Dunbar Early Learning Center News and Events
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.”
Dunbar Early Learning Center
With roots firmly planted in Hobe Sound’s Banner Lake community,
16-year-old Dymond Johnson has a robust educational foundation that can be
traced to her earliest days as a toddler at the Dunbar Early Learning Center.
Now a student at the Kent School, a prestigious boarding school in Connecticut,
she has gained confidence, independence, and expanded her horizons, all
without losing sight of where she grew up.
Her road to academic achievement and a larger world view were not without challenges. Prior to attending the Kent School, she went to Indian Mountain School, a junior boarding school also in Connecticut, for two years. “She started a bit guarded, not exactly sure where and with whom she belonged, but within a few weeks, she decided to make the most of the opportunity. When we extended a hand, she accepted it and then looked for opportunities to support others,” said Jody Reilly Soja, head of Indian Mountain School during a virtual commencement ceremony in spring of 2020 in which Dymond was awarded the Schutte Prize given to the student who has shown the most outstanding improvement in all areas of school life.
“Before we knew it, Dymond was volunteering for and excelling at some of the school’s most sought-after leadership roles. In two short years, Dymond soared past her expectations, surprising herself with her natural ability to lead and create a positive school culture. “We are shaped by our experiences—by the people who enter our lives and the places we go. Not only did she challenge herself to be better, but she also challenged us all to be better,” Soja added.
Dymond’s early academic life was positively influenced by the Dunbar Center and the Banner Lake Club and one special volunteer: Sally Auer Zunino, a retired educator and co-president of the Dunbar Early Learning Center.
“Dymond and I met when she was in first grade and I was her volunteer tutor for the BLAST program,” explained Sally. BLAST (Banner Lake Club’s After School Time) program provides students with free after-school and summer programming, including homework assistance, access to technology, arts and crafts, music, physical fitness, and health and wellness activities and services.
“Despite the differences in our ages and backgrounds we just cliqued,” explained Sally. “She is bright, kind, and witty, bringing levity to any situation. I was inspired by her honesty, tenacity, and desire to learn. Supporting her educational spirit was an easy decision and watching her grow into such an incredible young woman has brought me tremendous joy. I am so proud of her,” added Zunino.
“I’ve had a lot of support along the way and I am so thankful for people like Miss Sally and my mom who have supported my education and to all my teachers and instructors along the way, from Dunbar to Banner Lake to the Pine School to Indian Mountain. These learning opportunities have changed my life, and I look forward to more enriching experiences at Kent,” said Johnson.
Last year, while returning home during school break, Johnson worked part-time at Dunbar, the place where her education began as a young child, as a way to give back to the community that shaped her.
Johnson’s story is a shining example of the impact that a strong educational foundation and supportive relationships can have in opening doors and changing one’s life for the better. When asked what advice she would give to younger students, Johnson’s quicky reply was to “get out of your comfort zone as much as you can. It helps you grow and leads to opportunities you might miss out on otherwise.”
Kent School, Connecticut.
APRIL 12TH, 2021 updated
"The students at Dunbar Early Learning Center in Hobe Sound are part of nearly a dozen afterschool programs across the Treasure Coast benefiting from a national First Lego League Diversity Grant, which helps provide robotics programs to students 4-14 who otherwise may have no opportunity to engage in STEM programs outside of school." (TC Palm, 2020)
Many thanks to TC PALM, Sommer Brugal, and Leah Voss for capturing and sharing this story.
Visit the article in its entirety at: (https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/education/2021/01/01/first-lego-league-sparking-students-interest-stem-robotics/3878473001/)
SEPTEMBER 8TH, 2020
Like everywhere, the pandemic affected the Dunbar Early Learning Center in Hobe Sound, which serves many families living at or below the poverty level. They weren't sure how they would keep going, and then the Consortium of the Community Foundation Martin - St. Lucie stepped in to help!
APRIL 23RD, 2020
As you know Dunbar Early Learning Center follows Martin County School District's policies. Therefore our Center will be closed until Friday,
May 29th, 2020.
MARCH 6TH, 2020
Come and celebrate our 30th Anniversary on March 31, 2020 from 6-9pm in Tequesta:
Josco Bar and Oven.
2019 Children's Art Show, plus a visit from the Easter Bunny!