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The News Gallery

March 2014

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, Kelley Petty, Donna Glassman-Sommer, Marvin Lopez, Sara Torabi, Elvira Barron, Michelle Lapadula and Karen Osborn.

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.

Tulare County Spelling Bee
New Tulare County Spelling Champion crowned
15th annual event attracts 237 spellers from 118 public and private schools

Tulare County Spelling Bee Using her finger to write out words on her palm, Eileen Xue calmly spelled her way to victory in the 15th Annual Tulare County Spelling Championship held February 26 at the Visalia Convention Center. Eileen, a sixth-grade student at Mission Valley Elementary in Tulare, out-spelled 236 other participants in grades 4-8 from 118 Tulare County public and private schools.

In the ninth round, Eileen spelled "sassafras" correctly, while her opponents Jeanette Padilla, a sixth-grader from Elbow Creek Elementary School (Visalia Unified), and Christian Blundell, an eighth-grader at St. Paul's School in Visalia, misspelled their words. According to the competition rules, Eileen had to spell another word successfully in the tenth round to become the champion - and she did so with the word "halal." Jeanette and Christian tied for second place in the competition, while Victoria Sarkisian, a seventh-grade student from Valley Oak Middle School (Visalia Unified) received third.

Tulare County Spelling Bee
As the Tulare County Spelling Champion, Eileen is eligible to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland May 25-31, thanks to the sponsorship she receives from Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register. Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register annually partner in the Tulare County Spelling Championship, which the national organization claims is the largest local competition in the nation.

Photos above:
~ This year's top spellers are (l-r) Victoria Sarkisian (third place), Eileen Xue (first place), and Jeanette Padilla and Christian Blundell (second place tie).
~ Tulare County Spelling Champion Eileen Xue successfully spelled "halal" to win the competition.
~ Off to Maryland — Event coordinator Nancy Bellin (l) will accompany winner Eileen Xue and her parents to the Scripps National Spelling Bee May 25. Also pictured is Kathy Forsythe (r), Ad Production Services Supervisor for the Visalia Times-Delta, which sponsors Tulare County students to attend the national competition.

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Two-county teacher recruitment fair March 29
Numerous Kings and Tulare count districts to hire teachers for 2014-15 school year

After many years of limited teacher recruitment, several districts in Kings and Tulare counties have come together to hold a Teacher Recruitment Fair this month. The Human Resources Division and the New Teacher Development Program have been working with districts in the two-county area to host an inclusive event on Saturday, March 29 at the Visalia Convention Center. Between 25 and 30 school districts are expected to participate with the intent of recruiting teachers for the 2014-2015 school year.

"With greater budgeting flexibility under the Local Control Funding Formula and with anticipated teacher retirements, many districts will be hiring for the fall," says John Rodriguez, director of the Human Resources Division. "There is a particular need for math, science, Language Arts and special education teachers."

Interested teacher candidates will need to apply online in order to receive an invitation to the event. Online applications will be pre-screened by New Teacher Development Program staff to determine eligibility. To begin the process, visit
www.tcoe.org/HR/TeacherRecruitmentFair. Eligible candidates include teachers who possess a Multiple Subject, Single Subject or Education Specialist credential, as well as candidates who are verified to complete one of these credentials prior to the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year. Candidates who plan to enter a district or university intern credential program for the 2014-15 academic year must provide a "letter of eligibility" from the intern program. Additionally, teachers who hold Multiple Subject, Single Subject or Education Specialist credentials from a state outside California are eligible to apply to attend the Fair.

Candidates who have not passed CBEST nor minimum required sections of CSET will not be eligible to attend this Teacher Recruitment Fair. For more information on the CBEST and CSET tests, visit www.ctcexams.nesinc.com. The Fair will run from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Candidates who have pre-registered and are eligible will be admitted at 8:30 a.m.

For more information, call Marvin Lopez at New Teacher Development Program at (559) 624-1035.

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Young Authors' Faire coming March 5-7
Over 330 books will be displayed, including the program's first-ever digital books

Young Authors Faire
What do teachers do at home? Kindergartners in Ms. Hardin's class at Hope Elementary School write about the possibilities in their book of the same title. To learn the answer to their question, the public is invited to read their book and hundreds more at the 22nd Annual Young Authors' Faire, scheduled for March 5-7.

This year, over 470 elementary and middle school students will display their writings at the Young Authors' Faire. The students, representing 23 Tulare County schools, worked alone or in groups to produce an astounding 330 books. The number of entries in the event is up over 75% from 2013. The books will be on display in the Multipurpose Room of the Tulare County Office of Education's Liberty Center, located at 11535 Avenue 264, Visalia.

"The Young Authors' Faire showcases and celebrates the creative endeavors of our students," says Shelley Chappell, Library Media Supervisor for Educational Resource Services. "The increase in this year's submissions demonstrates that encouraging the development of these skills is flourishing in our classrooms! Creativity and artistic expression is a key aspect of 21st century learning. Participating in the Young Authors' Faire is a way for students to develop these learning and innovation skills and to communicate their creativity, self-expression and originality through writing."

Students participating in the Young Authors' Faire program write, illustrate and bind traditional stories for the public to read. New this year is a digital book category. Students created digital books using Microsoft PowerPoint and incorporated hand-drawn and digital photography. Visitors to the event will be able to enjoy the digital books utilizing laptops set up around the room.

During the exhibition, the public is invited to read and comment on the books. An evening reception will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 5, so that the public can meet the young authors and celebrate their successes. Students will also have the opportunity to read their books aloud to the audience at the reception.

For more information about Young Authors' Faire, call Shelley Chappell or Sara Torabi at (559) 651-3031.

Photo above:
~ The Young Authors' Faire will feature 330 hand-mand and digital books this year at TCOE's Liberty Center March 5-7. The program helps students develop 21st century learning skills of creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication.

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Adapted P.E. leads one student to run again
Alta Vista student receives numerous Special Services to make remarkable recovery

Adapted P.E.
Recess at Alta Vista School is a sea of activity. Middle school students, full of energy, are shooting baskets, running and kicking balls. In the midst of all of this, eighth-grader Adriana Aleman walks the field and talks with her friends. As the recess period transitions into her physical education class, Adriana participates in all the activities, which include strengthening exercises such as planks, curl-ups and leg raises, followed by running.

She does all of the exercises beautifully — as well or better than her classmates. Although she's not the fastest, she runs with her classmates around Alta Vista's sports field. Adriana has made remarkable physical and academic progress since she began school at Alta Vista as a kindergartner. Prior to her first year of school, she contracted meningitis. She lost much of her speech and her ability to walk, and attended school in a wheelchair. According to doctors, her prognosis for recovery was slim.

By the time she was ready to graduate from kindergarten, she had progressed to a walker. Even at that young age, Adriana showed remarkable tenacity. "She didn't want to use a special pencil, because none of the other students were using them," reports Alta Vista special needs aide Judy Wilson. While she required more time to finish her lessons, Adriana has always been a diligent student. Her friend since kindergarten, Shawnee James, says, "She's just one of those people who won't give up."

Adapted P.E. TCOE Adapted Physical Education teacher Dan Maxey has supported Adriana's physical rehabilitation since kindergarten. He recalls the first year that they worked on standing and sitting. In subsequent years, Mr. Maxey and Adriana would take walks around campus with her walker - an exercise Ms. Wilson also used for one-on-one encouragement. By fifth grade, Mr. Maxey reports that Adriana was walking independently. In sixth grade, he introduced her to running, but cautioned Alta Vista P.E. teacher Carol Foster against involving her in anything that involved bouncing or catching. "The fact that she can now pass and catch a slow ball, surprises me even today," he says with a smile.

While Mr. Maxey worked on Adriana's mobility, retired Program Manager Scott Aldrich helped her regain her speech and language. Mr. Maxey, who has also retired from the Special Services Division, still works part time with Adriana and other students in the southern part of the county. Together with his colleague Earl Johnston, TCOE's Adapted P.E. teachers see over 50 students throughout the county.

Adapted P.E. Ms. Foster, who has had Adriana in her class for the past three years, reports that her success is due in part to her willingness to try new things. While other students in her physical education class break off to play hockey with plastic sticks and a ball, Adriana and her friend Shawnee use hockey sticks to pass the ball back and forth through a series of cones. "She has an amazing attitude," says Ms. Foster. "Through her perseverance, she has successfully strengthened her core and now has remarkable balance." Adriana's improved balance has served her well in recent years as she has gone with her classmates to SCICON, competed in the school's All American Challenge, which includes a series of academic and physical tests, and even joined a soccer team. She's also found balance in the classroom, keeping up with her classwork and reading very well.

Adriana says that she looks forward to attending Porterville High School next year with her friend Shawnee. Looking back at her time at Alta Vista, she says that her mom has been her inspiration. "She tells me I'm doing a great job, so that's what I tell myself," she says. "Don't quit. Don't quit."

TCOE Nurse Ana Borba, who serves Alta Vista School, credits Adriana's family, the many TCOE specialists, the culture of acceptance at Alta Vista and all its teachers and staff for her remarkable progress. "It really has been a team effort," Ms. Borba says. "We have all collaborated to give her the support she needs."

It is exactly that support combined with her inner strength that has prepared Adriana Aleman for any challenge.

Photos above:
~ Alta Vista student Adriana Aleman practices passing the ball through a series of cones with her friend Shawnee James. Adriana has made remarkable physical and academic progress thanks to the support of Special Services' Adapted P.E. and speech programs.
~ Adriana expertly performs core strengthening exercises with her classmates, followed by a run with a friend.

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Clear administrative credential program added
New Teacher Development Program authorized to provide Tier 2 administrative credentials

Last month, the Tulare County Office of Education was authorized by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing as an Administrative Clear Credential Induction Program. Administrators in Tulare and Kings counties who currently hold a preliminary administrative credential may attend the newly created iLead Program, which is part of the New Teacher Development Program, to obtain their clear credential.

The two-year program is intended to support practicing new administrators on their path to obtaining a clear, or Tier 2, credential. All program participants will be assigned a supporting mentor for the duration of the program. Initially, the mentor will work with the administrator and his or her employer to develop an Individualized Plan, which will identify areas for professional growth and development. The purpose of the plan is to engage the candidate in a reflective practice that will further develop his or her leadership skills and positively affect student achievement.

"Research tells us that leadership is second only to classroom instruction in influencing student achievement," says Donna Glassman-Sommer, New Teacher Development Program administrator. "While our schools are doing a great job of improving classroom instruction and student achievement, we are excited to train new administrators with effective leadership practices to meet the unique needs of 21st century learners in Central Valley schools."

The program is presently recruiting mentors who will receive training to purposefully support program participants. A series of information meetings will be held in April for interested candidates, with an enrollment process to begin in May. "Staff development will be tailored to individual participant needs with essential sessions designed to help administrators further develop their instructional leadership skills," says Ms. Glassman-Sommer.

For more information on the iLead Program, contact Donna Glassman-Sommer at (559) 730-2549, or Jesse Coronado at (559) 730-9956.

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Spotlight On Saturday, April 12, the Connections for Quality Care/Early Childhood Education Program will present its annual Child Care Conference, this year entitled Today’s Readers are Tomorrow’s Leaders. The conference, which is designed for early childhood educators and administrators, will feature Mike Longoria, a.k.a. Dr. Mike. With over 23 years of early childhood education experience as a teacher, Head Start administrator, university professor, curriculum developer and recording artist, Dr. Mike will present on how music and movement can have a positive impact in developing school readiness skills in young children. The deadline to register for the conference is March 28. For more details on conference presenters and activities, visit

Spotlight Former CHARACTER COUNTS! Coordinator John Forenti is pictured with County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak at the national Character Development Seminar held last month at the Tulare County Office of Education. Mr. Forenti received a standing ovation as Mr. Vidak recognized him for his 20 years of service in the field of character education. Since his retirement from TCOE, Mr. Forenti has worked for the Josephson Institute of Ethics, creators of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Program, to train educators across the nation.

Spotlight Choices School Community Liaisons Gene Mendes (l) and Tony Cavanagh (r) pose with members of the Springville Union School team that took first place in the annual Anti-Tobacco Challenge Bowl. The team's coach is Elizabeth Sanders. The Springville team narrowly defeated Palo Verde Union School to claim the championship. The game show-style competition, which attracted 25 teams, tests the sixth-grade participants’ knowledge of the tobacco industry and the harmful effects of tobacco use.

Spotlight Sitting before Tulare County Superior Court Presiding Judge Lloyd Hicks at the Mock Trial finals last month, Redwood High School’s Silver Team (right) successfully defeated challenger Tulare Union High School to earn a spot at the state competition this month in Riverside. This is the second year in a row that a team from Redwood will represent Tulare County at the state finals. The Redwood defense attorneys pictured are Ali Lokhandwala (standing), Booker Crisp, and Zackery Michaelson.

Spotlight For the third year in a row, Harmony Magnet Academy captured the overall title in the Tulare County Academic Decathlon. After winning the small school division title, the Strathmore-based high school emerged victorious over large school champion Granite Hills High School. As the overall winner, Harmony Magnet earned the right to compete in the state finals this month in Sacramento. Harmony Magnet team members include David Dunn, Scott Noble, Eva Salas, Katherine Scott, Kisha Thayapran and Lorena Vargas. The team’s coach is John DeNicola.

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Gallery Notes

This month, Read for Life, the local family-based literacy program, will hold a book drive on the Visalia campus of College of the Sequoias (COS). The public is encouraged to drop off new and gently used children’s books between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on March 21 at COS’s circular entrance on Mooney Blvd. To aid in the book drive, local television station ABC30, their parent organization The Walt Disney Company, along with First Book, a national organization which provides books to children from low-income families, will donate 10,000 books to Read for Life for distribution to Tulare County children. For information, call Read for Life at (559) 625-3433.

Video entries for the 2014 Slick Rock Student Film Festival are due before midnight March 31. Middle and high school students living in Kern, Kings, Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Merced or Mariposa counties may enter videos in 21 categories. Visit
www.slickrockfestival.org for information on film categories, deadlines and the awards ceremony.

This month, the Peña Planetarium will add a second program to each of its Friday evening public showings scheduled for March 7 and 21. The shows begin at 7:00 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., respectively. Admission to each show is just $4 per adult and $3 per child. Visitors can choose to see one or both shows. For a schedule of programs, visit www.tcoe.org/planetarium.

Visitors to the Burrel Avenue office in Visalia this month can enjoy over 100 drawings, paintings and sculptures in the “Best of Show” Student Art Exhibition. The exhibition, which draws from two previous shows and features student works from throughout the county, is open Monday - Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A public reception honoring the artists will be held in the Education Center from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on March 21.

TCOE will be sponsoring its Annual Spring Blood Drive on Tuesday, April 1 in memory of Marie Holguin. The drive will take place from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at both Doe Avenue and Burrel Avenue locations. Contact Jeanne Croson at jeannec@tcoe.org, or your blood drive committee member to schedule your appointment.

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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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