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The News Gallery

April 2016

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, Kelley Petty, Dianne Shew, Tony Cavanagh, Nan Arnold, Robyn Cooper, Debra Lockwood, Francia Tapia, Barbara Leal and Nicole Zweifel.

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.


Woodlake Color Run showcased for LCAPs
Administrators invited to conference of ideas on programs to support annual district plans

On Saturday, February 20, over 500 parents and children visited the Castle Rock Elementary School campus in Woodlake to get messy. Everyone in the family who visited the campus was looking forward to a little learning, a little eating, a little running, a little sweating and – most importantly – getting doused with a lot of color powder. The attraction was Woodlake’s first annual MyPlate Color Run and it was conceived by members of School Health Programs’ Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention Program (NEOP) in partnership with numerous education and community health organizations.

At the Color Run, children and their family members were organized into groups at designated stations. Racers ran from station to station, where they stopped, tried a healthy snack, participated in a brief physical activity and then got showered with colored powder.

NEOP Program Lead Robyn Cooper said the event’s success stemmed from the amount of parent, student, community and school participation. “We couldn’t have asked for a better team to help get families out of the house, moving and learning about the importance of healthy eating.” To make the event a fun and educational experience for everyone who attended, NEOP partnered with the Woodlake Unified School District, the California Department of Public Health’s Champions for Change program, the University of California Cooperative Extension and its CalFresh Nutrition Education program, the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency, Family Healthcare Network, Kaweah Delta Health Care District, and FoodLink, Tulare County’s food distribution resource for families in need.


On April 8, the MyPlate Color Run will be showcased along with dozens of other programs and events at the fifth meeting of Educational Resource Services’ (ERS) Learning and Leadership Series. The focus of this meeting will be a discussion on possible actions and services that support the California Department of Education’s eight priorities mandated for district LCAPs (Local Control Accountability Plans). The Color Run is an example of a program that addresses parent engagement, which can be found in the state priorities. Fifteen TCOE program directors will be on hand to discuss possible actions and services that support the district LCAPs.

Charlene Stringham, assistant superintendent of Instructional Services, said “The goal of this Learning and Leadership Series is to promote inter- and intra-district dialogue and collaboration, and to share the tools that support and strengthen district LCAPs. We encourage school personnel involved in the creation and implementation of these plans to attend this free event.”

Leadership Support Services Administrator Marty Frolli reports that TCOE program directors will make brief, three-minute presentations on a variety of services related to visual and performing arts, library/media services, school safety, tobacco use prevention, afterschool programs, Positive Behavior Intervention and Support, health services, school leadership, environmental education, college and career readiness, supporting new teachers, 21st century pedagogy, migrant education, and parent education and involvement. “After the short opening presentations, participants can rotate every 15 minutes to conversation tables where TCOE program directors can discuss more about actions and services that support the eight state priorities measured in the LCAP,” he said. “Our goal is to help districts make their LCAP a viable plan addressing their unique needs with high quality actions and services for their students.”

The Learning and Leadership event will also allow participants to network with other LCAP leads, ask questions and gain ideas for building strong LCAPs which support their students’ growth toward becoming college and career ready. To register for the event, being held Friday, April 8, from at 8:15 until 11:15 a.m. at the TCOE Conference Center at 6200 S. Mooney Blvd. in Visalia, visit

Photos above:
~ Amidst the fun of the recent MyPlate Color Run, held at Castle Rock Elementary in Woodlake, is some serious learning about health and nutrition involving parents and students. These components make the Color Run one of several model programs districts can consider incorporating into their Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs).
~ Castle Rock students take a break from the run to learn about kiwis.

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Tulare County knows Your Character Matters
TCOE and KSEE24 partnership produces heartwarming stories of students with character

On their way to lunch, Joe Gutierrez notices that his friend Rudy’s shoes are untied. Bending down, Joe talks to Rudy and ties both shoes in a simple, thoughtful gesture that speaks volumes about his caring personality. Joe is a student with special needs in Susan Wendt’s Community Based Instruction Classroom (CBIC) at College of the Sequoias in Visalia. His character was celebrated as part of a weekly series on KSEE24 called Your Character Matters – a partnership between the Tulare County Office of Education and the broadcaster.

Your Character Matters

Since the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, KSEE24 has produced 18 segments for the series. The stories highlight individual students or student groups from kindergarten to young adulthood who are exemplifying the Pillars of Character – Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. “In these heartwarming segments, we see model citizens who are serving their community, students who are caring for their classmates, respectful leaders, and responsible young people who are overcoming challenging circumstances,” said Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! Coordinator Kelley Petty. Since the inception of Your Character Matters, Mrs. Petty has worked with Tulare County teachers and administrators to identify students whose stories need to be told. Once identified, Stefanie Bainum, KSEE24 reporter and cohost of the station’s Central Valley Today, captures the students’ stories on camera.

“It’s important to us in Tulare County that we advocate for the benefits of good character education,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “Through our ever-growing efforts to promote CHARACTER COUNTS!, we can help schools in their quest to build positive campus cultures and athletic programs.”

Joe Gutierrez, or “Joe Money” as his friends call him, is a shining example of good character. He not only cares for his classmates and works hard in his CBIC class, but he is also responsible for two jobs – one at the COS Student Center and one as an assistant to the JV baseball coach at Mt. Whitney High School. “Our students know the Pillars of Character and are able to reflect on how their behaviors measure up to those ideals,” explained Susan Wendt.

Your Character Matters

“Education and character impact everyone to some degree,” said KSEE24 Vice President/General Manager Matt Rosenfeld. “Whether you work in education, have children in school, or are looking for skilled workers to employ, we all benefit when education and character are made a priority in our community. These inspiring stories deliver positive examples and role models for others to emulate.”

KSEE24 will wrap up the school year with six more segments of Your Character Matters. The program can be seen on Tuesdays at 3:00 p.m. during Central Valley Today and again during KSEE24’s 5:00 p.m. newscast. To view past segments, visit

Teachers, coaches and administrators interested in building or expanding their character education programs are encouraged to contact Kelley Petty for ideas, resources and trainings. Mrs. Petty can be reached at kelleyp@tcoe.org or (559) 740-4303.

Photos above:
~ Action! KSEE24 reporter Stefanie Bainum records Joe Gutierrez for a segment of the station’s
Your Character Matters program. Joe is a student in TCOE’s Community Based Instruction Classroom at COS.
~ Stefanie Bainum (c) poses with (l-r) Mt. Whitney girls volleyball coach Victoria Johnson and student athlete Lyndsee Gilmore, and student athlete Michael Salazar and Tulare Western baseball coach Ken Searcy.

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Week of activities promotes health and fitness
TCOE employees encouraged to participate in second annual Healthy Habits Day Challenge

For several years, the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency has partnered with other Tulare County organizations to promote Healthy Tulare County Week. The event, scheduled this year for April 4-8, is designed to encourage Tulare County residents to adopt healthy habits that promote overall fitness and well-being.

For its part, the Tulare County Office of Education has selected April 6 as its Healthy Habits Challenge Day. All TCOE employees, regardless of their work location, will have the opportunity to participate. Participants can win prizes and receive tips on leading a healthy, active lifestyle. School Health Programs Administrator Nan Arnold and her committee – which includes Robyn Cooper, Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention Program lead; Barbara Leal, Teacher Induction Programs director; and Debra Lockwood, Educational Resource Services library media supervisor – have created two activities every employee can do, plus two health and fitness events at the Mooney Boulevard and Doe Avenue sites.

Can you drink eight glasses of water in a day? Can you eat three servings of fruit or forego sugary snacks for a day? Then you’re on your way to completing the TCOE Healthy BINGO game. Regardless of location, all TCOE employees can
print a copy of the card and begin Healthy Tulare County Week by completing a few of the 24 activities each day. By Friday morning, April 8, employees who initial that they have completed all activities on the card, can send a copy of it to Travis Brown at tbrown@tcoe.org. Completed cards must be received by noon on Friday to be eligible for a prize drawing.

On April 6, all TCOE employees are eligible to participate in the TCOE Fitbit Challenge. Using a Fitbit, employees can record the number of steps taken from the time they wake up until 11:59 p.m. that evening. Employees who don’t own a Fitbit can use a pedometer or look for a free app to download to their smartphone to track their steps for the day. Participants must register their April 6 step count before 11:59 p.m. that evening at goo.gl/forms/ofeUe8hp5A to enter the prize drawing for the Fitbit Challenge.

Also on April 6, employees who work in or near the Mooney Boulevard and Doe Avenue sites will have opportunities to participate in special health and fitness activities. From 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. at the Mooney Boulevard site, area employees can use their 15-minute break to visit 10 fun health and fitness stations. The stations will be set up outdoors on the east side of the building and include areas for walking, squats, bicep curls, and yoga poses, plus stations featuring the CHOICES rock climbing wall and information on healthy recipes. Tony Cavanagh from the Friday Night Live Program will be on hand with upbeat music and plenty of encouragement. Employees are encouraged to visit each station to receive a stamp on their activities card. Completed cards will be entered into a drawing for additional prizes.

From 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. that afternoon, employees and visitors to the Doe Avenue Complex are invited to use their break time to meet on the northeast lawn. Event organizers will be leading participants on a walk, plus demonstrating yoga on the lawn, and offering samples of infused water and healthy recipes. “There is something for every TCOE employee at the Healthy Habits Challenge – whether you have a fitness routine, or you’re just getting started,” said Nan Arnold. “We hope to encourage each of you to make healthy food and activity choices so that you can be your best for your family and those that we serve.”

For more information on the Healthy Habits Day, contact Nan Arnold at (559) 651-0130.

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Students set to perform April 13-16 in Visalia
Theatre Company's spring production features some student-developed choreography

Children growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s will remember the songs of the Saturday morning cartoon series Schoolhouse Rock. Songs such as Three is a Magic Number, Conjunction Junction, and I’m Just a Bill taught young viewers grammar, science, economics, history, mathematics and civics. This month, the Theatre Company will perform a musical version of the hit television show. The production will be performed April 13-16 at the El Diamante High School Theater with evening shows each night at 7:00 p.m. and a matinee show at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 16.

The production will also feature performances by younger members of the Theatre Company in A Year with Frog and Toad. This year, high schools students in the spring workshop were able to write and choreograph material to selections from Billy Joel’s musical Movin’ Out. Audiences will enjoy hearing Joel’s popular hits performed to some original choreography, including Uptown Girl, She’s Got a Way and For the Longest Time.

Tickets for the production are now available at the Mooney Boulevard office (6200 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia) or the Educational Resource Services office (7000 Doe Ave., Visalia) during normal business hours. Tickets are $10 per person for general admission seating.

Theatre Company Choreographer Nicole Zweifel reports that the Theatre Company will be introducing a summer program for younger students. “Our staff is very thrilled to announce that we have a group of former TCOE students who are going to teach children’s workshops for us this summer.”

For more information about upcoming auditions, visit
tcoe.org/TheatreCo and click on the newsletter. For information on the children’s summer workshops, call Kate Stover at (559) 651-1482.

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Spotlight on People The Tulare County Office of Education lost a valuable employee and trusted community resource on March 19. Gang/Bullying Prevention Specialist Joe Aguilar passed away from complications due to cancer and diabetes. In October 2005, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak hired Tulare County Sheriff’s detective Joe Aguilar to make presentations to students, parents groups and other community organizations about gang activities in Tulare County. Detective Aguilar was a member of the Sheriff’s Gang Violence Suppression Unit for 13 years until he retired from the agency in 2008. Following his retirement, he continued working with the CHOICES Prevention Programs making presentations throughout the county each month.

Spotlight on People On March 17, members of the Center for Collaborative Solutions (CCS) in Sacramento visited the HEART After School Program at Crowley Elementary in Visalia to announce that the program had become a Healthy Behaviors Learning Center. Among California’s 4,500 publicly-funded afterschool programs, only 32 sites have achieved this distinction. To earn a Healthy Behaviors Learning Center designation, afterschool programs must demonstrate measurable impact on the health and well-being of the children they serve in the areas of eating habits, physical activity, community partnerships, food security and childhood obesity. Visitors to the CCS presentation saw kindergarteners doing yoga, third-graders making fresh salsa and older students learning a hip hop dance routine and exercising.

Spotlight on People Last month, 25 middle and high school teams participated in the annual Science Olympiad for a chance to represent Tulare County at the NorCal Science Olympiad competition April 16 at California State University, Stanislaus. The middle school teams that qualified for the state competition include Green Acres Middle School (Visalia), Palo Verde Union School (Tulare), Jefferson Charter Academy (Hanford) and Oak Grove Elementary (Visalia). The high school teams advancing to NorCal include Exeter Union High School, Tulare Union High School, Redwood High School (Visalia), and University Preparatory High School (Visalia). Sundale students launch their car in an event called "Scrambler". The car uses the energy from a falling mass to transport it and an egg quickly along a track, stopping as close to a barrier as possible without breaking the egg.

Spotlight on People The CHOICES Prevention Programs' Anti-Tobacco Challenge Bowl was held March 3 with 24 sixth-grade teams competing. Students prepared for the competition by studying a curriculum on the dangers of tobacco and marijuana use. Perennial champions from Kohn Elementary in Tulare returned to capture the top trophy. Kohn team coach Jennifer Mello poses with (l-r) Sabrina De Landa, Elizabeth Jasso, Vanessa Nanez, Madison Hernandez and Nalani Ginn.

Spotlight on People Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak (l) poses with winners in the annual Farm Bureau Student Art Calendar contest. Valeria Rojas, a freshman at Redwood High School, drew the artwork which is featured on the cover of the calendar entitled “Tulare County Agriculture: From the Farm to You.” Also pictured is Tulare County Farm Bureau Executive Director Tricia Stever Blattler (r). Copies of the calendar will be mailed to teachers throughout the county this month, and are available at the front desk of TCOE's new Mooney Boulevard building while supplies last.

Spotlight on People Fifteen National History Day – Tulare County projects were selected to advance to the state competition being held May 6–7 at William Jessup University in Rocklin. Among the winners was Wendy Martinez of Kings River Union School, who won in the Junior Division Individual Performance category for her portrayal of 19th century investigative reporter Nellie Bly. For complete results from National History Day - Tulare County, visit

Spotlight on People On March 9, County Superintendent Jim Vidak and members of the Tulare County Board of Education held a dedication ceremony for the new TCOE Administration Building & Conference Center at 6200 S. Mooney Blvd. in Visalia. Mr. Vidak shared with the crowd that, in the first two months of operation, the Conference Center had been booked with nearly 200 professional development trainings and student events, attended by 7,000 people. Visitors who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony were invited to take guided tours of the 90,000-square-foot building.

Spotlight on People The second annual STEM Expo was held Saturday, March 12. Hundreds of young people attended to engage in hands-on learning at various activity centers and listen to keynote speaker Dr. Stuart Sumida, a paleontologist who has been an animal anatomy consultant for Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks. At the end of the event, winners of the science fair competition were announced. The six students selected to advance to the California State Science Fair May 23-24 at the California Science Center in Los Angeles are (l-r): Anthony Howard (Grace Christian), Isabella Cawley (St. Rose McCarthy), Meera Kashyup (Sequoia Middle School), Mari Sanders (Sequoia Middle School), and Anna Rioux (St. Rose McCarthy). Not pictured is Kyra Jan Cruz of St. Rose McCarthy. For a complete list of winners, visit tcoe.org/ScienceFair.

Spotlight on People On March 3, Ashley Medina, Logan Fisher, Allen Sanchez and Emilee Satterfield – students from Golden West High School’s Engineering & Agricultural Manufacturing Academy – were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of TCOE’s new Administration Building & Conference Center. Members of the Information Systems department spent the day showing the students their duties as programmers and systems analysts. Information Systems Director Roger Smith is pictured showing the students one of the intermediate data facility rooms, which functions as the hub for phone and data being routed to workstations and offices on each floor of the administration building.

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Gallery Notes

Javier Garcia, a mathematics staff development and curriculum specialist with Educational Resource Services (ERS), has been appointed to the Emerging Issues Committee of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Matthew Larson, NCTM president-elect, said that the committee is second only to the organization’s board of directors in its leadership role. Mr. Garcia joined ERS in 2012 and is part of the math team responsible for professional development training throughout the county.

The annual SCICON Barbecue & Wildflower Festival will be held Sunday, April 17, from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. There is no charge to visit the campus or enjoy the numerous activities, including wildflower walks, and tours of the museum, planetarium, observatory and raptor center. Tickets are available for a barbecue luncheon at $15 per person for adults, $10 for seniors 60 and older, and $5 for children 12 and under. For more information, call SCICON at (559) 539-2642.

On April 20, the CHOICES’ Safe Schools Project will offer a seminar entitled Central Valley Gangs: What You Should Know. Designed for educators, counselors and administrators, the seminar will be presented by veteran police officer Mark Joseph, who will address the most recent gang activity and trends in Tulare County. A registration fee of $50 includes all seminar materials and a catered lunch. For registration details, visit

The Gas Company Challenge for Student Entrepreneurs was held March 9 to give high school students the opportunity to present plans for businesses they had developed. The top prize in the competition and a $2,500 grant from The Gas Company went to Harmony Magnet Academy students Charles Adams, Monserrat Ferrer and Christina Hall. Also at the event, two students received $1,000 scholarships from TUCOEMAS Federal Credit Union for their science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) business ideas. The recipients were Andrew Lewis of Harmony Magnet Academy and Joselyn Yanez of Tulare Union High School.

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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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