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The News Gallery

May 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, Kelley Petty, Brook Killingsworth, Tony Velásquez, Shantall Porchia, Bethany Rader and Alex Elliott.

The News Gallery is published monthly with the exception of double issues printed for July/August and December/January. To receive the News Gallery, visit www.tcoe.org/GetTheGallery, or contact Jennifer Fisher at jenniferf@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172.

Early Childhood Education

Tech aids Early Childhood Education centers
Application streamlines the documentation of students' academic and social development

Teacher Jatinder Kaur of the Fairview Child Development Center in north Visalia launches the camera feature on her tablet and begins to ask individual students playing with connecting LEGOs to identify the colors in their strand of plastic blocks. As Jatinder records, student Jordan Lopez tells her each color of the LEGOs he has joined together. Thanks to software called Learning Genie, this simple video can be saved to Jordan’s student records and labeled to correspond to the individual measures used by TCOE’s Early Childhood Education Program (ECEP) as evidence that he is meeting his learning goals.

State and federal regulations require that teachers collect data that tracks and monitors children’s development during their enrollment with the Tulare County Office of Education program. ECEP utilizes the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) – a developmental continuum for early infancy through kindergarten.

Early Childhood Education DRDP is a tool teachers and teachers’ aides use to collect evidence of the children accomplishing milestones related to social and emotional development, language and literacy development, cognitive development, physical development and health, and English language development. Prior to 2016, all evidence of children’s growth was handwritten on paper. The process made it difficult for teachers to assist each other and for supervisors to help in monitoring children’s growth.

Last spring, ECEP began utilizing Learning Genie, which is a portfolio app that allows classroom staff to track and organize children’s DRDPs and assess their developmental growth electronically. “It makes the observation and collecting process easier and more efficient,” said ECEP Assistant Administrator Dr. Alex Elliott. “Not only does this tool allow teachers to take pictures and videos, and enter notes on their tablets, but it allows other teachers to work on the same child’s portfolio at the same time.” Teacher Linda Contreras of the Senaida Garcia Center reports, “It has cut our work time in half and has been such a relief, I could cry.”

DRDP is an assessment tool that programs throughout California utilize to monitor children’s growth. “One of the exciting things we’ve been able to do is to collaborate with Tulare City School District and share the profile results from children in the ECEP program,” said Dr. Elliott. “This assisted the district’s schools to prepare for incoming children and address their developmental levels. The Learning Genie app has helped us make decisions based on data and evidence collected as we help prepare children for school in the best possible ways.”

Photos above:
~ Jatinder Kaur uses a tablet featuring the Learning Genie application to record children’s activities in order to measure their development.

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Fun, enriching support staff event turns 25
Created in 1992, Tulare County Support Staff Conference grows to over 650 attendees

TCOE Support Staff Conference

In 1992, Whitney Houston was on the charts with her megahit I Will Always Love You; Tim Allen was starring in the popular TV series Home Improvement; and IBM debuted its first laptop, the ThinkPad. That same year, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, who was just beginning the second year of his first term, created a new event to celebrate the contributions of Tulare County school support staff. The event was called “Spring Fling” and it provided 75 attendees with professional development training in communications and team building. Retired Administrative Assistant Darlynn Billingsley organized it.

TCOE Support Staff Conference

Twenty-five years later, the event now known as the Tulare County Support Staff Conference has grown to be the largest professional development training of its kind in Central California. On April 26, over 650 support staff from school districts and city and county government offices packed the Visalia Convention Center to enjoy the birthday-themed event. School staff members came from districts and county offices of education in Tulare, Kings, Kern, Fresno and Merced counties, while city/county staff members represented the County of Tulare and the Cities of Tulare and Visalia.

TCOE Support Staff Conference

Comedian and business workplace expert Joel Zeff kicked off the conference by involving several attendees in hilarious impromptu skits on stage designed to reinforce his message about the importance of supporting coworkers and celebrating each other’s successes. Following Mr. Zeff’s presentation, the audience attended two breakout sessions with their choice of 11 presentations on a variety of health and professional development topics. Before lunch, attendees had an opportunity to shop and visit nearly 30 vendors who were invited to share their products and services.

TCOE Support Staff Conference

“It’s been rewarding to watch the Support Staff Conference grow to serve both school and city employees from throughout the Central Valley with the latest in personal and professional development trainings,” said Marlene Moreno, event organizer and administrative assistant to the Tulare County Superintendent of Schools. “Over 25 years, we’ve been able to do that and still maintain the original focus of the event – to celebrate the contributions support staff makes to children and communities, and to have a good time doing it!”

TCOE Support Staff Conference

Photos above:
~ Connection’s for Quality Care’s Jaime Molina (left front) has some fun with 2017 Tulare County Support Staff Conference speaker Joel Zeff (right front) in an improvisational skit where the men were puppets at a Zumba lesson. Assisting with the puppets’ movement were Pleasant View’s Esmeralda Palafox (left back) and Tulare Joint Union High School District’s Filomena Rocha.
~ Support Staff Conference organizer Marlene Moreno, administrative assistant to Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, welcomes attendees to the event.
~ Conference attendees, who came from five Central Valley counties, commented that they enjoyed networking with others from within the region.
~ Attendees enjoyed 11 breakout sessions on a variety of health, workplace and safety topics, which were offered twice in the morning. TCOE School Health Program Manager Nan Arnold conducted a session on managing diabetes and prediabetes.
~ Instructors from In-Shape offered a session on fitness, which included a live Zumba demonstration.
~ The conference also included over 25 vendors offering products and services. Among them were representatives from Fresno Pacific University, which offered information about degree completion plans.

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Theatre Company to offer June Summer Camp
Elementary students invited to build performance skills at three-week workshop

The Lion King Kids logo

Young actors and singers will have an opportunity to bring the story of Simba the lion and his friends from Disney’s The Lion King to life through the Theatre Company’s second annual Summer Camp. Open to students entering first grade through those leaving sixth, the Summer Camp program will help young performers develop their stage skills through three weeks of performance training.

"The Theatre Company is very excited to create a summer camp around The Lion King Kids,” said Theatre Company Director Bethany Rader. “This show is a favorite of so many and we can't wait to use it to build a new generation of young Tulare County performers.”

The Summer Camp will be conducted by Bethany Rader and Theatre Company On-Stage directors Andres Garcia and Karly Butler-Shirk. The team will work with the participants on refining their voice, dance and acting skills.

The Theatre Company Summer Camp will be held Monday-Friday, June 12-30 from 9:00 until 11:00 a.m. The program will culminate with a performance of The Lion King Kids on June 30 at 7:00 p.m. The Summer Camp will be held in the Elderwood Room at Tulare County Office of Education’s 7000 Doe Avenue complex. The cost of the Summer Camp is $100 per student. Registration is due June 1. For registration information, please contact the Theatre Company at (559) 651-1482.

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Journalism Project gets national attention
Migrant Education publishes 4th edition of The Migrant Voice, adding district participation

Migrant Education Journalism Project The Migrant Education Region VIII Journalism Project, which began in the fall of 2015 and was unveiled as a newspaper called The Migrant Voice in February 2016, was created as an English language development program. In the first issue, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students from Earlimart, Pixley, Tipton and Tulare City School Districts published 20 articles about California’s drought. Through the process of interviewing people affected by or working to solve the drought, the Migrant students gained confidence in their abilities to research, speak, write and communicate their stories. In April, Migrant Education published its third and fourth editions of The Migrant Voice, expanding participation in the project to 13 Kings and Tulare county districts.

The Migrant Journalism Project was envisioned by Migrant Education administrators and instructional leaders from TCOE’s Educational Resource Services (ERS). Migrant Education Program Administrator Tony Velásquez says that the project was designed to assist students in transitioning from being English learners to proficient in the English language. Along with ERS staff, Migrant administrators worked with language development specialists from Loyola Marymount University’s Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL). CEEL administrators Drs. Magaly Lavadenz, Gisela O’Brien and Elvira Armas helped design the curriculum and conduct the trainings for the Tulare County teachers who would lead the project.

The Region VIII Migrant Journalism Project has caught the attention of the California Department of Education Migrant Program. In January, Region VIII administrators Tony Velásquez, Shantall Porchia and Gloria Davalos presented the project along with Drs. O’Brien and Armas from Loyola Marymount at the Interstate Migrant Education Council (IMEC). The presentation was made to administrators from migrant programs in 20 U.S. states. This month, the California Department of Education has asked Mr. Velásquez and the journalism project team to present to California Migrant regional directors at a meeting in Sacramento.

“We are pleased that we continue to receive requests from other districts in our region to include them in the Migrant Journalism Project,” said Mr. Velásquez. “The feedback we are getting from our existing districts is that the program has empowered migrant students through their activities as journalists. Teachers and administrators are noticing an increase in our students’ reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.”

To see copies of The Migrant Voice, visit
tcoe.org/MigrantEd. For more information, call Tony Velásquez at (559) 651-3035.

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Spotlight on People In March, the CHOICES After School Program held its third annual cheerleading competition. The event is designed to introduce elementary and middle school students to the activity to increase physical fitness and offer them the experience of working together as a team. Nineteen elementary and middle school teams competed this year. A team from Los Tules Middle School in Tulare (left) won first place in the competition’s varsity category, while a team from Roosevelt Elementary in Dinuba (right) took first place in the junior varsity category.

Spotlight on People Visitors to the annual Young Authors’ Faire in April enjoyed reading books written and illustrated by elementary and middle school students from throughout the county. Last month, the lobby of the Tulare County Office of Education was filled with over 250 printed and digital books submitted by schools throughout Tulare County.

Spotlight on People Juana Barragan, a preschool teacher at Early Childhood Education’s (ECE) Woodlake Center, has been named one of seven honorees in First 5 Tulare County’s annual Hands-On Heroes program. Ms. Barragan, was honored at an awards ceremony at the Visalia Wyndham Hotel on April 25. ECE Education Program Manager Lorena Davis reports that Ms. Barragan was nominated for her amazing creativity in teaching, particularly the program’s science curriculum. Ms. Barragan (left) is pictured with her supervisor at the Woodlake Center, Sally Dimas.

Spotlight on People This year, administrators with Special Service’s Intervention Resource Classrooms (IRCs) are integrating Student Resource Officers (SROs) into the program in several communities to build positive relationships with students and increase their understanding of law enforcement’s role. IRCs help students throughout the county who have had behavioral challenges by providing academic and social/emotional tools they need to be successful in school. Program Manager Tiffany Owens-Stark reports that IRC students are now seeing the SROs in respectful and healthy ways. Dinuba Police Officer Nunez is pictured visiting with IRC students at Kennedy Elementary. He checks in with students weekly to let them know he supports them. Students who meet their behavior goals earn the right to play a game of basketball or enjoy lunch with Officer Nunez.

Spotlight on People Last month, the CHOICES Prevention Programs hosted its annual Friday Night Live Lip Sync Competition. More than 30 elementary and middle school acts performed in the dance, lip sync, novelty and showcase categories. The top prize in the dance category was won by students from George McCann School in Visalia. Performing the song Closer were Ian Arrambide, Sevee Johnson, Thomas Rosa, Johnny Galhandro, Tristen Reimer and Kari Pendegraft. For a complete list of Lip Sync Competition winners, visit

Spotlight on People Nearly 700 middle school students from 41 Kings and Tulare county schools competed in the 44th annual Math Super Bowl March 30. Students worked on real-world problems with their classmates, with students from other schools and individually. Trophies were given to the top five students in both seventh and eighth grade. Pictured are the top five individual trophy winners for seventh grade in the large school category (l-r): Reese Baldwin, Live Oak Middle School, Tulare (5th place); Max Dwelle, Green Acres Middle School, Visalia (2nd place); Alejandro Hernandez, Earlimart Middle School (1st place); Aiden Santos, Live Oak Middle School, Tulare (3rd place); and Madison Allan, Ridgeview Middle School, Visalia (4th place). For a complete list of results, visit tcoe.org/MathSuperBowl.

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Gallery Notes

A record-breaking 657 student-produced films were submitted to the annual Slick Rock Student Film Festival. The films were entered by students from 46 middle and high schools in Tulare, Kings, Kern, Fresno, Madera, Mariposa and Merced counties. Nearly 200 of these films will be shown at the “Premiere Cut” screening May 12 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 6:30 p.m. A schedule of Premiere Cut showings is available at

On May 18, 19 middle school and 9 high school teams from throughout the county will attend the 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 Fox 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 Gang Prevention Task Force and the Tulare County Youth Commission.

For the fourth year, the Tulare County Office of Education CHARACTER COUNTS! Program recognized four high school senior student athletes with a $500 Pursuing Victory With Honor college scholarship for their exemplary character on and off the field. The recipients, who possess exceptional traits in sportsmanship, leadership and initiative, are: Leslie Ontiveros (Granite Hills High School, Porterville), Jazmin Ramirez (Mission Oak High School, Tulare), Krystal Chavez (Orosi High School), and Holden Powell (Mt. Whitney High School, Visalia).

For the second year in a row, the California Department of Education (CDE) will hold its Gold Ribbon Schools Awards for Central Valley recipients in Visalia. The program was created to honor schools for their outstanding educational programs and practices, and for preparing students to succeed in 21st century careers and college. This year, the CDE recognized 275 middle and high schools, including Visalia Unified’s El Diamante High School. Schools from Tulare, Kern, Fresno, Mariposa and Merced counties will attend the awards dinner on May 17 to accept their awards from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

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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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