Mon01262015

Schools

MVLA revisits prospect of ninth-grade PE exemptions

MVLA revisits prospect of ninth-grade PE exemptions


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on a proposal to exempt ninth-grade student-athletes from taking PE. Students take part in a physical education class at Mount...

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Community

Midnight Express offers late-night rides from SF

Midnight Express offers late-night rides from SF


From Midnight Express Instagram
A group of millennial-aged Santas celebrating a night on the town prepare for a safe ride from San Francisco to their South Bay homes, courtesy of Cory Althoff’s new Midnight Express shuttle.

It’s no understatemen...

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Comment

More open than ever: Editorial

One of the Los Altos City Council’s objectives for 2015 is implementing an open-government policy. The title of the policy may be somewhat misleading, because it’s not as if the city has had a closed-government policy. But the new proposal goes beyon...

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Business

Cassidy Turley, DTZ plan to combine

Cassidy Turley, DTZ plan to combine


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Cassidy Turley, which has offices at 339 S. San Antonio Road, is combining with DTZ following its recent acquisition.

Commercial real estate services companies DTZ and Cassidy Turley have joined forces to operate as a sin...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

JUDY HOFFMANN

JUDY HOFFMANN

Judy Hoffmann passed away unexpectedly October 17, 2014 in New York City. It was only fitting Judy would be traveling and enjoying special adventures in so many different places until the very end.

Judy has lived since 1969 in Los Altos with her h...

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Travel

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill


Courtesy of Raúl Cañibano
Cuban photographer Raúl Cañibano is set to appear at Foothill College tonight. His work – including the image “Series: Guajira’s Land, Viñales, 2007,” right – is on display at the KCI Gallery t...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks launches '2 Pianos' in Mtn. View

TheatreWorks launches '2 Pianos' in Mtn. View


Suellen Fitzsimmons/Special to the Town Crier
Christopher Tocco stars in TheatreWorks’ “2 Pianos 4 Hands,” which opened last week.

TheatreWorks’ production of “2 Pianos 4 Hands” is scheduled to run through Feb. 15 at the Mountain View Center fo...

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Spiritual Life

Start something great by ringing in the new year with prayer

There is a tradition, which I’m told originates in the Midwest, that calls for people to pray in the new year. A few years ago, I was invited to a friend’s house and a number of people stayed up until midnight (approximately two hours pa...

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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Local educator helps students overcome fear of public speaking


Photos Nuinui Teo/Special to the Town Crier
Local educator Matt Abrahams’ book, “Speaking Up Without Freaking Out,” offers techniques to overcome public-speaking phobias.

Less than 10 seconds into his first speech before an audience, Matt Abrahams ripped his pants.

Competing in a speech tournament as a sophomore in high school, he attempted to demonstrate a karate kick.

“I was so nervous about possible outcomes before my speech that I forgot to change my pants into ones that would allow for movement,” he said with a laugh.

Despite the rough start, the Los Altos resident’s first experience didn’t deter him from mastering the art of public speaking.

Abrahams, now a communication instructor at Stanford University and a speech communication instructor at De Anza College, wrote a book about public speaking, “Speaking Up Without Freaking Out: 35 Techniques for Confident, Calm, and Competent Presenting” (Kendall Hunt, 2012), aimed at helping people control their anxiety before – and while – addressing a crowd.

“I wrote the book out of frustration,” he said. “There was so much research that had been done about anxiety and public speaking, but it was all locked away in academic journals that people don’t really get to see.”

Abrahams started off in the tech industry, never thinking he would end up as a communications teacher. But the experience he gained working as a businessman helped him realize the importance of communication.

“You saw really talented, bright people not succeeding because of their lack of communication skills,” he said. “And you saw people who weren’t succeeding.”

Abraham said people will sometimes build their entire lives around their fear of public speaking.

“A lot of people feel powerless in the face of anxiety,” he said. “They get nervous about being nervous, and it spirals out of control. It helps people just to have a sense of agency.”

Tongue twisters

Although Abrahams is a confident, experienced speaker, he said he still employs various tactics to manage his pre-speech anxiety. Before a speech, you might find him backstage, quietly muttering tongue twisters.

His favorite: “I slit a sheet, a sheet I slit, and on that slitted sheet I sit.”

“You can’t say a tongue twister without being in the present moment,” Abrahams said. “Also, it makes me focus even more because if I mess up, I say a bad word.”

Although most of Abrahams’ students are college age or older, he volunteers at his son’s elementary school, Covington, introducing public speaking at an early age.

“The stakes are different, the consequences are different, but the anxiety is the same,” he said of students’ burgeoning public-speaking assignments.

According to Abrahams, an increasing number of schools are catching on to the importance of developing public-speaking skills early.

“The schools are doing such a good job of getting kids up there and presenting,” he said. “I think I’ll be out of a job soon.”

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