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The News Gallery

February 2002

A FAMILY CLASSROOM - Students and Parents Receive Instruction and Support at the Migrant Education Family Literacy Center in Woodlake.

News Gallery - February 2002 Editor: Rob Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Cherí Barnes, Gary Biggs, Darlynn Billingsley, Esmeralda Cano, Veronica Carmona, Christine Chapman, Vicky Contreras, Jeanne Croson, Randy Elzig, Frank Escobar, Linda Hamilton, Margaret Ibarra, LouAnn King, Donna Martin, Rick Mitchell and Donna Orozco.

The News Gallery is published monthly with the exception of double issues printed for July/August and December/January. If you would like to receive the News Gallery, please contact Christine Chapman at (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.

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Migrant Families Are the Focus of Literacy Center

Supplemental literacy instruction is not a new idea for the Migrant Education Program. Migrant's highly respected Intensive Reading Group (IRG) summer program is specifically designed to supplement student instruction. Students receive help in overcoming obstacles to learning encountered during the regular program year with the goal of achieving a higher level of performance and success.

Migrant educator Sylvia Coats So, the idea of family literacy instruction seemed like a natural extension of Migrant's mission. The concept of a Family Literacy Center was born out of the vision of Migrant Administrator Sheli Silva-Cunningham. "I was encouraged by a parent who wanted to determine if there was a way to bring up class performance," says Ms. Silva-Cunningham. "To address the problem of migrant student performance, you need to look toward the parents and determine whether they are involved in the child's education, or if there is a language barrier that prevents involvement."

Opened last year, the Migrant Family Literacy Center in Woodlake was designed to be a warm, supportive environment where students can come with their parents for homework assistance and counseling. "We encourage the parents to visit the center and meet with our program coordinator to have some conversations about their child's progress," says Ms. Silva-Cunningham. "But in the process, we begin to encourage the parents in their own education!"

Migrant Work/Study Student Tutor Daisy Menjivar "The idea of helping parents help the students is another example of how the administrators and staff at Migrant Education have taken an obstacle and made it an opportunity," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "The Migrant Family Literacy Center is a fine collaboration between the Migrant Regional Office and Woodlake Public Schools. Each entity is contributing staff and resources for the benefit of migrant families."

The Region VIII Migrant Education Program operates within the Office of Education's Instructional Services Division, under the direction of Assistant Superintendent Sally Bakke, to serve migrant students and their families in Tulare and Kings Counties. There are approximately 23,000 migrant students enrolled in the program in both counties. The goal of the Migrant Education Program is to work in cooperation with the individual districts to supplement the district's educational program and to promote each migrant student's progress in school.

"As parents visit the center more often, they begin to take ownership in it," says Migrant Education Program Coordinator Sylvia Coats. "We encourage them to use the computer, learn basic English-language reading skills and complete applications, which may help them find employment. The exciting thing we're seeing is that some of these parents are now enrolled in Woodlake's adult education classes, which are offered on campus in the morning. That makes for a long day of instruction, but these parents are so eager to succeed and see their children succeed."

Barbara Lopez The Migrant Family Literacy Center is supported by four Woodlake Middle School teachers, with training in language arts, math and science. Two Woodlake High School students work as migrant work/study tutors helping parents and students with homework.

The emphasis on family literacy is gaining national attention due in part to President Bush's educational mandate: "No child left behind." Sheli Silva-Cunningham is pleased with the emphasis. "Family literacy is such an important part of a migrant child's education. Students who see mom and dad actively working to overcome their own language barriers put more value and more emphasis on education themselves. These parents want the best for their children, but sometimes think they are unable to help. It's so rewarding to give them that confidence," concludes Ms. Silva-Cunningham.

Family Literacy Center Migrant Education's emphasis on parent involvement extends beyond school-age children to include preschoolers. An early childhood education program helps parents and young children prepare for school. The program emphasizes parents as a child's "first teacher." Migrant staff members work with parents and children at home to provide opportunities for positive parent/child interaction, information to facilitate family access of community and educational resources, and the utilization of daily routines and household materials to reinforce early childhood skill development.

Along with these are other new programs designed to help students improve their mathematics skills and another which will help students make the transition from middle school to high school. "Our focus is to meet the needs of the student or the preschooler, regardless of their place in the educational process," says Ms. Silva-Cunningham.

Sylvia Coats has many stories to tell of parents who have gone on to pursue their own education, but one is special. "Last year, we had several boys write and illustrate a book in conjunction with the Tulare County Office of Education's annual Young Author's Faire," says Ms. Coats. "These were boys who had been coming to the Migrant Family Literacy Center. After the Young Author's Faire, I had one of the parents tell me very enthusiastically how much the Center had meant to her child and how she now felt empowered to pursue her own studies. Hearing that is such a reward!"

Photos above:
~ Migrant educator Sylvia Coats meets with migrant parents and students at the Family Literacy Center.

~ Migrant Work/Study Student Tutor Daisy Menjivar.

~ Barbara Lopez, an eighth grade Language Arts teacher with Woodlake Valley Middle School is one of several teachers who works with stduents and their parents at the center.

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Child Care's Resource & Referral Library Modernized

Preschool teachers and licensed home providers can now borrow toys and books from the Child Care Resource & Referral (R&R) Library with the touch of a computer. Looking for something on "farm animals" or "spring"? The newly computerized library system can bring up lists of toys, books, kits and resource materials in seconds. It also tells providers where the item is located and its code number.

Resource & Referral Specialist Stefania Ryan "We had someone come in who wanted to look up "curriculum" and "dinosaurs," said Stefania Ryan, an R&R Specialist. "She was so excited when three books popped up!" The new system is all part of a total remodel that was completed in December. The remodel also provided room for staff working on a Prop 10 grant that will recruit, train and offer support for child care providers. "People are impressed with the way the library looks and how specifically we can find items," said Stefania, who began inputting bar codes and Dewey Decimal numbers a year ago.

"Everything is much more organized," said R&R library coordinator Vivian Kurtz. "There's a reception area and a better, more private work room where providers can use the Ellison machine and laminator. Our goal is to be more accessible and provider-friendly."

In the past, items were checked out on cards and providers had to look through all the shelves to see what was available. Now everything is divided into three sections: infant/toddler, preschool and school age. As Stefania and her helper input items, they list book subjects and song titles, so if a teacher is looking for something specific, it will come up in the computer. For books, you can search by author, publisher, title or subject. Stefania also came up with her own system to input toys, since the computer system only had a way to track books. "Eventually we will have a search screen so providers can look up the items themselves," said Stefania. "And we're putting together a catalog for big equipment and toys (which are housed elsewhere because of space limitations) so people will know what they look like."

Photo above:
~ Wait Your Turn - Resource and Referral Specialist Stefania Ryan checks in books and materials utilizing the new computerized inventory system.

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Resource & Referral Library

The Resource & Referral Library, part of the Child Care Educational Program operated by the Tulare County Office of Education, is a resource for all child care centers with preschoolers, licensed child care providers, licensed exempt centers and college students majoring in child development. Located at TCOE's Doe and Shirk complex, the library is open 8:00 am to 4:30 pm weekdays and 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on the third Wednesday of each month.

Information: (559) 651-0862 or (800) 613-6262

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Three New Consultants Join Instructional Services Division

The formation of the Teacher Induction Programs (TIPs), which created a new program utilizing veteran instructional consultants Anita Bailey, Joseph Jimenez, Rachel Katz and Cathleen Rogers, left several openings within the Educational Resource Services program. Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Sally Bakke reports that last month, three new consultants joined the team that includes Faye Johnson, Carmen Friesen, Connie Smith and Glenn Williams.

Marsha Ingrao Marsha Ingrao is the new History/Social Science Instructional Consultant. Ms. Ingrao is trained as a bilingual teacher and taught in Woodlake. Most recently she served as a program coordinator for Migrant Education with a special emphasis in mathematics. As the History/Social Science Consultant, she will be responsible for countywide events such as Tulare County History Day and Mock Trial.

Jonathan Janzen Jonathan Janzen, the new Instructional Consultant for Science, was previously a science teacher at Dinuba High School. He will be responsible for supporting the improvement of science curriculum within the county. He will also be involved in the curriculum standards alignment, professional development, state and regional leadership and student events such as Science Fair and Science Olympiad.

Julie Moshier Instructional Consultant for Mathematics Julie Moshier, comes to the Tulare County Office of Education from Tulare Western High School, where she was a math teacher. Ms. Moshier will be responsible for coordinating the countywide Math Super Bowl for 7th- and 8th-grade students. She will also provide staff development training in mathematics, text book acquisition and assessment.

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Annual Support Staff Conference To Feature John Alston

Classified and confidential management staff: Mark your calendar for April 12, 2002. This is the date for the Annual Tulare County Office of Education Support Staff Conference at the Heritage Complex in Tulare. In its 11th year, the event attracts classified staff from throughout Tulare, Kings, Fresno and Kern Counties. Because its popularity has grown to over 400 participants, the conference is expanding its base; classified management personnel are invited for the first time ever! Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, who is also a member of the ACSA State Board of Directors, sponsors the annual conference, with Administrative Assistant Darlynn Billingsley as coordinator.

John Alston Speaker, author and trainer John Alston will conduct sessions focusing on Anger Management, Conflict Resolution and Communication Skills. These topics affect a broad base and are geared for classified employees, as well as confidential and classified management staff members. Joseph Jones, ACSA Assistant Executive Director of Member Services and Professional Standards, will address the group at the noon luncheon. "This is one of the only conferences of its type in California," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "I highly recommend attending the conference for staff development." For more information, contact Darlynn Billingsley at 733-6302 or e-mail: darlynnb@tcoe.org.

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Gallery Notes

The Tulare County Office of Education will hold the 17th Annual Tulare and Kings County Teacher Recruitment Fair, Saturday, March 2, from 9:30 am until 3:00 pm at the Visalia Convention Center Exhibit Hall. Representatives from area school districts will be available to meet with candidates and teachers. Staff from the Central California Regional Teacher Recruitment Center will also have information about job openings within the 19-county region. Admission to the Recruitment Fair is free. For more information, contact Jeanne Croson at 733-6322.

Performance Troupe Members of the Theatre Company's Performance Troupe (shown at left) performed a variety show during the holidays as the opening act at the Enchanted Playhouse. The Performance Troupe provides workshops in theatre arts including singing, dance and technique. For more information or enrollment for future workshops, contact Brian Roberts or Nicole Zweifel at 651-1482.

The month of February has been designated Job Shadow Month by the School-to-Career project. In Tulare County, more than 1500 students annually participate in Job Shadow activities. Businesses interested in helping young people prepare for an increasingly demanding future are encouraged to visit PathFinder on the School-to-Career web site at www.tcoe.org/careerweb. Pathfinder is an advanced Internet-based, matching and placement tool designed to assist local students discover options for their future.

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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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