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The News Gallery

June 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, Paula Terrill, Ramon Garcia Joy Soares and Norma Erwin.

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.


Play Ball program launched with local ball club
Visalia Rawhide and CHARACTER COUNTS! promote good sportsmanship, love for baseball

Highland Elementary School sixth-grader Daniel Mendoza has enjoyed playing soccer for several years. Thanks to his involvement in a new Rawhide Baseball program called Play Ball, Daniel’s love for baseball is growing. “Soccer and baseball are about equal for me now,” he said. “I’ve liked learning how to throw better, faster and straighter. I also liked learning how to dive for catches.”

Daniel is one of 50 Visalia students involved in the Play Ball program who began attending monthly skills clinics in April. Over the course of the summer and through a total of five clinics, the students will learn the basics of throwing, catching, batting and fielding. The students will also learn about the importance of good character and sportsmanship thanks to an ongoing partnership between the ball club and the Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! Program.

Rawhide partnered with the Wittman Youth Center in Visalia to select the 50 students under 12 to participate from northside schools where baseball is no longer offered. “Just after their first game outing and their clinic, I was absolutely blown away by the students’ attitudes and passion to learn,” said Rawhide General Manager Jen Pendergraft. “It really took me back to when I was a kid being taught how to play for the first time. The kids were sponges and really responded well to every detail!”

CHARACTER COUNTS! At a recent meeting of participants from Highland Elementary, CHARACTER COUNTS! Coordinator Kelley Petty talked to the students about trustworthiness. “Why do you think it’s important to be a trustworthy person when you play baseball?” asked Mrs. Petty. The students responded by describing players the coach could depend on – someone who continued to practice throughout the summer and someone who supported the rest of the team during games.

In addition to the Play Ball program, CHARACTER COUNTS! partners with Visalia Rawhide each year with the Adopt-a-Player program. Schools throughout the county welcome Rawhide players to school assemblies to talk about the importance of sportsmanship utilizing the message of CHARACTER COUNTS! through the Pursuing Victory with Honor Program. In addition, schools have the opportunity to send their students of character to CHARACTER COUNTS! Day at the Rawhide. Hundreds of regular and special education students annually attend a game toward the end of the school year.

The Visalia Rawhide’s outreach clinics have the potential to serve as a national implementation model for Major League Baseball’s Play Ball initiative. The goal of the initiative is to help individuals who don’t have the resources to access organized baseball leagues by giving them foundational skills, exposure to the game and basic equipment to continue playing. Utilizing volunteers from local middle and high school baseball teams, the Play Ball program is impacting dozens of students, fostering a love for America’s pastime, physical activity and good character. “I remember when I was a kid, being in awe of the pro players and watching what they do,” said Rawhide pitcher Brad Keller. “It’s awesome to see the kids’ enthusiasm and willingness to learn the game at such a young age.”

For more information on the CHARACTER COUNTS! sportsmanship programs, contact Kelley Petty at (559) 740-4303.

Photos above:
~ Students practice their throwing and catching skills at the Rawhide Play Ball clinic.
~ Students also reflect on character lessons and the importance of good sportsmanship.

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Carol Lyon wins annual Brent Rast Award
Special Services teacher shows creativity in helping students build life skills

Special Services

Students in Carol Lyon’s class at Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia are learning about money in a very hands-on way. Throughout her classroom are eight shopping stations, filled with tempting items for students to buy with their play money. Student June has chosen to purchase a puppy, some dog food and pet supplies. She takes her purchases to fellow student Gage, who is serving as the cashier. Mrs. Lyon helps both students navigate the transaction – showing June how to figure out the total of her purchases and the amount of money she will need to give to Gage. With the same patient guidance, she helps Gage figure out how much change he owes his classmate.

Looking at the attractive shopping stations, it’s evident that Mrs. Lyon has a background in merchandizing. “She is highly creative and enthusiastic,” said Jill Santivanez, administrator for Severely Handicapped programs in the Visalia area. “Carol is quick to find solutions and makes Mt. Whitney a wonderful educational environment for her students.”

Special Services Last month, Carol Lyon, who serves as the teacher in the Mt. Whitney Special Day Class, received the annual Brent Rast Award from the Special Services Division. Named in memory of Brent Rast, a former Tulare County Office of Education teacher for students with severe needs, the award honors teachers who possess his vision and leadership qualities. Mrs. Lyon received the award at the annual Community Advisory Council luncheon, co-hosted by the countywide Directors of Special Education and the Superintendents Governance Committee. Jill Santivanez surprised her with the award, calling her to the stage before a large audience of administrators, teachers and parents.

Following her graduation from Kansas State with a degree in merchandizing, Mrs. Lyon worked as an aide in a special education classroom for 10 years. At the continual urging of former Special Services administrator Donna Martin, Mrs. Lyon obtained her special education credential. “It was the best thing I’ve ever done,” she said. From that point forward, she worked 10 years in an elementary SDC before coming to Mt. Whitney, where she has been for six years. There, she team-teaches with past Rast Award-winner Jody Fortney. “The students rotate between our rooms, just as their regular education classmates do in high school,” she said. “We structure the rotations to help build their independence.”

With the assistance of classroom aides Nicki Kennedy, Natalia Hernandez and Dacia Silva, Mrs. Lyon helps students build their social and vocational skills through various jobs for school administrators and teachers, including operating the campus coffee cart. The team is also helping non-verbal students access classroom curriculum on iPads, which can also serve as their communication device. “I enjoy seeing students take little steps, which sometimes grow into bigger steps,” she said. Commenting on her recent honor, she added humbly, “We don’t do our jobs for awards; it’s the kids we’re here for.”

Photos above:
~ Brent Rast Award winner Carol Lyon is pictured with students in her classroom at Mt. Whitney High School.
~ Mrs. Lyon utilizes an iPad to help students access class curriculum.

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21st Century Museum exhibits exceptional work
Annual showcase of Project Based Learning draws 65 impressive projects from region

A Night at the 21st Century Museum This year, the A Night at the 21st Century Museum event took on an international flavor with the presence of Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center’s (ERCLC) student “passion projects.” Twelve Eleanor Roosevelt students found that their individual passions for literature, art, film and architecture could be united in Paris, France. The students traveled with their advisor to Paris to research and develop the projects displayed at A Night at the 21st Century Museum on May 3.

ERCLC student Alejandro Pullom based his project, entitled “Hemingway and Company,” on the central question: “How did 1920s Paris life allow literary artists to thrive?” Alejandro’s four-point conclusion accounts for the creative, collaborative and financial freedoms writers enjoyed in Paris nearly 100 years ago. These freedoms contributed to the success of some of the century’s greatest writers, including Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and T.S. Eliot.

A Night at the 21st Century Museum

Around the corner from the ERCLC projects, Farmersville Junior High students Ashley Barrera, Yasmin Angeles and Elizabeth Castro presented a bold project correlating the effects of exercise on academic performance. The young women documented their personal academic performance before and after beginning a rigorous exercise program that lasted several weeks. Elizabeth Castro explained that exercise releases endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, which improve mood, reduce stress and help students persevere. Elizabeth also reported that her GPA increased after several months on the exercise program.

A Night at the 21st Century Museum

On one of the event’s two presentation stages, three young women from Kings River Union School presented their award-winning National History Day project Exploring Fashion of the New Woman 1890-1925: Exchanging Bustles for Bobbed Hair. Alison Meza, Destiny Meza and Sophia Perez portrayed the evolution of fashion in a time when women were gaining greater freedoms – freedoms to work outside the home, to enjoy more recreational opportunities and to vote.

A Night at the 21st Century Museum The 2016 A Night at the 21st Century Museum event featured 65 projects and performances from Tulare and Kings County students. The event was designed to spotlight how schools are utilizing Project Based Learning (PBL) to teach 21st century learning skills. “The museum’s visitors were enamored with the collaborative, creative, and meaningful work that all of the students presented so beautifully,” said Michelle French, TCOE staff development and curriculum specialist for PBL.

For more information on Project Based Learning or A Night at the 21st Century Museum, contact Michelle French at (559) 651-3003.

Photos above:
~ Alejandro Pullam presented his project “Hemingway and Company” on the literary culture of Paris, France in the 1920s at A Night at the 21st Century Museum. This year, the event attracted 65 projects from elementary, middle and high schools in Tulare and Kings Counties.
~ Ashley Barrera, Yasmin Angeles and Elizabeth Castro of Farmersville Junior High School presented a project which tracked the effects of exercise on academic performance.
~ Kings River Union School students Alison Meza, Destiny Meza and Sophia Perez present
Exploring Fashion of the New Woman 1890-1925: Exchanging Bustles for Bobbed Hair.
~ Students from Sycamore Valley Academy in Visalia portrayed various historical figures for visitors.

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INTERNNECT offers real-world experience
Students participate in eight-month design internship to create mock TCOE building


Working with the Tulare County Office of Education as a client, students from architecture and engineering academies at El Diamante High School (Visalia), Harmony Magnet Academy (Strathmore), Lindsay High School, Orosi High School and Redwood High School (Visalia) recently designed a theoretical Wellness Innovation Learning Center – a facility for students to learn about personal and community wellness. Additionally, the project helps students consider the connection between wellness and natural agricultural resources, such as soil and water systems.

The eight-month-long rigorous design competition was a project of INTERNNECT – a program conceived by local architects Mangini Associates Inc. and INNOVATE Tulare-Kings, the regional work-based learning project, in partnership with Tulare County Office of Education and Tulare-Kings Linked Learning Consortium. Each year since 2011, INTERNNECT has offered an internship experience involving a challenging design competition. According to Mangini Associates partner Gilbert Bareng, “This internship program is a discovery process designed to create meaningful experiences for everyone involved,” he said. “Students learn life skills used throughout their educational and professional practice. Teachers explore new ways of facilitating the classroom that invokes creativity, communication, and growth. And professionals interact with clients from a unique perspective.”

"I am continually inspired by the work of all the INTERNNECT student design teams,” said TCOE’s Joy Soares, College and Career director. “Each team demonstrated their ability to create, design, collaborate and deliver a quality engineering proposal that is confirmed by industry and post-secondary partners. This opportunity is more than many college students are given in their undergraduate education. INTERNNECT is definitely a rigorous and relevant college and career readiness approach.”


Student teams were paired with experts from the design, construction, education and healthcare industries. “INTERNNECT allows an interdisciplinary group of professionals to come together and support the students,” said Mr. Bareng. In addition to the network of professional support, INTERNNECT students also had the support of students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. During the course of the program, participants visited the university to meet with third-year students from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, working with them to develop and present design concepts and to receive constructive feedback to improve their work. Students also attended the college’s culminating third-year design studio collaboration, where they experienced a college lecture.

Harmony Magnet Academy submitted the winning project, claiming $3,400 in prizes for the team and the school. Of her experience, team member Kayla Nannette Thibault said, "I have been surrounded by the idea of what it means to build and construct things to work. Architecture became one of my passions and I have learned to see a building as a way to affect people rather than to accommodate. Mangini has exposed me to a way of camaraderie and leadership that I will take to college and my future.”

“What I loved about the INTERNNECT project this year was the abundance of evidence of deeper learning,” said Lesley Taylor, a member of the California Department of Education School Facilities Staff. “I was especially impressed with the team from Orosi High School and the mobile app that they created as a companion piece to their design proposal. I loved that they created a way to transfer information and knowledge to their peers who weren't involved with the project.”

Posters of the project submittals will be on display in the lobby of the Tulare County Office of Education at 6200 S. Mooney Boulevard during the month of June. Readers can also see the posters and the students’ project proposals on the homepage of

Photos above:
~ Students involved in the INTERNNECT internship present concepts for a TCOE Wellness Innovation Learning Center. Teams from five Tulare County High Schools participated in the program this year.
~ Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Professor Tom Fowler gives students feedback on their project proposals.

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Spotlight on People This year, over 800 Central Valley students entered films in the 13th Annual Slick Rock Student Film Festival. More than 450 films were received from middle and high school students in Tulare, Kings, Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno and Kern counties. Eric Ham, the 2015 Best of Show Award winner, returned to capture three awards, including Best of Show for his Public Service Announcement entitled Enter Conscience Driving. Eric is a senior at Minarets High School in O’Neals (Madera County). El Diamante High School (Visalia) students Rishi Shukla, Seth Tadlock, Brizek Howard and Noah Hernandez won the new Best of Tulare County Award, presented by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, for their film Phone Distraction. To see the winning films in each of the festival’s 19 categories, visit
tcoe.org/SlickRock and click on the Rock Winners link.

Spotlight on People Tulare County Physics Day returned to the Porterville Fair on May 11. Nearly 500 middle school students attended the event representing nine Tulare County schools. Students participated in a variety of hands-on activities, including launching rockets and utilizing data-collecting vests designed to measure acceleration and force experienced on the fair’s midway rides. Participants are shown racing a simple air-powered boat made at the event out of a Styrofoam food container, a balloon and a straw.

Spotlight on People In May, Educational Resource Services (ERS) held its reimagined literacy competition entitled Reading Revolution. The event is divided into two divisions – one for upper elementary students (grades 4-6) and one for middle school students (grades 7-8). Students competed in four team events based on 15 books selected for each division. In the middle school division, Sequoia Middle School’s Porterville Page Turners (left photo) captured first place. Pictured (l-r) are seventh-graders Aaron Morales, Ryan Rusch, Andrea Fernandez and Sameera Hussain. In the upper elementary division, Sycamore Valley Academy’s Brilliant Bookworms (right photo) took first place. Pictured (l-r) are Roxana Bahr, Kaitlyn de Lemos, Fernanda Moore and Jillian Reng with team coach Jonna Rasner. TCOE’s Reading Revolution event is led by Library Media Supervisor Debra Lockwood.

Spotlight on People On May 2, hundreds of Tulare County middle and high school students who participated in the annual Step Up Youth Challenge attended a red carpet awards event at the L.J. Williams Theater. During the past seven months, 20 community-based projects were implemented by middle and high school students throughout the county. The awards ceremony highlighted the projects completed by each school. The Best Overall winners were Burton Middle School (Porterville) for their use of the Trevor Project to bring awareness to mental health and teen suicide issues, and Tech Prep High School (Tulare) for their work in developing a tutoring/mentoring project. TCOE’s University Preparatory High School (UPHS) won the Sustainability Award and $2,500 for their development of a parent education program in partnership with Goshen Elementary in Visalia. Pictured (l-r) are Aileen Cerrillos, Colin Tidwell, Laura Toomey, Jamie Doran, Anya Moody, Faith Ontiveros, and team advisor Kyra Muhs. For a complete list of Step Up Youth Challenge awards recipients, visit www.stepuptc.com and click on the “News and Updates” tab.

Spotlight on People The annual Tulare County Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting was held May 2 to honor teachers, administrators and parents for their outstanding service to children with special needs. Special lunchtime entertainment was provided by the Orosi High School mariachi group and three students served by TCOE’s program for the visually impaired (left photo, l-r): Ivonne Luna (a seventh-grader at Oak Grove Elementary in Visalia), Claire Smothermon (a fifth-grader at Burton Elementary in Porterville), and Gloria Martinez (a seventh-grader at Oak Grove Elementary in Visalia). The girls did a beautiful job singing Fight Song by Rachel Platten. The annual Linda Hess Award, which recognizes an exceptional parent, was presented to May Hammoudeh, the mother to two boys in the Visalia Unified School District (right photo). Mrs. Hammoudeh is pictured with Cara Peterson, VUSD’s director of Special Education.

Spotlight on People On May 12 and 13, the growing UPHS Drama Program performed Imaginary Invalid, a three-act comedy by the French playwright Molière, which originally premiered in Paris in 1673. Under the direction of drama teacher David Rasner, the UPHS production featured (left photo, l-r) Jackson Richmond and Elijah Martinez, and (right photo, l-r) Sloane Vanciel and Alexandra Carrillo. The Drama Program adds to the growing list of fine arts opportunities available to UPHS students, including the concert choir, handbell choir, dance and guitar ensembles.

Spotlight on People On April 28, TCOE employees were invited to bring their sons and daughters to work as part of an annual event hosted by the Human Resources Division. College & Career Director Joy Soares opened the event by challenging the children to build a tower out of newspaper. The exercise, which had no detailed instruction, helped the young visitors to think about collaboration and the challenges they faced in completing the assignment. Following the tower project, students and their hosts learned about careers in Media and Entertainment, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Health Sciences and Medical Technology from professionals working in these fields.

Spotlight on People In May and June, the Special Services Division will graduate 55 students from its high school programs, Occupational Therapy Program and 10 Community Based Instruction (CBI) classes. New this year were graduation ceremonies for Dinuba/Cutler-Orosi programs and Exeter/Woodlake programs. Exeter CBI graduate Kendra Williams (left photo) poses between Assistant Superintendent of Special Services Tammy Bradford and Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. Kendra reports that she hopes to continue working at the Exeter Senior Center, where she has been employed through the CBI WorkAbility Program. Dinuba CBI graduate Wyatt Kruger (right photo) listens as his teacher Jennifer McReynolds talks about his plans to continuing taking classes at Reedley College next year.

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Gallery Notes

County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak will host the annual Summer Institute for Tulare County School Administrators on June 15 at the Edison Energy Education Center in Tulare. Open to superintendents, district administrators and principals, Summer Institute will feature Joel Zeff, a national workplace expert, author and humorist, plus breakout sessions on the latest instructional practices, school safety, policies and procedures. The deadline to register is June 10. More information is available at

On May 26, the Tulare County Office of Education hosted the California Department of Education’s (CDE) Gold Ribbon Schools Awards. The awards program was created to honor schools for their outstanding educational programs and practices. Last year, the CDE recognized over 370 middle and high schools, including University Preparatory High School. This year, the organization recognized hundreds of model elementary schools, including four from Tulare County: Golden Valley Elementary and Palm Elementary from Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District; Pleasant Elementary from Tulare City School District; and Sycamore Valley Academy from Visalia Unified School District.

On June 8, the Human Resources Division will host its annual Retiree Reception in the Redwood Conference Center beginning at 5:00 p.m., following the TCOE board meeting. Nearly 40 TCOE teachers, administrators and support staff members who have retired or will retire during the course of the 2015-2016 school year will be honored. The honorees include:

Maria Arreola, Early Childhood Education Program, 25 years
Molly Azandula, Early Childhood Education Program, 26 years
Maria Barba, Special Services-Severely Handicapped Program, 15 years
Norma Burns, Early Childhood Education Program, 21 years
Lidia Carbajal, Early Childhood Education Program, 37 years
Editha Carlos, Early Childhood Education Program, 37 years
Steve Carney, Special Services-Severely Handicapped Program, 26 years
John Caudle, Business Services, 22 years
Frances Coelho, External Business Services, 41 years
Lorrie Conley, Special Services-Severely Handicapped Program, 24 years
Cindy Correia, Information Systems, 19 years
Juanita Cudal, Early Childhood Education Program, 24 years
Susanna Garza, Special Services, 38 years
Susan Griggs, Special Services-Mild to Moderate Program, 17 years
Helen Harrell, Early Childhood Education Program, 20 years
Christina Jimenez, Special Services, 18 years
Ronald Koop, Beginning Teacher Support & Assessment, 28 years
LaDonna Lamb, External Business Services, 38 years
Anna Leon, Migrant Education Program, 24 years
Dan Littleton, Court/Community Schools, 8 years
Yolanda Lopez, Early Childhood Education Program, 30 years
Maria Mendoza, Early Childhood Education Program, 11 years
Ruth Molano, Special Services-Severely Handicapped Program, 20 years
David Mosqueda, Early Childhood Education Program, 21 years
Karen Osborn, Early Childhood Education Program, 13 years
Maria Pacheco, Early Childhood Education Program, 9 years
Nancy Pallanes, School Health Services, 15 years
Susan Pasillas, Special Services, 14 years
Teresa Quintero, Early Childhood Education Program, 22 years
Robert Ridenour, Special Services-Mild to Moderate Program, 30 years
Margarita Rodriguez, Early Childhood Education Program, 29 years
Isabel Sanchez, Early Childhood Education Program, 17 years
Connie Smith, Early Childhood Education Program, 24 years
Sandie Sweeney, Special Services-Mild to Moderate Program, 38 years
Deborah Whitted, California Friday Night Live Partnership, 8 years
Frances Ybarra, Early Childhood Education Program, 19 years
Shannon Younger, Early Childhood Education Program, 15 years

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

Tim A. Hire, 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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