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The News Gallery

June 2015

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, Anjelica Zermeño, Kelley Petty, Kathleen Green-Martins, Eric Thiessen, Irene Barba and Michelle Lapadula.

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.

Excellence in Education

Excellence in Education winners announced
Countywide awards given to school employee, administrator and teacher of the year

Evelia "Eve" Alvarez wears many hats at Kaweah High School, the continuation school in Exeter. Her principal, Darren Pace, said that while her title is Office Manager and Guidance Associate, she goes way beyond her job description to serve as the school's registrar, counselor, clerk, librarian, activities director, bilingual coordinator, student services director, ELD coordinator, parent liaison, testing coordinator and independent study coordinator for more than 100 students who attend the school. She also teaches a Reconnecting Youth class designed to build social resiliency skills in students.

On the day that County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak visited Kaweah High School last month to announce that she had been selected as the Tulare County School Employee of the Year, Mrs. Alvarez was serving as school ambassador. Without knowing the purpose of his visit, she greeted Mr. Vidak warmly at the gate, explaining that her principal was off site, but that Exeter superintendent Tim Hire was waiting for him.

Staff members gathered all the students outdoors to listen to Mr. Vidak explain how districts throughout Tulare County nominate outstanding administrators, teachers and school employees in the Excellence in Education Awards Program. Mr. Vidak announced that - out of all the possible support staff members in the county - the committee chose Eve Alvarez as the winner. Overwhelmed by the news, she began to cry.

The selection committee of Tulare County business and educational leaders that chose Mrs. Alvarez as the Tulare County School Employee of the Year also selected the Administrator/Manager of the Year and Teacher of the Year. The Excellence in Education Awards program, now celebrating its 22nd year, honors "the best of the best" in the three educational categories. A total of 25 nominations were received this year from Tulare County school districts. Each nomination was reviewed and scored individually by every member of the selection committee. The committee also selected two finalists in each category, which this year included TCOE Web Developer Lorena White. "We are so pleased that the committee recognized the considerable talents and dedication of Lorena," said Mr. Vidak. "She manages a mountain of information with accuracy and the highest degree of integrity."

The winners and finalists described below will be honored at a recognition breakfast on November 3, 2015, which is cohosted by Educational Employees Credit Union. "The winners are innovators dedicated to student engagement and success," said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "These creative individuals have designed and fostered innovative programs to help students meet their greatest potential."

School Employee of the Year Evelia Alvarez
Kaweah High School, Exeter Unified School District
Excellence in Education

The staff and administrators at Kaweah High School describe Eve Alvarez as ethical and results-oriented. She has demonstrated unwavering consideration, capability and commitment to students at Kaweah High School. Mrs. Alvarez recently completed her Master of Arts degree in Counseling and her Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credential so that she could better serve the students. At Kaweah High School, she is the "go-to" person for every student, staff and community member at the site.

According to Kaweah High School Principal Darren Pace, her support and coordination of services has led to Kaweah High School receiving a Golden Bell Award and quickly becoming one of the highest achieving alternative schools in the Valley.

"Working within an environment where students have multiple needs and require disparate interventions provides me the greatest opportunity to stimulate the highest level of growth in academic achievement and personal success," said Mrs. Alvarez. "I work with extended families, police, probation, mental health, children services, coaches, special education occupational therapy, community service providers and employers on a daily basis. The diverse conditions and challenges associated in working closely with the neediest students are more rewarding than I could have ever envisioned." Although she could obtain a higher paying job in teaching with her PPS Credential, she said, "I have remained as an office manager because I discovered there is greater compensation than just a paycheck."

Mrs. Alvarez is constantly meeting with students who otherwise would not have guidance at home. She routinely helps the staff deal with behavior issues and acts as a liaison to parents at home. She is able to effectively direct students and keep them on track throughout their academic school years and beyond. Students who have moved on to Exeter Union High School often come back to Kaweah to seek her advice. Without hesitation, she helps them understand what they are doing and why, and as they leave, both student and parents always praise her for all the support and guidance they received.

Administrator of the Year Leticia Trevino
Principal, Palm Elementary School, Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District
Excellence in Education

Palm Elementary Principal Leticia Trevino is described by her nominators as an "Energizer Bunny" — a woman with boundless energy for her students, staff and parents. She is also praised as a visionary leader who carefully monitors the progress of each of the 700 students on her campus. Mrs. Trevino truly believes failure is not an option and that her role is to lead the charge for all students to succeed. She is credited for being the first principal to implement the district's Instructional Rounds program, a self-analysis process which is credited for the school's academic success. At Palm Elementary, students who are falling behind in the quarterly benchmarks are provided with an intervention instruction program that she instituted.

District Superintendent Yolanda Valdez reports that Mrs. Trevino understands that in order to have a successful educational system, parents must partner with the school. "She has implemented the Latino Literacy Parent Education System that has already graduated two classes," said Mrs. Valdez. "She has also implemented monthly California State Standards Parent Education Nights. Parents participate in lessons, gaining insight into the ways students are learning math and English Language Arts." Mrs. Trevino has also implemented the Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports program, a school-wide Code of Conduct, and a culture of scholarly learning.

Mrs. Trevino led her staff and students as they transitioned from the 1997 California content standards to the new Common Core State Standards. During this process, she learned alongside her teachers about both English Language Arts and mathematics in order to provide guidance and assistance. On a daily basis, Mrs. Trevino can be found with her walkie-talkie in hand, visiting each classroom almost every day, interacting with students or leaving observational notes on teachers' desks. Tanya Goosev, the district's assistant superintendent of curriculum and program improvement says, "At any given moment, Leticia can tell you exactly where students are in their learning progression and how their teacher is monitoring student learning. She is a true 'leader of learning' and keeps a daily pulse on how teachers are teaching and how students are responding. She is also a professional at gathering data evidence of student learning and working with her team to implement a response to instruction and intervention."

"I continually remind adults of the servant roles we all have," said Mrs. Trevino. "When selecting the admirable profession of teaching, we take on a major commitment of molding future generations academically and socially." Prior to her assignment at Palm Elementary, Leticia Trevino served as the principal at several of the district's alternative education high schools.

Teacher of the Year Christopher Cumiford
History/Social Science Teacher, Visalia Technical Early College (VTEC) High School, Visalia Unified School District
Excellence in Education

Christopher Cumiford began his teaching career with Visalia Unified as an instructor at Charter Alternatives Academy, the district's community day school. He accepted an exceptionally difficult position working with academically challenged, expelled students in grades 7-12. He developed a system of instruction so supportive and engaging that his students showed the most significant gains in student test scores in the school.

At VTEC since 2010, Mr. Cumiford has shown an incredible ability to challenge high-achieving students while motivating the low achievers. One of the ways he accomplishes this is with genuine passion he has about his subject matter. Mr. Cumiford is eager to share the excitement of history to such an extent that his enthusiasm is contagious. VTEC Principal Victoria Porter said, "I would count Mr. Cumiford as one of the most intelligent, creative and inspiring instructors I know."

Chris Cumiford teaches VTEC students in grades 9-12 with classes in Modern World History, United States History, Civics and Economics in a classroom that is best described as a 21st century museum. Music and artifacts from various ages mix with a three-screen projection system. "Fostering student engagement is another core principle of my teaching philosophy," Mr. Cumiford said. "I accomplish this by providing students with a multi-sensory learning experience that gets them excited to learn. Through the use of multimedia, active field trips, and exposure to unique primary source historical documents, students gain a deeper appreciation for learning as part of engaging hands-on experience."

Students entering his class are immediately engaged and immersed in the curriculum for the duration of the 120-minute block. Mr. Cumiford teaches using a "RECONEXCO" method he developed. RECONEXCO stands for comprehensive REsearch, artistic CONceptualize, authentic EXperience, and innovative COntribution. "These steps are designed to activate critical thinking skills, foster an awareness for the interconnectedness of all subjects and develop a deeper appreciation for the past," he said. Mr. Cumiford divides his class into modules, with half the class working on interdisciplinary projects and the other half divided into cooperative groups that move from module to module every 10 minutes to examine primary documents or view a documentary relating to the curriculum. Then, midway through the block, the students switch. So effective are his innovative practices, that Mr. Cumiford was recruited this year as a presenter for the California Council for the Social Sciences.

Mr. Cumiford is an active participant in the Tulare County' Office of Education's showcase of Project Based Learning practices known as A Night at the 21st Century Museum. He is also active in National History Day - Tulare County and an adjunct History and Social Science Professor at Fresno Pacific University. Mr. Cumiford was selected as the 2015 Visalia Unified Teacher of the Year.

Two finalists were selected in each of the three categories:

Administrator of the Year
Chris Meyer, Principal, Dinuba High School, Dinuba Unified School District
Jill Rojas, Principal, Visalia Adult School, Visalia Unified School District

Teacher of the Year
Christie Coday, Second Grade Teacher, Garden Elementary School, Tulare City School District
Michaelpaul Mendoza, World/U.S. Cultural History Teacher/Activities Director, Mission Oak High School, Tulare Joint Union High School District

School Employee of the Year
Glori Jones, Special Education Aide, Los Tules Middle School, Tulare City School District
Lorena White, Web Developer, Tulare County Office of Education

For more information about the Excellence in Education Awards program, contact Marlene Moreno at (559) 733-6302.

Photos above:
~ Kaweah High School's Eve Alvarez smiles as Jim Vidak announces that she was selected as the 2015 School Employee of the Year.
~ 2015 Tulare County School Employee of the Year Eve Alvarez poses with Exeter Unified Superintendent Tim Hire (l) and Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.
~ Mr. Vidak poses with Leticia Trevino (c), the 2015 Administrator of the Year. Mrs. Trevino is the principal at Palm Elementary in Orosi. Also pictured are Learning Director Jayboy Camaquin (l) and Cutler-Orosi superintendent Yolanda Valdez.
~ Christopher Cumiford, a history teacher at Visalia Technical Early College High School (VTEC), was selected as the 2015 Tulare County Teacher of the Year. He is flanked by Visalia Unified Superintendent Dr. Craig Wheaton (l) and Jim Vidak. Also pictured are VTEC Principal Victoria Porter and Dr. Todd Oto, Visalia Unified's Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services.

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Technology, students shine at Slick Rock
Record number of films from throughout Central California received for annual competition

Slick Rock Student Film Festival

Outside the Fox Theater May 15, friendly paparazzi cheered and photographed hundreds of middle and high school students arriving at the Slick Rock Student Film Festival. Emerging from limos, students posed on the red carpet for parents and classmates before entering the theater.

Inside, the party continued with an awards ceremony that featured highlights from winners and finalists in more than 20 categories. The student films, which had been shown continuously during the morning and afternoon before the awards ceremony, demonstrated some extraordinary artistic and technical achievement. Even emcee Marcos Hammer, a comedian based in Los Angeles, seemed to embrace the technology theme, conducting the entire ceremony in a homemade robot costume.

Slick Rock Student Film Festival

The ceremony took a serious tone when Gene Mendes presented the special Judges Award to Ciara Daniel, Nicolas Gonzales, Josh Henshaw and Alexis Contreras of Golden West High School in Visalia for their film "Every 15 Minutes." The film was a poignant documentary of an alcohol awareness assembly held at Golden West High School earlier this year. The film chronicled the students who acted out an alcohol-related car crash incident that claimed one life.

Slick Rock Student Film Festival The highlight of the program was the presentation of the Best of Show Award to Eric Ham of Minarets High School in O'Neals (Madera County). His beautiful film entitled "The Road Goes Ever On" was inspired by the J.R.R. Tolkien poem of the same name.

This year, the festival, which is coordinated by the CHOICES Prevention Programs, received over 400 films from students in Tulare, Kings, Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno and Kern counties. To see the winning films in each category, visit tcoe.org/SlickRock and click on the link at the bottom of the page.

Photos above:
~ Students arriving at the 12th annual Slick Rock Student Film Festival smile for an appreciative crowd of photographers. This year, the festival received more than 400 video entries from seven Central Valley counties.
~ Gene Mendes, school community liaison for the CHOICES Prevention Programs, interviews Nicolas Gonzales and Alexis Contreras (l-r) about their film "Every 15 Minutes." The film, which won the special "Judges Award" was produced in conjunction with the alcohol awareness assembly of the same name held at Golden West High School this year.
~ Emcee Marcos Hammer chats with Best of Show Award winner Eric Ham of Minarets High School in O'Neals for his film (based on the J.R.R. Tolkien poem) "The Road Goes Ever On." Marcos, a comedian based in Los Angeles, conducted the entire awards ceremony in a robot costume.

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Four student athletes receive scholarships
CHARACTER COUNTS! office presents annual Pursuing Victory With Honor awards

Pursuing Victory With Honor Scholarships

Madeline Langton, a senior at Tulare Union High School, understands that lessons in good sportsmanship never lose their value. The golfer, swimmer and volleyball player said, "What you learn on the field, on the court or even in the pool is the importance of taking responsibility for your actions. Consequences, whether good or bad are a result of one's action or inaction. This responsibility carries over from sports life into family and work life."

Madeline is one of four students to receive the annual Pursuing Victory With Honor scholarship presented annual by the Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! program. The scholarship program, now in its third year, awards four Tulare County seniors for their academic achievements and for their exemplary character on and off the field. The other recipients include Daniel Martinho, Tulare Western High School; Finn Linderman, Mt. Whitney High School (Visalia); and Sarah Vehrs, Granite Hills High School (Porterville).

"These students are the embodiment of our Pursuing Victory With Honor program," said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "They have been fine examples of sportsmanship to their competitors as well as their underclassman teammates. Win or lose, these athletes have been catalysts for ethical sportsmanship in Tulare County."

Photo above:
~ Recipients of the third annual Pursuing Victor With Honor scholarships are pictured at the Pillar Square Monument in Mooney Grove Park. They are (l-r) Daniel Martinho, Tulare Western High School; Madeline Langton, Tulare Union High School; Finn Linderman, Mt. Whitney High School; and Sarah Vehrs, Granite Hills High School.

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Teacher's diverse experience benefits students
Special Services teacher Irene Barba honored with annual Brent Rast Award

Irene Barba has had a rich teaching career full of different assignments in varied locations. The Tulare County native has been a regular education teacher, a reading teacher, a migrant education instructional trainer, a cheer coach, a highly successful diving coach, and most recently, an award-winning special education teacher. She has taught in at least five states, returning to California in 2000 to work for TCOE's Migrant Education Program. While with the Migrant Education Program, Ms. Barba worked in the summer Intensive Reading Group program and provided training to other teachers in the Step Up to Writing and Thinking Maps programs.

Special Services

Last month, Irene Barba, who now serves as the teacher in the Woodlake High School Special Day Class, received the annual Brent Rast Award from the Special Services Division. Named in memory of Brent Rast, a Tulare County Office of Education teacher for students with severe needs, the award honors teachers who possess his vision and leadership qualities. Ms. Barba received the award at the annual Community Advisory Council (CAC) luncheon, co-hosted by the countywide Directors of Special Education (DOSE) and the Superintendents Governance Committee. Special Services Administrator Jill Santivanez surprised Ms. Barba with the award, calling her to the stage before a large audience of administrators, teachers and parents.

Ms. Barba made the transition from Migrant Education to Special Services in 2006. She has served as a Special Day Class teacher in Exeter at Rocky Hill Elementary and Exeter High School before opening the Woodlake class in 2011. "I can't imagine being anywhere else," she said. "My students are so courteous and loving. They also show me that they want to learn!"

In her class last week, students worked on their checkbook projects. Throughout the year, they keep detailed accounts of hypothetical income and expenses, making their own choices on living accommodations, entertainment and transportation. Once every few months, students draw a "disaster card." For freshman Reyna Gonzalez, she learns that someone has died in Phoenix and that she has to travel to her funeral at an expense of $1,100. Ms. Barba expects Reyna to figure out how much she will have in her ledger after the travel expense and then to demonstrate that on the classroom SMART Board.

"Students love this exercise," she said. "I've seen real growth in their math skills because they're engaged and the activity is real to them."

Ms. Barba will finish the school year at Woodlake High School. In the fall, she will serve as a mentor teacher for eight new Special Day Class teachers. In December, she will retire. "I have most enjoyed seeing the progress students have made," she said. "It might be small, but it's so rewarding." Ms. Barba has been able to draw on her varied teaching experiences and apply them to her assignment at Woodlake High School. She is eager to recount the breakthroughs her students have made, whether in reading, math, behavior or communication. "It really comes down to problem solving," she said. "The great thing is that you can often carry those past successes forward as you work with new students."

The new teachers taking positions in Special Day Classes this fall will certainly benefit from Irene Barba's mentorship in reading and for the way that she challenges students to greater competencies. They can also learn from her experience in integrating students with special needs into a campus culture through meaningful activities and assignments. "We are so fortunate to have her as a mentor teacher next year to guide our new hires in a positive direction," said Jill Santivanez.

Photo above:
~ Special Services teacher Irene Barba watches as Reyna Gonzalez completes a personal finance exercise in the Woodlake High School Special Day Class. Ms. Barba was selected to receive the annual Brent Rast Award for the Special Services Division.

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UPHS receives Gold Ribbon Award from state
TCOE charter school among four Tulare County high schools to receive recognition

University Preparatory High School

TCOE's University Preparatory High School (UPHS) is one of 180 high schools in California to receive the state's new Gold Ribbon School Award. A few weeks ago, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that 193 middle schools and 180 high schools are being honored under the state's new Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program, which is temporarily taking the place of the California Distinguished Schools Program.

"These schools are academically successful, vibrant, and innovative centers of learning and teaching," Torlakson said. "They provide great examples of the things educators are doing right — embracing rigorous academic standards, providing excellence and creativity in teaching, and creating a positive school climate."

The California Gold Ribbon Schools Award was created to honor schools in lieu of the California Distinguished Schools Program, which is on hiatus while the state creates new assessment and accountability systems. Schools applied for the award based on a model program their school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, project strategies, and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies.

In Tulare County, only UPHS, Orosi High School, Dinuba High School and Harmony Magnet Academy (Strathmore) received a Gold Ribbon Award. UPHS, Orosi and Dinuba High Schools also received a Title I Academic Achieving School Award. Additionally, Dinuba High School received an exemplary Career Technical Education Award.

"Receiving the Gold Ribbon Award is a tribute to the hard work of the teachers and staff at University Preparatory High School," said UPHS Principal Eric Thiessen. "This award is evidence of the culture of teamwork at our school. Each member of the team has a large impact on what we do for students as we prepare them for college and their future."

For more information on UPHS, including information nights for parents interested in enrolling their children, contact Eric Thiessen at (559) 730-2529.

Photo above:
~ The UPHS leadership team accepting the Gold Ribbon Award from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson (center) are (l-r) Nicole Rocha, Educational Options administrator; Sarah Pennington, counselor; Eric Thiessen, principal; Dr. Guadalupe Solis, deputy superintendent of Instructional Services; and Helen Milliorn-Feller, lead teacher.

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Spotlight on People This year, Tulare County Physics Day found a new home at the Porterville Fair. On May 13, nearly 300 middle school students attended the event, representing nine Tulare County schools. Students participated in a variety of hands-on activities, including launching rockets and strapping on data-collecting devices designed to measure acceleration and force experienced on the fair's midway rides. Physics Day will be held at the Porterville Fair again next May.

Spotlight on People In May, Educational Resource Services held its two-day Battle of the Books competition. Dozens of upper elementary and middle schools competed in four game show-style contests with questions developed from the texts of 30 books selected for each division. In the middle school division, Sundale School (Tulare) captured first and second place with its "Sundale Scholars" and "Nerd Herd" teams, respectively. The "Griffins" team from Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center (Visalia) placed third. In the upper elementary division, Linwood Elementary (Visalia) captured the championship again this year with its "Book Brigade" team. The "Hurley Hawks" from Hurley Elementary (Visalia) and the "Page Masters" from Mineral King Elementary (Visalia) were second and third place, respectively. Pictured are members of the upper elementary championship team from Linwood Elementary in Visalia. Kneeling in the front row are (l-r) Alekhya Rajasekaran and Dakota Brown. In the back row are (l-r) advisor Jennifer Davidson, Joyce Park, McKenna Ruby, advisor Ladonna Jones, Emma Reineccius, Brent Stoble, Colton Montgomery and TCOE's Battle of the Books event coordinator and Library Media Supervisor Shelley Chappell.

Spotlight on People On May 21, La Sierra Military Academy held its fifth annual Veteran's Memorial Event in partnership with numerous local veterans groups. Principal Anjelica Zermeño reports that the event is designed to engage students in first-hand historical accounts, while creating a bridge to their classroom texts. Jonathan Hernandez, a junior, listens as Mr. Brooks, a naval officer, shares his artifacts and a timeline of all of his tours of duty.

Spotlight on People Last month at the Tulare County Support Staff Conference, six individuals were named "Champions for Character" - one winner for each of the Six Pillars of Character. The honor was created for the conference to support its CHARACTER COUNTS! theme and to celebrate the role of support staff in shaping young lives. Nominated by colleagues and supervisors, the winners are (l-r) Orlanda Meneses, Oak Valley Union School (Trustworthiness); Debbie Kenyon, Woodlake Unified School District (Respect); Gabriela Porter, TCOE's SCICON Program (Responsibility); Virginia Rubio, Ducor School (Fairness); Johnice Robinson, Farmersville Unified (Caring); and Maria Arreola, TCOE's Early Childhood Education Program (Citizenship).

Spotlight on People On May 4, hundreds of Tulare County middle and high school students who participated in the annual Step Up Youth Challenge attended a red carpet awards event at the L.J. Williams Theater. During the past seven months, 26 community-based projects were implemented by over 400 students throughout the county. The awards ceremony highlighted the projects completed by each school. The Best Overall winners were Valley Oak Middle School (Visalia) for their water conservation project and Mission Oak High School (Tulare) for their continued work in developing the Harvesting Hope produce collection program. For a complete list of Step Up Youth Challenge awards recipients, visit www.stepuptc.com.

Spotlight on People Among the 50 student groups displaying examples of their best Project Based Learning (PBL) at the second annual A Night at the 21st Century Museum event was a business venture from Stratford Elementary School in Kings County. Students in the school's Special Day Class have created a tutu-making business, including the development of tulle-spinning machine. Students have learned to shop for the best material prices, design and produce the fluffy garments and market their finished products on Etsy, the internet site for handmade items. For more information on PBL, contact Jen Francone at (559) 651-0562.

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Gallery Notes

Dozens of students from Tulare County Office of Education programs are preparing for graduation in early June. Visit tcoe.org/Graduations for graduation dates, including those for La Sierra Military Academy and Special Services programs in Porterville and Tulare. Among the Special Services graduates are students in the Community Based Instruction (CBI) classes. For the past five years, these 21-year-old students have been gaining skills that will help them prepare for adult life, including - for some - vocational skills that will be useful in finding employment.

On June 10, the Human Resources Division will host its annual Retiree Reception in the Education Center beginning at 5:00 p.m., following the TCOE board meeting. Thirty TCOE teachers, administrators and support staff members who have retired or will retire during the course of the 2014-2015 school year will be honored.

2014-2015 Retirees

Jim Beauchamp, Special Services, 31 years
Roger Brown, Special Services, 17 years
Jane Calvillo, Early Childhood Education, 19 years
Mary Carney, Special Services, 26 years
Lucy Castanon, Early Childhood Education, 16 years
Barbara Clarey, Special Services, 16 years
Jeanne Croson, Human Resources, 24 years
Francisca Dominguez, Early Childhood Education, 17 years
Isabel Espinoza, Migrant Education, 16 years
Nanci Felix, Special Services, 27 years
Catherine Flores, Early Childhood Education, 23 years
Maria Franco, Early Childhood Education, 36 years
Rita Garcia, Early Childhood Education, 20 years
Otila Guerra, Early Childhood Education, 7 years
Earl Johnston, Special Services, 25 years
Kathy Johnston, School Health Programs, 21 years
John Kelly, University Preparatory High School, 12 years
Michelle Lowe, External Business Services, 15 years
LouAnn Lubben, Special Services, 24 years
Virginia Luna, Early Childhood Education, 41 years
Linda McKean, Special Services, 19 years
Lisa Noel, Special Services, 28 years
Valerie Ortega, Early Childhood Education, 20 years
Jan Owens, Special Services, 15 years
Mary Ann Owens, Special Services, 14 years
Nani Rowland, School Health Programs, 11 years
Rita Rubalcaba, Early Childhood Education, 21 years
Rose Slater, Instructional Services, 17 years
Melissa Smith, Special Services, 16 years
Eileen Whelan, Special Services, 10 years

At the May meeting of the Tulare County Board of Education, winners were announced in the annual Foundations for Life Essay Competition. The competition asks students to select an adage or maxim and explain its meaning in their lives. This year, five winners were selected to read their essays before the board, including Lily Stetson (6th grade, George McCann School); Emma Newcomb (8th grade, Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center); Bernidean Terry (9th grade, Lindsay High School); Claire Stetson (10th grade, Redwood High School); and Sophia Stetson (12th grade, Redwood High School). Each winner, whose essays can be found at tcoe.org/FoundationsForLife, received $100 from the TCOE Foundation.

Last month, Madison Meredith, a senior at Monache High School in Porterville, was named California State Science Fair Student of the Year and awarded a $1,000 cash prize. Annually, the award is presented to the high school senior who, in the opinion of the judges, best exemplifies the qualities necessary for success in the field of science. Madison also won the state's top agriculture award and second place in the senior Plant Biology category. Madison's project entry was titled "A Novel Strategy for Augmented NUE: The Use of Actinomycetic Transmembrane Metabolism in Agricultural Crops: Year 3." She has been a perennial Tulare County Science & Engineering Fair champion and seven-time competitor in the California State Science Fair.

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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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