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The News Gallery

September 2006

BACK TO SCHOOL WITH PRIDE - Enrique Perez was one of numerous students in Migrant Education's summer Intensive Literacy Group Program to show significant progress in reading and writing

News Gallery - September 2006 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Molly Plangman, Jeanne Nava, Gillian Gonzalez, Anna León, and Clark Hawley.

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.

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Migrant Students Gain New Literacy Skills
Intensive Summer Program Builds Reading and Writing Abilities

In classrooms around Tulare County this summer, over 120 Migrant Education students received rigorous reading and writing training over a four-week period. The purpose of the program is to help underperforming students increase their literacy skills before rejoining their classmates in the fall.

Migrant Education Summer Literacy Program Migrant's summer program is called an Intensive Literacy Group (ILG). The ILG program pairs up to 10 students – who have been identified by their teachers as being at least one year behind in reading – with one teacher. The class spends 20 days together with four hours of instruction per day. ILG utilizes the Step Up To Writing curriculum – which teaches students how to organize their thoughts, arrange the order of their supporting details and examples, and effectively use transitional words or phrases to create a coherent paragraph. Teachers give writing prompts that center on everyday topics.

The water slide in Tulare was just such a topic. The walls of Clark Hawley's Terra Bella class were covered with poster-sized sheets utilizing the Step Up To Writing method. Students helped Mr. Hawley describe the zigzagging slide in detail – supporting their description with examples of their experiences on the ride. Other tools pinned to the walls included Thinking Maps – giant diagrams which help students develop writing process, comprehension, problem solving, and thinking skills.

Migrant Education Summer Literacy Program "Results from the summer ILG classrooms continue to be impressive," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "The work our Migrant Education program does each summer is so important – giving hope to some of our most academically at-risk students with a lot of care and concentrated instruction."

Pre- and post-writing and reading comprehension samples are compared for each student. Of those who had 85 percent attendance or better, 99 percent of the students met the writing objective – which was to compose a paragraph correctly, using a topic sentence including details and facts supported by at least one example and a conclusion. Migrant Program Manager Anna León reports that 78 percent grew by one or more levels on the state writing rubric. The same percentage grew one or more grade levels in reading, while 93 percent met the goal of a 60 percent decrease in word recognition errors.

Photos above:
~ Teacher Clark Hawley enjoys a dish of rice pilaf with his students at Terra Bella Elementary. Mr. Hawley's class read "Everyone Cooks Rice," a story about a multi-cultural neighborhood. For snacks, the class made a variety of ethnic rice recipes.
~ Students Rosendo Machuca (l) and Brian Ramos (r) show off their Thinking Map.

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Middle School Military Academy Filled
La Sierra Junior Academy Opens For Seventh and Eighth Graders

La Sierra Jr. Academy Physical training prior to the start of school is standard procedure for students entering La Sierra School in Visalia for the first time. On a warm morning last month, 200 fresh-faced young people were standing – eyes straight ahead – listening to instructions barked out by Drill Sergeant Dennis Sirkin. Half of the group – dressed in dark green fatigues – looked ready to join the high school students returning to La Sierra Military Academy in late August. The other half – dressed in tan fatigues – looked ready for just about anything.

The group in tan fatigues is La Sierra's first class of middle school students – 96 in all. "What they lack in age and stature, they make up in enthusiasm," says La Sierra Administrator Dr. Lorene Valentino. "Our middle school students are excited about the program and they're eager to be here."

La Sierra Jr. Academy In June, La Sierra extended a public invitation to parents to visit the Military Academy during an open house event. "Over the years, we have had many, many requests to open a middle school version of our Military Academy," says Dr. Valentino. "We held the open house to gauge parents' interest and to collect applications. One month later, our program was completely full."

Much of the summer was spent renovating the school's campus at 1735 East Houston Avenue to accommodate the new cadets. Separate classrooms were created out of office space used by other programs, which were relocated. Three new instructors for the La Sierra Junior Academy were hired: Jayson Camaquin, Stephen Reed and Jean Smith. Attendance at La Sierra Military Academy – the high school program – is over 200 students this year.

"The public response to our La Sierra Academy programs has been strong," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "We are pleased to serve students and parents looking for a small school setting with an emphasis on rigorous physical activity, character development and academic growth." For more information on La Sierra schools in Visalia, call (559) 733-6963.

Photos above:
~ Sergeant Chad Edwards, a junior at La Sierra Military Academy and a member of the school's Ranger Team, encourages Junior Academy students in a morning physical training exercise.
~ Administrator Lorene Valentino works with Junior Academy students on an assessment test administered prior to the start of school.

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Students to Focus on School, Stay Gang Free
Sheriff's Detective Travels the County Speaking to Groups About Gangs

Sheriff's Detective Joe Aguilar asks a lot of questions – questions designed to make students think about the choices they’ll make later in life, like: "Are you looking toward the day that you work in a factory?" None of the sixth-grade students from Sunnyside Elementary say that they aspire to work in a factory. "Good," Aguilar says, "because those jobs are being done overseas." The answers the detective seeks to his many questions reenforce the importance of education.

Detective Joe Aguilar presents a gang prevention message For the past six months, he has been visiting students around Tulare County speaking about the dangers of gangs and the value of staying in school. Detective Aguilar uses his own background to illustrate how students need not be trapped in poverty or in situations where drugs and alcohol are abused.

Detective Aguilar's presentations are made possible at no cost through the efforts of Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and Tulare County Sheriff Bill Wittman. "The pervasive issue of gangs is one that we must continually address," says Mr. Vidak. "Students need to know the dangers before they're deceived into joining one, and parents need to know the signs that their child may be entertaining the idea."

Aguilar makes presentations to three student groups: kindergarten through second grade, third and fourth grade, and fifth through eighth grade. "My presentation varies with each group and where I am in the county," he says. "I know the issues particular to each community, so I am able to tailor my message. For the youngest students, I talk about how to be safe around strangers and about the dangers of weapons – not to touch guns or knives, but to call an adult if they find one. I also talk to them about fighting and the importance of keeping their hands to themselves. With older students, I begin to introduce the realities of gang affiliation – violence, drugs, incarceration and possibly death. Regardless of the age group, I stress that the key to success lies in what you do for yourself through education, not in what others – particularly gang members – say they can do for you."

This year, Detective Aguilar looks forward to working specifically with students who are already exhibiting gang-like behavior and with school staff in conducting on-site trainings and community forums. To reach Detective Aguilar, call him at (559) 972-3327.

Photo above:
~ Tulare County Sheriff's Detective Joe Aguilar is available to present his gang prevention message to groups of students, school staff, parents or community members throughout the year. Here, he is pictured at Sunnyside Union Elementary.

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Recruitment Center to Lead State Effort
TCOE and California State University System Partner on New Contract

The Tulare County Office of Education's Central California Teacher Recruitment Center has received a 17-month, $2.87 million state-wide contract from the Sacramento County Office of Education to address the recruitment of teachers in the high-need areas of Kindergarten through twelfth-grade special education and seventh- through twelfth-grade math and science instruction. The Teacher Recruitment Center will focus its efforts on three geographic regions of California identified with critical teacher shortages in these subject areas. The regions are: the Heartland – which encompasses the San Joaquin and Salinas Valleys; Los Angeles County; and the Inland Empire – which encompasses San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Teachers are being sought primarily for schools that perform in the lowest three deciles of California’s statewide Academic Performance Index (API) rankings. Special attention will be given to recruiting minority teachers, who are often underrepresented in these schools.

The California State University (CSU) is a primary partner in the project, which has teacher recruitment objectives that conform closely to the priorities of the state system. As part of its long-term compact with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the CSU system has committed to doubling its production of math and science teachers. Students earning credentials in these fields and in special education, throughout the CSU system, will have the opportunity to teach in high-need schools in any of the three targeted regions of the state. "CSU Chancellor Charles Reed has consistently made teacher preparation a priority," says Jeanne Nava, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the Tulare County Office of Education. "Recently, he provided $75,000 in teacher recruitment project support to the campuses to use in encouraging math and science students to enter the teaching profession. We are delighted that the CSU campuses will share in our mission to place 2,000 highly-qualified teachers under this contract. They will be an enormous help in identifying seniors who may be interested in entering the field as special education, math or science teachers, particularly minority candidates." More than 53 percent of CSU students are minorities, which is more than twice the national average for four-year public universities. In addition to the CSU system, the Teacher Recruitment Center will work with public and private colleges and universities within the three geographic areas to connect teachers prepared at their institutions with school districts.

The Teacher Recruitment Center will also work with school districts to create a database of their staffing needs and any incentives they can offer candidates. Throughout the three geographic areas, Teacher Recruitment Center staff will also hold community information events for adults looking for a new career in education, as well as attend teacher recruitment fairs. The program will also send recruiters to out-of-state teacher fairs. "Our goal is to institutionalize the process of connecting new teachers with school districts," says Ms. Nava. "We need to bridge the gap between education and employment." All teachers must be "highly qualified" under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) laws, which means that they are either fully-credentialed, or have obtained subject matter competency and are enrolled in an intern program.

On an ongoing basis, the Tulare County Office of Education Teacher Recruitment Center provides assistance to member school districts and teacher-preparation agencies in seeking, screening, referring and supporting potential new teachers. Though the Center is housed at the Tulare County Office of Education, it serves 40 districts and county offices of education in Tulare, Fresno, Kern, Kings and Merced Counties. "This grant award is evidence of the success our staff has had in the area of teacher recruitment for some of the most high-need schools in California," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Since the time that we led the Central California Regional Teacher Recruitment Center to today, our recruiters have built a reputation for innovative service."

For more information about the Teacher Recruitment Center, call (559) 730-2549.

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On People in Service and Support

John Caudle In July, John Caudle rejoined the Tulare County Office of Education as assistant superintendent of business services. He resumes his responsibilities of overseeing the internal, external, general business and information systems departments, which are responsible for supporting Tulare County school districts with technology and financial systems and for the construction of projects like the new student village at SCICON. Prior to rejoining the Office of Education, Mr. Caudle spent seven years in a similar role with Tulare City Elementary School District.

Diane Kerrigan Diane Kerrigan is the new receptionist for Tulare County Office of Education's main office at 2637 West Burrel in Visalia. A former resident of Ventura County, Diane served as an information technology project coordinator for the Thousand Oaks office of WellPoint, Inc., the nation's largest health insurer.

Collaborative Leadership Institute The third cohort of the Collaborative Leadership Institute (CLI) announces its first annual Parent Appreciation Day. Designed to highlight the importance of positive parenting, the event represents the cumulative efforts of the 14 CLI participants, representing children's services agencies throughout Tulare County. Among them are Magdalena Marquez-Milward and Margaret Hall from Tulare County Office of Education's Child Care Program. Parent Appreciation Day will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2006, at Summit Charter School in Porterville to serve parents in the Burton School District. The event will include workshops on topics including child development, healthy parent and child relationships, safety, advocacy and activities to promote bonding and attachment. For more information, contact Barry Sommer, Director, at (559) 738-0644.

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Gallery Notes

The Child Abuse & Neglect (C.A.N.) Prevention Program, which is operated by the Tulare County Office of Education's School Health Programs, is seeking volunteers. C.A.N. is designed to help reduce the incidence of neglect, as well as physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children. Volunteers are needed to make presentations to first- and fifth-grade students at Tulare County schools — both public and private. With the addition of a new parent education component this school year, the need for volunteers is critical. The next training classes are scheduled for Monday, September 25, and Wednesday, September 27. Volunteers can serve two to 20 hours per month. For more information, please contact Gillian Gonzalez, C.A.N. Project Coordinator, at (559) 651-0130.

The California Friday Night Live Partnership (CFNLP) joined with CalTrans on a statewide poster contest entitled: "Drinking and Driving Stops with Me." CFNLP was selected by CalTrans, the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, the California Highway Patrol, and the Office of Traffic Safety to assist in bringing the voice of young people to the statewide campaign to prevent drinking and driving. Friday Night Live youth from across the state entered drawings based on the theme. The winners received a monetary award, as well as the opportunity to display their work on posters at all of California's 87 rest stops — reaching over 100 million visitors with the anti-drinking and driving message. To view the students' artwork, visit: www.fridaynightlive.org.

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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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