South Grade Elementary School art teacher Rebecca Hinson is an out-of-the-box thinker — sometimes even out-of-the-school. She leads students on field trips to opulent Palm Beach mansions with ballrooms (Mar-a-Lago), Gothic churches filled with spectacular stained glass windows (Bethesda-by-the Sea), and to the top of buildings with spectacular panoramic views (the Darth Vader building or Northbridge Center).
“Many of them had never been in an elevator before,” said Hinson, 56, a teacher at South Grade for 12 years, said of the Darth Vader building trip. “They were so excited.”
Back at school, she has the students at Lake Worth’s South Grade — one of the poorest schools in the county — doing all sorts of creative projects, from designing their own fascinator hats (like those worn by Kate Middleton) to making Lego cars with motors that actually run.
“These students face many social and academic challenges,” Hinson, who lives in Lake Worth, said of the Lego carmakers. “But for a few short weeks our most challenged students had hit the brightest spot of their childhoods” working with Palm Beach County Sheriff’s officers to build the motors.
In her search to find a way to reach students from other cultures (most students come from families from Central America or the Caribbean), she became an author and publisher of children’s books (www.rebeccahinsonpublishing.com) that tell stories from various cultures.
“I will never forget how I felt as I researched the art of my own culture,” Hinson said. “The glory of it all, the amazing history, and the beautiful art which expressed all that, it made me beam with pride. I guess I then understood how meaningful it is for my students to see the art and hear the stories of their people. It’s personal.”
Hinson’s pride and joy, she said, is her son, Alex Huba, 22. He served in the Army in Afghanistan and was recently hired as a police officer in Palm Beach Gardens.
Favorite place for breakfast: I like the almond French toast at Farmer Girl in Lake Worth, served by Anna, a beautiful Greek goddess, who is the sweetest waitress I know.
Farmer Girl, 1732 N Dixie Highway, Lake Worth, 561-582-0317
Favorite place for lunch:
Lupita’s Tex Mex on Dixie in Lake Worth. I love the Carne Asada tortillas piled high with guacamole, salsa, onion and lime with a hot pepper on the side.
Lupita’s Tex Mex, 401 N. Dixie Highway, Lake Worth, 561-533-0933
Favorite place for dinner:
I like bibimbap at Yama, a Korean restaurant on Lake Avenue in Lake Worth. Served sizzling in a big ceramic bowl. For special occasions I also love Café L’Europe in Palm Beach. You can’t beat it for atmosphere during the season when David Crohan plays piano, and lush azaleas are everywhere. I came from a small town in North Carolina close to Wilmington where the Azalea Festival is the most exciting thing that happens all year.
Yama, 809 Lake Ave., Lake Worth, 561-582-5800
Café L’Europe, 331 S County Road, Palm Beach, 561-655-4020, www.cafeleurope.com/live/
Favorite spot for an evening out:
I enjoy ballroom and swing dancing at the Pavilion in Boca.
Pavilion Grille, 301 Yamato Road, Boca Raton, 561-912-0000, www.paviliongrille.com
Favorite place to take out-of-town visitors:
If it’s not too hot, I like to sit by the fountain and have brunch in the garden of Brazilian Court and Café Boulud after a walk through the Society of Four Arts garden.
Café Boulud, 301 Australian Ave., Palm Beach 561-655-6060, www.cafeboulud.com/palmbeach/
The Four Arts Botanical Gardens, 2 4 Arts Plaza, Palm Beach, 561-655-7227
Favorite place to go with girlfriends:
Lake Worth Jewelers for vintage costume and estate jewelry.
Lake Worth Jewelers, 615 Lake Ave, Lake Worth, 561-582-8355
Favorite place to watch the sunrise:
I swim east from Lake Worth beach in the summer, watching the sun rise before my eyes, watching birds, fish and dolphins.
Lake Worth Beach, 10 South Ocean Blvd., Lake Worth, 561-533-7395
Favorite place to shop:
I love buying my favorite brands at World Thrift on half-price Wednesday and Saturday. Cole Haan, Michael Kors, Old Navy, Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein, Banana Republic, David Meister. I was shocked one day when I realized that some people like their stuff more when they pay a lot for it. I like my stuff more if I got a great deal!
World Thrift, 2425 N. Dixie Highway, Lake Worth, 561-588-4050
Favorite local theater:
I always have front row season tickets for three at the Lake Worth Playhouse. Five minutes from my house, my girlfriends and I show up Opening Night, they feed us, entertain us, and then send us home with a cookie in each hand!
Lake Worth Playhouse, 713 Lake Ave., Lake Worth, 561-586-6410, www.lakeworthplayhouse.org