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The News Gallery

September 2012

View and print a pdf version of this News Gallery.
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Marlene Moreno, Jennifer Fisher, Priscilla Soliz, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Jane Mitchell, Randy Wallace, Jaime Burnitzki, Connie Smith, Angel Vazquez, Kelley Petty and Eloise Martinez.

The News Gallery is published monthly with the exception of double issues printed for July/August and December/January. To receive the News Gallery, visit www.tcoe.org/GetTheGallery, or contact Jennifer Fisher at jenniferf@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172.

School-to-Career links learning and work
School-to-Career links learning and work
School-based projects bring business and community resources together for students

This summer, a number of Tulare County students received valuable construction experience thanks to Randy Wallace of the School-to-Career Program. Mr. Wallace was able to assemble business partners and leverage several small funding sources to create employment opportunities that made a big impact on the students and their schools. “We are able to do some amazing projects thanks to business and community partners who are invested in supporting Tulare County young people,” he says.

School-to-Career links learning and work At VTEC High School in Visalia, a TCOE Youth Connect Grant and a Step Up Service Learning project grant were combined with support from College of the Sequoias. Students were given the task of designing, creating and installing an outdoor processing kitchen, which included a mosaic mural depicting a “growing day” on the walls of the new College of the Sequoias Humanities Garden. “The results were amazing,” says VTEC principal Vicki Porter. “Our students not only earned some money, they learned career skills and provided a useful service to the community.”

In Porterville, students from Harmony Magnet Academy and Porterville High School participated in the Solar Science Summer Camp. The program, which was a partnership between the School-to-Career Program, the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board and solar systems manufacturer SunPower, provided students a mix of lecture, hands-on laboratory, and field visits in the emerging solar industry.” For more information on business/school partnerships, contact Randy Wallace at (559) 733-6101.

Photos above:
~ Porterville-area students worked with solar systems maker SunPower to learn the science and engineering of solar systems.
~ VTEC High School students created an outdoor kitchen with a mosaic depicting a “growing day.”

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Award-winning newsletter to go paperless
News Gallery receives Award of Excellence from School Public Relations Association

Award-winning newsletter to go paperless The News Gallery, the Tulare County Office of Education’s newsletter, won an Award of Excellence this summer from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). The Award of Excellence is NSPRA’s highest honor. “I’m delighted the News Gallery was honored because it reflects our staff and the amazing work they do for the students of Tulare County,” says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

This issue of the News Gallery will be the last issue printed and distributed in the traditional fashion. Beginning September 30, all TCOE employees, district superintendents and principals will receive an electronic version via e-mail. Readers will have the opportunity to read it online, or print a PDF version. For employees who do not have a TCOE e-mail, or for other district personnel who would like to receive the News Gallery electronically, visit
www.tcoe.org/GetTheGallery to sign up.

Photo above:
~ (l-r) News Gallery editor Rob Herman and Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak share the award given by the National School Public Relations Association. Beginning September 30, the News Gallery will be e-mailed to readers. Educators who are not currently receiving the newsletter can sign up to receive it at www.tcoe.org/GetTheGallery.

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Assessment maps future success for students
Tool will help Early Childhood teachers pinpoint instruction for preschoolers

The Early Childhood Education Program (formerly known as the Child Care Educational Program) has a new, reliable assessment tool to help teachers pinpoint their instruction to meet the needs of their students. The Early Growth Indicator Benchmark Assessment (EGIBA) was piloted in 13 Child Care centers this past year. English Language Arts Instructional Consultant Jane Mitchell conducted a pre-test assessment of over 700 preschool children beginning in July 2011, with the post-test assessment given in February 2012. The purpose of the EGIBA was to assess academic growth of preschool students and demonstrate their comprehension of beginning concepts in literacy and math, including phonological awareness, letter knowledge, vocabulary, and oral language skills.

“The assessment gives our teachers a road map for delivering specific instruction to best meet our students’ needs,” says Connie Smith, administrator for the Early Childhood Education Program (ECEP). “By February, ECEP teachers will again administer the assessment to some of their students, and based on the results, plan rigorous instruction that will prepare our children for the concepts they will learn in kindergarten.”

The assessment, written by Houghton-Mifflin (which also created the curriculum utilized in ECEP centers) measures a select set of preschool skills that have been shown to be strong predictors of academic success many years later. The assessment was given in the child’s dominant first language, either Spanish or English, to ensure the test measured concept and not language. Ms. Mitchell reports that students showed significant growth in listening comprehension, number recognition, oral counting and letter recognition, with the largest gain realized in word knowledge (an increase from the 20th to 55th percentile).

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19th annual event celebrates teachers
Teachers from some of Tulare County's small schools to be honored this year

One in a million!” says Springville Union Superintendent Connie Owens, describing Lisa Coorough, a teacher at the school. Ms. Coorough has been selected to be honored as the Middle School Educator of the Year, along with Elementary School Educator of the Year Janelle von Helf, and High School Educator of the Year Stephen Reid. The honors are part of the annual Confucius’ Birthday/Educators of the Year Celebration. Now in its 19th year, the teacher recognition program, co-hosted by the Central California Chinese Cultural Center and the Tulare County Office of Education, recognizes an elementary, middle and high school teacher on the birthday of Confucius — an occasion Chinese people around the world often use to celebrate teachers.

The three educators will be honored September 27 at an event hosted by the Chinese Cultural Center. “The remarkable love and dedication our winners have for their work is making a huge difference in the lives of the students they serve,” says County Superintendent Jim Vidak.

Elementary School Educator of the Year Janelle von Helf Elementary school educator Janelle von Helf is a first grade teacher at Sequoia Union School District, the same school she attended as a child. Superintendent Larry Lakey says, “Janelle is the epitome of an outstanding teacher. She has students using critical thinking skills, high frequency words and, by end of the year, they are writing very well.” Mr. Lakey also praised her student engagement. “Her classroom is alive with energy and enthusiasm,” he says. Ms. von Helf appreciates Sequoia Union’s small school setting and the opportunity she has to watch students grow. “My reward is seeing their accomplishments over the years and how good they feel about themselves,” she says.

Middle School Educator of the Year Lisa Coorough Middle school educator Lisa Coorough is an English and History teacher at Springville Union School District. She is a graduate of Springville School who returned as a teacher, having earned a Master of Arts degree in education at Fresno Pacific University. Ms. Coorough is her school’s CHARACTER COUNTS! chairperson, student council advisor and assistant principal. “I spend a lot of time preparing students as young as 7th grade for college,” she says. “So when a former student wrote in her college application essay that she wanted to be an elementary school teacher at Springville School because of the influence her teacher had on her, that was the greatest reward I could receive.”

High School Educator of the Year Stephen Reid High School educator Stephen Reid has taught mathematics at La Sierra Military Academy in Visalia for seven years. He, too, appreciates his school’s small size, which has allowed him to support students from seventh grade through their senior year. “It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to work with students over many years,” he says. His principal, Anjelica Zermeño, says that he has a special gift for building positive relationships with students and making learning relevant. “Stephen is always willing to go above and beyond for students to see that they succeed. He is also an instructional leader on campus and supports his colleagues in the same way,” she says.

For more information about the Educators of the Year awards program, call Marlene Moreno at (559) 733-6302.

Photos above:
~ Elementary Educator of the Year Janelle von Helf; Middle School Educator of the Year Lisa Coorough; and High School Educator of the Year Stephen Reid.

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Spotlight The Tulare County Office of Education begins the new school year with three new leaders of its four divisions (l-r): John Rodriguez, director for the Human Resources Division; Linda McKean, assistant superintendent of the Special Services Division; and Dr. Guadalupe Solis, assistant superintendent of Instructional Services Division.

Spotlight Tony Velásquez was recently selected as administrator for the Migrant Education Region VIII Program. Previously, he served as principal of Pixley Middle School and Steve Garvey Middle School (Lindsay). A former migrant student and graduate of Orosi High School, Mr. Velásquez looks forward to providing exceptional service to the students and families of Tulare and Kings counties.

Spotlight Educational Resource Services welcomed three new instructional consultants this summer (l-r): Javier Garcia, Jen Francone, and Laura Voshall (pictured with ERS’s new Student Support & Academic Services Administrator Charlene Stringham). Javier Garcia, a Mathematics Staff Development & Curriculum Specialist, will be responsible for professional development, working with schools in Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties. He will also help in creating mathematics content for the new TCOE web repository. Prior to joining ERS, Mr. Garcia served as a middle school mathematics teacher with Dinuba Unified. Jen Francone will serve as an English Language Arts Staff Development & Curriculum Specialist, with responsibility for staff development training and the use of state-adopted programs. Ms. Francone is a former classroom teacher, curriculum coach and assistant principal. She also serves as adjunct faculty for Fresno Pacific University. Laura Voshall will also serve as an English Language Arts Staff Development & Curriculum Specialist, having taught bilingual education at the elementary and high school level. Most recently, Ms. Voshall was a Title I Resource Teacher for grades 6-8 for the Tulare City School District.

Spotlight This summer, the Choices Program, in partnership with ERS, lead a week-long training for after school program staff. The training covered topics on program safety, the integration of the new Common Core State Standards with after school instruction, and the use of technology. Students in the LEGO STEM Robotics class spent the entire week learning to program the machines for use with students in their programs.

Spotlight Lead teacher Kurt Quint and Court and Community School Program Manager Angel Vazquez (l-r) stand in front of the new Superior Community School in Tulare. Completed this summer, Superior Community School was constructed one block south of the old school.

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Gallery Notes

This month, middle and high schools from throughout Tulare County have a chance to participate in the 2012-13 Step Up Youth Challenge. A total of 20 middle school and 10 high school spots are available for the seven-month, service learning-based program designed to create projects which positively impact school culture and community. Participating schools will have the opportunity to show how their projects made a positive difference in a competition for grants totaling $15,000 for each school category. Reservations are being accepted on a first-come basis prior to the September 12 Advisor Training. For information, visit
www.tcoe.org/StepUp, or call Tulare County Board of Supervisors representatives Allison Pierce or Tammie Weyker at (559) 636-5000.

The Theatre Company’s On Stage Program has two wonderful productions available for schools this school year — Disney’s The Aristocats Kids and Alice in Wonderland, Jr. On Stage is an after-school program that helps schools prepare for an on-site theatrical production in only two weeks. Each musical comes complete with props, costumes, sets and a talented director to oversee the production — all for a reasonable fee. For more information, call Brian Roberts at (559) 651-1482.

The Choices Program, in partnership with Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency, is planning a big Red Ribbon Week Kick-Off event at the Visalia Convention Center on Saturday, October 20 from 12:00 - 6:00 p.m. The no-cost event, which will feature special speakers and entertainment, hands-on activities, and live art demonstrations, is an opportunity for families to explore the many positive opportunities for the youth of the Valley. For more information, call Al Rodriguez at (559) 651-0155, ext. 3619.

Nominations for the annual Kids of Character recognition program will be accepted beginning Tuesday, September 4. Teachers, family and community members may recognize a Tulare County student (grades K-12) for their outstanding character by visiting www.tcoe.org/KidsofCharacter. The students nominated will be honored during CHARACTER COUNTS! Week, October 21-27.

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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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