You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

West Palm school celebrates rich history on 50th birthday


In 1997, Leslie Millar entered the halls of Wynnebrook Elementary not knowing it would be her home for the next 20 years.

From the beginning, Miller found herself immersed in a school culture that prided itself on meeting the needs of its students.

If a child came to school and couldn’t see the board, the faculty made sure the child was taken to the eye doctor to get glasses. If children needed clothes, Wynnebrook provided uniforms and sneakers.

“We had a family resource center like no other,” said Millar, now a third-grade reading teacher at Wynnebrook. “The families knew that we were there for them in the long run.”

Whether it was a car wash fundraiser or holiday dance, families came out in droves to school events. Test scores skyrocketed. Now, Wynnebrook, a Title 1 School with 92 percent of students on free or reduced price lunches, is enjoying a run of 14 years as an “A” graded school.

“Our hidden gem was not so hidden anymore,” Millar said. “No one was going to tell us that minority children cannot learn. We broke that barrier.”

In February, Wynnebrook, located on Drexel Road in West Palm Beach, celebrated its 50th anniversary by hosting a party that featured new and current staff, parents, and students as well as city officials.

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, who visited Wynnebrook twice to view its success, again made the trip from Washington D.C. as the guest speaker of the 50th birthday bash.

Hastings was introduced by radio personality Sally Severaid, who emceed the event and took pride in naming Wynnebrook’s five principals. She pointed out how rare it is for a school to have so few principals in 50 years.

Walter Murray was the first principal. His tenure was 17 years, from 1965 to 1982.

“Teachers who worked for him say he was fair, kind-hearted and supportive of their efforts at Wynnebrook,” Severaid said. “We regret to say that Mr. Murray has passed, but he is fondly remembered by many. We feel he was the cornerstone of the philosophy of ‘Excellence in Education’ at Wynnebrook Elementary School.”

Al Carnahan was principal from 1983 to 1990, Kenneth Swain was principal from 1990 to 2000, and Jeff Peff was principal from 2000 to 2016. Current principal Suzanne Berry is the first female principal of Wynnebrook.

In addition to the principals, two other special guests were Judith Ann Baldoni and Dean Lavallee.

Lavallee was one of the very first students to walk through the doors of Wynnebrook, and now owns the Park Avenue BBQ chain of restaurants. In addition to being an esteemed alumnus and guest speaker at the 50th bash, he was happy to provide lunch for the occasion.

Baldoni, who spoke about the many changes she witnessed at the school, taught first grade and kindergarten in the corner room by the office for 38 years, from 1966 to 2004.

She remembers how before another school was built west of Wynnebrook, its boundary went all the way to Loxahatchee. She traveled down narrow dirt roads to migrant farms and dairies to find students.

“The school board had to pay the parents to drive their kids down those roads to get them to the bus stop on the main highway,” Baldoni said.

Probably the most ironic twist came after her retirement in 2004. She missed Wynnebrook and her friends so much, that she returned as a substitute teacher. After 38 years of teaching, the county required her to take a course on “How to teach” in order to become a substitute.

Millar is halfway to Baldoni’s incredible length of service. At the beginning of Millar’s career, she wrote a program called, “Job Shadowing, Cameras and Careers.” At that time, Wynnebrook had a classroom called “Dropout Prevention.”

During one summer, Millar went into a Target store and trained the employees to become workplace mentors. She then went into the classroom and taught the students how to dress for success and interview. Those students trained at Target once a week, working alongside their workplace mentors. Cameras were donated, and the students put together portfolios of how the business world related to their school work.

Jeb Bush, the governor at the time, called to tell Millar he was honoring her, Target, and Principal Jeff Pegg at the Ritz Carlton.

“Years later, a high school student came up to me and told me he was in my Target program.,” Millar said. “He told me that this program changed his life. That meant the world to me.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Teen fake doc’s ex-lawyer facing battery charge in road rage case
Teen fake doc’s ex-lawyer facing battery charge in road rage case

A former lawyer for alleged fake teen doctor Malachi Love-Robinson is now facing criminal charges of his own, accused of kicking a bicyclist in an alleged November road rage incident. West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney Andrew Stine, who has represented high-profile clients such as Love-Robinson and Loxahatchee slaughterhouse case defendant Jorge...
7 things to know now: Man kills daughter on Facebook Live; ‘Bachelor’ Chris Soules arrested; sanctuary cities
7 things to know now: Man kills daughter on Facebook Live; ‘Bachelor’ Chris Soules arrested; sanctuary cities

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today. What to know now: 1. Man kills daughter on Facebook Live: A man in Thailand murdered his infant daughter, broadcasting the crime on Facebook Live Tuesday. Wuttisan Wongtalay, 20, hanged his 11-month-old daughter before killing himself. His death was not broadcast on the social media...
BREAKING: Man dies in double Riviera shooting; suspected gunman jailed
BREAKING: Man dies in double Riviera shooting; suspected gunman jailed

One man was killed and another faces murder charges in the double shooting early Tuesday on West 9th Street, city police said. Ojey Meeks, 26, died late Tuesday at a hospital. Police say the West Palm Beach man was lured early Tuesday to an apartment building east of Australian Avenue, north of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, for what he thought...
South blotter: Homeowner watches as man attempts to burglarize his garage
South blotter: Homeowner watches as man attempts to burglarize his garage

BOCA RATON POLICE HOME BURGLARY As a homeowner watched from a dimly lit area in his front yard, an unknown man dressed in black entered a garage in the 1000 block of Marble Way. The intruder looked around the garage with a flashlight, then fled when the passenger in his vehicle alerted him that he was being watched. The pair fled in a black Toyota...
‘Seussical The Musical’ on stage at Boca Raton Middle School
‘Seussical The Musical’ on stage at Boca Raton Middle School

BOCA RATON MIDDLE The Drama Department will stage “Seussical The Musical” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, with a 2 p.m. show on Saturday. Tickets are $5. The school is at 1251 N.W. Eighth St., Boca Raton. BRIEFLY The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing has received a $100,000 grant from Disney to bring the Disney Musicals in Schools...
More Stories