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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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