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A lifestyle magazine for Central Florida's modern parents

Parents DISH on Local Schools

Choosing a private or charter school can be nerve-wracking. Sure, you read their marketing materials and talk to the principal, but what’s the real deal? We went straight to Central Florida parents to get the inside scoop on local private and charter schools.

Engaged Teachers

Abagail and Ms. Cindy

“As new parents, it was easy to choose StarChild Academy, Wekiva. Our friends recommended it highly, and it was within walking distance of our home. After three years, the decision to continue with StarChild is just as easy. Our daughter’s care and education are highly valued, not only by us but by the entire staff as well. Parents are encouraged to engage with teachers, making the learning process a team effort. StarChild also goes above and beyond to teach non-academic values like patriotism and responsibility.”

Scott and Amy Evans of Apopka; Parents of Abagail (3)

Focus on Independence and Creativity 

Topelski Family

“It’s hard to put into words what a blessing Galileo School for Gifted Learning has been to our family. As a former teacher, I love entering the classrooms and seeing the kids in hands-on learning environments and fully engaged. Many of the teachers use flexible seating choices with yoga mats and exercise balls, so you see children completing their work all over the classroom. My children love the independence with which they are entrusted.

Outside time is valued and given more than once a day. Teachers pay attention to the whole child and all of their needs. 

Creative Productivity is a time that truly sets Galileo apart from other schools. The children get to choose from six different activities that interest them. Some of kids’ favorites are robotics, origami, candy making, team sports, project runway and musical theater, to name a few. 

I truly believe that any child could thrive in this learning environment, and I know my children are getting the very best education. More importantly, they are learning to give back, be kind to others, and become contributing members of society and overall better human beings.”

Nichole and James Topelski of Sanford;
Parents of Kyliee (10) and Kaiden (7) 

Individualized Attention

Hurley Family

“Both my children attended The Parke House Academy from age 3 through fifth grade. When they first walked through the doors at the school, they felt as if they were home. I love the small class settings, where children are taught and shown love, structure and discipline with the ability to move ahead or obtain extra help on an individual basis within the school’s academically challenging and creativity inspiring curriculum.”

Shannon and Rex Hurley of Winter Park; Parents of Parker (11) and Tanner (14)

Beyond Academic Excellence

Dennis Family

“Our family chose Lake Highland Prep (LHP) for many reasons, but a few of them beyond academic excellence was the sense of community that Lake Highland offers and the innovative teaching and cultivation of character that the school instills. There are so many opportunities for you to get involved and participate at LHP. My daughter, Piper, started in pre-K and is in first grade now. Piper’s favorite thing about Lake Highland is when their class gets to go to the iLab (Innovation lab), where students create, build and explore. There is something for every child at this school — swim team, chess club, STEM activities after school, sports teams and Odyssey of the Mind. This is a major draw to the school. We couldn’t be happier with our choice of school. Go Highlanders!”

Megan and Will Dennis of College Park; Parents of Piper (6)

A Nurturing Environment

Bessette Family; Photo: LM Photography

“We love Sweetwater Episcopal Academy (SEA) and its sweet, nurturing environment. The teachers are the heart of the school and truly love their jobs. They are extended family to our children. We love the KIND Zone, where everyone is kind to each other, and if someone is not, then other kids step in and remind them. It’s a big part of SEA’s culture. Also, we love the Rainbow Awards, which are given to kids who are caught doing random acts of kindness. The awards are presented in front of the entire school and parents at chapel each week.

I’ve enjoyed being involved in the Parents Club and getting to know other families. My kids love going to school and are always eager to learn. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing they are safe, happy and in good hands while receiving a first-class education.”

Ellen and Leo Bessette of Longwood; Parents of Gianni (20), Elizabeth (11), Katherine (10) and Madeleine (7) 

Hands-on Learning

Pagan Family

“What our family loves most about O2B Kids in Altamonte is the hands-on learning! Each Friday, our soon-to-be 3-year-old daughter has show & tell, where she is encouraged to bring in an item based on the letter, shape or color that she’s been learning all week. It gives us the opportunity to go on a treasure hunt at home and gives her a chance to tell a story about her item at school. It really helps us as parents connect with what she’s learning in class in a fun and meaningful way.”

Justin and Claire Pagan of Altamonte; Parents of Jocelyn (2)

Shared Values

Bostedo Family; Photo: Simply Shelby Photography

“What I love most about The Christ School (TCS) is that we are a community of faculty, staff, students and families who share a similar set of values that are rooted in the Bible, and we truly care for and support each other. You know the saying,“It takes a village to raise a family?” TCS is my village. There is a sense of trust and commitment, and that is the foundation on which everything at the school is built.”

Jen and Mike Bostedo of Orlando; Parents of Jace (10) and Ellie (14)

Strong Academics and Real Conversations

Reuss Family

“There are so many things we love about Park Maitland School — from the strong focus on academics to the very special annual events tailored for each grade level. However, with today’s generation of young children so focused on social media and texting rather than having real conversations, we love that Park Maitland focuses on developing strong social skills. This quickly becomes apparent when visiting the school. Students are taught to look people in the eyes when communicating and to answer in full sentences in a reciprocal conversation. We love seeing how much adults appreciate it when our children answer their questions with a question of their own. We think these skills will give our children a strong head start to becoming successful and productive members of our community.”

Bryan and Jessica Reuss of Winter Park; Parents ofKensington (7) and Paxton (7) 

Feels Like Home

Klein Family; Photo: Emelie at Photo International 

“I was a teacher before having children and was immediately drawn to the atmosphere at Walden Community School (WCS). When we visited, I was comfortable and felt at home. It’s easy to see that the students feel the same way. The kids were learning and having fun. Some students had their shoes off. Some were lounging in beanbag chairs, and some were laying on yoga mats. A teacher was working with a small group at a table in a side room. Most importantly, every student was actively engaged in his or her work. 

When our youngest daughter, Eliana, visited WCS, she didn’t want to go home. She became a Walden Student the week after her visit, and I became a Walden teacher the next school year!”

Kristi and Matt Klein of Winter Park; Parents of Eliana (10) and Sasha (15)

Nurturing Environment and Staff

Bowman Family; Photo: Kabiki Photography

“I count my lucky stars every day that we found A Kid’s Gym Learning Academy in Oviedo. My two children have been students of the preschool and gymnastics programs for four years now, and we couldn’t be happier. Like every working parent, I struggled with mom guilt and wondered if I was doing the right thing by going back to work and not staying home with my children, as I did when they were babies.

Everyone from the director to the teachers and gymnastics coaches nurtures and cares for my children as if they were their own. My youngest struggled with the transition to full time daycare when he was two years old, and his teachers and the school staff supported us to ensure that he could spend a little time each morning with his sister to get him acquainted with his new home away from home. It was that small, kind gesture that set this school apart from everywhere else. 

They understand that every child (as well as this helicopter mom) has unique needs, and they treat them and their challenging moms accordingly. These qualities, along with their exceptional curriculum and teaching techniques, make learning fun. My children have thrived and have become independent, intelligent, healthy young people. Every day is a new and exciting experience at A Kid’s Gym, and we would never consider anywhere or anyone else to protect, nurture and care for our children. A Kid’s Gym and their fabulous instructors will always hold a special place in all our hearts.”

Jennifer and Jeff Bowman of Oviedo; Parents of Evie (7) and Jake (5)

Forward Thinking

Newbold Family; Photo: Daniel Kuykendall

“We love Windermere Prep School (WPS) because our school loves our kids. They teach and care for each of our children like the unique individuals that they are. I am proud that WPS, after the successful pilot program in our son’s class last year, has started mindfulness in the classroom.

Alongside the Young Yogi Program, WPS is creating an environment where our children can learn joyfully, self regulate and succeed. It’s this kind of forward thinking by the staff and administration that comforts me when I drop them off each morning.”

Danielle and Chad Newbold of Windermere; Parents of Miles (9), Violet (6) and Reed (4) 

Tracey C. Velt
Written by
Tracey C. Velt

Tracey C. Velt is a married mom of two children living in Heathrow. She's a UCF graduate and has been the editor-in-chief of regional and statewide magazines. In 2004, she start her own freelance writing and editing business, Tracey Velt Consulting. She's also a regular contributor of PLAYGROUND Magazine.

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Tracey C. Velt Written by Tracey C. Velt


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Family Events


March 2019

March 9, 20199:00 am

This is a family friendly project. Hunger Heroes of all ages are welcome.

It’s easy to forget about the hunger that exists in our own ...

March 9, 201911:00 am
Festivals https://www.eventbrite.com/e/saturday-in-the-park-tickets-55011173902

The College Park Neighborhood Association (CPNA) is hosting Saturday In The Park With Music And The Arts. This is a daytime and evening event that will include a wide variety of entertainment options for all ages.


March 9, 201912:00 pm
Festivals / Free

Families are invited to visit the 7th Annual Touch-a-Truck event on March 9th from 12-3 p.m at the CFE Arena. This is a free, interactive experience for kids of all ages.

Touch-a-Truck ...

March 10, 20199:00 am

This is a family friendly project. Hunger Heroes of all ages are welcome.

It’s easy to forget about the hunger that exists in our own ...

March 10, 201912:00 pm
Class http://www.artroomorlando.com/index.htm

It's Mommy & Me time at The Art Room. This fun painting class is for parents and their child, age 4 and up. Have fun quality time painting sweet treats!
Call to register: 407-909-1869
$50 per couple; all supplies included
709 Main Street, ...

March 15, 20196:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Play Date

Drop your kids off for a night to themselves in a safe, supervised and friendly environment. They will enjoy themed games, crafts and gym time. Included is this packed night of fun is always a great movie and yummy pizza.

Drop your kids off for a night to themselves in a safe, supervised and friendly environment. They will enjoy themed games, crafts and gym time. Included is this packed night of fun is always a great movie and yummy pizza.

For potty-trained 3 year olds up to 5th graders. All for only $25 per child ($15 for each additional sibling). Call for availability: 407-365-6800

March 15, 20196:30 pm
Play Date

Join us on Friday, March 15 for a special Family Swim to Celebrate the Colors of the Rainbow! We will have raffles, crafts, pizza and and open swim. Raffle winners will be announced at 7:45 p.m., and you must be present to claim your prize.

Join us on Friday, March 15 for a special Family Swim to Celebrate the Colors of the Rainbow! We will have raffles, crafts, pizza and and open swim. Raffle winners will be announced at 7:45 p.m., and you must be present to claim your prize.

Reservations ARE required for this event, so call 407.614.6363 to reserve your spot. This event is FREE for Goldfish Swim School members and their family. Cost for non-members is $5 a person, with a $15 maximum per family.

March 16, 201911:00 am - 11:45 am
Educational / Free

Sensory Storytimes are special needs-friendly, relaxed and interactive. These programs are designed to increase your child's comfort level with the library environment. Children of all ages and their families are welcome on one Saturday of the month from 11 a.m.-11:45 a.m. The 2019 scheduled alternates monthly between East (Oviedo) branch ...

March 22, 20199:00 am
Class http://edibleed.org

During this Spring Break Seed-to-Table Workshop (Cost: $80) with Edible Education Experience at the Emeril Lagasse Kitchen House & Culinary Garden in College Park, kids 10-15 will learn how to make brunch favorites like crepes, breakfast potatoes, eggs, fresh pressed juice and make-your-own fruit jam to bring home.


March 30, 201911:00 am
Festivals / Free

Check out the newly updated (and beautiful) Rieter Park (301 W Warren Ave, Longwood, FL 32750) for a family-friendly day packed with music, great food and lots of fun. There will be a FREE kid zone featuring a pirate ship, shark ride and maybe even a mermaid or two. A huge variety of ...