TKCCC Seventh Annual Counselor Conference

Mark Your Calendars:

Seventh Annual Counselor Conference is January 31, 2024
More information coming soon!

2023 Keynote Speaker and Session Presenters

Principal Kafele


Keynote Speaker, Principal Baruti Kafele

Principal Baruti Kafele, a highly regarded urban educator in New Jersey for more than 20 years, has distinguished himself as a master teacher and a transformational school leader. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, NJ, in addition to being named the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, Principal Kafele was a finalist for New Jersey State Teacher of the Year and a recipient of the New Jersey Education Association Award of Excellence. 

As a middle and high school principal, Principal Kafele led the turnaround of four New Jersey urban schools, including "The Mighty" Newark Tech—which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, and which was recognized three times by U.S. News and World Report as one of America's best high schools.

One of the most sought-after school leadership and classroom equity presenters in America, Principal Kafele is impacting America’s schools! He has delivered over 2,500 conference and program keynotes, professional development workshops, parenting seminars and student assemblies over his 35 years of public speaking. An expert in the area of “attitude transformation,” Principal Kafele is the leading authority on providing effective classroom and school leadership strategies toward closing what he coined, the "Attitude Gap.” In addition to writing several professional articles for popular education journals, he has authored twelve books, including his seven ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) best sellers - Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School & in Life, Closing the Attitude Gap, Is My School a Better School BECAUSE I Lead It?The Teacher 50, The Principal 50, The Assistant Principal 50 and his newest release, The Equity & Social Justice Education 50.

Principal Kafele is the creator and host of the popular Virtual Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, streamed live every Saturday morning on his Virtual AP Leadership Academy YouTube channel @ 10:55 a.m. EST. He is the recipient of over 150 educational, professional and community awards which include the prestigious Milken National Educator Award, the National Alliance of Black School Educators Hall of Fame Award, induction into the East Orange, New Jersey Hall of Fame, recognition as one of the World’s Top 30 Education Professionals for 2020, 2021 and 2022 by Global Gurus Top 30 and the City of Dickinson, Texas proclaiming February 8, 1998 as Baruti Kafele Day.

Mayra Adame

Mayra Adame, School Counselor
Modesto City Schools

Mayra Adame is a school counselor at Modesto City Schools. She has been a middle school counselor for seven years and has six years of experience in social work. Mayra is a first-generation college graduate. She graduated from California State University, Stanislaus with her bachelor's degree in psychology. She earned her master's degree in school counseling from Brandman University. Specializing in school counseling, Mayra uses her experiences to help youth reach their fullest potential. She is family oriented and enjoys spending time with her twin daughters and husband during her free time.

Danielle Aguilar

Danielle Aguilar, M.A., Counselor
Summit Collegiate High School, Burton School District

Danielle Aguilar is a counselor at Summit Collegiate High School. She has been in education for over 15 years and is now in her 10th year working for Burton School District (BSD). After growing up going to schools in BSD, she loves being able to work in the district that helped her become who she is. Prior to working for Burton, Danielle worked for the Tulare County Office of Education as a Behavior Specialist and a School Psychologist. Her focus has always been on ensuring students are set up for success. As a high school counselor, Danielle wants to ensure students transition out of the district and into the world prepared and confident.

John Alvarez

John Alvarez, Administrator, Leadership Support Services
Tulare County Office of Education

John Alvarez is an administrator for the Leadership Support Services department at Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE). He provides support to Tulare County school districts in the areas of State & Federal Accountability, including the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). Prior to joining TCOE, John spent 15 years as a school site administrator and 12 years as a classroom teacher in the Visalia Unified School District.

Amelia Bomhoff


Amelia Bomhoff, Policy Analyst
UC Merced Center for Educational Partnerships

Amelia Bomhoff is a Policy Analyst for the Equity and Access unit at UC Merced’s Center for Educational Partnerships (CEP). She is responsible for analyzing data and reviewing policy for multiple school district partners throughout the Central Valley.  Before joining CEP's Equity and Access unit, Bomhoff served as a TRIO Talent Search Student Advisor at multiple Fresno Unified School District sites. After being an advisor of eight years, her most recent role was as TRIO Project Director for CEP's Northern Talent Search grant that serves Le Grand and Delhi High Schools and their middle and elementary feeder schools in Merced County. While in this role, Bomhoff carried out Summer Math and Spring CAASPP Academies that focused on improving students' math skills and preparing them for the California state assessment.  Bomhoff earned her bachelor's degree in world history and cultures from UC Merced, and a master's degree and PPS credential in school counseling from Fresno Pacific University. 

Brandon Castro

Brandon Castro, School Counselor
Merced City School District

Brandon Castro, M.A. P.P.S. (He/Him) is a middle school counselor in Merced, CA, and an adjunct instructor at Stanislaus State. His previous experience was as an elementary school counselor and Mental Health Therapist in the K-12 and private practice settings. He is an Emerging Leader for the California Association of School Counselors (CASC). He serves as a member of the Social Justice, Equity, and Anti-Racism committee and Outreach & Engagement committee. Connect with Brandon on Instagram @counselorbrandon.  

Diego Castro


Diego Castro, Student Services Administrator
Modesto City Schools

Diego Castro is Student Services Administrator at Modesto City Schools and was a former school counselor who led his school to become a Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP). In addition to his position, he is an adjunct professor at California State University, Stanislaus. He currently serves as a CASC Board Director and Central California Representative. He earned his master’s degree in counselor education, PPS Credential, and school administration studies at California State University, Stanislaus. He was a school counselor since 2015 and is passionate about supporting and advocating for his students and colleagues.

Rayane De Souza Silva

Rayane De Souza Silva, MSW, PPSC, Social Worker
Burton School District

Rayane De Souza Silva is a passionate and driven individual who loves working with children. She has been with Burton School District for three years and serves K-8 students. She has a Master of Social Work with a school counseling specialization. Her professional experience comes from working in primary/secondary education with a strong community, mental health, and social services background. Her background guides and impacts her passion and motivation to work with young children. Education was key to a better future for Rayane. Coming to the USA as an immigrant inspired her to work with all students and guide them on a path to higher education and a better future.

Heather Elias

Heather Elias, College & Career Engagement Specialist
Tulare County Office of Education

Heather Elias holds a master's degree in school counseling and has been providing data support at the Tulare County Office of Education for three years. She has a passion for data storytelling, and enjoys working with educators to help them access and harness the power of data to drive transformative change for students.

Tim Elms

Timothy Elms, Ninth Grade Learning Director
El Diamante High School, Visalia Unified School District

Timothy Elms is a Learning Director at El Diamante High School. Previously he taught mathematics at Green Acres Middle School. As a learning director, he enjoys counseling his students and seeing them realize their potential. 

Tom Fox

Tom Fox, English Teacher/Media Arts and Technology, BTSC Developmental Relationships Champion
El Diamante High School, Visalia Unified School District

Tom Fox is an English and Media Arts and Technology teacher at El Diamante High School in Visalia, Calif. Tom's areas of focus at work include PBIS coaching, integrating technology in the classroom, and leadership in El Diamante's Media Arts Linked Learning Academy. He has also served as a Link Crew Coordinator, overseeing freshmen orientation and integration through campus small groups. He is currently the Developmental Relationships Champion for El Diamante's ninth-grade college-ready breakthrough success network.

Brandon Gridiron

Brandon Gridiron, Administrator, Equity and Student Services
Visalia Unified School District

Brandon Gridiron currently serves as the Administrator of Equity & Student Services for Visalia Unified School District. He is responsible for ensuring ALL students of Visalia Unified receive the necessary support to reach their full academic and social potential, and are successfully prepared for college, career, and life success. Mr. Gridiron earned his master’s degree in Counseling Student Services & Administrative Credential in Educational Leadership from Fresno State, where he has also taken additional coursework in the doctoral program in education leadership.

Christina Hopper

Christina Hopper, Business Resource Specialist
Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County

Christina Hopper is a Business Resource Specialist for the Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County, a non-profit organization that helps businesses find the skilled workers they need to thrive. After spending 17 years owning and operating a small business in the Arts and Media sectors, Christina now supports business and education partners through facilitated action planning workshops, connecting them to training opportunities for current and future workers. With a curious and creative mind, Christina also helps organizations rethink the customer journey using UX and Customer Centered Design strategies. 

Lisa Lemus

Lisa Lemus, Leadership Support Services Administrator
Tulare County Office of Education

Driven by a passion to create optimal learning opportunities for ALL students in all environments, Lisa believes social-emotional learning plays a crucial role in empowering students. From her days in the classroom, Lisa found inspiration to advocate for and serve her students with exceptional needs. This inspiration translates to her current role in partnering with districts to study and improve their systems to address inequities and build Multi-Tiered Systems of Support that meet the needs of every child. Lisa currently serves the students of Tulare County through the Tulare County Office of Education's Leadership Support Services department. She is deeply involved in leading district technical assistance, as well as, social emotional learning and equity initiatives within TCOE and throughout Tulare County.

John Merris Coots

John Merris-Coots, Education Programs Consultant
California Department of Education

John Merris-Coots has served as the coordinator of the California Career Resource Network (CalCRN) program at the California Department of Education (CDE) since May 2008. He has been an Education Programs Consultant at the CDE and supported the development of CalCRN’s career development resources since 1998. Under John’s leadership, the CalCRN has developed the California Career Center “virtual counselor” website, the Career Surfer, My Stuff Job Central, and Career Action Plan mobile applications, as well as continuing to expand features on the California CareerZone.

Jennifer Newell

Dr. Jennifer Newell, Director of Behavioral Health Services
Tulare County Office of Education

Dr. Jennifer Newell is a licensed clinical psychologist and the Director of Behavioral Health Services with the Tulare County Office of Education. Through strong collaborative partnerships, Dr. Newell oversees multiple programs that promote mental wellness and provide service and support to meet the mental health needs of students and families across Tulare County.

Justin Paredes


Justin Paredes, Administrator, Leadership Support Services
Tulare County Office of Education

Justin Paredes is an Administrator for the Leadership Support Services department of Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE). His responsibilities include supporting Differentiated Assistance, Comprehensive Support and Improvement, LCAP, and State & Federal Programs. Justin also previously served as History-Social Science Staff Development & Curriculum Specialist for TCOE. He has middle and high school experience teaching history-social science and experience as a middle school site administrator. 

Bernardo Reyes


Bernardo Reyes, Project Director
UC Scholars Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP)

Bernardo Reyes is a Project Director for the Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) at UC Merced's Center for Educational Partnerships (CEP). He is responsible for analyzing data, reviewing policy for 22 high school partners throughout the Central Valley, and ensuring program objectives are being met.  

In his 13 years at the Center for Educational Partnerships, Bernardo served as a TRIO Talent Search Project Director, UC Transfer Scholars Coordinator, UC Migrant Scholars Program Coordinator, and GEARUP Program Coordinator. Before joining the Center for Educational Partnerships, Bernardo served as a middle school counselor.  

Christina Rogers



Christina Rogers, School and Career Counselor
Oregon State University

Christina Rogers is a doctoral candidate in Counselor Education and Supervision at Oregon State University. She is a professional school counselor and private practice career counselor based in California. Her professional background includes adjunct graduate counseling instructor, curriculum developer, and career development trainer for agencies and organizations around the United States and Canada.

Felicia Silva

Felicia Silva, MSW, PPSC, School Counselor
Burton School District

Felicia Silva has been a school counselor with Burton School District since 2015. She has a master's degree in social work and credentials in school counseling and school social work. Felicia has an extensive background working in social services and has dedicated her time to serving students and families to ensure they receive the best support possible for their all-around success.

As a counselor, her aim is to empower all students to have an equitable opportunity to be their personal best through academic achievement, college and career readiness, and self-sufficiency. She desires to motivate students to discover who they want to be and how to support their community. Felicia's commitment is to help students to be successful and not discouraged.

Michelle Steagall

Michelle Steagall, Executive Director
CORE Capability Building Programs

As the Executive Director of CORE’s Capability Building Programs, Michelle Steagall is responsible for bridging the work to support the implementation of Common Core Standards and promoting teacher and principal effectiveness across the eight CORE partner districts. Michelle brings 23 years of school district experience to her work at CORE. She began her educational career as a multi-graded classroom teacher amidst thousands of acres of wheat fields in rural North Eastern Oregon. In 1990, she moved to California to join the Clovis Unified School District family, where she served as a teacher, assistant principal in intermediate and elementary schools, an elementary principal, and the associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction. Additionally, Michelle served for six years as the superintendent of the Clay Joint Elementary School District and the Chowchilla School District, both located in the diverse heart of California, the San Joaquin Valley. Michelle earned a master's in educational administration from Fresno State, and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of La Verne in Southern California and is a licensed curriculum auditor. As a superintendent, she was selected and served on various statewide committees with the California School Boards Association.

Kate Stover

Kate Stover, Staff Development and Curriculum Specialist - Arts
Tulare County Office of Education

Proud to be fourth-generation Tulare County born and raised, Kate Stover is driven by deep local roots and a passion for ensuring equitable access to the arts. She believes in the power of the arts to heal, to empower, and to provide an outlet for creative self-expression. With over 20 years in education, Kate’s diverse experience goes beyond the arts to include work in expanded learning, prevention and early intervention, and cross-sector community engagement. In her role as Staff Development and Curriculum Specialist - Art, for the TCOE, Kate represents the county and the Central Valley as the Region 7 Co-Lead for the California County Superintendents Arts Initiative and the CISC Arts subcommittee. She was the lead writer of the Tulare County Arts Master Plan and is the founder of CreateTC, a local collaborative aimed at uniting education, business, and civic leaders in support of arts and creativity. Within TCOE, she is also the Program Director of the QUAIL (Quality Arts Instruction and Learning) Project, a five-year federally funded program focused on high-quality professional learning and robust community partnerships. Kate is honored to serve the students, families, and communities of Tulare County.

Gabby Verduzco


Gabby Verduzco, School Psychologist & Behavior Analyst
Tulare County Office of Education

Gabby Verduzco is a School Psychologist and Behavior Analyst with the Tulare County Office of Education, serving various K-8 sites throughout Tulare County. She has worked in education throughout Tulare County for over 10 years. As a school psychologist, Gabby supports students and staff in many capacities, including behavior, social/emotional, academics, and mental wellness. Gabby holds credentials in school counseling and school psychology and is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.  

Nicola Wissler

Nicola Wissler, Communications Coordinator
Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County

Nicola Wissler is the Communications Coordinator for the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) of Tulare County. In this role, she is responsible for maintaining branding standards and communication for the WIB and the four Employment Connection Centers in Tulare County. Before her work in communications, Nicola was a business resource specialist with the WIB for two years. As a Business Resource Specialist, she was responsible for engaging with local businesses to identify skills gaps in the workforce and then working with educational partners to develop strategies to narrow those gaps.

Mary Xavier

Mary Xavier, LCSW, Clinical Supervisor
Behavioral Health Services, Tulare County Office of Education

Mary Xavier, LCSW, has over 20 years of experience working with children and families. She worked in various capacities at Tulare County Child Welfare Services from 1999 to 2012. She became a clinician with the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) Behavioral Health Services (BHS) in 2012. In August 2018, she was promoted to clinical supervisor to implement and oversee the Mental Wellness Triage Grant. Currently, Mary oversees both the Mental Wellness Triage Grant and the Mental Health Student Services Act grant through TCOE BHS. 

January 31, 2024

8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Tulare County Office of Education
6200 S. Mooney Blvd.
Visalia, CA 93277

Continental Breakfast

Registration Coming Soon!