Did You Know? Ampersand

Did you know the ampersand was once part of the English alphabet?

In the early to mid 1800’s, schools would include “&” as the 27th letter of the alphabet. Examples can be seen in M. B. Moore’s 1863 book, The Dixie Primer, for the Little Folks.

The original name of the word, however, was “and” – not “ampersand.” Students would recite the alphabet and finish with “X, Y, Z, and per se and.” The meaning of “per se” is “by itself” in Latin.  Eventually, “and per se and” was shortened to ampersand.

However, “&” existed long before ampersand, about 1,500 years before. Romans would record Latin in cursive. When they wrote “et,” they would often combine the letters, ultimately leading to the eventual formation of &. If you ever see &c, instead of etc. used, you will have a better understanding why and its origin.

The more you know…

Share with your friends and let them know!

Video of the Month

This one is all around amazing, happy video that showcases the power of music.

This video is a poignant example of how music can transform someone’s life. Social worker Dan Cohen creates personalized iPod playlists for the residents of a nursing home in an attempt to bring some joy to them. The reaction of an elderly inmate, Henry, was filmed as a part of the documentary, Alive Inside.

Bound to a wheelchair, Henry is unresponsive and depressed. But something magical happens when he is made to listen to music from his era. His eyes glisten with joy and he gently rocks his frail body as he enjoys the music. He even tries to sing along with the iPod!

People at the nursing home are amazed at the change that has taken over him! After just a few minutes of listening to his favorite songs, Henry is restored in some ways to the fun loving man he once was.

How to Choose the Right School

Choosing the right school is a big task. Your child’s education is the most important thing and we found some great tips for helping you out.

Of course, we would love for you to consider our school, so feel free to call us to schedule an appointment. 407-729-5974

1. Start right now. It might seem like a good idea to wait until summer break to decide whether to send your child to a different school for the 2014-15 school year. But don’t wait to start looking at your options – start the process right now. Seats in great schools are already filling up for the 2014-15 year! Start by asking yourself – and your children: what matters most – to you – in a school? Is it academics, school safety, an educational theme or focus, a specific style of instruction, the school’s values, the qualifications of teachers, the size of classes, or other factors? Make a list.

2. Research your options. The reality is: you do have choices, even if they may seem limited. Find out what types of school choice options are available to you. Some states offer “open enrollment” in public schools, which empowers parents to send their children to schools in different districts. Other states and localities have charter and magnet schools. In some states, you can receive scholarships (either publicly funded or privately funded) to send your children to private and faith-based schools. And now, more than half of US states have full-time, online schools! Remember: each state has different policies, and school choice laws often vary by city, district, or locality, too. During National School Choice Week, avail yourselves of school fairs, open houses, and special events so that you can learn more about these opportunities, and make sure to visit the websites of state-based school choice or education policy organizations for more information, too.

3. Make a list of potential schools and visit them with your children. After you’ve researched the different types of educational opportunities that are available to your family, start making a list of schools that might meet your criteria. Then, visit each of the schools that are on your target list. While you’re there, ask lots of questions. Your visit and your interviews with teachers and administrators should give you a sense of the school’s culture. Is the culture of the school one of high expectations? Do the adults in the building seem to enjoy being there? Do the students in the classrooms seem engaged, well-behaved? Is there enthusiasm and excitement? Is there an expectation that every student in that school will be prepared for college and a career? You want to choose a school with high expectations, a cohesive culture, consistent discipline, and a talented, motivated staff.

4. Talk to other parents – and to your children. Before making your decision, ask parents of other students who attend your target schools about their experiences. You’ll want to ask specifically how the school handles parent involvement. If the school encourages parents to ask questions and be involved, that’s a good thing. If parents are treated like a nuisance, consider staying away. Parental involvement is key to student success. And don’t forget to ask your children about their impressions and their concerns. Sometimes, the answers to these questions can be the most helpful!

The more research you do, the better choices you can make. With time and legwork, you can provide your child with access to a great educational environment.

I like to tell people that they should spend more time looking at schools for their children then they do when they shop around for a new car. If a car doesn’t work out, after two years, you can trade it in; if your child’s school doesn’t work out, it’s hard to recapture two years of lost learning. School choice is important!

Remember: you know your child best, and you are truly in the best position – better than anyone else – to decide what type of school your child should attend.


(Thanks to Andrew Campanella is president of National School Choice Week, an independent, public awareness campaign for these tips)

Cruise Night in Kissimmee

Love old cars? We sure do!

We have the perfect idea for a great family night!

The most well known classic car cruise in the world, the Saturday Nite Cruise®, hits the streets of Old Town every Saturday!

Celebrate a time when the automobile was more than just an appliance, a time when the automobile was the blend of the all-American ideals of individualism and freedom! Kissimmee’s Old Town captures this feeling every Saturday night as they invite all pre-1975 hot rods, street rods, and antiques to join a cruise down memory lane!

Come out to line the streets of Old Town to watch this grand parade of autos! The cars start arriving at 1 p.m. At 7 p.m., a live band takes the Main Stage. The famous Saturday Nite Cruise starts rolling down Old Town’s brick streets at 8:30 p.m.

Top 10 Family Fun Night Ideas

It’s no secret that spending time with your kids and making family time a priority is the way to secure your foundation in your children’s lives.  It makes them feel special that you are choosing to spend the time with them and it helps you to connect with them.

Here is some ideas we have found for a great Family Fun Night!

1. American Idol Night. Have two people in your family be the judges and the rest can be contestants.  If you have a smaller family (and you don’t mind embarrassing yourself) invite some neighbors over to join in the fun.  A karaoke machine is a fun way to spice this night up as well.

2. Home Video Night. All kids love to see themselves when they were younger.  Pop in a tape of their younger days or create a slideshow using pictures of them growing up.  Kids are also fascinated by their parents wedding tapes.  Just make sure to fast-forward if your video is 6 hours long.  The point is not to bore them to death.

3. Volunteer Night. Sign up to volunteer at a local place that needs help.  Specifying your volunteer work to something your child is interested in is a great way to start.  If your child loves animals, volunteer at the humane society.

4. Backyard Campout Night. Camping doesn’t have to take place in the forest.  Popping up the tent in the backyard is a great way to have a convenient vacation.  Remember to include all the things that you normally would at a campsite: s’mores, flashlights, sleeping bags, etc.

5. Family Website/Blog Night. We’ve all heard of family newsletters but join the age of technology and create a family website.  Have your kids help you pick out the layout, colors and design.  Gather together around the computer and decided what information to include on the site.  If you decide to do a blog gather around the computer on a specific night of the week and have the kids tell you what they think should be included.

6. Museum Night. You may be laughing right now when you think of your kids in a museum but hear us out!  Making a scavenger hunt within the museum is a great way for kids to interact with the exhibits.  Another activity in an art museum could include talking about each person’s favorite piece.  With some modern art your family could try to guess what the artist was thinking when they created their work.

7. Zoo Night. This night is pretty self explanatory however make sure to check out your zoo’s events calendar.  Often times zoo’s put on special exhibits or have new updates that your kids will love.  You could also take pictures of your kids doing their best imitation of certain animals.

8. Concert Night. Taking your kids to a concert exposes them to music/culture that they might not hear otherwise.  Outdoor concerts in the summer are great because they are more relaxed.  In the winter take your kids to a symphony.  Sometimes orchestras customize their concerts to put a twist on some songs that your kids might know!

9. Dessert Out Night. Surprise your kids by eating dinner at home and announcing that you’re taking them out for dessert!  If it’s warm, head to an outdoor ice cream parlor and if it’s colder, go out for warm apple pie.

10. $5 Dollar Shopping Night. Take your kids to a store like Target, Wal-Mart, or The Dollar Store and give them each $5.  Make it a contest to see who can buy the best item for the family just using that amount.  Let them know that they can buy numerous items and combing them to make their final purchase.  (Ex. buying letter stickers and spelling out your family’s name on a small scrapbook).


What Do You See?

I just wanted to take a moment to ask you, What do you see?

Have you ever noticed that when something is on your mind you tend to see it more with your eyes?

Not too long ago I was going to buy a new car. I visited a great car dealership I had not previously heard of but was glad I found. They had great deals and a great staff. I decided however, that I should wait a bit so I left and thanked them. That week, it seemed like everywhere I went I saw a car with their logo on it! Had they suddenly sold thousands of new cars that week? No, they did not. It was the fact that my mind was on them and my eyes started to see them everywhere I went.

The same is true for our lives. Paul said in Colossians 3:2 that we are to “think on things above”, meaning to think about God and things that are heavenly. When you think about God and his goodness your eyes will start to see it everywhere you go.

Think about that and then see what happens!

Where Is Your Treasure

It may sound like a question you would hear while riding The Pirates of the Caribbean ride, but in actuality, its a biblical question.

In Matthew 6:20-21 it says, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The treasure doesn’t follow our heart; but rather, our heart follows our treasure—whether it be a career, a family, or a large accumulation of wealth in the bank.

Some people strive their whole lives to collect and gather as much wealth as they can, never getting enough, always needing more.

The greatest things in life are not actually “things”.

We are called to more. We are called to bring love and light to world. Our treasures are the people we meet and help, the witness we give that allows others to see God through us, the opportunities to make a real difference.

The more we serve God and lay up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:20), the more our heart will be set upon the things above where Christ is seated on the Fathers right-hand (Colossians 3:1-6). Most people have invested their treasure in earthly interests, pursuits and wealth; but they couldn’t care less about the things which are Jesus Christs (Philippians 2:21).

Today I want to encourage you to look and see where your treasure is.

Homework Tips

Sometimes getting your kids to do their homework is a choir itself.
Here are ten things you can do to help!

  • Know the teachers — and what they’re looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child’s teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
  • Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
  • Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
  • Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there’s an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)
  • Make sure kids do their own work. They won’t learn if they don’t think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions. But it’s a kid’s job to do the learning.
  • Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
  • Set a good example. Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents’ examples than their advice.
  • Praise their work and efforts. Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.
  • If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk about it with your child’s teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.

(Thank you to Kidshealth.org for providing this great info)

Rising Up

One of the most important things you can do for your kids is to encourage them to rise up to their full potential.

This includes pouring into their gifts and talents.

We strongly adhere to this at both our campuses and encourage students individually to become all that God created them to be.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible comes from when Jesus healed a blind man. This man couldn’t see, therefor his life was limited. He was subject to his environment and you can believe nobody was pouring into him. He was discarded, left to be alone with the others that did not fit into the community. In walked Jesus. Full of mercy and love. He sees this man and is moved with compassion seeing in him all his potential. Jesus heals this man and tells him, “Become what you believe”. That is so powerful. Become what you believe. If you believe you are healed, you are healed. If you believe you are smart and able to get good grades, you are just that.  When Jesus told that blind man to become what he believed, he was telling all of us to do just that.

We choose to help our students see their potential and therefor become what they are.


Easter Weekend

As the weekend approaches and kids are excited for Easter egg hunts and candy, We here at OCPS want to encourage you all to remember what it is we celebrate this weekend.

Did you know that the word “holiday” is actually from the words “holy day”?
Good Friday and Easter Sunday are included among the days for remembering. Like many holidays, they come from the Christian Calendar. But what is it we remember?

Both days find their focus in the person and work of Jesus Christ, God’s eternal Son. Jesus is a unique person. He is both God and man. The Son of God came into our history and took on our human flesh and blood some 2,000 years ago in order to bring salvation for lost sinners. He accomplished that by dying on the cross, there paying the penalty for sin. As the Bible says – the wages of sin is death. That’s why the cross is the most well-known symbol of the Christian faith. It was on the cross that Jesus died, and through his death reconciled us to God the Father. On Good Friday, Christians remember that Jesus died, and more importantly, that he died for them.

Easter Sunday is the day we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He had been dead since Friday, but he was raised back to life the following Sunday, never to die again. Easter demonstrates the power of Christ over death and the grave. Death could not hold him down – the grave had no power over him.

Easter is a time for hope and to reflect on the simple truth that you are free from bondage and the curse.