Does Innovation Belong in School?

“Innovation is an endless quest.  Very few products are so good that they cannot be continually improved upon”Richard Branson

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do”Steve Jobs

“Creativity is thinking up new things.  Innovation is doing new things”Theodore Levitt

A Call for Innovation

With a quick google search you can find a number of statistics that point to a need for leaders in our education system to step up and innovate.

As a parent of two boys, I have put it upon myself to encourage them early on to love learning – a love for learning that doesn’t wait for a school teacher to teach.  A love for learning that my kids seek out themselves in order to gain knowledge and advance on their own goals.  A love for learning that doesn’t put walls around them to define where they’re allowed to go with their abilities.

Many schools feel like an assembly line filled with boxes that have the appropriate age and grade levels marked on each one.  We’re told our children fit into one of these boxes based on their age.  Sometimes our children are labeled “gifted” by tests and are allowed to enter another box, but they will always have to fit into a box.  What if some don’t?

I hear many complaints from parents today that want better for their children.  Teachers are put in positions where their jobs are on the line if a child fails and the tests to prove their value become the focus of their studies.

An Example of Educational Innovation

Recently I sat on a panel at Windermere Preparatory School, a Private IB school in Windermere, FL.  In the 2015/16 school year, an Entrepreneurial Studies course was launched, spearheaded by Assistant Head Master, Steven Lyng, Ph.D and local entrepreneur and Course Director, Gary Conroy.  The students worked all year to identify a viable business start-up and it was now time for them to pitch investors.  I served on the investor panel along with three other incredible entrepreneurs from the Windermere Prep community.

In two nights our panel listened and critiqued nine presentations of business start-ups given by Sophomores and Juniors from the school.  As we judged the students’ presentations (think Shark Tank) and learned how the school had conducted the class, I was blown away.  These students are experiencing and benefiting from the results of educational innovation.

We need leaders like Gary and Steven who are thinking of ways to innovate the system and connect with students who don’t fit in the box.  It is people like them that are truly making a difference in our children’s lives.

We need to do better for our children.  Innovation belongs in school just as much as the teachers and students do.  Students should be encouraged to know no boundaries with their learning, and just as an entrepreneur owns their business, they should have the freedom to own their education.

Toys For Hope Brings Toys and Gifts to Homeless Children in Orange County

Thank You to Our Community

I want to thank everyone who stepped up and supported my family yesterday with our Toys for Hope event. We are so grateful for the people who helped spread the word about the event, and of course, all of you who came by to drop off gifts and say hi. Thanks to those who stayed and helped pack up the donations and thank you to Windermere Preparatory School who graciously allowed us to use their property as a drop-off point as well as help draw people in to support the cause.

A Successful Toy Drive

Our Toys for Hope event collected over 300 gifts in just 3 hours! The event took place from 1-4pm on December 6th and by 4pm we needed to call in reinforcements to help haul all the goods.  Three car/truck loads were packed to the max and were hauled off to the Matthew’s Hope warehouse in Winter Garden.

Matthew’s Hope Christmas Carnival

All the gifts collected at our event will be set up on display at the Matthew’s Hope Christmas Carnival, which takes place on December 12th.  There, children who are homeless, and whose families are working with the Matthew’s Hope program, will walk through a room of toys and gifts filling out a list of things they want to ask Santa for.  They will then meet Santa who arrives on a fire truck courtesy of the Winter Garden Fire Department.  With the help of their families, and of course Santa, Christmas morning will become a magical moment for these beautiful children.

What is Matthew’s Hope?

Matthew’s Hope is a program that works hard day in and day out helping rehabilitate people who are homeless.  The program, which refers to the homeless as Guests, provides healthcare, counseling, transitional housing, jobs and services such as haircuts, showers and more.  Guests who enroll in the program are given jobs that help them earn points that they can use towards purchasing needed items.  There is a large pantry on-site at Matthew’s Hope where Guests can buy things such as food, diapers and toiletries.  Once Guests have reached a certain level in the program they will receive career counseling and help in finding a job.  Matthew’s Hope is dedicated in the community to providing people in need with a hand up rather than a hand out.  For more information, you can find them at www.matthewshopeministries.org.

Matthew’s Hope
Address: 1460 Daniels Rd, Winter Garden, FL 34787

Toys for Hope Plans to Bring Joy to Kids who are Homeless

New Toy Drive

This year Amy and I are hosting the Toys for Hope event which is a New Toy Drive for kids who are homeless and at-risk families who will be attending the Christmas Carnival put on by Matthew’s Hope in our neighboring town of Winter Garden, days later.

Please help us spread the word on this event

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Toys For Hope Supports Matthew’s Hope in Winter Garden, FL

Each year, Matthew’s Hope puts on a Christmas Carnival where volunteers organize games for families who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless.  Kids walk around and have a chance to win prizes while they wait for the arrival of Santa Claus, who comes in riding on a Fire Truck courtesy of the Winter Garden Fire Department.  When Santa arrives, the kids are guided through a large room of new toys, and with the help of volunteers, they put together a Christmas list of items they want to ask Santa for.  The children then meet Santa and he takes their list to fulfill their wishes.

We are asking everyone in the Metro Orlando community to join us in helping bring joy to all these children by buying new toys and dropping them off at Windermere Preparatory School from 1-4pm on December 6th.

If you are unsure of what to buy, we can provide a list at your request.  Because of the daily involvement of Matthew’s Hope in the community there will be no limit of donations as they are in tune with the community and have the ability to bless others that may not attend the Christmas Carnival.

Windermere Preparatory School is located at 6189 Winter Garden Vineland Rd, Windermere, FL 34786

Thank you all!  If you have any questions, please call or email to our info below


Dave & Amy Vanz




A Father’s Instructions For Life

Bob Utley, a World War II vet, Detroit entrepreneur and most notably – Grandfather to my wife, came across an article in the Readers Digest titled “A Father’s Instructions for Life”.  The article, which was originally published in 1992, impressed him and he decided to make a copy.  In 2004, he made more copies and planned on handing them out to all the Dads in our family.  Unfortunately, he passed unexpectedly in 2005 and never got around to sharing them.  This year, our Grandmother discovered the set of papers that had been tied together with a ribbon, and sent them out to all the dads.   I received mine today.  

Grandfather in the 1940’s

A Father’s Instructions For Life

Complement three people each day.

Watch a sunrise at least once a year.

Over tip breakfast waitresses.

Look people in the eye.

Say “thank you” a lot. Say please a lot. 

Live beneath your means.

Buy whatever kids are selling on card tables in their front yards.

Treat everyone you meet as you want to be treated.

Donate 2 pints of blood every year.

Make new friends, but cherish the old ones.

Keep secrets.

Don’t waste time learning the “tricks of the trade”. Instead learn the trade.

Admit your mistakes.

Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be, no one can tell the difference.

Choose a charity in your community and support it with your time and money.

Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know”

Read the Bill of Rights.

Use credit cards only for convenience, never for credit.

Never cheat.

Learn to listen, opportunity sometimes knocks very softly.

Never deprive someone of hope: it might be all he or she has.

Pray not for things, but for wisdom and courage.

Never take action when you are angry.

Have good posture. enter a room with purpose and confidence.

Don’t discuss business in the elevators. You never know who may overhear you.

Never pay for work before it’s completed.

Be willing to lose a battle in order to win the war.

Don’t gossip.

Beware of the person who has nothing to lose.

When facing a difficult task, act as though it is impossible to fail. If you are going after Moby Dick, take along the tartar sauce.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. Learn to say “no” politely and quickly. 

Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry”

Don’t expect life to be fair.

Never underestimate the power of forgiveness.

Instead of using the word problem, try substituting the word opportunity.

Never walk out on a quarrel with your wife.

Regarding furniture and clothes: if you think you’ll be using them five years or longer, by the best you can afford. 

Be bold and courageous, when you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.

Forget committees. New, noble, world changing ideas always come from one person working alone.

Street musicians are a treasure. Stop for a moment and listen; then leave a small donation.

When faced with a serious health problem, get at least three medical opinions.

Wage a war against littering.

After encountering inferior service, food or products, bring it to the attention of the person in charge. Good managers will appreciate knowing.

Don’t procrastinate. Do what needs doing when it needs to be done.

Get your priorities straight. No one ever said on his deathbed, “Gee, if I’d only spent more time at the office”

Make a list of 25 things you want to experience before you die. Carry it with you when your wallet and refer to it often.

How do you fare?

While there are some things on here that I could do better, I’m proud to say that I do the majority of these to the best of my ability.  What about you?  How do you fare?