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The News Gallery

June 2013

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, Lorena White, Shelly DiCenzo, Norma Erwin, Paula Terrill, Glenn Williams, Beth Olshewsky, Linda Horsting, Michelle Lapadula and Brian Conway.

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.

Robot Riot
New annual technology-based event launched
Robot Riot challenges students to utilize science, math, engineering and technology skills

Left, left, right, right, left, left, right right. Students participating in the first annual Robot Riot last month were challenged to program their LEGO Mindstorm robots to navigate a wooden maze in a race against the clock. Held Saturday, May 11, Robot Riot attracted nearly 100 students from elementary, middle and high schools in Tulare, Kern and Fresno counties.

Robot Riot Tensions were high as robots battled against each other in Tug-o-War and Sumo competitions. Students tested their programming skills in competitions such as the Light Sensor Course, which required robots to follow a meandering white line on the floor utilizing their optical sensors. The event also included races - both fast and slow. The goal of the slow-motion Turtle Race was to design a robot that would achieve the slowest continuous time traveled over five feet.

At the end of the day, ribbons were awarded to students in each of the seven competitions. Students from Linwood Elementary (Visalia), Conyer HEART After School Program (Visalia), La Joya Middle School (Visalia), and Tehachapi High School were the top prize recipients.

Robot Riot joins a growing number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) student events including CyberQuest, Science Fair and Science Olympiad, Math Super Bowl, Expanding Your Horizons, Physics Day and Slick Rock Student Film Festival.

To support teachers and students interested in utilizing LEGO robots for fun and instruction, Educational Resource Services is offering a LEGO Robotics Summer Workshop July 17-19. For more information, call Glenn Williams or Charlene Stringham at (559) 651-3031.

Photos above:
~ Students prepare their robots for battle in the Sumo Bot competition. The object of the event is to push one’s competitor outside the circle.
~ Students inspect an ultra slow-moving robot in the Turtle Race.

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Special Services honor Clarey, Daniel
Teachers, parents, administrators recognized for service to children with special needs

Special Services awards
For her dedication to connecting with each of her students on an individual basis and unlocking their potential, teacher Barbara Clarey has received the annual Brent Rast Award from the Special Services Division. Named in memory of Brent Rast, a Tulare County Office of Education teacher for students with severe needs, the award honors teachers who possess his leadership and vision qualities.

The award was presented at the annual Community Advisory Council (CAC) luncheon, co-hosted by the countywide Directors of Special Education (DOSE) and the Superintendents Governance Committee. Program Manager Jill Santivanez surprised Mrs. Clarey with the award, calling her to the stage before a large audience of administrators, teachers and parents. "Barbara seeks the highest standards for her students to achieve and meets the needs of every student that is fortunate enough to be in her classroom," she said.

Special Services award Barbara Clarey began teaching for TCOE in August 1999 at Linwood Elementary. In 2000, she transferred to F.J. White Learning Center in Woodlake where she has a classroom of elementary-age students. She has enjoyed the Woodlake class and has appreciated the support of school staff, the parents and the community. Her students stay with her for up to seven years before they transition to a middle school program.

"I treat each student individually, challenging them to do more because I know they are capable," she says. "I find that if they are challenged, then the behavior issues tend to go away." She is quick to add, "Of course, I couldn't do this without the help of my terrific aides Caroline Salazar and Jessie Gomez." In her colorful classroom, Mrs. Clarey moves from task to task with great energy and humor, while maintaining her focus on the students she is instructing. "The challenge of every special education teacher is to get to know each student and their interests," Mrs. Clarey says. "Those interests can be the key to unlocking their learning and the trigger that shows you how much they know." Evidence of her success in unlocking this potential can be seen in numerous former students who are now doing amazing things at Woodlake High School.

Special Services award At the CAC luncheon, the annual Linda Hess Award, which recognizes an exceptional parent of a student with special needs, was also presented. This year's recipient was Nancy Daniel, the proud parent of a freshman student at Lindsay High School. Ms. Daniel's son is a member of the Green Zone Program - the partnership program between the district and TCOE's Behavioral Health Services Program.

Lindsay Unified director of student services Suzzane Terrill praised Mrs. Daniel for her commitment to her son's education saying, "Nancy stopped working in order to be available to receive and respond to the school's phone calls, attend meetings, and provide support for her son and his network of service providers, teachers, and administrators. She actively participated in the multiple revisions of her son's individualized education program (IEP) based on data collection and evidence-based practices. Holding onto the dream that one day her son would graduate high school with a diploma, Nancy Daniel persevered."

Despite the challenges, Mrs. Daniel's son continues to make academic and social-emotional progress. She continues to be an advocate for her son and partner with the IEP team to overcome the stigma of mental illness. He is having a successful freshman year at Lindsay High School and plans to go out for the football team in the fall. Most importantly, he is on track to graduate with a diploma.

Photos above:
~ Barbara Clarey was selected as the recipient of the annual Brent Rast Award, given each year to an exemplary teacher of the severely handicapped. Since 2000, she has worked with Woodlake students in her classroom at F.J. White Learning Center. (top 2 photos)
~ Nancy Daniel, parent of a Lindsay High School student, received the annual Linda Hess Award, an honor for exemplary parent involvement in support of Special Education. (lower photo)

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2013 Excellence in Education winners selected
Administrators, teachers and school employees celebrated in annual awards program

Last month, County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak visited three Tulare County educators, surprising them with the news that they were winners in the annual Excellence in Education Awards program. The winners of the 2013 awards are Luis Castellanoz (Administrator of the Year), Susan Burley (Teacher of the Year) and Gail Inman (School Employee of the Year).

Excellence in Education awards
The Excellence in Education Awards program, now celebrating its 19th year, honors “the best of the best” in the three educational categories. A total of 34 nominations were received this year from Tulare County school districts, the College of the Sequoias and Porterville College. Each nomination was reviewed and scored individually by members of the selection committee. “The winners are people who are committed to excellence in their respective areas of education,” says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “Each winner has gone ‘above and beyond’ in their educational careers, as well as their service to their communities.”

Excellence in Education awards
Administrator of the Year Luis Castellanoz is superintendent for the Tulare City School District. Mr. Castellanoz’s career in education spans 38 years. In that time, he has served as a second-grade teacher, a migrant education resource teacher, a principal, an administrator and – for the past four years – as superintendent of the Tulare City School District (TCSD). The majority of his career has been spent at TCSD, including 22 years as assistant superintendent of personnel.

For 10 years early in his career, Mr. Castellanoz worked for the Tulare County Office of Education in the Migrant Education Program. The son of migrant farm workers who raised 16 children, Mr. Castellanoz served several summers as the lead Migrant Education summer program teacher – working with students to advance their academic skills prior to the fall semester. Nominators describe Mr. Castellanoz as “steadfast,” “thoughtful” and “caring.” Melissa Janes, president of the Tulare City School Board, praised Mr. Castellanoz’s leadership “to positively weather the economic recession and unprecedented funding reductions allowing for a continuous quality program with no reduction or disruption of ‘direct’ instructional services.” Luis Castellanoz has been a champion for technology in his district, advocating for interactive Promethean boards in all schools. He is also an active community member, working to organize the annual Special Olympics event in Tulare, serving on the board of The Creative Center (a day-training center for adults with disabilities), and helping to secure a grant for the Tulare Community Health Clinic to fund a mobile health clinic. The recipient of many honors and awards, Luis Castellanoz is a recent recipient of the Cesar Chavez Service with a Heart Award.

Teacher of the Year Susan Burley is the music director at Cherry Avenue Middle School in the Tulare City School District. “Passion” is the word that nominators used repeatedly to describe her. The music director for Cherry Avenue Middle School in Tulare for the past 38 years, Mrs. Burley is responsible for the school's marching band, concert bands, jazz band, orchestra, drum line, talent show and student drama productions. Despite all her responsibilities, her love for students and her efforts to see them develop into successful young adults has been the key to creating a successful music program that “sound years beyond their junior high talent,” said Cherry Avenue Principal Greg Anderson.

In addition to all of her school responsibilities, she is a pillar of Tulare’s arts community. Mrs. Burley is a founding board member of the Encore Theatre Company. The 35-year-old community theater program now includes Encore Kids and Second Stages – theater performance workshops for elementary, middle and high school students. Mrs. Burley is also the founder and director of the Mid Valley Jazz Festival for 35 years.

“It is so gratifying to see an educator who continues to bring the same energy and creativity to her classroom now that she brought so many years ago,” said former student Nancy Gregg. Tulare County Board of Education trustee Pat Hillman said, “She often has three or four projects going at once, but because she is a very organized planner, they all come to fruition and she is on to the next set of tasks.”

Thanks to the influence of her parents – particularly her father who played trumpet and baritone – Mrs. Burley, her sisters and her brother all became music educators.

Gail Inman, a secretary/bookkeeper in Porterville Unified’s central office is the School Employee of the Year. Ms. Inman has been an employee of the Porterville Unified School District for 39 years. Porterville Unified Superintendent Dr. John Snavely said that Ms. Inman is a model of “lifelong learning and service to the community” who goes “way above and beyond” in all aspects of her personal and professional life.

As secretary to the Director of Programs & Assessments, Ms. Inman was lauded by her nominators for her ability to walk administrators through the maze of regulations surrounding federal and state categorical funding. She has had considerable responsibilities for various databases and software systems, including Edusoft, the district’s testing software. She currently serves as liaison between Porterville Unified and the feeder districts whose students attend high school in Porterville, managing data on incoming students.

In the community, Ms. Inman has an extensive list of service. She has coordinated Farm Day at the Porterville Fair for 13 years, working with high school students to develop exhibits for 2,000 second-grade students to enjoy. She has also served on the Butterfield Stage Days organizational committee, which created an Education Day for 2,000 fourth-grade students to learn about a segment of California history. She also serves with the Backcountry Horsemen of California, the Springville Rodeo Board, the Giant Sequoia National Monument Association, the Kings-Tulare County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Mounted Search and Rescue Volunteer Unit.

In addition to the winners, two finalists were selected in each of the three categories. This year's finalists are:

Administrator of the Year
Enid Brinkman, Credentials & Retirement Supervisor, Tulare County Office of Education
Lynnelle Grumbles, Director, Operations/Nutritional Services, Visalia Unified School District

Teacher of the Year
Nicole Frazier, Biology and AVID Teacher, Woodlake Union High School
Kevin Koelewyn, Agriculture Educator, Tulare Joint Union High School District

School Employee of the Year
Robin Berger, Office Manager, Divisadero Middle School, Visalia Unified School District
Wesann Moran, School Secretary/Instructional Aide, Community Day School, Tulare City School District

Award recipients, finalists and nominees will be honored at a recognition breakfast on October 15, 2013, at the Visalia Convention Center. Event attendees will enjoy a video highlighting the work of the three winners.

“We greatly appreciate the support of our partners in this event – the Educational Employees Credit Union, its President/CEO Beth Dooley, and board of directors,” says Jim Vidak. “Together, we have the privilege of recognizing the many talented men and women who devote their lives to educating children and young adults in Tulare County.”

For more information, contact Marlene Moreno, Administrative Assistant, at (559) 733-6302.

Photos above:
~ (l-r) County Superintendent Jim Vidak, Teacher of the Year Susan Burley, Tulare City School Board president Melissa Janes and Administrator of the Year Luis Castellanoz, district superintendent.
~ Mr. Vidak congratulates School Employee of the Year Gail Inman (center). Also pictured is Porterville Unified Assistant Superintendent, Instructional Services Dr. Val Staley.

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Spotlight The 10th Annual Slick Rock Student Film Festival was held May 18. Nearly 200 videos were submitted by middle and high school students from public and private schools in Tulare, Fresno, Madera and Kings counties. El Diamante High School (Visalia) Junior Bianca Pattani (left) was the winner of the Best Overall Award for her Public Service Announcement (PSA) Good Vibes. She also won the general high school PSA category for her other video Optimism. Bianca is pictured with El Diamante students Courtney Berk and Austin Smith, who won the top prize in the Tulare County “Come Play” tourism category.

Spotlight Caught on the red carpet before the awards ceremony were Festival coordinator Adam Valencia and ABC30 News reporter Jessica Peres. ABC30 was a major sponsor along with the Tulare & Kings Counties Suicide Prevention Task Force. Winning videos can be seen at

Spotlight Enid Brinkman, credentials and retirement supervisor for the Human Resources Division, was selected as one of two finalists in the Excellence in Education Administrator of the Year category. Ms. Brinkman was commended by her nominators for her expertise, which has been used statewide by other educational agencies.

Spotlight (l-r) Special Services program manager Jill Santivanez, Public Information Officer Robert Herman, County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and Educational Resource Services administrator Charlene Stringham are pictured at the annual regional Association of California School Administrator (ACSA) awards luncheon. Ms. Santivanez, Mr. Herman and Ms. Stringham were winners of Administrators of the Year Awards for ACSA Region XI, which includes Tulare, Kings, Kern, Inyo and Mono counties. Mr. Herman was also selected Confidential Manager of the Year for ACSA at the state level.

Spotlight For the first time, the Battle of the Books competition included both a middle school category and a new upper elementary school category. The Readers of the Lost Ark team from Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center captured first place in the middle school category, while the Eagles 1 team from Linwood Elementary (Visalia) won the elementary school contest. Teams prepared for the Battle of the Books by reading from a list of books distributed at the beginning of the school year. At the competition, teams participated in a variety of quizzes on the books they've read to earn points toward the championship.

Spotlight Over 1,000 children and adults visited the first annual Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros event held April 27 in Mooney Grove Park. Each child had the opportunity to take home a new book, plus enjoy hands-on activities and performances from young people involved in local mariachi, roping, and Ballet Folklorico groups.

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Gallery Notes

On June 12, the Human Resources Division will honor employees who have retired during the 2012-2013 school year. The annual Retirement Reception will be held at 5:00 p.m. in the Education Center, 2637 West Burrel Avenue. This year, nearly 50 teachers, support staff and administrators have retired. The 2012-2013 retiring honorees are:
Imelda Aguilar, Margaret Avila, Magdalena Balderas, Bill Bingaman, Nancy Bolton, Rachel Borbolla, Tom Cemo, Minnie Chase, Blanca Chavez, Grace Darr, Willie Dreith, Josie Gonzales, Dorothy Guarisco, Carol Gutierrez, Celia Gutierrez, Janet Hettinger, Kathy Ingoldsby, Joan Ishida, Lucy Kunken, Luis Leal, Diane Lucero, Mary Ann Luna, Lynda Marvin, Kevin Matteson, Olga Olivas, Donna Orozco, Greg Owens, Ofelia Palomares, Trina Quintana, Vickie Ridgeway, Elizabeth Rivas, Mery Rodriguez, Melanie Romero, Carol Rosenfield, Marie Rubalcaba, Anita Salinas, Elvira Santamaria, Anita Solis, Priscilla Solis, Kathleen Streeper, Beverly Surber, Sara Sutton, Gloria Trevino, Tim Tuite, Fernando Velazquez, Marilyn Willers, and Glenn Williams.

May was Mental Health Awareness month and TCOE Behavioral Health Services (BHS) received commendation from both the Tulare County Board of Supervisors and the California State Assembly for their work in serving children and their families throughout Tulare County with evidenced-based, behaviorally-focused treatment services that have improved the quality of mental health services. Through the efforts of TCOE BHS, May 9 was declared Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in both Tulare County and the State of California. BHS Administrator Dr. Eileen Whelan estimates that the program will double its service to Tulare County students in the next school year.

Last month, the Tulare County Hispanic Leadership Network honored six exemplary Tulare County school administrators in its First Annual Administrators of the Year Awards Program. Among the honorees from the Tulare County Office of Education were Educational Resource Services administrator Charlene Stringham and Choices Prevention Programs Program Director Adam Valencia.

County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak will host the annual Summer Institute for Tulare County School Administrators on June 19 at the Edison Energy Education Center in Tulare. Open to superintendents, district administrators and principals, Summer Institute will feature nationally-known comedian and author Judy Carter, plus numerous breakout sessions on school finance, instruction and legal topics. The deadline to register is June 14. More information 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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