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The News Gallery

July/August 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, Ramon Garcia, Anabel Gonzalez, Nancy Bruce and Bethany Rader.

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.

Theatre Company Summer Production - Hello Dolly!

Seven performances of Hello, Dolly!offered
Theatre Company celebrates its 20th summer production with classic American musical

By her own admission, Dolly Levi is a meddler. The principal character in the classic musical Hello, Dolly! is a schemer, a matchmaker, an entrepreneur and a woman who loves life. This month, the Theatre Company is preparing to perform Hello, Dolly! – its 20th summer production since the founding of the program.

“The timing of our production couldn’t be better,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “The revival of Hello, Dolly! is on Broadway this summer and stars Bette Midler. For theater lovers who can’t make the trip to New York, we’ll offer a production equally as entertaining and perhaps even more meaningful as they watch a future generation of Broadway stars!”

Theatre Company Summer Production - Hello Dolly!

Hello, Dolly! was composed by Jerry Herman and opened on Broadway in 1964, winning 10 Tony Awards – a record it held with South Pacific for over 30 years. The Theatre Company production will feature over 50 Tulare County students, including Kaley McConnaughey, who plays the larger-than-life Dolly. “It’s a challenge to maintain Dolly’s energy,” she says of the character who confidently meddles her way through every scene. “An hour before the show and even when I’m off stage, I never disconnect from her.” Kaley, who recently graduated from Redwood High School and who starred in many Theatre Company productions, will attend Oklahoma City University in the fall. The university has a respected theater arts program and counts as its alumni numerous acclaimed performers, including Kristin Chenoweth.

Theatre Company Summer Production - Hello Dolly! Hello, Dolly! will be directed by Bethany Rader, the Theatre Company’s new director. “Since this is a new show for the Theatre Company and my first show as director, I have been so impressed by the cast,” she said. “The production pace is unbelievable – with only five weeks to prepare the show, which has a tremendous amount of difficult musical, dance and character development work. Yet, the cast seems to take it all in stride, working so hard at making our vision come to life! It is truly an honor to work with these students.”

L.J. Williams Theater, 1001 West Main Street, Visalia

Show Times
Evening Shows (7:30 p.m.): July 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29
Matinee Shows (2:00 p.m.): July 22 and 29

Show Ticket Information
$15 general admission / $25 VIP tickets
available at Visalia TCOE locations beginning July 5:
6200 S. Mooney Blvd. and 7000 Doe Ave.
Monday through Friday during normal business hours.
Cash or check only.
Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

Principal Characters
Dolly Gallagher Levi played by Kaley McConnaughey
Horace Vandergelder played by Tristan Beck
Cornelius Hackl played by Michael McFadden
Barnaby Tucker played by Alex Rozier
Irene Molloy played by Carissa Gonzales
Minnie Fay played by Emilie Walker
Ambrose Kemper played by Zach Glasgow
Ermengarde played by Mikayla Hays
Ernestina played by Hayley Nelson
Rudolph Reisenweber played by Javi Camacho
Mrs. Rose played by Deyzha Gonzales

For information on the upcoming production of Hello, Dolly!, call the Theatre Company at (559) 651-1482.

Photos above:
~ Theatre Company director Bethany Rader (l) works with Hello, Dolly! stars Tristan Beck and Kaley McConnaughey at a recent rehearsal of the production.
~ Kaley McConnaughey, who plays Dolly, rehearses a dance number with the cast.

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Excellence in Education winners announced
Pendleton, Jarvis and Schuler dedicated to connecting students to their futures

“Will you do me a favor?” John Pendleton asked Jim Vidak. “If I call my dad, would you tell him what you just told me?” Mr. Pendleton, the principal at Wilson Elementary School in Tulare, phoned his father and explained that he had someone in his office that wanted to say “hello.” The county superintendent took the phone and explained to Mr. Pendleton's father that he was visiting John to tell him that he had been selected as the administrator of the year in the 2017 Excellence in Education Awards program. Before John Pendleton ended the call with his father, who was a former Tulare Joint Union High School administrator, he said, “Dad, I guess when you encouraged me to do some substitute teaching after college, you were right,” he smiled.

On June 2, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak also paid surprise visits to Teacher of the Year Kathleen Jarvis of Alpine School in Tulare and School Employee of the Year Naomi Schuler of Porterville Unified. “Each of the winners is an incredible person, dedicated to student engagement and success,” said Mr. Vidak. “They are supporting their students with community resources and giving them a vision of their futures in college and career so they can meet their greatest potential.”

Each year, a selection committee of Tulare County business and educational leaders reviews the Tulare County Administrator/Manager of the Year, Teacher of the Year and School Employee of the Year nominations. The Excellence in Education Awards program, now celebrating its 23rd year, honors “the best of the best” in the three educational categories. A total of 27 nominations were received this year from Tulare County school districts. Each nomination was reviewed and scored individually by every member of the selection committee.

The winners, finalists and nominees in the 2017 Excellence in Education Awards program will be honored at a recognition breakfast on November 1, 2017 at the Visalia Convention Center. They include:

Administrator/Manager of the Year: John Pendleton
Principal, Wilson Elementary School, Tulare City School District
John Pendleton, Administrator/Manager of the Year

John Pendleton is currently the principal of Wilson Elementary School in Tulare. He has been employed by the Tulare City School District for 28 years, serving as principal at Mulcahy Middle School from 1998 to 2010 and Wilson Elementary since 2010. The hallmark of his administration has been to build a school that is connected and supported by the community while transforming the learning environment to develop students’ character and academic skills for the 21st century. He has forged strong relationships with local agencies, such as Reaching Higher, Tulare Union High School ASB, Lowe’s, Target, Big Brothers Big Sisters, FoodLink for Tulare County, the Fresno State Bonner Center for Character Education, the Tulare County Office of Education CHOICES and CHARACTER COUNTS! Programs, and many more.

His ambitious efforts to seek out local resources have provided the Wilson community with new shoes for all students, beautiful school gardens to support hands-on learning, high school mentors and classroom helpers, after school tutoring, a farmer’s market that provides free produce for Wilson families, a 21st century library, numerous family events and a new Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) program to encourage positive parent/school partnerships in furthering students’ academic achievement. A strong supporter of character education, Mr. Pendleton and his staff at Mulcahy Middle School and Wilson Elementary School have received seven of the prestigious Virtues and Character Recognition Awards from the Bonner Center at Fresno State University.

Perhaps the highlight of his academic innovation has been the introduction of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program in second through fifth grades. Through the use of the AVID program’s rigorous curriculum and support system, teachers and administrators are working to close the school’s achievement gap and transform student expectations regarding college and career preparation. Under Mr. Pendleton’s leadership, Wilson Elementary was selected as a 2017 AVID Showcase School during its third year of program implementation. His support for the teaching staff has resulted in greatly increased classroom rigor and student engagement. Mr. Pendleton said, “Nothing is more powerful or transformational than a public institution that has captured the hearts and minds of its students who believe that their school is truly an extension of their family.”

Teacher of the Year: Kathleen Jarvis
Teacher, Alpine Vista Elementary School, Tulare City School District
Kathleen Jarvis, Teacher of the Year

Described by her nominators as “a teacher extraordinaire,” “creative,” and “tireless,” Kathleen “Kathy” Jarvis leads a first-grade classroom at Alpine Vista School in Tulare. She has been a teacher with the Tulare City School District for 14 years. Whatever a child can dream is what they become in Mrs. Jarvis’ class. Students become entomologists, award-winning writers, botanists, veterinarians and weathercasters. Mrs. Jarvis takes student engagement and project based learning to a completely different level as she bases it on the students’ interests and supports them as they develop their work. She says, “I believe for real learning to take place, the following conditions need to be present: learning must be relevant, learning must be personal, and learning must be enjoyable.”

Kathy Jarvis supports students by spending countless hours creating exciting and engaging curriculum. To facilitate their learning, she said, “I provide hands-on projects that allow students to manifest their creativity.” One example of this is her creation of Leadership Clubs. Each student has an opportunity to create and lead a club, such as a gardening club or a cooking club. Students design and create the club and present what they have learned to their peers. In the process, they develop their own leadership skills. Mrs. Jarvis is also famous for her “Red Carpet Days” – a showcase of student work complete with a backdrop, a red carpet, photographers and admiring fans. Students dress up and “release their work to the public,” while building their self-confidence and self-esteem. At Alpine Vista, Mrs. Jarvis has been responsible for spearheading the school’s “The Leader in Me” program, which teaches leadership and life skills to students and creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be a leader. Alpine Vista parent Delaine Morgan said, “Kathy creates a culture in her classroom that lets every child know that they are special and have a purpose. She does this through her tireless work of identifying each and every child as an individual that counts in this big world of ours.” In doing so, her students learn how to appreciate each other’s differences, a skill that grows with them year after year.

School Employee of the Year: Naomi Schuler
Work-Based Learning Coordinator, Porterville Unified School District
Naomi Schuler, School Employee of the Year

Naomi “Mimi” Schuler began her career with Porterville Unified School District (PUSD) in 1993. Early in her career, she served as a special education instructional aide and a Workability job developer. In 2010, she became the Work-Based Learning (WBL) Coordinator in support of the PUSD High School Pathways Program. It is largely due to her commitment to provide students with authentic WBL opportunities and to build positive relationships with hundreds of community business partners and civic leaders that the PUSD Pathways program has become recognized on a state and national level. District educators from across the state often request to visit PUSD to learn from her.

In her position, Mrs. Schuler manages multiple WBL activities for students and has served as a key advisor/liaison for up to twelve career-themed pathway advisory boards. Since the development of the Pathways Program, she has been the force behind placing over 1,000 high school students in internships. Months before students sign contracts with employers, Mimi Schuler works one-on-one with them to perfect their professional skills to be successful outside the classroom. Mrs. Schuler is the founder of the successful Kids Career Campaign that connects over 800 elementary students annually with college and career information. She is vital to the yearly success of the district’s Mentor Conference, where over 80 industry partners facilitate a professional conference for more than 600 Pathway students. Mrs. Schuler is the mastermind behind the Pathway marketing videos that are showcased yearly to over 1,700 students. In addition, she supports the work of the PUSD Pathways Program by helping to coordinate a variety of college and career readiness events, including Freshmen Ignite, student interviews, internships, guest speakers and evaluators, and industry and college tours.

Not only is she committed to the success of all Pathway students, she models a strong commitment to grow in her personal life by giving back to the community of Porterville, where she was born and raised. In addition to meeting the high demands of her current position in PUSD, Mrs. Schuler is always willing to donate her time and energy for community events. She has served as a Porterville Chamber of Commerce City Ambassador, in a leadership role with her church as the JustServe coordinator and as a member of the City of Porterville Tourism Council.


In addition to the winners in each category, two finalists were also selected. They include:

Administrator of the Year
Victoria Armstrong, Director of Curriculum, Dinuba Unified School District
Donna Glassman-Sommer, Administrator, New Teacher & Leadership Development, Tulare County Office of Education

Teacher of the Year
Yvonne Luiz, Science Teacher/Department Chair, Tulare Union High School
Stephen Miller, Sixth Grade Teacher, Monson-Sultana Joint Union School District

School Employee of the Year
Lupe Aguilera, Child Welfare & Attendance Officer, Tulare Joint Union High School District
Theresa Freitas, School Secretary, Alice G. Mulcahy Middle School, Tulare City School District

Photos above:
~ County Superintendent Jim Vidak speaks to Bill Pendleton on the phone, telling him that his son, John, has been selected as the 2017 Administrator of the Year.
~ Mr. Vidak poses with School Employee of the Year Mimi Schuler and Dr. Ken Gibbs, superintendent of Porterville Unified School District.
~ Kathy Jarvis (in black) of Alpine Vista School in Tulare was selected Teacher of the Year. She is pictured with (l-r) Jim Vidak; Terri Martindale, principal; and Dr. Clare Gist, superintendent of Tulare City School District.

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Retirees honored for service to students
Thirty-two employees retire having provided nearly 800 years of service to Tulare County

On June 14, the Human Resources Division hosted its annual Retiree Reception in the Redwood Conference Center. Thirty-two TCOE teachers, administrators and support staff members retired during 2016-2017, having contributed a total of 784 years of service to the students of Tulare County.

2017 Retirees Celebration

John Rodriguez, director of Human Resources, introduced each of the retirees in attendance and their supervisor. Many retirees who spoke mentioned the positive work environment that made their experience so enjoyable and thanked County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak for creating a culture of support.

2017 Retirees Celebration

The honorees included:

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
Cindy Sanders, Special Services-Severely Handicapped Program, 19 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

Photos above:
~ Information Systems retiree Mike Keller (c) listens as John Rodriguez reads highlights from his 27-year career (top photo).
~ Bob May reflects on his career with Special Services (left photo). Mr. May retired as a program manager for the severely handicapped after 17 years.
~ Jim Vidak poses with Graciela Garibay (right photo), who worked for the Early Childhood Education Program for 16 years.

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Conservation program focuses on research
Circle J introduces new Ecological Research and Restoration Project for 9-12 students

In September, the Circle J-Norris Ranch program will launch a new student event entitled the Ecological Research and Restoration Project. The program has been designed to engage high school students and their science teachers in conducting scientific research projects on the ranch. On Saturday, September 30, registered students will work with university scientists and naturalists to complete a variety of studies on vernal pools, native plant pollinators, oak forest ecology, pond turtles and birds.

“The goal of this event is to create a community of researchers and to spark students’ interest in conducting research and in engaging in ecological restoration of the ranch,” said Nancy Bruce, lead teacher for Circle J-Norris Ranch. “We are looking for students who have identified an interest in science and conservation careers to participate in this exciting event.”

Circle J-Norris Ranch is the beautiful 620-acre field trip site in the Sierra foothills that is part of the SCICON program. The program offers all grade levels a wide variety of field study experiences that enrich and extend classroom learning. Programs conducted on the property are designed to expand the appreciation of the environmental and aesthetic values of the outdoors, and increase understanding of the relationship between humans and nature.

In addition to the Ecological Research and Restoration Project, Circle J will offer its popular astronomy nights this fall and spring. Beginning September 15, students and their families are invited to view some spectacular celestial objects as part of four astronomy evenings at Circle J-Norris Ranch. A team of local amateur astronomers will help parents and students use the telescopes and guide them to view planets, star clusters and distant galaxies. Visitors will also learn the ancient mythologies of the constellations and how to identify the stars that they contain.

For more information on enrolling in the Ecological Research and Restoration Project, call Nancy Bruce at (559) 539-2263. For a list of the upcoming astronomy night events, visit

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Spotlight on People In May and June, La Sierra Charter School, University Preparatory High School (UPHS) and Special Services celebrated the graduations of 158 students. (top photo) Jalicia Beard, a featured La Sierra student speaker, addresses the audience during the graduation ceremony, reflecting on her life-changing experiences at the school.
Spotlight on People Seniors in the UPHS choir (photo above) perform “Stand By Me” during the graduation ceremony.
Spotlight on People UPHS Principal Eric Thiessen reports that seniors Alison Peters, Brooke Santos and Kylie Morphis also earned associate of arts (AA) degrees from College of the Sequoias through the school's dual enrollment program. Remarkably, Kylie was able to earn a total of four AA degrees. Quavon Meadows of the Community Based Instruction Classroom (CBIC) in Tulare (right photo) leads his classmates to a dance that followed the graduation ceremony. This year, Special Services graduated 44 students from its CBIC programs and severely handicapped centers in the county.

Spotlight on People On June 15, the Tulare County Office of Education CHARACTER COUNTS! (CC!) Program, together with its partner KSEE24, celebrated the students featured in the station’s weekly Your Character Matters program. During the 2016-17 school year, CC! coordinator Kelley Petty and KSEE24 reporter Stefanie Bainum worked to produce 28 inspiring stories featuring Tulare County students that exhibited good character or admirable acts of service. The stories were aired on Central Valley Today, which Ms. Bainum cohosts, and on the station’s evening news programs.
Spotlight on People Among the honorees were Yolanda Pruneda’s second-grade students from Monson-Sultana Joint Union School (photo above). The students were featured for their support of a fellow student, Daniel Meza (far right in photo), who has cerebral palsy. The students were commended for not only including Daniel in activities and encouraging his independence, but helping him when he needed it. Administrators with the schools that helped submit and coordinate the development of the stories were also honored. Pictured is Kristi Blatner (right photo), vice principal for Kings River Union School. Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak poses with KSEE24 Your Character Matters reporter Stefanie Bainum and the station’s general manager Matt Rosenfeld (lower photo).
Spotlight on People To see the stories, visit
ksee24.com and click on Your Character Matters on the “Sections” tab.

Spotlight on People Nineteen middle and high school students from Migrant Education Region VIII (Tulare and Kings counties) competed in the annual Migrant State Speech and Debate Tournament in Bakersfield May 5-7. The competition was attended by nearly 400 students from 20 Migrant Regions in California. The Region VIII students represented Strathmore Middle School, Granite Hills High School (Porterville) and Hanford High School. Among the students who won a first-, second- or third-place trophy in either the prepared or extemporaneous speech categories were Yuvia Estrella (6th grade, Strathmore Middle School), Ceidy Gomez (8th grade, Strathmore Middle School), Dulce Diaz (9th grade, Hanford High School), Leonardo Perez (10th grade, Hanford High School), and Jose Rodriguez (11th grade, Granite Hills High School).

Spotlight on People In June, the Theatre Company hosted its annual Summer Camp. This year, 44 elementary-age students participated in the three-week program designed to build theater performance skills. Under the direction of Andres Garcia (pictured far right) and Karly Butler-Shirk, students made costumes and rehearsed daily for a performance of The Lion King Kids on June 30.

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Gallery Notes

On May 25, TCOE employees participated in Jeans for Troops – a national campaign of the GI Go Fund to raise support for veteran services, such as career coaching, housing, employment and training, and legal support. TCOE employees raised $900 for the organization, with over $500 contributed by the staff and students at La Sierra Charter School.

In May, ERS held its literacy competition, Reading Revolution. The event is comprised of two divisions – one for upper elementary students (grades 4-6) and one for middle school students (grades 7-8). Students competed in four team events based on 15 books selected for each division. In the middle school division, the winners were the Power Readers from Sycamore Valley Academy in Visalia. Team members included Faye Lewis, Peyton Mitchell, Peytan Baeza and Kylie Lara. This year, the elementary school division grew so large – with 41 elementary teams entered – that event organizers divided the division into two competitions. The winners from the morning elementary competition were the Book Bureau team from Cottonwood Creek Elementary in Visalia. Team members included Eddie Rhyman, Wesley Shafer and Paige Thomason. The elementary division afternoon winners were the Waukena Wildcats. Team members included Ainsley Boydstun, Alyeda Ceballos, Samara Chavez and Paola Mora.

Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak recently created a new assistant superintendent position within the Instructional Division. The division, led by Deputy Superintendent Dr. Guadalupe Solis, now has two branches: District Support Services and Student Support Services. The new position, which has been filled by Early Childhood Education Program (ECEP) administrator Julie Berk, oversees the Student Support Services Branch and includes the CHOICES Prevention and After School Programs, ECEP, Educational Options (Court/Community Schools, La Sierra Charter School and University Preparatory High School), Migrant Education, School Health Programs and SCICON. The District Support Services Branch, led by Assistant Superintendent Charlene Stringham, includes the College & Career Programs, Educational Resource Services (ERS), Leadership Support Services, Planetarium & Science Center, New Teacher & Leadership Development, and Teacher Induction Programs. Dr. Jen Francone has been promoted to administrator for ERS.

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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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