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The News Gallery

December 2012/January 2013

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, Nicole Zweifel, Brian Roberts, René Moncada, Linda Hamilton, Randy Wallace, Jane Mitchell, Sara Sutton, Jeanne Croson, Donna Orozco, Therese Arnold, and Kelley Petty.

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.

Tulare County Council on Child & Youth Development
Grant helps children prepare for kindergarten
Council on Child & Youth Development awarded three-year school readiness grant

Teacher Assistant Evon Muñoz reviews the schedule for the morning with her students using visual schedule cards. The cards are a new part of classrooms at the Port Naz Christian Academy in Porterville, placed as part of an instructional improvement plan designed to better prepare students for success in kindergarten. Academy director Karen Pitcher reports that she and her staff developed three goals as part of their improvement plan: to address the needs of children with behavioral or other special needs; to set up classrooms to accommodate these children; and to incorporate the use of visual schedules for the benefit of all children.

Tulare County Council on Child & Youth Development Ms. Pitcher and teachers at the Port Naz Christian Academy are getting help to implement their goals through the new School Readiness Improvement Program (SRIP) offered by the Tulare County Council on Child and Youth Development. The SRIP program was created from a three-year grant awarded to the Council by First 5 Tulare County.

The goal of the program is to adequately prepare children for Kindergarten — whether it’s a transitional or traditional program — by implementing a coaching model to help teachers provide high quality care that meets their students’ needs developmentally, linguistically and culturally. The program is also designed to involve parents so that they gain the skills needed to sustain the instruction. “First 5 Tulare County is proud to be partnering with the Tulare County Office of Education to enhance the quality of our early education workforce through the School Readiness Improvement Program,” said Janet Hogan, executive director of First 5 Tulare County. “The Council on Child and Youth Development is to be commended for putting together a strong program.”

Tulare County Council on Child & Youth Development Several classrooms at Port Naz Christian Academy are receiving coaching services from veteran early childhood educators Selina Chavez and Lisa Pace. This fall, Ms. Chavez and Ms. Pace have been working with teachers at the academy to implement the goals set by the staff. “By working with the teachers and then following-up every two weeks, we are able to see that everyone in the classroom builds the skills they need to meet the goals,” said Ms. Chavez. Several other centers around the county are receiving similar coaching services.

The School Readiness Improvement Program is offered to private, subsidized and family child care programs throughout the county in cohorts of 16 teachers over a 15-week period. Participants are chosen through an application and interview process and two cohorts will be offered per year. Participating programs receive coaching services for approximately seven hours per week for the 15 weeks.

Tulare County Council on Child & Youth Development “The program is designed to be completely collaborative,” said Tina Shirley, Council Coordinator. “Coaches work with their assigned centers to develop an improvement plan to increase the quality of the program, and then implement it through planning and goal-setting, observation, modeling, and problem solving.” Based on the improvement plan, Ms. Shirley reports that coaching services can address any or all of the following areas: curriculum support, classroom management, behavior management, family/community resources, environmental support, parent partnership support, technical support, inclusion support and special needs referrals. In addition to the coaching services, participating programs will have access to specialized training for their staff as well as the parents/guardians of the children in the program.

Applications are now being accepted for the Spring 2013 program. For more information, contact Tina Shirley or Elvia Guerrero, School Readiness Improvement Specialist, at (559) 651-2427.

Photos above:
~ Mentor coach Selina Chavez looks on as Teacher Assistant Evon Muñoz leads her students through a lesson on numbers and letters at the Port Naz Christian Academy in Porterville. The academy is part of a teacher coaching program funded by First 5 Tulare County. Applications for Spring 2013 program participation are available by contacting Elvia Guerrero, School Readiness Improvement Specialist, at (559) 651-2427.
~ Children at Port Naz Christian Academy benefit from focused instruction as part of School Readiness Improvement Program.

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TCOE employees celebrate service milestones
Special Services' Tom Cemo honored for 40 years of service, 146 others also honored

Longevity awards
Forty years ago, Tom Cemo was hired as a teacher of the severely handicapped. Today he leads a class for young adults at Porterville College — a class that has become well-known for creating beautiful statuary and fountains. “I loved it then and I still love it today,” he said. “I feel like the luckiest man in the world to have a job I enjoy coming to everyday.” At the annual Longevity Awards, hosted by the Human Resources Division, Mr. Cemo was praised for the excellent job skills he provides for his students and for changing the perception of people with disabilities on the Porterville College campus. This year, he has the distinction of having the most years of service — 40 years.

Longevity awards This fall, 147 employees celebrated service milestones, dedicating over 2,100 years of their lives to the students of Tulare County. Employees were recognized for serving 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 years in various programs. The Early Childhood Education Program also recognized 11 employees who have served their program for five years. Below is a complete list of employees celebrating service milestones this year.

Photos above:
~ 40-year honoree Tom Cemo in his workshop.
~ 35-year honorees (l-r) Susanna Garza of Special Services, Willie Dreith of SCICON, Enid Brinkman of Human Resources, and Sandie Sweeney of Special Services.
~ 35-year honorees from Early Childhood Education Elizabeth Quintana and Linda Reyes.

40 Years
Tom Cemo

35 Years
Enid Brinkman
Willie Dreith
Susanna Garza
LaDonna Lamb
Elizabeth Quintana
Linda Reyes
Sandra Sweeney

30 Years
Mona Arevalo

25 Years
Virginia Baiza
Nanci Felix
Jodi Fortney
Virginia Gaspar
Joan Gilbert
Rosa Hernandez
Randy Mitchell
Lisa Noel
Sharie Ortega
Rosemarie Reyna-Tunin
Manuela Silveira
Barbara Warren

20 Years
Ralph Alvarez
Priscilla Arroyo
Angela Benton
Elisa Boatman
Deborah Braswell
Editha Carlos
Lorrie Conley
Victoria Contreras
Jeanne Croson
Lillian Donate
Ed Garcia
David Kennedy
Luis Leal
Rosita Lemus
Anna Leon
Patricia Martinez-Gonzalez
Stefania Ryan
Judy Scruggs
Sabina Tapia
Anita Torres
Peggy Vanzant
Katie Wills

15 Years
Roger Beavers
Leslie Berry
Nancy Bolton
Connie Brassfield
Jerome Braun
Arlete Cabral
Melody Camarillo
Sandra Castillo
Leonor Delgado
Francisca Dominguez
Laura Flores-Fielder
Lynne Goodwin
Linda Hamilton
Ernestine Hernandez
Anna Herrera
Maria Herrera
Lupe Huerta
Christina Jimenez
Frances Lopez
Lynda Marvin
Gabriela Mendez
Arlene Parreira
Donna Pascual
Virginia Pulido
Maria Ramirez
Susan Winters
10 Years
Shannon Akers-Cox
Silvia Alfaro
Jennifer Allen
Margarita Almaraz
Josefina Alvarado
Carmen Arroyo
Sylvia Avila
Sergio Barron
David Bertles
Gloria Birkholz
Antonette Borrego
Laurie Bryant
Laura Campos
Victoria Ceballos
Irma Ceja
Martha Chavez
Laura Delgado
Donna Dillard
Karen Forrest
Chris Garcia
Maria Garcia
Bobby Gates
Dewayla Glover
Otila Guerra
Veronica Guerrero
Robert Herman
Jennifer Janzen
Julie Joseph
Jim Kooler
Maria Lara
Tambara Lomonaco
Lorena Lopez
Marvin Lopez
Ricardo Lopez
Raquel Marquez
Joe Menezes, Jr.
Maria Millan
Maria Molina
Irma Navarro
Karen Osborn
Carolyn Peeks
Alta Penn
Jane Perez
Beth Powers
Kimberly Rice
Jeffrey Roach
Lynda Roberson
Rachel Rowell
Kathleen Rulemhart
Lorena Sanchez
Karen Smalling
Adam Valencia
Rohn Wittwer

5 Years
Mirna Acosta
Wendy Alanis
Christianne Ayala
Veronica Ayon
Nidia Branson
Sandra Cantu-Delgado
Norma Chavez
Rhonda Day
Gema Figueroa
Olga Gloria
Ana Gonzalez
Juan Ibarra
Hortencia Juarez
Angelina Magana

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Mental Health programs bring awareness, help
Choices takes proactive approach with two new programs in partnership with HHSA

Next month, the Choices Program will launch two school-based mental health programs in partnership with Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency. The programs, SOS (Signs of Suicide) Prevention Program and RESTATE, will be implemented in Kings and Tulare county middle and high schools as models in Choices’ regional leadership of the statewide Student Mental Health Initiative.

RESTATE is a stigma and discrimination reduction program designed to educate high school students in Tulare and Kings counties about mental health through a curriculum called Mental Health First Aide. The curriculum incorporates the media arts as a project-based vehicle to promote awareness and understanding. Students in 10 selected Tulare and Kings county high schools will participate in training and research on a mental health topic before creating an artistic project such as a painting, photography, video production or a theatrical performance. The video productions will serve as public service announcements for the campus and the community.

Prevention Project Coordinator René Moncada reports that Choices is seeking several Kings and Tulare county middle and high schools to take a proactive approach and participate in the Signs of Suicide (SOS) Prevention Program. The Choices Program will provide schools the training they need to implement and sustain the SOS Prevention Program. Guided by advisors, the program teaches youth how to identify the symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation in themselves or their friends and encourages them to seek help through the use of the ACT technique (Acknowledge, Care, Tell). SOS has the potential to impact over 5,000 seventh- and ninth-grade students in the two-county area.

Schools interested in participating in either the SOS or RESTATE programs are encouraged to call Choices Program Supervisor Adam Valencia or René Moncada at (559) 651-0155.

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Winter Conference to run January 3-4 in Visalia
After school conference expands to two days, brings in nationally-recognized speakers

For several years, the Region VII After School Programs and the Choices Program have co-hosted a conference during the winter break for staff members of the area’s after school programs. The conference has always been an excellent source of information on instructional and enrichment activities for hundreds of attendees.

This year, the Winter Conference is expanding in scope and duration, and featuring nationally-recognized speakers. Scheduled for January  3-4 at the Visalia Convention Center, the conference will be filled with practical, nuts-and-bolts breakout sessions for participants involved in any facet of after school. Attendees can learn the latest efforts in the Student Mental Health Initiative (SMHI) from members of the Choices staff who serve as regional leads for the San Joaquin Valley. Presenters will also discuss the Common Core State Standards and elements of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiative to further align academics in after school programs with regular day instruction. Topics will also include school health, prevention and intervention, student engagement and arts in after school. Topping off the presentations will be keynote addresses from Michael Funk, Evan Whitehead, and Dr. Marcella Klein Williams.

After School Winter Conference Mr. Funk is the director of the newly established After School Division for the California Department of Education. Prior to this, he founded and served as executive director for the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center in San Francisco (SNBC). Established in 1996, SNBC is regarded as a national model for community and after school programming with its integration of Youth Development, community media production and technology.

After School Winter Conference Evan Whitehead is director of special education for Community High School District 99 in the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove. In his role, he leads the schools’ efforts to create positive behavior support and interventions, as well as other strategic initiatives, such as emphasizing the need for rigorous academics for all students.

After School Winter Conference Dr. Marcella Klein Williams is the Chief Educational Officer for the California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet) where she builds connections between educators and STEM partners. Prior to joining CSLNet, she was the director and regional lead for after school programs, serving 20,000 students in over 50 California districts.

“We are excited to welcome professionals from throughout the state to the 2013 Winter Conference, where they can learn the latest instructional trends from the very best in the after school field,” said County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. Registration for the two-day conference is free to after school staff in Fresno, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare counties. A $40 fee will cover registration for attendees outside the Region VII area. For more information, visit

Photos above:
~ (keynote speakers, top to bottom) Michael Funk, director of the California Department of Education’s After School Division; Evan Whitehead, director of special education for the Community High School District in Downers Grove, Illinois; and Dr. Marcella Klein Williams of the California STEM Learning Network.

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Spotlight The Peña Planetarium will present a new program this month entitled Mystery of the Christmas Star. The five-time Telly Award-winning program takes audiences on a journey back over 2000 years ago to Bethlehem to seek a scientific explanation for the star the wise men followed to find the baby Jesus. The all-ages public show will be offered on December 7 and December 14 beginning at 7:00 p.m. A tour of the current night sky is included in the evening's program, along with a live music presentation and an opportunity to join in a Christmas sing-along.

Spotlight In January, the Tulare County Museum of Farm Labor and Agriculture will open an exhibition on the contributions Portuguese immigrants have made to Tulare County agriculture. The exhibition, entitled Portuguese Experiences in Tulare County, will open in the Mooney Grove Park museum on Saturday, January 19, 2013. The opening reception will include speakers from the Portuguese community and traditional Portuguese dancing performed by Tulare Union High School students. The exhibition will also feature a video produced by Sara Sutton and the staff of the Impact Center which includes interviews with several Portuguese community members. Portuguese Experiences will be available for public viewing and school tours through June 2013.

Spotlight Last month, the Theatre Company presented four sold-out shows of Disney’s Little Mermaid Jr. at the L.J. Williams Theater. Backstage, children enjoyed a photo opportunity with Ariel, played by Casandra Castaneda of Redwood High School.

Spotlight Elbow Creek Elementary School (Visalia) parent Ron Gearing (pictured with his fourth-grade daughter Katie) recently designed and painted a new CHARACTER COUNTS! mural for the school. The new Elbow Creek mural is one of over 40 other school and community CHARACTER COUNTS! murals in Tulare County available in a new booklet designed to inspire others to create their own representations of Six Pillars of Character. To view a copy of Murals of Tulare County, visit

Spotlight Priscilla Soliz, administrative assistant for the Instructional Services Division, will retire this month after 23 years of service. Mrs. Soliz began work as secretary to the Bilingual Program Manager in 1989. In 1993, she was promoted to administrative assistant to the assistant superintendent of Instructional Services. In this role, she has assisted Drs. Sally Bakke, Pansy Ceballos and Guadalupe Solis. Mrs. Soliz reports that she has seen continued growth and expertise in the delivery of instructional services. “I am proud to have been a part of a team that is doing great work and getting national attention for it,” she says.

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Gallery Notes

The 2012 Red Ribbon committee is pleased to report that over $2,500 in donations were received from activities held October 22-26. Red Ribbon Committee chairperson Jennifer Fisher would like to thank the hard-working committee members, generous donors and staff who participated in the week’s activities. TCOE programs donated more than 25 wonderful raffle prizes. The proceeds will be given to CASA of Tulare County, which advocates for abused, neglected, and abandoned children.

The Tulare County Farm Bureau is seeking entries for its annual Student Calendar Art Contest. The theme for the 2013-2014 calendar is Tulare County Agriculture ... Our History, Our Future. Teachers may access an entry form at
www.tulcofb.org with instructions on artwork format and delivery. The deadline to enter is February 15.

Central Valley school support staff are encouraged to mark their calendars for the 21st annual Support Staff Conference which will be held March 15, 2013 at the Visalia Convention Center. The conference, which is scheduled earlier this year, will feature a wide array of entertainment, informative breakout sessions and networking opportunities, all designed to celebrate the contributions support staff make to Central Valley schools and district offices. Visit www.tcoe.org/Support for updates.

VWR, the global laboratory supply company which recently opened a distribution center in Visalia, is supporting the annual Science Olympiad Competition this year with 20 scholarships. The scholarships can cover the competition entry fee for teams in Division B (grades 6-9) and Division C (grades 9-12). Science Olympiad Divisions B/C is scheduled for March 9 at the College of the Sequoias. For information on the available scholarships, contact Jennifer Janzen at (559) 651-3043.

Beginning January 17, School Health Programs will be offering a series of monthly CPR classes for TCOE and school district employees. Monthly classes, limited to 16 participants at a cost of $25 per person, will be held from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. at the Doe Avenue complex. For a schedule of classes and to register, call Margarita Quintana at School Health Programs office at (559) 651-0130, ext. 3730.

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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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