go to Tulare County Office of Education HomePage go to Tulare County Office of Education HomePage

The News Gallery

February 2012

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

Contributors to this issue:
Marlene Moreno, Jennifer Fisher, Priscilla Soliz, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Tammy Bradford, Stephanie Rodriguez, Nani Rowland, Janet Hettinger, and Lynne Goodwin.

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.

Choices After School Program
Early music education program piloted in Tulare
Choices After School Program introduces new violin class at Roosevelt Elementary

Roosevelt Elementary School (Tulare) second grader Cruz Martinez loves singer/songwriter Katy Perry’s Firework. “It’s my favorite song,” she says. “I want to hear it all the time.” It’s a song she also hopes to play on her violin. Cruz and several other students are part of a new violin class offered at her school through the Choices After School Program.

Choices After School Program A visit to the Roosevelt after school program finds Cruz and her classmates learning the basics with instructor Jeffrey Fritz. Mr. Fritz is currently a member and section leader of both the Kings and Tulare County Symphony Orchestras. He and co-teacher Frank Pitts provide the students with an hour of instruction each day. After School Consortium project coordinator Virginia Sepeda hopes the new program sets off some musical fireworks in the lives of students.

The violin program was the vision of Tulare County Symphony past president Florence Kabot, who with the support of several Tulare service clubs, donated the instruments to begin the program. Ms. Kabot was inspired to develop the after school program having seen a performance from members of the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA). “We appreciate the initiative of Ms. Kabot and the members of the symphony in developing this program for the students at Roosevelt,” says County Superintendent Jim Vidak. “We look forward to continuing our partnership and working toward the development of a successful music education model other after school programs can enjoy.”

Photos above:
~ Students in the Choices after school program at Roosevelt Elementary are enjoying daily violin instruction this year.

to Top of Page

Students review new school food offerings
Nutrition Advisory Councils from Cutler-Orosi schools visit Valley Food Service Show

Nutrition Advisory Councils Adults aren’t always the most sympathetic listeners when children share their opinions about the foods they like and the ones they really don’t like. This was not the case at the 2012 Valley Food Service School Food Show, where representatives from over 30 food suppliers eagerly awaited the observations of students visiting from the El Monte Middle and Palm Elementary Schools in Orosi.

The students are part of Network for a Healthy California-supported Nutrition Advisory Councils (NAC) at their respective schools. NAC members, who are usually in grades 4-8, take a leading role in peer-to-peer nutrition education on campus, making regular classroom presentations encouraging younger students to try food items from the Harvest of the Month — a changing variety of fruits and vegetables. In this way, NAC members spread the word about the important role good nutrition plays in their lives, while providing a link between students, school food service personnel, administrators and the community.

The theme of this year’s show was “Swashbuckling School Meals,” a pirate-themed food expo for area food service personnel. Twenty-three NAC students sailed from booth to booth sampling, scoring and giving their candid opinions on the foods and beverages they tasted. The students decided to give some of the items their approval, while others were asked to “walk the plank,” never to be seen on any school menu.

Since many students receive the majority of their daily nutrition at school through breakfasts, lunches and snacks, it’s critical that food vendors present recipes that are both appealing to students and nutritious. Those products that don’t meet the strict nutritional guidelines or that aren’t to the students’ liking are sent back to the galley to be reformulated or thrown overboard.

“Receiving feedback from students is a high priority for Valley Food Service and most food service directors since students are the ultimate consumers in school cafeterias,” says Nani Rowland, Network project coordinator. “The vendors work really hard to provide schools with nourishing, cost effective, appealing foods that kids like and the Food Service staff are proud to prepare and serve.”

The Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District is one of 10 partner districts with the Network for a Healthy California, which provides nutrition education support to schools, including the formation of Nutrition Advisory Councils. For information on starting a NAC at your school, contact Nani Rowland or Janet Hettinger at (559) 651-0130.

Photo above:
~ Charlize Domingo, Katherine Zamora and Kendra Lopez from Palm Elementary in Orosi enjoy samples of mashed potatoes from Idaho Pacific at the 2012 Valley Food Service School Food Show. The Palm Elementary and El Monte Middle School students were the only young people invited to attend the show and provide their opinions on new drinks and food items.

to Top of Page

Hundreds receive new backpacks, supplies
Feed The Children organization donates nearly three tons of school supplies locally

Backpacks and School Supplies from Feed The Children On January 12, a huge semi-truck arrived at the TCOE Doe Avenue complex delivering almost three tons of supplies to benefit 960 Tulare County students. The truck was from Feed The Children, the nonprofit relief organization based in Oklahoma City that delivers food, medicine, clothing and other necessities to individuals, children and families who lack these essentials due to poverty or natural disasters.

Inside the truck were backpacks, children’s books, supplies and personal care items intended for homeless students. In one day, Special Services’ Preschool Program Manager Tammy Bradford (who also serves as the TCOE foster youth and homeless education coordinator) and her staff handily organized the distribution of all items. “We are so thankful for the gift of backpacks and supplies from Feed The Children,” says Ms. Bradford. “And we appreciate the help of the districts in getting these materials to Tulare County’s neediest students.”

Photos above:
~ Atto Arguellas from Lindsay Unified loads backpacks and supplies for his district as (lower photo) students from Springville Union enjoy new books and supplies.

to Top of Page

Allstate Foundation funds traffic safety projects
California Friday Night Live Partnership oversees 52 student-led projects statewide

This spring, students in 52 California counties are implementing traffic safety projects thanks to grants totaling $500,000 from the Allstate Foundation. The grants, which combined were the largest ever awarded by the Allstate Foundation, are being administered by the California Friday Night Live Partnership (CFNLP) as part of its annual Traffic Safety Summit program.

CFNLP Program Specialist Lynne Goodwin explains that for students, the grants were a competitive process. Friday Night Live chapters in each county were invited to submit proposals a few months ago. CFNLP was able to award 52 mini-grants for the implementation of projects which range from peer-to-peer distracted driving awareness campaigns to working with Caltrans to install stoplights at school sites. Students will work this semester to implement their projects which are to include a social media component, compile the results and prepare a presentation for the 2012 Youth Traffic Summit to be held in September in Anaheim.

“We are encouraged by the faith the Allstate Foundation has put in the Friday Night Live Program,” says Ms. Goodwin. “By investing in our youth, they are empowering them to realize their abilities to make change, influence policy and take ownership of their futures. We also appreciate the support Superintendent Jim Vidak provides our program here in Visalia. Without it, we could not make the statewide impact on young people we achieve through projects like this.”

to Top of Page


Spotlight Last month, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) honored two Tulare County Office of Education employees with Administrator of the Year awards. Marlene Moreno, Administrative Assistant to the County Superintendent, won the regional award in the Confidential Employee category. John Rodriguez, Human Resources Manager for the Child Care Educational Program, was honored in the Classified Leader category. Both Ms. Moreno and Mr. Rodriguez won awards at the Tulare County and regional levels. They will now represent the region, which includes Inyo, Kern, Kings, Mono and Tulare Counties, at the statewide honors competition this month in Sacramento.

Spotlight Pixley Middle School seventh-grade student Ernesto Galvez will return to the annual Tulare County Spelling Championship February 22 with hopes of winning this year. Ernesto placed second last year behind two-time champion Joseph Maluyao, who as a ninth-grade student is no longer eligible to compete. Ernesto will have tough competition from returning finalists Michelle Cisneros, an eighth-grade student at El Monte Middle School in Orosi and Daniel Seyed, an eighth-grade student from La Joya Middle School in Visalia. The Spelling Championship will begin at 8:30 a.m at the Visalia Convention Center.

Spotlight Author and entertainer Eric Litwin will be the keynote speaker at the 24th Annual Child Care Conference on Saturday, March 31 at the Visalia Convention Center. Mr. Litwin is the co-creator of “The Learning Groove,” a music and movement program. In addition to Mr. Litwin’s presentation, the conference will feature a full day of workshops, including topics such as integrating music in the classroom, motor skill development, and working with children with special needs. For more information, call (559) 651-0862.

Spotlight Dates have been set for the 2012 SCICON Summer Academies. The camps are scheduled for June 17-22 and June 24-29 for students entering grades 6-8. For more information about the academies and the full week of academic and outdoor activities, visit

Spotlight Last month, the Burrel Avenue office welcomed Amanda Soto (l) as the receptionist/credentials assistant. Amanda comes to TCOE with experience gained at Ennis Homes (Porterville) and College of the Sequoias. She replaces former receptionist Maria Macias (r), who became a credentials/retirement technician within Human Resources. Laura Rodriguez accepted the personnel technician position held by Susan Scott before her retirement and Elisabeth Flores took Laura’s position as personnel/fingerprint specialist.

Spotlight The second annual Battle of the Books Competition for middle schools is coming March 7. Student teams test their knowledge of 30 preselected books in several game show-style events. For more information about the competition, call Beth Olshewsky at (559) 651-3031.

to Top of Page

Gallery Notes

Last month, the Network for a Healthy California received a valuable grant award from the California Table Grape Commission. The grant will fund the installation of 28 salad bars for Tulare County schools as part of the commission’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative. Schools receiving salad bars (to be installed in April) include:

Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District - Cutler Elementary School, Golden Valley Elementary School, Palm Elementary School, Sierra Elementary School, El Monte Middle School
Dinuba Unified School District - Grand View Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School, Roosevelt Elementary School, Wilson Elementary School
Exeter Union School District - Lincoln Elementary School, Rocky Hill Elementary School, Wilson Middle School
Kings River Union School District - Kings River Union Elementary School
Porterville Unified School District - Belleview Elementary School, John J. Doyle Elementary School, Monte Vista Elementary School, Olive Street Elementary School, West Putnam Elementary School
Sunnyside Union School District - Sunnyside Union Elementary School
Visalia Unified School District - Crestwood Elementary School, Fairview Elementary School, Mineral King Elementary School, Royal Oaks Elementary School, Willow Glen Elementary School
Woodlake Union School District - Castle Rock Elementary School, Francis J. White Learning Center, Woodlake Valley Middle School

In December, the Tulare County Board of Education elected trustee Celia Maldonado-Arroyo to serve as president for 2012. Ms. Maldonado-Arroyo represents Trustee Area 1, which includes several northern county districts such as Cutler-Orosi Unified, Dinuba Unified, Kings River Union, Monson-Sultana Joint Union and others. Area 5 Trustee Joe Enea was elected to serve as Vice President. Mr. Enea was also selected to serve on the California County School Boards Legislation Review Team.

Applications for the annual STEM Entrepreneur Scholarship are now available. The scholarship, which is co-sponsored by TUCOEMAS Federal Credit Union, awards $1,000 to a junior or senior who has plans to continue studies in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics, and who has started a business or developed a business idea. The scholarship winner will be honored at the annual Gas Company Student Entrepreneur Challenge event on March 7. For information on the scholarship (which is due by 4:00 p.m. on February 24) or the Challenge, contact Randy Wallace at (559) 733-6101.

Dr. Jim Kooler, Administrator for the California Friday Night Live Partnership was recently selected to serve on two national boards. In October, Dr. Kooler was named to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) Board of Trustees. The USADA is the independent, non-governmental entity responsible for testing U.S. athletes participating in the Olympics. Dr. Kooler has also been appointed to the board of the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), an organization committed to empowering Americans to make sound decisions to reach financial goals.

to Top of Page

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

| Home Page | Site Index |

Please direct web site problems or comments to tcoeweb@tcoe.org.

Copyright © 2019, Tulare County Office of Education