The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 47 - September 7, 2011


Child's play at Thompson Academy

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Cindy Thompson and some of her staff and
students prepare for play and learning.

Remember when playing just for the fun of it was a good thing and it was OK to get messy? Remember when kids would go outside, invent games and build their own play things? Remember when overachieving was a term reserved for adults?

Cindy Thompson remembers all of these things, and as a result has incorporated play based creative learning into the structure of her new private preschool.

On June 20, Thompson opened Thompson Academy in one of Bradenton's vintage homes, formerly a Montessori School for 27 years. Thompson is the owner/director of the school with over 13 years of experience in child care, and previously owned another preschool in Bradenton.

Thompson Academy accommodates students between 18 months and 8 years of age. Designed as a resource center for families, the school offers a flexible schedule in an effort to accommodate parents' schedules. Children can attend part time or full time, and schedules can be tailored to the needs of the family.

Fifty-four students attend the school and with a staff of 10, the teacher student ratio is half of what the state of Florida mandates. Smaller class size results in more student attention and hands on interaction. Thompson follows the school board mandated curriculum, but what really sets Thompson Academy apart from other preschools is its play-based curriculum which is centered on play as a way to learn. In fact, Thompson has been working with Dr. Walter Drew, founder and executive director of the Institute for Self Active Education, Inc., developing a pilot program to help bring play to families and childhood educators initially in Manatee County and eventually throughout the state.

Thompson states that although children find comfort in structure and organized activity, giving them the opportunity to learn and work with others through play is the most successful learning tool there is.

The school has a warm intimate feeling with separate play and gathering areas based on the age of the students. There is a kitchen and eating area. The academy provides a healthy breakfast and snack during the day, and room for a daily rest. The outside fenced yard has a covered area, swings, slide, climbing wall and toys, toys, toys.

All staff members, who have been with Thompson between three and five years, have extensive training, some with advanced degrees, and have undergone wide-ranging background screenings approved by the state of Florida. The school is secured with all access doors locked at all times.

Thompson Academy is in the process of obtaining a National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation expected within the next year. In addition, Cindy Thompson is on the board of MAEYC, the Manatee County branch of the national organization.

With most of their students coming from west and northwest Bradenton, Thompson Academy has been a huge success since it opened in June. It is currently close to capacity and already has limited enrollment in some age categories.

Since energy is something Thompson has plenty of, she has an extensive resume of volunteer activities. She has been on the board of the Anna Maria Island Chamber for 17 years and is just finishing up as chairman of the board. She has also organized the Bayfest festival on Anna Maria for 11 years and continues to be active in other civic endeavors in the city of Homes Beach.

So forget the Baby Einstein, get your little ones to grow up to be real Einsteins, and a good place to start is with Thompson Academy and its creative based learning programs. It's fun to be a kid, especially for the kids.

Thompson Academy

1212 43rd St. W., Bradenton

Fax: 941-748-2163

Monday through Friday
7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday by appointment
Visa, MasterCard, Discover


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Probability vs. possibility

Investment Corner

Financial markets have been very volatile over the last few years. By some statistical measures, the volatility is not so extreme compared to historical levels, but there have been certain short periods of time, like the month of August just passed, that contain movements both up and down that are very extreme. For example, during the week of Aug. 8, the first four trading days of the week for stocks resulted in alternating down and up moves in excess of 4 percent each day.

The fear of losing money strikes hard into the psyche, and studies have shown the brain waves when people think of losing money to be similar to those experienced when confronted with the potential for great physical harm – such as when coming across a bear on a hiking trail.

I admit to feeling those same, very human, emotional tugs, but it is important to separate possibility from probability when managing our investments. Yes, the financial system could possibly fail, but a long history of surviving tough times shows it's not probable.

It is important to keep the periodic bouts of fear and volatility that strike the markets now and then in perspective and not assume that each new one means the destruction of our financial lives. I find it interesting that the approximate 17 percent stock market correction in the last few weeks drew a significantly larger fear-factor reaction than the correction of about the same size in May and June of 2010. I attribute the extra stress this time around to the very negative news environment we've all been bombarded with since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March and news about fiscal troubles in Europe dating back to before that. Of course, there was our own well documented issue with raising the debt ceiling about a month ago. That proceeding certainly didn't increase anyone's confidence.

In my column on Aug. 24, I highlighted the Volatility Index, which is a method of measuring fear or complacency by stock investors. Without re-hashing those details, I'll just remind you that when the measures of volatility reach extremes, it usually indicates the worst of a stock market correction may be past, and with patience,it is usually a good time to invest or at least stay in your plan. While we may see some continued volatility over the coming weeks, which would be normal following a quick, sharp correction in prices which we just experienced, there is one other indication that the next year or so may be better for investors.

Corporate insiders are executives and directors of corporations and they have to report their buying and selling activity of their own company's stock within a short period after placing trades. The second week of August set an all-time record for insider purchases relative to sales since this data has been kept. There are many reasons for these executives and directors to sell stock (such as diversifying, buying a new home, paying for a daughter's wedding, etc.), but there is only one reason to make a purchase of additional shares. Obviously, if these individuals thought their company would be entering a tough period for business, they would most likely wait to buy additional shares. The opposite occurred, and past experience tells us this bodes well for potentially higher stock prices in the coming year.

Expecting volatility and uncertainty, and managing through it, rather than running every time it rears its head, would seem to be the best course of action. Of course, always use an appropriate investment allocation across investment types for your personal situation to control short-term volatility and the pressures it creates to act out of fear or greed.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing. Visit

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