Dunbar and Banner Lake Start the New School Year Strong, Smart and Safe

By Pat Austin, The Firefly Group

Hobe Sound, Fla. – Happy voices from excited children, lots of purposeful activity, shiny new school supplies and the joy of old friends---the school year is off to a great start at the Dunbar Center and Banner Lake Academy in Hobe Sound.

Wendy Reynoso, Executive Director of both facilities, reports that 92 children from birth to age 5 are enrolled in the Early Learning Program at Dunbar this year. At Banner Lake Academy, there are 54 students from kindergarten through third grade.

“We know that the early years of a child’s life are critically important,” Reynoso says. “We’re seeing clear results that our strong curriculum and nurturing atmosphere are helping our children grow in competence and confidence.”

From the very first school day on August 11, safety measures have been in place. “Our families are working families, and our parents depend on us to care for their children and keep them safe and healthy,” says Reynoso.

Dunbar has added two new staff members this year with the experience to enhance academics and provide inhouse staff development. “Teachers love to learn as much as the children do,” Reynoso says, “and they value the opportunity to grow with us as we continue developing groundbreaking approaches to childcare and learning in our community.”

Nicala Tyo joins the staff as a Literacy Consultant and Instructional/Curriculum Specialist. She has more than thirteen years of teaching experience teaching multiple grades and providing instructional coaching with a focus on literacy in Title 1 schools. She holds a Master’s degree in Reading from Florida Atlantic University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from The University of North Florida, and certifications including endorsements in Exceptional Student Education, Teaching Students of Other Languages, Reading certification and ESL pilot course completion. She is also a published author.

ndrea Asciutto Houck is an accomplished educator, literacy expert, and instructional coach who holds an undergrad degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s in Reading from Florida Atlantic University. During her sixteen years in the Martin County School District, she has been a classroom teacher, special education teacher, and Literacy Coach. As part of the school leadership teams, she worked on student support teams, assessments and data reflection, implemented Professional Learning Communities, led workshops on standards across the state of Florida, and delivered workshops on various components of Balanced Literacy. She has also been a presenter at the Florida Literacy Association Conference as well as UCF’s Literacy Symposium on Literacy Coaching.

Andrea Asciutto Houck and Nicala Tyo co-own The Literacy Colleagues, a community literacy consultant company.

Banner Lake also leads BLAST, Banner Lake After School Time, for children ages 5 through 18. More than 150 young people are registered in BLAST this year, where they have a safe place to play and learn after school.

“Everyone involved with our programs---staff, volunteers, partner agencies, parents, and of course the children---are energized,” according to Reynoso. “Truly, there is no better work in the world than helping children grow into their best selves.”

About Banner Lake Club, Inc.

The Banner Lake Club (BLC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for Hobe Sound residents, primarily those in need in the Banner Lake Community. BLC provides community and educational services including a free after school and summer program called B.L.A.S.T. (Banner Lake After School Time) for children ages 5-18 as well as a new Academy for students in kindergarten through third grade. BLC also has a Teen Program, a Food Pantry, Community Café, Soup Kitchen and a Senior Meals Program that delivers meals to qualifying seniors. For more information visit bannerlake.org, call 772-402-5167, email office@bannerlake.org, or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bannerlakeclub.

About Dunbar Early Learning Center

The Dunbar Early Learning Center (Dunbar) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1990 whose mission is to provide care, education, and promotion of the children and families within Martin County. Dunbar is dedicated to creating a nurturing, stimulating, and welcoming environment for all children through its unique programs and a variety of educational theories while always keeping the child’s best interest in mind and allowing for hands-on, experiential learning. For more information, visit dunbarearlylearningcenter.org or call (772) 545-0808.