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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

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 Road home April 27 and...

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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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ALearn supports underserved students via skills, confidence



ALearn graduates Adriana Sanchez, left, and Sal Chavez returned to the program as teaching assistants last summer. The nonprofit organization aims to put underrepresented students on a path to college. Town Crier file photo

ALearn offers a host of programs that provide academic support to underrepresented students, but equally important is the nonprofit agency’s focus on changing their mindsets.

According to ALearn founder and CEO Kathryn Hanson, belief precedes performance.

“If you don’t believe you can do it, you won’t,” she said. “We train everyone to change the way they’re thinking about themselves.”

ALearn serves struggling sixth- through ninth-graders, largely from Latino families in low-income school districts in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, via after-school and summer programs designed to shore them up academically. The organization trains credentialed teachers and college students – many of whom graduate from the program and return as teaching assistants – to emphasize Common Core State Standards. The goal is to create a cycle of learning, inspiration and success through ALearn’s Math Acceleration Program (MAP), MAP Plus, Catalyst to High School and Zoomz, a social network for students who are the first in their families to attend college.

“At the end of the day, it’s the sense that you can achieve – that’s the most important piece for kids,” said Hanson, a Los Altos resident.

The challenges are daunting. ALearn added sixth-graders to its lineup last summer at the request of teachers, who found that their students were already too far behind by the seventh grade. Failure to meet such students’ educational needs is a societal problem with long-term ramifications.

“We have an entire generation that are not getting the education they need to support the workforce,” Hanson said. “What we’re trying to do is change the trajectory for as many kids as we possibly can – get them on the path to college, get them on the path to successful careers.”

High-poverty districts confront additional challenges – gangs, violence, hunger, lack of social services – that result in only 12 percent of Latinos graduating from high school statewide, she said.

Closer to home, the income gap plays out in the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District, which combines students from the Los Altos School District and the lower-income Mountain View-Whisman School District.

ALearn’s Catalyst to High School summer program addresses that gap by identifying students who could benefit from rigorous math instruction before entering high school. The program’s success is quantifiable – 70 percent of enrolled students pass the district’s algebra test and go straight into geometry. As a bonus, most develop a peer group, gain confidence in their skills and become familiar with teachers and the level of instruction.

“They have eased into high school,” Hanson said.

ALearn used last year’s Town Crier Holiday Fund to expand its programming and plans to do the same in 2014.

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