Fireworks in the Dark    

Every 4th of July, besides the fact that people celebrate Independence Day, the firework display has always been a major picture to behold. We often hear children ask when the fireworks will begin. And as any knowledgeable adult who has at least a good understanding of contrast between colors and light would say that the display of magnificent colors in the sky would start when it’s dark enough for the light. And as the sun finally bids goodbye to the glorious day, and as the blackness of the night empowers the land, spectators wait and wait patiently. Soon, the dances of lights fly up in the sky, zipping through the night with its magnificent colors, gliding carelessly in the horizon.

As I think it through and deeply enough, I am in awe of what that scene has to symbolize in a different context of our lives. The fabric of society is indeed intertwined with the mysteries of life. We just have to wear the right lens to see it. In one way, I see life mirror the fireworks—from the preparation to the actual display, from the anticipation stage to the big show! During the downpour of problems and struggles, moments when we can barely breathe because life’s complexities are just not letting up, the time when we almost quit and throw in the towel, these are the periods in time comparable to the coming of the night. Sometimes, the fading of lights from the horizon is slow, but we know it’s very consistent. This is the first category and somehow it gives us the time to somewhat “prepare,” but this only happens when we are still and brazenly locked at the majestic sun fading in the distant. The first category represents the obstacles that we expect as we traverse life. We acknowledge their presence and we somehow know the darkness is about to behold the land, but even with that, we can barely say that we’re really prepared. At times, we don’t’ even recognize the darkness embracing the land. We do not have time to sit still and wait because we are all caught up with all activities that life has thrown at us. Most of us fall in this second category. We are caught up with life itself that we do not see the sun fade in the distant. The second class represents moments in our lives that are unexpected; unexpected struggles and mountains that suddenly appeared before us with little to no warnings at all.

But it doesn’t matter whether we fall in either category, because the darkness will have to come upon us all. Soon, when the sun finally let go of its power, and the breeze and majesty of the blackness arrives, the land will soon be in the mercy of darkness, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. It has to come because it’s the natural progression of time. Afraid we might be, it’s okay! It’s the first reaction. The real battle ensues and we all have to play our part. The difference between failing and succeeding, however, lies in how we use our resources — when we know how to navigate through the darkness even with little light that comes from our surrounding, our odds of winning increase exponentially. The first thing we have to consider is the lens we’re using. When we put on the armor of Godly wisdom, we can expect to see the glory of the Lord that is always at reach. We may feel lost and confused during the darkest days of our lives but while we all stand in the darkness, figuring which ways to go, what path to follow, don’t ever forget the stars above and the moon that still provides light to show us the dentures of the land. Its light, even though is not as powerful and as bright as the sun, is enough for us to course through land. And as we trek the undefined and unchartered landscape of ups and downs of life, bear in mind that there is a purpose— for every step we take is a closing us all to our destination. Just go, move on, the path can also be winding, be wise in how you move your feet. It doesn’t hurt to look back at times, to see how far we’ve come. This too will motivate us. Walk straight and walk to His path. Hold your head high for He is guiding you. He is with us and He will always be with us. As we go up the mountains, our physical body might get tired and we might even have moments when we have to stop and catch our breath, instances when clouds cover the light; but don’t quit the trail just because our muscles ache and we have to stop periodically. Rest is good. But then, it’s not forever, at least not on earth. We have to move, for once we reach the top of the mountain, once we reach our destination, the view is going to be breathtaking.

Once we reach the destination, sit down, rest well, and wait for the lights to dance up in the air. The firework display is greatly viewed on top of the mountain— when the land has less or no light at all, and the sky is dark enough. The power of the Lord works at its mightiest in the dark, so don’t lose hope. Move on, and have the excitement in your heart. Fuel our hearts with the oil of anticipation. We too shall come and experience the beauty of the fireworks—for the colors and the mighty works of God are brighter at night!

 John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. “







A Thousand Years (Filipino Version) Walang Hanggan by Anjilou and Angel Flores

I. Puso ko’y tumitibok para sa iyo

Nangangamba man patuloy pa rin

Takot maglalaho

Ikaw lang sa puso ko

Gagawin ko, paglalaban kong pag-ibig mo

Naririto ako


Koro (Chorus)

  • Kaytagal kong hinintay pag-ibig mo
  • Pangamba’y mawawala sa piling mo
  • Walang hanggan, pag-ibig koy’y walang hanggan


II. Kagandahan mo ay di kukupas

Kalakasan ko’y galing sa iyo aking minamahal

Mga pagsubok malalampasan

Sa piling mo aking sinta ikaw lamang

Naririto ako


Video link:


We had a successful family Math night in Thomas Edison Charter School last November 12,2015. We had 98 students, over 50 parents, siblings and relatives who participated. To make this event possible the TECS Math team spearheaded the event plus we have dedicated and hardworking volunteers who stayed up to 7pm to do their part, kudos to the 30 staff members and ten 8th grade students. Indeed, teamwork makes the dream work. I am thrilled to see how everyone enjoyed this event. So far this is the best year in terms of attendance, participation, overwhelming support by the administration and staff that I have ever experienced. I personally think that the rewards like homework pass, dress down to dance pass, cool prizes like gift cards, special treats and a grand prize and family thanksgiving basket played a great part to attract the families to participate.

As a teacher coming from the Philippines, I have seen a great need for the inner city school students to be exposed to multicultural awareness. When I came to the US in 2006 the students thought I am from China, in their young minds they thought Philippines and China are the same. So I introduce them to different countries by using stations in my Math class and name them using different countries- Philippines, Australia, China, Canada, etc. They love the idea that they can walk around the classroom to visit different countries as they answer Math problems. It was indeed a fun learning experience for them so when my principal ask me to spearhead the Family night I thought about using the “Math Around the World” in a bigger scale. I have developed this “Math Around the World” concept to integrate cultural and global awareness in Mathematics. As an educator I go beyond teaching numbers and equations, I make sure that my students learn to see the beauty in our differences. We are all unique and regardless of our color and culture, we are to treat each other with utmost respect. I also want to make sure that my students know that thee is a big world out there and their dreams is not limited to where they are and what they see in their neighborhood. This is also a good reminder that Math is a universal language that we all understand. Math is a bond that connects our big world because math facts are consistent wherever you go… 8 times 5 is equal to 40 whether you go to Spain, Philippines, Italy or anywhere in the world.

So here’s how the procedure goes:

  1. All the participants will gather in the US station (cafeteria or auditorium). They will register their family team or student team (maximum of 5 students if they came without parents or guardians). They will receive a Math passport, Math world map and a pencil. Each team will strategically plan how they will travel the math world by visiting the country stations: Canada, Jamaica, Nigeria, Spain, Philippines, etc. Each country station must have a flag outside the classroom, Math question on the board and may play music (originated from that country) or put up some decoration.
  1. The teams will be given 25-30 minutes to travel around the math world. Using their math passport, they will show their work as they answer the math question or math challenge on each country station. They have to show work and write the final answer on the Math passport. After answering the question correctly, they will receive a visa stamp (sticker stamp) from the immigration officers (teachers/staff assigned on each country) on their passport and run the hallways to go to another country station until they completed all the country stations.
  1. Once they completed all the country stations they have to go back to US station to turn in their Math passport. The first 3 teams from K to 2, 3 to 5 and 6 to 8 will receive prizes.

It is great to see families working together as a team to answer Math problems and enjoy traveling the Math world. Some families are very competitive and they really work so hard and rushing to go from one station to another. Take note: this is the only time the students and their families were allowed to run in the school building so it was a one-of-a-kind experience.

By the way, our school provided dinner for all the participants and we each family/student team registered in the US Station (Cafeteria).

Here’s the format of our program hosted by our two lovely eight graders- Joy and Kylah:

National Anthem TECS Choir
Pledge of Allegiance (Rap) TECS Choir
Opening Remarks Principal El
Special Performance Math Girlz
Math Around the World Procedures Mrs. Flores
Awarding TECS Math Team
Closing Remarks Mrs. Yates

math night 2015Choir Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 9.08.00 AMScreen Shot 2015-11-14 at 9.07.44 AMrun map

Math Project #4 Fractional Me

fractional me 2This week, I started teaching fractions. My students had fun as their creativity flow on their Fractional Me project (1 day project approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour). They created portraits of themselves out of small squares (post-it note or 3×3 cut-outs). They were responsible for determining the fractional amounts of each color. This is a great way to integrate Art and Values, and for the students to remember that fractions is part of a whole on a personal level.

I also encourage my students to love their unique beauty and charm. I tell them that they must not let anyone define who they are, because they are the ones who know themselves best. During middle school years, students tend to seek approval and validation from others especially among their peers. They hear negative things people say about them, and of course, it hurts when someone tries to spread gossips. I tell my students to stand strong and embrace their unique beauty and charm. It doesn’t matter what others think about you but what really matters is how you see yourself. You know who you are so brush it off and stay positive. Let your beauty shine from the inside out.

“Love yourself and stay positive. Let your beauty shine from the inside out.” – PinkAngel26


(In the tune of Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars) 

Oh your eyes, your eyes look at us and always checking

Your smile, your smile we love to see it in the morning

You’re so wonderful.

And we tell you every day.

Yeah we know, we know

You work hard with your Edison staff

Your love for us leads on the right track.

And every time you straighten us it is ok

And we say…

When we see your face

There’s not a thing that we would change

Sir El you’re amazing just the way you are

And when you smile you inspire us all the time

Sir El you’re amazing just the way you are

Your rap, your rap every lunch time we look forward

Your jokes, your jokes are sometimes oh so awkward

You’re our principal

And we love you anyway

Oh you know, you know, you know

We never ask you to change

Your crazy love for us

Will always stay the same

Oh, you touch our hearts, you change our lives

Thank you for everything

When we see your face

There’s not a thing that we would change

Sir El you’re amazing just the way you are

When you smile you inspire us all the time

Sir El you’re amazing just the way you are.

The way you are

The way you are

Cause you’re amazing just the way you are

When we see your face

There’s not a thing that we would change

Sir El you’re amazing just the way you are

***Principal El Happy Birthday. We love you. ❤ From your TECS Junior Academy

Salome Thomas-EL is a national education expert and consultant.  He was a teacher and principal with the Philadelphia School District from 1987-2009. He received national acclaim as a teacher and chess coach at Vaux Middle School, where his students have gone on to win world recognition as Eight-Time National Chess Champions. Principal EL is a regular contributor on “The Dr. Oz Show” and the author of the best-selling books, I Choose to Stay, about his Vaux Middle School experience, and The Immortality of Influence, which stresses the importance of mentoring, parenting and service to others. The Walt Disney Company optioned the movie rights to I Choose to Stay. Thomas-EL speaks to groups across the country and frequently appears on C-SPAN, CNN, and NPR Radio. He is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania and is currently a doctoral candidate. Principal EL lives in Delaware County, PA with his wife and two young daughters.  He has received the Marcus A. Foster Award as the outstanding School District Administrator in Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania’s distinguished Martin Luther King Award.  Principal EL was honored as a Reader’s Digest Magazine, “Inspiring American Icon” and recently appeared on The Oprah Radio Network.

To Learn more about our amazing Principal El please visit the following pages:


An Ex-Mafia Boss Sharing God’s Word

Today is a very exciting Sunday in Restore Church. We’ve heard a very powerful message by the former ex-mafia boss Michael Franzese. We were on the edge of our sit as we listen to every word he said. He was one of the most notorious mob bosses of the 80s. After 10 years in prison, this former “Prince of the Mafia” is now a man on a mission for the King of Kings. He grew up as the son of the notorious Underboss of New York’s violent and feared Colombo crime family. Franzese was “one of the biggest money earners the Mob had seen since Al Capone” and the youngest individuals on Fortune magazine’s list of The Fifty Biggest Mafia Bosses, ranking #18, just five behind John Gotti. At his most affluent, he generated an estimated $5 to $8 million per week from legal and illegal businesses. It was a life filled with power, luxury and deadly violence.

He shared to us what their family went through as a kid and as he grow up hating the law enforcers, how they live the life under surveillance and the struggle of belonging to a mafia circle. Michael’s story is a modern-day Damascus Road experience, from his early days in the Mob and rise to power to God’s leading him to do the unthinkable: quit the Mob and follow Jesus. In fact, Nobody of Franzese’s rank had ever just walked away – and lived. Until now.

He gave up the mob lifestyle that he was used to initially for his love Camille but little did he know it was a divine set-up that will turn his life 180 degrees leaving his past behind and truly follow Jesus. What touched my heart the most was the time that he was thrown in “the hole” and kept isolated during most of the 3-year sentence in the prison cell. That was the worst time of his life, the very first time he felt hopeless and helpless but that was the time that he had a “one-on-one” encounter with God. After studying about 300 books about religion that was sent to him by his wife, he found the light in the Bible. He was able to reflect and God spoke to his heart. It was unexplainable how God changed his analytical thinking mind to a spiritual faith-filled one. Michael quoted “When you are at your worst, that is when God is at His best.” He can turn things around, He can make the most out of the worst situation we are in so we can hear from Him.

He is totally right when he said that the entire message of the bible is about forgiveness and redemption. He also emphasized that the sign of a real Christian is not to be perfect but ask for forgiveness for the sin committed and become better. We are going to sin but we have to keep in mind that God forgives all our sin. We can never be perfect but we can always become a better person than we were yesterday. Do not let the past haunt you because you are forgiven by God and born again. You can serve God regardless of your past mistakes because you are now a new creation in Him. If you feel unqualified to be used by God remember this: He tends to recruit from the PITS, and not the pedestal. Here are some examples: God found Gideon in a hole, Joseph in a prison cell, Daniel in a lion’s den and Paul in the midst of trouble. If you are at the worst time of your life and you thing that you are the worst person in the world, keep your head high because God is coming to rescue you. He will lift you out of the darkness and He will use you mightily for His Kingdom.

We do not need to live a mob life or experience a drastic change in our life so we can share a testimony or serve in God’s kingdom. May be you are called to share the gospel to one person that will eventually lead to his salvation. All of us are called by God to serve our purpose on earth. We are all a piece of God’s puzzle and we are all equally important. Are you ready to answer God’s call?

Remember these words from Michael Franzese “If you are not walking with God then, you are walking parallel to Him but at some point, it will intersect and you will encounter God.” 

Check his message: mob boss

Deconstructed to be Reconstructed

Note: This blog was written to share the message that we heard from Pastor Jess this morning. This is a very powerful, moving and timely Word. 

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