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The News Gallery

February 2016

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, Lorena Castillo, Ramon Garcia, Kate Stover, Kris Costa, Kelley Petty and Gene Mendes.

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.

New Building

New year, new address for TCOE
Building helps consolidate staff and features 24,000-square-foot conference center

New Building

News of the long-awaited move to the Tulare County Office of Education Administration Building and Conference Center came quickly as Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak learned Friday morning, December 18, that the elevators in the new building had passed inspection. The inspection was the final step in clearing the building, located at 6200 S. Mooney Blvd., for occupation. By 10:00 that morning, Mr. Vidak composed an email to the staff that occupied the two buildings on West Burrel Avenue to finish packing and labeling their belongings by the end of the day. Mr. Vidak explained that movers from Jack & Jeff Transfer would arrive Saturday morning to pick up boxes and take them to the new building!

New Building

As the afternoon approached, the sounds of staff packing boxes with a sense of excitement filled the Burrel Avene buildings as the Information Systems crew spread throughout the top floor disconnecting computers and bundling cables. Employees on the top floor of the Burrel administration building were the first to move, reporting to the new building on Monday, December 21. Dozens of employees from Business Services, Human Resources, Administration and Instructional Services arrived in the light-filled, 24-foot tall lobby to find Tulare County artist Colleen Veyna putting the finishing touches on a 750-square-foot mural depicting “Listening Hill” at SCICON. The mural serves as the focal point of the lobby.

New Building

Staff on lower floors of the Burrel administration building and employees from the Educational Enrichment Center arrived a few days later, leaving the old buildings empty by December 30. The Burrel Avenue buildings, which belong to the County of Tulare, will be renovated to accommodate the County’s information systems and human resources departments. During the week of January 4, over 20 staff members from the Migrant Education Program (formerly located at TCOE’s Doe Avenue Complex) joined the instructional services staff on the second floor of the new building.

New Building

Throughout the move, members of the Maintenance & Operations (M&O) department and Information Systems (IS) program worked quickly to ensure all employees received their belongings from the old buildings and had operational computers. “We appreciate so much the work that Roger Beavers, Ray Palomino and the M&O crew did to get everyone here so quickly,” said Mr. Vidak. “Likewise, all the pre-planning, and infrastructure and server installation work that Roger Smith’s IS team did in advance of the move, made the whole process very smooth. We were able to accomplish the entire move in a matter of days – a feat that has taken other organizations months to resolve.”

New Building

The entire project was completed in less than 16 months and includes nearly 67,500 square feet of office space on three floors. The Redwood Conference Center, with its integrated sound and projection technology, features over 24,000 square feet of space which can be arranged into a variety of room configurations – from eight smaller conference rooms to one large event space. Since its first week of operation beginning January 4, the Conference Center has hosted over 80 professional development trainings and student events attended by over 2,900 people. “We’re excited to have served so many students, teachers and administrators in less than a month of operation,” said Mr. Vidak. “This community asset is a testimony to the hard work of our architects, Mangini Associates/Parish McLain Bareng; our contractor, Bush Construction; and the many technology consultants and staff that made the vision a reality.”

New Building

Photos above:
~ The stainless steel columns on the front of the Administration Building and Conference Center are illuminated by the sunset as attendees arrive for professional development trainings.
~ County Superintendent Jim Vidak stands proudly in the warehouse among the first boxes to be delivered to the new building on December 19.
~ The three-story Administration Building, clad in a beautiful blue stucco, sits adjacent to the Conference Center.
~ (l-r) Tulare County Board of Education members Tom Link, Celia Maldonado-Arroyo, Joe Enea, Vice President Judy Coble and President Chris Reed smile as Mr. Vidak asks that they accept the new building as substantially complete. Administrative Assistant Marlene Moreno is pictured on the right.
~ A mural of SCICON’s Listening Hill stands 24’ tall and serves as a focal point of the lobby.
~ In its first month of operation, the Conference Center has held over 80 professional development trainings and students events. Among them was a presentation by nationally-known researcher Horacio Sanchez, who spoke on the connection between neuroscience and learning.
~ The Conference Center lobby is spacious enough to accommodate vendors who attended an event hosted by the Association of California School Administrators.
~ The Clement Renzi statue
Graduation Day that once sat in front of the Burrel Avenue administration building was moved into place on a pedestal in front of the new Administration Building and Conference Center by workers from MD Concrete Cutting & Demolition.

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Program supports assessment, improvement
Early Stars ready to help improve the quality of early childhood education programs

The Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) pilot that TCOE’s Early Childhood Education program (ECE) participated in last spring with the Fresno County Office of Education has been fully funded and is moving forward with its first cohort of assessment and support for select Tulare County state preschool programs.

Now known as Early Stars in Tulare County, the QRIS program is a statewide assessment and improvement support system for providers of early childhood education services. Depending on the type of program that is being assessed, independent evaluators use a standardized matrix with five or seven criteria. The matrix evaluates the type of assessment and developmental screening tools the center uses, the educational qualifications of the center teachers, the teacher-child interactions (based on the CLASS assessment), the teacher/child ratios, and the environment. Evaluators score each criteria and total the points to determine how many "stars" the program receives on a one-to-five scale, with five stars being the highest.

Lorena Castillo, the former manager of the Tulare County Council on Child and Youth Development, has been selected to lead the Early Stars program. Ms. Castillo reports that 17 state preschools from throughout Tulare County have been selected to participate in the first round of assessments and trainings. Funding for the state preschools to participate in the QRIS program has been provided by the California Department of Education. The preschools include several Child Development Centers in the TCOE ECE Program, and centers within Porterville Unified, Visalia Unified, Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified, Lindsay Unified, Tulare City School District and Alta Vista School District.

Ms. Castillo reports that an additional $2.4 million in funding has been received from First 5 California. These funds can be used to help improve the quality of licensed and non-licensed alternative settings, such as family childcare home provides, private and faith-based centers, LCAP-funded classrooms, and other alternative settings. In addition, Early Stars has applied for additional state funding to support programs that provide licensed care to infants and toddlers.

To help build participation in the Early Stars program, the Tulare County Inclusion Committee (a subcommittee of the Council on Child and Youth Development) will host its annual Inclusion Breakfast on Friday, February 26 at 8:00 a.m. at TCOE’s Liberty Center (11535 Avenue 264 in Visalia). The focus of this year’s event will be the newly implemented Early Stars program. “We hope to attract educators from the widest variety of programs to learn more about the elements used to assess early care and education programs and how we can support their improvement,” said Ms. Castillo. The Early Stars program invites school districts, local area superintendents, directors, private preschool programs and family childcare programs to attend and learn more about the services that are available for their earliest learners.

“Our goal is to support the improvement of early childhood education programs throughout Tulare County for the benefit of our students,” said Ms. Castillo. “We are anxious to support those programs that initially receive one, two or three stars with trainings and resources to help with their improvement.” Programs that receive a four or five star rating may be eligible to apply for a block grant to make improvements to their facilities or to use as stipends for teachers. For more information about participating in the Early Stars program or to attend the Inclusion Breakfast, contact Lorena Castillo at (559) 651-3022, extension 209.

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Teacher Recruitment Fair set for March 4
Twenty-five Tulare and Kings County districts looking to hire for upcoming school year

Teacher Recruitment Fair

Kings and Tulare County school districts and charter schools are preparing to attend the annual Teacher Recruitment Fair Friday, March 4 at the Visalia Convention Center in search of teacher candidates for the 2016-17 school year. The Human Resources Division and the New Teacher & Leadership Development Program have been working with districts in the two-county area to host the event. Approximately 25 school districts are expected to participate. Interested teacher candidates should register online at tcoe.org/HR/TeacherRecruitmentFair by February 29 to attend.

The fair will run from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. for candidates who have pre-registered. Candidates who do not pre-register will be admitted beginning at 4:30 p.m. For more information, call Marvin Lopez at New Teacher & Leadership Development Program at (559) 624-1035.

Photo above:
~ Roberto Vaca, principal at Orosi High School, meets with a teacher candidate at his district's booth during the 2015 Teacher Recruitment Fair.

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Spotlight on People At the January meeting of the Tulare County Board of Education, members of the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education presented their annual calendar. The committee, which is primarily made up of parents of children with special needs, chose to focus on student success in this year’s calendar. Copies of the calendar, entitled Meeting Academic Challenges: Portraits of Student Success, are available while supplies last at the front desk of the new TCOE Administration Building and Conference Center at 6200 S. Mooney Blvd. A PDF version of the calendar can also be printed by visiting

Spotlight on People
The 18th Annual CyberQuest event was held in December. This year, students were challenged to propose a transformative technology that would positively impact the landscape of California and/or its people over the next 20 years. Pictured are members of the first place seventh-grade team from St. Anne’s School in Porterville. Known as the “Beetopians,” the students chose to address the development of man-made bee hives to curb the insects’ diminishing populations – populations necessary for the pollination of over 70% of all fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Spotlight on People
Last month, the lobby of the new Administration Building and Conference Center welcomed over 400 pieces of student artwork. The pieces will remain on view through February. Artworks from the current exhibition that receive a “Best of Show” prize will remain on display through the month of March, with a special reception for the young artists in the Redwood Conference Center on March 10 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Spotlight on People
On Friday, January 15, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak invited all staff working in the new Administration Building to a celebration in the Redwood Conference Center. The purpose of the gathering was to honor the men and women from Maintenance & Operations (M&O) and Information Systems (IS) who made the move to the building a big success. At the conclusion of his presentation, Mr. Vidak brought all of the M&O and IS staff members to the front of the room and directed the rest of the staff to form a line to thank each person in the two programs. (left) Accountant Danika Curlee is shown shaking hands with IS Application Manager Bryan Patterson. (right) Banners made with the names of the M&O and IS team members are currently displayed in the lobby, along with a message tree, where staff can leave written notes of appreciation for the new building.

Spotlight on People On January 21, the CHOICES Program held its annual Mentor Training. Each year, CHOICES staff trains 8-12 high school students to mentor 6-10 middle school students once a week for up to 14 weeks. Mentor students work with middle school students in a group setting, then one-to-one. The mentoring program focuses on addressing social skills building, along with bullying and drug/tobacco/alcohol use. Kelley Petty, Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! coordinator, gave a presentation on mentoring with character. She is pictured with mentor Carolina Hernandez of Farmersville High School.

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Gallery Notes

Video entries for the 2016 Slick Rock Student Film Festival are due before midnight on March 29. Middle and high school students living in Kern, Kings, Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Merced or Mariposa counties may enter videos in a total of 24 categories. Visit
www.slickrockfestival.org for information on film categories, deadlines and the awards ceremony, which will be held at the Visalia Fox Theater on May 13.

Central California school support staff are invited to mark their calendars for the 24th Annual Support Staff Conference. The event, which will be held at the Visalia Convention Center, is scheduled for Wednesday, April 20 from 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. The conference celebrates the role of school support staff members with a motivational keynote speaker, numerous professional and personal development breakout sessions and the opportunity to network with others from across the Valley. For more information on the Tulare County Support Staff Conference, call (559) 733-6302.

Local high school students will compete in the first annual Tulare County Poetry Out Loud competition from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. February 3 at the new Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) Administration Building and Conference Center. Hosted by TCOE’s Visual and Performing Arts program and the Arts Consortium, the event is the first in a series of new spoken word projects planned over the coming months. Poetry Out Loud is the nation’s largest youth poetry recitation competition, which promotes the development of public speaking skills, improved English-fluency and comprehension, and self-confidence. In California, over 40,000 students from 40 counties compete annually. In Tulare County, participating students represent Mission Oak High School (Tulare), Dinuba High School and Summit Charter Academy (Porterville). The winner of the competition will represent Tulare County at the California state finals in Sacramento. For more information on Poetry Out Loud or upcoming spoken word programs, call Kate Stover at (559) 651-1482.

In January, the TCOE College and Career Readiness program held a Health Science and Medical Technology Industry Sector Summit for over 90 educators and workforce partners to learn how they can best prepare students for careers in the field. Experts from Family Healthcare Network, Kaweah Delta Healthcare District, Sierra View Medical Center, Tulare County Public Health Department and Tulare Regional Medical Center hosted the participants at their facilities, giving them an understanding of the future of healthcare and the critical skills that students must have in order to be competitive in health occupations. After tours, presentations, and interactive panels, educators had an opportunity to learn more about health-related programs from College of the Sequoias, Porterville College, and West Hills College Lemoore so that they could integrate their new knowledge into their school’s health science pathways and academies. In March, the College and Career Readiness program will hold an Agriculture and Natural Resources Industry Sector Summit, followed by a Manufacturing and Product Development Industry Sector Summit in May. For more information, visit www.collegeandcareercollaborative.org.

In February, the La Sierra Military Academy leadership class is continuing its “Pay It Forward” campaign with “Operation Warming Hearts” – an effort to collect coats, scarves, gloves, socks, long-sleeve shirts and hats for the Visalia Rescue Mission. Community members may donate new or gently used items to the campaign during normal school hours until February 9. La Sierra is located at 1735 E. Houston Ave. in Visalia. For more information, call (559) 733-6963.

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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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