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The News Gallery

October 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, Charlene Stringham, Kate Stover, Michelle Lapadula, John Caudle and Kym King.

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.

New construction

A groundbreaking 160 years in the making
Construction on TCOE administration and planetarium buildings now underway

This month, dozens of concrete trucks will be lumbering down the south end of Mooney Boulevard, delivering their heavy loads to two construction sites. The trucks are headed to the sites of the Tulare County Office of Education's new administration and planetarium projects.

New construction

On September 10, County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, members of the Tulare County Board of Education, dignitaries, educators and community members gathered at 6200 South Mooney Boulevard to break ground on the new TCOE administration building. At the ceremony, Mr. Vidak addressed the crowd, sharing some history of the Tulare County Office of Education in Visalia. In the years since the office of the Tulare County Superintendent of Schools was created, TCOE has had several Visalia addresses, including the old Tulare County Courthouse on Center Street, the County Civic Center Building, and the Burrel Avenue building, which was built by the County of Tulare in 1976. "Today, after 160 years," said Mr. Vidak, "we are proud to begin the construction of a home of our own."

The new administration building will include 66,000 square feet of office space on three floors and a 27,000 square foot configurable conference area. The building will house the Tulare County Superintendent of Schools and programs within the Business Services, Instructional Services, Human Resources and Special Services divisions. The adjoining conference center has been designed to house nearly 1,000 visitors in a single classroom setting. With all of its retractable walls in place, the conference center becomes eight smaller rooms, accommodating approximately 100 visitors each. At the ceremony, Deputy Superintendent of Business Services John Caudle shared interesting facts about the administration building, which has been designed by Mangini Associates/Tellian Parish McLain and is being built by Bush Construction. Mr. Caudle reported that the administration building's foundation and first floor alone will require 2,800 cubic yards of concrete to be delivered this month by approximately 230 trucks. The building will also feature a catering kitchen, three elevators and 370 parking spaces. Mr. Caudle shared that the building is anticipated to be finished in September 2015.

New construction

One hour after the beginning of the administration building groundbreaking, the crowd moved a few blocks south on Mooney Boulevard to repeat the ceremony for the new planetarium building. The new planetarium is being built on the site of TCOE's Liberty Center (11535 Avenue 264), which is home to numerous Special Services programs, including the Hearing Center, Bright Start, Behavioral Health Services and others.

New construction

At the ceremony, Mr. Vidak shared some history of the planetarium program, which began in the mid-1960s with a small theater at Snowden Elementary in Farmersville. From there, the program moved to the Tulare County Fairgrounds and several other locations before arriving at the 2637 West Burrel Avenue building in 1976. The planetarium underwent an expansion and relocation to the 2500 West Burrel Avenue building in 2003.

New construction The new planetarium building, also designed by Mangini Associates/Tellian Parish McLain, features angular architectural forms. A colorful and dramatic mural of the solar system will welcome visitors to the facility, which will include nearly 8,700 square feet of space, a 70-seat planetarium, a video conferencing studio and a hands-on science center. It is anticipated that the planetarium building will be completed in April 2015, with school tour operations resuming in the 2015-16 school year.

"These are milestone projects in the history of our organization," says Mr. Vidak. "We look forward to their completion and to the new levels of service and support we will be able to offer the administrators, teachers and students of Tulare County."

To see photographs of the construction progress, visit
www.tcoe.org and click on the links under "News."

Photos above:
~ Architect's rendering of the new, three-story TCOE Administration Building and Conference Center, estimated to be completed in September 2015.
~ Pictured at the September 10 groundbreaking ceremony are (l-r) Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, Trustees Chris Reed, Judy Coble, Debby Holguin, Tom Link, Joe Enea, Celia Maldonado-Arroyo and Pat Hillman. On the far right is John Caudle, deputy superintendent for Business Services.
~ Architect's rendering of the new planetarium and science center building, estimated to be completed in April 2015.
~ At each construction site, Mr. Vidak invited key members of his staff to join the groundbreaking. Pictured at the planetarium groundbreaking are (l-r) John Rodriguez, director of Human Resources Division; Lisa Noel, representative for California School Employees Association (CSEA); Tammy Bradford, program manager, Special Services Division; Robert Herman, public information officer; Charlene Stringham, assistant superintendent of Instructional Services Division; Trish Griswold, representative for California Teachers Association (CTA); Roger Beavers, director of Maintenance and Operations; John Caudle, deputy superintendent of Business Services Division; Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak; Dr. Guadalupe Solis, deputy superintendent of Instructional Services Division; and Stanley Simpson, chairperson of Tulare County Office of Education Foundation.
~ County Superintendent Jim Vidak poses with retired planetarium supervisor Sam Peña (l) and current supervisor Conan Palmer (r). Mr. Palmer has led the program into the digital age and envisions a new hands-on science center to complement the planetarium shows.

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Arts learning community set, training offered
Teachers offered more ways to integrate arts in the classroom

October begins a year-long parade of events designed to engage students in the visual and performing arts. Beginning this month with the Young People's Concerts, TCOE's offerings of arts-related events include the annual student art exhibitions, Theatre Company performances and the available On Stage Productions, which are complete musical theatre productions available for Tulare County elementary schools to perform on-site.

The new Tulare County Arts Network (TuCAN) will gather as a professional learning community beginning October 15. Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Instructional Consultant Brian Roberts reports that TuCAN is designed to give arts educators the opportunity to share best practices, network with one another and learn about the latest advocacy efforts. To register to attend the no-cost TuCAN meetings, visit
tulare.k12oms.org/147-90309, or contact Kate Stover at kstover@tcoe.org.

To supplement the arts collaboration encouraged by TuCAN, Educational Resource Services will host a four-part professional development training, entitled Arts at the Core!, beginning February 5. The series will focus on the 4Cs (collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking) and showcase how dance, music, theatre and visual arts can easily be infused into all content areas. The series will feature an array of presenters who have strong teaching and arts backgrounds. "We're excited to help elementary and middle school teachers see ways they can integrate the arts into their classrooms through concrete Common Core-based lessons and strategies," says Mr. Roberts. To register for the Arts at the Core! training, visit tulare.k12oms.org/147-89237. For more information about the Visual and Performing Arts, contact Brian Roberts at brianr@tcoe.org.

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La Sierra cadets develop sign language skills
Students begin ASL class to better communicate with deaf classmate

Cadets at La Sierra Military Academy (LSMA) are learning a new way to communicate with their classmate, Juan DeOchoa. Through the use of American Sign Language (ASL), students are just beginning to acquire the skills to interact with Juan, a profoundly deaf student who joined LSMA last year.

Juan's interpreter, Kym King, volunteered to organize an ASL class for the school with the hope that students would interact socially with Juan. While most still lack the confidence to converse with Juan outside the ASL classroom, Ms. King encourages them to do so. Cadet Agustin Basilio said that he was surprised to learn that ASL used signs to represent words or phrases instead of spelling each word with the ASL manual alphabet. "It's easier than I thought it was going to be," he said. The class has inspired some students, including cadet Roxana Garcia, who shared that she has begun thinking about incorporating ASL into her career plans after high school.

La Sierra Military Academy

Ms. King uses Juan as an instructor in her class to encourage interaction between the students. One morning last month, cadets gathered in the parking lot to review outdoor directions and objects. Cadets responded to Juan's questions with appropriate signs as he pointed to grass, trees, rocks, windows and doors.

Toward the end of their class, students shared their plans to conduct a fundraiser. The purpose of the fundraiser is to attend a social meeting of the South Valley Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center. The group is planning a trip to one of the Visalia Me-n-Ed's Pizza Restaurants, which the cadets hope to attend. In this setting, cadets will gain valuable ASL experience conversing with people who have a variety of skill levels. In order to prepare them for this experience, Ms. King announced that this month she and the cadets are, "going to turn off our voices. We are going to conduct our classes in sign or by writing - whatever it takes," she said with a big smile.

For more information on the La Sierra Military Academy and its student activities, contact Administrator Anjelica Zermeño at (559) 733-6963.

Photo above:
~ Cadet Agustin Basilio (left) signs a greeting to cadet Juan DeOchoa, who is deaf. The cadets are part of a new American Sign Language class at La Sierra Military Academy.

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Red Ribbon Week celebration turns five
All-ages event to feature activities and organizations that promote healthy lifestyles

For the fifth consecutive year, the CHOICES Prevention Programs and the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency are partnering to host the county's largest Red Ribbon Week (RRW) event. The event will be held October 25 at the International Agri-Center Building C in Tulare from noon until 4:00 p.m. "Over the years as the event has grown, so has the support of local organizations and school districts," says event chairman Al Rodriguez. "This year, several principals and superintendents have committed to bringing buses of students and families to the event, which tells us something about the impact this project is having on our communities."

Red Ribbon Week Celebration

The theme of the 2014 Red Ribbon Week Celebration is "Love yourself - be happy, be healthy, be drug free," and organizers hope to deliver this message throughout the event. "Our goal is to showcase positive alternatives to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs," says Rodriguez. "We also want to promote all aspects of health and wellness in a fun and entertaining environment." Featuring health screenings, hands-on science activities, youth performances, community resource booths, and a blood drive, RRW 2014 will have something for everyone. From local singers and dancers to martial arts competitors and military cadets, the celebration will highlight the wide variety of clubs, sports and organizations in Tulare County that promote healthy lifestyles. "Our hope is that students and families will discover ways to make positive choices and stay drug free, not just for a week, but for a lifetime."

For more information about RRW 2014, contact Al Rodriguez at
alr@tcoe.org or (559) 651-0155.

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Spotlight on People Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent Marlene Moreno are pictured with Dr. Adolph Brown, who spoke to administrators at the Tulare County Office of Education on September 18. Dr. Brown is an educational and clinical psychologist, author and researcher in the fields of education and human behavior. He was once considered the youngest tenured full professor in the nation, which is remarkable given that he was raised in poverty and the first in his family to graduate from high school. He challenged the audience to make room in their lives for young people who may appear disengaged. Dr. Brown will return to Tulare County as the featured speaker at the 2015 Tulare County Support Staff Conference on May 8.

Spotlight on People The 21st Annual Confucius' Birthday/Educators of the Year Awards were held on September 25. The program, which is a partnership of the Central California Chinese Cultural Center and the Tulare County Office of Education, honors an elementary, middle and high school teacher to celebrate the birthday of China's advocate for universal education, Confucius. Pictured are the honorees (l-r) Helen Milliorn-Feller, English teacher at University Preparatory High School; Paula Dunbar, kindergarten teacher at Roosevelt Elementary in Lindsay; and Joel Gilster, science teacher at Washington Intermediate School, Dinuba.

Spotlight on People Last month, CHOICES Prevention Programs held its annual Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) Leadership Training. Students and advisors from 16 Tulare County middle schools attended the event to learn how to develop the leadership skills they'll need to create positive programs for their campuses. Friday Night Live Liaison Angel Yanez worked with students from Live Oak Middle School (Tulare), brainstorming ideas for future school events. Students from Sundale and Springville supported one another in climbing the new CHOICES rock wall.

Spotlight on People Thousands attended the annual Tulare County College Night September 9 to speak to representatives and students from 83 colleges, universities and trade schools. Students from the College of the Sequoias' architecture program shared their experiences. Attendees also received a copy of the Tulare County College Night Planning Guide - a resource for parents and students published in English and Spanish. Copies of the guide can be accessed at

Spotlight on People Circle J-Norris Ranch, SCICON's field study program, is inviting high school students to register for the annual Field Science Weekend event scheduled for November 15-16. Students and their teachers will spend the weekend exploring nature and performing field science techniques. Lodging and meals will be provided by SCICON. Circle J lead teacher Nancy Bruce reports that the event is designed to help develop the next generation of environmental conservation leaders. To register, contact Nancy Bruce at circlej@ocsnet.net.

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Gallery Notes

Visitors to the Peña Planetarium's Friday evening shows will get a glimpse into the future of the program. Impact Center Supervisor Conan Palmer reports that the popular evening shows, scheduled for October 3 and 10, will utilize the projection system designed for the new planetarium, which is now under construction. The new projection system provides greatly enhanced graphics, bringing new detail and resolution to the popular family shows. For a schedule of programs offered on October 3 and 10, visit

Lee National Denim Day is Friday, October 3. This year, donations will be accepted "in honor of" or "in memory of" someone whose life has been affected by breast cancer. Employees may complete personalized dedication cards, which will be displayed in the Education Center at the Burrel Avenue office. Contact Jennifer Fisher (733-6172) or Eloise Martinez (651-3031) to make a donation.

Red Ribbon Week is October 27-31. All proceeds from this year's events will benefit Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Tulare County. Red Ribbon shirts will be on sale until October 3 at 2:00 p.m. Employees can get into the Red Ribbon spirit early by donating for the Casual Fridays event, being held October 10, 17 and 24. Employees may wear jeans to work for a donation of $5 per Friday or $10 for all three Fridays. A week full of fun activities is also being planned, including a pizza party, a bake sale and a raffle drawing. For the latest updates, visit www.tcoe.org/redribbon.

The Instructional Services Division has revised its Curriculum Council, creating the Tulare County Learning & Leadership Forum. The new forum will provide administrators, instructional coaches and teacher leaders a setting for discussing and collaborating on improving student learning. Selected discussion topics are based on John Hattie's Visible Learning for Teachers. For a schedule of Learning & Leadership Forum meetings, contact Charlene Stringham at (559) 651-3831 or charlenes@ers.tcoe.org.

On Sunday, October 26 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., the Tulare County History of Farm Labor and Agriculture Museum in Mooney Grove Park will host a reception for its new Italian exhibition. The reception will feature local guest speakers, musical entertainment and traditional foods such as Italian cookies, salami, cheese and cured olives. The exhibition has been planned to showcase the rich contributions made to Tulare County agriculture by Italian immigrants and their descendants. Several local families and organizations, such as the Sons of Italy, have shared their stories with museum staff to help develop the exhibition. Included in the exhibition is a video developed by TCOE's Impact Center on Tulare County's Italian-Americans. Teachers can arrange a visit to the museum and view the video by calling (559) 733-6616. The exhibition will remain on view through June 2015.

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For a list of upcoming events,
visit our
Calendar of Events web page.

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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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