Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Relax, visualize less FCAT stress, say Pasco teachers

The coughing and hacking had me making some bleary eyed, wee-hours-of-the-morning treks into one or the other of the daughters' bedrooms to take temperatures and dispense medication of the cold and flu-fighting sort. Despite all my Florence Nightingale efforts plus gallons of home-made chicken soup and honey-laced herbal teas, each of my "Typhoid Marys" missed four days of school and spent the weekend pajama-clad and bed bound.

This morning my two daughters are clearly on the mend. Even so, no way are either of them on top of their game.

So I'm thinking the timing is insane.

Really, who in their right mind would schedule the biggest, "end-all-be-all" test, right smack in the middle of cold and flu season?

Or, as Linda McCarthy, the principal of Hudson Elementary School, pointed out — two days after the switch to Daylight Saving Time that still has us all adjusting to that lost hour of sleep? Topping it off is the upcoming three-day, sugar-rush of an Easter weekend that's wedged right in between the 10-day test span.

Just a few of the distractions our FCAT test-taking kids have to contend with this year. Never mind all the other stuff life tosses on a regular basis.

No doubt anxiety abounds for many students today — especially those in third grade who face retention if they fail the reading portion or sophomores who could eventually lose out on a high school diploma.

Go ahead and put yourself in their place for a moment.

Feeling stressed yet?


Think positive.

Take a few, deep … cleansing … breaths.

Go to the "safe place" you've created in your head or toss your test-taking fears into the basket of a hot air balloon and watch them soar.

For good measure — let loose and have fun.

Sounds a little new-agey, perhaps, but when it comes to the FCAT that's the conventional wisdom coming from some Pasco County educators.

Creative visualization, deep breathing relaxation techniques and positive self talk are a few of the tools guidance counselor Stacy Brasier has been teaching throughout the school year to students at Fox Hollow Elementary.

"FCAT is a snapshot of one day," Brasier told parents at a recent test-taking strategy workshop. "But if our kids have good success throughout the school year we'll have a good snapshot."

Even so, Brasier touts the importance of exorcising the pessimist within that only serves to sabotage and of keeping FCAT in a "big picture" kind of perspective. "It's not everything. It's not the end of the world. It's just one test."

Stacy DeRonda, the reading resource teacher at Hudson Elementary, remembers well her seven years teaching third-grade.

"I had kids that were so stressed that they got physically sick over it," said DeRonda, who headed up Monday's FCAT rally complete with cadence chants, "We're all in this together," sing-alongs and relay races flush with reminders for students to get a good night's sleep, eat a good breakfast and be on time.

"We wanted to do something that would make them excited about it," DeRonda said. "This (FCAT) is something they have to do so we're just going to make the best of it."

A hot air balloon was the real and very symbolic gesture the PTA funded for students last week at Oakstead Elementary. The objective, said media specialist Susan Hoffacker, "was to take all our fears about FCAT and let them sail away so we don't have any fear for FCAT."

Unfortunately the day proved too windy for the balloon to actually sail away.

Not to worry, though. Just another small glitch in the big picture. The kids actually reveled instead, in the opportunity to kick off their shoes and take a tour through the inside of the giant balloon that was partially inflated by fans in the school cafeteria.

No stress about that.

That's the point, and the advice (beside getting a good night's sleep, eating a good breakfast and getting the kids to school on time) Oakstead Elementary principal Tammy Kimpland offered up for parents of test-taking students.

"Keep a routine. Stay calm," she said. "And be positive. Self confidence makes all the difference.

And maybe, Tallahassee, a change to that schedule.

I'm thinking May.

Michele Miller can be reached at or at (727) 869-6251.

Relax, visualize less FCAT stress, say Pasco teachers 03/10/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 10, 2008 9:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police


    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  2. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot


    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of
  3. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  4. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.