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The News Gallery

November 2008

HISTORY LESSON - Allensworth native Alice Royal leads a tour of the town's historic schoolhouse during centennial celebration

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

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Veronica Carmona, Donna Orozco, Janet Hettinger, Nani Rowland, Marsha Ingrao, Sharon Phillips, and Randy Wallace.

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.

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Live and virtual tours bring unique town to life
Two new student programs explore Allensworth's rich history

Allensworth: Then and Now Last month, the California State Parks celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of Allensworth in southern Tulare County  the only town in California founded by African Americans as part of the "freedom colony" movement that followed the Civil War. To commemorate the centennial, the Tulare County Office of Education introduced two new programs. The first was offered through the Impact Center's Multi-media Theater in partnership with the California State Park's PORTS program. Courtney Felix's eighth-grade history class from Divisadero Middle School visited the theater for a live videoconference tour of the park broadcast from Allensworth. Students conversed with State Park educator Beverly Brockington stationed in the town's restored general store via a two-way video system. Sara Sutton, the Impact Center's supervisor, reports that the Allensworth videoconference program is available to other Tulare County classes through special arrangement with the California State Parks.

Allensworth: Then and Now The second program was an interpretive history event, coordinated by Instructional Consultant Marsha Ingrao, in partnership with the County of Tulare and the State Parks. On October 10, nearly 300 students participated in Allensworth: Then and Now. Students traveled to the Allensworth State Historic Park to gain a greater understanding of the men and women who founded, financed and governed the town in 1908. Visiting classes were divided into groups for activities that included children's games of the 19th century, candle making and blacksmith demonstrations, and a tour of several of the town's buildings, including the schoolhouse. As a follow-up to their visit to Allensworth, students will document their experience through posters, documentaries and essays. The projects will be judged and awards given at a reception scheduled for January 16 in TCOE's Education Center in Visalia.

"We are so fortunate to have this great resource in our county and that through the efforts of our State Parks, students have greater access to it," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Photos above:
~ Nearly 300 Tulare County students visited the Allensworth State Park during the centennial celebration.
~ Students at the Impact Center's theater in Visalia participate in a live videoconference from Allensworth.
~ During the Allensworth: Then & Now event, students try an old-fashioned game of marbles.

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Network broadens audience outside classroom
Evening nutrition education programs are a hit with parents

Nutrition Education The words of President John F. Kennedy float high on a wall in the cafeteria of Dinub's JFK Academy: "Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future." The quote seemed a fitting backdrop to the Network for a Healthy California's first parent education event held at the school last month. "Your children are looking at your actions," Network nurse Janet Hettinger told the group of 20 parents. "If you're walking for exercise every night, they'll notice. Our goal with these sessions is to help you make good food choices and increase your physical activity so that you and your children can lead long and healthy lives."

Nutrition Education Ms. Hettinger and Sarah Barajas-Clements from Health Net of California spent an hour with the group of English- and Spanish-speaking parents engaged in a variety of educational activities. A food-based game of bingo taught the value of various fruits and vegetables, followed by a lesson on understanding nutritional labels affixed to most food products. Ms. Hettinger's display showing the fat and sodium content of snack foods and the sugar content of various sizes of soda elicited strong response. In English or Spanish, the reaction was the same: parents were shocked to see three, four or five vials of salt representing the amount of sodium in their child's favorite snack chip, or to see a cup or more of sugar sitting next to a fountain drink. "The efforts of the Network to teach children and parents how to support each other's healthy lifestyle choices strengthens the family and prepares students for success in school," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Nutrition Education Since winter squash was the program's featured produce for October, parents also had a "hands-on" opportunity to make their own pumpkin pudding. In a matter of minutes, parents had mixed ingredients for a healthy after-school snack or dessert. According to Ms. Hettinger, the Network will offer five additional classes for parents at JFK this school year and will be visiting other schools throughout the county.

Photos above:
~ JFK parents whip up a delicious low-fat pumpkin pudding.
~ Janet Hettinger reviews a typical content label with translation assistance from Maria Tolentino.
~ Parents review the display of sodium and sugar levels in popular snack foods.

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New mural graces downtown Tulare building
Superior Community School students show CHARACTER COUNTS! in public art

Murals in Tulare Motorists traveling northbound on K Street in downtown Tulare are in for a delightful surprise. On the south facade of the Tulare Youth Services building, a striking new mural portrays Cesar Chavez, Mother Teresa, and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. under the banner "Character Counts!" Designed by students from the Tulare County Office of Education's Superior Community School, the mural is the latest project of the School Health Programs Community Challenge Grant, coordinated by Sharon Phillips. In contrast to the mural created last year for the Mid-County Community School campus in Visalia, the Tulare mural is set in a public place. Both murals have the same message: people, like Chavez, Mother Teresa and King, who served others as prescribed by the CHARACTER COUNTS! framework  with trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship  can change the world.

Murals in Tulare Work on the service learning project began last spring when the students conceptualized the design with help from local muralist Colleen Mitchell-Veyna. With support from the Tulare Committee on Community Improvement, the Tulare Redevelopment Agency and the Tulare Youth Services Bureau, the design was painted by students and Ms. Veyna in September. "We appreciate the extraordinary talent and time Colleen volunteers for these mural projects," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "With her guidance, our students can take pride in the fact that they have created something that is beautiful, powerful and enduring."

Photos above:
~ The mural created by Superior Community School students in Tulare adorns the south facade of the Tulare Youth Services building and features portraits of Cesar Chavez, Mother Teresa and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
~ A detail of Dr. King.
~ Muralist Colleen Mitchell- Veyna (foreground) and TCOE's Sharon Phillips put finishing touches on the mural in September.

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Educators honored at 14th annual event
Community celebrates 28 of Tulare County's finest

Purple is a color often associated with nobility. The color seemed the appropriate choice for flowers and banners at the annual Excellence in Education Awards Program as teachers, school employees and administrators honored on October 15 received the "royal treatment."

Over 300 family members, friends and colleagues gathered at the 14th annual breakfast event to honor 28 of Tulare County's finest school employees. Nominees, finalists and winners in the Administrator/Manager of the Year, Teacher of the Year and School Employee of the Year categories were selected by their school districts and judged by a panel of business and educational leaders in May.

Excellence in Education Awards County Superintendent Jim Vidak praised the Educational Employees Credit Union (EECU) and its new CEO, Elizabeth Dooley, for their support of the awards program since its inception. "We truly appreciate the support of our partners in this event  the Educational Employees Credit Union (EECU), its President/CEO Beth Dooley, and board of directors. For the past 14 years, together we've had the privilege of recognizing many talented educators."

Howard Berger, superintendent of the Tulare Joint Union High School District, was selected for the award of Administrator of the Year because of his leadership in moving all students forward with an academic improvement plan  first as principal at Tulare Union High School and now as district superintendent. Mr. Berger was also praised for his vision in implementing new community programs to support the schools, including the development of a board of business leaders to lend their expertise to a newly formed academic/vocational studies program.

Winner of the 2008 Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Bullick of Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia, impressed the selection committee for her work with disengaged students through her role as an English teacher and the Lead Teacher for Mt. Whitney's Agribusiness Academy. Colleagues and students alike commended her high standards, skilled guidance and loving encouragement. Principal Jeff Hohne said, "As a result of her safe and supportive classroom, many students with storied pasts and weak personal foundations have blossomed into academic champions."

Jennie Daniels was selected as the School Employee of the Year for her extraordinary support skills as secretary to Principal Michelle Nunley. With nearly 2,000 students and 160 staff members to track, Mrs. Daniels is responsible for helping to oversee the school's budget, manage the substitute teachers, create school publications, and comfort students and parents when needed. Her "can-do" attitude has earned her the respect of administrators in the district office. She was recently given the responsibility of developing Tulare Joint Union High School District's new web site.

For a complete list of the winners, finalists and nominees, visit

Photo above:
~ 2008 Excellence in Education winners: Jennie Daniels, School Employee of the Year; Rebecca Bullick, Teacher of the Year; and Howard Berger, Administrator/Manager of the Year.

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On People in Service and Support

Head Start Alejandra Cortez-Andrade, a preschooler at the Washington Child Care Center in Lindsay, has been selected as one of five children nationwide to represent the federal Head Start program's service milestone of 25 million children enrolled. Alejandra is part of Head Start's commemorative campaign as one of millions of success stories. She began the program as a child who wouldn't speak at school. Her teachers have worked to get her to repeat things they say and to do things in front of the class. Today, her speech is perfect and she is very motivated to read. Comprehensive Head Start services prepare children for Kindergarten and are offered through 43 centers throughout Tulare County.

Student Entrepreneur Challenge Participants in the Student Entrepreneur Challenge kick-off event last month had an opportunity to sharpen their business planning and presentation skills with guidance from local business leaders, including film producer Geoff Ludlow. High school teams interested in participating in the 2009 Student Entrepreneur Challenge, scheduled for February 26 at El Diamante High School, should visit
www.tcoe.org/Challenge for more information.

Young People's Concerts Approximately 9,600 Tulare County elementary students attended performances of the Tulare County Symphony Orchestra in the annual Young People's Concerts program. The 49-year-old event, cosponsored and coordinated by the Tulare County Office of Education, is designed to introduce young audiences to orchestral instruments in a performance setting. This year's event, held over three days in Visalia, Tulare and Porterville, featured a performance of Camille Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals. Visual and performing arts consultant Brian Roberts (seated) narrated the performance, which featured dancers from the College of the Sequoias.

Step Up Youth Summit Orosi High School senior, Kathy Banut, was honored by County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak (r) and County Supervisor Steve Worthley (l), for her design of the Step Up Youth Summit T-shirt logo and slogan. Kathy's design was selected out of over 170 countywide entries and will be featured on the T-shirt worn by 1,000 high school students invited to the November 20 event. The Youth Summit has been created to inspire and support Tulare County young people to live violence- and drug-free lifestyles, pursue educational achievement and connect to their community in a positive manner.

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Gallery Notes

Students in the Theatre Company's annual fall workshop have been preparing a production of Willy Wonka Junior since the class began in September. The students will give four public performances at the L.J. Williams Theater in downtown Visalia, plus a sold-out show for students, November 21 - 23. During each of the public performances, "Wonka Bars" will be sold at a cost of $5. At intermission, audience members who purchased a bar will be invited on stage to unwrap their chocolate and discover whether they hold a "golden ticket." The audience member with the golden ticket will receive a basket full of chocolate and other goodies. Proceeds from the sale of the chocolate benefit the Theatre Company. For performance and ticket information, please see the Calendar of Events in this issue, or call (559) 651-1482.

Over the summer, ROI Sequoia Valley Magazine, published by the Visalia Times-Delta, invited the public to nominate young professionals who are making a difference in their industries and communities. Adam Valencia, coordinator for the Reconnecting Youth Program, has been selected for the "5 under 40 Rising Stars" award selected by a blue-ribbon panel of judges made up of business leaders in Tulare County. The awards presentation was held October 29 at the Heritage Complex in Tulare, in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation.

Teachers and administrators interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in education are invited to an informational session presented by Dr. Sharon Brown-Welty of California State University, Fresno on November 18. The program will be held in TCOE's Education Center in Visalia beginning at 4:00 p.m. Dr. Brown-Welty is director of the university's Doctorate in Educational Leadership program. For more information, or to make reservations, call Christine Chapman at (559) 733-6302.

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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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