Wendy Reynoso: Impacting Children’s Lives for Good
Every child has a story.
Often the narrative of their young lives includes traumatic experiences that can shape their ability and willingness to learn.
Wendy Reynoso, Executive Director of The Dunbar Center in Hobe Sound, is on a lifelong mission to help children build on their natural resilience, learn and grow, and reach their highest potential in life.
In just three short years, she has infused this philosophy into the curriculum and the very air of the Dunbar Center, where nearly 100 children from age birth to five spend their days playing and learning, developing their social and emotional skills along with their academics.
“Children need a sense of safety in order to learn,” Reynoso says. “Dunbar has always provided that. But now we’re also engaged in elevating our standards for the curriculum and transforming the way we approach each child’s experiences.”
Reynoso, along with her team of teachers and Dunbar’s devoted board of directors, have incorporated Conscious Discipline, a world-renowned, evidence-based, research-backed methodology, into everything they do. This holistic, nurturing approach provides tools to promote the social and emotional learning and well-being of the students.
Reynoso’s 25-plus years of work with young children and her strong education background make her the perfect person to instill this life-changing curriculum into an early learning center that has been serving the Hobe Sound community for more than 30 years.
She holds a C.A.S. in Educational Administration from Steinhardt School of Education at New York University; an Ed. M. in Sociology of Education, with a concentration in Educational Policy, from Teachers College, Columbia University; an M.A. in Elementary/Childhood Education from Teachers College, Columbia University; and a B.A. from Oberlin College; and she is bi-lingual.
Before being recruited to Dunbar, Reynoso was Head of School/Executive Director for Storefront Academy Harlem, a tuition-free independent school; and Executive Director of The GO Project, which helps improve the futures of low-income public school-age children by providing critical academic, social, and emotional support.
What might be overwhelming to others is a welcome challenge for Reynoso, so much so that she was also named Executive Director of the Banner Lake Club because of the synergies between the two organizations.
“It just made sense,” Reynoso explained. “I wanted to make sure what we were doing was not only helping the children attending Dunbar but moving the needle and helping to lift up the whole community.”
Parents can feel the energy coming from Reynoso and her team and see the sparks of success for their children. From the supportive environment and Conscious Discipline of the Dunbar Center, children can transition to the Banner Lake Academy next door, which offers kindergarten through third grade education; then to BLAST for free after-school programs for youth ages five through 18; and on to the BLAST Teen Program to foster teen/tween leadership skills.
On any day, a visitor might find Reynoso with the children in Gertie’s Library, giving comfort to a child who’s having a bad day, in her office designing a new curriculum element, in a meeting with Banner Lake residents brainstorming on a new program for the Banner Lake Club, popping into a classroom at Dunbar to encourage a teacher, or enthusiastically updating a long-time financial supporter of the Dunbar Center and the Banner Lake Club.
“It’s hard work,” Reynoso says, “but there’s no better work in the world than helping children grow into their best selves.”