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The News Gallery

March 2002

CHARTING A COURSE TO THE STARS - IMPACT Center Prepares for Relocation

News Gallery - March 2002 Editor: Rob Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Cherí Barnes, Gary Biggs, Darlynn Billingsley, Esmeralda Cano, Veronica Carmona, Christine Chapman, Vicky Contreras, Jeanne Croson, Randy Elzig, Frank Escobar, Linda Hamilton, Margaret Ibarra, LouAnn King, Donna Martin, Rick Mitchell and Donna Orozco.

The News Gallery is published monthly with the exception of double issues printed for July/August and December/January. If you would like to receive the News Gallery, please contact Christine Chapman at (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.

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Impact Center Charts Course to a New Address

Astronomers know that it takes thousands, even millions of light years for information on stars to reach earth. In the relatively short period of six months, Tulare County's young astronomers will have a new place to study outer space and all of its wonders. "The relocation of the Impact Center is one of the most exciting projects we're working on this year," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "We not only have the opportunity to update and expand our own Planetarium and Multi-Media Educational Theater, but to increase its service to the public!"

Impact Center Supervisor Sam Pena After nearly 25 years in the Tulare County Office of Education building at County Center in Visalia, the Impact Center will relocate to the adjacent county building, formerly used by the Ag Commissioner. "When we learned that the building would become available, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to expand one of our most popular programs. I appreciate all the support we've received from members of the community, the County Supervisors and particularly the Tulare County Board of Education," says Mr. Vidak.

The Impact Center is a multi-media educational facility designed to provide unique learning experiences, which supplement and reinforce the classroom curriculum. Since its opening, over one million students from throughout the central San Joaquin Valley have visited its two specially designed classrooms: the Multi-Media Educational Theater and the Planetarium.

A variety of educational programs are offered throughout the school year and are available to all students in Tulare County, including Special Education and preschool students. In the planetarium, students are presented with grade-appropriate shows on a variety of astronomy-related topics, while in the Multi-Media Education Theater, students learn from slide and video presentations on the history of our county, the state and the nation. All Impact Center programs must meet the criteria of enriching and expanding the classroom curriculum while providing a learning experience which cannot be duplicated in the regular classroom. Because of these special program criteria, all shows are developed and produced in-house by the Impact Center staff.

Planetarium's Star Projector Plans for the new Impact Center include the expansion of the Planetarium to increase seating capacity. "Our goal is to accommodate two classes at once," says Impact Center Supervisor Sam Peña. "We will also replace our current star projector with a computerized version capable of projecting 1,500 stars that's double the capacity of our current system." Mr. Peña also explains that the new projector will more closely simulate the night sky, with projections of varying intensities.

All schools are eligible to participate in Impact Center programs. Admission is free to schools in Tulare County. "In the past, we have offered special evening shows to the general public," says Jim Vidak. "The shows are usually sold out, especially at Christmas time. We just haven't had the seating capacity to meet the demand. Now, with the expansion, we should be able to offer more evening programs. We're delighted to offer this service to our community. Otherwise one would have to drive to Fresno or Bakersfield to enjoy a similar show," concludes Mr. Vidak. Along with an expanded Multi-Media Education Theater, visitors to the new Impact Center will be able to enjoy a small gift shop and a gallery, offering periodic exhibitions.

The building will also house the Teacher Induction Programs (TIPs), which were profiled in the October 2002, issue of The News Gallery. The program is made up of instructional consultants Anita Bailey, Rachel Katz and Cathleen Rogers. Their responsibilities include developing and implementing programs that serve new teachers the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA), Intern and Pre-Intern programs.

The program is lead by Ms. Bailey, Ms. Katz and Ms. Rogers, but supported by a staff that includes Betty Parker, Kim Roth and Karen Phillips. In addition, TIPs will share the services of Gail Kaulfuss, recruitment specialist with the Central California Teacher Recruitment Center, who will work with new teachers' credentials. Former Instructional Consultant Joseph Jimenez will also assist the Teacher Induction Programs in his new role as Cluster Consultant for the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program. Mr. Jimenez is one of six cluster consultants for the BTSA program in California. His region stretches from Kern to Stanislaus County.

"For both programs, the expansion means better service to the teachers of Tulare County and more learning opportunities for our students," says Jim Vidak. "It will be a learning center for both professionals and students unequaled in our region."

Photos above:
~ Impact Center Supervisor Sam Peña offers a variety of popular shows during the Center's final season in its present location. Mr. Peña and his staff have adapted most of the Planetarium shows from planetariums across the country.

~ Wish Upon a Star. Over one million students have visited the Impact Center since its opening. The star projector here has seen them all. It will be retired at the end of the school year.

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Foundation Takes Support for Programs

Employees of the Tulare County Office of Education and many of the school districts within Tulare County may now contribute to the Foundation utilizing a simple payroll deduction. Employees may designate contributions to the Foundation's general fund, or one of the many programs or events operated by the Tulare County Office of Education. To begin the voluntary payroll deduction process, request the Foundation form available through the Human Resources Department at the Tulare County Office of Education.

The Tulare County Office of Education operates dozens of programs designed to enhance the educational experience of its students and support the teachers and administrators in its 47 districts.

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Event Promotes Interest in Engineering and Science for Young Women

Expanding Your Horizons (EYH), a student event now in its second year, is designed to encourage young women in grades 4 through 10 to explore careers in the fields of mathematics, science and engineering. Scheduled for March 2 at College of the Sequoias, the conference showcases math and science-related fields in innovative and interesting ways. It also helps young women form personal contacts with women working in professions traditionally held by men, and allows them to meet other young women interested in math and science.

Expanding Your Horizons This year, Dr. Rosaly Lopes-Gautier, a research scientist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), will address nearly 250 conference attendees beginning at 8:30 a.m. "I applaud the focus of this conference in that it connects our students with female leaders in the fields of mathematics and science," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "It's important that our young women not only hear about careers in these areas, but identify with the women who are leading them."

Following the morning address by Dr. Lopes-Gautier, hands-on workshops will be taught by professional women from throughout the state. Young women can attend sessions on continuing their educations and future careers, while adult women are offered sessions to encourage their daughters, with topics such as the High School Exit Exam, Career Pathways, Financial Aid, and Science, Mathematics and Resource Technology.

Instructional Consultant Cathleen Rogers says: "The Expanding Your Horizons Conference is the only event of its type in our community. It's a great opportunity for young women to get information about a field of interest, or spark an interest in a new field which they haven't thought about!" For more information, contact Cathleen at 733-6786.

Photo above:
~ Expanding Your Horizons joins events like the annual Science and Engineering Fair and Science Olympiad in encouraging young women to explore the world of science and math.

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Golden West Mock Trial Team Heads For State Finals

The Golden West High School Mock Trial team will be heading to San Jose March 22 - 24, to compete in the state finals for the event. Golden West was the winner of the 2002 Tulare County Mock Trial event, held last month.

Ken Walters is the team's teacher-coach, with Allison Walker serving as the attorney-coach. Golden West Mock Trial team members include: Lauren Biehle, Lauren Brown, Brittany Clark, Katie Desrochers, Andrew Grassel, Jessica Lange, Emelie Loeb, Garrett Morgan, Anne Nudson, Anthony Nudson, Amanda Oldfield, David Smith, Michael Smith, Brian Sobieralski, Bryn White, and Katie Zieg.

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SCICON To Receive Electric Vehicle

Honda EV PLUS Thanks to a program from the State of California Air Resources Board, the Clemmie Gill School of Science and Conservation (SCICON) will be receiving an all electric vehicle later this month. The Air Resources Board is mandated with the task of educating the public about alternative fuel vehicles. SCICON contacted the Air Resources Board to offer to use an all electric vehicle in the staff's travel to school sites in Tulare County. "SCICON is the ideal place to showcase this technology," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "The vehicle is a rolling lesson on how we can conserve natural resources and protect the environment through applied engineering and technology!"

"It's long been a dream that SCICON could showcase an electric vehicle to the students of Tulare County," says Rick Mitchell, SCICON Administrator. When the Air Resources Board called to say they were sending us a Honda EV+, I was just floored!"

The Honda EV+ is a modern passenger vehicle. This two-door automobile seats four and is powered by twenty-four 12 volt nickel-metal hydride batteries. The EV+ cruises the highways easily with a top speed of 80 mph and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 17 seconds. The EV+ has a range of 100 miles on the highway (80 miles in the city) before it needs to be recharged. Recharging at a 220 volt charging station takes about 6 to 8 hours. Recharging is also possible from a standard 110 volt electrical outlet.

Even though the EV+ is an alternative fuel vehicle, the driver does not have to give up comfort or safety. The Honda EV+ comes equipped with dual air bags, ABS brakes, rack and pinion steering, power windows, power door locks and programmable automatic climate control.

SCICON Liaison Janet Hawkins will drive the electric vehicle to school sites when she gives SCICON video presentations to sixth-grade classrooms. SCICON Recycling Instructor Melissa Fentor will also use the vehicle when she drives to school sites for her follow-up recycling presentations. Students will have a chance to touch, feel and hear the roar of the engine (its absolutely quiet!). To inquire about the vehicle or to arrange a presentation for a sixth-grade class, call the SCICON office at (559) 539-2642.

Photo above:
~ All Charged Up. Illustration shows the workings of SCICON's new electric vehicle provided by the California Air Resources Board. Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Company.

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Tanis Carlson Remembered

Tanis Carlson, a teacher of the severely handicapped, died Thursday, February 21 after a long illness. A native of Canada, Ms. Carlson served the Tulare County Office of Education since 1988. Most recently, she worked with the severely handicapped at Maple Learning Complex.

She is remembered for her love of animals, particularly horses. Contributions in memory of Ms. Carlson, may be made to the SPCA by calling 651-1111.

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Gallery Notes

In conjunction with KGPE, Channel-47, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak presented Gold Star Leader Awards to four Tulare County students January 15. The Gold Star Leader Award is a program developed by Channel 47 to recognize students for their achievements in community service.

Tulare County students receiving the Gold Star Leader Awards include: Joel Ruiter, an eighth-grade student at Central Valley Christian in Visalia; Sarina Iniquez-Avilez, a senior at Woodlake High School; Timothy Johnson, a senior at Porterville High School; and Monica Lopez, a senior at Tulare Union High School. Each of the students received a $500 scholarship from the Carl's Jr. Corporation, which they will designate to a local charity.

"Classroom studies are only a part of a complete education," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "These extraordinary students have benefited in immeasurable ways from their experiences volunteering in a variety of community organizations from nursing homes to city government. I'm certain they will be better adults for their commitment."

Academic Decathlon 2002 was held Saturday, February 2, 2002, at Porterville College. Sixteen teams of Tulare County's best and brightest students from thirteen area high schools competed. This year's winning team was Monache High School from Porterville. Coach Lew Wills led the Monache team to victory with 39,515 points. Top individual scorers were also from Monache including Stephen Ho, Carlos Amaral and Vince Velasquez. The Monache team will travel to Modesto to compete March 21 - 23 in the State finals.

The 2002 Tulare County School Directories are now available both in printed form and on-line. The public is encouraged to access information on Tulare County Office of Education's website by visiting www.tcoe.org. Updates to directory information should be given to Public Information Officer Rob Herman at 733-6606 or by e-mail to robh@tcoe.org.

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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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