Thu05052016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill R...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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MERIT program: Providing tech tools for collaborative learning



Teachers are all smiles as they learn new skills they can take back to the classroom, courtesy of the MERIT program at the Krause Center for Innovation. Courtesy of Liane Freeman

Two teachers at Branciforte Middle School in Santa Cruz went from being technophobes to technology innovators, not only bolstering instruction in the classroom, but also transforming their entire school. They ended up writing a business plan for a school technology center.

It all started with enrollment in the Krause Center for Innovation’s MERIT (Making Education Relevant and Interactive through Technology) program at Foothill College. The professional development program for K-12 teachers gives them the tech tools needed to up their instructional game, inspiring them to innovate and try the untried. As a result, teachers and students work more collaboratively and student learning increases dramatically.

“Before I started with MERIT, I didn’t even know Google had apps,” said Lisa Highfill, a Pleasanton fifth-grade teacher who entered the program in 2010. “When I learned how to authentically integrate web tools, my lessons took on a whole new level of engagement and effectiveness. … I now design webpages for teachers and students and create digital lessons that integrate all subjects and project-based learning activities.”

Highfill is now an instructional technology coach with the Pleasanton Unified School District.

Despite the program’s success, MERIT staff wanted a thorough evaluation of the program beyond teacher testimonials. As a result, the program is in the middle of a two-year third-party study to examine effectiveness.

“Preliminary results are excellent,” said Liane Freeman, KCI’s strategy and marketing director.

The 10-month MERIT program culminates in two weeks of intensive training over the summer, with instructors applying their tech tools to actual classroom projects and presenting the projects to one another for feedback.

“We stress free web-based tools,” Freeman said. “You have access wherever you are in your environment.”

Teachers work on projects that emphasize collaboration with students. Last year one instructor set up a business with special-education students to sell items on eBay. Another created a website and ran a campaign with students to keep the Pigeon Point Light Station open.

The MERIT program accepts approximately 50 teachers a year, most from around the Bay Area but some from out of state and overseas. Since its inception in 2001, approximately 800 teachers have participated in the program.

Although most of the operations take place at the KCI campus, MERIT personnel have begun to conduct outreach at schools via “mini-MERIT” programs, Freeman said, including one at Egan Junior High School in Los Altos.

Freeman said the MERIT program is especially vital now in helping instructors adjust to new Common Core State Standards that emphasize not only getting the right answer, but also showing how students arrived at that answer.

“Twenty-first-century learning is all about collaboration, critical-thinking problem solving, communication,” Freeman said. “We’re building a pro-learning community.”

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