Tag Archives: Park Maitland

Toys for Tots – Alive and Well in Central Florida

As a parent and teacher, I know that creating empathy in children (especially as they grow into teenagers) is not the easiest thing to do. Some children that are generous by nature when young, may become possessive and clingy later on; others seem to have self-centerdness invade as they grow. However, this is all the natural development of a child as he or she discovers himself and self-identity is explored.

However, that doesn’t mean we quit trying to reinforce the necessity of helping others, and this time of year presents a wonderful opportunity for children to “have to” give a little.  By modeling to children that sharing and giving is the right thing to do, that helping others also ultimately helps ourselves, then little by little, they will internalize this. The Marine Corps Toys for Tots provides an excellent springboard for this lesson.

Park Maitland School recently teamed with some local businesses to help drive a hugely successful toy drive.  Parents and teachers spent time discussing helping those less fortunate and how the students could make another child happy on Christmas day.

This is a concrete example that almost all children easily understand without much teaching: Toy = Happiness.

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The Top 5 applauds all the schools in the area who are busy teaching Central Florida’s children more than just letters and numbers, but are teaching them to become responsible, serving citizens… awesome!

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Filed under Charity, family, Seasonal

Why I am Proud!

As most of you know, in addition to editing the Central Florida Top 5, I also have the honor of teaching sixth grade English at Park Maitland School. In my 14th year of teaching there, I have had the many proud moments when I hear about my former students going out into the world and doing great things:

  • Publishing an original short story in a magazine
  • Becoming valedictorian of their senior class
  • Heading to Harvard, Princeton, Stanford
  • Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity
  • Being accepted into med school
  • Accepting a college football scholarship
  • Claiming national debate championships
  • Starting on the Men’s Basketball Team at the Univ. of Florida which claimed not one, but two national titles

While I am always pleased to hear about my students, one of my proudest moments came just last night, though, when I heard former student Nate Winters was pitching in his baseball game.  I taught both Nate and his older brother Zach, who while they were reserved in the classroom, they were both quite accomplished writers. 

Even then I knew of their shared love of baseball. Both boys played, and I could imagine one or the other growing up to be a sportswriter perhaps.  Now why would I be so proud of Nate pitching? Well, here’s an excerpt from a news article about him:

Photo from the Orlando Sentinel.

His left leg was shredded beyond repair. His right Achilles tendon was sheared and two toes were lost. His buttocks were sliced, and ribs were broken. His femoral artery burst, almost immediately turning the water crimson. Before he lost consciousness, he somehow swam toward the boat, where he was pulled back aboard. His brother wisely found a ski rope to make a tourniquet, calling 911 as they sped back to shore, fortunate that a hospital helicopter and a trauma center had been alerted.

When paramedics arrived, they put him in trauma trousers to help slow the bleeding. He thought it was a body bag, however, and started screaming again to remind everyone that he still was alive. By the time he reached the hospital, he had lost nearly 80 percent of his blood, and according to one trauma center doctor, it was more than anyone ever had lost, and still lived. He was whiter than the sheets he was laying on. When his parents arrived, they were escorted into the chaplain’s office to prepare for the worst. The doctors somehow saved him.

‘When your hemoglobin goes down to where Nate’s was, your chances of surviving are about one in 10,000,’ said his father, Tom Winters, an orthopedic surgeon. ‘He was just about dead.’

He spent the night on life support, miraculously awakening the next morning, discovering that close to 100 baseball friends and family had spent the night praying for him in the hospital waiting room.”

Of course, at school we all heard about the accident and Zach’s heroic life-saving actions, and we were all concerned for Nate. But knowing the Winters family, we knew he would get good, quality care and support. And, sure losing a leg is a heck of a lot better than losing a life…but still, that’s pretty tough for a teenage boy who loves sports. 

Since that time, Nate has fought his way through nine surgeries. He has fought through the discomfort of adjusting to a prosthetic leg. He has fought through the embarrassment of losing his balance and falling off the mound. He has fought through wanting to quit the sport he has dedicated his life to.

Through it all he has maintained his grades, his sense of humor, and most of all, his humility. So, yes, Nate Winters makes me pretty darn proud!

You can read the full article about Nate here.

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Filed under Education, family, Just for Me, Resident done good, Sports