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The News Gallery

November 2011

Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Marlene Moreno, Jennifer Fisher, Priscilla Soliz, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Paula Terrill, Gene Mendes, Anjelica Zermeño, Carole Wiley and Saul Altimarano.

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 Jennifer Fisher at jenniferf@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.

Youth Challenge
Youth Challenge a catalyst for positive change
16 middle school teams begin a six-month service-learning competition for grant awards

On October 13, 16 teams of middle school students from large and small campuses around the county arrived at the Visalia Convention Center to begin projects that could have long-term positive effects at their schools. The teams were motivated and instructed on how to develop a service-learning project that could change their school culture and community for the better. The program, known as the Step Up Youth Challenge, is sponsored by the Tulare County Gang Prevention Task Force.

Youth Challenge Over the next six months, the teams will develop a theme that is important to their school or community. For example, teams might choose to address gangs, drug abuse, peer pressure, bullying, self-esteem, or suicide prevention. “One of the most important features of the Step Up Youth Challenge is that the projects developed for each campus will be youth-designed and youth-driven,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “We know from experience that youth-driven projects have a greater potential for success. We are anxious to see what develops at each one of the project schools.” In March, the teams will complete their projects and submit a video documenting its success. The top five teams will be awarded grants totaling $15,000. Winners will be announced and all participants will be honored at a red carpet event on April 12, 2012 at the Fox Theater in Visalia.

Photos above:
~ Students from Valley Life Charter School (Visalia) discuss plans for a project on their campus, while students from Green Acres Middle School (Visalia) draw up their own ideas.

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Students challenged to be kind in all they do
Four Tulare County middle schools participate in Rachel's Challenge assemblies

Rachel's Challenge At school assemblies last month, Tom Isaacson spoke of the tragic 1999 Columbine High School shooting and the first victim – Rachel Scott. Cadets at La Sierra Military Academy (LSMA) were absolutely captivated; many were moved to tears. Mr. Isaacson is a member of the Rachel’s Challenge organization and a personal friend of Rachel’s brother Craig – a Columbine student who survived the shooting. Rachel’s Challenge was formed by members of the Scott family following the tragedy. The story of Rachel’s kind and compassionate acts, coupled with the contents of her six diaries, are the basis of the life-changing school program.

Rachel's Challenge Across the nation, the program challenges students to create on-going activities to reinforce Rachel’s message of spreading kindness. At La Sierra, the leadership class, under the direction of Mike Franco, unveiled a number of activities during Red Ribbon Week (October 24-29), including a Chain Reaction of Kindness. The paper chain contained links representing acts of kindness, a good choice or something positive someone had done at school. Soon, the Choices Program will train the LSMA leadership students to become Friday Night Live Mentors to others on campus. The mentors will reinforce Rachel’s Challenge on campus concerning issues such as bullying and “the power of words.”

Last month, students at Cherry Avenue, Los Tules and Live Oak Middle Schools in Tulare also received visits from the Rachel’s Challenge organization. For information on bringing Rachel’s Challenge to your school, contact Adam Valencia, Choices program supervisor, at (559) 651-0155, ext. 3611.

Photos above:
~ Tom Isaacson speaks about the victims of the Columbine High School shooting to students at La Sierra Military Academy.
~ After the program, cadets sign “Rachel’s Challenge” – a pledge to promote kindness.

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Transitional Kindergarten experts pack summit
Timely conference on new two-year kindergarten program will be repeated in April

On October 27, 140 administrators filled the Elderwood Room to hear from experts and practitioners on the subject of Transitional Kindergarten (TK) – the new statewide program created out of the Kindergarten Readiness Act. The act makes the first year of a two-year kindergarten education available to children born between September and December. It also establishes September 1 as the date by which students must be five years old in order to begin kindergarten.

Among the presenters Instructional Consultant Carole Wiley and her team brought to the summit were retired Los Angeles Unified administrator Whit Hayslip, educational consultant Cory Jasperson and Kingsburg’s Washington Elementary principal Shirley Esau. “With the information the speakers provided, plus the sample board policies, assessments, and parent communications, we hope that we provided districts the tools they need for a successful TK program,” says Mrs. Wiley. For information on the 2012 TK Summit April 12, call Carole Wiley at (559) 651-3031.

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Exhibition highlights contributions of Yokuts
Celebrating Native American Traditions in Tulare County opens at County Museum

Yokuts Exhibition This month, the Tulare County Museum of Farm Labor and Agriculture will premiere a new exhibition exploring the contributions to Tulare County agriculture made by Native Americans, specifically the Yokuts. The exhibition will open with a reception at the museum in Mooney Grove Park on Saturday, November 5 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

The exhibition demonstrates how the Yokuts used the land long before modern agricultural practices were introduced to Tulare County. On display will be artifacts from daily life, including baskets, projectile points and a tule reed canoe. The exhibition will also feature an authentic-style hut made from tules and a recreated bedrock mortar for acorn grinding.

Yokuts Exhibition The opening reception on November 5 will include a traditional invocation by Marie Wilcox of the Wukchumni tribe, a musical performance by the Tule River Yokuts Language Project, poetry reading by Sylvia Ross and a drum circle performance. Also, a video presentation, Yokuts: Tulare County’s First Agricultural Producers, created by Sara Sutton and the staff at the Impact Center, will be available in the Museum’s Learning Center. The exhibition will remain at the Museum through April 2012. Teachers can schedule video showings and exhibition tours by calling museum curator Amy King at (559) 733-6616.

Photos above:
~ The Yokuts exhibition will feature dozens of large-scale prints taken from a local reenactment film produced over 50 years ago, including photos of story telling, hunting, fishing, gathering, home building and basket making.

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Theatre Co. premieres Mulan Jr. this month
Fall Theatre Company production brings popular Disney characters to the stage

Mulan Jr. This fall, 90 Tulare County students have been rehearsing for the Theatre Company’s fall production of Disney’s Mulan Jr., which opens at L. J. Williams Theater in Visalia on November 17. The action-packed production is being directed by Theatre Company vocal instructor Charlotte Garcia, who says, “the show is full of humor, romance, conflict and many great songs audiences will remember from the movie.”

Casandra Casteneda (photo), a freshman at Redwood High School, stars as Mulan, the young woman who disguises herself as a boy in order to fight for the Chinese army and protect the honor of her family. For show times and ticket information, please refer to
the poster.

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Spotlight Last month, Dr. Pansy Ceballos, assistant superintendent of Instructional Services, was honored along with three other educators by the Latinas in Business and Professions Association. Dr. Ceballos was commended for her 35-year career in education, which includes experience as a teacher, an instructional consultant, a program manager and an assistant superintendent. Having earned a doctoral degree in education, Dr. Ceballos was also praised as a role-model for younger Latinas and for her commitment to life-long learning.

Spotlight On November 9, retired Tulare Joint Union High School District administrator Judy Coble will become a member of the Tulare County Board of Education, representing Area 4. Mrs. Coble was appointed by the Board to fill a vacancy left by Scot Townsend, who served as Trustee for Area 4 since 2001. Mrs. Coble has first-hand experience with a number of programs TCOE provides to support districts. While at her district, she worked directly with Randy Wallace and the School-to-Career Program, as well as the After School Program, which is a partnership between the Tulare high schools and the Choices Program.

Spotlight Special Services’ Stacey Broyles, who teaches a Special Day Class at Divisadero Middle School (Visalia) was recently selected as an Educator of the Week by KSEE Channel 24. Mrs. Broyles was nominated by parent Lori Collins who appreciates her success in improving her son’s behavior, speech and class work. Mrs. Broyles, who has worked for TCOE for 12 years, said she knew she wanted to be a special education teacher since she was in elementary school. A video about Mrs. Broyles can be found at

Spotlight On October 19, over 325 educators and community members gathered at the Visalia Convention Center to honor the nominees, finalists and winners in the 17th Annual Excellence in Education Awards program. The Teacher of the Year, Administrator of the Year and School Employee of the Year were selected by a committee that reviewed the nominations in April. County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak congratulates Teacher of the Year Richard Lambie, a physical education teacher/coach at Granite Hills High School in Porterville. Also pictured are School Employee of the Year Teresa Sharley (l), the Child Welfare & Attendance Officer for Tulare City School District; and Administrator of the Year Sue Ann Hillman (r), the recently retired Director of Curriculum for Tulare City School District.

Spotlight Nearly 700 young women (grades 4-10) visited the College of the Sequoias campus October 22 for the annual Expanding Your Horizons event. Attendees enjoyed hands-on workshops which incorporated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, including a session entitled Lemon Battery conducted by faculty and students from Fresno State engineering programs. Presenter Nell Papavasiliou shows the girls how lemons grouped “in series” can power a small LED light.

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Gallery Notes

Last month at its annual Legislative Breakfast, the Tulare County Child Care Planning Council announced that it was changing its name to the Tulare County Council on Child & Youth Development to reflect its new broader mission to serve all students. The Council is made up of parents, educators and community members appointed by the Tulare County Superintendent of Schools and the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. During the breakfast event, the Council presented its fourth annual Business and Children Award to M. Green and Company, Certified Public Accountants. The award was created in 2008 to celebrate companies that have child-friendly business practices. For more information, contact Tina Shirley, Tulare County Council on Child & Youth Development coordinator at (559) 651-1723.

Two students from University Preparatory High School (UPHS) were recently inducted into the Tulare County Farm Bureau’s annual youth leadership program. UPHS Juniors Marissa Lopez and Kathryn Dickenson joined 19 other Tulare County high school students in the year-long program, which provides members with the opportunity to develop their leadership skills. For the next eight months, the students will attend seminars that focus on county, state and federal government processes, visit university campuses, and participate in a congressional insight program, ag careers panel, legislative workshop and community service. The program concludes with a trip to Sacramento to visit the Capitol, the California Farm Bureau headquarters, and meet state-elected representatives and agency officials.

For Lee National Denim Day (Friday, October 7), over 60 Tulare County Office of Education employees donated a total of $340. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Women’s Cancer Programs of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) and the Cancer Support Community. A special thanks goes to Virginia Baiza at ERS and Jaime Burnitzki at SEE Youth for helping collect donations.

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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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