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The News Gallery

October 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, Kate Stover, Donna Glassman-Sommer, Shelley Chappell, Tammy Bradford, Jen Francone, Yesenia Tadao, Paula Terrill, Juliana Davidian, Nani Dodson, Kellie Goodwin and Dianne Shew.

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.

Alternative Achievement Program

Program provides students behavioral supports
Alternative Achievement Program weaves academic with intensive therapeutic activities

Coco and Pixie stand tethered to a post on the J-Bar Ranch near Ivanhoe. While the ponies and other horses at the ranch may look forward to meeting a new group of students who will brush them and perhaps offer them a treat, they will soon be playing a much more profound role in the lives of the young people approaching them. Most of students have little, if any, experience with horses. Some are timid as they approach the ponies, but within minutes of the introduction – and with a little instruction from J-Bar staff members – students are leading them confidently around the arena.

The students visiting the J-Bar Ranch, which is an experiential learning center operated by Dr. Jan Loveless and her husband Sid, are from a new program created by the Tulare County Office of Education’s Special Services division. Known as the Alternative Achievement Program (AAP), the program is an extension of the division’s Behavioral Health Services.

The partnership between J-Bar Ranh and AAP is one of many components of the program designed to build students’ self-esteem and behavioral coping skills. Each week this year, AAP students will visit J-Bar Ranch to learn more about the horses and to learn about their own abilities to care for themselves and other creatures. What began as an introduction to the horses and a brief walk around the arena will eventually lead to riding for most students.

Alternative Achievement Program

The AAP is the third step on a continuum of behavioral health services provided by Special Services. When a student’s needs exceed the services provided in one of Special Services’ 18 countywide Intervention Resource Classrooms (IRC) and they require a higher level of care, AAP is considered. AAP serves students in grades 7-12 who are receiving special education services and would benefit from a site-based, highly structured, therapeutically-enriched educational program. “Our vision for AAP is to provide students with an alternative learning environment that has mental health services embedded with their core academic curriculum,” said Tammy Bradford, assistant superintendent of Special Services. “Through extensive therapy and behavioral supports, we’re seeing students build the necessary skills to eventually transition back to their general education site.”

AAP began as a pilot program last year and moved to a school campus in southeast Visalia this fall. The program is led by Shane Farmer, a program specialist who had experience as an IRC facilitator. Meade Williams is the school’s mental health clinician, teacher, and program specialist. The program has nearly a one-to-one ratio of students and trained behavioral specialists. “Therapy is provided throughout the day in group and individual settings,” said Mr. Farmer. “If a student is struggling behaviorally in class, one of the staff can immediately pull them out for a quick support session to help them reflect on their actions and what they could do better in the future.”

Alternative Achievement Program

The new AAP site provides students with instructional and counseling classrooms, and space for outdoor activities, including gardening. The garden, which serves as both an extension of the school’s science classes and a therapeutic tool, was funded by grants from the Tulare County Office of Education Foundation and the Tulare County Farm Bureau.

AAP students begin each day with a half-hour “mindfulness” session. The student-led exercise, facilitated by Jason Quijada, a rehabilitation management specialist, may include elements of yoga, deep breathing, stretching, or an analysis of music or video art as a way to focus on feelings and thoughts.

Alternative Achievement Program

Following the mindfulness session, AAP students participate in grade level curriculum for math, science, English Language Arts and a computer/electives course, which can include gardening. If needed, a credit recovery program is available. Each month, AAP staff meet with representatives from the students’ districts to update them on their progress. “Our goal is to help them develop the coping skills tools to sustain their success at AAP and hopefully back at their district school,” said Ms. Bradford.

“The initial success of AAP is due to its enthusiastic, caring and qualified staff,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “Their dedication, coupled with the support of parents and district personnel, has translated into some early and amazing gains for the students they serve.”

Alternative Achievement Program

At the conclusion of the day, students gather in the Honor Room for a closing circle. Each student is expected to answer these questions: Who deserves a compliment today and why?; What did you do well today?; and What is one goal you want to set for tomorrow? “Regardless of any challenges we’ve had previously, we always come together in a circle to support one another and end the day on a positive note,” said Mr. Farmer. Like the garden that stands in front of the small school, students are growing socially and emotionally in remarkable ways within an environment of care, discipline and consistency.

For more information on the Alternative Achievement Program, contact Tammy Bradford at (559) 730-2910, extension 5120.

Photos above:
~ The Alternative Achievement Program (AAP) has partnered with J-Bar Ranch to help students build self-esteem and coping skills while working with horses. Sid Loveless of J-Bar Ranch explains to AAP student Valentin how to properly lead a horse.
~ Meade Williams, AAP’s mental health clinician, teacher, and program specialist, covers a science lesson related to the school’s garden.
~ The AAP garden, recently completed at the school’s new site in southeast Visalia, was funded by grants from the Tulare County Office of Education Foundation and the Tulare County Farm Bureau.
~ Jason Quijada, a rehabilitation management specialist who facilitates the school’s “mindfulness” session each morning, plays basketball with students and staff members.
~ In addition to individualized core academic courses, AAP students enjoy weekly activities, special guest speakers and outings.

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Credentialing commission awards CalED Grant
TCOE receives grant to support districts statewide with teacher recruitment, credentialing

The New Teacher & Leadership Development (NTLD) program recently received a $9.4 million grant from the California Educator Development (CalED) program. The grant is part of an ongoing partnership with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (the Commission) and will be made available to school districts, charter schools and county offices of education throughout the state that apply for funding to support their teacher recruitment, retention and credentialing.

In December, the Commission awarded the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) a $5 million grant to establish and administer the California Center on Teaching Careers (the Center). TCOE was the only agency in California to receive the award. The purpose of the grant was to support the recruitment, retention, and advancement of a qualified teacher candidate pool for the state of California. Since the award, the Center has begun the development of an innovative web-based tool to recruit individuals into the teaching profession and to provide information on credentialing and teacher preparation programs. In the future, the new website (
californiateach.org) will serve as a referral database linked to existing databases for teachers seeking employment. The website will also serve as a place to engage high school and college students interested in the teaching profession, as well as current credentialed teachers interested in advancing their careers.

This month, California school districts, charter schools and county offices of education are being invited to apply to the Commission for grants drawn from the new CalED funds to enhance their own efforts to address teacher recruitment and retention. California educational agencies may apply for grants to either assist in attracting and supporting the preparation and continued learning of teachers, principals, and other school leaders and/or they may apply for grants that help produce teachers with new credentials targeting special education, mathematics, science, and bilingual education. California educational agencies may submit proposals for CalED grants of not less than $100,000 and not more than $1,250,000. If awarded, grants will extend for three years through the 2019-2020 school year.

“The Center was conceived to support educators in all stages of their careers with a continuum of programs and services,” said NTLD/Center Executive Director Donna Glassman-Sommer. “With the CalED grant being disseminated through the Center, we will have more opportunities to collect best practices from around the state and use this information as we support current and future teachers and administrators throughout California.”

Administrators interested in applying for a CalED grant are urged to visit center.californiateach.org/caled-grant.html. Grant proposals are due October 27. For more information on the CalED grant, contact Donna Glassman-Sommer at donnags@tcoe.org, or (559) 730-2549.

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Conference offers English learners resources
ERS coordinates regional conference in partnership with state and regional county offices

Educational Resource Services (ERS) is coordinating a large regional conference entitled Best Results for English Learners. Scheduled for November 7 at the Fresno Convention Center, the conference will showcase programs and resources for educators addressing needs of English learners. The conference is a collaboration between the California Department of Education (CDE) and the county offices of education in Region VII (Fresno, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced and Tulare).

“Educators across the state are collaborating and building resources that meet the needs of our English learners to address the requirements of California’s new accountability system,” said Jen Francone, ERS administrator. “This conference will be filled with many of these valuable resources shared from the CDE, local districts, and county offices to empower educators at all levels to provide high quality learning for our English learners. Whether you're a classroom teacher, principal, coordinator, or district leader, there will be something for you to take back to your district and use right away.”

Region VII English Learners Conference The conference will open with a keynote presentation by Dr. Aida Walqui, director of Teacher Professional Development at WestEd, the nonprofit educational research, development, and service agency. At WestEd, Dr. Walqui is responsible for collaborating with the organization’s ongoing teacher professional development efforts. Previously, Dr. Walqui taught in the Division of Education at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the School of Education at Stanford University, where she coordinated the Cross-Cultural, Linguistic, and Academic Development emphasis in the STEP program. She has also taught in other universities in Peru, Mexico, England, and the United States. Dr. Walqui is an author and member of several national and international teacher professional development advisory boards. She is frequently invited to speak on teacher growth in schools characterized by cultural and linguistic diversity.

The conference will also include an English learner writing workshop, a presentation of a toolkit for English learners, and numerous other breakout sessions. The conference, which is scheduled from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on November 7, will conclude with a presentation by Martin Cisneros, an academic technology specialist with the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

To register for the Region VII Conference, visit
tulare.k12oms.org/147-134560. For more information about the conference, contact Samantha Tate at (559) 651-3044, or samantha.tate@tcoe.org.

Photo above:
~ Dr. Aida Walqui will be the keynote speaker at the Region VII Conference entitled
Best Results for English Learners. The conference is scheduled for November 7 in Fresno.

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Registration open for science, math conference
Expanding Your Horizons conference expected to attract hundreds of young women

Registration for the annual Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) conference on Saturday, November 4, at the Visalia campus of College of the Sequoia is now open. Attended by hundreds of students each year, the event is designed to encourage young women in grades 4 through 10 to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The conference showcases math- and science-related fields in interesting, hands-on ways, and helps young women form personal contacts with women working in professions traditionally held by men.

Expanding Your Horizons This year, Melanie LeGro, a third-year doctoral student at the University of California, Merced will be the keynote presenter at the opening of the conference. Ms. LeGro is an early career scientist in the fields of molecular cell biology and computational biology. Her current research focuses on understanding the molecular regulators of cell fate decisions that result from genomic instability and ultimately drive the formation of tumors. This work contributes to the understanding of how cancers develop and adds to the body of knowledge necessary to determine new therapeutic targets.

After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from California State University, Sacramento, Melanie worked as an environmental scientist for the California Department of Water Resources. Her research focused on designing water quality studies in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay during severe drought conditions. Soon after completing this study, she decided to pursue advanced training in molecular biology as a doctoral student with the Quantitative and Systems Biology program at UC Merced. In between studying biological systems ranging from macroecology to molecular biology, she serves as a lecturer, teaching biology to the undergraduates attending UC Merced. When not researching, teaching, or mentoring, Melanie enjoys hiking in Yosemite, climbing, and traveling.

Following the opening speaker, students can choose from dozens of breakout presentations conducted by women working in engineering, medical and scientific professions. Attendees will enjoy sessions on engineering a bridge, robotics, rocket propulsion, forensics and more.

The deadline for registration is October 10. Teachers and administrators interested in registering young women (grades 4-10) for the conference are encouraged to visit
tcoe.org/EYH, or call Paula Terrill at (559) 651-0565.

Photo above:
~ Melanie LeGro, a doctoral student at UC Merced, will be the keynote speaker at the Expanding Your Horizons conference for young women November 4.

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Spotlight on People On September 20, the CHOICES Prevention Program hosted its annual T.U.P.E. (Tobacco Use Prevention Education) Leadership Training. Nearly 200 middle school students from 24 Tulare County schools participated in the leadership skills development event. As part of the training, students participated in sessions on the role of leaders, the dangers of hookahs and e-cigarettes, and character in leadership. Students were also trained in Video Voice – a tool for students to record short messages about important issues they can share in school assemblies and on social media. Students from Monson-Sultana Joint Union School are pictured with Catherine Diaz, the school’s after school administrator, working to develop a script for a message on bullying prevention.

Spotlight on People Three Tulare County teachers were honored at the 24th Annual Confucius’ Birthday/Educators of the Year event held September 21 at the Central California Chinese Cultural Center in Visalia. Pictured (l-r) are Educators of the Year Joel Muller, a sixth-grade teacher at Columbine School in Delano; Jodi Fortney, a Tulare County Office of Education teacher of students with special needs at Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia; and Yesenia Martinez, a transitional kindergarten teacher at Woodville Union School near Porterville. To see a video tribute to the winners, visit

Spotlight on People On September 14, educator, author and humorist Dr. Debbie Silver spoke to district and county school administrators on topics from her latest book, Teaching Kids to Thrive. Dr. Silver, a former Louisiana Teacher of the Year, later spoke to hundreds of Tulare and Kings county teachers at the annual dinner hosted by the local California Teachers Association. More information on Dr. Silver’s motivational theory and guidelines for helping students overcome setbacks and failure to foster lifelong success are available on her website at www.debbiesilver.com.

Spotlight on People Thousands of students and parents attended the annual Tulare County College Night September 12 to speak to representatives and students from nearly 80 colleges, universities and trade schools, including Biola University in Los Angeles (pictured). Attendees also received a copy of the Tulare County College Night Planning Guide – a resource for parents and students published in English and Spanish. Copies of the guide can be accessed at tcoe.org/CollegeNight.

Spotlight on People The SCICON outdoor education program appreciated the help of Cal Fire crews who worked to protect the campus from the threat of the Pier Fire in September. The fire, which burned 36,566 acres, is now fully contained. Cal Fire, which has a permanent station on the SCICON campus, made the protection of the program a priority by constructing dozer lines and working with staff to ensure the safety of the campus.

Spotlight on People Hundreds of high school-age youth and adult allies were brought together by the California Friday Night Live Partnership (CFNLP) September 16-17 for its Ninth Annual Youth Traffic Safety Summit in Anaheim. The students shared ideas, attended and facilitated workshops, and created plans to make their communities safer. Young people also learned strategies to prevent underage drinking, drug and tobacco use, and distracted and impaired driving.

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Gallery Notes

Since 1959, the Tulare County Office of Education and the Tulare County Symphony have partnered to bring symphonic music to the students of Tulare County. During the annual Young People's Concerts, students are treated to a live orchestral performance, coupled with lessons in music history and concert etiquette. Over 9000 students from across the area attend each year. Spanning seven separate concerts and three different venues – Visalia, Tulare, and Porterville – the Tulare County Young People’s Concerts are one of the oldest and largest youth concert programs in the nation. The Young People's Concerts are open to students in grades 3-8. The Visalia concerts are offered October 24, the Tulare concerts are offered October 30, and the Porterville concerts will round out the event on November 1. This year, the symphony will perform Musical Adventures, with selections from film and television scores highlighting the program. Special classroom curriculum has been created for the program and seats are still available for each venue. For registration information, teachers are encouraged to call Kate Stover at (559) 741-0809.

The TCOE Health & Wellness Committee is planning two Employee Health Fairs October 4 and 19. The October 4 fair will be held in Room C/D in the Redwood Conference Center on the Mooney Boulevard campus from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Several organizations that provide support services to TCOE employees, including Buckman-Mitchell Insurance, SISC, Vision Service Plan (VSP), Delta Dental, Anthem Blue Cross, and the Employee Assistance Program from Anthem, will be on hand with useful information. Also, employees can receive flu shots in the Sugar Pine conference room (on the first floor) from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Employees also have the opportunity to purchase a healthy taco salad from Chapala’s by contacting Cori Bernal at
cori.bernal@tcoe.org or (559) 739-0320, ext. 1205. A drawing for prizes provided by the vendors will be held following the Health Fair for those who attend the event. A second Employee Health Fair will be held October 19 at the Doe Avenue complex.

The Peña Planetarium will host a public showing of Wildest Weather in the Solar System on November 17 at 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. The program examines some of the most beautiful, powerful, and mysterious weather phenomena in the solar system, including a 400-year-old hurricane and a dust tempest that could engulf entire planets. The Planetarium is located at 11535 Avenue 264 in Visalia. For ticket information, call (559) 737-6334.

Educational Resource Services (ERS) is organizing a volunteer bureau to help support the operations of TCOE’s numerous student events and other programs. ERS is welcoming educators and retirees who are willing to donate their time, energy, and experience in a variety of areas, including event day registration, room proctoring and competition judging. Weekday, evening and weekend opportunities exist for adults who want to support students as they compete or exhibit their projects, all while sharing camaraderie with fellow volunteers. For more information on how you can help, call Juliana Davidian at (559) 651-3003 or e-mail volunteer@tcoe.org. To view a list of all student events, visit tcoe.org/StudentEvents.

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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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