Teens launch program that teaches coding to kids

Courtesy of Math and Coding Academy
High school students help younger students learn to code during an event at the Los Altos main library in September.

Coding may not be an easy skill to learn, but some high school students are determined to teach it to as many youngsters as possible.

Two upperclassmen have created a nonprofit organization called Math and Coding Academy that teaches local elementary and middle school students the basics of computer programming. Monta Vista High School junior Nikhil Cheerla and Harker School senior Vineet Kosaraju launched the program a year and a half ago at the Mountain View Public Library. With help from more than 30 volunteer teen teachers, the academy has spread to nearly 20 libraries – including the Los Altos Library – and has surpassed 1,000 students, according to the organization’s website. And the classes are free.


St. Francis students explore world on virtual-reality trips

To introduce the concept of ecosystems, St. Francis High School biology teacher Roberta Chisam “whisked” her classes away to the coast of Tanzania, where she instructed students to scrutinize the wildlife and vegetation they see there.

After their excursion to Tanzania, Chisam and her students hopscotched around the world, exploring the Galapagos Islands, Yellowstone National Park and Australia. At each stop, she asked them what they could deduce from their observations.


Transition to standards-based grading proves 'frustrating' for LASD teachers

Courtesy of LASD
The district’s new grading scale eschews the traditional A-F format and moves toward a 1-4 scale, above, that aims to offer parents more detailed information.

The process of reporting student learning will be different for K-6 Los Altos School District teachers next week as parents head into their first parent-teacher conferences of the year. And the road hasn’t been easy, according to district teachers.

The revamped report card process began last year when the district agreed to contract with a learning management system, Haiku Learning, in an attempt to tie the district’s classroom technology together; improve communication among students, teachers and parents; and integrate standards-based reporting.


Google Education Symposium visits Almond

Traci Newell/Town Crier
An education official from Sweden interacts with students in an Almond School classroom last week during a tour showcasing how the Los Altos School District personalizes education while integrating technology.

Almond School hosted a contingent of more than 100 guests last week, including ministers of education from 22 countries who visited the school for Google Inc.’s Education Symposium.

Almond and the Los Altos School District collaborated with Google on the event through parent and Google employee Rajen Sheth, whose daughter is a kindergartner at the school.


Retired teachers continue to volunteer

Courtesy of Carol Kuiper
Retired teachers Dave Struthers and Sandy Speier sort and price donated books as volunteers of Friends of the Library of Los Altos and Community.

The California Retired Teachers Association marks Retired Teachers Week the first week of November by saluting outstanding volunteers who are retired teachers.

Among the organization’s most active local volunteers is longtime Los Altos Hills resident David Struthers, who joined the Retired Teachers Association in 1993 following his retirement from the Palo Alto Unified School District. Often bicycling to his volunteer stints, Struthers is an avid environmentalist and educator even in retirement. Since retirement, his community service has included administering and reading AP exams and tutoring at Los Altos High School and Eastside College Preparatory for eight years.


Professionals showcase real-life STEM applications at LAHS

Traci Newell/Town Crier
Los Altos High School students examine a bionic limb during a STEM Week presentation on the technology behind rehabilitation. During the 10th annual event, students heard from a variety of experts in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields.

Los Altos High School students explored space travel, examined robotic limbs and discovered the mathematical complexities used in animation during last week’s 10th annual STEM Week.

The annual event drew more than 30 experts from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers, who visited classes to discuss their fields of expertise and expose students to how what they are learning in the classroom applies to future job opportunities.


New principal takes reins at Egan Junior High

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
New Egan Junior High Principal Keith Rocha engages with students on campus. He said he likes being able to build relationships with students and influence what they are learning.

Shocked by his youthful appearance, many parents thought new Egan Junior High School Principal Keith Rocha was a teacher upon first meeting him.

Rocha, who laughed off the misunderstanding, said the school’s orientation in August was a “fun” introduction to the community. At one parent coffee event, he attributed his youthful looks to good eating habits and a devotion to CrossFit.


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