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The News Gallery

November 2005

LEARNING LABORATORY - Hands-On Learning Blooms Through La Sierra High School's Horticulture Class as Porterville College

News Gallery - November 2005 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Garyalynn Wilhelm, Priscilla Gomez, Sam Peña, Sara Sutton, Jim Kooler, Rhonda Marlow, Lynne Goodwin, Elainea Scott, Jan Mekeel and Kelley Petty.

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 chrisc@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.

Cover Photo:
~ Teacher Bob Mailand instructs La Sierra High School students at Porterville College.

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Hands-On Learning Engages Students
La Sierra High School, Porterville Opens New Horticulture Class at Porterville College

La Sierra High School students at Porterville College Early on a fall morning, a bus rolls into a parking lot beside a row of greenhouses. Normally sleepy high school students bounce off the bus. They shout greetings to the man waiting at the door. "Good morning, Mr. Mailand!" "Where’s the dirt?" Good natured, Mailand shouts back: "I warned you about using that four-letter word. Get in here and we’ll discuss SOIL!"

La Sierra High School students at Porterville College These students are not on a field trip, but part of a new earth science/horticulture class at La Sierra High School in Porterville - the charter high school operated by the Tulare County Office of Education. The class - lead by retired Porterville High School agricultural science teacher Bob Mailand - combines classroom instruction with one to three days of hands-on experience in the greenhouse. "We’ve been able to develop a curriculum where we integrate the Earth Science standards with our work at the greenhouse," says Mailand. "Of course, additional work has to be done in the classroom."

"I was thrilled that Mr. Mailand agreed to help us build this program," says Principal Jan Mekeel. "We are so fortunate to have him and the support of County Superintendent Jim Vidak." Bob Mailand, who retired earlier this year, taught for 37 years in the Porterville High School agriculture program and built one of the region’s largest school gardens. Mailand and Mekeel expect that many of the plants grown by La Sierra students will be ready for sale at an open house in the spring.

La Sierra High School students at Porterville College "We are also thankful to Porterville College for making the greenhouse space available to our program," says Mr. Vidak. "Through this partnership, we can bring a valuable hands-on learning experience to our students that would be hard to replicate." The horticulture class is one of several partnerships between the high school and community organizations. Mekeel has also established a community service program with the Porterville Developmental Center. "We seek these collaborations as a way to expand our classroom into the community and develop in our students a sense of pride in serving alongside adults," says Jan Mekeel.

Photos above:
~ Students Taylor Alessandro, Rachelle McLees and Sierra Hay helped create flats of plants for future sales.
~ La Sierra Principal Jan Mekeel and teacher Bob Mailand share a laugh with student Vanessa Trujillo about classifying plants.
~Roy Reynolds III and Michael Lewis string support wires for hanging baskets.

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Detective Aguilar To Continue Gang Prevention
Tulare County Sheriff's Department Joins in Reaching Younger Students

The unique classroom-based gang prevention program conceived last year by Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and Visalia Police Chief Jerry Barker continues this month with a new partner in the Tulare County Sheriff's Department. Detective Joe Aguilar will continue the weekly presentations to Tulare County elementary and middle school students once made by Visalia Police Officer Rob Zieg, who now works exclusively with Visalia Unified schools.

Detective Joe Aguilar "We’re delighted to have Detective Aguilar working in our schools," says Tulare County Superintendent Jim Vidak. "He knows our communities, and he has the perfect background for communicating to younger students the dangers of gang affiliation having worked in both law enforcement and social services."

Detective Aguilar was born in Woodlake, but after some time spent in Mexico, his family settled in Farmersville. He is a graduate of Exeter High School and the College of the Sequoias. "After graduation, I worked for Social Services (now known as the Health and Human Services)," says Joe Aguilar. "My clients were families with dependent children. Later, I was accepted by the Tulare County Sheriff's Department and - since 1995 - I have been working as a Detective for the Gang Unit. I’m looking forward to working with Tulare County school staff and students," he adds.

Detective Aguilar will concentrate on working in the many small elementary school districts, primarily with students from second grade up to sixth, seventh or eighth grades, depending on the school. Aguilar has two presentations for students, each lasting one hour. Second- and third-graders utilize a storybook and companion coloring book, while fourth- through eighth-graders are shown a video entitled, Dress for Death.

Detective Aguilar's program is an extension of gang intervention work that Mr. Vidak has done with law enforcement, particularly the Tulare County Sheriffs Department. For several years, now retired probation officer Mel Borbolla and Mr. Vidak have worked to educate school staff and the public on the realities of gang activity in Tulare County. Thousands of copies of Mr. Borbolla's booklet, Street Gangs in Tulare County, have been distributed to schools, youth groups and civic organizations. "The gang problem in Tulare County isn't going to go away without a concerted effort to change this generation," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "I appreciate Sheriff Wittman and his department for working with us to influence students in a positive direction."

Photo above:
~ A native of Tulare County, Sheriff's Detective Joe Aguilar begins his work educating Tulare County students on the dangers of gang affiliation. Aguilar has been a member of the Sheriff’s Department Gang Unit since 1995.

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Excellence in Education Awrads Given
37 Men and Women Recognized in Annual Celebration

Nearly 400 friends, family members and colleagues gathered October 12, 2005, at the Visalia Convention Center to honor the nominees, finalists and winners of the 2005 Tulare County Excellence in Education Awards. The program - now in its eleventh year - recognizes the Tulare County Administrator/Manager of the Year, Teacher of the Year, and School Employee of the Year. This year, a total of 37 nominees from 15 Tulare County school districts and the College of the Sequoias participated in competition.

Jeff Cozad and Rick Mitchell Rick Mitchell, administrator for Tulare County Office of Education's outdoor education program, SCICON, was awarded the 2005 Administrator/Manager of the Year Award. Mr. Mitchell, SCICON Administrator since 1990, was selected for his leadership and vision in building community support and accommodating Tulare County students.

A Porterville High School Biology and Life Science teacher, Jeff Cozad was honored as the 2005 Tulare County Teacher of the Year. A Porterville High faculty member since 1973, he developed a large collection of animal species and wood carvings, which he uses in hands-on instruction. He notes: "It is my hope that I have been the inspiration to my students that my teachers in high school were to me."

Glenna Haley is congratulated by Bruce Barnett Glenna Haley is the 2005 Tulare County School Employee of the Year. Employed by the Tulare City Elementary School District for 30 years, Glenna was an Instructional Aide at Mulcahy Middle School until her retirement in June. As a Special Education aide, she devoted her career to assisting students with challenging academic and social needs. She received an Associate of Arts degree from Bakersfield Junior College and was a licensed vocational nurse.

The highlight of the event - which is co-hosted by the Educational Employees Credit Union - is a video presentation featuring the three winners. The film features tributes by colleagues, students and parents, plus interviews with each winner. "It's a touching tribute to the men and women who have dedicated their life's work to students of Tulare County," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. To view the film, visit www.tcoe.org/SpecialEvents.

Photos above:
~ Teacher of the Year Jeff Cozad (left) poses with Administrator/ Manager of the Year Rick Mitchell.
~ School Employee of the Year Glenna Haley is congratulated by Bruce Barnett, President/CEO of Educational Employees Credit Union.

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Darlynn Billingsley Wins State ACSA Honor
County Superintendent's Administrative Assistant is Confidential Employee of the Year

Every member of the educational team plays an important role in the development of students - from those behind the scenes to those on the front lines. For her work behind the scenes, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) has named Darlynn Billingsley, administrative assistant to the Tulare County Superintendent of Schools, as the 2005 Confidential Employee of the Year. On November 4, she will be honored at the State ACSA Conference in Sacramento. Darlynn has been an active member of the ACSA organization - not only at the county and regional levels but has served on the State ACSA Classified Education Leaders (CEL) committee.

Darlynn Billingsley Having worked in education for nearly 30 years, Darlynn is truly dedicated to her profession. Recognizing the importance of ongoing learning for classified/confidential management staff, she helped organize the first Tulare County Support Staff Conference in 1992. The conference has since grown from attracting 75 people the first year to nearly 500 in the spring of 2005.

She is also responsible for coordinating the annual Tulare County Excellence in Education Awards recognition program - a responsibility given to her by County Superintendent Vidak ten years ago. In addition, she coordinates numerous other events, conferences and meetings for Mr. Vidak, including: the annual Fall Institute for Tulare County School Board Members, the annual Summer Institute for school administrators and the annual Educators of the Year/Confucius' Birthday Celebration held in conjunction with the Central California Chinese Cultural Center. Darlynn also assists the Tulare County School Boards Association with its scholarship program and newsletter publication, The Board Communiqué. She wrote a booklet on telephone etiquette entitled The Art of Interpersonal Communication, and presents workshops based on its teachings.

Darlynn enjoys every aspect of her job, especially tasks that prove to be very challenging. "I have a lot of different responsibilities, but I love it," she says. "The role of clerical staff has evolved over the years. You have to be educated and knowledgeable in your 'craft,' possess good communication skills and go in many directions at once," she says. "It takes a special person, and everyone in that role should be proud of what they do."

On the ACSA honor Jim Vidak says: "Darlynn is most deserving. She is outstanding in her role and champions the work of support staff in the field of education."

Photo above:
~ Darlynn Billingsley will be presented with the 2005 Confidential Employee of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) in Sacramento on November 4. She was honored from a field of candidates representing ACSA’s more than 200 charters and 19 regional districts.

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On People in Service and Support

Sam Pena in Washington D.C. TCOE Impact Center Supervisor Sam Peña attended the dedication of the Extra Mile - Points of Light Volunteer Pathway National Monument in Washington D.C. When completed, the monument will consist of his own artwork in the form of 70, bas-relief bronze medallions measuring 42 inches across and imbedded on the walkways of some of Washington's most prominent streets. The medallions will contain the sculptural portraits of honorable service-oriented citizens. At the time of the dedication, Peña had completed 20 medallions.

Performing the dedication were former President George Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush. Also attending were the only three living honorees in the memorial: Eunice Kennedy Shriver (founder of Special Olympics) and Millard and Linda Fuller (founders of Habitat for Humanity).

Speaking of the opportunity to create a national monument, Sam Peña said, "It's a very special honor to be asked to do this work, because it memorializes people that are extraordinary individuals who might otherwise go unrecognized."

Sam Peña has also been commissioned to create a seven-foot bronze statue honoring Hugh M. Mooney, which the Tulare County Historical Society will place at the entrance to Mooney Grove Park in the spring of 2006. He was also recently inducted into the College of the Sequoias' Alumni Hall of Fame.

Lynne Goodwin California Friday Night Live Partnership Program Analyst Lynne Goodwin recently received a certificate of commendation from California Attorney General Bill Lockyear. Mr. Lockyear presented the honor at a Los Angeles-area meeting of law enforcement officials for her work in developing the TRACE protocol. TRACE, which stands for Target Responsibility for Alcohol Related Emergencies, is a program which commits investigators from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to work with reporting agencies in determining the source and responsibility for alcohol when minors involved in a serious incident have been drinking.

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Gallery Notes

CHARACTER COUNTS! Week 2005, which concluded October 22, was the biggest in Tulare County’s history. This year's celebration marked the tenth year the national event had been held in Tulare County. With 6,319 "Kids of Character" nominations submitted by teachers, parents and community members, the Tulare County Office of Education was able to recognize one in 15 children throughout the county. Students were featured in both the Visalia Times-Delta and the Tulare Advance-Register and listed on their web sites.

Educational Resource Services Program Manager Elainea Scott, and Library Development Assistant Judi Hopper have written a series of books, which they will present at the California School Library Association's annual conference November 18. The books, for librarians in schools with grades K-6 or 7-12, are entitled Linking Your Library Collection to the California Academic Content Standards. "Locally, we saw teachers and librarians struggling to find resources that would support the content standards," says Ms. Scott. "But, by cataloging the content standards using the same vocabulary we used to catalog the library materials, we were able to show librarians how to access the best resources for their classrooms." For information on the new books, contact Elainea Scott at 651-3031.

Tulare County Superintendent of School Jim Vidak has announced a new program entitled Operation Diploma. Mr. Vidak can award high school diplomas to veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as Japanese Americans interned during World War II who missed their graduation ceremony. For eligibility requirements and applications, call 733-6302, or visit www.tcoe.org/OperationDiploma.

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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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