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School's Back: Beach Elementary to start tomorrowSCHOOL's BACK:

August 7, 2013
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Pencils, books, teachers and that all-important ringing bell will be part of the school fabric when Beach Elementary begins its 2013-14 campaign tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 8).

Besides working under a new Lee County School District superintendent and new district board officials, the Beach school will begin the school year with new initiatives, while elementary students will witness more vital learning instruction to build upon their advancement.

School teachers and staff officially reported last Thursday for in-service duties. Principal Larry Wood stated the group met Friday to discuss all pertinent factors involved in the new school year.

"We have a new Reading series and a new Math series. That's always a huge undertaking," said Wood. "If we were to have just one of those changes in a year, it would be a lot change. Now we have two, and that is all driven by the change over to common core state standards."

For the past few years, the District has been preparing schools and students for what is known as common core standards. These are federal standards that 46 states have adopted.

"Therefore, we have to match our textbooks to the standards," said Wood.

The new textbooks recently arrived to the Beach school campus, and teachers trained for both subject series this past Monday and Tuesday.

"The implementation takes a lot of time," said Wood. "Moving to the new standards of common core, which are more rigorous than the ones we have been living under, will be a big change, but our teachers are very capable of doing that. We are really excited about all this. Even though they moved the standards up this year, we did a great job in identifying the individual needs of the kids and addressed them."

Although there is no new staff members to report at the Beach school, there will be change. Some of the teachers are instructing at different grade levels to help them adjust to the common core standards adoption.

Four school officials attended the Professional Learning Community, a district initiative involving collaboration between teachers and removing the sense of isolation for teachers, according to Wood. The principal was joined by Kathy Brindise, Tina Cribbs and Lori Zamniak for the Orlando learning opportunity. Brindise is now a Professional Development Resource teacher and will help all other teachers with the described initiatives.

"She will be instrumental in making that whole process work," said Wood.

Beach Elementary's enrollment looks strong with possibly double the amount of kindergarteners than last year's 13 KG students. The number is fluctuating due to transiency.

"Sometimes we have kids coming from, let's say Indiana, and they start after Labor Day," said Wood. "We are about where we are last year. We have a lot of kindergarten students that have siblings that went to school here."

As reported last week, Beach Elementary School has returned to a grade "A" status among state schools after recording a C grade in 2012 and a B grade in 2011.

Wood stated more of the focus is having each student make learning gains. Overall, Beach Elementary students had 78 percent learning gains in both Reading and Math last year.

"The good news is even though they aren't necessarily passing the test, they are all making a year or more learning gains," he said. "That is what we are focusing on -learning gains for each child. We are taking each child and helping them maximize their learning gain for each year."

Pride goes along way from within and through the eyes of the community. The Parent Teachers Organization will lead the fundraising with events throughout the school year.

"We will be celebrating our 'A' and are successes throughout the year. There will be a lot of small celebrations," said Wood. "The PTO is funding many of those. We are very, very proud of our students and our staff and our community."

District prepares for school year

Bus routes are now live and online. Parents can access them by visiting the "Back 2 School" section of our website at

The School District of Lee County asks that parents help prepare their students for walking, biking and riding the bus to school next week by considering the following:

- Over the next few days, practice walking with your child to and from the bus stop or to and from school at the time of morning or afternoon they would normally be walking. Talk with your child about the safest places to walk, where they might cross the street and where they might need to practice extra caution while walking the route.

- If your child is to be a regular bus rider during the school year, put them on the bus on the first day of school. By allowing them to ride the bus on the first day, your student, the bus operator and the school will identify any problem areas more quickly, helping your child adjust easily in the first week.

- If possible, wait with your child at the bus stop on the first morning and use this time to exchange names and numbers with other parents whose children use the same stop.

Additionally, the District offers the following tips to help ensure your child is ready to get back into the routine of the school year:

- Assist your child with returning to a regular sleep schedule this week by having them head to bed as if it were a school day. Sleep is important to childhood development and learning, especially during the "tween" or middle-school years.

- Make as many preparations as possible the night prior to the first day of school. This could entail pre-packing backpacks, compiling any needed paperwork (i.e. class schedules, maps of the school campus, etc.) anything to help avoid last-minute scrambling, which can add to the anxiety level on the first day.

- Try laying out the outfit your child wants to wear the night before again, to avoid any last minute issues. And if you bought a new pair of shoes for school, you may want to have your child "break them in" a bit prior to "lacing them up" for the first day.

- If your child is bringing a lunch, be sure to make and pack it in time to hit the road or make the bus stop. If they are participating in the school's lunch program, be sure they have money or that you've enrolled in any pre-pay program that may exist (and don't forget to check out the lunch menu on the District's Web site!)

- If you transport your child to and from school, please remember to allow for spending some extra time in the "Parent Pick Up" line during the first week or two of school.

- Being nervous on the first day is normal for both students and parents. There's always a certain level of excitement on the first day. Let your child know it's okay to feel that way, but remind them that they will quickly be making new friends and having fun and learning new and exciting things!

Free and reduced price meal program information

Lee County Public Schools has announced its 2013-14 policy for free and reduced price meals for children unable to pay the full price of meals served under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The District's administrative office has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by any interested party.

Children from families whose income is at or below a certain level is eligible for free or reduced price meals. Applications are now available online at for the 2013-2014 school year. Families should click where it says "Click Here" (on the books) to start the application process.

Paper applications will continue to be available at each school and the District Office.

Sheriff's office warns about safety

On Thursday, Aug. 8, an estimated 86,000 students and close to 5,000 full and part-time employees with the Lee County School District will begin the 2013/14 school year. As a result, our roads get busy with more than 850 school buses rolling out to 714 bus routes traveling 72,000 miles daily, parents opting to drive their children to and from school and students walking or biking to school.

Law enforcement officers throughout Lee County are asking citizens to be prepared as the schools get back in session. Deputies and officers will be watching for the most common driving violations such as speeding in school zones, passing stopped school busses and failing to yield to students in crosswalks.

Motorists should plan on allowing extra time to travel to and from destinations and keep their attention on the road. Your area law enforcement is committed to the safety of everyone with the start of the school year and they offer the following tips as a reminder to students, parents and drivers.

Backpacks & Chiropractic

By Dr. Nicole Bennett

Does your child carry a backpack to school? Do you know the proper way to wear a backpack? Did you know that improper use of backpacks might cause problems that could be detrimental to your child's health?

Heavy backpacks have a destructive impact on the posture and spinal health of children. These heavy loads can cause injuries that last a lifetime. Researchers have found that 55 percent of students carry more weight than recommended in national guidelines causing 60 percent of children to experience back or shoulder pain by the time they are 18 years old.

What does chiropractic have to do with all this? Improper use of backpacks causes undue stress on the spine. This stress causes subluxation of the spine. Subluxation occurs when the spinal bones, or vertebra, shift out of place. In between these bones are nerves that transport important messages from the brain to every organ, tissue and cell in our body. When subluxation occurs, these nerves become irritated and messages get jumbled up or are absent altogether. Therefore the body is not functioning at 100 percent and will not be able to heal itself on its own. Unfortunately, subluxation is "silent" in that symptoms may not appear until years or decades have passed, much like a cavity in a tooth. At which point, permanent damage may have occurred.

Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, can go undetected as well. It often begins in childhood as the body is still growing. If detected early by a doctor of chiropractic, adjustments and exercises can be utilized to correct or prevent it from worsening over time. Changes in posture, loss of structural balance and growing pains can be an early warning signal.

For that reason, periodic spinal check-ups, like dental check-ups, are necessary to keep your child healthy. Chiropractic is the only profession in the world specially trained in the detection and elimination of subluxation of the spine. Overloaded backpacks put unnecessary stress on a growing spine, ultimately leading to significant injury over time.

Here are some tips for proper backpack use:

- Choose an appropriate size corresponding to your child's body size

- The maximum weight of a loaded backpack should not exceed 15 percent of the child's body weight i.e.- a 60-pound child should only carry 9 pounds of backpack weight

- Teach your children proper lifting techniques, such as face the pack; bend at the knees; use both hands to lift; check the weight of the pack, adjust if necessary; lift with the legs and apply one shoulder strap at a time

- Use both shoulders straps, they should be snug but not too tight, also use the waist strap if available

If the backpack causes the child to lean forward, the pack is too heavy. Do not wear the pack over one shoulder. This may cause permanent misalignment of the spine, muscle fatigue and a lowered state of health.

Posture is the window to the spine. If posture is misaligned, the spine is also misaligned on the inside. To check your child's posture look at your child from the back, have him or her close their eyes. Check to see if the ears, shoulders, and hips are level. If one side is higher, there is a curve in the spine. This may cause pressure on the nerves, joints and discs. Next, observe your child from the side. The ears, shoulders, hips and knees should line up in a straight line. If not, there is stress on the spine. Then, check your child's posture while wearing the backpack. His or her posture should not change. If you see signs of posture imbalance or your child complains of pain, visit your Chiropractic Physician.

You or your family may be suffering from undetected spinal subluxation or scoliosis, so call your chiropractor for a periodic spinal check-up. Millions of families have discovered the health benefits of chiropractic, shouldn't you?

-- Dr. Nicole Bennett practices chiropractic care as a physician and owner of Bennett Chiropractic and Wellness Center at 7130 Estero Blvd. For a complimentary consultation or if you have any questions, please call Dr. Nicole Bennett at 463-1640.



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