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The News Gallery

November 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, Lynne Goodwin, Kellie Goodwin, Jaime Burnitzki, Bethany Rader, Jennifer Reimer, Alisha Montoya, Lori Morton, Joy Soares, and Jessica Hinz.

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.

Aladdin Jr.

Theatre Company prepares production of Aladdin Jr.
Fall musical features cast of 140 students and special effects to delight audiences

Jasmine, the princess we met over 25 years ago in Disney’s 1992 Academy Award-winning film Aladdin, continues to inspire young women today. Allison Martin of El Diamante High School, who will play the independent princess in the upcoming Theatre Company production of Aladdin Jr., said that she appreciates the character. “She’s definitely a strong and independent young woman,” she said. Perhaps the experience of playing Jasmine has rubbed off on her. “I have definitely become more of an outgoing people person since being involved in Theatre Company productions,” she smiled.

Aladdin Jr. is based on 2014 hit Broadway show about Aladdin, a street performer and thief who learns a moral lesson that his true worth lies deep within. Aladdin and his three friends, Babkak, Omar, and Kassim, are down on their luck until Aladdin discovers a magic lamp and the genie who has the power to grant three wishes. Wanting to earn the respect of Princess Jasmine, Aladdin embarks on an adventure that will test his will and his moral character. With expanded characters, new songs, and more thrills, Aladdin Jr. is sure to delight Tulare County audiences this month.

The production has a huge cast of 100 students with another 40 young performers in a preshow production. The production also features a flying character. “Directing this show has always been a dream of mine,” said Theatre Company director Bethany Rader. “I loved the idea of picking a show where one of the lead characters is a strong woman who knows what she wants,” she said. “Jasmine is a good example for girls these days.”

Mt. Whitney High School student Job Whetstone plays Aladdin and Redwood High School student Parker Chalabian plays Genie. “Aladdin has been fun to play,” said Job. “He’s a complicated mix of a deceitful thief and the hero with a heart of gold at the same time.”

For more information on Aladdin Jr., call the Theatre Company at (559) 651-1482.

Meet the Characters!
Children are invited to a preshow backstage experience that includes a visit with the fortune teller of Agrabah to learn the secret reason that the magic lamp ends up hidden in the Cave of Wonders! Children will meet Aladdin, Jasmine, and many others on their special visit. The cost is $10 per child and includes a gift from the fortune teller’s collection. Tickets for this separate backstage experience are available where general admission tickets are sold.

L.J. Williams Theater, 1001 W. Main St., Visalia

Show Times
Evening Shows (7:00 p.m.): November 15, 16, 17
Matinee Show (2:00 p.m.): November 17

Show Ticket Information
$10 preshow "Meet the Characters" passes
$12 general admission
$20 reserved seating
Tickets available at Visalia TCOE locations:
6200 S. Mooney Blvd. and 7000 Doe Ave.
Monday through Friday during normal business hours.
Cash or check only.
Tickets may also be purchased at the door.

Photo above:
~ Job Whetstone and Allison Martin star in Theatre Company's production of
Aladdin Jr.

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Vidak builds agency in size and prominence
TCOE becomes powerhouse of service and support for Tulare County and beyond

Jim Vidak arrived at the Tulare County Office of Education in January 1991, newly elected two months prior. From the beginning, the man who would lead TCOE for seven terms began creating programs, building facilities, and supporting staff as they pursued new grant opportunities on local, regional and state levels.

“I had been on the board for two years before Jim Vidak walked into our first meeting,” said Tulare County Board of Education Trustee Chris Reed. “In 28 years, I’ve watched how he took a well-run, but rather sleepy county office and transformed it into a state and national powerhouse.”


His drive to compete and build stemmed from his vision to offer Tulare County students and the districts he served the best opportunities and services available. “We have many challenges in Tulare County – poverty, low college-going rates, English language acquisition, access to quality early childhood education, and more,” Mr. Vidak said. “Despite these challenges, we are responsible for doing what’s best for children. Often that means we have to work extra hard to make sure we have added resources to overcome these challenges so that our students have every opportunity to succeed as adults.”

All areas of TCOE’s operations benefitted from his vision, some blossoming to become exemplary state and national programs. Mr. Vidak’s early work focused on gang prevention and intervention, youth development, and character education. Outdoor education, through the SCICON and Circle J-Norris Ranch programs, benefitted from his constant attention. So too did the arts, teacher recruitment and credentialing, the delivery of curriculum and instruction to teachers and administrators, the expansion of services to children with special needs, college and career transitions, migrant education, early childhood education, and science. With each new grant or accomplishment, he would smile, offer his congratulations to the staff and say, “We’re not done yet!”

When Jim Vidak retires January 7, 2019, he will do so as Tulare County’s longest-serving county superintendent. This month, The News Gallery looks at some of the milestones created by the TCOE programs under Mr. Vidak’s leadership – from his first day in office seven months before the launch of the World Wide Web to today.

Photo above:
~ Jim Vidak (left) is pictured with members of the Tulare County Board of Education and Deputy Superintendent John Caudle (far right) at the 2014 groundbreaking for TCOE’s new Administration Building & Conference Center. The building was one of dozens of new projects and programs created during Mr. Vidak’s 28-year administration.

  • Jim Vidak begins first term as Tulare County superintendent of schools; student population is 83,000
  • The County School Service Fund budget adopted for the 1991-92 school year was $50 million
  • The Tulare County Department of Education becomes the Tulare County Office of Education
  • County Probation Officer Mel Borbolla makes presentation on street gangs to Tulare County School Boards Association; Street Gangs of Tulare County published as a community resource
  • Conference held to develop TCOE mission statement development and set five-year goals
  • SCICON Health Center built
  • Educational Resource Center reorganized to become Educational Resource Services, combining library and instructional consultant operations
  • First Annual Secretary Workshop held, a forerunner to the Tulare County Support Staff Conference, which today is attended by over 600 from throughout the Central Valley
  • SEE Program takes over GAIN Program from County’s Department of Public Social Services
  • Young Authors’ Faire created
  • Special Services takes over Preschool Prevention Program from Tulare County Child Protective Services
  • Special Services Preschool Program created
  • ERS creates countywide Staff Development Day and Instructional Technology and Media Faire
  • Confucius’ Birthday/Educators of the Year Awards created in partnership with the Central California Chinese Cultural Center, honoring 78 teachers since its creation
  • TCOE receives large School-to-Work grant from US Department of Labor
  • CHARACTER COUNTS! Program implemented in court school program
  • Jim Vidak begins second term as Tulare County superintendent of schools
  • TCOE Court/Community school teachers placed in new Tulare County Youth Detention Facility
  • In partnership with EECU, Excellence in Education Awards program created with Administrator/Manager, Teacher and School Employee of the Year awards given to 72 educators since its inception
  • Information Systems pilots internet access
  • Child Care Program celebrates its 30th anniversary
  • Full-time CHARACTER COUNTS! Program coordinator hired to support character education throughout the county
  • TCOE awarded the California Friday Night Live Partnership, housing the statewide youth development agency in Visalia to serve 52 counties
  • Doe Avenue complex expanded to accommodate Child Care and School Health programs; conference rooms built
  • Graduation Day sculpture given to TCOE by EECU
  • Pillar Square monument of the Six Pillars of Character dedicated in Mooney Grove Park
  • Bright-Start Parent/Infant Program created
  • Circle J-Norris Ranch field study program created
  • Information Systems chosen as regional LEA to develop SACS financial software
  • CHOICES Program created as a unique service unit within Instructional Services Division
  • SEE opens new resource center, offers Cal-WORKS recipients job training services
  • Theatre Company created
  • 36 Special Education classrooms built on school sites throughout the county
  • SEE’s MOVE Program created to help Tulare County families relocate outside the area for work
  • Tulare County Beginning Teacher Support & Assessment (BTSA) Program formed
  • Child Lures, a national child abuse and abduction prevention program, brought to Tulare County
  • Jim Vidak begins third term as Tulare County superintendent of schools
  • SEE renovates and occupies the former Fairway Market building on Houston Avenue
  • Business Services and Information Systems performs Y2K tests on TCOE systems
  • CyberQuest student event created, emphasizing problem-solving and technology application
  • Daily Kids of Character feature created with Visalia Times-Delta
  • Tulare County Office of Education Foundation created
  • Tulare County Spelling Championship created in partnership with Visalia Times-Delta, becoming the largest local competition in the U.S.
  • La Sierra Charter Schools created
  • Information Systems launches new financial systems software
  • Jim Vidak receives “Top Dog” Outstanding Alumnus from Fresno State
  • Expanding Your Horizons Conference brought to Tulare County, introducing young women to STEM professions
  • County Board of Education approves charter of the Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center
  • ERS creates online Standards Resource Guide
  • Visalia Unified passes administration of College Night event to TCOE
  • Project IMPACT begins as an alternative credentialing program
  • CHOICES receives federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services grant
  • SEE renovates building and builds training restaurant in Porterville
  • Jim Vidak begins fourth term as Tulare County superintendent of schools
  • New Teacher & Leadership Development Program awards first credentials to two teachers
  • School Health Program creates Nutrition Network
  • Construction completed on 2500 West Burrel offices for new planetarium and Teacher Induction and New Teacher & Leadership Development Programs
  • Ticket-to-Success Program created to offer employment services for adults receiving Social Security disability benefits
  • La Sierra converts Visalia campus to military-style school
  • TCOE receives Transition to Teaching Grant to prepare teachers in the high-need areas of math, science, special education, and English
  • Central Valley Education Coalition created as “a voice in Sacramento” for districts and county offices in six counties; Jim Vidak serves as chairman through 2018
  • Circle J-Norris Ranch visitor center opened
  • TCOE teams with Visalia Police Department to create gang education program
  • TCOE receives Teacher Quality Enhancement Grant to recruit and prepare teachers to serve in hard-to-staff school districts in Central California
  • CHARACTER COUNTS! Program receives a four-year U.S. Department of Education Partners in Character Education Program grant
  • Circle J-Norris Ranch hold first Field Science Weekend in conjunction with scientists, including representatives from UC Merced
  • Operation Diploma Program created for WWII veterans and Japanese American interns
  • Jim Vidak begins fifth term as Tulare County superintendent of schools
  • School to Career partners with The Gas Company to create Student Entrepreneur Challenge
  • SCICON opens Eagle Point Village, adding six new cabins, classroom and amphitheater
  • CHOICES creates after school program, opening at 20 school sites
  • Bright Future Program created to help students with autism
  • Retired Sheriff’s Detective Joe Aguilar hired to make gang prevention presentations to students and parents countywide
  • SCICON celebrates 50th anniversary
  • TCOE partners with CASA, courts, HHSA to create annual foster youth event
  • University Preparatory High School opens as an early college high school on the College of the Sequoias campus in Visalia
  • TCOE receives Teacher Quality Partnership Grants, partnering with California State Universities to accelerate the degree/credential process
  • Theatre Company creates OnStage traveling production program
  • Jim Vidak serves as president of California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA)
  • Tulare County History of Farm Labor & Agriculture Museum opens with media support from TCOE
  • Jim Vidak chosen State Superintendent of the Year by Association of California School Administrators (ACSA)
  • Theatre Company performs world debut of Rancho Tesoro
  • Jim Vidak begins sixth term as Tulare County superintendent of schools
  • Sound Beginnings Preschool created for students with hearing impairments
  • Valley Life Charter School opens, becoming an independent charter of TCOE
  • Jim Vidak receives Noted Alumni Special Recognition Award from Fresno State
  • New Teacher & Leadership Development Program authorized as an Administrative Services Credential Induction Program
  • Special Services develops Children’s Mental Health Program
  • University Preparatory High School graduates its first class of seniors
  • Tulare County character education program validated in national study
  • Visalia Unified passes administration of Slick Rock Student Film Festival to TCOE
  • Special Services launches Intervention Resource Classrooms
  • TCOE acquires original Liberty School campus for various Special Services programs
  • La Sierra receives CSU CAPP grant, launching its a-g certification and college & career emphasis
  • Groundbreaking held for new Administration Building and Planetarium & Science Center
  • TCOE wins Golden Bell Award for ERS’s Common Core Implementation & Support program
  • Tulare-Kings Pathways Project receives $14.8 million grant
  • New Teacher & Leadership Development Program authorized as an Administrative Clear Credential Induction Program
  • Jim Vidak begins seventh term as Tulare County superintendent of schools
  • Science Fair expands to become STEM Expo
  • UPHS receives Gold Ribbon Award from state
  • New Administration Building and new Planetarium & Science Center completed
  • TCOE partners with KSEE24 to create weekly Your Character Matters program
  • Kids of Character program recognizes 100,000th student in 21 years
  • Court/Community Schools hold first graduation ceremony
  • ERS creates CVNIC in partnership with Stanford University with funding from Gates Foundation
  • TCOE partners with ABC30 to support long-running Children First series
  • TCOE receives $5 million grant to create statewide California Center on Teaching Careers
  • Tulare County Board of Education accepts Sycamore Valley Charter and Blue Oak Academy as independent charters
  • Migrant Education presents Migrant Journalism Project at national conference
  • Jim Vidak receives Champions Award from CCSESA
  • Special Services creates Alternative Achievement Program for students needing behavioral supports
  • Jim Vidak announces he will not seek an eighth term in office
  • Tulare County student population surpasses 104,000
  • The County School Service Fund budget adopted for the 2018-19 school year is $231.6 million
  • Special Services selected as one of four agencies statewide to implement Mental Wellness Triage Grant
  • State selects TCOE as one of seven geographical leads in California Statewide System of Support
  • TCOE signs MOU with UC Merced to create field station on property acquired adjacent to Circle J-Norris Ranch

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Employees invited to make monthly gift
Month-long campaign will benefit programs and events through TCOE Foundation

During the month of November, Tulare County Office of Education employees are invited to participate in the new Employee Giving Campaign. Entitled Giving Thanks, Giving Back, the campaign is designed to directly benefit the Tulare County Office of Education Foundation, which has provided financial support to TCOE programs and special events since 2000.

Giving Thanks, Giving Back

“Through a simple voluntary payroll deduction, employees can support the work of our Foundation, which awards grants to TCOE programs that apply on an annual basis,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “Contributions could help fund a school garden at one of our Special Services sites, build habitats for bees at our Circle J-Norris Ranch, or supply medals and trophies to winners in dozens of our annual student events. These are examples of a few of the grants the TCOE Foundation awarded last year.”

The 30-day Employee Giving Challenge begins November 1 and continues through November 30. All employees who give to the challenge will receive a TCOE lanyard. Employees who make donations of $10 or more per month will receive a TCOE Foundation Employee Giving Shirt or a tumbler. The TCOE division with the highest participation rate will receive bragging rights and a special treat. To begin the voluntary payroll deduction, visit

Program managers who are interested in applying to the TCOE Foundation for a grant to support their programs or events are encouraged to contact Marlene Moreno at (559) 733-6302.

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Spotlight on People The fundraising dinner being held November 17 to celebrate the career of Jim Vidak, retiring Tulare County superintendent of schools, will include a live auction featuring four automobiles. Included are a 1949 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe Coupe (left) and a 1960 Chevrolet Apache pickup (right). The vehicles, donated by Dr. Donna Hardy, also include her performance-modified 1969 Chevrolet El Camino. Additionally, local businessman Fred Ruiz has donated his 2009 Maserati Quattroporte. The auction, which will also feature jewelry and a one-week stay in a beautiful Maui vacation home, is just one of several fundraising activities planned for the dinner event. For more information about the event and the live auction items, visit
tcoe.org/FieldStationNov17. All proceeds from the evening’s activities will benefit the new UC Merced/SCICON Field Station, currently under construction at Circle J-Norris Ranch. Community members who are unable to attend the fundraising dinner may bid on any of the live auction items. For more information on placing a bid, call (559) 737-8019.

Spotlight on People On October 18, Tulare County Board of Education Trustee Pat Hillman received ProYouth’s annual Legacy Award in recognition of her lifetime of contributions to Tulare County education. The former teacher, member of the original 1959 Tulare County Symphony organizing committee, school board member, and community supporter was honored at a fundraising dinner held at the Visalia Convention Center. Past Legacy Award recipients include ProYouth founder Laurie Isham, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, Tulare County businessman Fred Ruiz, Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro, and community supporters Stan and Wendy Simpson.

Spotlight on People On October 18, the CHOICES Prevention Programs, in partnership with Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency, ProYouth, Family HealthCare Network, the Tulare County Prevention Coalition, and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, held its annual Tulare County Red Ribbon Week Celebration. Over 1,000 individuals attended the event at the Visalia Convention Center, pledging to lead their lives free of drugs and alcohol. Attendees enjoyed a variety of student performance groups and interactive resource booths. One of the resource organizations in attendance was the California Department of Justice. Representatives spoke to students about numerous topics, include the dangers of smoking or vaping butane hash oil (BHO).

Spotlight on People Over 300 high school juniors and seniors from districts throughout Tulare County attended the annual College and Career Fair in TCOE’s Redwood Conference Center on October 24. Organized by the Tulare County Office of Education Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA), the College and Career Fair is an event designed to provide students with various learning disabilities exposure to post-secondary education and training opportunities as they transition to adult life. The College and Career Fair featured dozens of representatives from area community colleges, adult schools and trade institutes, and military recruiters and local employment supporters, including California Highway Patrol, TCOE’s Services for Education & Employment (SEE), Proteus, and the California Department of Rehabilitation. At the beginning of the fair, representatives from each agency gave an overview of their program offerings before heading to their booths to talk with students.

Spotlight on People The College and Career Program recently held its first Manufacturing Day for approximately 150 students from Tulare and Kings county high schools, and College of the Sequoias and West Hills College, Lemoore. After dividing into groups, students toured local manufacturing facilities, including TF Tires-Eco T, US Farm Systems, American Inc., Advanced Food Products, Joann Fabric Distribution Center, Diamond Crystals, Screw Conveyor, Olam Spices (Hanford), and Olam Tomatoes (Lemoore). Following the tours, students gathered at the TCOE Conference Center to hear presentations from COS, West Hills College, and Bakersfield College Industrial Technology and Automation Programs to learn about the education they would need to be successful in manufacturing careers. The College and Career Program will follow up its Manufacturing Day with an apprenticeship event on November 8 at the Carpenter’s Training Center in Visalia. Carpenters, electricians, roofers, sheet metal workers and other trade representatives will be on hand to help students – young women in particular – learn how to become an apprentice. For more information on upcoming College and Career events, contact Lori Morton at lori.morton@tcoe.org.

Spotlight on People Winners, finalists and nominees in the annual 2018 Excellence in Education Awards program celebrated at the Visalia Convention Center Exhibit Hall on October 30. (photo 7) The winners in the three categories are pictured with Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak (center). Pictured left to right are Co-School Employees of the Year Juan Juarez, lead custodian at Palm Elementary School in Orosi, and Bobby Richardson, transportation supervisor for Tulare Joint Union High School District; Teacher of the Year Susan Ang, a math teacher at Orosi High School; and Administrator of the Year Eloysa Segura, a school psychologist with Tulare City School District. To see a video of the 2018 winners, visit tcoe.org/ExcellenceInEducation.

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Gallery Notes

The TCOE Foster & Homeless Youth Services Program will be hosting its annual Foster Youth Education Summit on November 29 in TCOE’s Redwood Conference Center in Visalia. Social workers and educators in all school settings are invited to attend the full-day event, which will include hearing from foster youth about their needs and concerns, learning about resources the Foster & Homeless Youth Services Program and districts can provide, and networking with local social workers and educators. Josh Shipp will be the featured speaker. A best-selling author and youth empowerment expert, Mr. Shipp is a former at-risk foster child. He is renowned for his documentary TV series on A&E that followed his ground-breaking work with teens. Featured on Good Morning America, 20/20, Oprah, MTV, CNN, FOX, and in The New York Times, he’s worked with groups of parents, educators and mental health professionals in addition to over two million teens and parents through live events. To register for the free Foster Youth Education Summit, visit

On October 16, the California Friday Night Live Partnership coordinated with Friday Night Live (FNL) chapters in numerous counties across California to conduct its annual Roadwatch survey. From 7:00 to 8:00 a.m., FNL student members surveyed 82 intersections near high schools and middle schools and observed 11,506 cases of distracted driving during the one-hour period – an astounding average of 140 instances per intersection surveyed. Across the state, students observed drivers distracted by phones, passengers, pets, food and more as they drove past California schools. In Tulare County, FNL students surveyed two intersections, recording over 200 instances of distracted driving. Year after year, Roadwatch, which is funded by the Allstate Foundation, proves to be a vital tool for raising awareness about the issue of distracted driving and creating student-led change in traffic safety throughout California.

In November, the Peña Planetarium will offer two Friday evening public shows at 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. On November 2, the public can view Earth, Moon and Sun, while on November 30, the popular Dawn of the Space Age will be shown. Tickets are available beginning at 5:00 p.m. on show days for $4 for adults and $3 for children 11 and under. For more information on these programs, visit tcoe.org/planetarium.

Last month, the California Department of Education announced that the Tulare County Office of Education was selected as the Lead Educational Agency (LEA) for a new regional consortium of counties. The state has created the California Statewide System of Support, organizing it into seven geographic areas to enable counties to work together to advance student performance and help address gaps in achievement between student groups. Under the direction of Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Charlene Stringham, TCOE will lead a consortium of 10 other counties from Santa Cruz and Monterey on the coast to Mono and Inyo in the eastern Sierra region. Leading the consortium, known as the Mid-State Collaborative, TCOE will serve as facilitators, resource connectors, and capacity builders for Tulare and the other 10 member counties.

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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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