The News Gallery
September 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, Dianne Shew, Jared Marr, Paula Terrill, Anna León, Isabel Espinoza, Tony Velásquez, Charlene Stringham and Therese Arnold.
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 email@example.com or (559) 733-6172.
Summer Migrant Education focuses on STEM
Science-infused curriculum reaches over 6,500 students in Tulare and Kings County districts
This summer, the Migrant Education program oversaw instructional services at 42 Tulare and Kings County school districts - the largest number coordinated by the program in recent years. Over 6,500 migrant education students (pre-K to age 22) were served by highly-qualified teachers on school sites and at home.
The focus of summer programs was on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Woven throughout the language arts and mathematics curriculum were science-related studies. "We were provided dynamic and intensive training by Assistant Superintendent Charlene Stringham and ERS curriculum specialists Michelle French and Jared Marr on integrating STEM into all subject matters," says Migrant Education Administrator Tony Velásquez.
For students who were unable to attend classes at a school site, Migrant staff, under the supervision of certificated personnel, provided instruction at home. The program also provided services to pre-K children and piloted three pre-K bi-literacy classes - one in Kings County and two in Tulare County. Older students had the opportunity to connect with colleges and universities through programs at West Hills College, Lemoore, Fresno State and California State University, Channel Islands.
In each of these programs, Migrant Education administrators conduct thorough pre- and post-evaluations to monitor the progress the students made over the summer. "The program has done a great job of transitioning through changes in Migrant Education in recent years while continuing to deliver the high quality, individualized instruction these students need to be successful," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.
~ Over 6,500 students were served in school sites or at home by the Migrant Education program this summer.
~ This summer, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum was infused into all areas of Migrant Education instruction, including language arts and mathematics.
~ The Migrant Education program also organized pre-K classrooms for students preparing to enter their first year of school.
New science, technology events aim to engage
ERS expands and revises STEM-related student events for 2014-15 school year
For the 2014-15 school year, Educational Resource Services is expanding or enhancing many of its science and technology student events. The purpose of these changes is to excite students about exploring the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to give them the opportunity to learn and demonstrate 21st century skills of collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking.
Michelle French, STEM staff development & curriculum specialist, reports that the Tulare County Science and Engineering Fair is undergoing many exciting and innovative changes for 2015. The event is being renamed the Tulare County Office of Education STEM Expo and is scheduled for Saturday, March 14, 2015. The traditional Tulare County Science and Engineering Fair (TCSEF) will become a component of the STEM Expo. As in the past, students can develop projects in the six categories of Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science - Chemistry, Physical Science - Physics, Engineering and Mathematics, or Behavioral and Social Sciences. Winning projects for students in grades 6-12 will be eligible to advance to the California Science and Engineering Fair. Students entering in the non-competitive category may share projects that were co-developed with family, friends and mentors.
Throughout the day, students and families attending the STEM Expo will have numerous hands-on learning opportunities. The STEM Expo will feature a "makerspace" - a place where students and families can showcase their creative ways of developing products and applications utilizing engineering and technology. The event will also include live robotics and coding demonstrations. Individuals and teams can bring the robots they have developed at school to participate in a series of non-competitive challenges. Students will also have an opportunity to attend a robotics workshop to learn how to build and program a robot. In the coding workshops, students and families will learn about basic computer programming and potential career opportunities.
The STEM Expo Speaker Series will invite students, industry partners, educators and non-profit leaders to share their STEM experiences in a formal presentation format. Community representatives will also be invited to present information at booths in the STEM Expo Communication Center. Students, families and educators will be able to interact with industry partners, non-profits, government agencies, colleges, trade schools, and for-profit companies that have STEM-related information to share. "We are very excited about the new Expo event and the possibilities it offers in bringing STEM to life for our students," says Michelle French.
Tulare County Technology Challenge, or TC², is a new event designed to test students' ability to use technology to develop a variety of projects ranging from website design and interactive posters to iMovie book trailers and Google Lit Trips, a program used to mark the journeys of famous characters from literature on Google Earth maps. Students will be given their challenge scenarios as they arrive at the event. They will then have several hours to develop their projects before uploading them for judges to review. Students can compete individually or as a team of up to four members. Scheduled for April 29, TC² is coordinated by Will Kimbley, technology staff development & curriculum specialist.
Also new this year are the two Robotics Exhibitions - one for middle school students on December 10 and one for high school students on April 21. The events (formerly known as Robot Riots) will provide a venue for individual students or teams to showcase their machines in an array of challenges.
The Science Olympiad competitions for elementary, middle and high school students, CyberQuest, Math Super Bowl and Physics Day will return, with Physics Day being held May 13 at the Porterville Fair. For more information about technology events, call Will Kimbley at (559) 651-3008. For information about science events, contact Michelle French or Jared Marr at (559) 651-3031.
~ Students, such as 2014 Science & Engineering Fair winner Raveena Mahal, will have the opportunity to enter their projects in the 2015 Tulare County Office of Education STEM Expo. The greatly expanded STEM Expo will include the Science & Engineering Fair, plus hands-on robotics and computer coding demonstrations, lectures and a "makerspace" showcase of technology and engineering applications.
Educators of the Year to be honored this month
UPHS' Helen Milliorn-Feller selected for annual Confucious' Birthday Celebration Awards
"Helen puts the 'readiness' in our college readiness program," says University Preparatory High School (UPHS) Principal John Kelly as he describes High School Educator of the Year Helen Milliorn-Feller. Mrs. Milliorn-Feller will be honored along with Paula Dunbar (Elementary Educator of the Year) and Joel Gilster (Middle School Educator of the Year) at the 21st Annual Confucius' Birthday/Educators of the Year Celebration on September 25. 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.
"These remarkable educators have a tireless dedication to their students and their schools," says County Superintendent Jim Vidak. "Their energy and 'above and beyond' attitudes should be an inspiration to all of us."
Helen Milliorn-Feller is UPHS's lead teacher and the school's English instructor. She has been with UPHS since it opened in 2009. In that time, she has shared her infectious love of learning, encouraging students to be ready for the challenges of a university. As a founding member of the faculty, Mrs. Milliorn-Feller has overseen the process of ensuring UPHS classes meet the A-G requirement set by the University of California. She has also designed and implemented the school's Advisory, Academic Support, and Enrichment classes.
Whether she is helping the UPHS Leadership Team design curriculum, serving as the faculty liaison to the UPHS Parent Support Organization, or teaching students to integrate technology into their writing and presentations, Mrs. Milliorn-Feller brings dedication, focus, and passion to her work. Always available to students, she freely volunteers her time as advisor for several campus clubs at UPHS, as well as the junior/senior program, various fundraising events, student award ceremonies, parent recognitions and spirit rallies. Mrs. Milliorn-Feller is also coordinator of the Single Subject Credential and an adjunct faculty member at the Graduate School of Education at the Fresno Pacific University Visalia Center. She helps shape the professional lives of many teaching candidates and acts as their master teacher.
Joel Gilster has been selected as the Middle School Educator of the Year. Mr. Gilster has been an eighth-grade science teacher at Washington Intermediate School in Dinuba since 2003. In 2012, he was selected as Dinuba Unified's Teacher of the Year. School administrators say that he brings excitement and energy to the campus and affects all students on a daily basis. This is demonstrated in the themed videos and technology he uses at school rallies.
In addition to his responsibilities as a science teacher, Mr. Gilster spends countless hours producing T-Bird TV on a weekly basis. T-Bird TV is an 8-10 minute show that uses student-led news programs and comedy to promote positive school culture. He is Washington Intermediate's activities director, a mentor teacher, a former BTSA Support Provider, and the After School Tutorial Administrator. This past summer, he developed an online curriculum for his eighth-grade students to access at school and at home. He has also created computer-based applications to help track student tardies and detentions. Washington Intermediate Principal Mike Roberts says, "Joel is constantly thinking about the students, working way above his normal call of duty for them."
Paula Dunbar will be honored as the Elementary Educator of the Year. The lead kindergarten teacher from Roosevelt Elementary School in Lindsay is described as a master teacher who lets her enthusiasm for learning and student success take her to ever higher levels of teaching excellence. Mrs. Dunbar is continually expanding her knowledge and skills and freely shares them with others. Mrs. Dunbar's Interim Principal, Debra Warner, says, "Paula is always the first to step up to the plate when a teacher is having difficulties or needs assistance. She freely opens her room for other teachers to visit and observe her in action."
Paula is a master at creating high interest cross-curricular instruction in all content areas that allow her students to be actively engaged in their learning. Mrs. Dunbar brings with her six years of experience in children's mental health and 19 years in education to students in Earlimart and Lindsay Unified. Paula is skilled at adapting the environment for emotionally or academically challenged students. She welcomes struggling learners and guides them to reach their highest level of success.
Mrs. Dunbar is also actively involved in the community. She has served as Lindsay High School cheer advisor, a Dollars for Scholars Volunteer and Orange Blossom Festival Queen's coronation chairperson. Additionally, she is active in her local church and a valuable member of Roosevelt's Parent Teacher Organization.
For more information on the Confucius' Birthday/Educators of the Year Awards, call Marlene Moreno at (559) 733-6302.
~ The 2015 Educators of the Year are Helen Milliorn-Feller of University Preparatory High School (a charter school of the Tulare County Office of Education), Joel Gilster of Washington Intermediate School in Dinuba and Paula Dunbar of Roosevelt Elementary School in Lindsay. The three teachers will be honored at the annual Confucius' Birthday/Educators of the Year Awards at the Central California Chinese Cultural Center on September 25.
The Region VII After School Programs held its annual summer training in July. New to the program this year were staff recognition awards. Nine after school staff members from programs in Tulare and Merced Counties were recognized, including CHOICES After School Site Coordinator II Denise Cifuentez (l). Ms. Cifuentez, pictured with Region VII After School Programs Lead Adam Valencia, has worked with the CHOICES After School program since 2007. Supervisors say that her contagious optimism inspires peer coworkers and students alike to follow her lead.
SCICON recently welcomed three new staff members to fill key roles at the outdoor education program. Pictured (l-r) are Simon Yoh, R.N., school nurse; Kermit Stevens, maintenance supervisor; and Stein Stoddard, lead teacher.
Five individuals have joined the Special Services Division. Seated (l-r) are Jennifer Newell, program manager for Behavioral Health Services; Mike Stephens, returning administrator for Severely Handicapped Programs; Alane Warren, R.N., school nurse. Standing (l-r) are Rachel Weaver, program manager for Designated Instructional Services (speech and deaf & hard of hearing programs) and Jamie Lopes, program specialist.
This summer, the California Friday Night Live Partnership (CFNLP) program celebrated its 30th anniversary at its annual training institute - an event attended by 150 Friday Night Live advisors from counties throughout the state. In appreciation for the support CFNLP has received from the Tulare County Office of Education since relocating to Visalia in 1996, the program presented County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak with its Leadership Award. CFNLP Program Director Lynne Goodwin, who also received the organization's Adult Ally Award, is pictured presenting the award to Mr. Vidak.
Educational Resource Services has added four staff development & curriculum specialists to support Tulare County teachers and administrators with professional development trainings in specific content areas. Pictured (l-r) are Gay Atmajian (History/Social Science), Scott Pierce (English/Language Arts), Josh Curtiss (Mathematics), and Stephanie Verners (English/Language Arts).
Last month, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson visited the Harmony Magnet Academy in Strathmore - one of 45 programs in Tulare and Kings Counties to benefit from the recently awarded $14.8 million Career Pathways Trust (CPT) grant. Mr. Torlakson met with members of the Tulare Kings Linked Learning Alliance to discuss the CPT initiative and to learn of their plans to develop and enhance the 45 local high school pathways that will eventually include 10,000 students and over 400 business and community partners.
This month, middle and high schools from throughout Tulare County may register to participate in the 2014-15 Step Up Youth Challenge. A total of 20 middle school and 15 high school spots are available for the six-month, service learning program designed to create projects which positively impact school culture and the community. Participating schools will compete for grants totaling $15,000 for each school category. Reservations are being accepted on a first-come basis prior to the September 11 Advisor Training. Visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/Challenge1415 to register your team, or call Allison Pierce at (559) 636-5000 for more information.
The Theatre Company's On Stage Program has three wonderful productions available for schools this school year - Disney's Jungle Book, Aristocats and a new production for the 2014-15 school year, 101 Dalmatians. On Stage is an after school program that helps schools prepare 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 Tulare County Council on Child & Youth Development will host its Sixth Annual Legislative Breakfast at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 2, 2014 at the Holiday Inn, Visalia. This event is designed to inform educators and key decision makers about the importance of Healthy Kids, Healthy Classrooms, Healthy Communities. Scheduled speakers include Dr. Barbara Aved, Dr. Richard Barnes, and a local family sharing their story. In addition, the Council will present an Impact Award. Visit www.tularecountykids.org for registration information.
The Tulare County Board of Education will be welcoming three of its members for additional four-year terms beginning December 2014. Judy Coble (Trustee Area 4), Pat Hillman (Trustee Area 7) and Celia Maldonado-Arroyo (Trustee Area 1) were unopposed in this year's election.
Tulare County Office of Education CHARACTER COUNTS! office continues to expand its Pursuing Victory With Honor (PVWH) program brought to Tulare County in 2001 by County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. In the last five years, over 500 coaches have participated in PVWH trainings, which combines program basics with ethical decision-making for coaches and best practices for sportsmanship strategies. To register for the upcoming PVWH Training on September 18, contact Kelley Petty at (559) 740-4303, or firstname.lastname@example.org. The training will feature a panel of PVWH coaches sharing their strategies, successes and challenges in making sportsmanship a priority in their programs.
This fall, the Circle J-Norris Ranch program will be holding a variety of evening and weekend events for middle and high school students and their families. The events include nighttime astronomy programs and Saturday morning birding tours. Circle J's fall lineup also includes the annual Field Science Weekend for high school students interested in pursuing careers in the natural sciences. The Field Science Weekend is scheduled for November 15-16. For more information on Circle J activities or to arrange a visit to the program, contact Nancy Bruce at email@example.com or call (559) 539-2263.
For a list of upcoming events,
visit our Calendar of Events web 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
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