April, 2015 - A Few Headlines
Ask the Docs – Stretch vs. Strength
AW Stories of the Month – The Boss Project
Florida Foodie – South Florida’s Microbrewery Boom
Living Green – What Does Earth Day Mean to You?
Wellington Amphitheatre – Current Schedule of Events
Planet Kids of Wellington and The Wellington Preparatory School
By Krista Martinelli
If you’re looking for a preschool and elementary school with experienced teachers, a low ratio of students to teachers and a proven record of excellence in education, check out Planet Kids at Wellington and, on the same campus, The Wellington Preparatory School.
The educational advantage these students are getting is shown in the confidence they display as you walk through the beautiful facilities, as well as their test scores. Planet Kids at Wellington celebrates its thirteenth year this September, while the sister elementary school Wellington Prep has been open for three years.
Principal of both schools Sandy Montoya says, “We aim for a family atmosphere here. Our priority is to be very nurturing and make sure the students are happy.” She feels that the students have a more stimulating environment at Planet Kids than at your typical preschool, thanks to the iPad lab, the science room, the library and other educational outlets. Jeffrey Altschuler, founder and president, adds, “Even in our preschool, the kids are changing classes for each program.” Located on five acres on Lake Worth Road (near Lyons Road), there’s a college campus feeling with both Planet Kids and Wellington Prep. There’s an art room, a science room, a theater room, a language arts room – the kids are always on the move.
Both schools have received national accreditation. Planet Kids at Wellington has also been rewarded the Florida Gold Seal of Quality designation. “The teachers have been here for years,” says Montoya, “Everyone stays.” Also, she stresses that they make it a priority to get to know each child. Currently there are approximately 300 students at Planet Kids and approximately 50 students at Wellington Prep, which currently goes up to 2nd grade. They are expanding with the groundbreaking of a new building planned for December of this year, which will eventually expand Wellington Preparatory School to 8th grade.
The great programs offered at Planet Kids and Wellington Prep begin with children as young as six weeks old. Their “Beyond Cribs and Rattles” program ranges from 6 weeks to 24 months of age, where they focus on nurturing, art, music and teacher interaction. From 24 months to 4 years of age, students are enrolled in an ABeka phonics program and “Beyond Centers and Circle Time”, a thematic-based curriculum, which incorporates play.
Parents can enroll their children in Planet Kids’ VPK program, just like any other VPK program in Florida, free of charge (for the half day). The School offers three versions of its fulltime VPK program: traditional, accelerated and dual language. The accelerated learning class uses “Everyday Math,” as developed by the University of Chicago and the highly-acclaimed Lucy Calkins writing and reading methods, as developed by Columbia University. The dual language VPK program (Spanish / English) uses “Sonrisas” where students learn a lesson in the morning and then after 12:00 learn the same lesson, taught completely in Spanish. The Wellington Prep Elementary School curriculum continues by using the University of Chicago’s Everyday Math program and the same reading and writing program, developed by Columbia University. All elementary students are enrolled in a violin program, the Spanish dual language program and a Meet the Master’s art program.
The Best in Technology
One of the nice things about the iPad lab, says Jeff Altschuler, is that for the younger children, “No fine motor skills are needed.” Everyone can use an iPad. As the children get older, they have computers in every classroom. They also have Smartboards. These are like interactive white boards, allowing students, for example, to underline all of the nouns in a poem. Having the best of technology at their fingertips is fun for the students and prepares them for using technology in their college years and beyond.
Safety and Security
“We are obsessive about safety here,” says Principal Sandy Montoya. They have locks on all doors and there’s a Raptor security check system in place. This system is a national company that provides immediate confirmation of a person’s background.
Keeping the Arts Alive – Meet the Masters
In kindergarten, the students will be introduced to ten of the Masters of the art world. It’s a “looping curriculum,” explains Altschuler. The students will copy the technique of artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Cassatt and their work will be displayed proudly in the school. Their education about these masters of art will continue each year. “And by the time they graduate from 5th grade, they have a great, classical appreciation of art,” adds Altschuler.
As Altschuler and Montoya point out, there’s a close tie between math and music. The more it is researched, the more value is found in the importance of learning an instrument. In particular, says Altschuler, “We have found that learning an unfretted instrument like the violin is the best way for training your ear for music.” See the related video, from Ted Talks, about how playing an instrument benefits your brain.
About Founder and President Jeffrey Altschuler
Jeff originally worked in Chicago advising large companies. He returned to Florida and found that he had an affinity toward education. He invested in The North Broward Preparatory Schools, located just south of Boca Raton, and it grew to its target capacity. Then he was one of the founders of the Meritas school system, a premium K thru 12th grade family of college preparatory schools with locations around the world. Proud of his work with Meritas but wanting to travel less often, he realized there was a need for a high-end school in the Wellington area. He acquired Planet Kids at Wellington and built Wellington Preparatory School next door.
About Principal Sandy Montoya
Sandy worked for several years in the charter school system in Belle Glade. It was an eye-opening and rewarding opportunity. She has been Principal of Planet Kids for almost eight years and has also served as principal of Wellington Preparatory School since its opening. With extensive experience in public schools and charter schools, she holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University in Educational Management.
Advantages of Planet Kids & Wellington Prep Students
“We have a solid curriculum and a great faculty,” says Montoya. “We hire very experienced teachers, and most of them have Master’s degrees.” The average class size is 12 students, achieving that desirable low student to teacher ratio. With the violin lessons, the dual language program, the Meet the Masters Art program, a great outdoor playground facility and karate class, there are many “extras” to being a student of one of these two schools. Parents really appreciate the individual planning that goes on for each student. Perhaps that is why they are currently at capacity and getting ready to break ground on a new building.
Another benefit to Wellington Preparatory School is being removed from the highly controversial public school climate of “constant testing” and “teaching to the test,” currently in the form of the FSA tests. Instead Wellington Prep students take the Stanford exam, which is a Pearson developed test that has been normed across the U.S. with 335,000 students. It provides a more meaningful national benchmark. However, the build up and drama that circles around test-taking is not as prevalent at Wellington Prep. “We like to keep it low-key,” says Altschuler.
Instead of depending on book publishers for a great deal of their curriculum, Planet Kids and Wellington Prep rely on University research for their academic programs. “They are not trying to sell anything and provide an unbiased program,” explains Altschuler, who hired an outside consultant who selected the University of Chicago’s math program and Columbia University’s language arts program.
About 80% of the Planet Kids students continue their education at Wellington Preparatory School. Both Altschuler and Montoya are very excited about being able to continue that education up to 8th grade in the near future.
During enrollment season, open houses are offered every couple of months at these two schools. Check their websites or call for more information. Get your child started on the path to success!
Planet Kids at Wellington
Lake Worth, FL 33463
Wellington Preparatory School
Lake Worth, FL 33463
The Art of Living:
Are you a Stress Reducer or a Stress Inducer?
By Lori Hope Baumel
Warning: This article contains strongly insightful language!
In life, I find there are two different types of people in this world; stress reducers and stress inducers. “What does this have to do with the arts,” you might ask? Everything, but we’ll get to that later.
Shakespeare said it best:
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts…
As You Like It, Act II, Scene 7
On this stage we call “life,” what part do you actually play? I am not asking what part do you want to play, I am asking what character do you play? What type of effect do you have on the people around you and what type of effect do you have on your own well-being?
I find that people who tend to be “stress reducers” have the following characteristics. They are:
- Problem solvers
- Gifted with good listening skills
- Wisely proactive
- Generous, but not to a fault
- Unconditionally loving
- Excellent at time management
- Maintain a degree of self-respect
Most importantly, they are humble enough to admit to making a mistake. These types of people tend to have hobbies, are constantly learning and are open-minded to new things.
Unfortunately, those who are stress inducers have character flaws that they rarely recognize. They are:
- Hurtful or don’t think before they speak
- Disrespectful of one’s space, property and private time
- Liars or cheaters
- Self-absorbed and feel the world should revolve around him/her
- “Dumpers” (they dump their problems on you as if you have none of your own)
Often this type of character has no sense of self-worth and is constantly seeking fulfillment, rarely aware that contentment comes from a sense of completion.
Sometimes, there’s a third party involved. Now think about this SLOWLY: the stress inducers aggravate the stress reducers, who THEN turn to another stress reducer for help. Sounds like an episode of Downton Abbey, right?
Now, don’t get all huffy if you have one or two of the characteristics in both of the inducer/reducer categories. That’s to be expected at times. We are all human beings with instinctual responses. What is most important is to recognize that we are all works in progress and we can hone our personalities. I am often reminded of the scene in the Wizard of Oz… All the cowardly lion needed was a medal for courage and the scarecrow was given a diploma for society to recognize that he was smart.
This is where living a cultural life steps in. YOU can be both the artist and the work of art. YOU can mold or sculpt yourself in any manner you wish. If you are a stress reducer, then you are the kind of person who recognizes that there is always room for improvement. If you are a stress inducer, you have to calm down and take control of your own life. You may very well be hurting those you love most, unintentionally.
A very wise friend, Mr. Johnny Bergstrom, once told me to post the following words on a post-it note in my office:
“I am a work in progress and I’m okay with that.”
Quite frankly, I have found those words to be helpful on many occasions. I try to recognize all the beauty that surrounds me. In addition, in the small amount of spare time I have, I try to learn something new. In turn, I use the techniques learned to be more creative. Being inventive and imaginative is extremely stress reducing.
Make a list. Write down things you would really like to do more of. For example:
- Read books: stop by the library, download some audio books or eBooks
- Paint or draw
- Write poetry or song lyrics
- Shut off the news and listen to music in the car
- Try your hand at photography (most cell phones have great cameras)
- Plant a colorful bed of flowers in your garden
- Take up a craft or hobby like beading jewelry or woodwork
- Appreciate a sunrise or sunset: you have two chances daily
- Look back at some old photos that bring back good memories
- Take a few moments each day to get some fresh air. When you do, observe the beauty around you. Listen to the sounds of nature: the birds, the breeze and the rustle of leaves.
I could go on – but I think you get the message by now. Simply:
Live… Go… Do!
Top 5 for April 2015
April is the tail end of tolerable daytime temperatures in South Florida before the summer begins. Go for a stroll in the beautiful gardens that Palm Beach County has to offer.
Mounts Botanical Garden
Photo: Courtesy of Mounts Botanical Garden
With a mission to inspire the public, Mounts Botanical Garden is Palm Beach County’s oldest and largest botanical garden, offering gorgeous displays of tropical and sub-tropical plants, plus informative classes, workshops, and other fun-filled events. The Garden contains more than 2,000 species of plants, including Florida native plants, exotic and tropical fruit trees, herbs, palms, bromeliads and more. Mounts Botanical Garden is a facility of the Palm Beach County Extension Service, which is in partnership with the University of Florida and the Friends of Mounts Botanical Garden.
Located at 531 North Military Trail in West Palm Beach, The Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County is open Monday-Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The suggested donation for entry to the Garden is $5 per person. For more information, please call 561.233.1757 or visit www.mounts.org.
The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
This tranquil, lakeside destination offers Japanese tea ceremonies, festivals, classes & a sushi cafe.
4000 Morikami Park Rd,
Delray Beach, FL 33446
For information go to: morikami.org
3) Listen to enriching podcasts or stream free music:
If you have an iPhone, you may not even be aware that you have a Podcast app. If you bring up the app, you can download a variety of interesting and enriching podcasts. Lately, I have been listening to James Altucher, author of the best-selling book Choose Yourself. Amongst his many interviews and titles, he offers a variety of inspiring discussions that are fascinating to listen to.
Spotify and Pandora are free apps that bring me much joy. You can stream music for free (with ads). If you feel you “need a lift,” pick a category of songs with an upbeat tempo. If you want a more meditative sound, choose from a variety of genres that suit your taste.
According to a blog by Leah Rocketto, “Laughter naturally– and legally– reduces stress and makes us feel plain happier. But what isn’t so well known is that giggling like a schoolgirl (or boy) actually increases blood flow throughout the body.”
To see more of her blog go to:
I find that getting together with friends or relatives who have a great sense of humor to be most relaxing. Depending on your budget, you can picnic or throw a Frisbee around Okeeheelee Park, arrange a night out on the town or just get together and watch some comedy on TV. If it’s a fun night out you choose to share, perhaps pick up tickets to one of these events:
The Kravis Center Presents:
Kathy Griffin Live! Friday, April 24th at 8 PM
(Note: performance contains adult language)
MythBusters Jamie & Adam UNLEASHED! Saturday, April 25 at 8 pm.
Pippin April 28 – May 3 (see website for times)
For tickets and information go to: Kravis.org
On Your Home Screen:
In some cases, due to adult language and subject matter, viewer discretion advised.
Veep (HBO, resumes April 12)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (now on Netflix)
The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore (Comedy Central)
Modern Family (ABC)
Saturday Night Live (NBC – now in its 40th year)
A FREE COMMUNITY DAY ON APRIL 4
THE ANN NORTON SCULPTURE GARDENS
Gardens Conservancy to present a special exhibition of
Ann Norton’s drawings: Beyond the Garden Gates
In its second year, the Gardens Conservancy at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens is hosting a special event for the community, to honor its mission of expanding the visibility and appreciation of artist Ann Norton’s work and legacy.
From April 1-4, the historic home on the grounds of the Sculpture Gardens will host “Beyond the Garden Gates” a very special exhibition of Ann Norton’s charcoal and pastel studies for her iconic gateway structures, Tibetan and bird series. As a way to introduce the Gardens to even more guests, the Gardens Conservancy will open the Gardens to the public on Saturday, April 4 free of charge. “Ann’s drawings are quite revealing,” said Frances Fisher, founding chair for the Gardens Conservancy. “They show her thought process on the way to creating her monuments. Her drawings reflect her impact from an artistic point of view and they continue the process of bringing her story to life. Once you get to know Ann, you can’t help but fall in love with her story, these beautiful gardens, this wonderful and historic home, and her significance as an American artist. We hope guests will continue to get to know Ann Norton through her gift to our community of this very special place.”
The never-before-exhibited works were executed circa 1950s to 1970s. Along with rare personal and archival materials, and maquettes of some of the monuments currently displayed in the Gardens, the exhibition will give the viewer an intimate glimpse of Ann Norton’s creative process and her artistic significance.
For Conservancy membership information or details for the April exhibition at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, please visit www.ansg.org or call 561-832-5328. The rare palm and sculpture gardens, exhibition galleries and artist studio are located at 2051 South Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach and are currently open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Lori Hope Baumel and her husband Eric live in Wellington and have three children.
Their eldest, Sam, 27, is a media producer and conceptual artist who currently resides in (extremely hipster) Brooklyn, NY. Her younger children, Evan and Rachel, wrote the Around Wellington “Teen Talk” column in previous years. Rachel, 24, lives and works in Boston, MA and Evan, 21, is a senior at American University in Washington DC. Eric has practiced radiology in Wellington since 1991. His many talents include artist, cook, photographer and, recently, medical app developer. You can learn more about Lori at www.loribaumel.com or read her blog:www.grownupcamp.tumblr.com
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