Tue05242016

News

Fractured LA council strains to pick up pieces

Following a mudslinging Los Altos City Council meeting last week, councilmembers are mulling ways to maintain civility from all seats in the chamber.

Mayor Jeannie Bruins suggested that the council create a pact among themselves.

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Schools

Tech Challenge competitors design gliders for air-drop relief

Tech Challenge competitors design gliders for air-drop relief


Courtesy of Annie Nijhawan
Blach Intermediate’s “Time Flies” team, right, notched a second-place finish at this year’s Tech Challenge. Pictured, are, from left, front row: Noelle Crawford, Kayla Blalack, Vikki Xu, Olivia Byu...

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Community

Costume Bank sponsors vintage sale, open house

The Costume Bank has scheduled an Open House and Vintage Sale noon to 4 p.m. Saturday on its patio, 169 State St., Los Altos.

According to organizers, shoppers can find dresses, wedding dresses, gloves, hats and purses for special occasions at low p...

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Sports

Eagles peak as playoffs approach

Eagles peak as playoffs approach


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High senior Lizzy Beutter pitches against Saratoga in last week’s regular-season finale. The Eagles won the game 1-0.

The Los Altos High softball team has suffered a long list of injuries – broken bo...

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Comment

Apology from the Town Crier

We are truly sorry that readers have taken offense at Frank Hughes’ May 18 op-ed column, titled "Housewives oif LA." We did not anticipate the rancor it would generate.

Satire is a risky form of humor that can be hurtful if not taken in the pr...

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Special Sections

Los Altos toddler discovers sound through cochlear implants

Los Altos toddler discovers sound through cochlear implants


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Two-year-old Natalie Su and her mother, Charlene, practice speaking and listening at Play! Los Altos.

Two-year-old Natalie Su last week toddled among her peers – exploring, talking and listening to the lively cacoph...

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Business

LA native makes beer, removes gluten

LA native makes beer, removes gluten


Courtesy of Caitlin Landesberg
Los Altos native Caitlin Landesberg, above, started her own brewing company to craft gluten-removed beer.

As a tennis player and then a competitive distance runner, Los Altos Hills native Caitlin Landesberg lived e...

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People

H. RICHARD HOLLOW

H. RICHARD HOLLOW

1930-2016

Humphrey Richard Hollow (Richard) was born in the UK on November 27, 1930. He worked in the oil fields of Iraq after graduating from college as an engineer. That’s where he lost part of his right hand in a blasting accident.

After...

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Stepping Out

Sayonara, 'Seussical'

Sayonara, 'Seussical'


Lyn Flaim Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
The cast of “Seussical” includes, from left, Lena Wessel (of Mountain View) as Thing 2, Quincy Shaindlin (San Mateo) as Cat in the Hat and Megan Branstad (Los Altos) as Thing 1.

The Penin...

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Spiritual Life

St. Simon Catholic Parish celebrates 60th anniversary

St. Simon Catholic Parish celebrates 60th anniversary


Joe Schram/ Special to the Town Crier
Commemorating St. Simon Catholic Parish’s 60th anniversary are, from left, Father V. Warwick James, Joan Mibach, Monsignor Stephen Perata, Judy Howard, Father Tony Mancuso, Marian Marren and Art and Jean C...

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Montecito: optimizing early-childhood learning


Photo By: Photo courtesy of Montecito
Photo Photo Courtesy Of Montecito Children engage in indoor and outdoor play as well as hands-on learning at Montecito School in Los Altos. The preschool has contracted with early-childhood specialists to refine its curriculum.

Montecito School, a Los Altos preschool, has teamed up with early education experts to enhance the school’s quality through an in-depth examination and assessment of its teaching practices.

Montecito, in operation since 1960, boasts a play-based philosophy that aims to bridge children’s toddler years to a successful future in elementary and secondary education.

After reviewing new national and regional guidelines for best practices in early childhood learning, Montecito officials contracted with local early-childhood specialists Gayle Mayekawa of Foothill College and Dionne Clabaugh of De Anza College to optimize Montecito’s curriculum at the preschool level.

Mayekawa, an education consultant for child development programs, specializes in leadership coaching, curriculum planning and program design.

Clabaugh, Montecito’s new curriculum coordinator, focuses on early-education instructional design, teacher mentoring and program assessment.

For the tools to measure best practices, Montecito looked to the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s “Early Learning Master Plan,” developed by a team of approximately 100 education professionals, civic leaders and child-development advocates in 2010. The plan envisions a teaching model that takes a developmental approach to learning and aligns preschool curriculum with the K-3 curriculum.

“Historically, Montecito has sought to provide a quality program. We now aim to increase this quality by building a program around early education best practices,” Clabaugh said. “All classes and activities will support each child’s development in an environment of teacher-facilitated and child-initiated activities that are both developmentally and culturally appropriate.”

Traditionally, Montecito provided a preschool curriculum designed around a play-based philosophy where children learned basic academic skills through hands-on experiences. With Clabaugh and Mayekawa’s efforts toward creating a program based on early-learning best practices, the school plans to continue and strengthen the tradition of play-based curriculum as initiated 50 years ago.

Montecito’s mission isn’t limited to its school – it’s intended for the community as a whole. The preschool educators want to provide a model for the local educational community for how to best provide early-childhood learning.

“We understand that a high-quality learning environment requires strategic planning of activities, assessment of room arrangement and high-quality instructional practices that demonstrate respect for each child,” said Erin Mobley, Montecito School director. “Our commitment is to be a ‘Model of Excellence’ for the community of Los Altos.”

 

What to look for

in a preschool

Mayekawa shared tips on what local parents should look for in a preschool program. No. 1 is how teachers interact with the children.

For example, parents might observe a child play with blocks, dump them and walk away, line them up, stack them or use them to represent an experience.

“Given how children use the blocks, the teacher will make comments about what the child is doing so that children are exposed to concepts of math, science and language,” she said.

A teacher could support problem-solving by challenging the student to make the same type of structure with blocks of different shapes, and then discuss the changes.

At Montecito, teaching professionals now have an early-childhood education expert in their classrooms to observe and coach their interactions with students.

Continuous professional development is important to keep educators informed and up to speed with best practices, Mayekawa said.

Mayekawa and Clabaugh are collaborating with Montecito teachers this year to empower them with specific classroom strategies and to coach them on how to design activities that best support child development.

 

Indoor and outdoor play

“When parents look at a school, they should look for indoor and outdoor learning environments which are safe, accessible and inviting to young children while also being developmentally (age) and culturally appropriate,” Mayekawa said.

The outdoors in early-childhood learning is “one of the most valuable areas for children to develop skills that will serve them throughout their lives,” Mayekawa said.

On an ordinary day at Montecito, children could be riding bikes, pulling wagons, playing on a tree swing, walking a balance beam or looking for insects on the 2-acre campus.

But indoor education is important as well, and Montecito features six different indoor learning centers: blocks, dramatic play, science, listening/writing, music and story/quiet corner.

The learning centers are furnished with age-appropriate materials accessible to promote exploration, a skill that supports language acquisition and cognitive development.

“Children develop at different rates, so materials in each learning center reflect varying degrees of challenge and are rotated to provide new opportunities to support children’s intellectual growth,” Mayekawa said.

Mayekawa and Clabaugh said they are confident that, given the commitment of Montecito’s staff, the preschool can become a model school to serve not only its member families, but also the community. School officials hope the program becomes a training environment for early-childhood education students working to become teachers.

“Montecito has chosen the path of educational excellence, and seeks to refine the philosophy and teaching practices to model each area of quality in the Santa Clara County Master Plan,” Mayekawa said. “This level of education should be accessible to all children and to all families in our community.”

Montecito School is located at 1468 Grant Road in Los Altos. For more information, visit www.montecitopreschool.com.

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