Parent Panel Highlights Park Maitland!

A panel of Park Maitland Parents met with  the FCIS (Florida Council of Independent Schools) Accreditation Team recently to give feedback on their Park Maitland experience.  I do believe that the team was highly impressed.  Read below for feedback notes provided by parent Laura Lawton:

General areas of pride we were able to spend the most amount of time on:

* Talent and training of teachers (particular reference made to the CV’s shown at the 6th grade open house and how impactful their passion was to learning and also teaching)

* Attention to detail – be it in the care of K4 teachers to the expectations and emphasis on 6th grade excellence

* Accessibility of teachers to parents and students alike (particular reference made to 6th graders communicating with teachers directly)

* Leadership themes year over year (and that the themes don’t simply cycle through, they stay in place – i.e. 7 Habits, Bucket-Filling vs Bucket-Dipping, Big Rocks vs Small Rocks, Attitude of Gratitude, 10-months of smiles being passed down, Connections this year)

* Community Involvement – 10 months of smiles and how it evolved, the opportunity for different groups to spearhead different projects, guest speakers, parent chats, field trips, Leadership Day, Veterans Assembly etc

ADAPTABILITY of school to technology, communication, hearing feedback from class/grade-level, etc, integrating talents and access/connections of community figures

* RELEVANCE of teaching current events and leveraging current school community leaders (restaurant owners, speakers, ad campaign, etc)

* PROACTIVITY of being before-the-times in technology, communication, forward-thinking

* PREPARATION – the buzz-word we all honed in on for the ONE word we valued the most in terms of qualifying our respect for what the school imparts. We referenced the time-honored cliche that graduates of Park Maitland use ” All I REALLY use in my life that makes me successful, I learned at Park Matiland”.

* LIFE-SKILLS – our follow-up to preparation. We reiterated how our students were prepared for life no matter their educational track or aspirations.


* We were able to spend a great deal of time on each of the areas above. The panel had no areas of concern that we needed to address. The only specific question we were asked was how we felt about communication. We went back to parent access, the adaptability of the newsletter over the years, the Lighthouse groups, the phone/text/email alerts in a situation of emergency, the resources available to the kids, etc.

* We were asked in a more general way about field trips. We emphasized that each grade really had one special “flagship” field trip rooted in tradition, then usually a secondary field trip of importance, and several cultural or community-relevant field trips each year (plays, orchestra, etc). We blew them away with the lists.

* We spent a lot of time on the science fair. They were especially impressed to hear how it evolves for the children each year they get older, and how much is involved in judging etc. They couldn’t believe we rented out the Science Center (and had for at least 10 years that we can remember). This launched us into the Bob Carr scenario for the 6th grade play.

* We were also asked what weaknesses we felt the school had (of course, we knew it was coming). We all know how to answer this question, and we listed minutia that made everyone smile! 1) that we wished the school went to 8th grade (but stressed that we would no longer be the “experts and specialists” in early education if that were to happen; 2) that we wish we had better parking (though we had the best possible scenarios worked out given our infrastructure); and 3) desire for a bigger PE field, though we’d not be willing to sacrifice anything else on campus to make that happen.

* They themselves commented positively on a few things (not the things we would have picked, but they were impressed nonetheless). They seemed particularly impressed with the confidence of the children and willingness to interact with the panel. They were “moved” by the passion of the teachers. They were “blown away” that all ages were able to rotate classrooms with such ease. They were inspired by our integration of the iPads into upper level coursework. Those areas drew wide eyes and awe from the panel for sure.

The session lasted about an hour. There were 3 panel members, plus the 5 moms (Lawton, Alsalah, Halpin, Kolar, Taylor) and 2 dads (Halpin & Taylor). Upon leaving, we all said to ourselves “Wait! Give us more time! We are only getting warmed up here, people!” We could have talked for days about our love for this special school.

I know this is a really busy time for you. Please do not feel like you have respond to this email. I simply wanted to get this down in writing for you in case it was remotely helpful to know what we talked about, or to add to a file for the future somewhere.

Good Luck today! I’m sure it will be a day of more Home-Runs!

Very very best,


Synergy at it’s Best!

Park Maitland students launched the first quarter of their school year ready to “connect” and “synergize!”
There are countless opportunities to learn the skill of synergy at Park Maitland School! The youth of today must learn to interact, problem solve and collaborate with others in order to thrive as leaders in the 21st Century!
What does it mean to synergize? “Two heads are better than one.” Synergize is the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness, and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems. But it doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s a process, and through that process, people bring all their personal experience and expertise to the table. Together, they can produce far better results than they could individually. Synergy lets us discover jointly things we are much less likely to discover by ourselves. It is the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Students at Park Maitland learn to practice synergy throughout their days at school in and out of the classroom. So far this year, in 5th grade English class, students worked together to create “Preposition videos.” K-4 students are learning to “work and play” together at the Imagination Station!” 1st graders collaborated in small groups to create and design their own version of US Postal stamps. 3rd graders synergized with their peers to plan imaginary trips around the world! The 6th grade class participated in a “Supreme Court mock trial” of the actual case: Schuette vs. Coalition for defense of Affirmative Action. Students in our Smart-Tech classes are “connecting” on their student “Facebook” page called Edmodo. This gives them an on-line platform to post and critique each other’s classwork and projects. 2nd grade students worked in teams to research facts about Florida and created their own poster project report and detailed map of our state. Through collaboration and many discussions our 5th grade class created their first edition of Park Maitland forum, our first student “technology newsletter” and U.S. Monuments with ebooks for Monument Avenue Day. When people begin to interact together genuinely, and they’re open to each other’s influence, they begin to gain new insight. The capability of inventing new approaches is increased exponentially because of differences.
Children at Park Maitland School are learning that valuing differences is what really drives synergy. Differences should be seen as strengths, not weaknesses. When students learn to synergize (respect differences) at school, they tend to understand others and will not fall victim to being a bully or being bullied. They will learn the importance of working with others to solve problems and create solutions. Skills and Because the world of work is changing, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education formed the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) to study the kinds of competencies and skills that workers must have to succeed in today’s workplace. A summary of findings on necessary interpersonal skills are provided in the tables below.
• Participates as member of a team – contributes to group effort
• Teaches others new skills
• Services clients/customers – works to satisfy customers expectations
• Exercises leadership – communicates ideas to justify position, persuades and convinces others, responsibly challenges existing procedures and policies
• Negotiates – works toward agreements involving exchange of resources, resolves divergent interests
• Works with diversity – works well with men and women from diverse backgrounds
The art of communication begins with understanding those with whom you wish to speak. And, that understanding must include self education regarding the values of others. “Walk a mile in my shoes” might just be the best words.

Children working together to “Cross out Cancer!”

George Washington Carver once said “How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. “
If this is true, then I can say with great certainty that Park Maitland students will go very far in life, they will move mountains! I have been touched at the maturity, compassion and true synergy that a group of 5th grade student has shown recently.
Dr. Alan Saffron a Pediatric ENT and father of current and former students at Park Maitland School recently lost his life after a valiant fight with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Alan Saffran was a local icon to many. Despite his ritual of juggling hundreds of patients at his office and as Chief ENT at two hospitals, he found time to volunteer at the school for almost twenty years as a Science Fair judge, speaker and mentor for parents and students. He was well known and respected throughout Central Florida for his outpouring of compassion and expert care shown to his patients locally and across the globe, selflessly giving up vacation time for many years to perform cleft palate operations on children in Mexico. Alan Saffron was a shining example of integrity and character.
“It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars.” ― Richard Evans

Even in the darkest of times, there can be moments of joy, comfort and peace. Just weeks before his death, Saffran’s daughter and classmates presented their plan of creating a “Cross out Cancer” charity! They created a website, posters, and planned a “benefit” event! Saffran’s daughter designed a Cross Out Cancer t-shirt to sell to the Park Maitland students, families and beyond with profits going towards research for a cure. News of this new charity spread, and within days over 800 “Team Saffran” t-shirts were sold to people locally and across the US! The students were able to raise close to $12,000.00! October 17th will be “Cross Out Cancer” day at Park Maitland School where students and staff will wear their purple t-shirts, and be part of a benefit assembly to support cancer research.

The little stars of Park Maitland School shine brightly!