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The News Gallery

October 2012

View and print a pdf version of this News Gallery.
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Marlene Moreno, Jennifer Fisher, Priscilla Soliz, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Nancy Bruce, Jesse Coronado, Donna Glassman-Sommer, Marvin Lopez, Kate Stover, Al Rodriguez, Conan Palmer, Irene Barba and Isabel Espinoza.

The News Gallery is published monthly with the exception of double issues printed for July/August and December/January. To receive the News Gallery, visit www.tcoe.org/GetTheGallery, or contact Jennifer Fisher at jenniferf@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172.

Circle J-Norris Ranch
Circle J offers stargazing for students, families
Astronomy Field Trips offered this fall include views of the moon, Milky Way and more

On numerous evenings this fall – above the lights of Tulare County cities and towns – students and families are invited to view some spectacular celestial objects as part of the astronomy field trip program at Circle J-Norris Ranch. Under the supervision of a team of local amateur astronomers, visitors learn to work the telescopes and guide them to view planets, star clusters and distant galaxies. Visitors also learn the ancient mythologies of the constellations and how to identify the stars that they contain.

Circle J-Norris Ranch is the beautiful 620-acre field trip site in the Sierra foothills that is part of the SCICON program. The program offers all grade levels a wide variety of field study experiences that enrich and extend classroom learning. Programs conducted on the property are designed to expand the appreciation of the environmental and aesthetic values of the outdoors, and increase understanding of the relationship between humans and nature.

“We are excited to expand our offerings of the popular astronomy program,” said Circle J-Norris Ranch lead teacher Nancy Bruce. “This fall, our viewing includes the summer triangle, the Milky Way, star clusters and the Andromeda Galaxy. On certain nights, the moon, its craters, highlands and mare, are also visible.” Teachers or parents who would like to schedule an astronomy field trip to Circle J-Norris Ranch are encouraged to call Ms. Bruce at (559) 539-2263.

Available Astronomy Field Trips for teachers and students October 3 or 4: View the Summer Triangle
October 10 or 11: View the Milky Way
November 1 or 2: View the Summer Triangle
November 7, 8 or 9: First Quarter Moon Viewing
November 15 or 16: View the Milky Way
December 6 or 7: First Quarter Moon Viewing

Upcoming Family Astronomy Nights
October 12: View the Milky Way
October 18: View the Milky Way

To schedule an Astronomy Field Trip at Circle J-Norris Ranch for your class or family, call lead teacher Nancy Bruce in advance at (559) 539-2263, or e-mail circlej@ocsnet.net. Programs begin promptly at 6:00 p.m.

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New Administrative Credential cohort forming
First group of 13 teachers well on their way to earning Administrative Services Credential

Administrative Credential cohort The first cohort of teachers in New Teacher Development’s Administrative Services Credential (Tier I) Program are well on their way to earning their new credentials. Since April, the 13 administrator candidates have completed, or are enrolled in, classes in school administration, technology, school law, the principalship, and building partnerships and community. College of the Sequoias adjunct counselor Susie Aceron appreciates the program’s faculty. “We are learning from the best – top local educators who have dedicated their entire careers to serving our communities,” she said.

New Teacher Development administrator Donna Glassman-Sommer reports that applications are now being accepted for a second cohort to begin in January 2013. “We invite interested teachers and their administrators to consider this opportunity,” she says. “This unique program provides a balance between theory and real-world application. I appreciate County Superintendent Jim Vidak for supporting our efforts in developing innovative new leaders who will take our students to higher levels of achievement.” For more information, call (559) 730-2549.

Photo above:
~ Members of the first Administrative Services Credential Program cohort are pictured with retired Clovis Unified administrator Dr. Dan Kaiser (r), who is leading a course on school law. Applications for the second program cohort (beginning January 2013) are being accepted.

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Red Ribbon Week Kickoff set for October 20
Choices partners with Tulare County HHSA to put on free, spectacular family event

This month, the Choices Prevention Programs will host the biggest Red Ribbon Week celebration in the county’s history. Along with the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), Choices will hold a free, all-ages event on Saturday, October 20 at the Visalia Convention Center. “We hope the 2012 Red Ribbon Week Kickoff event will entertain, inform and inspire Central Valley youth and families to make positive choices in their own lives,” said event co-chair Al Rodriguez. “We are fortunate to have a tremendous partner in HHSA to help make this vision a reality.”

Red Ribbon Week Kickoff With a theme “The Best Me is Drug Free,” the event will feature safe, educational, and fun activities, including a student art show, children’s activities, and informational booths from a variety of local agencies. Several student groups will perform throughout the day and student videos from the 2012 Slick Rock Film Festival will be shown. Graffiti artist Eric Gonzalez will create a unique showpiece during the event, followed by a special performance by musical artist and motivational speaker K.D. Johnson, who has a message about courage. For more information, call Al Rodriguez or Kate Stover at (559) 651-0155.

Photo above:
~ Musical artist and motivational speaker K.D. Johnson will share a message of courage at the Red Ribbon Week Kickoff event on October 20 at the Visalia Convention Center. The free event is scheduled from noon to 4:00 p.m.

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Excellence in Education to honor 37 nominees
Recognized teachers, administrators and school employees include TCOE's Cherí Barnes

On October 17, educators from throughout Tulare County will gather at the Visalia Convention Center to celebrate extraordinary teachers, administrators and school employees nominated for the annual Excellence in Education awards. This year, a total of 37 nominations were received from TCOE, Tulare County school districts, the College of the Sequoias and Porterville College. “Through the Excellence in Education program, we are reminded that Tulare County is rich with exceptional teachers, administrators and school employees,” said County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Brian Hollingshead Brian Hollingshead, principal at Mission Valley Elementary in Tulare, was selected as Administrator of the Year. For the past 22 years, Mr. Hollingshead has led several of the district’s schools to achieve most impressive academic scores. His nominator stated that he is a “master at finding and utilizing each staff member’s strength.” Mr. Hollingshead has been a long-time proponent of the CHARACTER COUNTS! program, having twice received the prestigious Bonner Center for Character Education Award from Fresno State University. At Mission Valley the program is “the base for everything we do,” he says. He also encourages his students to participate in many community-service activities.

James Kusserow James Kusserow, band teacher at Porterville High School, is the 2012 Teacher of the Year. As director of the Porterville High School band programs for the past 22 years, Mr. Kusserow has helped hundreds of students develop their confidence, self-discipline and sense of community service. Nominators commended Mr. Kusserow for welcoming all students willing to support the tradition of the band – from well-honed musicians to eager beginners and students with special needs. His students’ fine musicianship has opened doors for performances at the White House, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Rose Bowl and many other significant locations.

Cheri Barnes Cherí Barnes, lead personnel technician for TCOE’s Human Resources Division, was chosen as School Employee of the Year. Ms. Barnes supports TCOE administrators in their personnel hiring. She also supports the collective bargaining agreement process, conducts new employee training, and helps process payroll for over 1,200 employees. Area school districts often seek her guidance on policies and procedures. Mr. Vidak says that she shows great initiative, has a “keen knowledge” of human resources, and a natural ability to problem-solve. Privately, she leads a non-profit organization dedicated to providing community education and support to victims of brain injury.

Annually, Excellence In Education is co-sponsored by the Educational Employees Credit Union. For a complete list of the 2012 nominees, visit
www.tcoe.org/ExcellenceInEducation, or for more information, call Marlene Moreno at (559) 733-6302.

Photos above:
~ Administrator of the Year Brian Hollingshead, Teacher of the Year Jim Kusserow, and School Employee of the Year Cherí Barnes will be honored at the annual Excellence in Education breakfast event October 17.

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Spotlight Gabby Medina (center) is a new member of the Woodlake High School pep squad. Irene Barba, who oversees the squad, is Gabby’s special day class teacher. Ms. Barba and Gabby’s mother report that they have seen her grow in confidence and independence in a variety of areas through this experience. Ms. Barba also reports that students voted Gabby as one of five finalists for the title of homecoming queen.

Spotlight Migrant Education recently held a Family Literacy Fair at Lemoore High School in conjunction with its Regional Advisory Council meeting. Children delighted in a visit from “Clifford, The Big Red Dog,” who shared many books with them. Over 75 parents and children attended the event, which promoted the program’s mission to increase family literacy.

Spotlight Thousands of students visited the 31st annual Tulare County College Night last month to meet with university representatives and to attend informational sessions on college requirements, financial aid and more. Each student was able to take home an information-packed College Night Planning Guide thanks to the generous support of Jostens, which donates the printing of the booklet each year. A pdf version of the guide is available at

Spotlight On October 5, the Peña Planetarium will premiere a new show for the public entitled Perfect Little Planet. The show will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the planetarium, located at 2500 W. Burrel Ave. in Visalia. A family from another star system seeking the perfect vacation spot leads the audience on a tour of our solar system, complete with a tour of the ice cliffs of Miranda (a moon of Uranus), the rings of Saturn, lightning storms on Jupiter, and a walk on the surface of Mars. For ticket information on the program, which is suitable for all ages, call (559) 737-6334.

Spotlight Choices School Community Liaison Gus Ramirez talks to students about how their peers may feel when they are included or excluded from group activities on campus. Mr. Ramirez’s activity was part of the annual Friday Night Live T.U.P.E. (Tobacco Use Prevention Education) Leadership Training held for middle school campus leaders. The event, which was attended by 15 schools, provided students with the training they need to plan and lead campus-wide events such as Red Ribbon Week.

Spotlight Last month, middle school students from 15 Tulare County schools and home schools enjoyed a visit to the Tulare County Fair as part of the annual Physics Day event. Event partners College of the Sequoias and Tulare City School District helped lead students through a variety of hands-on activities designed to demonstrate physics concepts. For students, the highlight of the event was collecting and analyzing data on acceleration and force with the use of an electronic vest (as worn by the student on the left).

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Gallery Notes

For 2012-2013, the popular Slick Rock Student Film Festival has become a program of the Tulare County Office of Education, under the joint leadership of the Choices Prevention Programs and Educational Resource Services. Founded 10 years ago by Visalia Unified School District, the festival highlights student-produced videos and public service announcements (PSAs) in more than a dozen categories from throughout the southern San Joaquin Valley. In December, students are invited to submit 30-second, commercial-style PSAs to help promote the film festival. Two- to five-minute videos, in categories ranging from animation and music to action/drama and suicide prevention, are due in March 2013. For information, call Dr. Glenn Williams at (559) 651-3047.

The Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! program has received a generous $3,000 donation from the Provident-Salierno Family Foundation for the purpose of honoring students who best exhibit the Pillars of Character as nominated by teachers, family and community members. The CHARACTER COUNTS! Committee, which reviews thousands of nominations submitted during CHARACTER COUNTS! Week (October 21-27), will select 30 or more students for the honor. The Salierno family has a long history with the program, dating back to the first community meetings with founder Michael Josephson and later with the construction of the Pillar Square monument in Mooney Grove Park.

The Region VII After School Office, in partnership with the Choices Prevention Programs, is planning a two-day regional after school conference for January 4-5, 2013 at the Visalia Convention Center. The theme “Community In Motion: Oh, The Places You’ll Go” has been chosen. The annual Winter Conference will feature breakout sessions organized in four academic strands – School Health, Safety & Prevention; Academic Alignment & Enrichment; Art in After School; and Student Engagement & Classroom Management. For upcoming information on registration, speakers and activities, 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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