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The News Gallery

June 2008

BUSINESS MINDS - The Gas Company Student Entrepreneur Challenge Draws Teams From Three Counties

News Gallery - June 2008 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Marsha Ingrao, Nani Rowland, Sylvia Karsten, Elainea Scott, Mike Stephens, Randy Wallace, Kathleen Rumelhart, René Moncada, Mike Franco, Sheli Silva, Anna León, Jeanne Croson and Jan Mekeel.

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 Marlene Moreno at marlenem@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.

Cover Photo:
~ Golden West High School students present a plan for a hydrogen-producing business.

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Students Pitch Ideas for a Better Central Valley
Ten Teams Compete for Cash Awards in Growing Student Entrepreneur Challenge

Student Entrepreneur Challenge From custom cakes shaped like super heroes to devices that produce hydrogen and electricity, high school students from Kings, Fresno and Tulare counties showed a lot of business creativity as they presented at the second annual Gas Company Student Entrepreneur Challenge. The event attracted ten teams from three counties this year, nearly double the number that participated in the event's first year.

Student Entrepreneur Challenge Newcomers Washington Union High School in Fresno County competed with four projects and walked away with the grand prize of $1,500 for their entry of a home allergen-reducing service company. "Students took the challenge seriously to develop business products or services that would improve the quality of life in the Central Valley," says Randy Wallace, Tulare County Office of Education School-to-Career director. "We saw several entries dealing with the issues of air quality, energy use and health."

Kingsburg High School won a special innovation prize for their proposal of a device which generates electricity every time a door on campus is opened or closed. Students estimated that the amount of energy captured and returned to the power grid by these devices could reduce the school's electricity usage by 40 percent.

Student Entrepreneur Challenge The Challenge is partnered with Visalia's BizTalk business conference. "The students who participated today have an open and sponsored invitation to attend the BizTalk Conference on October 22," says Mr. Wallace. "We are planning an open forum where these young entrepreneurs can discuss their ideas with Valley business leaders."

"We are really pleased to see the growing interest in this event," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "And we appreciate that The Gas Company continues to be such an active partner."

For information on The Gas Company Student Entrepreneur Challenge, contact Randy Wallace at (559) 733-6101.

Photos above:
~ Golden West's second team Central Valley Biodiesel rehearses before presenting to a panel of judges, including College of the Sequoia's Brent Calvin, Visalia Economic Development Corporation's Jim Claybaugh and Valley Business Bank's Scott Iverson (middle photo).
~ In addition to team awards, the Gas Company's Colby Wells gave four individual scholarships of $1,000 each. For a list of all awards, visit

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Teachers Share Experiences at Colloquiums
Beginning Teachers Reflect on the Past Year and Honor Support Providers

BTSA Colloquiums Around dozens of tables, hundreds of beginning teachers shared the successes and challenges they faced in the classroom this year. Teachers brought PowerPoint presentations, charts and scrap books. "I did an exercise where we measured the area of the basketball court," shared Pleasant View's Buffy Maze. "For students who weren't grasping the concept of 'area,' this really opened their eyes," she said. "This exercise taught me to offer instruction that meets the needs of each child."

BTSA Colloquiums The sharing exercise was held at two colloquiums for beginning teachers  one for first-year teachers, and another for second-year teachers. The Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) Induction Program director Pat Hansen praised the teachers, saying, "As I walk around the room and see the items you've brought to share, I'm amazed! You are doing fantastic work!"

The colloquiums were also a time for beginning teachers to honor the veteran teachers who have served as their "support providers." Green Acres Middle School in Visalia is home to both the first- and second-year Support Providers of the Year. Jeff Brown was selected as the first-year support provider based on the nomination of Kristin Lilly and Jonni Gibson. Joanne Danielson is the second-year support provider nominated by Carrie Kears, who said, "I don't know how I would have navigated the acronyms, paperwork, behavior management, and lesson planning without her."

Read the nomination essays. (pdf)

Photos above:
~ Lincoln Elementary's (Lindsay) Karina Powell shares her experiences as a first-year teacher. Nancy Frank (standing) is Ms. Powell's support provider.
~ Ryan Sanders, a math teacher at Summit Charter Academy in Burton Elementary School District, shares a geometric sidewalk art project with his peers.
~ Green Acres Middle School teacher Carrie Kears (left) and Second-Year Support Provider of the Year Joanne Danielson.
~ BTSA Induction Program director Pat Hansen congratulates First-Year Support Provider of the Year Jeff Brown, who teaches at Green Acres Middle School.

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Two Special Services Employees Honored
Teacher and Parent Liaison Recognized at Annual Luncheon

One of the focuses of the Tulare County Community Advisory Committee (CAC) is to recognize teachers, administrators, parents and even students for their dedication to young people with special needs. These recognitions are often held during the CAC's annual luncheon in May. Alongside the CAC honors, the Special Services division presents its own honor  the Brent Rast Award  to a Tulare County Office of Education teacher of the severely handicapped for his or her exemplary performance.

Special Services Employees Honored This year's winner of the Brent Rast Award is Cheryl Hinton of Monache High School in Porterville. Ms. Hinton is the teacher in Monache's special day class. She is also the advisor for the school's PIVET Club. PIVET stands for Partnerships for Inclusion of Vocational Education and Training. It is a club open to students from throughout the campus who want to include and support Ms. Hinton's students.

Special Services Employees Honored This year at Monache, PIVET was named "Club of the Year" by the student body and it's easy to see why. Club president Erika Cline explains that PIVET has served to break down misconceptions about students with special needs. "Through weekly activities we plan with Ms. Hinton's class, the rest of the student body sees we are really all alike and that her students are a lot of fun," Erika says. "Now when Ms. Hinton's students walk through the campus, everyone who knows them says hello." In addition to weekly games and sports with Ms. Hinton's class, PIVET also plans the students' annual prom, trips to "Special Friends Day" at the Porterville Fair and other community events and fundraisers.

Special Services Employees Honored This year, a new awards program was created by Dr. Marilyn Rankin, assistant superintendent of the Special Services Division. Dr. Rankin surprised Linda Hess, the long-time parent liaison for the program, by announcing a new annual award named in her honor. "The Linda Hess Award will be given each May to an outstanding parent who represents the same parenting qualities that have made Linda so valuable to all of us  someone who is collaborative, creative, compassionate, patient, resourceful and devoted," said Dr. Rankin.

Photos above:
~ Cheryl Hinton shares a laugh with students in her special day class at Monache High School in Porterville.
~ Ms. Hinton also shares the spotlight with two students who were recognized by the CAC for their work with her students through the PIVET Club  Karmen Geffken (left) and Meaghan Dombrausky.
~ Parent Liaison Linda Hess, who is retiring this month after 20 years in her role with Special Services, was surprised at the CAC luncheon with a new annual awards program named in her honor.

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Teachers Gain Access to New History Tools
Library Receives Two National Endowment for the Humanities Projects

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. For teachers, the use of a photograph or a painting can accelerate learning, particularly when the subject is history. Anyone who has seen photographer Dorothea Lange's 1936 image Migrant Mother, knows that it speaks volumes about the despair felt by Americans during the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression.

ERS Library Receives National Endowment for the Humanities Projects Lange's iconic photo is one of 40 carefully-selected images in a new collection awarded to the Educational Resource Services (ERS) library by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). ERS was one of 1,500 recipients nationwide to receive the NEH program, entitled Picturing America. The collection helps teach American history through works of art spanning several centuries  all by American painters, sculptors, photographers and architects. Along with the large, high-quality reproductions, a teacher's resource book, lesson plans and other materials are available to loan to schools contracting with ERS for library services.

ERS Library Receives National Endowment for the Humanities Projects The second resource available to subscribing schools is the We the People: Created Equal collection. The Created Equal collection provides opportunities for young people to explore what the Revolutionary generation meant when it declared that "all men are created equal." The collection contains 17 classic hardcover books  all related to the "created equal" theme  including: The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln, Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom by Virginia Hamilton, and Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Russell Freedman. Through the books, students examine the challenges America has faced, and where it has shown progress in living up to the ideal of universal human equality.

"We are extremely proud of the ERS program for continually seeking new services and materials to support teachers in the classroom," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "The addition of the materials from the National Endowment for the Humanities is another example of their leadership in providing the finest library and media services available."

For more information about the ERS library collection, including the materials awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, contact program manager Elainea Scott at (559) 651-3042.

Photos above:
~ Richgrove's Katy Richardson admires architect Frank Lloyd Wright's 1937 Fallingwater house from the Picturing America collection.
~ Librarians Sandy Plooy from Kit Carson School in Hanford, Debra Moraido from F. J. White in Woodlake and Georgia Barnett from Waukena in Tulare explore materials in the Created Equal collection.

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On People in Service and Support

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Retired professional football player Shawn Harper visited area high schools last month, sharing how he overcame several learning disabilities and initial disappointments in sports. Mr. Harper carries La Sierra Military Academy cadet Cristian Pacheco on his back to illustrate the permanent effect that poor choices can have on one's life. "You weren't born winners or losers," Harper told the students. "You were born choosers  don't give your power of choice away."

Spotlight on People in Service and Support In Exeter, TCOE's Network for a Healthy California teamed up with Save Mart grocery stores for the second annual Fruit and Veggie Fest to empower families to make healthy, active living a priority. As a language arts exercise, the Network's Melissa Sweeney reads Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. The event also featured numerous activities focused on encouraging students to eat fruits and vegetables and be physically active every day. The Network works with six school districts in grades K-12 and with Special Services students to reverse the trend in Tulare County where nearly 72 percent of low-income adult residents are overweight or obese.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Migrant Education's administrator Sheli Silva congratulates Alejandra Sanchez at a celebration for out-of-school migrant students who recently received their high school diploma or GED. Ms. Sanchez accepted a certificate on behalf of her son, Joel, who obtained his diploma and now works in Oregon. Ms. Silva and program manager Anna León organized the first annual recognition event to celebrate the efforts of young people who have persevered to complete their high school education.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support La Sierra High School (Porterville) students Matt Emerson and Jamie Belcher are part of a team that recently presented to the Porterville City Council a new service-learning project entitled Project Citizen. Project Citizen is a nation-wide program that involves young people in seeking solutions to community issues. The La Sierra project envisions creating a volunteer program to support Porterville's eight public parks. The La Sierra project will compete at the regional competition in June. A team of fifth-grade GATE students from Dinuba Unified also used the Project Citizen model to present a project to the Dinuba Anti-Gang Task Force.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support At Arbor Day last month, Jenny Matsumoto, who oversees the Rangers in the Classroom program for the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, led students to form a circle equivalent to the circumference of the park's General Sherman tree. Over 850 students attended the event.

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Gallery Notes

Joseph Jimenez, Cluster Region Director for the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program was recently chosen to serve on the Committee on Accreditation for the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The committee is charged with deciding the initial and continuing accreditation of educator preparation programs in California. As a member of the Committee on Accreditation, Mr. Jimenez will measure the viability of preparation programs to produce effective educators for the state's students.

A committee of 15 Tulare County business and educational leaders met recently to choose the 2008 Administrator/ Manager of the Year, Teacher of the Year and School Employee of the Year in the 14th Annual Excellence in Education Awards program. Howard Berger, superintendent of Tulare Joint Union High School District, was chosen Administrator/Manager of the Year. Rebecca Bullick, English teacher at Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia was named Teacher of the Year, and Jennifer Daniels, of Tulare Union High School, was selected School Employee of the Year. The winners, finalists and nominees will be honored at a breakfast event on October 15 at the Visalia Convention Center.

Two Tulare County History Day projects won at the California History Day competition held May 8-11 in Sacramento. The projects, developed by students at Kings River Elementary School, are eligible to compete in the national competition June 15-19 at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. Several other Tulare County projects received special awards at the state competition. For a complete list of winners, visit

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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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