a similar incident led the National Association of Insurance Women in California to develop a sticker which can be affixed to a child’s car seat with information about the toddler and his family. Familiar with the Insurance Women’s sticker campaign, Buckman-Mitchell Insurance’s Chairman Emeritus Stanley Simpson and Vice President of Marketing Carol Jones brought the idea to County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak this summer. “The stickers are a great way for emergency personnel to figure out quickly whose child may be in vehicle,” says Ms. Jones. “As a grandmother who many times has carried my grandchild without their parents, I am thankful to have this information available if needed.”

Tulare County families can now obtain an “All About Me” sticker at no cost through TCOE’s Burrel Avenue office. Available in English and Spanish, they can be affixed to car seats, the underside of skateboards, the inside of backpacks and helmets. Families can also pick up the sticker at upcoming events such as Kids Festival (planned for November 19 at the Visalia Convention Center) and a car seat safety demonstration in partnership with the California Highway Patrol (scheduled for 9:00 am. - noon, November 12 at Buckman-Mitchell’s offices at 500 N. Santa Fe in Visalia). For more information, call Robert Herman at (559) 733-6606.

Photos above:
~ Personnel Technician Mary Baltazar affixed a new “All About Me” sticker to the side of her son's car seat.
~ Copies of the sticker are available at the Burrel Avenue office.

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On September 22, the Tulare County Office of Education joined the Central California Chinese Cultural Center in celebrating three exceptional teachers as part of the 18th Annual Confucius’ Birthday/Educators of the Year Awards. Each year, one outstanding teacher from a Tulare County elementary, middle and high school is honored.
Spotlight Amanda Renteria, a fifth-grade teacher at Rocky Hill Elementary in Exeter, was selected as the Elementary Teacher of the Year. Ms. Renteria was praised for creative instructional methods incorporating music and art. Ms. Renteria is a member of the Rocky Hill Elementary Leadership Team. She also serves on the district-wide Professional Learning Community for language arts, and coordinates the school‘s annual Science Day.
Spotlight Sundale Union’s Stacy Tiner was named the Middle School Teacher of the Year. Ms. Tiner has been at Sundale since 2003 as a 7th-8th grade intervention teacher. Her class includes students with learning disabilities and English learners. The Sundale special services coordinator entrusts her with some of the school’s most educationally challenged students because of her compassion and dedication to see them succeed. Ms. Tiner excels at building positive self-esteem in her students, giving them extra time and holding them accountable for their actions.
Spotlight Cole Schieferle, Redwood High School’s AP government and economics teacher, was honored as the High School Teacher of the Year. In his 13-year career at Redwood, he has served as both a football and basketball coach and teacher. Mr. Schieferle’s success stems from his ability to bring real content and issues to the classroom for students to decide and debate. District administrators praised him for his ability to captivate students, showing them how government and economics are reflected in their world.

Spotlight Last month, the Choices Program completed its Real DUI Court in Schools assembly program. The assemblies were a partnership between the Choices Program and the Tulare County Superior Court, in collaboration with the Office of the District Attorney. Thousands of students in five high schools witnessed a live DUI court sentencing. Students also heard from people whose lives were forever changed by the death of a loved one killed by a drunk driver. Funding for the program came from a grant received by the California Friday Night Live Partnership through the California Office of Traffic Safety. Anthony Fultz from the Tulare County District Attorney’s office speaks to Tulare Western High School students about how he prosecutes offenders.

Spotlight This month, the Choices Program is hosting a large Red Ribbon Week Round-up family event (designed for students grades 6 and up) at McDermont Field House in Lindsay. The event, scheduled for October 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., will feature a presentation by nationally-known youth speaker Gabe Salazar plus a variety of activities designed to promote healthy lifestyle choices. Reservations for the free event can be made by calling (559) 636-4030.

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Gallery Notes

Teachers have until October 7 to register girls for the annual Expanding Your Horizons Conference at College of the Sequoias. The event, which encourages girls (grades 4-10) to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, will be held Saturday, October 22. Registration can be found at
www.tcoe.org/eyh. This year, Shonna Sommer will be the keynote presenter. Shonna is a graduate of U.C. Santa Barbara with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. She currently works as a Project Manager for Calleguas Municipal Water District in Thousand Oaks. She is the daughter of New Teacher Development Program Manager Donna Glassman-Sommer. The conference will also feature over 40 breakout sessions hosted by female scientists, engineers and physicians.

Tulare County Red Ribbon Week will be larger than ever as the TCOE event committee and the Choices Program gear up for activities designed to encourage students and adults alike to lead drug-free lifestyles. The Choices office will be holding a free Red Ribbon celebration October 29 at McDermont Field House. For registration information, call (559) 636-4030. For Red Ribbon Week activities for TCOE employees, visit www.tcoe.org/RedRibbon.

Tulare County school administrators and board members should mark their calendars for November 16 for the annual Fall Institute conference. The event will feature informative breakout sessions and a special presentation by newly appointed California School Boards Association Executive Director Vernon Billy.

The California Friday Night Live Partnership (CFNLP) was recently awarded the prestigious John W. Britt Community Service Award at the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Conference in Orlando. The national award was presented by the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association for CFNLP’s work supporting law enforcement collaborations with youth organizations across California to prevent underage drinking.

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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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