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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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