Popular private school brings back kindergarten


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Suntree United Methodist School provides a high ratio of teachers per students, 12-15 students to one teacher and one aide per class.

A renowned private school in the Suntree/Viera area will be offering kindergarten this fall for the first time in nearly a decade, thrilling families whose children have attended as young as age 2. The accredited Suntree United Methodist School has maintained a waiting list for much of its 25 years.

The school’s educational focus is not merely the subjects themselves, but the actual act of learning itself, imparting skills that students will employ throughout their school careers, according to the school administrator, adding that teachers are trained to spot learning milestones and employ interventions to help individual students meet and exceed them.

“We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all style of education,” said Dr. Kelly Dwenger, who realized a dream of heading up the school this past year after a storied career in public schools.

“Each child is unique and should have their individual needs met in a way that matches where they are developmentally and academically.”

Dwenger was a teacher and writing coach at Suntree Elementary School before moving up to the district level as a writing coach for all elementary teachers, rotating on-site to area schools. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Florida, and her master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Administration and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Central Florida.

“I’ve spent 17 years in the world of education and now I am at a place where I can put all the things I’ve discussed with my peers as dream scenarios into action. So often in public education we have things that hold us back from implementing what we as educators know is best for students, for example, legislation, finances, high-stakes testing, red tape to get services, and so on,”
Dwenger said.

Suntree United Methodist School will offer kindergarten this fall for the first time in nearly a decade, allowing students from this year’s VPK class to move up. “Here at SUMS we get to make decisions based on what we know is best practice and with the knowledge that when we make choices on curriculum and our delivery model, that we have each individual child in mind.”

In addition to classroom instruction, students attend weekly chapel, music, art, Fun Trail, and Hands-on Science with Dr. Diana, a local child development specialist. Each class has a garden of the students’ own in a new outdoor Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathmatics area, and access to three covered playgrounds designed for specific age levels.

“The children here at SUMS will learn to grow spiritually, socially, academically, physically and emotionally,” Dwenger said. “Each child will have the opportunity to build positive learning experiences, grow in self-concept and self-esteem, and gain abilities in problem solving.”

The maximum number of students per class is 12 -15 with a teacher and a full-time assistant. The kindergarten teacher will be certified early child development teacher Carol Platzer and full-time assistant Michelle Zulon, whose children are SUMS alumni. VV

For more information, go to sumschool.wix.com/suntree or call 321-254-3866.