go to Tulare County Office of Education HomePage go to Tulare County Office of Education HomePage

The News Gallery

May 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, Tracy Delperdang, Gabriela Porter, Paula Terrill, Kathleen Green-Martins, Beth Wilshire, Myrna Garcia, Stephanie Caldera, Ron Pekarek, Kate Stover, Kris Costa, Linda Cemo, Anjelica Zermeño and Patty Guthrie.

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.


Young voices to carry important message
Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Program trains high school students for outreach

“Hi, I’m Aurora Anderson.” “And I’m Sandra Gaylord,” said the young women at the front of the class. “And we’re here from the Tulare County Office of Education Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Program to show you ways that you can be safe,” they continued. The young women were practicing a presentation that is made to hundreds of Tulare County elementary school students each year by volunteers trained by the TCOE School Health Programs. For the first time in the program’s history, Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Program (CAN) presentations are being made by high school students.

Aurora and Sandra attend Golden West High School in Visalia and, along with more than 30 other classmates, they have formed an Associated Student Body-approved club called “Know the Signs, Save a Life.” As National Child Abuse Prevention Month drew to a close in April, the Golden West students were finishing their training by CAN Project Coordinator Linda Cemo, preparing to make presentations to two classrooms of students (K-3) on May 4 at the HEART Program at Golden Oak Elementary in Visalia.

Ann Marie Jeffcoach, Golden West’s school nurse, shared that students have been working toward this moment for over a year. In October 2014, The Lisa Project came to Golden West High School. The Lisa Project is the multi-sensory exhibit that allows visitors to hear, see and experience the reality of child abuse. The students who saw The Lisa Project and the numerous binders of local news articles on child abuse were moved to act. “All of those stories were there right in front of you,” said club member Olivia Carter. “Sometimes we need to go to that level to see the real problem.”

“Following that event, I was approached by several students who were so moved by what they saw, they wanted to do something to stop child abuse,” said Mrs. Jeffcoach. “Over the course of the past school year, the students and I met to discuss the development of a club and the direction they wanted to take. Fortunately, through the county school nurse network, I knew of the CAN program, which I shared with the students.”


The students liked the idea of using the CAN curriculum in presentations to younger students. With the help of Billie Shawl and Betty Aboytes of the Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC), club members began putting up posters, wearing CAPC t-shirts and spreading the word to recruit others to join the club. CAN Project Coordinator Linda Cemo provided eight training sessions over the past few months. Since their trainings are complete, administrators at Visalia Unified will direct the Golden West students and a similar group at Redwood High School to make presentations to students in the HEART After School Programs that serve the district’s elementary schools.

CAN is a prevention program designed to help reduce the incidence of neglect, as well as physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Traditionally, volunteers make classroom presentations to first- and fifth-grade children in Tulare County. First-grade children see a 10-minute video called My Body Belongs to Me and meet a hand puppet named Safety Sam. The fifth-grade presentations are more interactive. Following a video called Better Safe than Sorry, students discuss why the situations presented in the film were dangerous and how they can keep themselves safe. Both presentations have a similar message: children in dangerous situations should say “NO!,” then get away and tell someone they trust.

CAN In addition to physical abuse, children learn that abuse can also be verbal (bullying) or emotional, and can also include neglect. In the event that one of the Golden West presenters meets a child who wants to share a personal experience involving abuse, the students are trained to take that child to a teacher, school nurse or the principal immediately. Mrs. Jeffcoach reports that the process of bringing The Lisa Project to the school and building the “Know the Signs, Save a Life” Club has elevated the issue of child abuse with students. “Students now come to me to share their confidential concerns about classmates. It used to be a subject that was avoided, and it shouldn’t be.”

CAPC’s Betty Aboytes is optimistic about what she has seen at Golden West. She hopes every high school in the surrounding area develops a club like “Know the Signs, Save a Life.” “It’s wonderful to see kids asking the questions and taking leadership roles in the solution,” she said. “When they become parents someday, they will be changing young lives for the better.”

To have a CAN presentation made at your school, or to become a CAN volunteer, call Linda Cemo at (559) 651-0130, ext. 3712. To bring The Lisa Project to your high school or community organization, call CAPC Coordinator Billie Shawl at (559) 735-0456.

Photos above:
~ (front row, l-r) Aurora Anderson, Abreanna Rodriguez, LeAnn Medina, Olivia Carter, Sandra Gaylord, (back row, l-r) Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council’s Betty Aboytes, Eric Cregor, Michael Glispey, Isaiah Bobo and Golden West school nurse Ann Marie Jeffcoach helped form the “Know the Signs, Save a Life” club which uses TCOE’s Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Program curriculum to talk to young students about ways they can stay safe.
~ The young men introduce young audiences to “Safety Sam,” the puppet.
~ (l-r) Aurora Anderson and Sandra Gaylord enact a situation involving a stranger tempting a child to follow them. These enactments and subsequent discussions are part of presentations made to older elementary student audiences.

to Top of Page

Foster Focus system coming to Tulare County
System helps education and child services agencies better track and serve students

“Sam” is a bright, funny, well-mannered Tulare County nine-year-old who loves Pokémon, videogames and McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. Unfortunately, Sam’s medical condition necessitated that he be removed from his home and placed in Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera County for a lengthy stay this spring. Despite his physical and medical needs, Sam had been participating in a traditional classroom setting prior to his hospitalization.

Unable to attend school while at Valley Children’s, Sam received support from Assistant Superintendent of Special Services Tammy Bradford and Administrative Assistant Myrna Garcia. The women visited Sam on several occasions, taking McNuggets and loaning him an iPad Mini loaded with reading material and educational games. Following his treatment at the hospital, Sam was relocated to a rehabilitation center in yet another county, where he will stay until he can be placed in the care of other family members.

Foster Youth Services Coordinator Beth Wilshire said, “Sam is a real example of how children can be misplaced and their educational gains lost.” In April, the Special Services’ Foster Youth Services/Homeless Education Program began the process of obtaining a web-based program to support students who may move from district to district, in and out of the county.

Foster Focus is the secure data system that matches child welfare and education information for children under court supervision. Special Services administrators will be introducing the system to Tulare County school districts this month. Although Foster Focus was originally designed for use in Sacramento County only, 30 other California counties now use the service. Several additional counties will be joining the current users during the upcoming school year.

The system includes reporting and case management tools and allows counties to customize user access based on local agreements. Foster Focus helps local districts and county offices of education comply with the state’s Local Control Funding Formula, which mandates that data on foster youth be shared by the California Department of Social Services to help meet the educational needs of these students. “Foster Focus will allow us to keep up with children like Sam in real time,” said Ms. Wilshire. “If he is in a district that uses Foster Focus, the district will be able to access his records from Tulare County, so there will be no waiting to know what Sam’s educational needs are.”

For more information on foster youth services, contact Beth Wilshire at (559) 730-2910, ext. 5131.

to Top of Page

College & Career EXPO held at COS
TCOE College & Career Readiness partners to build regional event for high school students

College & Career EXPO Approximately 400 high school students visited the Visalia and Tulare campuses of College of the Sequoias on Friday, April 8, for the new College & Career EXPO. The EXPO first began as a COS event in 1992. After a four-year break, the event returned as a collaboration between the COS Career Technical Education Programs, Tulare County Office of Education’s College and Career Readiness Program, Kings County Office of Education, and school districts in Visalia, Lindsay and Tulare. The EXPO provided students with the opportunity to compete in both career technical and academic competitions and to visit the COS campus.

College & Career EXPO

Early in the day, students competed against their peers in career-related events such as basic electricity, business plan development, welding, graphic design, construction technology, website development, sports medicine skills and many others. “Each competition was judged by industry professionals, so students received valuable feedback from the end user,” said Kris Costa, TCOE Career Pathways engagement manager. Following the competitions, students took tours of the Visalia and Tulare campuses, visited with representatives from various college, military and other postsecondary institutions, and participated in demonstrations.

College & Career EXPO “The College & Career EXPO is part of a regional initiative for Tulare and Kings Counties,” said Ms. Costa. “Districts and postsecondary partners – College of the Sequoias, Porterville College, West Hills College Lemoore, CSU Fresno, and UC Merced – have been working to create opportunities for students to be prepared for both college and career. Over the past year, all partners have come together to define what it means to be college and career ready. Our efforts include offering college coursework to high school students through dual enrollment and working with industry partners to create pipelines to careers in our region that can create a sustainable economy for all.”

Future College & Career EXPOs will include opportunities for middle school students to learn about postsecondary opportunities at partner colleges, plus more competitions that will measure students’ readiness for college and career. For more information on the regional college and career initiative, call Joy Soares or Kris Costa at (559) 733-6101.

Photos above:
~ Students who attended the new College & Career EXPO were able to compete in numerous industry-specific events, held on COS’s Visalia and Tulare campuses. Pictured above is the basic electricity competition.
~ Additional competitions included website development, welding, graphic design, business plan development and sports medicine skills (pictured).
~ Following the competitions, students were able to tour the COS campuses and speak to representatives from various postsecondary institutions, including Estes Institute of Cosmetology (pictured), Brandman University, Fresno State, Porterville College and Fresno Pacific.

to Top of Page

UPHS bell choir ready for showcase May 19
Program acquires five-octave set of bells, introduces audiences to unique musical artform

The heavenly sounds of University Preparatory Handbell Choir filled the Visalia Convention Center as part of the lunchtime entertainment at the annual Tulare County Support Staff Conference held April 20. Twenty-seven members of the choir, dressed in formal attire, delighted the audience by beginning their performance at the back of the Exhibit Hall, playing as they walked toward the stage.

UPHS Bell Choir

The choir entertained attendees with four pieces, including arrangements of music from Phantom of the Opera and Pirates of the Caribbean. As the audience celebrated the talented young musicians, the handbell choir and music instructor Patty Guthrie were celebrating the acquisition of a complete five-octave set of handbells of their own. For several years, Mrs. Guthrie has taught a handbell class, using bells borrowed from two local churches. Several times each week, Mrs. Guthrie would pick up large cases of bells and bring them to University Preparatory High School (UPHS), TCOE’s public charter school located on the Visalia campus of College of the Sequoias.

UPHS Bell Choir

In the past six months, the school managed to raise nearly $13,000 toward the purchase of their own set. Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and the board members kicked off the campaign at the November Tulare County Board of Education meeting with a donation of $5,000. Over the holidays, Gateway Church in Visalia allowed the choir to play at their Christmas programs and to receive donations, which they matched up to $1,000. Mrs. Guthrie reports that the school received nearly $4,000 from those Christmas performances, plus $1,000 from the Visalia Downtown Rotary and $1,000 from an anonymous local woman. Local foundations, community members and educators also donated, including the Provident-Salerno Family Foundation, Randy Rowlett, David Miller, Nora Allstedt, Cheryl Small, Judy Summers, UPHS teacher Helen Million-Feller and former principal John Kelly.

During the fundraising, Mrs. Guthrie found a man willing to sell his used four-octave set, which will be reconditioned by the original manufacturer this summer. A fifth-octave set is being purchased new and will arrive at the school in early May in time for the students to use them at the UPHS Showcase on May 19. “We look forward to sharing this beautiful and unique musical experience with Tulare County audiences,” said Mrs. Guthrie. “While high school handbell choirs are fairly common on the east coast, I am not familiar with any schools in this area that play these special instruments.” The handbell choir will perform, along with the UPHS choir, dance and guitar classes, at the COS Theater Thursday, May 19 at 6:00 p.m. For more information, call UPHS at (559) 730-2529.

to Top of Page

La Sierra gets second CAPP grant
Grant to help continue postsecondary opportunities, strengthen college & career readiness

In April, administrators at La Sierra Charter Schools learned that California State University’s California Academic Partnership Program (CAPP) selected the school to receive an extension grant based on its success in completing an original grant awarded in 2013. The new two-year, $80,000 grant will fund La Sierra’s continued efforts of collaborating with postsecondary institutions and disseminating its successful “best practices” throughout the state. The purpose of the original three-year CAPP grant was to help the school build alliances with postsecondary institutions, allowing students to successfully transition to college and career. Of the nine CAPP grants awarded statewide in 2013, La Sierra was one of only two charter schools funded.

The CAPP grant has helped to drive the creation of the school’s new college- and career-going culture. Prior to the award of the first CAPP grant, Principal Anjelica Zermeño reports that La Sierra’s leadership team had already committed to change the school culture from one where students simply reach for a high school diploma to one where all students strive for college and beyond. This change was difficult as many La Sierra students face poverty or come from families with low educational attainment – factors that have a correlation to truancy, increased dropout rates and a higher probability of academic and career difficulties beyond high school.

“Many students have never been told that they are college ‘material,’” said Principal Zermeño. “There is power in sharing that belief in students individually and collectively and backing it up with sufficient academic preparation and ongoing supports.” Since the first CAPP grant was awarded, the school has obtained “a-g” certification from the University of California for 21 of its core courses. La Sierra also reports an increase in the graduation rate, a 30% increase in graduates going directly to college, a 100% completion rate for career certifications in various fields, an increase in students directly transferring to college courses without any remediation, and a 100% pass rate for students attending College of the Sequoias courses on the La Sierra campus.

Throughout the first CAPP grant, La Sierra administrators worked closely with College of the Sequoias (COS), involving one of the College’s counselors in all planning meetings. Today, every La Sierra senior is enrolled in COS’s Human Development 121 (Student Success), an online course that typically has a pass rate of less than 50%. In 2015, 100% of La Sierra students passed the course. Each passing grade represents earned college credit and priority registration at COS for La Sierra graduates. La Sierra is also aligning its graphic design and construction trades classes with coursework in both the COS Industry and Technology Department and the Construction Technology program, respectively.

Recent La Sierra graduates enrolled in their first semester at College of the Sequoias reported that the school’s leadership, teachers and support staff were crucial to forming their plans to attend, and their ability to succeed in, their college classes. “We are extremely proud of the gains La Sierra continues to make,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “The transformation of La Sierra’s culture over the past few years has been phenomenal. All that was great about the school’s military traditions and emphasis on physical fitness, respectful behavior and community service has been augmented by broad and comprehensive student preparation for college and career.”

For more information on the La Sierra Charter Schools, or to arrange a tour of the campus located at 1735 E. Houston Ave. in Visalia, call Anjelica Zermeño at (559) 733-6963.

to Top of Page


Spotlight on People
Last month, the CHOICES Prevention Programs hosted its Friday Night Live Lip Sync Competition. Over 30 elementary and middle school acts performed in the dance, lip sync, novelty and showcase categories. The top prize in the novelty category was won by students from the TCOE Special Day Class at Wilson Middle School in Exeter. The audience cheered and sung along as Cecelia Barragan, Johanna Valdez, Stephanie Jimenez and Donovan Block performed Let It Go! from the Disney movie, Frozen. Unable to perform that evening were Alana Baker and Maria Rodriguez. The class is led by teacher Richard Bodily and assisted by Alyssa Jones. For a complete list of Lip Sync Competition winners, visit

Spotlight on People Over 2,200 people visited the annual SCICON Barbeque and Wildflower Festival on Sunday, April 17. Among them were sixth-grade students Mathew Valencia of Summit Charter Academy Lombardi in Porterville and Brooke Johnson from Pinkham Elementary in Visalia. The students, who were given a tour of the recently completed topographic table exhibit in the Natural History Museum, are pictured with SCICON Museum Specialist Tracy Delperdang. The table uses a computer and projector to display ever-changing topographic elevations on the sand forms created. As the students move the sand to build new mountains or lakes, the computer quickly recalculates the elevations and adjusts the topographic colors. Mrs. Delperdang, who helped create the exhibit with Planetarium & Science Center Supervisor Conan Palmer, shows the students how they can hold their hands above the sand like a cloud to make rain form. Below the students’ hands, the projector creates a shimmering blue form, which moves from the higher elevations to the lakes below. The exhibit, which was installed in January and is one of few in existence, is used to teach students about land forms and weather patterns.

Spotlight on People Over 70 families served by the Bright Start Parent/Infant Program attended its annual Spring Workshop. Parents came to spend time with staff and one another, and to learn hands-on activities they can do with their children at home. Blowing bubbles, creating maracas out of plastic eggs, stringing beads and playing various games help children develop social/emotional, language and motor skills. The Bright Start Parent/Infant Program has nearly 60 teachers and early intervention assistants who work with parents of children (ages 0-3) identified as being at-risk for developmental delays or having specific hearing, sight or orthopedic conditions. The program also includes FACES (Facing Autism’s Challenges by Expanding Skills) – a team of specialists who work with children with early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Spotlight on People On April 23, 22 Tulare County elementary school teams participated in the annual Science Olympiad Division A competition for students in grades 3-6. Two students from Annie R. Mitchell Elementary in Visalia watch as their can racer propels itself toward the finish line. Combined, the team from Annie R. Mitchell took second place in the 21-event competition. First place was awarded to Oak Grove Elementary in Visalia; Mission Valley Elementary in Tulare took third.

Spotlight on People
During TCOE Healthy Habits Week, employees at the Mooney Boulevard building enjoyed several outdoor fitness and nutrition activities. At her station, Alex Shew, a dietitian with the Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention Program, demonstrated several yoga poses. Pictured with Ms. Shew (front to back) are Juan Torres (Internal Business Services), Alex Espino (Migrant Education), and Gilbert Hernandez, Mike Keller and Ly Yang (Information Systems). The activities held during Healthy Habits week were organized by Nan Arnold, Robyn Cooper, Alex Shew, Margarita Quintana and the staff at School Health Programs; Barbara Leal, Travis Brown, Francia Tapia, and the staff at Teacher Induction Programs; Debra Lockwood, Kim Rice and the staff at ERS; and Tony Cavanagh and the staff at CHOICES, with volunteer support from numerous programs. For more information on the Healthy Habits Week, contact Nan Arnold at (559) 651-0130.

Spotlight on People Julia Pitman, a valedictorian at Tulare Western High School, has been chosen as the recipient of the annual Tulare County College Night Scholarship. Julia was one of 75 county-wide applicants for the scholarship, which pays the winner $1,000 per year for up to four years based on academic and personal accomplishments. The top nine students were interviewed by a panel of educators. Julia impressed the judges with her scholastic and community service activities, and her passion for a future career as a high school agriculture teacher. She plans to study agriculture education at Oklahoma State University this fall.

to Top of Page

Gallery Notes

Four Theatre Company alumni, who have returned to Tulare County following their own college graduations, will be conducting two summer camps for the program beginning in June. The alumni, which include Natalie Anders, Andres Garcia, Antony Lotenero and Abby Sherrill, will be working with elementary, middle and high school students on voice, dance and acting. For students entering first grade up to those leaving sixth grade, the Theatre Company will offer a production of Disney’s The Jungle Book Kids June 6-17. Students will rehearse daily from 9:00 until 11:00 a.m. and perform the production Friday, June 17, at 7:00 p.m. For students entering fourth grade up to those graduating from high school, the Theatre Company will offer a production entitled No One is Alone. The production, which features a special medley of songs from Broadway’s biggest hits, will be the preshow entertainment for the Theatre Company’s summer production of The Secret Garden. Students will rehearse daily, June 20 - July 21 from 9:00 until 11:00 a.m., and perform the production seven times July 22-23 and 28-30. For registration information and fees, please contact the Theatre Company at (559) 651-1482.

A record-breaking 450 student-produced films were submitted to the 13th Annual Slick Rock Student Film Festival. The films were entered by students from 50 middle and high schools in seven Central Valley counties. Over 400 of these films will be shown at the “Premiere Cut” screening May 13 at the Visalia Fox Theater, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The awards ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7:00 p.m. A schedule of Premiere Cut showings will be posted at
tcoe.org/SlickRock one week prior to the event.

On May 2, 14 middle school and 6 high school teams from throughout the county will attend the third annual Step Up Youth Challenge Awards to receive grants for their work in developing community service projects. The awards ceremony, which begins at 6:00 p.m. at the L.J. Williams Theater, is open to the public. The top five projects in both the middle and high school categories will receive prizes totaling $30,000. The grants are provided by the County of Tulare's Step Up initiative and the Tulare County Youth Commission.

On June 9, the Visual and Performing Arts Program will host a special professional development training for K-8 teachers, coaches and administrators entitled, “Arts in Every Classroom: Integrating the Visual and Performing Arts with English Language Arts." Attendees will learn flexible strategies for integrating the arts across grade levels and content areas from Dr. Lisa Donovan, a professor in the Fine and Performing Arts Department at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Donovan is an educator, researcher and co-author of several books, including Strategies to Integrate the Arts in English Language Arts. For registration information, visit tulare.k12oms.org/147-113653.

to Top of Page

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

| Home Page | Site Index |

Please direct web site problems or comments to tcoeweb@tcoe.org.

Copyright © 2019, Tulare County Office of Education