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The News Gallery

November 2014

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, Lorena White, Shelly DiCenzo, Paula Terrill, Nicole Zweifel, Charlotte Garcia, Kate Stover, Connie Smith, Linda Lanting and Robyn Cooper.

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.

Early Childhood Education program

Home educators and parents support learning
Hundreds of preschool children prepare for school through Home Base Program

Norma Navarro and Ana M. Ramirez have over 40 years of experience between them as home educators with the Early Childhood Education Program (ECE). Last month, the pair invited the parents and children they serve to a socialization meeting at the Teviston Child Development Center. The educators played a game of "I Spy," showing parents how their children could have fun identifying ordinary objects around the house. Later, Ana and Norma conducted a fire safety lesson and demonstrated the "stop, drop and roll" technique.

The socialization meetings, which cover topics of interest to parents, are held twice each month. "Moms often feel isolated at home," said Ms. Ramirez. "These meetings and the field trips we take each year help to connect them to their community and other parents." Among the places home educators routinely visit with parents as part of their annual field trips are the library, where they are encouraged to get a library card, and the school where their child will attend.

Early Childhood Education program The Home Base Program provides an option for Head Start parents who prefer to have a home educator come to their home and work one-on-one with parent and child. The program assists parents in their role as the first and most important educator of their own children, enhancing the quality of children's lives by building upon existing family strengths.

Weekly home visits lasting 1-1/2 hours are made to each family. During the visits, the home educator works with parents on the same five school readiness domains as children in the center-based program. Each day of the week, parents are given several activities to address the five domains: physical/health, social/emotional, language/literacy, math/numbers and cognitive. "We work to empower parents as their child's first teacher and as a role model," said Ms. Navarro. "During the home visits, we assess the progress children are making in each of the domains. If the child is struggling in one area, we are able to revise the activities to provide more support to meet his or her needs."

On top of the daily activities, parents are asked to read to their children every day. "We encourage parents to create a quiet education area in their home, with no television," said Ms. Ramirez. "Of course, fathers are encouraged to participate, too. We see that the greater the father's engagement, the more effective the lessons." Parents can use books they obtain from the library or simply make up a story about the things they experienced that day.

Early Childhood Education program

Norma and Ana are part of a team of 55 professionals who serve Head Start children in the Home Base program. Another 15 home educators serve children in the Early Head Start program. Each home educator is assigned 12 children. "We are building relationships," said Norma Navarro. "We not only empower parents as educators, but we support them to make community connections that will help their families. We all enjoy feeling that we've helped in some way."

Photos above:
~ Home educator Ana M. Ramirez presents a lesson to parents and children at the Teviston Child Development Center.
~ Parents in the Home Base program receive instructional support from home educators to serve as their child's first teacher.
~ Ana M. Ramirez and children practice a fire safety exercise "stop, drop and roll."

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Third annual Provident-Salierno Awards held
Students provide heartwarming evidence that CHARACTER COUNTS! in Tulare County

Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Awards October is the month that schools across the nation celebrate CHARACTER COUNTS! and the good character students display on a daily basis. In Tulare County, which hosts one of the nation's largest celebrations, the month culminates with the presentation of the Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Awards. On October 26 and 28, family members gathered to celebrate 68 top students as they received special recognition.

Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Awards

For the third consecutive year, the Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! office reviewed Kids of Character nominations received from schools and citizens throughout the county to select the honorees and finalists for each of the Pillars of Character - Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. This year, the office received more than 6,500 student nominations from 143 Tulare County schools. At the awards celebration, the honorees and finalists for each pillar were given cash awards presented by Tony and Mary Salierno on behalf of the foundation they created.

Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Awards "There are great stories of student character all around us," said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "After 19 years of holding Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! Week celebrations, it's wonderful to see the quality and effort teachers and community members put into recognizing Kids of Character. It just keeps getting better and better."

The student honorees ranged from elementary school students who demonstrated responsibility in the extra duties they perform on campus to the entire Redwood freshman football team, who created a video to support a rival Mt. Whitney High School player who is battling cancer.

Young Chloe Quintana was one of the honorees. She was recognized for the helpful, kind and generous attention she pays to a special needs boy named Ryan Valdez. Chloe and Ryan attend Cutler Elementary and have known each other for four years. Ryan's mother, Melissa Valdez, said, "Throughout this time, they have sometimes been in the same classroom and, if not, Chloe is sure to find him on the playground. She meets him at the gate each morning and she makes sure Ryan is included at recess and that other kids are kind and respectful to him." For her willingness to accept people for their differences and for treating them with dignity and respect, Chloe Quintana was selected as the top honoree for the Pillar of Respect.

Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Awards In the category of Caring, Porterville High School freshman Shawnee James was honored as a finalist. Her teacher, Vanessa Reilly of Alta Vista shared that over the last five years, Shawnee has dedicated all her free time during break, lunch and PE to assisting fellow student Adriana Aleman who was afflicted with meningitis as a kindergarten student. "She never made Adriana feel like she was disabled," Ms. Reilly said. "Shawnee was there to lean on in case Adriana needed help, not as a crutch, but for support. She never asked for anything but gained a best friend in the process. To give of oneself and not ask for anything in return is usually not a characteristic of a middle school or high school student. She is a truly caring individual."

For a complete list of Provident-Salierno Family Foundation honorees, visit

Photos above:
~ Chloe Quintana greets her friend Ryan Valdez as Woodlake Unified Superintendent Drew Sorensen (l) and Brian Hollingshead, director of curriculum for Tulare City School District, look on. Chloe, a third-grade student at Cutler Elementary, was a top honoree for the Pillar of Respect for seeing that Ryan is included and treated with respect by his classmates.
~ Attendees at the Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Awards enjoyed a video the Redwood High School freshman football team made for Mt. Whitney freshman Josh Villarreal, who is battling cancer.
~ Shawnee James shakes hands with nominators as her friend Adriana Aleman looks on. Shawnee, a freshman at Porterville High School and a finalist for the Pillar of Caring, has supported Adriana for years as she has fought to regain her mobility after being afflicted with meningitis as a kindergartner.
~ Tony and Mary Salierno congratulate Kings River Union School student Jairo Aguilar, a finalist for the Pillar of Trustworthiness.

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Tulare County students score high on survey
Reported increases in healthy eating and physical activity delight state officials

Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention According to a recent statewide survey, Tulare County students who are receiving nutrition education lessons are getting the message and making positive food and physical activity choices. The TCOE Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention (NEOP) program, which was formerly known as the Network for a Healthy California, implemented its Harvest of the Month (HOTM) curriculum in seven third-grade classrooms during the 2013-14 school year.

To evaluate the program, students were administered a survey before the first lesson and again after the ninth and final session. Four classrooms not receiving the HOTM curriculum were also surveyed. While the results from the non-HOTM schools remained consistent in the pre- and post-surveys, the results from the schools receiving the curriculum were remarkable. In every category - outdoor activity, consumption of soft drinks, healthy beverages (water and milk) and fruits and veggies - students in the HOTM classrooms reported dramatic positive increases.

The HOTM curriculum is designed to educate students about nutrition and introduce them to new foods they may not otherwise have the opportunity to try, with an emphasis on fresh local produce. Teachers were given monthly HOTM resource packets to conduct 30- to 45-minute presentations. The handouts showcased a different fruit or vegetable each month and included nutrient facts and recipe ideas. Taste-tasting is the highlight of the sessions and students often discovered they liked something they had never tried before.

Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention To aid in the delivery of HOTM curriculum for the 2014-15 school, dietician Alex Shew has joined the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention program. Ms. Shew is a recent graduate of Chico State and a former intern at the university's Center of Nutrition and Activities Promotion, where she worked with students in Butte County's after school program. She also interned at Sherwood Montessori School's kitchen garden program, working with kindergarten students to plant, pick and cook foods from the garden.

View the Tulare County results of the recent NEOP survey online at

Photos above:
~ Third-grade Tulare County students that received Harvest of the Month (HOTM) curriculum in their classrooms report that they eat more fruits and vegetables, drink less soda, and participate in more physical activity than students who did not receive the HOTM lessons.
~ Alex Shew recently joined the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention program as a dietician.

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CHOICES becomes inspiration for urban art
Three artists create pieces at annual Taste the Arts festival for TCOE program

While thousands of people visited the Taste the Arts festival last month, milling among the booths and participating in hands-on arts activities, three urban artists worked quietly on large paintings in a corner of an old Visalia lumberyard. Using spray paint to create their pieces, the artists developed three distinct and vibrant works of art over the course of the festival. The talented trio attended the Taste the Arts festival as part of the annual Step Up Urban Art Program. Each year, three to four urban artists from around California are invited to participate in the competition and create a piece that represents the spirit of one of Tulare County's youth-serving organizations.

CHOICES Prevention Programs This year, the Tulare County Gang Prevention Task Force, which oversees the many Step Up programs and services, chose the Tulare County Office of Education's CHOICES Prevention Programs as the youth organization the artists were to depict. Prior to the arts festival, three artists were given a fact sheet describing the work of CHOICES and its after school programs, student mental health services and Friday Night Live youth development programs.

The winning artist, "Mute" from Merced, depicted a girl on a swing, which is hung from a large tree that has sprung from a book. "Becs," an artist from Los Angeles, illustrated an owl sitting on a stack of books. Above the owl's head is a banner which reads "Knowledge is Power." San Jose-based "Artist" produced a piece entitled "Wild Things" after the book Where the Wild Things Are.

Each original measures 8'x8'. A piece from the artwork will be reproduced and exhibited at county facilities and libraries throughout Tulare County beginning in January. Information on the Urban Art Kick-Off Reception and the exhibition tour will be available in the December issue of the News Gallery.

At the conclusion of the exhibition tour, the artwork will be donated to the Tulare County Office of Education. "We appreciate so much that our CHOICES program was selected this year to be part of the Step Up Urban Art Program," said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "We will certainly enjoy these wonderful works of art and hope that students who see them are inspired by the positive messages they convey."

Photos above:
~ In the annual Step Up Urban Art Program, artist "Mute" created this winning piece to depict the work of the CHOICES Prevention Programs.
~ The owl was created by Los Angeles artist "Becs".
~ The mural "Wild Things" was created by Merced-based "Artist".

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Spotlight on People Over 700 young women in grades 4-10 attended the 15th Annual Expanding Your Horizons Conference held Saturday, October 25 at College of the Sequoias in Visalia. The conference is designed to introduce attendees to career possibilities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Following a keynote address, this year delivered by Monache High School senior Madison Meredith and Tulare-based civil and agricultural engineer Tina Macedo, young women selected from dozens of breakout sessions on topics ranging from rocketry to building bridges. Cloe Terrill, a fifth-grade student from Jefferson Elementary in Lindsay, is shown in the "Fun with Physics" session using a spinning color wheel to show how math and physics work together.

Spotlight on People Middle school students are invited to show off their robotic design and programming skills at the First Annual Robotics Exhibition. The event will be held Wednesday, December 10 from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at TCOE's Liberty Center and feature a series of robotic challenges. To register or for more information, contact Doug Cairns at
dcairns@ers.tcoe.org or call (559) 651-3045.

Spotlight on People This month, the Theatre Company is set to perform four shows of the popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Phantom of the Opera. Cameron Haley, a senior at VTEC High School in Visalia will star as the phantom and Kaley McConnaughey, a sophomore at Redwood High School, will play Christine, his love interest and protégé. As an added treat, the production will feature preshow selections from the popular Disney movie Frozen. Visit www.tcoe.org/TheatreCo for a schedule of performances and ticket options.

Spotlight on People

On October 28, over 350 educators and community members gathered at the Visalia Convention Center to honor the nominees, finalists and winners in the 20th Annual Excellence in Education Awards program. Winners in the three competition categories included (l-r): School Employee of the Year Ruben Alvarez, work-based coordinator with the Porterville Unified School District; Teacher of the Year Anne Clifford, teacher of the severely handicapped for the Tulare County Office of Education's Community Based Instruction Classroom #1 in Tulare; and Administrator of the Year Dr. John Snavely, superintendent of the Porterville Unified School District. Finalists and nominees were also honored, including TCOE's Jody Arriaga, a finalist in the school employee of the year category. Mrs. Arriaga is an accounts payable supervisor with TCOE's internal business office.

Spotlight on People On October 16, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak was honored by the ProYouth organization with their Second Annual Legacy Award. The award was given to recognize Mr. Vidak for his 52-year career in education and for his support of their organization. As part of the ceremony, Mr. Vidak received a painting from members of the Tulare County Board of Education.

Spotlight on People Nineteen middle schools and nine high schools attended the annual Step Up Youth Summit last month to kick off the year-long Youth Challenge. Over the next six months, students will plan and implement a project to positively impact their school and community. University Preparatory High School (UPHS) instructor Jordan Roberts and students are pictured making plans for the development of their project. UPHS students won the high school "Best Overall" award in the 2012-13 Youth Challenge.

Spotlight on People Nearly 1,000 individuals attended the Fifth Annual Red Ribbon Week celebration, an event cohosted by the CHOICES Prevention Programs and Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency. Fifty-five youth and community agencies were on hand to provide students with safe and healthy activities so that they can lead productive lives free from drugs, alcohol and gang activity.

Spotlight on People Hundreds of high school students from special education programs and young adults from Community Based Instruction classes enjoyed food and activities at the Ninth Annual Harvest Festival held at the Tulare Youth Center on October 24.

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Gallery Notes

Educational Resource Services (ERS) is bringing 2010 National Teacher of the Year Sarah Brown Wessling to Tulare County in February as part of its Literacy Series. On February 24, Ms. Wessling will work in both a high school and elementary school setting while being filmed for a new Teaching Channel program. The following day (February 25), teachers, administrators and academic coaches are invited to hear her speak at a conference being held at the Visalia Holiday Inn. The ERS Literacy Series will also feature Carol Jago on December 1 and Dr. Douglas Fisher on April 14. The opportunity to see and learn from these speakers is supported by the Tulare County Office of Education and the Tulare-Kings Linked Learning Consortium. For registration information, visit

This month, the CHOICES Prevention Programs will begin offering student mental health programs on four campuses in the Tulare Joint Union High School District (TJUHSD). The student mental health programs are being offered as part of a new five-year, federally-funded School Climate Transformation Grant (SCTG). The program is designed to help make schools safer and improve mental health services for students and young adults. CHOICES will support and provide technical assistance to TJUHSD campuses implementing programs such as Youth Mental Health First Aid, Reconnecting Youth (RY), Coping and Support Training (CAST), and Parent Institute of Quality Education's (PIQE) parenting program. For more information on the SCTG program, contact Adam Valencia at (559) 651-0155.

The Tulare County Inclusion Collaborative is holding its annual Inclusion Collaborative Training breakfast on November 14. The training will take place from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m. in the Elderwood Room of TCOE's 7000 Doe Avenue complex. Attendees will discuss the updated School Readiness Improvement Program and help plan a "provider fair" where parents can learn more about the resources that are available in the county. Please RSVP by November 1 to Lorena Lopez at llopez@cc.tcoe.org.

The Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council is holding its Ninth Annual Cynthia Lockhart-Mummery Conference on November 6 at the Visalia Holiday Inn. The focus of the conference is to increase local action to prevent, identify, protect and rescue children from being victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The conference will feature a number of nationally-known experts in the field, including Dr. Sandra Morgan, administrator of Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force. For registration information on the conference, which will be held from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., contact Celeste Rodriguez at (559) 651-3026.

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For a list of upcoming events,
visit our
Calendar of Events web 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

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