Meet our Team

  • Our team is dedicated to assisting our students.  If you need any help, here are ways you can reach them:

     Karen Varney

    Karen Varney

    • Call at (407)343-7306
    • E-mail at Karen.Varney@osceolaschools.net
    • Join her Remind at by clicking here or text "@e3bg24" to 81010
  • What do we do this summer?

    Posted by Donna Rain-O'Dell on 5/29/2020 7:00:00 AM

    I know this thought is on everyone’s mind.  What do I do this summer?  Can I go on a family vacation?  Can I go to parties or have people visit my house? What will I do with my children? Mask or no mask?  With most social distancing regulations being relaxed and theme parks and beaches either open or getting to ready to open, you have to make your own decisions on what you feel is safe for you and your family.  That can very stressful.  Thinking about it ahead of time and gathering truthful information can help make the decision less stressful.

    1.       What do you feel comfortable with?  Only do what makes you feel comfortable.  If you don’t feel safe going to a large gathering with people you don’t know, then don’t do it.  If a family member invites your children to their house, you may feel safe, but if a classmate invites your child to a large birthday party, you may want to pass.  Don’t feel bad about wanting to keep yourself and your family safe.

     

    2.      Practice common sense.  Keep washing your hands, stay 6 feet away from people in public, and don’t feel embarrassed about wearing a mask.  I ordered several cute masks from Etsy to wear in public.  I won’t let anyone mask-shame me.  (I’m sure you’ve read some of these stories in the news.)

     

    3.      Get the facts.  Find updated daily information from Johns Hopkins University.  You can track the virus numbers all over the world here. You can also get trends and news articles that will help you with your decisions and plans.   https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data

     

    4.      Don’t want to send your children to summer camp?  Allow them to keep learning and having fun this summer.  Try this one, or google FREE online summer camps for kids.   www.varsitytutors.com  Free online Summer Camps for grades K-12.  Included are math boot-camps, Art, Exploring Oceans, Colors, History through Music, Detective: Crack the Case, Mandarin and Latin.  More are being added every day! 

     

    And don’t forget, things will get better.  Stay safe!  A special video for you:

    Someday, we’ll be together

    https://youtu.be/ixEOMB6jyEE

    Comments (-1)
  • You have to feel good to “feel good.”

    Posted by Donna Rain-O'Dell on 5/26/2020 7:00:00 AM

    Pollen is one of the most common causes of allergies in the United States.  It sometimes referred to as “hay fever.”  I suffer from pollen allergies, and last weekend was a high pollen count, which meant that I had to stay inside all weekend blowing my nose and putting drops in my eyes.  The fact that I felt terrible did not help my mood.  Physical symptoms can have a big  impact on mood.  This weekend pollen is very low, so I am feeling well and able to be outside.

     

    Pollen is a very fine powder produced by trees, flowers, grasses, and weeds to fertilize other plants of the same species. Many people have an bad immune response when they breathe in pollen.  The immune system normally defends the body against harmful invaders — such as viruses and bacteria — to ward off illnesses.  In people with pollen allergies, the immune system mistakenly identifies the harmless pollen as a dangerous intruder. It begins to produce chemicals to fight against the pollen.  This is known as an allergic reaction, and the specific type of pollen that causes it is known as an allergen. The reaction leads to numerous irritating symptoms, such as: 

    • Sneezing
    • stuffy nose
    • watery eyes

      If you are having these symptoms, you may have a pollen allergy.  You can look up the pollen count in Kissimmee here:  https://www.pollen.com/forecast/current/pollen/34741

      Check it to see if your symptoms happen at the same time the pollen count is high.

       Some people have pollen allergies year-round, while others only have them during certain times of the year. For example, people who are sensitive to oak pollen usually have increased symptoms during the spring when oak trees are in bloom.

       About 8 percent of adults in the United States experience hay fever, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI)

        Symptoms can be treated with medications and allergy shots. Over the counter medications can be helpful, along with wearing a dust mask when doing outside chores, keeping doors and windows closed or staying inside.
    Comments (-1)
  • Health Benefits of Coloring for Adults

    Posted by Donna Rain-O'Dell on 5/22/2020 7:00:00 AM

    The adult coloring book trend has become very popular. It’s inexpensive, relaxing, and you can color from the comfort of your home. 

    REDUCE STRESS AND ANXIETY

    Coloring has the ability to relax the fear center of your brain, the amygdala. It induces the same state as meditating by reducing the thoughts of a restless mind. This generates mindfulness and quietness, which allows your mind to get some rest after a long day at work. 

    IMPROVE MOTOR SKILLS AND VISION

    Coloring goes beyond being a fun activity for relaxation. It requires the two hemispheres of the brain to communicate. While logic helps us stay inside the lines, choosing colors generates a creative thought process. 

    IMPROVE SLEEP 

    We know we get a better night’s sleep when avoiding electronics at night, because exposure to the light reduces your levels of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Coloring is a relaxing and electronic-free bedtime ritual that won’t disturb your level of melatonin. 

    IMPROVE FOCUS

    Coloring requires you to focus, but not so much that it’s stressful. It opens the frontal lobe of your brain, which controls organizing and problem solving, and allows you to put everything else aside and live in the moment, generating focus.

    If you’re looking for an uplifting way to unwind after a stressful day at work, coloring is an inexpensive hobby. All you need are some colored pencils or markers and some coloring pages.  Download a free page to color here:  https://www.justcolor.net/

     

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  • Exercise

    Posted by Donna Rain-O'Dell on 5/21/2020 7:00:00 AM

    One of the things I’ve used to cope with stress during this time is physical exercise!  When the COVID-19 first started, I went to Wal Mart to pick out a bike.  The type of bike I picked out was a “beach cruiser” with a comfortable seat- that was important-and it is a super fun Orange color, complete with a basket.  I have found that I love to ride in the morning and the evening, when the sun first comes up or the sun sets.  I have enjoyed looking at the gators, turtles, birds, and even a fox one morning!  I usually turn on my phone and listen to music, and every day I try to ride a little farther. 

     

    The Mayo Clinic says there are some true reasons why I feel better riding my bike:

      “First, it pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner's high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling. 

     Exercise is also meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you'll often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements.  As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything you.

      Finally, it improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life. 

    My husband and daughter have gotten bikes also, and we have spent a lot of family time riding the neighborhood, looking at landscaping and stopping to talk to the neighbors.  I’ve lost a little weight, but the best thing is- every day I ride, I feel good!  I would encourage you- find the exercise you love (or like) and try it.  It will help you reduce stress during this crazy time!. 

     

    Comments (-1)
  • The Art of Socializing during a Pandemic

    Posted by Donna Rain-O'Dell on 5/20/2020 7:00:00 AM

    The last couple of months we were told to stay home and we did. Everyone was home, the city and county said we had to stay home, so we followed directions. Now it’s getting harder, because there are decisions to be made. Businesses are opening up and we can technically go places and do things, but some of us are still unsure about safety issues.  When I go out in public, I’ll be wearing a mask, but will others?  And if I’m wearing one, and other people aren’t, am I safe? Will I be bullied if I’m in a mask and gloves?  Who do I depend on to enforce the 6-foot rule? Do I want to risk eating in a restaurant? All of these questions add a lot of stress to making the decision to go out.

    Since I am working from home, I don’t NEED to go out.  I walk my dog early in the morning, and I get my groceries and anything else I need delivered.  Sometimes I drive to my daughter’s house and socialize with her in the driveway from the safety of my car.  I’ve gone to the ATM twice to get cash, but other than that, I have made the decision to stay home for a while longer. 

    Though I’m home, I haven’t lost contact with the outside world.  I call friends and text with them every day.  I’m active on social media.  I do a ZOOM trivia night once a week some of my high school friends, and I chat with co-workers every day and have video meetings weekly.  I’m planning a virtual family reunion, and I’ve taken 3 online courses for fun.  And I CHECK-IN. 

    I’ve identified 4 people in my life that I think would appreciate me checking in with them weekly.  They either live alone, or have problems in their lives that they want to talk about.  Sometimes we have a lengthy phone call, and sometimes I just send a “how are you?” text. Other times, it’s a comment on their Facebook page, or a funny meme sent to them.  Check out www.thecheckinproject.org.  People appreciate knowing that they matter!

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  • What is ADHD?

    Posted by Donna Rain-O'Dell on 5/19/2020 7:00:00 AM

    Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a medical term for the biologically-based neurological condition. There are three subtypes: Primarily Inattentive, Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive, or Combined. 11% of children and teens in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD (CDC)

    1.  Inattentive ADHD includes symptoms such as difficulty paying attention,  being easily distracted, disorganization, forgetfulness and not listening.
    2. Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD includes symptoms such as interrupting not waiting their turn, getting out of seat, fidgeting, restlessness and excessive talking
    3. Combined ADHD is diagnosed when a child has at least 6 symptoms of both inattentive and hyperactive ADHD. 

      FACTS

      Boys are more commonly diagnosed with ADHD than girls

      ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder of childhood

      Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHS is usually diagnosed earlier than Inattentive ADHD

      There is no one test for ADHD; a diagnosis is made after observation and discussion with a physician

       
      TREATMENT OPTIONS INCLUDE
    1.  Behavioral Therapy:  Counseling and parent training
    2. School Accommodations:  504 plans, IEP, Special Education and/or Tutoring
    3. Medication Options
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  • Free Services

    Posted by Donna Rain-O'Dell on 5/18/2020 7:00:00 AM
    Do you have children at home that need something to do?  These are great FREE resources for all grade levels for your children's enrichment.
     
     
     

    1.        Attached is a schedule of educational programs on PBS this week.  It is color coded by grade level, and has links for resources to go along with the shows.  Your students might like them for their own children.  WUCF/PBS is the free public television channel.  You can access it even without cable or satellite.  (Channel 24 with antenna)

     

    2.        Do you have a child who will be entering kindergarten?  Here is a weekly activity calendar that will take about 15-20 minutes each day to do with your child.   https://www.wucf.org/community/family/wucf-on-my-way-to-k/

     

    3.        Bright by Text sends free activities, games, and resources right to your cell phone. Messages are targeted to your child’s age and include information on child development, language and early literacy, health and safety, behavioral tips, and more! Bright by Text is completely free to sign up, but message and data rates may apply.https://app.brightbytext.org/sign-up/2337c117-8c8d-4452-800f-41c7fb1a4d59/_/ab6c2b03-be57-4d97-9703-5e0a390b7c52

     

    4.       www.varsitytutors.com  Free online Summer Camps for grades K-12.  Included are math boot-camps, Art, Exploring Oceans, Colors, History through Music, Detective: Crack the Case, Mandarin and Latin.  More are being added every day!  They are also offering Virtual School Day classes free for grades K-12, which are taught by experts in their fields.  Interactive story time, book clubs, Phonics with music, Art Theory, javascript, Exploring the Mississippi River and much more!

     

    5.       https://www.farmsanctuary.org/fb-live-virtual-online-classes/ Farm Sanctuary, a non-profit organization for rescued farm animals, has free online classes this week, including “how to draw farm animals.”  I think I might take that one!  Check the times for Eastern time classes.

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  • Tips for Practicing Active Listening

    Posted by Donna Rain-O'Dell on 5/15/2020 7:00:00 AM

    Have you taken the pledge to Check-In yet?  You can use these active listening tips when you check in.  https://www.thecheckinproject.org/:

    • Make eye contact while the other person speaks. In general, you should aim for eye contact about 60-70% of the time while you are listening. Lean toward the other person, and nod your head occasionally
    • Instead of offering advice or opinions, simply paraphrase what has been said. You might start this off by saying "In other words, what you are saying is...".
    • Do not interrupt while the other person is speaking. Do not prepare your reply while the other person speaks; the last thing that he or she says may change the meaning of what has already been said.
    • In addition to listening to what is said, watch nonverbal behavior to pick up on hidden meaning. Facial expressions, tone of voice, and other behaviors can sometimes tell you more than words alone.
    • While listening, shut down your internal dialogue. Avoid daydreaming. It is impossible to attentively listen to someone else and your own internal voice at the same time.
    • Show interest by asking questions to clarify what is said. Ask open-ended questions to encourage the speaker. Avoid closed yes-or-no questions that tend to shut down the conversation.
    • Avoid abruptly changing the subject; it will appear that you were not listening to the other person.
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  • How to Listen

    Posted by Donna Rain-O'Dell on 5/14/2020 7:00:00 AM

    The art of listening to someone is so important, yet many people do not how to do it.  Most people don’t want advice, they only want someone to listen and validate their feelings.  Active listening involves more than just hearing someone speak. When you practice active listening, you are fully concentrating on what is being said. You listen with all of your senses and give your full attention to the person speaking. Below are some features of active listening:1

    • Neutral and nonjudgmental
    • Patient (periods of silence are not "filled")
    • Verbal and nonverbal feedback to show signs of listening (e.g., smiling, eye contact, leaning in, mirroring)
    • Asking questions
    • Reflecting back what is said
    • Asking for clarification
    • Summarizing

    The goal of active listening is simply for the other person to be heard, and perhaps to solve their own problems.  Active listening serves the purpose of earning the trust of others and helping you to understand their situations.

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  • The Benefits of Crying

    Posted by Donna Rain-O'Dell on 5/13/2020 7:00:00 AM

    Wait, crying means you are depressed, right? Or weak? Or only babies cry?  Nope, there are many benefits to an occasional cry.

     Crying may be one of your best mechanisms to self-soothe

    Crying can release endorphins. Endorphins can help ease both physical and emotional pain. Once the endorphins are released, your body may go into somewhat of a numb stage.  This can give you a sense of calm or well-being.

    Along with helping you ease pain, crying, may lift your spirits. When you sob, you take in many quick breaths of cool air. Breathing in cooler air can help regulate and even lower the temperature of your brain.  As a result, your mood may improve after a sobbing episode.

    Grieving is a process. It involves periods of sorrow, numbness, guilt, and anger. Crying is particularly important during periods of grieving. It 

    Crying doesn’t only happen in response to something sad. Sometimes you may cry when you are extremely happy, scared, or stressed. 

    ***Crying in response to something that makes you happy or sad is normal and healthy. Don’t hold back your tears if you feel the need to release. Excessive crying is something you should chat about with your doctor, however. If crying starts to interfere with your everyday activities, it may be a sign of depression.

    https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-crying

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