The Living Classroom Program

Posted on March 25, 2011 by  
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The school districts in Los Altos have always been open to piloting new and innovative ways to teach their students.  Essentially, the districts have established a multi-directional education experience for the students, their parents, and the broader community.  As we’ve mentioned previously, the local schools are consistently mentioned as one of the primary reasons families want to live in Los Altos.

It’s interesting to note that the districts approach to instilling academic success is a reflection of the high standards and educational expectations of the community.  The schools consistently invite, and actively engage, the community in successful educational partnerships .  The Living Classroom Program is one such collaboration between the schools and the Los Altos community.

Recently, the Town Crier wrote about this program.  Below you will find an edited version of the Crier’s story.  Enjoy …

The Living Classroom Program, which provides garden-based science lessons in the Los Altos School District, is thriving.

The program has sustained growth rates of 50 percent per year over the past two years, providing more than 400 lessons to students in grades K-7 this school year alone.

“The teacher and student feedback from the lessons have been extremely positive, and we are thrilled that more and more students are getting this important exposure to the natural world,” said Nadia Jankovic, Living Classroom docent. “The lessons are science based and tie very well to the children’s school curriculum, helping reinforce what is being taught in the classroom with a hands-on, nature-based focus that the kids really enjoy.”

Founded in 2008, the Living Classroom operates in all seven district elementary schools and is piloting seventh-grade science lessons at Blach Junior High School this spring.

Trained volunteers conduct the lessons primarily outdoors. Specially designed school gardens featuring California native plants and raised planter boxes for edibles are the backdrop for most of the lessons, which also cross into math and social studies.

Mike Sanderson, program director, said “one of the most satisfying experiences you can have as a volunteer docent is to see the genuine excitement on children’s faces when they are really engaged, with all their senses, in learning. Seeing that sense of wonder and connection that children make, sometimes for the first time, with something living in the garden, is truly magical.”

Since its inception, private donations have funded the Living Classroom. Local foundations such as the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Los Altos Educational Foundation, the Morgan Family Foundation and the Los Altos Community Foundation Youth Philanthropy Program and other businesses and individuals have kept the program afloat for the past three years.

For more information, e-mail Mike Sanderson at, call 947-1103 or simply click here.


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Community Briefs for Los Altos

Posted on March 15, 2011 by  
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On a regular basis, the Town Crier compiles a list of upcoming events and activities for the Los Altos community.

From time to time, I will highlight the events to help encourage attendance and participation.  Enjoy …


The 12th Annual Run for Zimbabwe Orphans and Community Fair is scheduled March 27 at St. Joseph School, 1120 Miramonte Ave., Mountain View. The annual event benefits the Makumbi Children’s Home in Zimbabwe.

For more information or to register, visit


GreenTown Los Altos has scheduled a public meeting to kick off city of Los Altos participation in a Drive Less Challenge, 7-9 p.m. March 29 at Hillview Community Center, 97 Hillview Ave. The event includes tips on bicycle/pedestrian safety and information on the latest bikes, gear and accessories for safe commuting.

A Los Altos police officer will provide safety tips for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists who share the roads. A bicycle expert will demonstrate useful gear and accessories.

For more information, visit or call 383-7540.


The third annual Los Altos Live! talent show is scheduled 7 p.m. April 2 at Los Altos High School’s Eagle Theater, 210 Almond Ave. The event, co-sponsored by the Los Altos Cultural Association and the Los Altos Town Crier, features more than 20 acts over approximately 90 minutes.

For more information, e-mail Abby Althoff at or Mike Abrams at


The sixth Peninsula French Fair, “A Day in France,” is scheduled 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 2 at the Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Visitors will have an opportunity to browse booths featuring vendors and artists offering a wide range of services and products, including handmade jewelry, antiques and original art.

Highlights of the fair include a fashion show with the latest creations from French designers, a dance performance by Harmony Dance Center and crepes and pastries from French bakeries.

Partners for New Generations, a Los Altos non-profit organization and co-organizer of the fair, will receive a portion of the proceeds. Partners for New Generations provides mentors and tutors to aid students with challenges in school.

For more information, visit


The volunteer RoadRunners Transportation Service, sponsored by El Camino Hospital, seeks volunteers to provide door-to-door service for people who can’t drive and don’t have other ways to get to their medical appointments.

The volunteering schedule is flexible: drive one day a week, 1/2 day a week or remain on call. Requirements include a California driver’s license, patience and dependability. Volunteers drive hospital vehicles, and service requires no lifting or physical demands.

Orientation and training are provided, and volunteers benefit from free access to hospital resources, including classes offered through the education department. To sign up, e-mail or call 988-8213.

For more information, call Bonnie Adamson, RoadRunner coordinator, at 988-7651.


Partners for New Generations, a non-profit organization, provides tutors for local elementary, middle and high schools students; mentors at Los Altos, Mountain View and Alta Vista High Schools; and child advocates for wards of the Santa Clara County Child Dependency Court.

To volunteer or for more information, contact Linda Waud at or 691-2434, or visit