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The News Gallery

June 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, Juliana Davidian, Kathleen Green-Martins, Carrie Stephens, Tammy Bradford, Maricela Ledezma, Ramon Garcia, Dianne Shew, Gloria Davalos, Marcelo Huizar, Kris Costa and Anjelica Zermeño.

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.


Attendance at outdoor education school grows
Completed ten years ago, SCICON's Eagle Point Village expands with new cabin this year

Ten years ago, SCICON completed the construction of the Eagle Point Village – a collection of six cabins, student restrooms and showers, a meeting arbor, staff/teacher housing and an outdoor amphitheater. The village was designed to accommodate the growing number of sixth-grade students attending the program for weeklong visits. Four years later, the outdoor education program added a classroom/cabin building to Eagle Point Village designed to house students with special needs.

When new, Eagle Point was used primarily in the spring to accommodate the increased number of sixth-grade students visiting the program. With each passing year, Eagle Point was filled earlier and earlier in the school year. “Eagle Point now operates year round,” said SCICON Director Dianne Shew. “When we opened the Village 10 years ago, we housed 633 students. This year, our total will be 2,636 – an attendance increase of over 300%.”


To meet the increasing demand for housing at SCICON, the Tulare County Board of Education last month authorized the construction of a new cabin at Eagle Point Village. The bidding process has begun and it is hoped that construction will be complete in December. “With SCICON welcoming 8,120 sixth graders this year alone, the addition of the new cabin at Eagle Point Village will ensure our ability to serve Tulare County students for years to come,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Dianne Shew reports that the addition of the new cabin will allow the program to house three classes at a time in Eagle Point Village for a better social experience for students. “It’s location in the village will also enable us to provide more housing for students with special needs. The support of the board and Mr. Vidak is a testament to the importance they place on putting children first in a valuable outdoor learning experience.”


Photos above:
~ SCICON’s Eagle Point Village will soon have an additional cabin to accommodate the growing number of sixth-grade students visiting the program each year. The program had 8,120 sixth graders visit this year. Construction of an eighth cabin at Eagle Point Village is scheduled to begin this summer.

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Hundreds attend credentialling ceremony
New Teacher & Leadership Development helps over 140 educators obtain credentials

New Teacher & Leadership Development Graduation

On May 20, hundreds of family members packed the TCOE Redwood Conference Center to support loved ones who were earning their teaching or administrative credential through the Tulare County Office of Education’s New Teacher & Leadership Development Program (NTLD). The remarkable crowd of spouses, friends, parents and children reflected the growth NTLD has experienced in less than 15 years.

NTLD graduate Michelle Chavez NTLD Administrator Donna Glassman-Sommer welcomed the crowd and reflected on the program’s growth. “I believe we had two graduates earn Multiple Subject Credentials in our first year, which was 2003,” she said. “We held a small ceremony in a room in the Burrel Avenue building. Wow, have we come a long way,” she laughed.

NTLD graduate Brandon Chiapa The following year, Donna Glassman-Sommer became the program director and 22 teachers earned Multiple Subject or Mild/Moderate Education Specialist Credentials. Over the years, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing granted the Tulare County Office of Education permission to provide a broader range of credentials, including Tier 1 and Tier 2 Administrative Credentials. This year, the program saw 119 educators earn Multiple, Single Subject, Mild/Moderate, Moderate/Severe and Early Childhood Education Specialist Credentials. Twenty-three teachers earned their Preliminary Administrative Credential.

NTLD graduate Rachelle Telford In addition to congratulatory remarks from TCOE Deputy Superintendent Dr. Guadalupe Solis and IMPACT Program Coordinator Norma Lovelace, the audience enjoyed hearing from three credential program graduates chosen for their outstanding performance by program administrators: Michelle Chavez, general education Teacher of the Year; Rachelle Telford, education specialist Teacher of the Year; and Brandon Chiapa, administrative services Candidate of the Year.

“It’s remarkable to see how NTLD has grown, but even more rewarding to see how it accommodates the busy working schedules of educators as they earn their credentials,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. For more information about the teaching and administrative credentials offered by NTLD, call (559) 730-2549, or visit

Photos above:
~ Donna Glassman-Sommer, administrator for New Teacher & Leadership Development, reflected on the growth the program has experienced in 15 years.
~ This year, 142 educators received their credentials through the program, including Michelle Chavez, general education Teacher of the Year ...
~ ... Brandon Chiapa, administrative services Candidate of the Year ...
~ ... and Rachelle Telford, education specialist Teacher of the Year.

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Trish Griswold receives Brent Rast Award
Special Services gives annual award to veteran elementary teacher and trainer

Special Services Brent Rast Award

Each spring, the Special Services Division awards its Brent Rast Award to an exceptional TCOE teacher of the severely handicapped. This year, the award went to Trish Griswold, who leads a K-3 class of students with special needs at Conyer Elementary in Visalia.

Mrs. Griswold attended the May meeting of the Tulare County Board of Education, having been told by Program Manager Carrie Stephens that she would be making a presentation on her instructional practices. Ms. Stephens surprised Mrs. Griswold by calling her to the podium to receive the Brent Rast Award. “Trish exemplifies all areas of excellence in the teaching field,” she said. “She maintains very high expectations for her students and takes advantage of every minute of the instructional day to help them develop as individuals and meet their potential.”

In her classroom, Trish Griswold is always moving. To make the most of every instructional opportunity, she engages students individually at her table group. While one student reads a book, she helps another match pictures to their corresponding words, while another works to place appropriate letters in a puzzle. Remarkably, every child receives her attention simultaneously, both instructionally and behaviorally. With the aid of her rolling chair, she moves back and forth to access additional reading materials and puzzles for her group while correcting students who are unfocused. “My students are fast,” she laughs. “I have to be faster.” In her classroom, Mrs. Griswold is supported by three instructional aides: Jennifer Barela, Carly Vazquez and Christian Gonzales.

Mrs. Griswold is a 19-year veteran of the Special Services Division. She has led the Special Day Class at Conyer for 10 years and has been a resource for new teachers throughout the program. She has specialized training in teaching literacy to children with moderate to severe disabilities. “Trish is passionate about literacy,” said Ms. Stephens. “She is committed to helping students access reading in whatever capacity they are able while supporting her colleagues throughout our programs with resources and training.” Mrs. Griswold has been a new teacher trainer in the areas of classroom management and curriculum. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Fresno Pacific University focusing on classroom management and instruction for children with autism.

After students have rotated through several group sessions, Mrs. Griswold calls them back to their desks, where they begin lessons utilizing web-based curriculum through Unique Learning Systems. “Technology has transformed the way that we teach and students learn,” she said. “Whether students are up at the SMART Board, or accessing the curriculum through our tablet, they’re engaged in their learning and have the ability to make selections electronically.”

“The behavioral and instructional foundation Trish Griswold provides these young students will be evident in their lives as they enter high school or one of our Community Based Instruction Classrooms,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “She is a model for elementary special education teachers as they build eager, hardworking young men and women who are excited to learn!”

Photo above:
~ Trish Griswold is the recipient of the Special Services Division’s annual Brent Rast Award. The award has been given annually to a teacher of the severely handicapped since 1995. Mrs. Griswold leads a special day class at Conyer Elementary in Visalia. She has also been a teacher trainer in classroom management and literacy.

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Spotlight on People Tulare County Physics Day returned to the Porterville Fair on May 17. Nearly 400 middle school students attended the event, representing eight Tulare County schools. Students participated in a variety of hands-on activities, including robotics and the development of barges, bridges, balloon-powered boats and circuits – activities designed to strengthen their understanding of physics. Students also had time to enjoy several midway rides. Following the event, Educational Resource Services (ERS) event staff provided data for classroom analysis collected through electronic accelerometers worn by students during the rides.

Spotlight on People On May 18, 22 middle and high school teams arrived at the Visalia Fox Theatre to attend the sixth annual Step Up Youth Challenge Red Carpet Awards. During the past seven months, participating teams developed and implemented community service projects designed to make an impact on their schools and communities. The awards ceremony highlighted the projects completed by each school. Grants totaling $30,000 were awarded in both the middle and high school categories. The winner of the Best Overall Award and a $5,000 grant in the high school category was Orosi High School (top photo). Judges were impressed by the team’s project on human trafficking in the Cutler-Orosi area and that students worked with non-profit organizations to provide resources, information and accounts of trafficking to young people in the district and to members of the community.
Spotlight on People
In the middle school category, Bartlett Middle School (Porterville Unified) (lower photo) won the Best Overall Award and a $5,000 grant for the creation of an event called Bartlett Youth Day. The event attracted 400 people and included presentations by members of the Challenge team on bullying, self-esteem, gangs and drug prevention. The event also featured workshops by Porterville community organizations, such as the Lions Club, the library, fire department, Tule River tribe and local paramedics. For a complete list of Step Up Youth Challenge award recipients, visit
www.stepuptc.com and click on the “News and Updates” tab.

Spotlight on People On May 3, ERS held its annual Tulare County Technology Challenge (TC²). This year, the competition was conducted entirely online. Teams of middle and high school students were invited to log on and participate in five scenarios, ranging from the development of a website to the design of a Google Map history trip. Students from Tulare’s Maple Elementary won the iMovie Book Trailer scenario, creating a short movie trailer that captured the essence of a book.

Spotlight on People Nicole Cloutier, a senior at Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia, was chosen to receive the 12th annual Tulare County College Night Scholarship. Nicole, who plans to study nursing at Azusa Pacific University, impressed judges with her involvement in the TCOE Theatre Company and Science Olympiad, her school’s diving team, choir and Key Club, and her church. Nicole earned a 4.19 GPA and will receive $1,000 per year for up to four years at Azusa Pacific University.

Spotlight on PeopleMalachi Williams, a senior at La Sierra Military Academy (LSMA), is pictured being interviewed by ABC30 reporter Brian Johnson. Malachi will be featured on an upcoming segment of the station’s Children First series, scheduled to air Sunday, June 25 at 6:30 p.m. Malachi and LSMA Principal Anjelica Zermeño will share how the school uses the CHARACTER COUNTS! Program to teach respect and tolerance, which is the focus of the latest Children First special.

Spotlight on People Migrant Education students from Hanford Elementary (top photo) were among 60 groups invited to present examples of their project based learning at the fourth annual A Night at the 21st Century Museum event. The students shared their work in writing, editing and photography for The Migrant Voice, a Tulare and Kings county student-produced newspaper designed to improve the writing and speaking skills of English language learners. Spotlight on People Among the other students at the event were Joanne Rubalcaba and Mariah Chavez, members of the Dinuba High School Medical Pathway Program (lower photo). The young women developed Invisible Scars, a community-wide suicide prevention program that recently won a gold medal at the 2017 California Health Occupations Students of America competition.

Spotlight on People Last month, students from Roosevelt Elementary Special Day Class #2 in Dinuba visited SCICON. Teacher Maricela Ledezma reports that her third- through sixth-grade students engaged in a variety of hands-on science lessons about animal habitats and trees. The students also toured a cabin for students with special needs and visited the CAL FIRE station located on the SCICON campus. Pictured in the fire truck with Maricela Ledezma (r) are Samuel Argueta and Christopher Gallardo.

Spotlight on People This year, Central Valley students entered more than 650 films in the 14th Annual Slick Rock Student Film Festival. The films were created by middle and high school students in Tulare, Kings, Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno and Kern counties. Buchanan High School (Clovis) students Rei Bioco, Sergio Chavez and Ryan Kish created a music video entitled Anywhere (top photo), which starred singer/songwriter Grace Kane. The beautiful film, shot in the snowy Sierras, won both the Best Original Music Video and the coveted Best of Show Awards. Spotlight on People Redwood High School (Visalia) students Camryn Lopez, Maddy Shandrew, Andrea Wulschleger, and Carly Vagim (lower photo) won the Come Play! Advertisement category and the Best of Tulare County Award, presented by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, for their film Maps – a whimsical public service announcement featuring many of Tulare County’s landmarks and attractions. Copies of the winning films in each of the festival’s 18 categories will be available mid-June at tcoe.org/SlickRock.

Spotlight on People On April 28, TCOE employees were invited to bring their sons and daughters to work as part of an annual event hosted by the Human Resources Division. This year, a total of 24 TCOE employees and 28 students participated in a Cardboard Challenge. Parents and children were challenged to design and create a structure entirely out of cardboard. Finished projects ranged from a foosball table and a soccer field to animals and games.

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Gallery Notes

This summer, the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom will hold its annual Ag in the Classroom Conference in Visalia. Educators are invited to attend the two-day conference to learn about integrating agricultural studies in all subject areas. The conference will be held at the Wyndham Visalia July 14-15. The conference will include breakout sessions, a make-and-take session featuring easy, hands-on activities suitable for the classroom, and tours of dairies, farms and orchards in Tulare and Fresno counties. The cost of the conference is $200 per person. For registration information, visit

KMPH FOX26 is launching a new grant program for Central Valley teachers entitled “One Classroom At A Time.” Each month, KMPH, with support from Mor Furniture, will award one $1,000 grant to a public education teacher (grades preschool-12) in the Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Kings and Tulare county viewing area. Teachers are invited to visit kmph.com/station/contests to submit their proposals and a budget for a project to enrich their students’ learning experience.

In August, the Tulare County Office of Education will partner with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the University of California, and the CSU Chancellor’s Office to host the first "Breaking Barriers" Professional Development Conference. This free conference, planned for August 28 at the Visalia Convention Center, is open to administrators, counselors, teachers, support staff and college faculty members. The focus of the conference is to present case studies on model California schools that have built seamless transitions for K-16 students. Conference breakout sessions will include presentations by administrators from La Sierra Military Academy and other schools who will share their successes in meeting the needs of students experiencing trauma or poverty, building teacher and administrator capabilities, creating college and community partnerships and more. To register, visit tulare.k12oms.org/159-132696.

Coaches, athletic directors, administrators, officials and other youth leaders are invited to register for the Tulare County Office of Education's Pursuing Victory With Honor sportsmanship workshop. This in-service will help attendees build better character through their coaching efforts. The workshop takes place on August 31 from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. in the Redwood Conference Center. To register, please visit tulare.k12oms.org/1530-133085, or call Kelley Petty, CHARACTER COUNTS! program coordinator, at (559) 740-4303.

On June 14, the Human Resources Division will host its annual Retiree Reception in the Redwood Conference Center beginning at 5:00 p.m., following the TCOE board meeting. Over 30 TCOE teachers, administrators and support staff members who have retired or will retire during the course of the 2016-2017 school year will be honored. The honorees include:

Maria Alvarado, Early Childhood Education Program, 45 years
Allen Austin, Information Systems, 20 years
Linda Beauchamp, Special Services - Deaf & Hard of Hearing Program, 29 years
Leslie Berry, Special Services - Student Support Services, 19 years
Helen Cabañas, Early Childhood Education Program, 22 years
Gloria Cabrera, Early Childhood Education Program, 22 years
Maria Cadena, Early Childhood Education Program, 36 years
Editha Carlos, Early Childhood Education Program, 23 years
Mimi Cha, Early Childhood Education Program, 22 years
Rosann Comstock, Early Childhood Education Program, 27 years
Cathy Delaney, Teacher Induction Program, 21 years
Annette Dinkins, Early Childhood Education Program, 31 years
Brenda Drumright, Special Services - Severely Handicapped Program, 28 years
Graciela Garibay, Early Childhood Education Program, 16 years
Virginia Gaspar, Early Childhood Education Program, 29 years
Joan Gilbert, Special Services- Mild to Moderate Program, 29 years
Michael Keller, Information Systems, 27 years
Sylvia Lopez, Court/Community Schools, 31 years
Rosie Martinez, Migrant Education, 19 years
Robert May, Special Services- Severely Handicapped Program, 17 years
Lana McGee, Special Services - Severely Handicapped Program, 16 years
Karen Payne, Early Childhood Education Program, 22 years
Ana Ramirez, Early Childhood Education Program, 23 years
Valerie Range, Special Services-Severely Handicapped Program, 15 years
Pat Rankin, Special Services-Severely Handicapped Program, 26 years
Brian Roberts, Theatre Company, 18 years
Janet Ross, Services for Education and Employment, 22 years
Roger Smith, Information Systems, 31 years
Rosario Verduzco, Early Childhood Education Program, 21 years
Sandra White, Early Childhood Education Program, 36 years
Carole Wiley, Educational Resource Services, 8 years

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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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