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The News Gallery

September 2015

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, Roger Smith, Conan Palmer, Travis Walters, Amy Phippin, Kelley Petty, Doug Cairns, Bob May and Sarah Hamilton.

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.

Planetarium & Science Center

Planetarium prepares for fall grand opening
Beautiful mural of Solar System completed this summer as work inside progresses

This summer, acclaimed Tulare County muralist Colleen Veyna painted a 22-foot mural of the Solar System on the front of the new Planetarium & Science Center. The mural, which faces South Mooney Boulevard, will welcome visitors to the new center when it opens later this fall. Ms. Veyna recreated the Solar System’s eight planets, Earth’s moon, the Sun, and a comet and asteroids on the dark blue wall, working from a composite image created for NASA by artist Harman Smith. “Colleen did a spectacular job,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “Parents tell us that their children have seen the mural and can’t wait to visit ‘the building with the planets.’”

Planetarium & Science Center

Planetarium & Science Center Inside the colorful building, Supervisor Conan Palmer and his staff are working to ready the planetarium projector and sound systems and install the display units and merchandise in the gift shop. In the Science Center, a new projection system will be installed to show a few of the popular shows from the old Impact Center History Theater, including What is America? and The First Americans. “In the future, the Science Center will be home to interactive electronic exhibits that students can use to collaboratively solve problems that address the content standards,” said Mr. Palmer. “We also look forward to a time when we can bring in special exhibits on a temporary basis from NASA and The Smithsonian Institution.”

Planetarium & Science Center

“We are looking forward to announcing a grand opening date very soon to show off all the special features of the Planetarium & Science Center,” said Mr. Vidak. Announcements on the grand opening date and activities will soon be available at tcoe.org/Planetarium.

Photos above:
~ Artist Colleen Veyna completed the enormous mural of the Solar System this summer, working from a NASA composite image.
~ Inside the planetarium, the new digital projector and sound system are being installed.
~ (l-r) Planetarium & Science Center Instructional Assistant Amy Phippen sets out merchandise in the new gift shop as Supervisor Conan Palmer and Media Developer Travis Walters install shelving units.

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Caudle valued for instructional, business skills
Business Services administrator retires after 42 years with TCOE and Tulare City Schools

John Caudle On August 28, John Caudle, longtime head of the Business Services Division, retired. In his 42-year career in education, Mr. Caudle had twice led the division for the Tulare County Office of Education. He first served as assistant superintendent of Business Services from 1993 until 1999. He returned to the position in 2006. In 2013, he was promoted to deputy superintendent of Business Services.

Mr. Caudle began his career as a teacher with the Tulare City School District in 1973. He served the district as a vice principal and principal at four campuses before being promoted to assistant superintendent of Business Services, a position he held prior to joining the office of education in 1993, and then again from 1999 to 2006.

For the office of education, John Caudle wore many hats. He supervised the Internal Business Services, External Business Services and the Information Services departments, ensuring that things ran smoothly through the ups and downs of education funding. He also represented the county office on various state committees related to insurance, school facilities and finance. In recent years, Mr. Caudle’s “hat of choice” was a hard hat. Since 2013, he had been closely involved in the design and construction of the new planetarium building on TCOE’s Liberty Center campus, and the administration building and conference center at 6200 South Mooney Boulevard. “We have been so lucky to have John to oversee the construction of these two important buildings,” said County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “Given the timeline for the development and construction of these projects, his past school building experience has been absolutely invaluable.”

“It’s true that when you like what you do and you like the people you work with, the decision to retire is one of the hardest you’ll ever make,” said John Caudle. “I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to have worked for such great organizations.”

“John has been such an asset to the Tulare County Office of Education,” said Mr. Vidak. “As a former teacher and administrator, he understood the needs of our instructional programs. He had the very rare combination of instructional vision and business skills.” Until the new administration building is completed this fall, John offered to volunteer his time to coordinate the project.

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Community invited to honor Kids of Character
20th Annual CHARACTER COUNTS! Week scheduled for October 19-24

The Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! Program is preparing to celebrate its 20th Annual CHARACTER COUNTS! (CC!) Week, October 19-24. This month, teachers, parents and community members may nominate students for the annual Kids of Character recognition program and the Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Awards. A nomination form for students K-12 is available online at tcoe.org/KidsOfCharacter through October 2.

In 1994, County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak brought CHARACTER COUNTS! to Tulare County with the idea that education could not only help students prepare for success as adults, but help them become better people. Within a couple of years, Tulare County launched its first CC! Week celebration by partnering with the Visalia Times-Delta to sponsor the Kids of Character Awards. Since 1996, the month of September has been a time for Tulare County to honor young people for the decisions they have made — decisions to be Trustworthy, Respectful, Responsible, Fair, Caring and good Citizens in order to make our community a better place.

“Our partnership with the Visalia Times-Delta in celebrating National CHARACTER COUNTS! Week in Tulare County has been a cornerstone of the program’s success,” said County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “In 20 years, the Visalia Times-Delta has helped us to honor nearly 90,000 students through the CHARACTER COUNTS! Week Kids of Character Awards. Their continued support shows that character still counts in Tulare County.”

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Students invited to help name Sheriff's plane
Surveillance plane patrols Tulare County skies, aiding law enforcement and citizens

Sheriff Mike Boudreaux has invited Tulare County students (grades K-8) to help name the agency’s Flight Design CTLS Light Sport Aircraft. “Approximately two years ago, our agency purchased a light sport aircraft, which happened to be a revolutionary and cost effective concept for law enforcement aviation,” said Sheriff Boudreaux. “Since its purchase, the plane has become an important part of daily operations, offering a safer environment for all law enforcement and citizens throughout Tulare County.” Sheriff Boudreaux reports that the plane has been so valuable that the agency is in the process of buying a second aircraft. “As we began the process of determining a name or 'call sign' for both aircraft, I immediately considered the creativity of our own students,” he added.

Name the Plane contest

The Flight Design CTLS Light Sport Aircraft travels at speeds over 130 mph and is equipped with a state-of-the-art surveillance system with incredible zoom capabilities. The onboard camera has FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared), which allows officers to see heat signatures in total darkness. The plane is also equipped with a powerful spotlight, allowing it to search for people or objects on the ground. With the addition of the Sheriff’s aircraft, Tactical Flight Officers are flying seven days a week to ensure Tulare County is a safer place to live.

Tulare County students may submit their plane name suggestions for a chance to become an honorary member of the Tulare County Air Support Unit and win a flyover at their school. To enter the Sheriff’s Name the Plane Contest, visit tcoe.org/NameThePlane and complete the online form. K-8 students in Tulare County public, home, charter and private schools are eligible to participate. One entry per student, please. Entries must be received by 5:00 p.m. on September 18. The Tulare County Sheriff’s Organization will select the winner and notify the student the week of September 28.

For more information about the plane or the Name the Plane Contest, contact Lt. Rob Schimpf at rschimpf@co.tulare.ca.us or (559) 636-4691.

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Three teachers chosen for annual award
Educators of the Year Awards honor elementary, middle and high school teachers

Now in its 22nd year, the Confucius’ Birthday/Educators of the Year Awards is a teacher recognition partnership between the Central California Chinese Cultural Center and the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE). Together, the Chinese Cultural Center and TCOE recognize one outstanding elementary, middle and high school teacher and celebrate their contributions to Tulare County education on the birthday of Confucius - an occasion Chinese people around the world often use to honor teachers.

This year, the Elementary School Educator of the Year is Vicky Kusnierek, a fifth-grade teacher at Pleasant View School in Porterville. Krystal Poloka, a seventh- and eighth-grade STEM and eighth-grade science teacher at El Monte Middle School in Orosi is the Middle School Educator of the Year. Redwood High School (Visalia) band teacher Dennis Bettencourt is the High School Teacher of the Year. The trio will be honored at an invitation-only awards program hosted by the Chinese Cultural Center on September 24.

"These educators are remarkable for their ability to connect to and inspire students," said County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Together with our friends at the Chinese Cultural Center, we are looking forward to spotlighting their special talents and giving them the recognition they deserve."

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Spotlight on People On July 24, as part of the California Friday Night Live Partnership’s (CFNLP) annual Summer Institute training for program coordinators from throughout the state, administrators took time to honor the life of Pete Bellin, who passed away in June. Pete had been a staff member at the Partnership since the Tulare County Office of Education won the contract to house the statewide program in 1996. Pete enjoyed a 50-year career in education that included serving as a teacher and coach at Orosi High School, a sociology and psychology instructor at College of the Sequoias, and an instructional specialist/consultant with the Partnership. In his honor, County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and CFNLP administrator Dr. Jim Kooler created a perpetual recognition entitled the Pete Bellin Strength & Courage Award. For the first year, the program presented the award to Pete Bellin’s family. Accepting the award were (l-r) Nancy Bellin, TCOE’s special events coordinator; grandson Cameron Souza, a junior at Redwood High School; daughter Jenifer Bellin Stewart, a teacher at Manuel Hernandez Elementary in Visalia; and granddaughter Autumn Souza, a freshman at College of the Sequoias.

Spotlight on People This summer, ERS Technology staff conducted a MinecraftEdu camp for teachers and students. The three-day seminar familiarized attendees with the popular computer game that has been adapted for classrooms. Teachers in attendance appreciated the endless number of math and history lessons that can be taught utilizing MinecraftEdu to bolster creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking. Educational Technology Specialist Doug Cairns led the training and offered attendees his services to help implement MinecraftEdu at their school sites. For more information on MinecraftEdu and future trainings, call Mr. Cairns at (559) 651-3045, or visit commoncore.tcoe.org/tech/tech-pd.

Spotlight on People CHOICES Safe Schools Community Liaison Lance Brooks, a retired Visalia Police Department senior agent, spoke to La Sierra Military Academy cadets at the school’s August 24 “Monday Matters” assembly – one of several assemblies planned to illustrate the principles of each of the Pillars of Character. The recent assembly featured representative officers from the Visalia Police Department, the Tulare Police Department, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol. Each of these guests spoke to students about how the Pillar of Trustworthiness is an essential trait for law enforcement and other professional careers. This activity is also part of La Sierra’s California Academic Partnership Program, which provides college and career awareness.

Spotlight on People Early Childhood Education (ECE) Assistant Administrator Julie Berk has been promoted to administrator of the ECE Program following Connie Smith’s retirement in July. Mrs. Berk is only the fourth administrator in the program’s 48-year history.

Spotlight on People This summer, Early Childhood Education’s Business Systems Coordinator Ramon Garcia became the Administrative/Executive Secretary to the Human Resources Director. Mr. Garcia will support John Rodriguez and oversee many of the division’s special events, including teacher recruitment fairs and employee recognition programs.

Spotlight on PeopleOn August 27, Marvin Davidson visited TCOE’s L.B. Hill Learning Center for the severely handicapped to honor the memory of his late wife, Laura, an educator with a passion for literacy. Mr. Davidson described for teachers the literacy project he created in her name and presented Program Administrator Bob May (l) with $2,000 to be used for special education programs in the Porterville area.

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Gallery Notes

This month, middle and high schools from throughout Tulare County can register to participate in the 2015-16 Step Up Youth Challenge. A total of 20 middle school and 15 high school spots are available for the six-month, project based learning opportunity designed for students to create programs that positively impact school culture and their community. The Step Up Youth Challenge provides $15,000 in grants for winning projects in both the middle and high school categories. Reservations are being accepted on a first-come basis prior to the mandatory September 24 Advisor Training. For more information or to register your team, visit tcoe.org/StepUp, or call Allison Pierce at (559) 636-5000.

The Tulare County Council on Child  & Youth Development will host its Seventh Annual Legislative Breakfast at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 1, at the Visalia Holiday Inn. This event is designed to inform educators and key decision makers about the importance of early childhood education programs. Camille Maben, executive director for First 5 California will be the featured speaker and will address how communities can help to develop a culture of lifelong learners. In addition, the Council will present its Impact Award. This year, the award will be given to Yadira Mendoza, owner of an early childhood education center in her Lindsay home. Ms. Mendoza was the first Tulare County provider to participate in the new statewide Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) program. Visit www.tularecountykids.org for registration information.

Representatives from nearly 100 universities and colleges will be on hand at the 34th Annual Tulare County College Night to answer questions about entrance requirements, available degrees and tuition expenses at their institutions. College Night, which will be held at the Visalia Convention Center on Tuesday, September 15 beginning at 6:00 p.m., is designed for high school students and parents who want to learn more about preparing for and applying to colleges. In addition to the college representatives, students and parents can visit two sessions of informational presentations (beginning at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.) on topics that include writing an effective college essay, prerequisite courses, financial aid and athletic recruitment. One presentation on financial aid and educational planning will be offered in Spanish. More information is available at tcoe.org/collegenight. College Night is one of the first student events of the new school year, followed by nearly 50 others offered by various TCOE programs. For a complete list of student events, including information on how to participate, visit tcoe.org/StudentEvents.

Lee National Denim Day is Friday, October 2. Lee National Denim Day is a fundraiser that encourages participants to donate $5 or more to wear jeans to work for the day. Since its inception in 1996, Lee National Denim Day participants have raised more than $93 million for the fight against breast cancer. Funds support the American Cancer Society and their breast cancer programs and services. This year’s theme is “Finish the Fight.” Again this year, TCOE 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.

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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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