2018 Tulare County Kids of Character

Thank you for helping us celebrate
Tulare County Students of Character

Thanks to your participation, over 5,600 young people from 131 schools in Tulare County were recognized. Choose the link below to view a list of all of the students who were nominated.

Complete list of all of the 2018 Kids of Character nominees

On Saturday, October 27, the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register published a two-page ad highlighting the school representatives (one from each of the 131 schools submitted) chosen during the 2018 Kids of Character Week, October 22-27. View the two-page ad. View the descriptions written by the nominators for each of the 131 students.

2018 Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Honorees

Of the more than 5,600 students nominated during CHARACTER COUNTS! Week, 36 were selected as honorees for the Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Celebration held on November 1. Listed below are the nominations of these exemplary students.

Trustworthiness honorees

Top Honoree:

Joe Ray Giron Joe Ray Giron
Pixley Middle School, Pixley
nominated by Deborah McCaskill

Joe Ray Giron is one of our Jaguar student athletes. He is tremendously talented on the field but he brings qualities of Victory With Honor into the classroom. He works to fine tune his skills, teach others, and models a never-give-up attitude. He has really stepped up to participate in classroom discussions, model work for his peers, and accept the challenge to improve every day. Seeing how he applies "grit and determination" in the classroom makes him one of our stand-out players on our classroom team and I look for great and wonderful things to come from this young man. He is truly trying to live the Jaguar DREAM and his dedication and respect for learning is contagious!! I have been thinking about what I have seen in him since starting school and there is no doubt that he is a very charismatic student. With that type of leverage, he could do many things. What I am seeing emerging in him is a desire to lead in a more positive way in the classroom. He is developing a strong desire to step up in the classroom as a peer teacher, sharing his ideas and thoughts. In doing this, he is modeling great student skills and capturing the attention of those students who already gravitate toward him. He is working very hard to learn how to compromise and blend his ideas with others and is doing an excellent job building a skill set for mediating problems and issues by listening better and working through the situation. What I see in Joe Ray is a developing student leader who will certainly do magnificent work in the future.


Renne Cortez Renne Cortez
Freedom Elementary School, Farmersville
nominated by Socorro Lozano

Renne Cortez is one student that has made major leaps to succeed as an exemplary student. When Renne came to my fourth grade class I knew I had a challenge in my hands. At first he refused to cooperate with me and refused to complete classwork or turn in homework. However, I managed to get him to work for me and I was amazed on his improvement and his positive attitude towards school. Throughout the year, he completed every assignment and project that was assigned to him. Renne promised me that he would continue to do well in 5th grade. Just recently, I was invited to a special ceremony for Constitution Day, by Renne's 5th grade teacher, Mr. Reyes. Fifth grade students are asked to volunteer to recite the preamble and as amazing as it sounds, Renne volunteered to recite the preamble. I feel that this young man has kept his promise to proceed in school with a good attitude and a goal to succeed in school. I truly believe he is worthy of being the recipient of the Kids of Character Award for the pillar of trustworthiness.

Lizbeth Martinez Lizbeth Martinez
West Putnam Elementary School, Porterville
nominated by Rebecca Perez

Lizbeth tells the truth and keeps her promises. She can be relied upon to give honest information that is helpful when a substitute teacher takes over the class. She has many friends who know she will be honest with them and will not try to cheat when they play. In the classroom she is aware of the classroom rules and does her own work when working independently. Liz is a great person and a pleasure having her in my class.

Andrew Mora Andrew Mora
Sundale Union School, Tulare
nominated by Cindy Gist

Andrew Mora has been a student at Sundale for nine years. Throughout these nine years he has continued to grow in his character to the point now where staff see him as such a mature student who can not only be counted on to do what is right all the time (even when no one is looking), trusted to take care of tasks on the school site (just as we would ask an adult to do), and a level of integrity that is beyond the expectation. Andrew is an overall honorable student. He has contributed so much to our Ag Trading Post, that staff is wondering what we will do without him next year, after he has graduated.

Asiary Palacios Asiary Palacios
Harmony Magnet Academy, Strathmore
nominated by John Denicola

I have Gaby, as she is known by her friends, in two classes this year where she consistently displays the attributes of honesty and trustworthiness. She is one of the pillars of our school's Academic Decathlon team where she has become one of the group's leaders despite this being her first year on the team. She leads by example and has developed a reputation for being stand up and helpful to her peers. Her word has become her bond and everyone knows that her words always ring true. She has turned in every assignment asked of her and she typically submits work prior to the stated deadline. I might add that all of her work is complete or has gone beyond what has been asked of her. She is truly a pleasure to have in class and I wish that I had more students like her. Asiary Palacios is the personification of integrity and commitment, which makes her a positive addition to any class in our school.

Damein Sotelo Damein Sotelo
Westfield Elementary School, Porterville
nominated by Trini Nava

Damein Sotelo is a 4th grader at Westfield Elementary in Porterville. Damein is the son of Maryann and Raul Sotelo. Damein is honest, straightforward, and keeps his promises. Though Damein has had some setbacks early in life, one cannot tell for he is enthusiastic and has the most amazing attitude. He is generous in spirit, and if he does something wrong, he is not afraid to admit it. He tells the truth just like Abraham Lincoln. With these wonderful characteristics, Damein could strive to be the President of the United States one day. Damein set a goal to make it to the first Accelerated Reader party and he did just that. Congratulations, Damein! You are a gem of a human being and we are happy that you are a part of our Westfield family!

Respect honorees

Top Honoree:

Daizy Duran Daizy Duran
Mission Oak High School, Tulare
nominated by Roger Robles, Mike Hazelwood, Luis Cobarruvias, Laurie Jones

Daizy is a very respectful and hard working young lady. She is a tremendous asset to our student body. (CITIZENSHIP) Daizy gets the Citizenship award because she is AMAZING. Her family was torn apart due to her Mom's drug use and her siblings were split into foster care. She is still searching for them. I start with this because this is a girl who should not be excelling...yet is. She reads the bulletin and pledge of allegiance every single morning to 1800 on our campus. (She was the only one of my 100 Speech Communications kids to volunteer!) Then, she served me dinner in the McDonald's drive-through the other night (I had no idea she worked that part time job!) She is also one of my most dedicated Speech Communication students. She has a smile on her face for every single activity we do. Daizy, simply put, makes the world a better place even though the world has not been kind to her. Daizy is a vital member of our Link Crew organization. She goes above and beyond to make sure everyone is having a great time at our events, and she almost single-handedly brings our parties to life, allowing others to follow suit. (RESPECT) Daizy always goes out of her way to greet me throughout the day. She fills my heart, regardless of the fatigue of mental exhaustion.


Lizelle Ayon Lizelle Ayon
Lincoln Elementary School, Exeter
nominated by Kim Shipley

Lizelle is an extremely responsible student. She is always on task, always focused, and shows responsibility in all that she does. She makes sure her work is done completely and neatly. She always has her work in on time and done to the best of her ability. She makes sure to complete any assignments that she missed while she was out and makes sure to follow up with me to find out if there is anything else she needs to complete. Lizelle always knows where her supplies and materials are. She makes sure to keep things put away in the correct place and is able to get to them quickly when needed. Lizelle is a respectful young lady. She is careful and considerate of others. Lizelle shows that respect to both students and adults both in and out of the classroom. Her respect shines through her kindness and her willingness to help out anyone in need. She has a calm, respectful spirit that is a welcome addition into any team/group that she is in. Lizelle is also respectful of her things. She is organized, puts her things away, takes care of them, and always knows where things are. From a young age, Lizelle has faced many huge challenges, but she does not give up. At an early age she was diagnosed with cancer. During all the treatments, surgeries, and illness that happened, she ended up missing almost a complete year of school. As the years have progressed, her health has still caused more challenges as she continues to deal with almost constant pain as well as has many ongoing doctor appointments during the day. Despite the pain, Lizelle works through her daily life and joining in on activities including PE despite missing school time. Lizelle is on task, quick to move to learning areas, patient with others, responsible for her own learning, respectful to everyone, and is always shining with a smile and a learning spirit.

Drew Gonzales Drew Gonzales
Valley Life Charter School, Visalia
nominated by Lori Lackey

Drew Gonzales is a 5th grader at Valley Life Charter School. Drew is a very patient, caring, and giving young man. He spends a lot of time at school, as his dad is employed by VLCS. During the summer, when most kids are out playing games, Drew is his father’s shadow, helping to run wires, and doing whatever he is capable of doing. One of the things he started doing over the summer was collecting the families cans and bottles, and leave it outside in a special place, for a homeless lady, who regularly comes by to pick them up. An important lesson that is taught at Valley Life - is to “sharpen the saw”. This includes taking care of you, mentally and physically. Students learn at an early age that it is important to take care of your body, by exercising, and eating healthy. Drew plays football, and has recently become interested in the Keto diet. With his dad getting into Keto, Drew decided that he too needed to take it upon himself to learn about the Keto lifestyle. As he researched, he found a keto chocolate chip cookie recipe. He made a batch, and was jokingly encouraged to bake and sell the cookies. His first weekend, he sold about 5-6 dozen cookies. One night, he asked his dad for an envelope. It was later found that Drew took $10.00 from his new cookie baking venture, placed it in the envelope, and put it with the bottles and cans that he leaves out for his newfound friend to find when she picked up the bottles and cans. When I heard about how selfless and giving Drew was, I knew I had to nominate him for Character Counts. He is young man that is always trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, caring and is involved with his family and community. I am happy to nominate Drew Gonzales for the Pillar of Respect, as he shows respect to all, regardless of social status, ethnicity, disability, or age.

Lincoln Jefferson Lincoln Jefferson
Garden Elementary School, Tulare
nominated by Sarena Silva

Lincoln is a Kindergartener whose manners and consideration for others go far beyond his years of experience. He is the most polite five-year-old that I have ever met. The way that he speaks to adults and children alike shows that he values them as people. His level of respect is noticed by other adults and children at school. Parent volunteers and other staff members frequently comment on how respectful and kind he is. He thinks of other students before himself, which is a difficult thing to do in Kindergarten. He always does what he can to help his friends in need and makes a point to commend other students who he sees doing a good job. He can often be found returning a lunch pail to a friend who forgot it on the playground or asking if there is anything that he can do to help in the classroom. He notices when other students are upset and always asks if they are OK or if they would like someone to play with. He is a selfless young man who has a positive impact on the lives of everyone that he comes in contact with, with his outstanding manners.

Uriel Perez Uriel Perez
Alpaugh Elementary School, Alpaugh
nominated by Francisco Hernandez

Uriel Perez is a gentleman who shows respect in and outside of the classroom. He shows respect as he collaborates with his group members by listening to everyone's ideas and including everyone in the group discussion and activity. Furthermore, he treats everyone with dignity and uses good manners by saying please and thank you. Additionally, he keeps a smile on his face and always says good morning to every staff member he encounters. He is also a role model to his peers because he accepts everyone for who they are and includes them when he plays sports during recess time.

Aleena Romero Aleena Romero
Woodville Union School, Woodville
nominated by Yesenia Martinez

Throughout the years, I have had the pleasure of knowing so many wonderful kids that have one or two of the pillars. This year, I was blessed with a variety of children with so many personalities and character. However, when I read the definition of Character and the significance of the Six Pillars, all that comes to my mind is Aleena Romero (she has all Pillars). Aleena transferred to Woodville late August and at first I assumed she was just afraid or timid. Many days have gone by and Aleena is still the same student she was the first day she walked in to my 2nd grade classroom. She is a very respectful child. She follows the rules and ensures that her education comes first. She is always on task and goes far and beyond when doing her work. She knows well that in my classroom there is no such thing as "I am done!". Having her in my classroom has balanced the class atmosphere. Through her, many classmates see the true meaning of respect and they try to be as respectful as she is. She never complains about a task given. She is always ready to learn and appreciates every moment of education I give her. Aleena started late in our class but she has impressed us with her ability to give respect to adults and to her peers. Many may say respect is an easy thing to give or do, but I say the contrary. As the years go by, respect is one of the Six Pillars I saw fading slowly, but having Aleena in my classroom has given me hope to keep on believing and teaching the Pillars!

Responsibility honorees

Top Honoree:

Joanna Marucci Joanna Marucci
Tulare Union High School, Tulare
nominated by Kim Castro, Mark Hatton

Jo is absolutely amazing. This is her second year as a foreign exchange student at our school and even with cultural and language barriers she thrives here at Tulare Union. She works so hard to make sure she is earning high grades in all her classes. She is involved in sports and ASB. She has the biggest heart and is incredibly mature but also responsible! I can only imagine how difficult it is to be away from your family but she was always upbeat, caring, and helpful. She would go above and beyond to help those around her in class. She has excelled at managing school, sports and a social life. She is inclusive, always accepting others and befriending those who are in need. She easily fits all of the Pillars of Character. (RESPONSIBILITY) If you want something done then ask Joanna! She is the most responsible girl that we have in school.


Melissa Gonzalez Melissa Gonzalez
Jefferson Elementary School, Lindsay
nominated by Gina Wise

Melissa Gonzalez is an 8th grade learner at the Jefferson Learning Community. Over the years, staff at Jefferson have witnessed and can attest to Melissa’s growth. Just like most learners, Melissa has made her share of mistakes in the past, but she is proof that you do not have to be perfect to make an honorable decision. Melissa is a responsible friend and her honorable decisions far outweighed the popular options in order to provide a safe result.

Ayvah Gutierrez Ayvah Gutierrez
Goshen Elementary School, Visalia
nominated by Frank Ghiglia

It is with great honor and privilege that I recommend Ayvah Gutierrez for the Character Counts Award. It was difficult picking just one of the six pillars as Ayvah demonstrates them all every week, but of the six she represents most is the pillar of Responsibility. Ayvah is one of those students that make a teacher smile every morning and look forward to going to the classroom. I know that she is attentive to instructions, is mindful of her duties and responsibilities as a student, and is a model for her peers. In the morning, before school has even started, Ayvah asks if she can sharpen pencils for me. She does not do this to curry favor; rather, she knows this is an important tool in the classroom for all students. Ayvah asks to do this because she wants her fellow students to be as successful as her by being prepared for the day. This is a rare quality in an 8 year old and I couldn’t be happier that she models this for other students. During the school day, Ayvah is always on task, never looking for an opportunity to socialize or do something that was not instructed. She does her very best to look for answers to her questions on her own instead of immediately asking for help. This is an excellent example of Responsibility. Ayvah has learned an important skill that will serve her well on her path to higher learning. Ayvah’s drive to succeed through hard work, dedication, and perseverance guide her to being a more responsible student each and every day. Her contagious modeling of Responsibility is having a positive impact on the class and there is a noticeable difference in atmosphere since the beginning of the school year. It is for these reasons that I believe Ayvah should receive the award for Responsibility. There is no finer student I know that shows such exceptional characteristics that we educators strive to instill in our children. Thank you Ayvah for being such a blessing at Goshen Elementary School!

Jaydin Harding Jaydin Harding
Porterville High School, Porterville
nominated by Robert Aguilar

Jaydin Harding had been late to class 5 times during the 1st 2 weeks of school. I spoke with him and ask him why he is always late, his response was that he had to take his cousin to work and take his grandmother to another family's home in the morning. Since Jaydin was the only other person that was able to drive, this was his responsibility to his family. I told him that I was proud of him to have this responsibility to his family but he also has his own responsibility to his school attendance and work. I ask Jaydin what time in the morning that he wakes up and his response was that he wakes up at 6:30am consistently and then he follows his routine. I suggested to him that maybe he should set his alarm at 6:15am to give him those extra minutes to be able to do his family responsibility and maybe make it to school in time. It has been 12 days in a row that Jaydin has made it to class in time. Every day he reminds me of the number of days in a row that he has made to class on time and still counting. I am very proud of Jaydin for making this adjustment so that he can fulfill both his responsibility to his family and to his school attendance and work.

Scarlett Quiroz Scarlett Quiroz
Pleasant Elementary School, Tulare
nominated by Marvin Brock

I nominate Scarlett Quiroz, a fourth grade student at Pleasant Elementary, for the pillar of Responsibility. Scarlett has Autism but that does not factor in her ability to always do the right thing. Scarlett has worked extremely hard in the her classroom, in the Special Education room, and with her family on her reading to improve from a non-reader at the beginning of third grade to reading at the third grade level in her fourth grade classroom. Scarlett has learned to always try her best even when tasks or assignments are difficult. Scarlett is well liked by her teacher and her peers and always demonstrates and symbolizes great responsibility for her work and helping her younger brother. It is my pleasure to nominate Scarlett for her ever present character of Responsibility.

Briana Zamudio Briana Zamudio
Richgrove School, Richgrove
nominated by Adena Joseph

Briana Zamudio is extremely responsible. She always comes to class prepared; she has her work out and ready to go on her desk every day. She is a hard worker, always does her best, and willingly participates in class. I am so proud of her because she does her best no matter what is going on around her- she always stays positive! She says good-bye to me every day as she leaves the classroom, and Briana often asks to volunteer in my classroom after school to earn her community service hours. Whenever I ask her to run an errand she always does with a smile. Briana is a model student, a kind young lady, and an excellent role model to her peers. Thank you Briana!

Fairness honorees

Top Honoree:

Natalya Ruelas Natalya Ruelas
Waukena Joint Union School, Tulare
nominated by Christy Dawes-Hansen

Our fourth grade class has many students who could be chosen for the pillar of fairness, but the class chose Natalya for these reasons: She plays fair, she takes turns, she treats people fairly and she follows the Golden Rule! I couldn't agree more! I would also add that she does not try to take advantage of others. She clearly exemplifies the pillar of fairness.


Kayden Meneses Kayden Meneses
Oak Valley Union School, Tulare
nominated by Crystal Alves

I have chosen to nominate Kayden Meneses for the pillar of citizenship. I have had the privilege of getting to know Kayden Meneses the last two years as she has served as my teacher's assistant in my Transitional Kindergarten class. Though Kayden truly displays all characteristics of each pillar I felt that the pillar of citizenship is well represented by Kayden. Miss Kayden comes to our classroom each and every day to prep center activities, work with each and every child, and help foster a classroom that truly loves learning. She goes above and beyond to support each and every child and show them they are loved and cared for in room 501. She has assisted with creating a family-like environment, which truly allows each and every child to learn and grow! Here are a few stories that truly represent how Kayden is doing her share in our school community and beyond. One day Kayden was assigned to work with my students at the beginning of the year and teach them how to play with Play-Doh and use the various Play-Doh tools at the center. I noticed that she was engaged with the students and asking them very teacher-like questions. "Arianna, what is your favorite color of Play-Doh?" As I'm overhearing these conversations and observing the family-like relationship she has with my students my heart is filled with happiness and my eyes can barely hold back tears of joy. A few moments later I noticed she has her notebook open and she is writing down each student and their color preference. Not only was she teaching the students at the center, she was engaging the students in conversation, and she was taking notes on each student. I just could not believe my eyes!!! What seventh grade student would truly take that much interest in a group of four and five year olds? She showed them that she was part of our classroom family and she truly cared about each and every child. The story continues though, a few weeks later Kayden arrives with Halloween treat bags for each and every child in our classroom family. My 16 students are beyond thrilled that Miss Kayden spent her time and money to create them a special little bag for Halloween. As each and every student opens their bag I noticed that one of the items was a container of Play-Doh. I see my students jumping for joy because Kayden remembered their favorite Play-Doh color and strategically placed them in their Halloween treat bag. I hear my students saying.... Miss Kayden you remembered my favorite color? The excitement in their eyes and love in their hearts was truly a memory I will cherish forever. This story is a true representation of how Kayden does her part to help foster a family environment in our classroom and promote a positive school community at Oak Valley Union School District. My last story is one that is dear to my heart because it truly represents what a good citizen would do for our school and community. Summer was approaching quite fast and Kayden and I had countless conversations about what we were doing for summer and how we were excited for summer, but will also miss our time together during the summer. By this time Kayden was well aware that our last day of school would come and then that next Monday I would begin summer school for two weeks with a brand new group of four year olds that haven't been to school or away from their families very often. I mentioned to her if she ever got bored in the next few weeks she could stop by and visit our new class. She wasn't too sure of her schedule, but knew she possibly would have a family vacation coming up. She seemed enthused to try to stop in and meet our new little group of learners. The first week of summer school goes by and it is Monday of our second week. I see Kayden walk on in and ready to spend the day with us at 7:45 in the morning. Every day she showed up and extended a helping hand with our new family of learners! She is doing more than her share to promote the core values with our Oak Valley family!

Marcela Pena Marcela Pena
Alice G. Mulcahy Middle School, Tulare
nominated by Marlena Sanchez, Katy Thompson

Marcela is Mulcahy Middle School's Student Body President. She is absolutely wonderful and is one of the most respectful scholars around. Marcela demonstrates the pillar of respect by showing new scholars around campus. She has also assisted with parent conferences by greeting and welcoming parents/scholars. Marcela is also involved in school sports and gets along well with her peers by demonstrating team work and hard work (on and off the field). She truly is a class act. Marcela epitomizes fairness. She is the president of Mulcahy Middle school and while she ran for this office she often encouraged the other person running to do their best. Marcela is a kind and helpful student that is often seen helping others and is usually the first student her teachers turn to for help. She is also a member of the Mulcahy broadcasting team where she conducts interviews, records segments, and has to write her own scripts. She wants others to succeed in the newscast and helps them when it is time to write their scripts. Marcela also serves on the yearbook team. She writes articles for our school paper and takes pictures for the yearbook. She has to take pictures and work with kids that aren’t a part of her social group and not only does she do that, but she seeks out those students and make them feel a part of our school. You would be hard pressed to find a better representative for the character trait of fairness on this campus. Even though this school is filled with many students of character, Marcela stands high above her peers with her kindness and caring for others!

Gina Regalado Gina Regalado
Alta Vista School, Porterville
nominated by Vanessa Reilly

Being helpful, kind and generous is exactly who Gina Regalado is. In her family life, Gina has a special needs brother and the empathy she has for others stems from that part of her life. You can sit back and watch her in and out of the classroom flock to those with special needs and know exactly how to make them feel part of the community. She is a fierce friend and defender of those around her. She has patience with all where others would lash out. You can always count on her to make sure everyone in her group/on her team is equal not less.

Ashley Reyes Ashley Reyes
Ivanhoe Elementary School, Ivanhoe
nominated by Osiel Garcia

Ashley is an extremely fair person. She is honest and sincere at all times. Ashley has the ability to play by the rules in and out of the classroom. She is extremely passionate and competitive, but she will refuse to take part of any cheating. During collaborative activities, Ashley makes sure everybody has equal saying in a conversation. Ashley is an honorable student always going the extra mile to help others. She always treats her classmates and staff with respect and admiration.

Elizabeth Torres Elizabeth Torres
Tulare Union High School, Tulare
nominated by Amy Bailey

Elizabeth is in her 2nd year of varsity softball. She is someone I can trust with anything! One thing that makes Liz the perfect model of fairness is that she consistently meets team expectations. Her junior year she didn't get a lot of game time, but every single small role she could play during the game she did with her whole heart and successfully. Liz knows the importance of teamwork and how each and every job is important. She is at every day of practice and she helps others to understand the expectations. She even monitors the locker room at a peer level to make sure that nobody misses the bus. She does this because she wants her teammates to be successful and she wants everyone on the team to be treated fairly and respect the importance of the rules.

Caring honorees

Top Honoree:

Alejandro Diaz Alejandro Diaz
Mt. Whitney High School, Visalia
nominated by Tim Perrotta

Alejandro worked 100 ours as an intern at Quail Park Senior Care Community during the summer of 2018. He served as a recreational specialist and performed many tasks for the residents of Quail Park. Alejandro set up games, arranged furniture for activities, spent time talking and engaging with residents, and leading them in various art and other interactive activities. He even took on the responsibility of watering their flowers and greenery without being asked. Alejandro loved his position and bonded with numerous residents during his tenure there. Looking back, he says that it was a great experience and is definitely something he wants to do in the future either as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or in another health professional capacity. His caring attitude and kind attention to the residents quickly made him a favorite of the staff. Alejandro is definitely an exemplar of the pillar of Caring.


Angelica Chapa Angelica Chapa
Butterfield Charter High School, Porterville
nominated by Janet Uresti, Maricela Garcia

Angelica is an extremely caring student. Angelica is always smiling and happy, even though she has not had the smoothest experience in high school. Angelica's mom had a stroke last year and lost the use of one side of her body. Angelica serves as a nurse for her mother by preparing food and by carrying out tasks around the house to ensure the household is running. She stopped attending a comprehensive high school and started attending Butterfield because it allowed her to be at home during the day and help out around the house. Angelica does not mind helping her family and wants to become a nurse someday. I am really proud of her!

Albert Ferreira Albert Ferreira
Alpine Vista School, Tulare
nominated by Jason Black

Albert encourages his peers with kind words. "Would you like me to help you draw the background?" he recently asked his buddy class partner. The teacher of our buddy class had previously asked me for Albert's name and commented on how kind to her students Albert has been each time our classes have met. On another occasion I noticed Albert getting a band aid and wet towel even though he hadn't mentioned an injury. He took the items to a classmate who had a cut and later Albert said, "I want to be a doctor." Another teacher, who had come in to work with our jazz band drummer, shared that the Bari Sax player (Albert) had turned around several times and given our drummer a thumbs up with encouraging comments. Albert is a caring and considerate student who is eager to include and encourage.

Angel Garcia-Banda Angel Garcia-Banda
Dinuba Community Based Instruction, Dinuba
nominated by Jennifer McReynolds

Angel attends our TCOE Community Based Instruction Class in Dinuba. Angel is the epitome of a caring, helpful, kind and selfless individual. He always seizes the opportunity to help a classmate or educational staff in need. We have one student in our classroom who uses a wheelchair and Angel steps in to assist regularly without being asked by any of our staff. He does thoughtful acts of kindness such as assisting her to get her work materials and put them away; he helps her throw her trash away and clean her tray after lunch; he gives her an extra hand by pushing her when the distance is long and tiring. He never oversteps and is always considerate of her wants, needs and feelings. Angel volunteers for tasks asked of educational staff that no one else wants to do. He is a good worker and shows respect to others by addressing them by name each morning upon arrival and saying goodbye at the end of each day. He is very polite and always says thanks for a kind gesture directed toward him. Angel is an excellent role model for the pillar of Caring.

Antonio Rodriguez Antonio Rodriguez
Pioneer Middle School, Porterville
nominated by Carla Dotson-Rhoden

Before school one morning, I was trying to get my teacher cart down the sidewalk, it was loaded down with a crate stacked on top. Antonio, saw me and asked if I needed help. Reminder: I work at a middle school, students often just walk on by. Antonio saw me struggling and said, "Do you need help, Mrs. Rhoden?" I was relieved and responded very appreciative, that yes, I indeed needed some help with my cart. Antonio is always very cordial and respectful. He went above and beyond that when he offered to assist me. He gave up some of his free time before school to walk with me and carry my crate to the classroom for me. This is but one item that stands out in my mind for Antonio in his constant caring of others.

Joseph Vasquez Joseph Vasquez
Tulare Western High School, Tulare
nominated by Claudia Ruiz

Joseph has impressed me with his caring heart. He suggested that his fellow classmate and neighbor be added into my Spanish class. This other student is a TCOE special day class student on our campus. I was able to work something out with his teacher to have him attend my class for that particular period. Joseph has been an awesome classmate and very helpful with this other student. He has made him feel very welcomed and a part of the class. He helps him with the assignments. It is very rewarding to see this young man give his time to benefit someone else. It is also rewarding to see this other student smile and be proud to participate in a Spanish class. I look forward to seeing both young men grow and learn from each other this year.

Citizenship honorees

Top Honoree:

Andres Guzman Salas Andres Guzman Salas
Roosevelt Elementary School, Tulare
nominated by Fabian Valdes, Cololeen Withnell

Andres Guzman is always being a great example to others in the CHOICES After School Program. He is always offering a helping hand when ever he can. Andres is a great leader to have for us in our program. He has made it easier for students who are new in our program and showed them our expectations and procedures. (CITIZENSHIP) Andres shows excellent character in our classroom. He is our nominee for citizenship. He is willing to cooperate with others and help them when they need it. He follows the school rules and classroom rules. He respects the school staff and other students by listening attentively. He keeps his work areas clean and always treats his school materials correctly. He is thoughtful and kind to other students. We are so happy to have such a wonderful student in our class. Super job, Andres!


Ace Castro Ace Castro
Castle Rock Elementary School, Woodlake
nominated by Monica Figueroa

Last year Ace Castro was in my 4th grade class, and he would set the bar high for his character in class. First, he would always speak like a professional so that everyone could hear him clearly. Second, he would offer his assistance to anyone in the class that needed help in any area especially writing. And finally, Ace would stay after school with other students and have wonderful discussion with me about life. He would ask me about what I wanted to be when I grow up as well as many other questions. Ace and the team of students who stayed after school created a fun and caring environment for the rest of the students.

Juan Gonzalez Rojo Juan Gonzalez Rojo
Cutler Elementary School, Cutler
nominated by Denise Vanderwall

Juan displays the pillar of citizenship in that he is our school mascot. Due to him being extremely tall for his age, and more importantly having great enthusiasm, Juan has agreed to be our school mascot. Juan takes time out of his school schedule and personal time to dress up in the wildcat costume to help with all types of school assemblies, school functions, parades and numerous other extracurricular activities - all while being dressed in a very warm costume from head to toe. While in character, Juan does an amazing job of putting on a show - dancing when needed, greeting students and adults, handing out high-fives, and playing silly games. He really does a great job, for just being a kid dressed as a mascot - he is up there with Mickey Mouse and Parker from the Grizzles! Even though he has to take time out from class, Juan continues to learn and quickly catch up to where he needs to be in his academics. He constantly challenges himself to read more and more each week - surpassing his AR goal for the trimester. He takes time on his work and gives his best effort both in the class and dressed as the mascot - he definitely portrays the pillar of citizenship.

Kaylie Luna Kaylie Luna
Pleasant View Elementary School, Poplar
nominated by Tashima Irving

I must acknowledge a warm, loving, and exceptionally responsible young lady whose name is Kaylie Luna. Kaylie is a student who stands out among the crowd. She is very soft spoken, but can lead the class in every area. I call her the "mature one". Kaylie is articulate and always willing to help me with my daily duties; whether it's passing out homework folders, cleaning up stations, setting up computers or organizing papers. I often catch her scanning the room and reminding her peers to stay on task. She is my homework monitor and I watch how she manages to get the attention of the class, just as a teacher would, before she begins to pass out the folders. It is great to see her leadership ability. If someone is unsure of what to do or where to go she is the first one to assist them. Kaylie is humble, even though, she is assertive and excels academically. She often comes in on any given morning and tells me all about her busy day. How she has a sports game, dance practice, and still manages to read her chapter book and complete all of her homework. She is a jump ahead of others in the working world and she is only in the 1st grade! I truly look forward to seeing Kaylie grow even more. She is such a joy to have in my class.

Aidan Perez Aidan Perez
Castle Rock Elementary School, Woodlake
nominated by Monica Figueroa

Aidan is Ace Castro's best buddy and they were always together. During class, Aidan would help his peers in math, writing, and reading. With confidence, he would suggest ideas, correct me if I was wrong, and shared his academic talents with the other students in class. Aidan and Ace were always questioning my thinking, and Aidan always asked my opinion. Aidan would also show respect to adults and students on campus.

Ana Rojas-Oliva Ana Rojas-Oliva
Mt. Whitney High School, Visalia
nominated by Tim Perrotta

Ana volunteered as an intern for 100 hours in the Kaweah Delta Hospital Mother and Baby unit during the summer of 2018. While working with the staff at the hospital, Ana demonstrated maturity and professionalism while interacting with staff and patients. Her duties allowed her to provide services for newborns and their families as well as performing tasks for the nurses in her department. Having visited her several times during her tenure at the hospital, I was able to observe the joy and passion which she brought to her position. She became a favorite of the staff and patients due to her great attitude and positive interactions. Ana says the experience was not only rewarding, but showed her how much she wants to succeed in her schoolwork so that she may, someday, become a staff member at the hospital. Her motivation to work with others and provide patient care for our community is noteworthy. Ana is well-deserving of this recognition.

For more information about the CHARACTER COUNTS! program, visit


or contact Kelley Petty, Program Coordinator, at kelleyp@tcoe.org or call (559) 740-4303.

CHARACTER COUNTS! is a nationwide initiative which embraces the six core values mentioned above. These values, common in a democratic society, can be taught by teachers, parents and community members to build and develop character in youth. The CHARACTER COUNTS! program is provided to the schools in the 43 districts administered by the Tulare County Office of Education.

CHARACTER COUNTS! is a service mark of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.