The News Gallery
June 2019View and print a pdf version of this News Gallery.
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
Contributors to this issue:
Marlene Moreno, Jennifer Fisher, Lorena White, Lynne Goodwin, Nani Dodson, Ron Pekerak, Dianne Thompson, Dianne Shew, Nancy Bruce, Joy Soares, Al Rodriguez, Alisha Montoya, Cathy Machado, Sarah Hamilton, Paula Terrill, Anabel Gonzalez, and Gene Mendes.
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 email@example.com or (559) 733-6172.
Betting On Our Future program works statewide
Three area high schools work to build awareness of problem gambling among young people
At a press conference held May 29 at El Diamante High School, students from Sequoia, Hanford West and El Diamante High Schools spoke to reporters about their work in developing problem gambling awareness campaigns and community outreach. They shared public service announcement videos and posters, and talked about working with local lottery ticket merchants on the issue of sales to minors. While their results were impressive, the process of researching the topic, developing and testing solutions, working with the public, and presenting their results before a real-world audience was, as Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Tim Hire told the audience, “doing the work adults are often paid to do!”
The students work to increase awareness of problem gambling in Tulare and Kings counties was supported by the California Friday Night Live Partnership (CFNLP), the Tulare County Office of Education, and the California Office of Problem Gambling. The three local schools connected through Betting On Our Future (BOOF), a statewide program that supports students in 30 sites across California to develop a multimedia campaign to raise awareness of problem gambling.
Students began their advocacy work in the fall of 2018 by distributing a prevalence survey to gain a snapshot of what underage gambling looks like in their local community. Surveys were collected from 943 students in 28 counties across California; 413 of the surveys were from Tulare and Kings counties. The survey shows that roughly 45% of local youth (ages 8-21) gamble on a monthly basis. The National Council on Problem Gambling estimated that in 2016, 2% of the US population, or roughly 5.5 million people, experience out-of-control gambling addiction (2016 Survey of Problem Gambling Services in the United States). This translates into 3.5 million teens who have a gambling addiction or are at risk for developing one.
Lynne Goodwin, CFNLP program director, explained, “Introducing gambling before young brains fully develop at age 24 increases the risk of addiction as young people are more likely to act impulsively and take unreasonable risks.” Before the press conference, Ayden Stone, a Hanford West freshman, shared that students on his team learned a lot about the effects of gambling addiction. “I was really shocked at all of the physical and mental effects it can have on a person and I hope that the posters I created help spread awareness about gambling addiction because I don’t think many people take gambling addiction seriously.”
The El Diamante team was involved in reaching out to local lottery merchants to re-educate them on the regulations and penalties when selling or paying out lottery tickets. Before the press conference, Kanwar Singh reflected on the experience of interviewing a lottery vendor. “I felt moved by her. I wasn’t expecting her to give her side of the story, like how she would explain how she sees these young kids try to buy these scratchers. I was surprised that she had seen that happen.”
Jason Hopper, Arts, Media, and Entertainment teacher at Hanford West, says, “BOOF gave my students the opportunity to use the skills they learned in class to make a difference in the real world. By using a Project Based Learning approach, students were able to really investigate the problem and develop solutions that make sense in their community.”
The statewide Betting On Our Future program has been supported through CFNLP and the Tulare County Office of Education for over 10 years and has created media tools utilized both locally and statewide to raise awareness of problem gambling. “Programs such as Betting On Our Future create opportunities for young people to take a critical look at the issues facing them and their peers, then to take action. These skill-building opportunities will serve them throughout their life while creating healthier communities for all of us,” says Tim A. Hire, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools.
For more information on Betting On Our Future, contact Nani Dodson, California Friday Night Live Partnership program analyst, at (559) 733-6496.
~ El Diamante senior Manuel Hernandez shares with reporters the work the school’s team did in building awareness of laws governing the sale of lottery items to minors.
~ Lottery vendors were encouraged to commit to abiding by the laws by signing a “Not on my Watch” pledge.
~ The El Diamante High School team visited several local lottery vendors to distribute information about problem gambling. Students from El Diamante, Sequoia, and Hanford West high schools attended a press conference on the Betting On Our Future program to share the process and the products they developed to build awareness of problem gambling among young people.
Brent Rast award given to Dianne Thompson
Teacher in Bright Start Parent/Infant Program receives annual award for exemplary service
From client to service provider, Dianne Thompson has seen both sides of the Bright Start Parent/Infant Program. This year’s recipient of the Brent Rast Award, Ms. Thompson first encountered the Bright Start Program as a parent of a son who received services. “At the conclusion of his services, I was asked if I would like to join the program,” she said. “I was able to accept a position while I worked on obtaining my special education credential, and eventually my master’s degree.” Twenty-four years later she’s still enjoying her work.
The Brent Rast Award is a memorial award presented to an exemplary teacher at the annual Community Advisory Committee (CAC) luncheon. The award was named for a TCOE teacher of students with severe needs who passed away over 20 years ago. “I knew Brent Rast,” said Ms. Thompson. “He was a wonderful man and a real ‘teachers’ teacher.’ To receive this award is an incredible honor.”
Ms. Thompson serves 38 children out of the Bright Start office in Yettem. “I love my babies and I enjoy the north county parents, who are so grateful for our services,” she said. Ms. Thompson, who has additional training to work with children with autism, enjoys the challenge and creativity it takes to address each child’s needs. “I wake up Monday morning looking forward to work and thinking about solutions to their needs,” she said. “It can be as simple as creating felt icons for a child with a speech delay, or putting a bunch of TV remotes in front a child who isn’t yet crawling,” she laughed.
At the CAC annual luncheon, Ron Pekarek praised Dianne Thompson, saying, “Dianne’s creativity is an asset to her job. She goes out of her way for each family function and helps her assistants get the supplies they need for fun creative crafts. Most importantly, she forms a special bond with the child and the parents, making them feel at ease when they are overwhelmed with the idea their child has special needs.”
New field station creates summer internships
Partnership between UC Merced and SCICON brings students and researchers together
This summer, a small group of high school students will be the first to benefit from the generous community support given last year for the new UC Merced/SCICON Field Station. During the last week of June, students will receive a stipend to begin an ongoing project to map the Circle J-Norris Ranch, which is the site of the new field station. Using GPS devices, students will establish a grid, which can be used by local environmental science students and researchers from the University of California. The grid will also serve as a basis for their own ongoing oak mortality research.
The three-day mapping project will begin on June 25 at Circle J-Norris Ranch and will be led by lead teacher Nancy Bruce, with support from staff at UC Merced. “It’s through the support of sponsors such as Educational Employees Credit Union, Fred and Mitzie Ruiz, the Porterville Breakfast Rotary and so many others who pledged to support student paid internship opportunities during the fundraising dinner TCOE held in November that we are able to offer this first research program,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Tim Hire. “This is the beginning of an internship program that will involve more Tulare County students and lead, we hope, to them seeing UC Merced as a place for them to continue their studies, particularly if they’re interested in environmental sciences.”
At a recent meeting of the UC Merced/SCICON Field Station steering committee, members Dr. Sam Traina, vice chancellor of research at UC Merced; Dr. Jessica Blois, faculty director of UC Merced’s Natural Reserves; Tim Hire; Jim Vidak, member of the Friends of SCICON board; and Dianne Shew, SCICON administrator, began to plan the operations of the new field station. The steering committee agreed to support the summer mapping internship program and discussed the outfitting of the station with equipment and fixtures. “The big news from the university is that it was able to obtain permission to utilize the University of California’s Natural Reserve System reservations system for the new UC Merced/SCICON Field Station,” said Mr. Hire. “This will bring the field station statewide, national and potentially international exposure with researchers. These are exciting times for SCICON and UC Merced as we create a much-need research site in the Sierra Nevada foothills and expose students to higher education learning and environmental science career opportunities.”
High school students interested in participating in the UC Merced/SCICON Field Station mapping internship June 25-27 are encouraged to contact Dianne Shew at (559) 539-2642.
~ In June, the first group of UC Merced/SCICON Field Station interns will begin a GPS mapping project and oak mortality study at Circle J-Norris Ranch.
~ Members of the new UC Merced/SCICON Field Station Steering Committee include (l-r) Dr. Sam Traina, vice chancellor of research at UC Merced; Tim Hire, Tulare County superintendent of schools; Dianne Shew, SCICON administrator; Dr. Jessica Blois, faculty director of UC Merced’s Natural Reserves; and Jim Vidak, member of the Friends of SCICON board.
Excellence in Education winners announced
Countywide awards given to school employee, administrator and teacher of the year
On Friday, May 10, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Tim Hire visited the top winners in the 25th Annual Excellence in Education Awards Program, surprising each of them in the middle of their workdays. Dr. Clare Gist, superintendent of Tulare City School District, was in the middle of a staff meeting in her office when Mr. Hire opened the door and told her that she’d been chosen as the 2019 Tulare County Administrator/Manager of the Year. Dr. Gist brushed away tears as her staff applauded and crowded in to take pictures.
Across town at Tulare Union High School, Dr. Tabby Grabowski, an English teacher and literacy coach, was alone in her classroom when Mr. Hire, principal Dr. Michelle Nunley, district superintendent Tony Rodriguez, and several staff members surprised her with the news that she had been chosen Tulare County Teacher of the Year. Back at the Tulare County Office of Education administration building on South Mooney Boulevard, receptionist Taurie Thayer was answering the phones when Mr. Hire passed through the lobby to announce that she had been selected School Employee of the Year.
The winners in the annual Excellence in Education program were chosen by a selection committee of Tulare County business and educational leaders who individually reviewed and scored each nominee in the Administrator/Manager, Teacher, and School Employee of the Year categories. A total of 30 nominations were received this year from Tulare County school districts.
The winners, finalists, and nominees will be honored at an invitation-only awards breakfast on October 29. Among the finalists in the Administrator/Manager of the Year category is Joy Soares, TCOE’s College and Career director. The Excellence in Education program is a partnership between the Tulare County Office of Education and Educational Employees Credit Union.
Administrator/Manager of the Year
Dr. Clare Gist
Superintendent, Tulare City School District
Dr. Clare Gist has supported the Tulare district for over 29 years in roles that have included teacher, principal, director, assistant superintendent of Business Services, and – for the past six years – superintendent. Dr. Gist holds a Doctorate of Education from University of the Pacific and a Masters in Educational Administration from California State University, Bakersfield. She was praised by her nominators as a hands-on superintendent, wholly dedicated to learning every aspect of district operations. She was also praised for her leadership in promoting programs that support the whole child, the whole school, and the whole community. These programs address early childhood education, K-8 academics, health, mental health, social-emotional learning, nutrition, and safety. Early in her superintendency, Dr. Gist summarized her leadership style by writing, “Educating each child is a moral purpose intent on making a difference in the lives of all children. It requires all of us to move beyond our personal and professional biases, to work collectively as a team in order to raise up caring, creative and confident children. It is a purpose greater than oneself.”
Teacher of the Year
Dr. Tabitha Grabowski
English Teacher/Literacy Coach, Tulare Union High School
Tabby Grabowski is an English teacher and literacy coach at Tulare Union High School. Dr. Grabowski teaches Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum, dual enrollment college English, and is the district’s literacy coach. In addition, she is an adjunct instructor in English Language Arts at College of the Sequoias. Her teaching career includes 19 years of experience, with 11 years at the Tulare Joint Union High School District. Dr. Grabowski holds a Doctorate of Education from Northeastern University in Boston and a Masters in Language Arts from California State University, Fresno. Her colleagues wrote that she has an extraordinary ability to connect with each student, making learning fun and inspirational. Each day, students walk into her classroom excited to see what she has in store for them. Last fall, she sustained injuries in a tragic boating accident, which claimed the lives of her husband and niece. Her immediate concern was for her students and the disruption her recovery would cause in their instruction. Despite her doctor’s recommendations, she began to grade papers and conduct lessons via Skype until she was able to return to the classroom.
School Employee of the Year
Receptionist, Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE)
American poet Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Taurie Thayer, TCOE’s receptionist at the administration building, uses these words to inspire herself in her day-to-day interactions with staff and visitors. Warm, funny, caring, and serving, Ms. Thayer keeps children busy with toys from her toy box while she helps parents. She calms nervous job applicants, assuring them that they will “ace the interview,” and helps presenters using the conference center with an assortment of last minute items, including bottled water, super glue, safety pins, Advil and granola bars. Recently, Ms. Thayer loaned a woman her own shoes when the visitor broke a heel on her way to a meeting. Ms. Thayer, who has worked for TCOE since 2016, also manages the TCOE room reservation system, working with event coordinators and maintenance and operations staff on dozens of meetings held in the Redwood Conference Center every week.
~ Dr. Clare Gist poses with Tim Hire moments after learning she had been selected Tulare County Administrator/Manager of the Year. Dr. Gist is the superintendent of Tulare City School District.
~ Dr. Tabitha Grabowski (second from left) of Tulare Union High School has been named the Tulare County Teacher of the Year. She is surrounded by Dr. Michelle Nunley, Tulare Union principal; Tony Rodriguez, Tulare Joint Union High School District superintendent; and Tim Hire. Dr. Grabowski is an English teacher and literacy coach at the school.
~ Taurie Thayer, receptionist for the Tulare County Office of Education, is surprised by Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Tim Hire, who informs her that she is the 2019 Tulare County School Employee of the Year in the annual Excellence in Education program.
After five years, College and Career still expanding
Tulare Kings College & Career Collaborative wins two big statewide grants
Last month, the Tulare Kings College & Career Collaborative (TKCCC) received a grant in the amount of nearly $4.5 million through the state’s K-12 Strong Workforce Project (K-12SWP). Funded by the state, the K-12 Strong Workforce Project is a recurring grant program of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors designed to spur career technical education in partnership with California’s 113 community colleges.
The Tulare Kings regional award was the second largest in the state and will allow the TKCCC to expand the work it has been doing since receiving the California Career Pathways Trust Linked Learning grant in 2014. Since the award of the Linked Learning grant, the TKCCC has worked with partner districts to develop or enhance 50 pathway programs, increase early college credit opportunities for students, and strengthen the work between area colleges and universities, and workforce partners.
The K-12SWP grant will allow program directors in the partner school districts to expand student work-based learning experiences; increase early college credit for students through dual enrollment and online coursework; align K-12 curriculum to industry certifications; establish industry certification centers in Tulare and Kings counties; and provide teacher externships with industry partners.
Joy Soares, TCOE College and Career director, reports that the program has also been selected as the K-14 Technical Assistance Provider for the region that extends from Modesto to Bakersfield. TCOE College and Career will support other agencies in the region that have received CTE Incentive Grants and K-12 Strong Workforce Project awards. The recent awards are a testimony to the region’s exemplary work in career technical education and education/business/community partnerships.
For more information about the work of the TKCCC, please contact Joy Soares at (559) 733-6101.
~ Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Tim Hire (center) attended a meeting of the Tulare Kings Dean and Director Network to congratulate Joy Soares and Lori Morton of the TCOE College and Career Program for their work in securing two substantial grants.
On May 22, the first of six graduation ceremonies was held for students in Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) programs. Ten young adults graduated from Special Services AcCEL Programs in the Porterville area, including the L.B. Hill Learning Center and the Community Based Instruction (CBI) programs. Many of the graduates are transitioning to community-serving adult programs, including Providing Self Worth and Social Vocational Services. Teacher Robbie Ridenour of Porterville CBI is pictured speaking about graduate Jermaine Domingo, who will be attending Providing Self Worth. For a list of future TCOE graduation ceremonies, visit tcoe.org/graduations.
On Saturday, May 18, TCOE's IMPACT Intern Program graduated 98 teachers who had completed a variety of multiple subject, single subject, and education specialist credential coursework offered by the program. The IMPACT Intern Program is an accredited alternative certification program. Redwood High School teacher Alyssa Aguilar is pictured with her proud grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. Robert Aguilar, following the ceremony. Ms Aguilar completed her single subject credential. For more information on the IMPACT Program, visit tcoe.org/NTLD or call (559) 624-1035.
The annual Reading Revolution event was held over two days in May with 23 elementary teams and 16 middle school teams competing. To prepare for the quiz-style competition, students began months ahead reading, studying and quizzing each other on material in the same 15 pre-selected books. Reading Revolution was developed by TCOE to help students develop a lifelong love for reading. In the elementary category, the winners were the "Taco Cats" from Springville Union School (morning session, top left photo) and the "Legitimate Literary League" from Pixley Elementary School (afternoon session, top right photo). The “Fiction Addiction” team from Ridgeview Middle School in Visalia (lower photo) took first place in the middle school category.
On Wednesday, May 15, KSEE24 and the TCOE CHARACTER COUNTS! office hosted a celebration of the students featured in the 28 Your Character Matters stories aired by the station this year. Emceed by Central Valley Today host Stefanie Bainum, pictured with honorees in the middle school category, the event featured video clips of the 28 stories. To view the videos, visit tcoe.org/YourCharacterMatters.
Again this year, the Porterville Fair helped to host the annual Physics Day at the Fair – an event attended by 250 middle school students. Students participated in 11 hands-on stations to learn about physics concepts and used an app to measure acceleration and force on various midway rides. Physics Day is one of several TCOE events that involve students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities and career exploration.
Mario Landeros (left), a student at El Diamante High School, won the Best of Show Award at the 2019 Slick Rock Student Film Festival. His film, "Hawthorne Animations," captured the top prize out of 500 entries from 60 middle and high schools in six counties. Mario’s film and the winning videos in all of the film categories can be seen at tcoe.org/SlickRock.
Nearly 300 students participated in the Tulare County Science Olympiad Division A at Mission Oak High School on April 27. Solving problems, building bridges, and launching rockets, catapults, and hot air balloons, students were gaining foundations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The winners in this year’s competition were: Annie R. Mitchell Elementary, Visalia, Team 1 (first place); Sundale Union School, Tulare, Team 16 (second place); Hurley Elementary, Visalia, Team 2 (third place); Alila School, Earlimart, Team 3 (fourth place); and Oak Grove Elementary, Visalia, Team 5 (fifth place).
Gage Mendes of Mt. Whitney High School was one of more than 900 athletes in the annual Special Olympics held in Tulare. Gage placed second in the long jump event held at the Bob Mathias Stadium on April 26. Hosted by Tulare Kiwanis Club and coordinated by former Special Services administrator Leigh Mosconi, the event included students from many TCOE AcCEL classrooms and Community Based Instruction programs.
For the sixth year, the Tulare County Office of Education CHARACTER COUNTS! Program recognized high school senior student athletes with a Pursuing Victory With Honor college scholarship for their exemplary character on and off the field. Thanks to support from the Provident-Salierno Family Foundation, the program is able to provide four $500 scholarships. The recipients, who possess exceptional traits in sportsmanship, leadership and initiative, are Jenna Perryman from Mission Oak High School in Tulare, Parker Boswell from El Diamante High School in Visalia, Kaden Sorensen from Redwood High School in Visalia, and Mia Pengilly from Monache High School in Porterville.
Tulare County middle and high school students are invited to create a logo for the annual Red Ribbon Week Celebration next fall. The national theme for the 2019 Red Ribbon Week is “Send a Message. Stay Drug Free.” The winning logo will be incorporated on an event t-shirt which will be distributed to students who attend the Tulare County Red Ribbon Week Celebration. The event, which includes student activities that promote alcohol and drug prevention, is hosted by the CHOICES Prevention Program, Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency, and numerous other community organizations. The event will be held at the Visalia Convention Center on Wednesday, October 30. Students can obtain a copy of the logo contest rules by contacting Alvaro Rodriguez at the CHOICES Prevention Program at (559) 651-0155. Entries are due no later than Friday, September 27.
The Instructional Services Division has announced its Tulare County Learning & Leadership Forum for the 2019-20 school year. The four-session series will provide administrators, instructional coaches and teacher leaders a setting for discussing and collaborating on improving student learning. Building on the improvement science work done in past years, the program has invited Dr. Pat Greco to be the keynote speaker at the sessions scheduled for the mornings of September 13, November 1, February 7, and March 20. The 2018 Wisconsin state superintendent of the year, Dr. Greco brings a district leadership perspective on putting improvement science systems in place to develop the human capabilities, organizational and structural changes, and system capacities to accelerate system, school, and student learning. Under her leadership, her district progressed from a federal designation of “in need of improvement” to a U.S. News & World Report top high school in the nation. To register to attend the Learning & Leadership Forum on September 13, visit tulare.k12oms.org/147-164506, or contact Martin Frolli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On May 29, the California Center on Teaching Careers held a Central Valley Intern & Teacher Job Fair in the TCOE Redwood Conference Center in Visalia. Thirty districts from Tulare, Kings, Fresno and Kern counties attended, sharing openings for the 2019-20 school year. Approximately 350 teachers and teacher candidates attended the fair, with an additional 100 visiting select educational agencies through a virtual fair feature.
This year, students in nine California counties participated in a pilot project organized by the California Friday Night Live Partnership to advocate against tobacco use in all of its forms. The pilot program was funded by a grant provided by the California Department of Education. The work of young people in Friday Night Live chapters participating in the pilot project took many forms, including addressing gaps in local school district policies related to vaping. In their work to advocate for policy changes, students found the need to educate parents, staff, and other students by creating radio and video public service announcements, staff training presentations, peer-to-peer campaigns, and school board policy presentations. CFNLP administrator Lynne Goodwin reports that students will continue their work during the 2019-20 school year as the program has been renewed.
In May, 70 local students took 36 of the top projects from National History Day – Tulare County to the state competition at William Jessup University. Six of the Tulare County projects were selected as finalists at the state competition. They include: The Berlin Wall: Three Tragic Decades of Separation by Leah Rankin (Dinuba GATE); A War on Two Fronts:100th Infantry Battalion & 442nd Regimental Combat Team by Frank Alvarez (Dinuba High School); Ashoka: The Story of a Tragic Triumph by Yasoda Satpathy (Inspire Charter); Frenemies: The Religious Roots of Ireland’s “Troubles” by Angelina Alcala and Juliana Ochoa (Kings River Union Elementary); From Trenches to Tracks: How Tanks Saved Infantry Lives by Andrew Lopez (Kings River Union Elementary); and The Monster Who Fed the World: The Triumphs and Tragedies of Fritz Harbor by Chinmayi Reddy (University Preparatory High School). In addition to the finalist awards, Alison Meza of Dinuba High School received the Marvin Awbrey Longevity Award for attending the state competition as a Tulare County representative for the past six years.
TCOE Migrant Education Program Region VIII held its Third Annual Regional Speech & Debate Tournament on Saturday, March 2. From this competition, 21 Tulare and Kings County students advanced to the Ninth Annual State Speech & Debate Tournament, which was held on May 4 in Ventura. Thirteen students competed in speech and eight in debate, representing Earlimart School District, Oak Valley Union School District, Lemoore Elementary School District, Farmersville Unified School District, Dinuba Unified School District, Burton School District, Hanford Elementary School District, and Hanford Joint Union School. Region VIII students brought home five trophies, including Paulina Torres from Summit Charter Academy in Porterville, who placed third in 12th grade Spanish Prepared Speech and second in 12th grade Spanish Extemporaneous Speech. Luis Acol from Earlimart Middle School placed second in 8th grade Spanish Extemporaneous Speech. Brenda Monje from Oak Valley Union School placed first in both 7th grade English Prepared Speech and 7th grade Extemporaneous Speech.
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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