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The News Gallery

March 2017

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, Paula Terrill, Kathleen Green-Martins, Gay Atmajian, Virginia Sepeda and Kate Stover.

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.

National History Day - Tulare County

Projects judged, students selected for state
Participation in National History Day - Tulare County rises by 60 percent this year

At the annual National History Day - Tulare County event (NHD), Kalee, Elizabeth, Isabelle and Grace – all dressed in matching plaid blouses – spoke with remarkable confidence about their research on pioneering women’s rights advocate Susan B. Anthony. The team presented their winning two-dimensional exhibit to retired TCOE educators Marsha Ingrao and John Kelly. The girls, who attend Roosevelt Elementary in Dinuba, were among 200 students who developed nearly 130 projects for the annual event.

National History Day - Tulare County Susan B. Anthony was just one of dozens of people and events in history that inspired young Tulare County scholars to explore their significance around the national theme of “Taking a Stand in History.” Joan of Arc, Jackie Robinson, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and many others found their way into student-developed exhibits, documentaries, websites and performances. “We are so pleased to see how National History Day continues to grow,” said Gay Atmajian, TCOE’s social studies staff development & curriculum specialist. Ms. Atmajian reported that the entries in the event increased over 60 percent from 2016 and that many of the participants are beginning their project work as early as August of the previous year.

NHD was held Tuesday, February 21 in rooms throughout the TCOE Administration Building & Conference Center. This year, elementary, middle and high school students from 14 Tulare County schools brought 129 projects to the competition. The event showcased original presentations by students in grades 4-12 pertaining to historical issues, ideas, people and events. Students were free to choose any topic in local, national or world history and explore its significance relative to the annual theme. “The event has all the characteristics of a 21st century learning experience,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “Students are taking charge of their learning through research, collaborating with one another and communicating their findings to a wider audience. It’s an amazing teaching tool.”

Students competed in three grade categories: 4-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Students in the two upper-grade categories presented findings through one of the following categories: historical paper, exhibit, performance, documentary or historical website. Students in grades 4-5 competed in the two-dimensional category only. At the event, presentations were evaluated by local historians and educators who looked for a balance of perspectives in the project.

National History Day - Tulare County

Following the student presentations, local agri-businessman Ed Boersma spoke on his family’s efforts to smuggle Jews to safety during WWII in his native country, the Netherlands. Born in 1934 in the small town of Nieuw Amsterdam, Mr. Boersma and his family immigrated to the United States in December 1947. He now lives in Visalia and has been self-employed for many years in enterprises closely related to agriculture.

Following Mr. Boersma’s presentation, event coordinator Gay Atmajian announced the finalists in each category and the students who had been awarded scholarships to support their participation in the state competition May 6-7 at William Jessup University in Rocklin, California. For a complete list of NHD finalists and scholarship winners, visit

Photos above:
~ Students examined the lives of a variety of people related to the National History Day theme, “Taking a Stand in History,” including Susan B. Anthony ...
~ ... and Gino Bartali. This year, 200 Tulare County students participated in the event.
~ This year’s special speaker was Edward Boersma, a local agri-businessman who immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands in 1947. He shared with students how his parents hid Jews from the Nazis during World War II.

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Speller prepares to compete in National Bee
Sameera Hussain wins Tulare County Spelling Championship for third year in a row

Tulare County Spelling Championship In six hours, 229 spellers participating in the annual Tulare County Spelling Championship stepped up to the microphone in the vast Visalia Convention Center exhibit hall – each one eventually misspelling the word given to them by spelling master Scot Hillman. By 3:25 p.m. on February 22, only one student remained. The speller, who was familiar to the audience and judges, was two-time champion Sameera Hussain of Sequoia Middle School in Porterville.

In the 17th round, Mr. Hillman gave her the word “behemoth.” Sameera anxiously asked the spelling master all the right questions concerning the word’s language of origin, alternative pronunciations and definition, before she spelled it. “That is correct,” said lead judge and retired Visalia Unified administrator Carlyn Lambert. Sameera sighed, smiled and grasped the number that had hung around her neck since earlier that morning. In the competition's 18-year history, she is the only student to win the spelling championship three times.

Tulare County Spelling Championship

As part of the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register sponsorship of the competition, Sameera is now eligible to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee beginning May 28 in National Harbor, Maryland. Sameera reports that she will spend the next three months preparing for the bee, which she has dreamed of winning since she was a young girl.

Photos above:
~ Sameera Hussain, an eighth-grade student from Sequoia Middle School in Porterville, won the 2017 Tulare County Spelling Championship with the word “behemoth.”
~ (l-r) Sameera is pictured with second-place winner Jiraya Caelan Detubio, an eighth grader from St.&Anne’s School in Porterville; and third-place finishers Yasoda Satpathy, an eighth grader from Sequoia Middle School in Porterville and Jose Guzman, a seventh grader from Veva Blunt Elementary in Visalia. Also pictured is Nancy Bellin, Spelling Championship coordinator, and Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

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New trainings help build after school programs
Region VII Expanded Learning Programs offers trainings to help meet state standards

Teachers and administrators in after school programs in Tulare, Kings and Madera counties are getting additional training support this year from the Region VII Expanded Learning Programs (ELP) office, which is based within the TCOE CHOICES Programs and led by project coordinator Virginia Sepeda. Ms. Sepeda reports that the trainings were developed in response to a region-wide survey that identified the top three needs for support focused around the state’s new Quality Standards for Expanded Learning. So far this year, the Region VII ELP has offered trainings to support the quality standards relating to the creation of safe and supportive environments, active and engaged learning, and youth voice and leadership.

Ms. Sepeda explains that the primary objective of the Region VII ELP is to build capacity in expanded learning programs to develop, implement and sustain support at the local level. “We also want to assist programs in successfully implementing quality standards established by the California Department of Education.”

This spring, the Region VII ELP office is hosting several never-before-offered leadership development opportunities framed around social-emotional learning. “We are pleased to launch a series of training cohorts created in partnership with California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC),” said Ms. Sepeda. “CalSAC is the largest Out of School Time (OST) training network in the country and they are committed to enriching children by empowering the adults who lead them.”

Upcoming seminars in March, April and May will focus on Restorative Practices – the practice through which educators develop environments where youth create a community of respect and caring and are able to effectively work through conflict together. The trainings will cover foundational research, proactive strategies, intervention techniques and guidance for how to cultivate a restorative culture of healing. A complete list of upcoming trainings is outlined below.

For more information about Expanded Learning Programs or how to connect your ELP team to these opportunities, contact Region VII Lead Virginia Sepeda at (559) 651-0155.

Upcoming Expanded Learning Programs Trainings

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Redwood students argue case, advance to state
TCOE's University Preparatory High School makes first appearance in Mock Trial finals

Tulare County Mock Trial

In the final round of the Tulare County Mock Trial competition, student attorneys from University Preparatory High School (UPHS) attempted to prove that Cameron Awbrey, a restaurant owner, was guilty of human trafficking and false imprisonment of Lin Stark, an immigrant from the fictitious country of Tanterra. For UPHS students participating in the final round of the competition, the stakes were high. Not only was it the first time a team from the TCOE charter school had made it to the finals, but UPHS faced Mock Trial powerhouse Redwood High School.

While Mock Trial scorers Amy Terrible (Tulare County Deputy County Counsel), Lisa Bertolino (Tulare County Public Defender), and David Alavezos (Tulare County Assistant District Attorney) awarded the victory to the Redwood High School team, UPHS drew praises from Tulare County Superior Court Presiding Judge Bret Hillman, the scorers and coaches alike. “This year was a complete turnaround,” said UPHS coach Sarah Pennington, speaking of the progress the team has made in recent years. “I’m just so proud of them.”

Tulare County Mock Trial

At the end of the competition, each team picked a “most valuable player” from the opposing team. The Redwood team selected UPHS’s Kristen Lusk, who presented the opening argument. Redwood’s Edward Cobian, who presented the school’s closing argument, was selected by the UPHS team.

The Redwood team will advance to the California Mock Trial finals in Riverside March 24-26.

Photos above:
~ Kristen Lusk of University Preparatory High School’s (UPHS) prosecution team and ...
~ ... Edward Chobian of Redwood High School’s defense team were selected as the most valuable players in the 2017 Tulare County Mock Trial competition by members of the opposing team. This year was the first time in UPHS’s history that its Mock Trial team competed in the finals.

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Educators invited to preview framework May 4
TCOE to help host Central Valley roll-out event for new History-Social Science Framework

Working in cooperation with the California Department of Education (CDE), the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA), the State Board of Education, and California History-Social Science Project (CHSSP), the Tulare County Office of Education will host the Central Valley launch of the new California History-Social Science (HSS) Framework. On May 4, HSS presenters from throughout the state will convene in the Redwood Conference Center to examine the instructional shifts and the updated and expanded content provided in the new framework.

Teachers and administrators who attend Central California’s only California History-Social Science Framework event will have the opportunity to collaborate with other educators, as well as state, regional, and local HSS leaders. Participants will leave with classroom-ready instructional materials aligning HSS instruction with the ELA/ELD Framework and inquiry-based instruction across grade levels.

Nancy McTyghe, a member of CHSSP and one of the writers of the framework, explains the changes educators will see. “Although the Standards haven’t changed, the new framework is substantially different. We were empowered, and in some cases, required, to go beyond the Standards’ outline. One of the most significant additions to this framework was the integration of both the new California State Standards (adopted in 2010) and English Language Development Standards (adopted in 2012). We not only referenced these documents throughout the draft, we included a variety of ‘classroom examples’ in each chapter that provide concrete examples of how to incorporate these new standards into everyday instruction.”

Additional changes came from a mandate from the State Board of Education to update the document to reflect current and confirmed research. This meant new content that reflected the latest disciplinary research and events that occurred since the last time the framework was adopted, such as the election of Barack Obama in 2008.

Finally, the revised framework incorporates a new and explicit emphasis on the use of inquiry instruction from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Each grade level chapter is organized around large questions of significance, supplemented with questions to organize instruction around more discrete eras, movements or periods. The chapters also include a number of possible sources that can be used to help students investigate these questions in depth and a variety of strategies for teachers to assess student learning.

To register for the California HSS Framework conference on May 4, visit
regonline.com/builder/site/default.aspx?EventID=1902177. The conference will be held in the TCOE Redwood Conference Center at 6200 S. Mooney Blvd. in Visalia May 4 from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. For additional information, contact Gay Atmajian, TCOE social studies staff development & curriculum specialist, at (559) 651-0501, or gay.atmajian@tcoe.org.

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Spotlight on People In February, Wayne Lacy joined the Tulare County Office of Education as director of Information Systems (IS). He replaced Roger Smith who retired in December after 31 years of service with the IS department. Prior to his selection as TCOE IS director, Mr. Lacy served as director of Information Technology for Kerman Unified and as an information technology specialist for 12 years at Palm Springs Unified.

Spotlight on People Rebecca Keele, a freshman at Porterville High School, won the second annual Poetry Out Loud competition held February 3 in the TCOE Redwood Conference Center. This year, seven high schools sent their top performers to the countywide competition for the chance to compete in the California Poetry Out Loud competition March 12-13 in Sacramento. High schools around the county held local competitions to select their top students. The students selected from over 900 classic and modern works compiled by the national Poetry Out Loud organization. TCOE Poetry Out Loud event coordinator Kate Stover reports that 1,200 students participated in school site-based contests this year. Hector Delgadillo, a senior from Tulare Union High School, won second place in the Tulare County competition; Olivia Hayes, a junior from Dinuba High School, was third.

Spotlight on People On February 15, the CHOICES Programs hosted the Safe & Healthy Schools Conference in partnership with Sprigeo, the online bullying reporting service. The conference was attended by over 100 regular day and expanded learning educators and administrators. Among the conference presenters was Dr. Sandra Washburn, a research associate and statewide coordinator for Positive Behavioral Interventions & Support in Indiana. Dr. Washburn spoke about research that teachers can utilize to improve classroom management and student success. For information on attending an August 2017 CHOICES workshop featuring Dr. Washburn, call Kathleen Green-Martins at (559) 651-0155, ext. 3623.

Spotlight on People On February 4, a team from Granite Hills High School in Porterville won the Tulare County Academic Decathlon championship for the second year in a row. Previously, Granite Hills held the title each year from 2003 to 2010. This year, they earned the large school and overall honors in the 10-event contest and the opportunity to compete in the state finals March 23-26 in Sacramento. The Granite Hills team is coached by Elissa Lombardi. For a complete list of results, visit

Spotlight on People Erik Gonzales, student advocate for Lindsay Unified School District and 2016 Tulare County School Employee of the Year, was part of a community panel at the tenth annual Access to Higher Education event for high school-age foster youth. Mr. Gonzales spoke to students about his experience in high school and the mentor who turned his life around and ignited his passion to help other young people in similar situations. Access to Higher Education is a partnership between TCOE, CASA of Tulare County, Health & Human Services’ Independent Living Program and the College of the Sequoias. This year, nearly 80 foster youth attended the event to speak to college representatives, career planners and former foster youth now attending college.

Spotlight on People The Community Based Instruction Classroom (CBIC) in Dinuba recently relocated to 166 E. Fresno St. in downtown Dinuba. The Dinuba CBIC, led by teacher Jennifer McReynolds, helps students with special needs, ages 18-22, develop key life skills, such as character development, money management, personal health and fitness, and communication, navigation and job skills. The goal of the CBIC program, which operates 10 sites countywide, is to prepare students to live as independently as possible following their graduations.

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Gallery Notes

Student athletes are invited to apply for the annual Pursuing Victory with Honor (PVWH) Senior Scholarships. Each year, the CHARACTER COUNTS! program awards four $500 scholarships to graduating seniors who best exemplify sportsmanship, leadership, and school and community service. An application form, which includes detailed eligibility requirements, is available at
tcoe.org/pvwhscholarship. Applications are due by March 30. For more information, call the CHARACTER COUNTS! program at (559) 740-4303.

The Walt Disney Company, through its affiliate ABC30 in Fresno, will award the Tulare County Office of Education 5000 books this month through a partnership with First Book. The books will be given to students in the CHOICES After School Program, Migrant Education Program and Early Childhood Education Programs.

County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak is encouraging Tulare County school district and TCOE staff members to participate in a free CHARACTER COUNTS! Training program this month. The two-day training, which will be offered March 9 and 17 from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. in the TCOE Redwood Conference Center, is designed to help participants build or expand on the character education programs in their districts or at their school sites. To register, contact Kathleen Green-Martins at (559) 737-6350, or kgreen@tcoe.org.

The 32nd Annual Tulare & Kings Counties Teacher Recruitment Fair was held February 2 at the Visalia Convention Center. Over 250 teacher candidates attended the recruitment fair. Eager to greet them were 32 school districts, two charter schools, and representatives from College of the Sequoias, TCOE and Kings County Office of Education. Participating districts reported that over 20 job offers were made at the recruitment fair and many more are anticipated. The TCOE Human Resources Department and New Teacher & Leadership Development Program are already planning the 2018 recruitment fair.

On February 23, Innovate Tulare-Kings, the organization of regional employers that supports the Tulare-Kings Linked Learning Consortium, organized the Growing Health Leaders Conference. Nearly 300 students from Kings and Tulare county high schools, many of whom are involved in medical career pathways programs, attended the event held in the TCOE Redwood Conference Center. Attendees were able to meet with college representatives and attend breakout sessions conducted by local psychologists, nurses, pharmacists, physicians’ assistants, doctors, dentists, healthcare administrators and scientists.

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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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