go to Tulare County Office of Education HomePage go to Tulare County Office of Education HomePage

The News Gallery

May 2012

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

Contributors to this issue:
Marlene Moreno, Jennifer Fisher, Priscilla Soliz, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Laura Malmquist, John Kelly, Kathleen Green, Kelley Petty, Tony Cavanagh, Julie Joseph, Charlene Stringham, Lupe Solis.

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.

Step Up Youth Challenge
Youth Challenge improves schools, communities
Grants for Step Up middle school service learning projects given at red carpet event

Team by team, 16 groups of middle school students filed past paparazzi (courtesy of Redwood drama students) up the red carpet into Visalia’s Fox Theatre to learn the results of the Step Up Youth Challenge. The red carpet treatment was designed to impress upon the students that they were stars for the work they had done to improve their schools.

Step Up Youth Challenge Since October, the teams had been developing service learning projects designed to make a difference on their campuses or in their communities. The projects were created to address issues unique to each campus, such as bullying, gangs, student self-esteem, drug use and other concerns.

The “star treatment” continued inside the theater with five teams receiving grants totaling $15,000 for their projects. Valley Life Charter School was awarded the “Best Overall” grant for their project which focused on building friendships and eliminating bullying/abuse. To reinforce the importance of kindness, the school partnered with the Tulare County Animal Shelter. Students helped meet 15 of the needs on the shelter’s wish list. Seventh-grade Valley Life student Angelisa Davila said, “It was great because the whole school was involved as a huge team.” Sundale Union, Pleasant View School, Valley Oak Middle School, and Burton Middle School received $2,500 grants for their projects. For information on upcoming Step Up projects, call Allison Pierce at the County of Tulare at (559) 636-5000.

Photos above:
~ Students from Valley Life Charter School pose with paper towels donated to the Tulare County Animal Shelter. The school partnered with the shelter and won the top grant award in the Step Up Youth Challenge.
~ Kennedy Elementary (Lindsay) team members pose on the red carpet.

to Top of Page

National study shows benefits of character ed
Four-year research study utilizing CHARACTER COUNTS! successfully concludes

The Tulare County Office of Education, in conjunction with CHARACTER COUNTS! (CC!) and the U.S. Department of Education’s Character Education Program (PCEP), recently completed a groundbreaking, four-year study which involved 21 Tulare County schools and over 9,000 students. The goal of the program was to measure the effectiveness of character education on students in elementary, middle and high schools. The study was funded by a $1.9 million PCEP grant awarded in October 2006, one of the largest grants given that year.

CHARACTER COUNTS! grant For over 15 years, the Tulare County Office of Education has made a steadfast commitment to promoting CC! and assisting schools in utilizing the program. The four-year, experimental research study tested the impact a fully-implemented character education program can have in enhancing a school’s instructional environment. To monitor the study, the CC! program partnered with Pacific Research & Evaluation of Portland, Oregon. After four years of testing, researchers concluded that the study met the federal research measure, known as GPRA, with statistically significant positive results on seven of the nine subscales assessed. “We have long known that CHARACTER COUNTS! works in creating healthier school cultures where teachers can focus on instruction and student achievement,” says Jim Vidak, County Superintendent of Schools. “We are delighted to have this study to support schools in their efforts to make Character Education a priority.”

A major requirement of the study was to design and conduct a valid, rigorous evaluation that included a group of program and comparison schools. Twelve project schools were charged with developing a CC! implementation and evaluation plan that would positively impact student achievement and behavior. Project school implementation plans were designed around six focus areas: student behavior, curriculum, parent awareness, school environment, staff training and sportsmanship. During the first year of the study (2007), school staff, parents, coaches, student leadership and curriculum administrators received CC! training. The nine comparison schools were matched to the project schools based on enrollment, achievement test scores, socioeconomic status, and behavioral data such as truancy, suspensions, and expulsions. For the purposes of the study, the comparison schools did not produce full-scale implementation plans; rather they continued without any significant increases or decreases in character education.

Each year of the study, program and comparison schools were evaluated using the “Student Report Card Survey.” This survey was administered to all students in grades 6-12 at both program and comparison schools. The survey contained questions which addressed students’ ethical attitudes, values, and behaviors, and included nine subscales which measured anti-social attitudes and behaviors, access to drugs and alcohol, ethical attitudes, pro-social values, religious values, injustices, and superficial values. It was from these subscales that researchers saw statistically significant positive growth from students in the project schools. The results of this study indicate the Tulare County CC! implementation model can be successfully utilized by school districts throughout the nation.

“I greatly appreciate the teachers, administrators and site coordinators who have been with us for the past four years,” says CC! Coordinator Kelley Petty. “I also appreciate the support of grant coordinators Kathleen Green and Gina Wise, the staff at the office of education and the national CHARACTER COUNTS! office in Los Angeles. We are all anxious to share the exciting findings from the study and the ways schools were able to implement CHARACTER COUNTS! on their campuses.” To contact Kelley Petty and discuss CC! implementation at your school, call (559) 740-4303, or e-mail

Photo above:
~ CHARACTER COUNTS! implementation plans, such as the one produced by project school West Putnam Elementary in Porterville, were a road map for integrating the curriculum into all school instruction and activities.

to Top of Page

Instructional work receives national attention
ERS staff devote time and talent to helping schools transition to Common Core Standards

Last month, Instructional Services’ Assistant Superintendent Dr. Pansy Ceballos, administrator Dr. Guadalupe Solis and instructional consultants Charlene Stringham and Connie Smith traveled to Philadelphia to speak at the annual ASCD conference (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development). The team was invited to present their efforts to assist districts in their transition and implementation of the California Common Core State Standards.

Common Core State Standards The team worried that their 8:00 Saturday morning presentation would not be popular with conference goers who could choose from 500 sessions offered over three days. Their worries were eased as the 150-seat conference room filled to standing-room only. Educators from across the U.S. crowded in to hear about the work the team has done to help school districts in Central California be better prepared to implement the new standards. The TCOE team shared the many resources they have developed, all available electronically, along with the varied professional development they have developed for teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders.

The Common Core State Standards were developed through a state-led initiative of governors and educational leaders to establish consistent and clear English-language arts and mathematics standards that better prepare students for success in the competitive global economy. The California Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were adopted by the California Board of Education in August 2010 and state assessment on the new standards will begin in 2014-2015.

Since that time, the instructional consultants at Educational Resource Services have been working on a three-step CCSS implementation process: 1) the creation of tools that make the new standards clearer and easier to access and put into practice; 2) professional development trainings where teachers and administrators look deeper into CCSS execution; 3) guidance in the design and development of implementation plans for schools and districts.

In the area of language arts, the team of TCOE ELA consultants worked collaboratively in the development of three instructional tools – continuums which show teachers the progression of a strand or a single standard from Kindergarten through 12th grade, reference bookmarks for teachers to slip into their lesson plans, and templates which cross-reference many CCSS documents and are intended to serve as a planning tool. The language arts standards apply to many other subject matters including history, science and technical subjects. “Every teacher is a literacy teacher,” says Charlene Stringham. “The CCSS clearly establish the shared responsibility for literacy across the curriculum. The ELA CCSS have an expectation that one is as likely to see a critical reading or writing objective coupled with a content objective in a Science or History lesson as in an English/ELA lesson.”

Instructional consultant Julie Joseph finds that teachers are excited about the Common Core State Standards when they see their students demonstrate the ability to problem-solve and to explain their work. In mathematics, the standards are organized into both content standards for each grade level and “Eight Standards for Mathematical Practice” that are the same for all grade levels. “The Common Core State Standards represent a big shift in instruction,” says Mrs. Joseph. “But together, students, teachers, parents and administration can realize the potential to provide the structure for students to develop critical-thinking, problem-solving and communication skills they will need for the future.”

“We have invested considerable time and talent into the development of these tools and professional development opportunities,” says Dr. Solis. “Our hope is that they will support teachers in their professional learning communities and create a greater dialog about the ways we can better serve California’s schools.”

Photo above:
~ Pictured above are (l-r) lead CCSS math instructional consultant Julie Joseph, ERS administrator Dr. Lupe Solis and lead CCSS ELA instructional consultant Charlene Stringham. For information on tools and trainings, visit
www.tcoe.org/CCSS, or call Dr. Lupe Solis at (559) 651-3831.

to Top of Page


Spotlight In July, Educational Resource Services will welcome its newest instructional consultant, Christine Roberts. Ms. Roberts has been working with the program on a part-time basis since the beginning of the year. The mathematics specialist has been assisting several Tulare County school districts with training and helping to develop implementation plans for their new common core standards-based instructional programs. Most recently, Ms. Roberts served as a math teacher at Washington Intermediate School in Dinuba.

Spotlight Teacher Catherine Smith registers Diego Torres and Ashley Claiborne of Oak Grove Elementary School (Visalia) at the new pastamobile competition, which was part of the annual Science Olympiad Division A event held April 21. Students in the new competition were challenged with building a vehicle entirely out of pasta and glue, and launching it down a ramp to measure the distance it traveled. Oak Grove students did well enough in the event’s 20 competitions to capture third place overall. First and second place honors were won by teams from Annie R. Mitchell Elementary in Visalia.

Spotlight Cris Reynoso (l) and Nick Orozco (r) led a team from Tipton School to capture first place in the dance category at the annual Friday Night Live Lip Sync Competition. The Tipton team, along with a team from Sundale Union, will be the opening acts at the annual Tulare County Support Staff Conference May 4. View the list of the
2012 Lip Sync winners.

Spotlight This fall, the La Sierra Independent Study Program will be offering a unique work/study program in partnership with the SEE Youth Program. Employment-age students will have the opportunity to customize their high school experience through classroom and online studies while working in positions obtained through the SEE Youth Program. For information, contact administrator Anjelica Zermeño at (559) 733-6963.

Spotlight In anticipation of its first graduating class, seniors at University Preparatory High School (UPHS) held their first prom in late March. Juniors Melissa Nichols and Alex Andrade pose outside the Golden Age of Hollywood-themed prom. UPHS, chartered by the Tulare County Office of Education and located on the College of the Sequoias campus since the 2009-2010 school year, will graduate 13 seniors May 29 at the Rotary Theater in Visalia.

to Top of Page

Gallery Notes

County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak was selected as the Administrator of the Year for the San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies for his support of history and civics education. Mr. Vidak was honored at a banquet in April and will be eligible to compete for the statewide administrator of the year award next year.

Seven elementary schools from Tulare County received the Bonner Center’s 2012 Virtues and Character Recognition Awards from California State University, Fresno for their exemplary character education programs. The honorees were Monte Vista Elementary (Porterville Unified), Springville Union School District, Sundale Union School District (Tulare), Tipton School District, and Tulare City School District’s Lincoln Elementary, Wilson Elementary and Pleasant Elementary. Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! Coordinator Kelley Petty, who serves on the Bonner Center Advisory Committee, reports that Tulare County schools have received a total of 58 awards since the program was founded in 1996.

This month, members of the Instructional Services Division will be presenting nearly 90 of the annual Torch Achievement Awards and Sustaining the Flame Awards to schools that demonstrated or sustained significant academic achievement growth. For a complete list of winners, visit

In April, a panel of education and community members met to review 38 applications submitted for the annual Excellence in Education Awards. Brian Hollingshead, principal at Tulare City School District’s Mission Valley Elementary School was selected Administrator of the Year. Cherí Barnes, lead personnel technician for the Tulare County Office of Education was chosen the School Employee of the Year, and Porterville High School band director Jim Kusserow was named the Teacher of the Year. All nominees, who represented Tulare County school districts, College of the Sequoias and Porterville College, will be honored at a breakfast event October 17.

to Top of Page

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

| Home Page | Site Index |

Please direct web site problems or comments to tcoeweb@tcoe.org.

Copyright © 2018, Tulare County Office of Education