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Debra Crane selected as Galt's high school teacher of the year

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Posted: Monday, October 13, 2003 10:00 pm

In Debra Crane's pre-engineering courses, Galt High School students get a head-start on careers designing elevators, buildings and planes.

Crane, 47, is this year's teacher of the year for the Galt Joint Union High School District. She is the founder of Galt High's pre-engineering program, "Project Lead the Way," which helps students prepare for careers in engineering and science.

Debra Crane

Most students in the program are interested in mechanical and structural engineering, although some have entered aeronautical engineering programs, Crane said.

"The teacher of the year honor is wonderful, but it didn't happen in a bubble," Crane said. Several staff and other teachers had much to do with the initial success of the program, she added.

The teacher of the year is selected by the principal and vice principals, said Christine Hoffman, superintendent of the Galt Joint Union High School District.

"She is a phenomenal teacher, and that is a program we are very fortunate to have," Hoffman said. Hoffman attended a recent awards banquet in Sacramento with Crane.

Crane often puts in extra time on the job. Every month she hosts a parent night so that students can come into the classroom and see what their children are working on.

"It really is a good idea because most of (the students') parents were amazed they were doing that kind of work," Hoffman added. "That's above and beyond of what's expected."

The pre-engineering curriculum is a four-year program which will be fully in place at Galt High next year. Currently, the high school offers three classes in its engineering program as part of a sequence beginning with freshman. The program began in 2001.

First-year students in the program take a class called Introduction to Engineering and Design. Sophomores take digital electronics and juniors take a class called Computer Integrated Manufacturing.

Clinton Roberts, 16, programs an elevator in the Introduction to Engineering and Design class at Galt High School. (Alejandro Lazo/News-Sentinel)

Juniors used Dell computers to design and program miniature elevators in a Galt High class Monday morning. The projects take about two weeks to complete, said Clinton Roberts, 16, a student in the class.

The room chimed with the different pitched tones of the elevators which looked like Lego towers plugged into the computers.

"(Students have) put together elevators and now they have to program them to stop," Crane said.

Next year, Galt High plans to add the final course to the four-year program. Seniors that have completed the other three classes will have the opportunity to take Principles of Engineering.

Crane researched different high school and engineering programs when the Galt district was initially interested in setting up a program.

"Project Lead the Way" is a national program founded in the 1980s by Richard Blair, then-chairman of the technology department of a school district in upstate New York. The program was intended to garner interest in engineering at the high school and middle school levels.

Crane moved to Galt six years ago. She taught for two years at Wilson High School in Orange County. Before becoming a teacher, Crane owned her own architectural drafting business. She is married to Roger Crane, who is a teacher at Bear Creek High School. They have two children; Chandler Crane, 12, and Turner Crane, a freshman in college.

She will be recognized at tonight's Board of Trustees meeting and will host a presentation on the program.

Tonight's meeting of the Board Trustees will be held in the Galt High School Library, 145 N. Lincoln Way, beginning 5 p.m. Open session begins at 6:30 p.m.

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