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The News Gallery

June 2002

NATURAL SETTING - Tulare County Students Enjoy Arbor Day at Mooney Grove Park

News Gallery - June 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.

Cover Photo:
~ Students Practice grinding acorns with Native American grinding stones.

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Arbor Day Blooms in Mooney's Grove

Arbor Day Last month, the Tulare County Office of Education, the Tulare County Parks and Recreation Department, and the University of California Cooperative Extension's Master Gardeners hosted over 400 students from nine Tulare County schools at an Arbor Day celebration. The purpose of the event, which was held at Mooney's Grove Park, was to celebrate the importance of trees within our environment.

U.C. Master Gardeners presented a series of six different workshops throughout the day for the students. "Students benefited from the insights of the Master Gardeners on the importance of trees as a source of oxygen, wood, shade in urban areas and, of course, agricultural products," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Arbor Day Science Instructional Consultant Jonathan Janzen, who coordinated the event, reports: "All students were involved in three major sessions, including a visit to the Tulare County History Museum for a scavenger hunt and planting a tree with their school behind the museum. Each class was also able to participate in several educational sessions led by the Master Gardeners and the Tulare County Parks Department. These sessions included instruction on how to plant a tree, tree and leaf identification, pest management, seed propagation and others.

"At the final station, students picked up a tree to take home to their mother for Mother's Day. They also had the opportunity to decorate their tree and make a Mother's Day card," Mr. Janzen adds. "The event was successful in so many ways. We were able to provide students with hands-on instruction about important environmental issues and hopefully make our communities a little better through tree plantings at each student's home."

"We appreciate very much all the work done by the volunteers and the staff of the parks department," says Mr. Vidak. "Special thanks goes to our Clemmie Gill School of Science and Conservation (SCICON) Program for providing all the trees for the students to plant."

Photos above:
~ Members of the UC Master Gardeners group help students identify trees and leaves at 2002 Arbor Day.

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Special Services Honors Teachers, Administrators and Students at Luncheon

Lorrie Conley and Brian Vaccaro Lorrie Conley was the recipient of the 2002 Brent Rast Award for Excellence in Special Education. This award was created in memory of Brent Rast, who was a gifted and devoted teacher of the severely handicapped. She was presented the award by Dr. Mike Stephens at the annual Joint Luncheon of the Community Advisory Committee, the Directors of Special Education Committee and the Superintendents Governance Committee on May 15.

Pedro Monreal Ms. Conley is the teacher at the Office of Education's satellite class for the severely handicapped at Orosi High School. Dr. Stephens noted that she has been a truly inspirational teacher for the past 10 years. Her devotion to her students goes well beyond typical classroom activities as she strives to have students be accepted members of the student body and the community at large. Ms. Conley organized a campus club to gain the support and friendship of “typical” students for those students in her class. Ms. Conley's class also runs the only student store on campus. During lunch and break times Orosi High students wait in a line that stretches out the classroom door to buy items. The store gives her students hands-on work experience. Profits are used to fund many activities including outings to Universal Studios, San Francisco and Disneyland.

Ms. Conley is also the parent of a child with developmental disabilities. The award was particularly gratifying to her as her daughter was a student in Brent Rast’s preschool class many years ago.


Doris Schertz & Beatrice Alonzo
Foster Grandparents Volunteers

Janie Elson
Healthy Start, Lindsay Unified

Myrna Pilkerton
Instructional Aide, Dinuba Unified

Carol Frane
Special Day Class Teacher, Kings River Elementary School

Martha Ward
Resource Specialist, Farmersville Unified

Shirley Havner
Volunteer, Exeter Elementary District

Pedro Monreal
Student, College of the Sequoias

Karleen Lyons
Speech and Language Specialist, Tulare City Elementary School District

Nan Arnold
Nurse, Pixley Union Elementary

Jim Barnes
School Psychologist, Porterville Unified

Kim McManaman
Assistant Principal, Alta Vista Elementary

Francie Becker
School Psychologist, Visalia Unified

Carole Hester
Resource Specialist, Visalia Unified

Barry Shein
Assessment Specialist, Visalia Unified

Barbara Thurber
Resource Specialist, Sunnyside Union

John Kunkel Chief of Police, Exeter

Brian Vaccaro, Superintendent
Cutler-Orosi Unified

Photos above:
~ 2002 Brent Rast Award Winner Lorrie Conley is pictured with Cutler-Orosi Superintendent Brian Vaccaro.
~ College of the Sequoias student Pedro Monreal was honored for his academic achievements and his tremendous service to the COS Farm.

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Project Impact Begins Credentialing Classes for Teachers

Cathleen Rogers Beginning this month, prospective teachers may complete coursework toward a California Preliminary Credential through the Office of Education. Project Impact is designed for area teachers wishing to complete their credential while teaching full time. Project Impact is accredited by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The program was originated by the San Joaquin County Office of Education, and is sponsored by the Tulare County Office of Education and a consortium of local school districts.

"Project Impact affords Tulare County teachers the convenience of completing credentialing requirements after school and close to home," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools. "The program is also significantly more affordable than similar studies at a college or university."

Anita Bailey Project Impact is a two-year program in which interns gain expertise in teaching through coaching and support, and by completing a schedule of nine classes per year. "Teachers in the Project Impact program are employed as interns by participating school districts during the day and attend our credential classes two afternoons a week," says Intern Program Director Cathleen Rogers. "Each course is approximately one month in duration. Throughout the two-year study, the interns' teaching experience is linked to coursework. It is the expectation that skills and knowledge gained in the courses will be directly applied to classroom teaching. Additionally, a practicum supervisor will work one-on-one with each intern to facilitate this process."

Teachers interested in the Project Impact program must have received the following: a passing score on the California Basic CBEST, a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies, a passing score on multiple-subject-matter competency test, verification of liberal studies major via waiver coursework, and fingerprinting clearance. They must also complete a prerequisite course entitled "Introduction to Teaching," which can be accomplished through the Pre- Intern program. Pre-Intern Program Director Anita Bailey is responsible for conducting "Introduction to Teaching" this summer. She has plans for additional sessions in the fall.

"Project Impact offers intern teachers access to excellent faculty for one-on-one support, and the ability to teach full time while completing the program," says Ms. Rogers. "In this region, it would be hard to find a more convenient, more affordable program for teachers.

For more information on Project Impact, call Cathleen Rogers at (559) 733-6786.

Photos above:
~ Instructional Consultant and Intern Program Director Cathleen Rogers (above) and Pre-Intern Program Director Anita Bailey will begin Project Impact this month.

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2002 Excellence in Education Award Winners Announced

Judging for the 2002 Excellence in Education Awards was held May 17. A committee of 16 Tulare County business and education leaders reviewed 37 nominations submitted in the categories of teacher, administrator and school employee. The Excellence in Education Awards was founded in 1995 to recognize school employees in Tulare County who exemplify exceptional qualities and commitment to Tulare County students. County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak notes: "Each year, we invite Tulare County school districts to submit their "best of the best." I'm delighted to see representatives of large and small districts from throughout Tulare County." All nominees will be honored at a recognition breakfast October 10, 2002, hosted by the Educational Employees Credit Union.

The award for Administrator of the Year will go to Don Mierau, principal at Roosevelt Elementary in Dinuba. Mr. Mierau has served as an elementary school principal with Dinuba Unified since 1979, including service at Wilson and Grand View Elementary Schools and Roosevelt Elementary for the past 14 years. Mr. Mierau was praised for his leadership and compassion for students and teachers. He was also credited for the school's remarkable academic achievement as evidenced by an increase in over 130 Academic Performance Index (API) points in two years.

The 2002 Tulare County Teacher of the Year honor goes to Mary Cairns, a government and economics teacher at Exeter High School. Ms. Cairns has taught at Exeter High School for 25 years and now serves as the chairperson of the school's Social Science Department. Ms. Cairns also serves as campus coordinator for Sober Grad activities and is the family life teacher. Her dedication to student achievement is reflected in the fact that students in her social studies and economics classes scored significantly higher than the state average on recent standardized tests.

Linda Mulligan is the 2002 School Employee of the Year. Ms. Mulligan is an administrative assistant at Strathmore High School, where she has worked for 17 years. She was recognized for her work "above and beyond the call of duty." In addition to her administrative duties, she serves as the cheerleading advisor, Friday Night Live chaperone, class advisor, co-advisor for California Scholastic Federation, Strathmore High Work Experience Program Coordinator, and many other duties.

Finalists in the Administrator of the Year category were Thomas Giampietro, Superintendent/Principal of Monson-Sultana Joint Union Elementary and Diane Sharples, Dean of Academic Services for the College of the Sequoias. Aurora Medina, a counseling secretary for the Woodlake High School District, and Joan Ishida, Library Technician, were finalists in the School Employee category. Teacher of the Year finalists included Andrew Allen, a science teacher at Golden West High School in Visalia, and Bethany Phillips from William R. Buckley Elementary School in Porterville.

Nominees from the Tulare County Office of Education included Maintenance Supervisor Kevin Humann of the SCICON program, Diane Caserza, a teacher of the severely handicapped in the Golden West High School special day class, and Pete Soto, Jr., an instructional aide with the Occupational Training Program in Visalia.

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Gallery Notes

In the spring, the Tulare County Office of Education will host the first annual College Offers Opportunities for Life (COOL Night) event. COOL Night, which will be held February 27, 2003, from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at the Visalia Convention Center, is designed to give middle school students the opportunity to talk with high school and college students, representatives from universities and adult professionals who can discuss their careers. "We wanted to build on the success of our College Night event, but present information more relevant to middle school students and their parents," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. Parents attending COOL Night will benefit from an established curriculum entitled College: Making it Happen. Sessions on financial aid, the college application process, high school class scheduling and more will be available to parents. COOL Night is being coordinated by Choices Program Manager Pansy Ceballos.

In partnership with Tulare County and the City of Visalia's 150th Anniversary Celebration, the Tulare County Office of Education conducted a student letter-writing campaign inviting President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush to attend an event September 7, 2002. The City of Visalia reports that over 5,000 letters were received from students throughout the county. A committee, which included Instructional Consultants Marsha Ingrao and Connie Smith, reviewed the letters and selected two winning classrooms. Pinkham Elementary School in Visalia is the home to both classrooms. The school will receive a $2,000 savings bond donated by the City of Visalia, Tulare County and the Tulare County Office of Education. Third grade teachers Karie Wallace and Deborah McGuire will each receive $500 gift certificates from Borders Books.

Nine La Sierra High School students were selected to receive the $1,000 scholarships as part of Governor Gray Davis' Scholars Program. The awards are made annually to students who demonstrate high academic achievement on certain exams in the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program. The scholarship recipients who scored in the top 10% of students at La Sierra include: Clarinda Henley, Catrina Jimenez, Dustin Phillip, Glenda Gallardo, Daniel Niemeier, Samantha Watson, Timothy Bostic, Victor Gonzales, Julia Soto and Gerald Torres.

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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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