The News Gallery
May 2014View and print a pdf version of this News Gallery.
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
Contributors to this issue:
Marlene Moreno, Jennifer Fisher, Lorena White, Shelly DiCenzo, Kathleen Green, Connie Smith, Linda Lanting, Jeanne Croson, Jill Santivanez and Brooke Bennett.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 733-6172.
New data team supports early childhood instruction
Early Childhood Education tailors instruction to each child based on data analysis
Zaylie Botello, a preschooler at Early Childhood Education's (ECE) North Visalia Center, excitedly announces that she wants to read books in kindergarten. Teacher assistant Ninfa Guerrero asked students at her table to illustrate something for their book project that they want to do when they reach kindergarten next year. Zaylie begins to draw tiny books she imagines that she will read in kindergarten. "This is a letter book, and this one is a book about animals," she says pointing to her illustrations.
Teacher Cassandra Greer explains that students work on school readiness goals as part of the federal Head Start program's directive to prepare students for success in kindergarten. The weekly goal that students were working on at the Visalia center was called "growing and changing" and it is designed to help children see how they continue to develop new abilities.
To ensure students in both home-based and center-based settings are meeting these goals, Early Childhood Education has recently developed a data analysis team, led by Jordan Davis. Using the California Department of Education assessment tool known as the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP), teachers and home educators assess children three times during the year - the initial assessment occurring within the first 30 days of school. DRDP contains 42 measures ranging from a child's sense of self and memory knowledge to math operations and letter/word knowledge.
"What used to take months of analysis by an outside agency now is done quickly," says Visalia supervisor Margie Chavez. "This enables staff to determine where each child is developmentally and then to adjust instruction to meet their needs." ECE programs also use the Brigance assessment tool, which is widely used in special education. "In the event that one of our students requires special services, special education teachers appreciate that we use this tool and provide so much documentation," adds Ms. Chavez.
Ms. Chavez also reports that the center has reached out to neighboring Crowley Elementary for support. "I approached Principal Jesse Sanchez about visiting our center to observe our instruction," she says. "He was so welcoming that he sent an entire team of teachers and support staff to observe our practices and to meet with our parents to talk to them about what their children can expect in kindergarten." Crowley teachers were delighted to see the center's Focus Wall, which contains the School Readiness Goal and language and mathematics tools.
"Our goal is to increase the level of learning in both center-based and home-based programs," says ECE Administrator Connie Smith. To complement the program's new data analysis capabilities, Mrs. Smith has instituted a professional development series entitled "Inspire Saturdays." Modeling ECE trainings after the professional development offerings of Educational Resource Services, Mrs. Smith notes that the staff has embraced the opportunity to increase their instructional skills. ECE is working toward meeting the federal Head Start standard requiring bachelor's degrees for all teachers and associate's degrees for all assistants. "The process of obtaining their degrees has certainly helped them grow and be better prepared to serve our children," says Mrs. Smith.
A consistent element of ECE's success has been its Program Policy Council (PPC), which includes parent members. "We are cultivating leaders," says Connie Smith. "Through the PPC, our parents are contributing to the program in significant ways." Recently when ECE acquired iPads for every center, parents were the ones who researched and recommended the educational apps that the program later evaluated and purchased for the tablets. "They are learning leadership skills they can use as their children get older, as well as apply in their communities. It's also encouraging to see that fathers are equally engaged."
In a recent report of DRDP results presented to the Tulare County Board of Education, students showed gains of 30 percent or more in six key developmental measures between the first and second tests taken a few months apart. "Early Childhood Education is a statewide model of instructional excellence," says Jim Vidak, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools. "Through data support, staff professional development and parent involvement, Tulare County children are well prepared to enter kindergarten."
~ Children at Early Childhood Education program's North Visalia Child Development Center work with teacher Cassandra Greer on math concepts in order to prepare for kindergarten next year.
~ Participants in a Home Base inservice training work on designing "Focus Walls" for their families to use at home.
~ Zaylie Botello smiles as she thinks about all the books she will learn to read in kindergarten. Zaylie and the other children at the North Visalia Child Development Center work daily on School Readiness Goals designed to prepare them for success in kindergarten.
Art used to reduce stigma of mental illness
Students prepare artwork for RESTATE exhibition, reflect on mental health issues
Woodlake Union High School junior Natalia Frias is in her art class working on a painting of a girl. The girl is "an average girl, an odd girl," says Natalia. "She has problems connecting with others, so she turns to social media." In the painting, the girl is crying out, the computer mouse is wrapped around her and hateful sayings cover the background. Natalia explains that her painting represents the common occurrence of cyberbullying. "Looking for connections online can sometimes be the opposite of what you want," Natalia says. "Kids say hurtful things about others that they might not say in public."
Natalia chose to depict cyberbullying in her art piece as part of a program called RESTATE. For the past three semesters, nearly 500 high school students in Tulare and Kings counties have participated in the RESTATE program, which was created by Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) to reduce the stigma of mental illness. The CHOICES Prevention Programs has administered the program at 10 high schools.
Now in the final semester of the grant provided by HHSA, RESTATE includes a mental health curriculum that uses the media arts as a vehicle to promote awareness and understanding of issues students, their friends and families may face. Students begin the program with training designed to teach basic knowledge about mental health issues. They then conduct research on their chosen mental health topic before working on their art projects. Art projects can range from drawings, paintings or photography to theater productions and video public service announcements. The course culminates with a public growth workshop conducted by an expert in the field of mental health followed by a public exhibition of artworks and community resources available to reduce the stigma of mental illness, stereotyping and discriminatory thinking.
Students in Woodlake art teacher Deanna Bowers' class have chosen to develop artworks around the issues of depression, suicide and other harmful behaviors. Ms. Bowers says that because of RESTATE, students have told her that they are more comfortable talking about mental health issues and that when they do, people are supportive listeners. "I believe that the course has been very valuable and that students will realize this later in life," she says.
The work of Ms. Bowers' students and other Tulare and Kings county classes will be exhibited May 17 at the RESTATE Spring Showcase in Visalia. The event will be held in conjunction with the Slick Rock Student Film Festival from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 17 outside the Visalia Fox Theatre on Encina Street. Students will facilitate conversations about their artwork and how it ties to mental health awareness. RESTATE was funded through the Tulare-Kings Suicide Prevention Task Force as part of Proposition 63 funds.
~ Woodlake student Natalia Frias works on her painting of a girl who is the victim of cyberbullying.
~ Jose Haro created a piece in Photoshop entitled "A Tear Shed for Every Life Lost." Kings and Tulare county students who were part of the RESTATE program will exhibit their artwork May 17 adjacent to the Fox Theatre in downtown Visalia.
Second annual Robot Riot to be held May 10
Technology competition integrates science and engineering skills
An army of robots is preparing to invade the Elderwood Room Saturday, May 10 to compete in the second annual Robot Riot. Students from elementary and middle schools in Tulare County have registered to participate.
At Robot Riot, students will be challenged to direct their robots in one-on-one competitions with other machines and in single machine competitions, testing their accuracy and speed. Working with LEGO Mindstorm robots, students show off the planning, engineering and programming that is required to make them perform, whether it's a race through a wooden maze, a tug-o-war or a sumo competition.
Robot Riot is part of 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 the Slick Rock Student Film Festival. Students and coaches interested in participating in Robot Riot, or simply observing the competition, are encouraged to call Will Kimbley, Jared Marr or Paula Terrill of Educational Resource Services at (559) 651-3031.
~ Students entered in Robot Riot, scheduled for May 10, will compete alone or against other machines in a variety of events. Robot Riot fosters the development of many science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills.
Educators to convene on mental health, truancy
Annual CASCWA and Central California Truancy Summits May 7-9 in Lemoore
The 2014 California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance (CASCWA) State Conference and the annual Central California Truancy Summit will be held May 7-9 in Lemoore. This year, the CASCWA State Conference will host adult and juvenile First Aid Mental Health certification offered by Kings Behavioral Health and the California School Attendance Review Boards, plus a variety of workshops covering student mental health issues. The conferences will be held at the Tachi Palace Conference Center. CHOICES Prevention Programs administrators Adam Valencia and René Moncada will be part of a panel presenting "Creating a Safer School." The presentation will integrate the School Safety Plan recently created by TCOE, the Sprigeo online bullying reporting system and available student mental health services.
On Friday, the Central California Truancy Summit will host expert speakers from law enforcement and other local and state agencies to address the issues of chronic absenteeism and truancy. The Central California Truancy Summit is an annual event held in Kings County since its inception in 2010. The conference focuses on the School Attendance Review Board (SARB) process and the integration of student mental health services as an alternative to the judicial system.
Last year's summit was attended by nearly 300 people from all over California. Participants were given a wealth of information to take back to their own counties from speakers ranging from Kings County District Attorney Greg Strickland, California Department of Education SARB Chairman David Kopperud, mental health leaders and youth program administrators. This year, attendees will hear presentations from Attendance Works Director Hedy Chang, California Deputy Attorney General Angela Sierra, CDE SARB Chairman David Kopperud, behavioral health professionals and many other experts in the field of truancy intervention and SARB.
To register for the CASCWA Conference, visit cascwa.k12oms.org/1556-78225. For more information on the Truancy Conference, contact Brian Gonzales, Kings County Office of Education truant officer and SARB coordinator, at (559) 589-2606 or (559) 362-6543.
Golden West High School senior Jessica Bonnar was chosen to receive the annual Tulare County College Night Scholarship. Jessica has quite an extensive list of volunteer activities, including serving as a SCICON counselor, and work with the Kiwanis, the SPCA and many other community organizations. At Golden West, she has been president of the Key Club, coordinated the school's Relay for Life, and has been an AVID student tutor. She also performed in the school's theater and choral arts programs, wrote a column for the Golden West newspaper and ran track. Jessica had a biomedical internship at U.C. San Francisco her junior year. She plans to attend U.C. Berkeley in the fall and eventually obtain her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences.
Brooke Bennett (front row, left) is a Special Day Class teacher at El Monte Middle School in Orosi. She and her husband, Dr. Deric Ikuta, coached a team of students to a silver medal victory at a Special Olympics basketball tournament held recently in Fresno. The team, known as The Wolf Pack, was made up of Cutler-Orosi- and Dinuba-area students.
On April 5, 27 Tulare County elementary school teams participated in the annual Science Olympiad Division A competition for students in grades 3-6. Garden Elementary School (Tulare) students Aiden and Duncan Champaign and Hudson Lee adjust the position of their solar collector as part of a competition designed to measure the effectiveness of their device in heating 200 ml of water over a one-hour time period. The team of students from Garden Elementary placed third overall in the competition behind Visalia's Manuel F. Hernandez Elementary (second place) and Annie R. Mitchell Elementary (first place).
The CHOICES Prevention Programs celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Friday Night Live Lip Sync Competition on April 11. Over 50 groups of students performed before a panel of judges. Diego Elizalde, a student with the Maple Elementary (Tulare) CHOICES After School Program, placed first in the dance category for his performance of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal."
Regional Supervisor Priscilla Arroyo with the Early Childhood Education Program watches her daughter plant a seed as part of the annual "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day," hosted by the Human Resources Division. Dozens of students and their parents or grandparents participated in morning activities entitled "Plant a Seed, Grow a Future" led by Joy Soares and Jared Marr from Educational Resource Services. The program, followed by job shadowing at numerous TCOE programs, was designed to encourage students to think about their career goals.
In April, Holocaust survivor Elane Gellar returned to Tulare County to make presentations about her experiences in Germany's infamous concentration camps and the importance of leading respectful lives. She spoke to nine high school groups and made two public evening presentations. Mrs. Gellar is pictured with History/Social Studies Curriculum Specialist Gina Mechigian.
Last month, Fresno State's College of Health and Human Services held its annual Community Heroes Awards. This year, the university recognized 10 organizations and individuals who meet the needs of children and families throughout Central California. Among them was Audiologist Dr. Jim Beauchamp with Special Services' Hearing Center.
Nearly 400 student-produced films have been submitted to the 11th Annual Slick Rock Student Film Festival. The films will be judged this month with the top films in multiple middle and high school categories earning a "Premiere Cut" designation. The numerous Premiere Cut films will be shown May 17 at the Visalia Fox Theatre beginning at 9:00 a.m. and extending into the afternoon. The awards ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7:00 p.m. A schedule of Premiere Cut showings will be posted at www.slickrockfestival.org one week prior to the event.
On May 8, 14 middle school and 9 high school teams from throughout the county will attend the third annual Step Up Youth Challenge Awards to receive grants for their work in developing community service projects. The awards ceremony, which begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Visalia Fox Theatre, is open to the public. The top five projects in both the middle and high school categories will receive prizes totaling $30,000. The grants are provided by the County of Tulare's Step Up initiative and the Tulare County Youth Commission.
Three elementary schools from Tulare County have received the Bonner Center's 2014 Virtues and Character Recognition Award from California State University, Fresno for their exemplary character education programs. The honorees were Oak Grove Elementary (Burton School District), Sundale Union School District (Tulare) and Pleasant Elementary (Tulare City School District). Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! Coordinator Kelley Petty reports that Tulare County schools have received a total of 64 awards since the program was founded in 1996.
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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