Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater preschool's lessons add 'caring' to kids' vocabulary

Students at Sugar ‘N Spice Learning Center of Clearwater make cookies to raise money for an orphanage in Haiti. The kids are, from left, Jack Greenwood, Jarvis Boatwright, Ariyanna Resto, Kenyon Boswell and Josiah Jones.

Special to the Times

Students at Sugar ‘N Spice Learning Center of Clearwater make cookies to raise money for an orphanage in Haiti. The kids are, from left, Jack Greenwood, Jarvis Boatwright, Ariyanna Resto, Kenyon Boswell and Josiah Jones.

CLEARWATER — It all started in April with the letter C.

Fatima Talbird, a prekindergarten instructor for ages 4 and 5, said teachers were helping students at Sugar 'N Spice Learning Center learn words that start with C, like "cat" and "care."

But in the aftermath of the January earthquake in Haiti, they decided to expand on their lesson.

"I guess because of the earthquake, we were gathering our words and we were talking about caring. And it led to children helping children, and we talked about what they could do," Talbird said.

A letter went home to parents, asking them to send in $1 each, so their children could mail the money along with cards and writing supplies to orphans at Limbe Academy in Haiti.

The school chose that orphanage because Talbird knows a minister who travels to Haiti and was familiar with the organization's dire need.

Soon after the mailing, pictures arrived, showing smiling children at an outdoor school, holding up the students' cards. So this holiday season, the preschool's staff and children wanted to do more.

That's where another C word came in: cookies.

Students baked and decorated Christmas cookies for parents to purchase. The money will go to their Children Helping Children fund, which directly benefits those orphans.

"Children all over the world are just like us, therefore we can share," Talbird said.

Donations from Sugar and Spice aren't breaking any records. Most of the children are on government assistance with Coordinated Child Care.

But teachers say it's a lesson measured by direct connections, not dollars.

"We wanted it to be more personal for the children, more one-on-one so they see the money goes directly from them to the children in the orphanage," said instructor Meaghan Maxwell, who teaches 3-year-olds.

"When you do send money to a large organization, it's hard to understand what type of relief it's helping. It makes everyone feel like you're actually doing something good for children in need."

Talbird said the children, even at 3 and 4 years old, are learning a valuable lesson about loving others.

"It will spread out to other people and on to all mankind if we start young enough," Talbird said.

Jieva Johnson, 4, said she saw the pictures of the orphans and realized something.

"They look like they have nothing … so we can share our cookies," she said.

Sinaya Johnson, 4, agreed.

"I have a better life. I have a house. If it rains (in Haiti,) you have to build a tent."

>>Fast facts

To lend a hand

Sugar 'N Spice Learning Center of Clearwater is at 1194 Grove St. If you're interested in helping with the Haiti orphanage project, call the school at (727) 447-1456. For more information about the orphanage, visit

Clearwater preschool's lessons add 'caring' to kids' vocabulary 12/24/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 24, 2010 6:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Clearwater confronts a new wave of homeless people, many addicted to spice

    Public Safety

    CLEARWATER — Having lived on the streets since 2014, when he said God ordered him to go out and watch over the homeless, Scott Elfstrom has seen new faces brought out by the typical drugs, despair or plain bad luck.

    Clearwater police Sgt. Rodney Johnson talks to a group of homeless people near the Clearwater Police Department. Johnson has worked to decrease the amount of spice being used in the homeless population.
  2. Preservation group's efforts help revitalize Hudson Cemetery

    Human Interest

    HUDSON — Since the 1970s, the area's unhoused could count on Hudson Cemetery as a place to eat, drink and doze. They would crouch behind bushes on the 2 acres — sandwiched between an ABC liquor store and a shopping center — and leave behind beer cans, cigarette butts and rotting clothes. They would …

    Dennis Kingsley, former president of the Hudson Cemetery Preservation Association, looks at recently cleaned headstones at the cemetery. It got a new fence and was cleared of weeds and brush in June.
  3. Adam Putnam
  4. Forecast: Summertime heat, late-day showers soldier on in Tampa Bay


    The summertime pattern of hot temperatures and afternoon showers continues through the second half of the week across Tampa Bay.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  5. Pinellas Park police arrest Dade County fugitive hiding in attic crawl space


    Pinellas Park police arrested a man wanted on charges in Dade County following a standoff in an apartment complex early Thursday morning.