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The News Gallery

June 2018

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, Anjelica Zermeño, Mike Franco, Kathleen Green-Martins, Cathy Machado, Anabel Gonzalez, Gloria Davalos, Lori Morton, Paula Terrill, and Juliana Davidian.

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.

Excellence in Education awards

Excellence in Education winners announced
Countywide awards given to school employees, administrator and teacher of the year

On Friday, May 25, Cutler-Orosi Unified School District superintendent Yolanda Valdez led Orosi High School (OHS) math teacher Susan Ang by the hand to a stage in the middle of the OHS campus. “You’re making me nervous,” smiled Susan. The stage had been set up for the school’s annual Spring Fling event. Students had gathered in the quad to enjoy portable attractions and listen to music performed by the school’s mariachi ensemble and a band of OHS teachers.

Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak followed Mrs. Valdez and Mrs. Ang to the stage, where he was introduced by OHS principal Roberto Vaca. “It’s good to be home,” said Mr. Vidak, who explained to the students that he had graduated from Orosi High School. “There are over 5,000 teachers in Tulare County,” Mr. Vidak continued. “Each year, districts from throughout the county nominate their best teachers for the Excellence in Education Awards. From those nominations, a committee of 25 business, community, and education leaders judge the submissions and select one winner. This year, that winner in the Teacher of the Year category is Susan Ang.”

As the students and faculty cheered, Mrs. Ang thanked the team of teachers and administrators at Orosi High School for supporting her.

Throughout her Excellence in Education nomination packet, Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District administrators, colleagues and students commended Mrs. Ang for her caring nature and for going “above and beyond” to ensure she’s available to meet students’ needs, particularly if they’re struggling with math content. When she came to Orosi High school, she immersed herself in the community and the culture. “My students saw that I was invested in them, and, as a result, they became my adopted children and I became their second mother,” she said. Mrs. Ang stays after school four days each week to work with students in her math classes, and takes the lead coordinating Saturday school. “There are moments in that after school small group setting that students will share their life stories,” she said. “I get to know more about them and this improves my instruction.” Colleagues note that Mrs. Ang persistently asks her students for more effort, better quality, and a deeper understanding every day.

Susan Ang is fully credentialed to teach all math courses at any grade level. She is a coach for the school’s Science Olympiad team and advisor to the Math Club – a club that has grown from 15 members to 160 members under her direction. In addition, she supports students attending the district’s alternative education sites. Mrs. Ang has worked for the district for 11 years.

Mrs. Ang completed a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, a master’s degree in teaching and some doctoral studies at the University of the East in the Philippines. At Orosi High School, she teaches an array of higher level math courses, including Advanced Math, Calculus and Advanced Calculus.

One of the most moving examples of a student she was able to reach was a young man who attended the district’s independent studies program. The young man was on probation for gang activities, having been expelled from two district high schools. Mrs. Ang noticed that he was relatively good at math and used this to try and get him to think about college. Due to her persistence, the student graduated from College of the Sequoias in May with associate’s degrees in both science and math, and will transfer to a four-year university.

Additional Excellence in Education Winners

Mr. Vidak also presented awards to the Administrator/Manager of the Year and the School Employee of the Year, which, for the first time in the program’s history, was won by two individuals. Due to a tie in the scoring, the School Employee of the Year will be shared by Bobby Richardson of Tulare Joint Union High School District and Juan Juarez of Palm Elementary in Orosi.

Eloysa Segura, Administrator of the Year
Excellence in Education awards Eloysa Segura is the highly respected school psychologist for the Tulare City School District. She has supported the district for over 25 years and has 35 years of combined experience in the field of school psychology. Eloysa holds a master’s degree in education from UC Santa Barbara and a bachelor’s degree in Law & Society with an emphasis on Criminal Justice from UC Santa Barbara.

District administrators praise Ms. Segura for visiting families in their homes, listening nonjudgmentally to their challenges, providing transportation, and helping them navigate appropriate agencies. Because of her involvement with local children's mental health services, health clinics, nonprofit organizations, and her parish, Tulare families now have greater access to much needed support services.

As part of her duties as district psychologist, Ms. Segura provides individual and group counseling for students, evaluates the social/emotional development and mental health of students, provides trainings for parents and staff members to help meet the educational needs of students, and serves as a facilitator of a multidisciplinary team in the evaluation IEP process. As a board member of the Tulare Youth Service Bureau for nearly 30 years, she has promoted the expansion of school-based mental health services.

In the community, Ms. Segura founded a Ballet Folklorico children’s group and a scholarship committee within her church. As part of the Hispanic Alliance for Culture, Education and Recognition (HACER) in Tulare, she has helped to plan the city’s Cinco de Mayo family events, organized triannual student recognition dinners and helped raise over $168,000 in scholarships for students in the Tulare Joint Union High School District. Ms. Segura was the 2015 United Women's Organization “Taking Leadership in Wellness” honoree and the 2008 Cesar E. Chavez “Service with a Heart” recipient.

Jose Juan Juarez, Co-School Employee of the Year
Juan Juarez is the lead custodian at Palm Elementary School in the Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District. His responsibilities include maintaining a safe and clean campus environment and providing proper training and guidance to custodial staff. He has worked for the district for the past 18 years and has been responsible for driving the bus on regular routes and for special events.

Excellence in Education awards

Visitors to Palm Elementary will marvel at the school’s manicured landscaping and colorful flowerbeds. Mr. Juarez is responsible for the school’s pristine appearance, saying, “Students, parents and staff need and deserve to work in a clean environment. It is the goal of my team and I to make sure nothing is left unsanitary. There is so much more to keeping a place clean than simply making sure everything is orderly. When offices, classrooms, and bathrooms are clean and sanitized, those working and learning in the facilities are less likely to get sick. When teachers and students are sick, there is always a loss in learning.”

A key member of the management team in the day-to-day operations of Palm Elementary, Mr. Juarez works in a positive, cooperative spirit that translates to increased morale. He is creative in finding solutions to problems and to the development of new projects and special events, using his knowledge of safety, facility use, environmentally-friendly service practices, and – most importantly – customer service, to improve the experience for staff, students, and parents at Palm Elementary.

Bobby Richardson, Co-School Employee of the Year
Bobby Richardson is the transportation supervisor for the Tulare Joint Union High School District. Under his direction, the district transports approximately 3,300 students, averaging 1,600 miles daily in a fleet of 30 busses. He coordinates all his driver's routes, driving when necessary. He works with parents concerned about routes, and is in constant communication with the Tulare Police Department and the California Highway Patrol. He has taken it upon himself to develop district-wide safety plans with regards to route options for emergency situations and trains his department in mandated child abuse reporting and sexual harassment.

Excellence in Education awards

“Our bus drivers are the first district representatives that student bus riders see in the morning and the last district representatives they see in the afternoon,” he said. “The bus ride can be long for many students, sometimes up to two hours each day. A mutually positive and respectful relationship between our drivers and our student riders is key to fostering a productive environment for learning.” To establish a positive experience for students, Mr. Richardson worked with the district’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) coordinator to train the transportation team in the program. Using PBIS, bus drivers now provide incentives, such as PBIS raffle tickets, to students who demonstrate positive behavior or good deeds.

Mr. Richardson and his team are directly responsible for the district receiving over $1,000,000 in grant funds that have provided nine new buses and more than 10 clean air grants for diesel particulate filters, greatly reducing emissions and helping to keep the valley air cleaner. Mr. Richardson has also secured additional grants exceeding $100,000 that have been used to purchase electric vehicles, further reducing emissions. He has also worked tirelessly for months with the Air Resources Board to mitigate a $318,000 fine down to zero.

The Excellence in Education Program

In Tulare County, the Excellence in Education Awards program was created in 1995 as a partnership between the Tulare County Office of Education and Educational Employees Credit Union (EECU). Each year, award winners, finalists and nominees are honored at an awards breakfast at the Visalia Convention Center. This year, the event will be held October 30.

Photos above:
~ County Superintendent Jim Vidak tells a crowd of students and staff at Orosi High School that their math teacher, Susan Ang, was selected as the 2018 Tulare County Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Ang (r) is embraced by Yolanda Valdez, Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified superintendent.
~ Eloysa Segura, a school psychologist with Tulare City School District smiles as she learns she has been selected Tulare County Administrator of the Year.
~ Juan Juarez (left), lead custodian at Palm Elementary School in Orosi, is a Co-School Employee of the Year.
~ Bobby Richardson (center) is also a Co-School Employee of the Year due to a scoring tie. Mr. Richardson, Tulare Joint Union High School District’s transportation supervisor, poses with Jim Vidak (left) and district superintendent Tony Rodriguez (right).

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Jennifer Giannetto receives Brent Rast award
Teacher in the AcCEL Program works to create opportunities for Monache High School students

Special Services Brent Rast award Spend any time talking to Jennifer Giannetto about her students at Monache High School and you’ll hear her talk about opportunities. Mrs. Giannetto has a passion for creating opportunities for her students with special needs so that they have many of the same experiences regular education students have. “We want to avoid the deficit mindset – the tendency to think ‘I don’t know if my child can do that,’” she said.

For her work in developing opportunities for students throughout her 22-year career at the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE), Mrs. Giannetto received the Brent Rast Award. The memorial award, which is presented at the annual Community Advisory Committee (CAC) luncheon, was named for Brent Rast, a TCOE teacher of students with severe needs. The award honors the vision and hard work he gave on behalf of the children and families he served.

Jennifer Giannetto began her interest in special education when she was in high school. She spent her summers as a lifeguard at Porterville Development Center. In 1996, Mrs. Giannetto joined TCOE and has taught at the L.B. Hill, Vandalia Elementary, Olive Elementary, and Monache High School programs in Porterville. Mrs. Giannetto is enjoying her second year teaching at Monache High School. “I’m reminded daily how independent and capable these students are,” she said. “I believe every life has a purpose. I’m also enjoying opening students’ hearts and minds to connect with that purpose.”

Through a connection made with Monache P.E. teacher and swim coach Darlin Hornsby, Mrs. Giannetto created an adapted P.E. class for her students. So far, the students have enjoyed learning to swim, run track, and play tennis, badminton, and basketball. “These activities are fun, engaging, great forms of exercise, and always respectful,” she said.

Special Services Brent Rast award Mrs. Giannetto also works in the community to create job opportunities for her students and to engage the campus’s regular education students through a club called PIVET (Partners for Inclusion of Vocational Education Training). Together, Mrs. Giannetto’s students and the PIVET club are designing a large mural to be painted on the outside of her classroom. When it comes to social opportunities, Jennifer Giannetto has served as a member of the “Stars in the Hills” prom committee for 14 years – a community-wide committee made up of city, business and education partners that organize a magical prom for Porterville area students with special needs. She has also been instrumental in the organization and success of the Special Friends Day at the Porterville Fair.

“Developing those opportunities and seeing students grow in confidence to dream dreams is the greatest reward of all,” Mrs. Giannetto said. “We are a great team here – our foster grandmothers, and aides Heather Parker, Erika Marquez, and Mario Sepulveda. We’re helping students prepare for the next phase of their lives as individuals with dreams of their own.”

Photos above:
~ AcCEL teacher Jennifer Giannetto was given the annual Brent Rast Award. She was praised for developing opportunities for her students with special needs, including adapted P.E. classes.
~ Mrs. Giannetto helps students learn the value of money in order to prepare them to transition to the next phase of their lives and live as independently as possible.

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La Sierra creates weeklong Summer Military Camp
Program offers students interested in the military basic training and career overview

Many students express an interest in entering the military, but lack information on what that choice entails. To help young people make more informed decisions for their futures, La Sierra Military Academy is offering a weeklong Summer Military Camp June 11-15.

La Sierra Summer Military Camp

The goal of the camp is to give students, grades 7-12, a snapshot experience of some of the expectations that they will face when entering a military basic training program. The boot camp-style training program will have recruits participating in group physical training, marching, formations, military etiquette and teambuilding exercises. “We hope the participants will get a sense of what to expect from a military basic training program,” says Anjelica Zermeño, La Sierra principal/administrator. “We will explain how etiquette – including customs and courtesies – is an integral part of the military structure. Participants will get a sense of how teamwork and unit integrity are key to accomplishing tasks.” Students will learn about general skills not specific to a particular job, but military career opportunities will be discussed.

The La Sierra Summer Military Camp will take place daily, June 11-15, from 8:00 a.m. to noon. The program is open to all students in grades 7-12. Cost for the weeklong camp is $100 and scholarships are available. To learn more, call La Sierra Military Academy at (559) 733-6963.

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Migrant Region VIII hosts state competition
Nearly 400 students attend the annual State Migrant Speech & Debate Tournament

Last month, nearly 400 students, grades 6-12, visited Tulare County for the annual State Migrant Speech & Debate Tournament. The students represented 20 migrant regions in California. Region VIII, which serves students in Tulare and Kings counties and is based in the Tulare County Office of Education, coordinated the event.

State Migrant Education Speech & Debate Tournament

The annual competition has three components: debates, prepared speeches and extemporaneous speeches. Speeches could be delivered in either English or Spanish, with separate awards given for the two language categories. For the debate portion of the competition, students worked collaboratively in teams to research a preassigned topic, identify key arguments and present evidence to defend both the pro and con positions. Each student on the team was assigned a unique role: opener, cross examiner, responder, rebutter, or closer.

“The tournament is a great tool for helping students build their confidence, sharpen their research skills and improve their use of academic language,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “It is also a great social experience for students to make friendships throughout the state.”

Tulare County Winners
Students from throughout the state competed against others in their grade level. Tulare County students that won first-, second- or third-place awards included:
  • Luis Acol, a seventh-grade student from Earlimart Middle School, won first place for his Spanish extemporaneous speech.
  • Yuvia Estrella, a seventh-grade student from Strathmore Middle School, took third place for her English prepared speech.
  • Brenda Monje, a sixth-grade student from Oak Valley Union School won first place for her English extemporaneous speech, and third place for her English prepared speech.
  • Paulina Torres, a junior at Summit Collegiate Academy in the Burton School District, took second place for her Spanish extemporaneous speech.
Photo above:
~ Lizbeth Ambriz Garcia was a member of the Granite Hills High School debate team that competed in the State Migrant Speech & Debate Tournament, hosted by TCOE’s Migrant Education program last month.

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Spotlight on People Arelli Adams, a senior at Porterville Unified’s Harmony Magnet Academy, has been chosen as the 2018 College Night Scholarship Award recipient. Arelli has been accepted to University of California, Berkeley, where she plans to earn her Bachelor of Science in Media Studies and then potentially enter the field of education. She has been an active volunteer in her community and also participated in varsity girls’ tennis. Arelli served as a state delegate for the Porterville American Legion Auxiliary and gained multiple work-based learning experiences, including a summer internship with the City of Berkeley.

Spotlight on People On May 19, 17 middle and high school teams attended the seventh annual Step Up Youth Challenge Red Carpet Awards at the Visalia Fox Theatre. 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 provided by the County of Tulare totaling $13,000 were awarded in both the middle and high school categories. The winner of the Best Overall Award and a $2,500 grant in the high school category was Tulare Tech Prep High School. The project team tackled drug abuse on campus, working with community partners and school staff to educate their peers, provide support to fellow students affected by the issue, and raise awareness on campus. In the middle school category, Mulcahy Middle School (Tulare City School District) won the Best Overall Award and a $2,500 grant for the creation of an event called "Carnival of Hope". The Mulcahy team’s project helped homeless families from Mulcahy Middle School, Maple Elementary, Pleasant Elementary, and Roosevelt Elementary by hosting a carnival with pony rides, cotton candy, games, and a bounce house for the kids. Through donations from community partners, students provided food, clothes, haircuts, bicycles, hygiene products, and dental and health check-ups for the families. Students from University Preparatory High School (pictured), led by advisor Kyra Muhs, won the “Meeting the Need” Award and a $1,000 grant for the development of a food pantry for students on campus. 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 This year, Central Valley students entered more than 680 films in the 15th 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. El Diamante High School (Visalia) students Lincoln Lillywhite, Kaleb Kent, and Katelyn Marin created a 30-second commercial for Goldstar Barbershop that won both the General Advertisement Award and the coveted Best of Show Award. University Preparatory High School (Visalia) student Alexandra Carrillo (pictured) won the General Public Service Announcement (PSA) category for her video on distracted driving, entitled “Eyes Forward.” She also won the Suicide Prevention PSA category for her video “This is Beyond Sadness.” The winning films in each of the festival’s categories can be viewed at tcoe.org/SlickRock.

Spotlight on People On April 27, 36 TCOE employees and 40 children participated in the 25th annual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work event hosted by the Human Resources Division. Kate Stover, Visual & Performing Arts curriculum specialist, led attendees in creating a superhero art project. After the presentation, students had the opportunity to work alongside parents on a variety of projects. (l-r) Jacob Rivas, Jr. (son of Jacob Rivas, Information Systems), Ryan Rodriguez (son of Laura Rodriguez, Human Resources) and Starr Chandler (daughter of Andrew Chandler, New Teacher & Leadership Development) worked together to reassemble a desktop computer.

Spotlight on People Twenty-three teams of elementary students competed in the annual Science Olympiad Division A. Students from the Linwood Elementary (Visalia) team are pictured preparing their compressed-air rocket for launch. For a list of winning teams, visit tcoe.org/ScienceOlympiad.

Spotlight on People The Reading Revolution event was held in May with 47 elementary and 22 middle school teams competing. Students worked throughout the school year to read and study books from a preselected list. Teams of four students read, discussed, and practiced quizzing each other in preparation for the actual competition during which they answered questions in a variety of formats and with varying levels of difficulty. Students from Cottonwood Creek Elementary (Visalia) are pictured participating in the “Stand and Deliver” segment. To earn points in this segment, students must activate a buzzer and correctly answer a question about one of the books they have read. For a list of winning schools, visit tcoe.org/ReadingRevolution.

Spotlight on People Over 1,000 students and young adults from Special Services Special Day Classes and adult programs visited the Porterville Fair for Special Friends Day this year. (l-r) Jackie Ramos and Samantha Zamora from the Terra Bella Special Day Class enjoy a midway ride.

Spotlight on People Tulare County Physics Day returned to the Porterville Fair on May 9. Nearly 300 middle school students attended the event, representing seven Tulare County schools. At the event, attendees participated in a variety of hands-on activities and enjoyed midway rides. Students are pictured working together to solve a physics problem to gain a code that will enable them to unlock their Breakout EDU case.

Spotlight on People On May 14, KSEE24 reporters Stefanie Bainum and Christina Tetreault emceed a reception to honor the Tulare County students profiled in the 26 Your Character Matters (YCM) segments aired during the 2017-18 school year. Among the students honored was Natalie Chay, from William R. Buckley Elementary in Porterville, for being responsible inside and outside the classroom. All of the YCM video segments, as well as the videos from previous years, can be viewed at tcoe.org/YourCharacterMatters.

Spotlight on People La Sierra cadets (l-r) Vanessa Serrano and Nicole Rubino delivered a delicious tri-tip lunch to Jim Vidak – the first catering order for the newly created culinary arts academy and its Charlie Company Catering. The new culinary arts program will begin this fall with freshmen taking nutrition classes. Sophomores and future upper classmen will be involved in preparing catering orders for business, community, and personal events. For more information about Charlie Company Catering, contact Alfredo Saenz at (559) 733-6963, ext. 4238.

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Gallery Notes

Beginning August 16 and continuing Thursday evenings through October 4, the Theatre Company is offering a dance class entitled “Dance Like a Newsie.” The class is designed to prepare students to audition for the 2019 summer production, Newsies. McKenna Friend-Hoffman will conduct the class, which will feature a mix of jazz and tap instruction. Information on the class, which is limited to 25 students in grades 6 through 12, is available at
tcoe.org/TheatreCompany or by calling the Theatre Company at (559) 651-1482.

On June 13, 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. Eighteen TCOE teachers, administrators and support staff members who have retired or will retire during the course of the 2017-2018 school year will be honored. The honorees include: Sylvia Anaya, Virginia Baiza, Rosa Caudillo, Linda Chester, Cynthia Creech, Mona Espino, Josie Espinoza, Gary Kenny, Saundra Keierleber, Ruth Lara, Angeles Mares, Karen Morgan, Maria Orduño, Angie Rodriguez-Angeles, Dr. Lupe Solis, Marci Tarbell, Stephanie Walters, and John Wilborn.

On August 22, the CHOICES Prevention Program will host an Anti-Bullying Symposium at the Visalia Convention Center. The free event, which will be held from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., will feature several breakout sessions on topics including identifying bullying, cyberbullying, signs of suicide, and victim support. These sessions will be presented by psychologists, and members of the District Attorney’s office and Tulare County Sheriff’s office. Bullying prevention expert Wayne Sakamoto will be the keynote speaker. Mr. Sakamoto is the director of School Safety for the Murrieta Valley Unified School District. He has over 25 years of experience in the field of school and community safety and has developed a number of successful gang and youth violence prevention and intervention approaches, including programs for the California Department of Education and the California Department of Justice. He has also assisted the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the National Gang Center and the International Association of Chiefs of Police in developing trainings, studies and resources for school safety and gang prevention. For registration information on the symposium, visit tulare.k12oms.org/147-150543.

Last month, the TCOE Health & Wellness Committee conducted its online Workplace Wellness Survey. Nearly 300 employees completed the survey, providing valuable input to the committee on preferred health services and future activities. The employees who participated in the survey were entered into a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card donated by members of the committee. The winner of the card was Monica Perez of Early Childhood Education’s London Child Development Center.

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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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