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Colors & Trends

Colors & Trends

The color and style of a room set the tone for the entire event. A wedding is no different. Couples have to make the decision early on which color scheme and décor they will use to accent their big day.

Stylish and sophisticated, bold and modern, or contemporary with bling? These are some of the big color choices trending this wedding season. Some designers have been inspired by the contrast of urban design and lush vegetation, which can lead to unexpected color combinations that both thrill and sooth guests as they enter the venue. Other trends, meanwhile, stay true to the classic whites and clean lines throughout the décor.

Whichever colors you choose to create the vibe for your wedding day, just keep in mind some of effects that colors can have. If you are going for “drama,” this can be accomplished with dark and jewel tones, like reds and black or emeralds and golden tones. Soft and subtle palettes, such as light pastels or earth tones, add a touch of “elegance.”

No matter what color choices you select, keep in mind that not every detail has to match down to the socks your groomsmen are wearing — leave some room to spice it up and add those few elements of surprise.

Some other new and returning trends include hashtags, the first look, bridal party flash mob dances and many other fun, interactive wedding entertainment. Like the Electric Slide, some of these trends will be around for a long time, while others will come and go.

For coffee addicts out there, the new trend in wedding “coffee bars” will be a favorite for many years to come. How did we not think about this years ago? Just like we expect bar service at receptions, the trend to walk up and order your favorite caffeine drink will make many guests happy.

This season’s hair accessory trend sees the return of the classic hair clip or pin-in headpiece. This traditional style of hair has come and gone before, and it is likely this trend will move on in a season or two as well.

So whether you opt for the traditional white iced cake, or adorn the top of yours with whole oranges or apples, create your own hashtag or use a hashtag generator, make your color and trend choices stand out by making them your very own.

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Start Your Wedded Bliss With The Perfect Trip For All Budgets

Start Your Wedded Bliss With The Perfect Trip For All Budgets

By Joe Nasuti

A honeymoon is not only the traditional holiday taken by newlyweds to celebrate their marriage in secluded intimacy as they start their life together, but also should be a welcome relief from all the planning and stress that led up to the wedding day.

However, to make the honeymoon fulfill its promise as that much-needed break for bonding at the beginning of a marriage — and an event to be remembered forever — it also requires some serious planning. Choosing the best possible location depends on couples considering the most important factors: budget, time off and agreement as to where to spend this most enjoyable time. Close-by getaways are available, from affordable to extravagant, to make that easier.

An affordable ($200-$300/night) stay-near-home option is the Hilton Hotel at CityPlace (600 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach). This all-new facility has beautiful rooms, al fresco dining options, a relaxing fire pit cocktail area and plenty of amenities. This 400-room, modern hotel is conveniently located, connected to the convention center and across from CityPlace. Recognized as an AAA four-diamond hotel, it’s also a marvelous place to have your wedding!

If time is your only restriction, however, you might want to consider the honeymoon package, priced at $4,900. Couples at the Hilton West Palm Beach will receive a Kama Sutra book to kick off their honeymoon, a customized picnic basket plus goodies emblazoned with their married name for a day at the beach, a private in-room sommelier class followed by dinner prepared and served by a private chef in the Honeymoon Suite, a couples massage at the Anushka Spa, champagne upon arrival, a poolside cabana for two days, a one-night stay in the Honeymoon Suite and five nights in a guest room.

Another affordable ($149-$479) near-home honeymoon suggestion that smooths over time and budget constraints is a two-day cruise on the Bahamas Paradise cruise line, which sails from the Port of Palm Beach every other day and sails overnight to Freeport in Grand Bahama. If you can afford more time, you can extend your trip by two, four or six days, staying at one of the island’s luxurious hotels and returning to West Palm Beach on the ship. The rooms are nice, the food is very good and the entertainment is highly enjoyable.

Key West is another favorite destination for nearby honeymoons. It is one of the most beautiful five-hour drives you could ever take to this unique and historic location. There are a wide variety of hotels, inns and cottages from which to choose. They include the Casa Marina ($229-$459/night), a Waldorf Astoria resort that offers direct air service from West Palm Beach to a seaplane landing at the property and back. This includes a VIP package with two pairs of Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses. This one-of-a-kind honeymoon to remember, through a VIP summer promotion, starts at only $6,250.

Another suggestion is a seven-day or 14-day cruise through the eastern and western Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale or Miami, and with 50 ships sailing weekly, your options are unlimited. One that’s easy to recommend from experience is Celebrity Silhouette ($646-$2,429), a newer ship that is ultra-modern, with some of the best food, rooms, activities, amenities, entertainment and ports of call throughout the Caribbean and along the Mexican coast. You will love the formal night to show off your spouse and the wonderful professional photography available on board.

If you are looking for a destination, a favorite place on the globe is Venice, Italy, and you can’t go wrong booking your honeymoon at the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice ($245-$469/night). This 379-room, century-old abandoned flour mill has been beautifully restored to become one of Italy’s most luxurious hotels. Located on the Grand Canal, with a panoramic rooftop pool, it offers spectacular views of Venice. With its gondola rides, picturesque lagoon islands, world-famous St. Mark’s Square, Murano glass and Burano lace, there is no place more romantic than Venice for your dream honeymoon.

The perfect add-on is a seven-night Mediterranean cruise leaving from Venice. Try a Costa Cruises Deliziosa ($1,047-$1,797) following your honeymoon, with a $200-$400 on-board cabin credit. You can book an itinerary starting in Venice and traveling to Bari, Italy; Corfu, Santorini; Athens, Greece; Dubrovnik, Croatia; and returning to Venice.

Finally, if money is no option, how about an around-the-world, 180-day cruise on the Oceania Insignia? This is a cruise that retails for $194,807 per person available now starting at $39,999 per person, sailing from Miami on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 and returning to Miami on Thursday, July 6, 2017. You will be in the lap of luxury on one of the most prestigious ships available to cruise the seven seas. On this trip, you and your spouse will pass through the Panama Canal and visit Mexico, Hawaii, Bora Bora, Pago Pago, Fiji, Wellington (New Zealand), Sidney, Bali, Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Ireland, New York City, Bermuda and Miami. This is truly around the world with more than 100 ports of call, the trip of a lifetime and the most exotic honeymoon conceivable.

Whatever destination you choose for your honeymoon, from the most affordable local escapes to the most exotic adventures, we sincerely wish that you both have the time of your life and a long, healthy, prosperous and loving life together — in other words, an endless honeymoon!

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Event Helps Petals With Purpose Give Flowers New Life

Event Helps Petals With Purpose Give Flowers New Life

Story and Photos by Julie Unger

Beautiful flowers, sweet treats and an expansive buffet recently took over the Wellington National Golf & Equestrian Club during Bubbles & Bouquets, a special fundraiser for Petals With Purpose.

The local nonprofit was created by Brittany Agro in 2012 with her husband, Stephen Halbrook. Agro noticed that after special events, such as weddings, flowers were going to waste, when they could be repurposed. She created Petals With Purpose to share these flowers with youth organizations, hospitals, nursing homes, shelters and hospice facilities.

“Petals With Purpose recycles more than just flowers, it recycles happiness and promotes love for one another,” Agro explained. “That is what this organization is all about, and that is why it is special to me.”

Bubbles & Bouquets is an annual competition where five philanthropist couples from the community compete against each other to see who can create the most beautiful floral arrangement.

Bubbles & Bouquets Chair Jay Zeager became involved through his friendship with Agro. “The thing that I like about Petals With Purpose is it’s a charity that’s really about putting smiles on people’s faces,” he said.

Zeager helps deliver the flowers and explained what an amazing experience it can be. For example, Zeager once brought an arrangement to a VA hospital and got to spend time with a veteran, who told Zeager his story about Vietnam.

“I’m just sitting here, listening to this, thinking, ‘Wow, this guy’s gone through so much in life,’” Zeager recalled. “When I got up to leave, he shook my hand and said ‘Thank you very much for coming by to see me. I love my flowers.’ I thought, OK, that’s why we do this.”

Bubbles & Bouquets is one of the fundraisers that makes it all possible. It’s a fun event for everyone involved.

“It’s something different than what has been done before,” Zeager explained. “We wanted to come up with something unique — something that the couples would have fun doing.”

After the inaugural event in 2015, couples were already asking to participate in 2016. “My goal is to get it to where it is an event that people look forward to every year,” Zeager said.

This year’s couples — Camryn Del Rio Linton and Omari Linton, Karyn and Evan Turk, Christie and Bettina Gannon, Ryan Beckett and Brittany Miller, and Shay and John Discepolo — worked hard to arrange flowers donated by Wellington Florist.

Christie and Bettina Gannon, with help from some young friends, won the competition. “I sincerely thank those who supported us, especially the families who lent their daughters for the design competition, and everyone who attended,” Christie said. “The people, the flowers, the incredible brunch and a wonderful cause, it was a beautiful event. I was honored to have the first-place arrangement. Honestly, the kids did an amazing job putting it together.”

Bettina had a great time and was all smiles during Bubbles & Bouquets, holding her own with the adults, and showing off her artistic abilities.

“I had so much fun,” the young philanthropist said. “The different colors and shapes were awesome, and my friends were so good at putting the flowers in just the right places.”

When it was announced that the Gannons won, Bettina and her friends danced and hugged in celebration.

The other participants also enjoyed the day.

“Omar and I have participated in many events for causes that make a special impact in the local community,” Del Rio Linton said. “With the many extravagant events that take place throughout the county, how brilliant of Brittany to come up with the idea of repurposing the amazing floral arrangements from those events, and use them to put a smile on the faces of an elderly person or a veteran.”

Beckett and Miller met on the day of the event, so they didn’t have the benefit of advanced planning. Considering the overhead costs of large events, Miller believes that Petals With Purpose is a special way to minimize waste and give flowers a new life, while Beckett found the premise to be intriguing.

“There are a bunch of charities, and all of them are amazing on different levels for what they do, but when you have the ability and are fortunate enough to actually see what your time, effort and dollars are going for, that’s definitely amazing,” Beckett said.

For the Turks, participating was personal. “My mom is in a nursing home,” Karyn said. “I realize the impact that a visit, or just a simple ‘hello’ with some flowers, can make in the day of a person who is in a facility.”

She was eager to get involved. “When I heard about it, I thought about all of the people who are in the same facility as my mom,” Karyn said. “A lot of them don’t get visitors. A lot of them, their families are up north, or their families are just busy. It can just brighten somebody’s day and just makes such a huge difference.”

Shay and John Discepolo enjoyed competing. “Participating in the event was great,” John said. “We both had a great time raising money for a great cause. I would definitely do it again in a heartbeat.”

Aaron Menitoff of Aaron’s Catering of the Palm Beaches was a participant last year and helped sponsor this year’s event. “It went fantastic. It was a great turnout,” he said. “The event provided a fun, different experience with delicious food and beverages during an afternoon where attendees could socialize, have fun and be part of a competition making flower arrangements.”

Petals With Purpose is special to Aaron and his wife Julie, who work together in the catering industry. “It’s not curing cancer, but it is making someone’s quality of life more meaningful and allowing them to feel as important and worthwhile as possible,” he said.

Next year, Petals With Purpose will be celebrating its fifth anniversary, so Bubbles & Bouquets will be extra special, Agro said.

For more information, call (561) 223-9129 or visit www.petalswithpurpose.org.

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The Acai Bowl At Voi-La Is An Exquisite Treat For The Senses

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The Acai Bowl At Voi-La Is An Exquisite Treat For The Senses

Story and Photos by Julie Unger

There’s a new restaurant in Wellington with Venezuelan roots and a French name. It’s called Voi-La, which means “look there” or “there it is.”

“It’s the idea that when you have it, it’s easy, you take it and just grab it and go,” chef Andrea Larrazabal explained. “Even though we don’t have French food, we have a lot of things to take and go. It’s for busy people who don’t have the time to spend two hours at a restaurant.”

Both in the front of Voi-La and toward the back are grab-and-go options such as milanesas de pollo, milanesas de carne, milanesas de tilapia, milanesas de cerdo, chicken parmigiana, broccoli quiche, empanaditas de pollo, torta de platano Chiquita, arepitas, lasagna, fresh salads and other items to make a quick meal.

Voi-La is owned by Maria Fernanda Asuaje and professional Argentinian show jumper Ignacio Maurin. Asuaje is a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef and equestrian, while Maurin’s wife, Larrazabal, is a trained chef from the Venezuelan Center of Gastronomic Training.

The restaurant opened in the beginning of August, but Larrazabal and Asuaje have been catering together since the fall of 2015. They were catering for friends, birthdays and other events and were encouraged to open their own local restaurant. Within a few months, Voi-La was born.

The signature dish at Voi-La, Larrazabal said, is the acai bowl. It comes with banana, kiwi, pineapple, strawberries, granola, honey and coconut flakes, and customers can add almond butter.

“Acai, it’s fruit from the Amazon. You can find it in Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia and a lot of the South American countries. It has antioxidants, is very trendy, and is really good for you. We have it in a version that is a sorbet,” she explained. “It’s something that we really like, and it’s South American. We want to take advantage of what the acai is bringing and the properties.”

An acai bowl, or smoothie, is very popular right now, but Voi-La’s twist of making it a sorbet is unique. By adding fruit and almond butter, it adds another layer of nutrition and flavor. Teenagers are choosing the nutritious fruit bowl over chocolates and sweets, Asuaje said.

Granola, fruit and coconut are arranged over the acai sorbet and then drizzled with honey. Almond butter can come on the side. The acai bowl is an exquisite treat for the senses, with a variety of tastes and textures, while providing a nutritional powerhouse.

There are many Venezuelan treats on the menu, including tequeños, which are like mozzarella sticks; meat, chicken and cheese empanadas; spinach and feta croquettes; and baked brie with honey.

“There’s nothing like this around here,” Larrazabal said. “It’s a mix of a lot of things.”

Another special item on the menu is the cheese course. With more than a dozen cheese choices, ranging from robiola bosina, brie couronne, port salut, gruere, mahon, valdeon blue and more, customers are able to assemble a cheese plate with meats — including horzoiberico de bellota, prosciutto di parma, jamon iberico and smoked salmon — and accompaniments such as plum jam, mango chutney, pesto, truffle honey and more. This creates a plate that is perfect for gathering with friends and having a relaxed conversation while enjoying the music, Asuaje said.

Recently added to the menu are gourmet paninis, such as one with jamon iberico, manchego and sweet onion jam; one with mozzarella, tomato confit, basil pesto and a balsamic reduction; one with prosciutto, goat cheese and a fig spread; and a one with brie, bacon and honey.

Fresh smoothies, be it the Greenest Favorite Smoothie, the Carolina Smoothie, the Banana Blonde, Blue Grape or Blueberry Sunset, offer a fresh mix of fruits and vegetables to cool off and get nourished. The soup of the day varies, but is always made fresh. Specialty teas add another drink offering full of flavor.

Guests can custom make their own salads, allowing customers to pick their favorite greens, toppings and dressings to create a light and healthy meal.

The mission at Voi-La is to make delicious, high-quality food that is good for the body and soul, with an emphasis on hospitality, service, passion, creativity and never-ending improvement.

“It’s our dream come true,” Larrazabal said. “I never imagined having this.”

Voi-La is located at 13889 Wellington Trace, Suite A8, in the Wellington Marketplace near Walgreens, between Dunkin’ Donuts and Wellington Florist. Closed Monday, the restaurant is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (786) 281-1589.

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Ken Courtney Brings Clients 40 Years Of Real Estate Expertise

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Ken Courtney Brings Clients 40 Years Of Real Estate Expertise

Story by Matthew Auerbach • Photo by Abner Pedraza

Ken Courtney of Re/Max Prestige Realty has spent almost 40 years as a successful Realtor in Palm Beach County. The decades have not diminished his passion for his work, and his capacity to embrace the future remains constant.

“When you love what you’re doing and you’re good at it, you keep doing it for as long as you can,” he explained. “One of the things I love most about my profession is that the nature of the business is always changing. When I first began selling, we didn’t have cell phones and, obviously, no computers. No e-mails, texting, internet, Google, Facebook, Zillow, nothing. Times change, and if you don’t adapt and change with today’s technology, you will be left in the dust. I have no plans to be left in the dust.”

After graduating from Florida Atlantic University in 1970 with a degree in psychology, Courtney moved to West Palm Beach. In the 1970s, he worked as a social worker, counselor and group home parent for mentally and emotionally challenged adults.

He wasn’t looking to change careers until, after a very positive experience buying a home in 1977, he decided to try his hand in real estate. When the Re/Max Realty franchise opened its first office in West Palm Beach in 1980, Courtney was one of the first agents to sign up. That move changed his life dramatically. “I always smile when I think about my first day at the new office, because that Re/Max office is where I met my wife, Nancy,” he said. “Nancy already lived in Wellington with her two young sons, Danny and Drew. I moved to Wellington in 1983, and we married in 1985.”

Two years later, Nancy gave birth to their daughter, Katie.

Courtney first began selling homes in Wellington in 1980 when the community was in its infancy and still developer-controlled. He marvels at the ways in which it has grown over time into a much-envied location for people of varied interests. “After years of controlled and thoughtful growth, Wellington has been honored nationally many times as a premier hometown community, as well as a destination for world-renowned equestrian venues,” Courtney said.

The commitment to treat every sale or purchase as a top priority has served Courtney well.

“The majority of my business comes from referrals and repeat business from loyal customers and friends whom I’ve known and enjoyed working with over the years,” he said. “I am truly grateful for the loyalty people have shown. I learned many years ago that customer loyalty must be earned and can never be taken for granted.”

Courtney has also learned another important lesson over the years: to treat those coming up the way he himself was treated.

“Early on, I had a mentor who took the time to help me learn what it takes to be successful in real estate sales,” he said. “Likewise, I’ve always felt it’s my obligation to pay it forward to the younger agents who I work with and hope I’m able to get across that hard work, honesty and strong ethics are the keys to success and longevity in the business.”

2017 will be Courtney’s 40th year in real estate. Time may have passed and the technological aspects of the business may have progressed, but his love of what he’s doing remains as fresh as ever.

“I enjoy beating the bushes for new customers. Of course, this requires being creative and aggressive, and it is what new agents need to do to get started in the business,” he said. “It’s what I did to get started, and it’s something I still enjoy doing to keep my selling skills strong.”

Re/Max Prestige Realty is located at 12789 W. Forest Hill Blvd. in the Wellington Plaza. To contact Ken Courtney, call (561) 309-4352.

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Upgraded Olympia Home Features Plenty Of Space In A Mediterranean Style

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Upgraded Olympia Home Features Plenty Of Space In A Mediterranean Style

Story by Deborah Welky • Photos courtesy Jacqueline and Paul Morris

Wellington’s Olympia neighborhood is home to many Mediterranean-style residences, but few come with a quarter-acre of land and lake views, along with a covered entry, patio and balcony. Recently upgraded, this home features plenty of space with five bedrooms, five-and-a-half baths and an office. New flooring enhances the interior while, in the backyard, automatic sprinklers keep the fruit trees healthy. An open patio offers plenty of room for entertaining outdoors.

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Dr. Nadia Pierre Enjoys Helping Women Through Successful Pregnancies

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Dr. Nadia Pierre Enjoys Helping Women Through Successful Pregnancies

Story by Jason Stromberg • Photo by Abner Pedraza

For Dr. Nadia Pierre, an obstetrician and gynecologist, there is no greater feeling in the world than helping with a happy, healthy and safe delivery for a pregnant mother and her child.

“I love taking care of women who are pregnant. I feel it is one of the most enjoyable experiences that a woman will have a chance to experience,” Pierre said.

Affiliated with several hospitals in the area, including JFK Medical Center and Palms West Hospital, Pierre received her medical degree from Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. A Wellington resident, she has been in practice for 10 years.

“My day-to-day routine consists of welcoming patients to the practice,” said Pierre, who performed her high-risk obstetrics training and training in multiple gynecological procedures at SUNY Downstate Kings County Hospital in New York. “When it pertains to infertility, I perform the preliminary evaluation, but if it gets more intricate, I would then refer the patient to an infertility specialist.”

Pierre enjoys working with her patients all the way through the process.

“I felt comfortable doing pre-conceptual counseling, which is when you counsel a patient before they get pregnant,” Pierre said. “I also advise patients on family planning and birth control management. On a regular basis, I perform medical and surgical treatments of abnormal bleeding.”

Pierre’s primary task is to ensure that women are able to have a healthy, safe delivery. But before that job is completed, she must first know if the patient has any medical issues that may affect pregnancy. “There are two types of pregnancy tests that I need to perform on each patient,” Pierre said. “One is a urine pregnancy test, and the other is a little more specific. It’s done through blood.”

The urine home pregnancy test is pretty much the same test that Pierre and her staff perform in the office. The blood pregnancy test is more specific.

“The blood pregnancy test is different because it gives you an estimation on how pregnant the patient is,” Pierre said. “With the blood pregnancy test, you take the test one day and then two days later, you repeat the exam to determine if this is a normal pregnancy.”

Once the pregnancy testing has run its course, Pierre can tell the patient when to schedule an ultrasound.

Pierre tests for Beta HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which is a hormone produced during pregnancy that shows up in the blood.

“I prefer the quantitative Beta HCG. There’s a qualitative and a quantitative test,” Pierre said. “I do the quantitative test because there’s always a number. The qualitative test is comparable to the home pregnancy test. It is either positive or negative.”

The number result from a quantitative test provides key insight into a pregnancy. “This means you know approximately when you can perform your ultrasound,” Pierre said. “You can estimate the gestation weeks of the pregnancy.”

Being an obstetrician and a gynecologist go hand-in-hand.

“Obstetric and gynecologic patients both desire a partner in their healthcare. Both practices go hand-in-hand,” Pierre said. “I enjoy what I do because it mixes medicine, surgery and the office work.”

She especially enjoys helping patients resolve their problems.

“Patients want to know the best outcome. When we tell them that there are different medical treatments available, they understand that they have a partner in their care,” Pierre said. “Just talking about all this is really awesome. There is not a day that goes by that is mundane.”

Gynecologists, experts in the female reproductive system, are also trained in obstetrics, which is specifically the care of women going through pregnancy and childbirth.

“I think once you have a good rapport with the patient, that really helps with everything else that we do,” Pierre said. “If the patient sees you have her best interest at heart, she can relate to you. The objective is to explain everything and answer her questions as thoroughly and as in-depth as possible.”

Pierre’s office is always accepting new patients and accepts a wide array of insurance carriers.

Premier Obstetrics & Gynecology of Palm Beach is located at 12983 Southern Blvd., Suite 201, on the campus of Palms West Hospital. For more information, call (561) 791-2888 or visit www.premierobgyntb.com.

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Ana Groover Leads The International Spanish Academy At New Horizons Elementary School

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Ana Groover Leads The International Spanish Academy At New Horizons Elementary School

Story by Chris Felker • Photos by Abner Pedraza

In her 22-year educational career, Ana Groover has spent 18 years at New Horizons Elementary School in Wellington. Through that time, she has picked up additional administration duties. However, after missing her time working directly with children, she began this year determined to spend more time with students.

Groover is the International Spanish Academy coordinator at New Horizons. A native of Cuba, she arrived as a 6-year-old in Florida when her parents immigrated to the United States. She was raised in Belle Glade, which is also where she first taught in the 1990s, at Gove Elementary School as a dual-language English teacher who volunteered in the evenings to help adult learners.

Groover earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education from Nova Southeastern University.

When she started at New Horizons, Groover initially was an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) specialist, teaching science to older elementary school students. She was then given other hats to wear, including ESOL grade chair, testing/placement of English Language Learners (ELLs) and test scheduler.

“Last year, I actually had two administrative jobs and worked very little with children. I’m actually the ESOL coordinator, and that job I’ve had a long time,” Groover said. “Since we became a dual-language magnet school, I am now also the International Spanish Academy magnet coordinator.”

But she kept teaching kids despite the extra work, after gravitating almost completely out of the classroom.

“What I’d done in the past several years was pull groups of children to work with as a tutor almost, for 45 minutes a day — third, fourth and fifth grade. Last year, I wasn’t able to do that,” she said. “There just wasn’t time.”

The other major responsibilities Groover bears keep her a busy professional, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. The labels on those hats have her swimming in acronyms, too many to define, and some that have gone away. She coordinates all ELL testing, plus the state’s Access 2.0 test, and is APRENDA test administrator as well. In addition, she is New Horizons’ administrative liaison for the Educational Data Warehouse (EDW), which holds all student records.

“English Language Learners are the children who, when they get to us from other countries, they’re tested, and then according to the tests they’re placed in a room,” Groover explained. “There’s a plan drawn up so their instruction matches with their growth goals, and then they are reevaluated. I reevaluate them at certain times. There are actually guidelines from the government that we have to follow about how often and when they have to be reevaluated.

The goal is to get them completely proficient in English. The way they determine that, Groover said, is through the battery of tests that she largely administers for the school.

“APRENDA is a test that we give only to the dual-language children, anyone who’s in the Spanish academy, so I also manage that test and everything else to do with it. That one is like an FCAT but is all in Spanish,” she said. “It is given to them to see how far they are above or below grade level or whether they’re on grade level in Spanish… It is a cumulative exam, so we kind of see what they’ve learned between kindergarten and second grade, and then we get a baseline, so when they take it in fifth grade, we see how much growth there was.”

All that testing determines whether a certain moment has occurred for each student that Groover basically lives to make happen.

“I just love to see when the light goes on in a kid’s eyes because you have all of a sudden opened up an avenue of interest for them and motivated them to learn. That often comes through language, also through visual,” she said.

It’s what has kept her going back into the classroom for more than just supervising teachers; it’s why she enjoys her work.

“I do a lot of virtual science field trips, where we do things like, I take them to the national parks via the computer,” Groover explained. “When they are studying erosion and they see something like Bryce National Park, or Zion, or the Grand Canyon, they’re just blown away. That then leads them to leave my room, and find a book or a computer and continue to learn more about that area. So that, I think, is what’s huge — that you start that ball rolling, and then it gets momentum, and then… boom: kids want to learn.”

Under her leadership, the International Spanish Academy has grown to encompass three-quarters of New Horizons’ student population.

“We work in partnership with the Consul of Spain in Miami. We teach half of the day in English and half of the day in Spanish. The kids get an hour and a half of reading in English, and then they switch and go to their Spanish teachers, [many of whom] are provided through the Spanish consulate. They’re actually teachers from Spain who are with us on a three-year visa.”

The students get many of their lessons in Spanish.

“When they leave us in fifth grade, they do get a graduating certificate from the ISA signed by the Consulate of Spain’s educational attaché in Tallahassee, and it gives them the right to study abroad,” Groover said.

The ultimate goal then is met.

“These kids are bilingual when they graduate,” Groover said, adding that New Horizons ISA grads are going on to bigger things, given that great dual-language advantage. “Remember, the ISA has only been in place for 10 years. So the kids who started out with us are just now reaching the high school level or getting ready to graduate. We’ve had several kids at Suncoast and several at Wellington High School who are in honors programs. I think there are going to be great things that come out of here.”

 

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Samantha Knapp Of Tiger Lily’s Has A Knack For Elegant, High-End Design

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Samantha Knapp Of Tiger Lily’s Has A Knack For Elegant, High-End Design

Story by Julie Unger • Photos by Bob Capazzo

Samantha Knapp of Tiger Lily’s Greenwich has a knack for elegant, high-end design projects. She worked for a decade as a television reporter in New York before joining Tiger Lily’s, an innovative design firm that also happens to be the family business.

Tiger Lily’s was founded by Betsy and Robert Knapp, and when Samantha decided that it was time to move on from television news, she joined her parents’ firm. “It actually was never on my radar in my early years to jump into the family business,” she recalled.

Samantha started out by getting into a routine, answering the phones and learning what was going on behind-the-scenes with the design team as they worked on high-end special detailed designs for their clients. She learned a great deal along the way.

“With a little bit of osmosis, and a little bit of my own creative style, I little by little got chances to do different types of projects. It has really paid off,” she said. “Fast forward four years later, and I went from answering phones and trying to help my parents log on to the computer to really being the creative director and creative concept behind the business, which I’m growing and flourishing in.”

She has focused on taking the business into different areas.

“We used to really center only on Greenwich, Conn., and then we started going with our clients to where they were going,” Samantha said.

Along the way, Tiger Lily’s expanded to decorating in Florida, including Wellington, and other niche second-home markets.

As the creative director and co-owner, Samantha focuses on collaboration and sharing with employees and clients. She is able to influence and lead a project without being the only person in charge of the design and final outcome, making it a group effort, where the client is thrilled with the outcome and feels as though they were part of the project.

“It depends on everybody and what their needs are,” she said. “I like to try and think of how people might live in a space.”

Samantha approaches each project by thinking through the functionality to determine the design. For example, for a family with small children, she would think about where the kids are going to drop off their backpacks after school as a design function.

“In general, my design work happens to be very eclectic. It is important to me that a home speaks to the family,” she said. “I try and take feedback from all my clients and give them the best possible representation of themselves in a home.”

Samantha is able to transition from modern, traditional and other style approaches to meet the needs of clients. Keeping and reusing, rethinking or reworking sentimental or historical pieces is an approach she likes to use, considering it a way of evolving within the house.

“When something’s current, I’m always afraid to put too much of a trend in a place,” she said. “Trends, by the nature of the term, are things people tire of.”

In Wellington, Samantha designed an estate for an equestrian family to use as a second home, combining beauty and elegance with functionality. Making the home look unique was important for the project.

The client lived in the house for a season to learn how it functions, and then Samantha and her team got to work on remaking the home into the perfect Florida oasis for the homeowners, replacing the floors, renovating the bathrooms, altering floor plans, adding decorative accents and backsplashes, renovating the kitchen and creating a more open design.

Samantha made sure that the children’s play area was kid-friendly, there was space for extra people to sleep, an open kitchen for better entertaining, and a master bedroom tied together with the main living quarters.

Samantha and Tiger Lily’s, along with their work, have been featured on design shows airing on HGTV and other networks. She stresses the importance of a good relationship and great communication when hiring a designer.

“When you find somebody who comes at it from a perspective of appreciation and really wants to get to know you as a family, or as a person and what your likes and dislikes are, I think that’s how to get the best out of a collaboration,” she said. “You have to trust, if you’re hiring a designer, that they know what they’re doing and you’ve made the right choice. By the time you get into the process of actually working with somebody, you want to feel like you have made the right choice.”

It is important for clients to know and feel like the designer understands and cares about the project.

“You’ve come to them for a reason, and it’s always kind of nice to trust and believe in that and let them help you in a way that you might find is very rewarding,” Samantha explained.

Tiger Lily’s studio includes a 3,700-square-foot design space with custom furniture options, vintage finds and specialty chairs.

To learn more about Tiger Lily’s Greenwich, call (203) 629-6510 or visit www.tigerlilysgreenwich.com.

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Wellington’s Leaders Reflect On The Past As They Look To The Future

Meet Our Council

Wellington’s Leaders Reflect On The Past As They Look To The Future

Story by Julie Unger    Photo by Abner Pedraza

As the Village of Wellington marks the 20th anniversary of incorporation, the community is being led by a Wellington Village Council whose members have set their roots in Wellington, are raising their families in Wellington and some who even grew up in Wellington.

Mayor Anne Gerwig moved to Wellington when she got married in 1990. She has seen the village grow and evolve over the last two decades into a great place to live, work and play.

“There’s no better place to raise a family,” Gerwig said, adding that she wants to bring all of the elements of Wellington together — from the parks, to the neighborhoods, to the shopping areas and to the equestrian community.

“My mission is to draw us all together,” she said. “We have a commitment toward the environment that I think is unmatched in South Florida. We need to think about that as we move forward.”

Wellington will continue its focus on the many elements that need to be taken into account, especially considering its proximity to the Everglades, she said.

Vice Mayor John McGovern moved to Wellington when he was in the seventh grade. “It was a very different place than it is today,” he said.

Wellington was just a fledgling community back then. There was, he recalled, perhaps one other house on the street where his family was moving, and it looked like a forest.

“There were no high schools, no middle schools, the hospital was just opening,” he said. “In a lot of ways, I grew up with Wellington. I was in the first class that went to Wellington High School for four years, and only two of those were on the campus that we now know to be Wellington High School. It was an exciting time.”

McGovern chose to raise his family in Wellington for the same reason his parents moved their family here, and why so many others move to Wellington.

“This is a beautiful place to live, a family-focused community, and a place that has great public schools at every level, elementary, middle and high school,” he said.

As vice mayor, McGovern wants to help move Wellington forward in a manner that prepares it for the planned development nearby while making sure that the things that make Wellington unique are protected and preserved.

“We are one Wellington,” he said. “It’s not equestrian versus non-equestrian, gated community versus non-gated community or old versus young. Everybody here in Wellington is here because they love this place.”

People want community, land, schools, safety, great neighborhoods and parks, McGovern said, adding that the unique equestrian element also attracts residents to Wellington.

Councilman Michael Drahos moved to Wellington in 1986 when he was in fourth grade. “I had a great childhood growing up in Wellington,” he recalled.

Moving away to attend college and law school, Drahos never found a community quite like Wellington. He chose to raise his own family here so that his children could have the same hometown experience he enjoyed.

While on the council, he wants to continue to be forward-thinking.

“There are a lot of things about Wellington that make it great — our education, our parks and rec program, and our lifestyle,” he said.

Drahos wants to advance those experiences for the residents of Wellington while continuously improving and engaging the community.

Transparency, communication and responsible spending are important to Councilman Michael Napoleone, who chose Wellington as his place to set down roots.

“When my wife and I got married, we didn’t know if we were going to have children or not, but we did know that if we did, we wanted to be somewhere where it was a family-friendly community with good schools, good parks and a neighborhood feel. That’s how we found Wellington,” he said.

They moved to the community in 2002 and have enjoyed life in Wellington ever since.

“We’ve just loved everything about Wellington,” he said. “We have to preserve the quality of life that we have.”

People live in Wellington, Napoleone said, because of the hard work of the previous councils and how the village has evolved. The parks and schools are part of what keeps Wellington great, he explained.

“As big as we are, we still have that small-town feel,” he said. “The decisions we make today will resonate into the future.”

Councilwoman Tanya Siskind moved to Wellington with her family 15 years ago from Maryland because of the schools and the area, knowing that Wellington would be a great place to raise children.

As a councilwoman, Siskind is focusing on what residents want by serving the community. Continuing Wellington’s great reputation of excellence, she said, is a priority.

“My goal is to continue all that Wellington is and all that Wellington can be with the great schools, the great parks and neighborhoods,” she said. “To have some amount of growth that is responsible, that people want to take Wellington in the direction that the people in Wellington want to see it go in.”

Siskind likes Wellington as is and would like to see the equestrian component, as well as all of the residents, represented and flourishing.

While it is difficult to predict what the next 20 years will bring, the current Wellington Village Council, like the councils before it and those to come, will aim to keep Wellington a great place to live, work and play.

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