VOLUME 8 • ISSUE 2
GoodLiving® Magazine is published by Light Shine Media Group, LLC Editor-in-Chief Pamela Se le To submit story pitches or events, firstname.lastname@example.org To adver se or purchase bulk copies of the magazine, adver email@example.com GoodLiving® Magazine P.O. Box 1795 Oldsmar, Florida 34677 (727) 776-3656 firstname.lastname@example.org Edu sements included our publica ons are paid public educa on features placed by sponsors and do not reﬂect the opinions of Light Shine Media Group LLC or other paid adver sers.
Welcome to our Summer 2017 Issue, one that is full of achievement, gratitude and celebration. If you go to our website, you’ll find a link under “The Print Magazine” to see what, as a company, we stand for. You see, this magazine was created in 2010 for the specific purpose to stand for “good things.” I often call it a “Publication with a Purpose,” which is really helpful when someone is curious about why I do this. Going back to my early days as a professional, it was evident that the why is much more important to me than the what or the how much. So when it came time to create a format for a family magazine, I knew in my heart that it had to be something really special. It couldn’t just be ads on paper. It had to make a positive difference. It had to be worth the life of the tree that creates the paper. It had to be worthy of my time and yours. Saying Thank You! In this issue, we have given space to show appreciation to three categories of people in our community. The first is , our K-12 teachers who don’t hear enough about how much we appreciate their hard work and sacrifices. In fact, it seems they are attacked more than they are appreciated. But where would we be without our teachers? We wanted to say thank you and so we asked a prominent business leader, Gary Regoli President and CEO of Achieva Credit Union, to help us say “thank you” for all they do.
early childhd education workers
The second group is our . These are preschool teachers, daycare workers and home childcare providers. When my son was in private childcare, I often called Miss Linda our angel. I knew full well that this woman was caring for and loving on my child when I was at my job. I would stop to consider the sheer weight of this relationship and it was staggering to me. Women who do this kind of daily childcare and early child education have one of the biggest and most important jobs out there since most development happens before the age of five.
About the Cover Our Superdad for this issue’s cover is Mike Fuino with sons Luca and Nico, from Largo. Photo by Brandi Image Photography. BrandiImage.com
. Let me state The third group we are recognizing this issue are first that I realize that not all kids have good dads in the home, or any dad at all. That is a topic for another day. But for those dads who stay, play, work and lead, we honor them for all that they do to lift up their children. We asked readers on social media to send us photos and to tell us why their dad is the “Best Dad Ever.” We loved the responses and hope you enjoy a glimpse into the lives of the everyday dad from the perspective of the moms who nominated them. We wish you a Happy Summer! See you when school resumes.
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Gd News Celebrating Achievements at our Area Schools
Way to Go!
Summer Bridge Registration Open Pinellas County Schools Summer Bridge registration is now open. Currently, there are plans for 42 elementary school sites, 15 middle Are you Following Pinellas County Schools school sites and 19 high school sites. Most elementary, middle and high school Summer Bridge programs will take place June 6 - July 13. There on Twitter? Here’s what you missed. will be no classes July 3 or July 4. During Summer Bridge, juniors The orchestra for Tarpon Springs HS Leadership Conservatory for the and seniors will have a new opportunity to practice for the SAT in Arts got all superior ratings at the FL Music Performance Assessments! school computer labs using Khan Academy’s SATpractice.org site. Largo High’s History Bowl team took 1st place in the varsity division No Summer Bridge registration will be required for SAT practice. at the History Bowl and Bee Nat’l Championship. Nice work! To learn more about the district’s Summer Bridge program visit, pcsb.org/summerbridge. We’re thrilled that PCS has been recognized by The Brookings Institution as the No. 10 ranked district in the U.S. for school choice! Pinellas County Schools Academic Team Wins State Title Congratulations to Lake St. George Elementary’s David Melnick! The Pinellas County Academic Team won the Division I State Championship at the 32nd Annual Commissioner’s Academic Melnick contributes to the health and well-being of students. Challenge. Each student from the winning team received a Florida PCS student Jeremy Keyser has long inspired us. At 15, he’s among High School Athletic Association medal and a $500 scholarship. 12 children nationwide to win a prestigious award. The Commissioner’s Academic Challenge is a highly academic There are approximately 25,000 volunteers who have donated statewide high school tournament. Players are asked questions nearly 500,000 hours of volunteer service to promote academic relating to language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, the achievement in the district. fine arts, world languages (French and Spanish) and technology. Members of the winning team are: Jackson Gillette, senior at Largo High School’s Math team recently took top honors in the Largo High School; Ethan Daniel, senior at Largo High School; Math State Championship. Chris Eschler, senior at Palm Harbor University High School; Twelve Pinellas County students have received 15 National Medals Logan Grutchfield, senior at Palm Harbor University High School; in the Scholastic Art Awards. This is the largest number of awards Michael Fulton, senior at East Lake High School; and Andrew that Pinellas has ever received. Whigham, junior at Seminole High School. Carson McGrail, a seventh-grader at Clearwater Fundamental Student Wins State Communication Contest Middle School, has been named a 2017 National Geographic State Taryn Anderson, a sixth-grader at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle Bee semifinalist. School, was named the state winner in the Optimist Club’s Resource Teacher David Haines, who serves as director of Special Olympics Pinellas, was inducted into the Special Olympics Florida Hall of Fame. Thirty-two Clearwater High students are participating in the second Clearwater High Civil Rights Tour that includes a visit to four cities and three states that were key locations in the nation’s Civil Rights Movement.
Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH). Students from across the state presented on the topic, “What the World Gains from Optimism.” As state winner, Taryn received a $2,500 college scholarship. Taryn represented the Optimist Club of St. Petersburg.
Knowledge of History Leads to a National Championship at Largo High Largo High School’s History Bowl team took first place for the varsity middle bracket division at the National History Bowl and More From Pinellas County Schools Bee National Championships. The championships were held in Washington D.C. and Arlington, Virginia. There were 144 teams Help Pinellas County Schools fill the Book Bus from across the country competing. Members of the winning team Pinellas County Schools summer reading initiative puts books are Jackson Gillette, Ethan Daniel, Noah Denker, Chase Timberlake, in the hands of students and provides incentives to increase their engagement in reading. Over the summer, many families lose access Aden Yacobi and Charles Phillips. The coaches are Deborah Pettingill and Scott Kaplan. In addition to winning the team championship, to critical support that keep students engaged in learning. Help Pinellas County Schools fill the Book Bus with books for students team member Noah Denker placed in the Top 10 in an individual competition. The National History Bee and Bowl promotes global to read over the summer. Donations are welcome 24/7 at history education by providing students with an appreciation for the pcsb.org/fillthebus. Opportunities to donate by check or at Barnes and Noble’s St. Petersburg and Clearwater stores are also available. past that will help them to better navigate the future.
Gd News Ridgecrest Elementary School Earns Recognition in State Wildlife Contest Ridgecrest Elementary School earned an Honorable Mention in the Florida Wildlife Federation’s 8th Annual Kid’s Wildlife Habitat Contest. The contest recognizes students 12 and younger who help establish wildlife habitats. The students in Mrs. Dyer’s second grade class at Ridgecrest established a habitat garden with the help and guidance of substitute teacher and volunteer Kathy Collins. The garden is near the school entrance, so that students can enjoy seeing it and learn about the amazing kinds of wildlife that live in Florida. Boca Ciega High Students Author Book on Human Rights Boca Ciega High School students in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination ) program have partnered with researchers at USFSP to author a book on human rights. The book was co-authored by 64 ninth-grade students who collaborated with local activists, non-profits and USFSP students and professors. Lakewood High School Spanish Honor Society Receives National Recognition The Lazarillo Chapter of Spanish Honor Society at Lakewood High School has been named the Spanish Honor Society Chapter of the Year by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. Maximo Elementary Class Wins Math Video Contest A fourth grade class at Maximo Elementary won a districtwide competition that demonstrates the love of math. Katie Gualtieri’s class submitted a music video that landed them first place in a JiJi Believer Video Competition. The students wrote the words to the song and choreographed it themselves. JiJi is the penguin featured in ST Math games, a computer software program that elementary students utilize to practice their math skills. With the help of JiJi, students persevere and overcome difficult math problems.
Largo High Student Receives International Yes I Can Award Jeremy Keyser, a freshman at Largo High School, received a 2017 Yes I Can Award from the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) in Boston. The Yes I Can program recognizes the accomplishments of 12 students with exceptionalities in six categories: academics, arts, school and community activities, selfadvocacy, technology and transition. CEC honored Keyser with an award for self-advocacy.
Largo High Students Help Children Transition to Life in Foster Care Students in Largo High School’s National Honor Society have partnered with the school’s Parent Teacher Association to support children and teens placed in foster care. As part of a service learning project called First Night Bags, students collected toiletries, clothing, books and other items to provide to children who are placed in foster care.
Keyser is a freshman at Largo High School. He went from reading at a fourth-grade level at the end of sixth grade to achieving the A/B Honor Roll during both years of middle school. In addition, Keyser is an advocate for raising awareness about students with disabilities. Every year, he helps his mother present about students with disabilities at the Great American Teach-In. He’s created a similar presentation to explain his disabilities to his classmates. He also works to raise money for other organizations that help children with disabilities, including Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and his parents’ nonprofit, HUGS of Florida.
Northeast High School Principal is a Finalist for State Principal of the Year Principal Kevin Hendrick is a finalist for Florida’s 2017 Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership, also known as the Principal of the Year Award. The award recognizes principals for their exceptional contributions. Mr. Hendrick has served as principal of Northeast High School since 2008. Since he took the helm, he has expanded the school’s Finance Academy and other career academies, increased Advanced Placement course offerings, improved the college enrollment rate and increased the school’s average ACT score. Statewide winners will be announced during a ceremony on June 21.
PCS Earns National Award for Pioneering Uses of Technology Pinellas County Schools earned Top 10 ranking in the Annual Digital School Districts Survey. The award recognizes districts for exemplary use of technology for innovative curriculum and improved student learning. Awards are presented by the Center for Digital Education at the National School Boards Association annual conference each spring. The awards honors accomplishments, such as investing in tools for next generation digital learners, launching STEM academies and encouraging the innovative use of drones, solar panels and robotics clubs. The district ranked ninth for districts serving 12,000 students or more.
Gd News Pinellas County Schools Named One of the Nation’s Great Districts For Great Teachers Pinellas County Schools has been named a Great Districts for Great Teachers recipient by the National Council for Teacher Quality (NCTQ). Pinellas is among the first eight school districts in the nation selected for this recognition. Pinellas County was one of eight districts of more than 120 considered by NCTQ to receive the honor. Pinellas was recognized for the district’s competitive salaries and benefits, opportunities for professional growth and open communication with teachers.
More Good News from Around the County Students from Academy Prep Test Water Quality The students in Ms. Manke’s Community Cares activity were alarmed by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Her students decided to test the water in their homes for traces of lead. They worked with the Neighborhood News Bureau and found that “their reporting knew it looked similar to Flint, with lower-income residents living in a predominantly minority neighborhood made up of older homes.” Surprisingly to the students, testing revealed that all 46 samples they collected contained lead. This concerned the students after they learned about the Flint water crisis and how many people were becoming ill, just from drinking their water. By raising awareness in their own neighborhoods, our students are able to help the community and prevent the Flint crisis from happening here. Way to go Eagles! Canterbury School Students Help Fight Hunger Recently, Canterbury partnered with St. Thomas Episcopal Church to purchase and pack bags of food for local public school children to take home on Fridays so they have food for the weekend. Orders for individual sacks are communicated on Monday of each week. The number of packs needed is then relayed to St. Thomas Church members who purchase the snacks. Students help pack and prepare the snack bags, and they are delivered to the assigned public school by Friday morning or the last day of the academic week. Pinellas County schools have been witnessing greater than 50% increase in identified homeless students yearly for the past three years. There are now over 50,000 children on the program (for all grades). There are about 50 Title I schools in Pinellas County (this is defined as school with >50% of students on free or reduced lunches). Of the children receiving free lunch, 15% are chronically hungry (identified as chronically hungry by behavior and appearance. To note, most body and brain development occurs before age 8).
Butterfly Garden at Espiritu Santo Girl Scout Daisy Troop 1041 planted host and nectar plants for butterflies in the La Serenidad Prayer Garden at Espiritu Santo Catholic School. They enjoyed a garden picnic, friendship activities, certification ceremony and butterfly release. The garden was certified through the North American Butterfly Association and Monarch Watch as an official way station to help with conservation efforts. The garden is currently home to four different species of butterflies. Pinellas Education Foundations Awards Entrepreneurs The Pinellas Education Foundation awarded $30,000 to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners of its Next Generation Entrepreneurs and Next Generation Tech Programs. Winners can use the funds to either start their business or to go to college or technical school. Winners in the Next Generation Entrepreneur Program: 1st place: FlaStem (Lakewood High School) Team members Nikhil Sharma, Daniel Denison, Michael Froid, Ethan Smith and Adriana Nazarko addressed the gender and diversity gap that permeates the STEM industry and K-12 classrooms all across Pinellas County. 2nd Place: Sail & Save (Lakewood High School) Team members Sean Brodney, Harry Suers, Ethan Myott and William Warren created a solution to lower the cost of water sports equipment rentals so more working and middle class families can enjoy sports like kayaking and fishing. 3rd Place: The Perfect Pitcher (Osceola and St. Pete Collegiate) Team members Samantha Ewing and Ashley Ferrer worked to create a solution that would keep water pitchers from being spilled in food service situations . Winners in the Next Generation Tech Program: 1st Place: Scanned (East Lake High School) Team members Connor Dupuis, Nicholas Ionata and Rohan Kohli created an app to make signing in for attendance for large group events and meetings easier. 2nd Place: Stem Link (Lakewood High School) Team members Nikhil Sharma, Daniel Denison, Michael Froid, Ethan Smith and Adriana Nazarko addressed the need to provide additional online school options for all students. 3rd Place: Game Squids (Career Academies of Seminole) Team members Matthew DiGiovanni, Johnathan Ferguson, Elijah Hunter, Franchesca Komarnitzky and Jaden Slack created a video game to teach about pollution.
Make the Most of Summer Whether your children are busy at summer camps or staying at home, summer is a GOOD time to learn a new skill or create a new experience. The days are longer and there is no homework, so it’s an optimum time of year to break up the routine and create special memories.
Christmas in July
Work on a Family Photo Album
The shelves in our area food banks tend to get very bare during the summer months. However, hunger doesn’t go away in the summer time, so motivate the kids to get together and do a food drive for your neighborhood food bank. Grab a wagon and walk the neighborhood together. Put a box at your place of worship. Get creative and challenge friends to join in.
Resources like Shutterfly make photo albums easier, but it still takes time to organize and create. Set aside a couple of nights a week and work together on choosing photos for specialty albums. You can also start to work on special photo album projects for holiday gifts!
Care Packages for the Homeless
Select one night a week and designate it as popcorn and old movie night. It’s that kind of consistency and tradition that helps memories stick in kids’ minds. You may have to do some digging to find some of the oldies but goodies like The Incredible Mr. Limpet, Herbie the Love Bug, The Apple Dumpling Gang and The Cat from Outerspace. Set up a movie co-op with a group of friends and see what you can share. Also check the libraries for older titles. For pre-teens and teens, some of the older romantic comedies with Doris Day or westerns with John Wayne are a fun, wholesome throw back. Start checking the movie listings now on TCM or AMC and set the DVR to record some classics for the summer.
Another helpful project is to collect toiletries and pack zipper bags to be handed out to those who are homeless. Antibacterial wipes, deodorant, shampoo, soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, sunscreen and some granola bars make a nice package to hand out.
Learn a new OLD skill Summer boredom can be redirected by helping kids find ways to learn “old” skills like embroidery, knitting, sewing, building models, painting, rock polishing, jewelry making and gardening. YouTube can be a good place to get the instruction, but then the point is to work with hands to make things. There are even online programs to teach kids the lost of art of cursive writing, which can be worked on all summer. Whatever the project, kids will get a tangible sense of accomplishment that helps them to build their sense of self worth. For classes, check with Morean Arts Center, Dunedin Fine Arts Center, Palm Harbor Creative Arts Center, Joanne Fabrics and Michael’s. Also inquire with the businesses that do pottery and painting for their summer events.
Learn a new NEW skill While balance is important when it comes digital devices, a beneficial use of these tools is to raise awareness for a cause. Young people are being creative with videos to share information about a cause they feel passionate about. Additionally, young people are getting savvy with Ebay and other methods to buy and sell items, and are starting profitable businesses. Practicing key stroking can be time well spent, as well as working on MS Word skills, graphic design, video making, photography and photo editing. Determine a project that will help you at work, around the house or with a holiday project. Get the kids working on it. With some minimal oversight, a young person can make real headway by having time to focus and learn some of these new skills to complete actual projects.
Without homework to get in the way, summer dinners can be teaching time. Explore a new type of cuisine, like Thai or Indian, and learn together. Experiment and find new recipes that you can incorporate into the busier time of year.
Choose a Night for Old Movies
Plan a Camping Trip Even if it’s for just one weekend, a summer camping trip can be full of long-lasting memories for kids. Get the kids involved in finding the right place to go. Determine tent, camper or cabin and go from there. There are parks here in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties where you can camp very close to home for a weekend. Or venture out to one of the many Florida State Parks for a longer experience. Many of the parks will have kayak or canoe rentals, nature trails and historical monuments. Bring a star guide and look for constellations. Being outside as a family without electronics can be an extremely bonding experience. Summer break is a break in our routine, and that is a real treat to kids! Regardless of what you do this summer to make memories, it’s the memory making that matters. Children love newness in their routine and will cherish some added quality time with mom and dad and siblings. And don’t forget that some of the best memories are made doing nothing special. Just being together and you know, just being...
Enjoy Your Summer!
Achieva Credit Union
Salutes our Pinellas County Teachers
To our thousands of
in the Pinellas County Schl District: As a long-time business leader and volunteer board member with the Pinellas Education Foundation, I wanted to take an opportunity to stop and say a personal word of thanks to the teachers in Pinellas County. From pre-K through high school, we have professionals who meet the needs of their students each and every day with a level of commitment, determination and caring not found in many other professions. I salute you for your hard work, and I thank you a hundred times over for all you do for the students throughout our county. It matters. It really matters and I hope you know how much you are appreciated.
Achieva is here to help you at every stage of life, with specialty accounts for kids, teens and teachers. We look forward to supporting you in the future!
That time of year has arrived. The time we look back and realize another school year is just about finished. It’s bittersweet. You have overseen the work: students learning to read and do math problems, creating solar-powered model cars, competing in Odyssey of the Mind competitions, applying for college and so much more. As Chairman of the Board for the Pinellas Education Foundation, I know exactly how much that means to our families and business communities. And so, wearing that hat, I again say, “thank you.”
Achieva Credit Union was founded by teachers eighty years ago, and keeps its roots in education by supporting our local teachers and students in a variety of ways. One way is our successful, student-run branch located inside Northeast High School that has thrived for more than a decade, providing students real-life job training experience. We have helped lead the way to career education and look forward to watching more Career Academy programs gain success throughout the district. Achieva is also proud to have provided many financial literacy trainings and to have interacted with teachers and students at numerous unique events in our school system. We embrace these opportunities to witness the learning process firsthand, and it always leaves our team feeling inspired and energized by the excitement students exhibit as they learn and grow. Because that’s what this is all about. Education. Teaching our children to have the skills they need to be successful and productive adults. It’s a noble cause, a calling, a selfless endeavor and a daily responsibility that no one can really understand unless they themselves have been responsible for a classroom of students with varying personalities and abilities. So, to all of you amazing teachers out there, I extend my very GOOD thoughts to you. And on behalf of the entire Achieva team, we commend you for completing another school year, expanding your horizons, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone and reaching your goals. We hope you enjoy a summer filled with family, relaxation and fun! Warmest Regards,
Gary Regoli President & CEO, Achieva Credit Union Chairman of the Board, Pinellas Education Foundation
Mike Munson is married to Dana and father to Madeline (2).
Mike is one of the greatest dads I know because being a dad is his first priority all the time. He will drop everything as soon as he walks in the door to do whatever his little princess wants, including letting her paint his nails! There is nothing more endearing than a man who refuses to wear couples Halloween costumes, but will rock a hot pink manicure if his little girls asks him to! He takes ownership of the importance of his role as a father and has a desire to make Madeline’s childhood as loving as it can be. He is a protector, a provider, and a companion. Madeline and I couldn’t not ask for anything more from the man in our lives.
James Beauchamp is married to Denby and father to Josh (13) and Larissa (11).
James is one of the hardest working and most dedicated people I have ever known in my life. He gives it his all at work serving the Veterans of this amazing country and comes home ready to do the same as a wonderful husband of over 18 years, father and role model to our two beautiful children. Our son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 22 months. Our journey has been a long, twisty-turvy rollercoaster of emotions, and yet he has remained a constant support and champion to ensure that all of our son’s needs are met, while never neglecting the needs of our daughter. He does this nearly always maintaining a fantastic sense of humor to move us through some of our most challenging days. He is the kind of dad I know our children will look up to and acknowledge as a very strong, positive influence in their lives. Brian Harter is married to Ashley and father to Gabriella Friend (11).
My husband Brian and I have been married for 1 1/2 years and together for 8 1/2 yrs. Brian is the world’s best dad to Gabby because he loves her like his own. Gabby’s father passed away when she was one. When I met Brian a few years later, he opened his heart to Gabby and me. He has treated Gabby like his own and has shown her what a father is. He has a great, funny personality and the two of them laugh for hours. He is definitely the World’s Best Dad!
Christopher Harvey is married to Susan and father to Cameron (5) and Greyson (3). This dad is one of the greatest dad’s ever because he knows life is too short not to eat the cake with your children!
John Kuzma John Kuzma is married to Jennifer and father to Kristi. He is the Greatest Dad Ever! He goes to all her activities and supports her gymnastics, soccer and softball.
Thomas Truong is married to Nancy with kids Alyssa (3), Allison (5) and Austin (18). Words cannot describe how much of a great father Thomas is. He is the foundation to our family. He always puts his children first and has a giving heart. His children are his #1 priority and it shows. He is a hardworking father. Whether it’s taking the kids out to the park, driving hours away for a car show or camping outside Toys R Us for Hatchimals he does it with no complaints. With no hesitation he provides and takes care of our family.
Jason DeLaet is married to Sarah and father to Quinn (3) and Ronan (1). He is completely hands on. He is kind and patient with our boys. He allows them to “help” with everything he is doing...they plant flowers, wash the car, take measurements with his tape measure. He makes them feel special and important. Watching our 2 boys light up when daddy walks in the room is why I nominate Jason. This is one of my more recent favorite pics of my boys. I get photographs for EVERY holiday and celebration... my husband doesn’t love it but always participates and is a good sport for family photograph sessions.
Phonesay Sourivongs is married to Jennifer Stracick and father to Hendrix (3). Here we are at the Ft. Wilderness camp site and Hendrix just took his first pony ride. You can see the joy in their faces and how happy they are. His dad is explaining to him all about horses. He is gentle with him, never yells, teaches him everyday and shows so much affection. He works 2nd shift and doesn’t get to bed until 2 a.m. Then he wakes up at 8 a.m. to care for him while I work, leaving him not much sleep. Overall he’s a great dad!
ANDREW ROSE Andrew (Andy) Rose married is to Dr. Theresa Hartley and father to Elizabeth Victory (1). Andy is the greatest Dad EVER! He has tireless energy to play with both his children and always puts their needs first. He builds their confidence and helps them explore their imagination. He is a hero in their eyes and mine!
Keith Eroh Keith Eroh is married to Laura and dad to baby Cole. Keith is a wonderful dad to Cole, and he is about to be a father of two! He is so excited to be a father and loves his little boy more than you could imagine! Making sure his son is learning, active and a part of everything he does is his outlook on fatherhood! These two just love each other!
Justin Pabis is married to Kelly and dad to Carlin (2) and Layla (13 months). Our dad is the greatest because he works hard, is genuine and loves us unconditionally. We may be his little girls, but we are his biggest fan!!!!
Elliot Ortiz Elliott Ortiz is married to Chelsea and dad to Charlie, Tommy, and new baby Emily, not pictured. He’s amazing and I’m so glad I kept pestering him at work to be social and go out with my friends and I. Not only is he a loving husband and father he puts his feelings aside and does things for/with our family out of his comfort zone. For example this picture captures him at the zoo and he is terrified of animals. Not comically, like seriously afraid and he goes to the zoo or parks (with gators around) to be with our family. I found a good guy!
Mike Fuino is married to Breanna and father to Luca and Nico. To my Superman. It’s been almost a decade since we found each other. I remember watching in awe the way your family all loved, cared and looked out for one another and I was thrown in from the start. I’ve seen how you are so much like your dad. He, too, was an amazing father you wanted to be just like him. He was your Superman.
Ou r C over Dad!
Ken Sapp Ken Sapp is married to Mandi and father to Caleb (8) and Jaxson (2). Ken is the best father I could have chosen for my children. He teaches them daily to be brave, because if even though they may not feel brave, if they ever fall, he will always be there to catch them. He can turn their cranky right around until they are belly laughing within minutes. He works tirelessly to ensure they are able to have those soccer lessons, school uniforms and family vacations filled with memories we won’t soon forget. Above all else, he is gentle and loving. He is their fierce protector, secret keeper, and rough house buddy. He is adored beyond measure and we are thankful for him everyday.
Today, my love, I want you to know that you are a great, great man. Everything you do is for us. You ask for and want nothing but to see us smile, healthy and happy. It’s the little things... You sleep EVERY single night in Luca’s room because he wants you to. You take our boys to school because it’s the only one-on-one time you get with them. You encourage the boys as they learn and you don’t push them. Then, there’s those moments you don’t know I am watching that I fall in love with you all over again. Playing crazy music in the kitchen dancing and singing to the boys and they look upon you like you once looked upon your dad. The moment you walk in the door and they jump up yelling “daddy” with the happiest little faces and run to you wrapping their little arms so tight around your neck. You insist on rocking the boys to bed every night. You’re the frame that holds this house of love together and I today and everyday am thankful and love you so very much.
Aaron Padron Aaron Padron is married to Jennie. My husband Aaron is an amazing dad because he adores our kids and would do anything for them. He takes time to make sure they are happy, healthy and enjoying their lives. He does little things to make them laugh everyday and works so hard to make sure they have everything they need. I love seeing our kids light up with excitement to see him after work. We are foster parents and began fostering a year ago with the goal to help children in need and the hope to one day adopt.
Matt Smith is married to Elisha Nelson Perez is married to Tiffany and dad to Brianna (11), and father to Emelia (19 months). Mikayla (11) and Joshua (7). Growing up I did not have my dad Nelson is the greatest dad ever nearby and so I never got to see what an active and present dad looks like. because he nurtures, supports Matt has completely blown me away and laughs with our children with the understanding of what every day. Nelson will dance a father’s love can be. He stayed to the choreographed dances home with Emelia after I went back by Mikayla and he will be to work for almost a whole year! He funny with our witty daughter, Brianna. He will play basketball did every little detail (introduced with our son. He is a Godly man new foods, tummy time, etc.) and did it so well. He gave Emelia her who leads by example. Nelson first swing, her first steps and her listens to our kids and shows first pancake. Though it was hard them how they should expect for me to miss some of those to be treated. I am so blessed things, knowing Emelia was with that he is their father. her daddy was heartwarming and fulfilling. He is the most selfless caring dad I know!
A Time-line Leading Up to the First Day At least one week before: Start your child on a school-day routine – waking up, eating, and going to bed at regular times. Explain that everyone in the family will adjust to the new schedule. For older children who having trouble getting up, give them an alarm clock. Have them practice using it. Ask your child to help plan lunches for the first week. Shop for school supplies together. Practice coping skills to use when worried.
A couple days before school: Go to school several times – walking, driving or taking the bus. For young children taking the bus, draw out the route, talk about how long the ride takes and about bus safety. Take a school tour. See the classrooms, cafeteria and bathrooms. If possible, meet your child’s teacher with your child. Ask your child to choose clothing for the first week. Let your child wear a favorite outfit on the first day. Pack the backpack with your child the night before. Suggest taking a pocket-sized “safety” object to school.
The first day of school: Have your child go to school with a friend for the first couple of days. Tell the teacher your child is anxious – most teachers are experts at this, with years of experience! Most importantly, praise your child for brave behavior!
Helping Your Child With Back-to-School
y t e i x An School may be just letting out, but over the next couple of months, students who are moving up or changing schools may start to feel anxious. These feelings are normal. As the start of school approaches, your child may cry, have temper tantrums, headaches or stomach pains, withdraw or become sullen or irritable. Many children and teens worry about different school-related issues, such as teachers, friends and fitting in. Common worries include: What if my teacher is mean? Will anyone be my friend? Are my clothes OK? Will I look stupid? Who will I eat lunch with? What if the schoolwork is too hard?
Handling Back-to-School Worries Look after the basics. Tired and hungry children cope poorly. Anxious children often skip eating and sleep poorly. Provide nutritious snacks for your child. Create a predictable routine for your child, including eating, morning and bedtime structure. Encourage your child to talk about fears. Ask what worries him and assure him worry is normal. Weeks before school starts, set up a regular time and place to talk. Some children feel comfortable in a private space with your undivided attention (such as before bed, or mealtimes). Teens often welcome a distraction (such as driving in the car, or taking a walk). Avoid reassurances. Instead, problem-solve and plan! Children often seek reassurance that bad things won’t happen. Avoid saying “Don’t worry!” or “Everything will be fine!” Instead, encourage your child to think of ways to problem-solve. For example, “If (the worst) happens, what could you do?” or “Let’s think of some ways you could handle that situation.” Coach your child on how to cope with (and understand) both real and imagined scary situations. Practice with your child. Role-playing with your child can help build confidence in problem-solving. For example, let your child play the part of the demanding teacher or bullying classmate. Then, model appropriate responses and coping techniques. Focus on schools’ positive aspects! Encourage your child to focus on positives, and away from negatives. Ask your child, “What are you excited about on your first day of school?” Most kids can think of something, even if it’s just eating a special snack or going home after school. Watch your behavior. Children take cues from parents, so model confidence and comfort. Be supportive yet firm. Give a cheerful goodbye in the morning – once! Avoid rewarding your child’s protests by allowing them to stay home. Instead, calmly say: “I can see that going to school worries you, but you still need to go. Tell me what you are worried about, so we can talk about it.”
a note from
Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County
Investing in Children. Strengthening our Community.
Summertime can be filled with fun family memories – trips to the beach, picnics in the park, family vacations. But, it is also a time to be extra vigilant when it comes to your children and water. Did you know that small children drown without making a sound and that they can drown in as little as one inch of water? Drowning is silent and is the leading cause of death for children ages one to five in Florida. In fact, Florida loses more children under age five to accidental drowning than any other state in the nation. For children under age one, bathtubs, buckets, toilets, and even your pet’s water dish pose a threat. Once children learn to walk, all bodies of water – ponds, lakes, canals, spas, and swimming pools – present dangers. In fact, about eight out of every 10 child drowning deaths occur in home swimming pools – yours, your neighbor’s or your relative’s – and the majority of small children who drown in a pool were last seen in the house. The message is a simple one: any child can drown, any time, any place. That’s why everyone needs to know these important facts and share life-saving tips.
TIPS ON WATER SAFETY
One of the most important things you can do as a parent or caregiver is to enroll your child in a swim safety program. Formal swimming lessons for children under age four cuts the risk of drowning by 88%!
Supervise children at all times around bodies of water. Any body of water poses a potential threat, including bathtubs.
Eliminate distractions for anyone watching children near water. NO texting, phone calls, gaming or reading.
Never lose sight
of small children near water. Small kids drown without making a sound – and drowning can begin in as little as 20 seconds.
between children and water. Make sure fences, gates, windows and doors between children and water are in place, locked and working properly.
Enroll your child in a swim safety program. Formal swimming lessons are a proven way to save young lives.
Learn CPR. It’s a proven life saver.
The Juvenile Welfare Board has teamed up with the Tampa Bay Rays, United Way Suncoast, and Pinellas County YMCAs to proudly support Be Water Smart from the Start. This program offers water safety courses and swim scholarships for children. As leaders in drowning prevention, the YMCA of the Suncoast and YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg urge parents and caregivers to take advantage of this program, and to make the YMCA your home base for swim safety this summer! For more information about the Be Water Smart from the Start program, please visit ymcatampabay.org.
Because all kids matter! Dr. Marcie A. Biddleman Executive Director Juvenile Welfare Board
a note from
Pinellas County Schools It’s hard to believe
that we’re closing another successful school year and beginning preparations for the 2017-2018 school year. Over the past nine months, our students have absorbed a tremendous amount of information, which will serve as a foundation for future learning. Here at Pinellas County Schools, we understand the importance of keeping that foundation intact. The so-called “summer learning slide” is real, and that’s why Pinellas County Schools has created programs and initiatives to keep students sharp as they head into a new school year. As you navigate your summer learning options, please consider the following programs and initiatives: Summer Bridge is offered June 6-July 13 for elementary, middle and high school students who are performing below grade level in reading or math or need to make up a core graduation class. The program prepares students for maximum success when the next school year begins by offering engaging reading, mathematics and science activities as well as individualized instruction. Lessons blend technology with small group instruction, hands-on experiments and project-based learning. Visit the district’s Beyond the Classroom webpage for a variety of educational activities that are accessible from the comfort of your home. You can find links to: Khan Academy, offering practice exercises, instructional videos and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace. My Virtual Backpack, a collection of reading resources for students ranging from kindergarten through high school. ST Math, a research-proven, comprehensive, grade-level math program that utilizes Spatial-Temporal reasoning to teach math concepts aligned to the Florida Standards. This resource is for kindergarten through fifth grade students. ThinkCentral, a website that provides access to digital materials associated with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt products. BrainPOP, a website that features animated, curricular content that engages students, supports educators and bolsters achievement.
Reading with the Rays, brought to you by the Tampa Bay Times, encourages kindergarten through 12th grade students to continue summer reading. Students who complete the program will earn a certificate of completion signed by Evan Longoria and two tickets to a Tampa Bay Rays game at Tropicana Field. In partnership with the Pinellas Education Foundation, Pinellas County Schools circulates The Book Bus to keep students reading over the summer. The Book Bus will visit Summer Bridge sites and Community Centers so students can select books to take home. Consider donating to the project or visiting one of the book pick-up sites with your student. As you can tell, Pinellas County Schools is dedicated to providing you and your student with the best resources to prevent the summer learning slide and prepare your student for the upcoming school year. We look forward to continuing to partner with you to realize your student’s full potential.
Have a wonderful summer! Michael A. Grego Superintendent, Pinellas County Schools
The GoodLiving® Healthy Kids Club and Gold’s Gym Largo want to help you and your teenager get healthier together with the Team Up 2 Shape Up BOGO offer!
Buy One Get One Free Gold’s Gym Annual Membership For parent and a teen child (13 - 18) to work out together at the new Gold’s Gym in Largo. Mention this offer when signing up! Gold’s Gym Largo is the new headquarters for family-friendly fitness. And by family, we mean your family. You and your teenager. Working out together brings a new dynamic to quality family together time. Challenge each other to weight training competitions. Chat about the day while working on the cardio machines. Burn calories together in a class. If you’ve never pictured yourself exercising with your teenager, focus in on what the positive results can be!
10 Reasons WHY YOU SHOULD EXERCISE WITH YOUR TEENAGER AT GOLD’S GYM 1.
Being a GOOD role model helps to establish good habits that last. 2. Spending valuable time together is an investment in each other. 3. Establish a deeper bond by working on a common goal. 4. Keep each other company and hold each other accountable. 5. To transform a non-athletic teen into a physically fit teen. 6. More physical activity helps students perform better academically. 7. Physical conditioning builds confidence and reduces stress. 8. A health conscious teen is less likely to smoke, drink or take drugs. 9. Our state-of-the-art fitness center in a safe, clean and friendly environment. 10. The Gold’s Gym legacy of fitness training, nutrition coaching and support.
Make Gold’s Gym in Largo your Gym Home GoodLiving Healthy Kids Club Ambassador Brandon McIntosh, owner of Be a Fit Kid, is holding classes on Saturdays from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Golds Gym in Largo. For kids 7 to 14. Gym membership not required. Sign up is at the gym.
Stop by Today and Join! 2178 E Bay Dr, Largo, FL 33771 (727) 240-1400 GoldsGymLargo.com
ACTIVE AS A FAMILY GETTING EVERYONE TOGETHER ONLY GETS MORE DIFFICULT AS KIDS GET OLDER. THE SOLUTION? EXTEND DINNERTIME. What does dinnertime look like at your house? Is everyone together? Is everyone really present? Meaning, no cell phones or iPads at the table? This time is critical for the health of your family and I urge you to keep that time sacred and protect it. (First off, ban technology at the dinner table.) As kids get older and start to branch off into their own activities with their own groups of friends, getting everyone together for dinner becomes harder and harder. Getting everyone active at a separate time can seem nearly impossible. The solution as I see it: Combine the two. Make after-dinner activity a part of the meal. Everyone quickly cleans up together and then you head outside. Here are just a few ideas of what you can do:
try to save anything physical for an ideal time of day when they’re not too tired, hungry or full. It’s a mistake to always try to hit that perfect window because if you miss the window, you’re probably going to skip being active altogether. By getting your family moving when they are full, we accomplish a few things: 1) we show them that light physical activity after a meal actually helps us digest, and 2) we show them that physical activity at ANY time of day has a positive effect on our physiology. Our bodies are designed to move all the time, not just during some hypothetically perfect window. Show them that they can go grab positive endorphins whenever they want. They’re just a brisk walk away. Best of all, when you are able to get the whole family together for dinner, you’ll be able to extend that time and make it that much more special.
Kids will follow your lead and mirror your behavior. If not in the shortterm, then definitely in the long-term. Count on it and act accordingly.
A brisk walk: No one can say they don’t know how to do it. Bike ride: More invigorating than a walk, the swiftly-moving scenery stimulates the mind. HORSE: A low-intensity basketball game for everyone that doesn’t require any actual basketball skills. Hide-and-seek: If you’ve got very young ones, they’ll go nuts for it. If you’ve got older kids, it can become a bit more competitive!
Robert Irvine is a celebrity chef and partner in Gold Gym, Largo, FL. His healthy living manual, Fit Fuel, is available at FitFuelBook. com. His monthly healthy lifestyle magazine, Robert Irvine Magazine, is available for free download at RobertIrvineMagazine.com.
Most people avoid physical activity after a meal. Instead, they
BATTLE OF THE SPORTS DRINKS by ANGELA RAHM NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR It’s summer time and the heat can leave us all thirsty and dehydrated. That’s true for adults who are busy from morning to night. And it’s true for our little ones in the pool all day, the kids out who are outdoors running around or the teens at band or sports practice in the hot Florida sun. But how do we, young and old, quench our thirst and take care of our bodies at the same time? The popularity of sports drinks indicates that we are trying to quench our thirst, staying away from sugary sodas and juice. But these sports drinks can contain as much or more sugar, plus they contain other ingredients that can be hazardous to your overall health, especially if they are used in large quantities. Chugging a whole bottle, or two, of a sports drink is overloading your thirsty body with sugar and chemicals it doesn’t need. Sport drinks are not all created equal and in many cases can cause serious side effects, such as kidney stones, weight gain, and behavior problems, as well as sleep, intestinal and heart issues. Sugar is a known factor in diabetes in adults. But take into consideration that 208,000 children were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2016. Is it possible that these popular drinks may be part of the problem? I challenge you to search “dangers of sports drinks” to read what others are saying. It’s not information you will see in any advertisement, so it is up to consumers to know what they are putting in their bodies.
inability to control blood sugar levels, muscle breakdown, lactic acid accumulation, kidney stress, cardiovascular and circulation problems -- just to name a few! You don’t need to be an athlete to be dehydrated and low on essential nutrients.
So What is the Healthier Choice for a Sports Drink? I recommend this product from a company called IDLife. It’s called simply, Hydrate. It provides the entire family a sugar-free hydration drink loaded with essential nutrients to support the body on a cellular level. • It helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels • It has electrolytes to minimize physical stress, muscle fatigue and cramping • It includes antioxidant support to fight free radicals and oxidative stress • It includes minerals and vitamins that help nerves and muscles work properly Hydrate is safe for kids of all ages, so choose it for a day at the beach, summer outdoor activities, team sports, vacations and summer camp. It tastes delicious while being sugar-free, and it has no harmful artificial sweeteners. Just good nutrition that properly hydrates. As a parent, and as a naturopathic doctor, I am constantly evaluating the impact our choices have on our bodies. It’s important to me to find solutions and share them, and so I hope you will take a look at how your family quenches its thirst, and then give Hydrate a try.
I’d like to tell you about a healthier alternative, but first, let’s talk more about the epidemic of dehydration.
75% of Americans are dehydrated. The fact is that we are simply aren’t drinking enough water. Americans are choosing coffee drinks that dehydrate, energy drinks that have harmful stimulants and sugary drinks that are adding to our waistlines and our diabetes rates. Our bodies want and need water to stay properly hydrated with fluid. Along g with low hydration is a loss of critical nutrients from workouts and stress that can lead to a host of issues such as decreased metabolism, lack of energy and concentration, cramping, an
For more information or to order Hydrate go to
Dunedin Grower Provides Locals with Farm-to-Table Food “I read this thick book about how to live longer and my takeaway is that I should eat raw kale. So I pick some of that kale, chop it and add it to a salad with arugala from over there and cherry tomatoes from over there. I’ve been doing that for a while and I feel great!” That is the story that farmer Chris Bates tells the customers that stop by his U-Pick farm off County Road 1 in Dunedin. Rows and rows of hydroponic planters contain cherry tomatoes, lettuce and 10,000 strawberry plants. The land behind contains collards, kale and shallots and there are plans for more. He stands proudly in his overalls and hat, scanning his crops and watching for new visitors. Every newcomer is personally greeted and given a tour, along with an explanation of the benefits of hydroponic farming (75% less water), and the nutritional value of kale (longer life). Teaching is something that isn’t foreign to Bates. He’s been teaching or supervising teachers for 26 years. July will be his final month as principal of Dunedin Middle School. Come August 1st, the respected Mr. Bates will wear his farmer hat full time. While retiring from public schools, Bates will continue educating. He will oversee school field trips, summer camp visitors, children’s birthday parties, corporate events and social events, while teaching about urban, or in this case, suburban farming. In the near future, the farm will be a teaching center for hydroponic farming. “We can set up a small system in someone’s yard or we can help a budding entrepreneur start a new business. Because it is a business. People want locally grown food and will pay for it.”
They also want eggs from pasture raised chickens, and Bates has those too. On weekends, kids who accompany their parents can get an ear of corn to feed to swarming, but friendly, red hens. They can also feed carrots to two miniature donkeys who are there to protect the chickens from predators. Nestled in a typical suburban Pinellas County neighborhood, behind a daycare center and surrounded by homes, one would never know there was a working farm growing food. Visitors see the signs along the road and stop by to see what it’s all about and for a moment forget where they are. The property contains an original cracker house from 1852 that was owned by R.L. Garrison and called the “original Dunedin Farm.” Behind it a 200 year-old oak tree, a donkey pen, a chicken yard, a produce stand and of course the rows of plants. The chicken yard is being dual-purposed to contain a playground to enhance the experience for field trips, campers and birthday parties. The elevated deck is a wonderful spot for yoga or Tai Chi classes, parties or quiet rocking in the rocking chairs. Chris and Kris n Bates are proprietors of the Jerry Branch Berry Ranch. The farm is open Saturdays and Sundays un l August when it will be open every day. Visit JerryBranchBerryRanch.com to learn more or to book a ﬁeld trip or party.
My Story A Dad’s View on Shorts vs. Pants by DINO M. SCANIO Most of us will do whatever we can to fit in and look “normal.” As a parent of a special needs child, I often find myself contemplating what to dress my son in. Some people feel we should not draw unwanted attention to him if we can help it. Our loved ones worry he will be bullied, that people will stare at him or ask endless questions because he is “different.” You see, my son has mitochondrial disease. As a result, he wears leg braces. So I have to decide whether to dress him in pants that will hide the braces or to let him wear shorts. I admit that before this, I never really thought about whether jeans or shorts look better. After all, I regularly wear knee-high superhero tube socks with shorts. So maybe my opinions about fashion don’t carry a lot of weight. But I truly believe my son has nothing to hide. Let the world see his leg braces. Yes, the braces cause him to run differently than his classmates, and they create some difficulty getting up from the floor. He might struggle to keep up with others because of them, too. But those braces keep him walking. And from a distance, they look like knee-high tube socks with shorts—so when we stand together, we look alike! I often tell my wife, if I can help my son assimilate in today’s world the way God has made him, then I guess I’m doing my job as a father. The braces that cling to my son’s legs like skin are part of his daily routine. For a six-year-old who has been admitted to the hospital more times than the average adult, there is no “unwanted attention” that can do more harm than what he has already faced in his young life. Covering his braces will not do anyone any good because we can all learn from each other, no matter our limitations. Those leg braces are part of my son’s daily routine, part of our family, and they have given him the freedom to walk. My son was born into this life, and it feels “normal” to him. He will teach so many individuals how blessed they truly are and how thankful they should be for a healthy life. Not to mention, there is no reason a person cannot accomplish greatness because he or she uses leg braces or gets around in a wheelchair. My son’s success will not be based on his feeding tube, leg braces or medical port but on the morals, values and knowledge we instill in him. All the extra medical items my son uses as part of his “normal” life—including his leg braces—are simply extra superhero weapons to help fight this battle. My son, who faces daily physical and medical obstacles, has taught me so many humbling lessons. If I could trade places with him and be the victim of this progressive disease, I would, but I can’t. But I will ALWAYS choose to wear knee-high superhero tube socks with shorts because it gives me a chance to stand next to my son and look up at my superhero.
Dino Scanio is a third genera on Tampa na ve with a passion for service. He founded the Florida Ortho c & Prosthe c Outreach Team (FOOT Founda on) in 2007, a 501(c)3 public charity, assis ng children and adults in impoverished countries. Dino has been providing humanitarian care for children abroad for over 10 years. His Founda on also helps small chari es in the local Tampa community and is commi ed to raising awareness about Mitochondrial Disease. Tickets are now available for the FOOT Founda on’s annual fundraiser. This year they are celebra ng their Ten Year Anniversary on Saturday, August 19th at the Centro Asturiano Ballroom in Tampa. Tickets are $35 for dinner, wine, and dessert. More info is at foo ounda on.org
Honors Our Early Childhood Educators and Caregivers The years from birth to five years old are the most important developmental years for a child. The majority of the brain’s connections are made during this time, and a child’s personality is mostly formed. That means that the caregivers who spend the most amount of time with your child are helping to shape the person that child will become. Every morning across Pinellas County, tens of thousands of moms and dads drop their children off at a daycare center, a preschool or at the home of a private, licensed childcare provider. They are trusting their child to another person, and while it may not seem like a big deal, IT IS HUGE! The individuals who care for and teach young children are contributing one of the most valuable services to our community, because without them, parents would be unable to work and support their families financially. They receive training in child development, teaching techniques and first aid. But most importantly, they provide the daily love and encouragement children need at this age. These teachers and caregivers are not given nearly enough credit for the valuable service they provide everyday, let alone proper compensation. So we are taking this opportunity to say, “thank you.” We appreciate all you do to care for and teach our youngest children during this most important developmental phase. And to the lawmakers who will receive this, please support adequate funding for quality early learning programs in Florida. Our children deserve the best start they can get. #goodlivingstandsforkids
NOTE FROM EDITOR THERE ARE SO MANY TEACHERS TO THANK. THIS IS JUST A SMALL SAMPLE OF HOW PARENTS FEEL ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN’S TEACHERS. PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO SHARE THE ARTWORK ON THE BACK OF THIS STORY AND SAY THANK YOU IN YOUR OWN WORDS.
From the Community: Early child educators do so much more than teach letters and numbers. They teach children how to learn, manage their emotions, problem solve and persist in the face of challenges. They help children build a strong foundation for success in the classroom, in life, and in the workplace. --Lindsay Carson, CEO Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County, Inc. Teachers with appropriate preparation and continuous professional support in early childhood development and education are the most likely to positively effect children and their families. They provide richer language and other content experiences, appropriately implement curricula and creative play and provide for individualized and group instructional opportunities. They make a difference in a child’s readiness for Kindergarten. R’Club teachers fit this bill! --Arthur O’Hara, MSW, Executive Director R’Club Child Care, Inc.
From Parents: I would love to give special recognition to Alison Dudding, Brittany Kennedy and Katie Smith (PreK3) of Indian Rocks Christian School. They have gone above and beyond for my daughter, who struggled in her previous daycares/preschools. She has made huge progress due to their creative engagement, patience and nurturing ways. She can be quite a challenge, yet they love her and build on her strengths. My husband and I are forever grateful for those three. --Mandy Hines, LMHC, QS, MCAP Our family LOVES “Ms. Sue” (Susie Yolkiewicz) in the 3 year-old room at Oak Crest Preschool. She taught my daughter 4 years ago and now has my son in her class. Ms. Sue is AMAZING! She makes learning fun for every child. She teaches more than just counting and ABCs, she also teaches about the world around us (recently my son has been coming home wanting to “plant a garden” and telling me how important it is to protect the plants and trees after learning about gardening with Ms. Sue ). I am in awe of her ability to effectively teach so many different personalities and learning styles -- 3 year-olds are not an easy bunch! Thank you Ms. Sue for ALL that you do!! --Rachel Noll-Bastacky My son attends Bright Beginnings in Dunedin, he had been there since he was almost three-months old. We have had the most amazing experiences with both his infant class and his 1 year-old class. Without the guidance of his amazing teachers over the last 13 months he wouldn’t be where he is today, he has learned so much. A huge thank you to Miss Michelle and Miss Shannon from his infant room and Miss Maria, Miss Mary Beth and Miss Alli in his 1 year-old class. Barrett loves you all! --Helen Asp I would like to thank Karen Gardner, the director at Skycrest Christian Preschool. She does a terrific job managing the day-to-day activities of the preschool as well as hiring amazing loving teachers to care for our little ones. In particular, I would like to thank Krystina Barber, a 2 year-old classroom teacher. She is truly amazing with her class. Two year-olds can be challenging as they try to express their thoughts and control their feelings (let alone potty training) yet Krystina takes care of them effortlessly with her patience and understanding. Thank you. --Jaime Howe