All posts by wellingtonINSIDER

EDUCATION Choosing A School For Your Child Plays A Pivotal Role In Shaping Their Future

EDUCATION Choosing A School For Your Child Plays A Pivotal Role In Shaping Their Future

In today’s rapidly changing world, the importance of selecting the right school for your child cannot be overstated. In navigating the choices, it is essential to recognize that education plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of today’s students and preparing them for the challenges that lie ahead.

The right school fosters an environment that nurtures your child’s unique abilities, interests and passions. It provides them with the necessary tools to develop intellectually, emotionally and socially. In an ever-changing landscape, where technological advancements and global challenges are reshaping industries and economies, the right education can equip children with the skills they need to thrive.

One of the key considerations in selecting a school is the curriculum. In 2023, the emphasis is shifting toward cultivating critical thinking, problem-solving and adaptability. Look for schools that offer innovative programs integrating technology, project-based learning and interdisciplinary approaches. These elements empower students to become creative thinkers and lifelong learners.

Furthermore, the school’s culture should align with the needs of your family. A nurturing and inclusive environment promotes collaboration, empathy and respect among students, enabling them to develop strong interpersonal skills and cultural competence.

Equally important is the availability of extracurricular activities. A well-rounded education includes opportunities for sports, arts, music and community service. These activities foster teamwork, leadership and a sense of belonging, while allowing children to explore beyond the classroom.

Additionally, consider the school’s resources, facilities and teaching staff. Adequate resources and modern facilities support effective learning experiences, while well-qualified educators create a positive and engaging educational atmosphere.

The choice of a school for your child has long-term implications. It is an investment in their future success and happiness. By selecting a school that values their individuality, cultivates their skills and prepares them for the evolving world, you are setting them on a path toward a fulfilling and prosperous life.



An Array Of Educational Options

An Array Of Educational Options The Original Wellington Mall Is Home To Three Unique Private Schools

In addition to its six public elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools, Wellington is also home to a number of charter schools and private schools. A small cluster of these private schools can be found in one building — the original Wellington Mall at 12794 W. Forest Hill Blvd. These include #1 Education Place, the Wellington Collegiate Academy and the Children’s House of Wellington.

The heart and soul of #1 Education Place is its founders Judy Blake and Anita Kane. They started the private school more than 20 years ago. They got their start in education by working together as tutors.

Early on, most of their students were affiliated with Wellington’s equestrian industry. Now, while there are still many equestrians, the students come from a wide array of backgrounds, ranging from first grade to 12th grade. Student numbers vary, from as many as 100 students during the equestrian season, to a low in the 50s at other times of the year.

According to Blake, the teaching model at #1 Education Place produces great results. “We are a Montessori school,” Blake said. “And we are open 12 months a year.”

Teachers at #1 Education Place emphasize independence and executive function. According to Blake, when students learn executive function, they learn organizational skills, personal responsibility, how to organize their day and how to master life as an adult. They also learn all the core subjects taught at conventional schools.

Blake explained that students who attend #1 Education Place spend time learning about core communications.

“We have a big emphasis on writing, especially in high school,” Kane said. “We also focus on cursive writing, penmanship, grammar, spelling and English comprehension.”

In most schools, teachers set the course and direction for the school day. At #1 Education Place, the students are given more freedom to pursue their own areas of interest.

“We have a calmer environment than many other schools,” Kane said. “Also, we make a point of addressing the needs of each student as an individual. Nobody gets left behind.”

The teaching environment is peaceful and filled with purpose.

“We have all open spaces, no closed doors and there’s freedom of movement for everybody,” Blake said. “Here, students are interested in doing, learning and accomplishing. There are no rewards or punishments, but plenty of positive reinforcement. In many cases, we provide a few minutes of instruction, and then let the students do the work.”

#1 Education Place also supports flexibility when it comes to arriving at school and leaving school later in the day.

Blake explained that flexible schedules are important for students who have serious interests in other endeavors such as tennis, golf and equestrian sports, which require unique travel and practice time.

For elementary and middle school students, physical activity breaks are an important part of the school day, which includes 30 minutes of recess daily. From time to time, students get to go on field trips.

Upon graduation, most of the students continue on to higher education. According to Kane, several of this year’s high school graduates will be attending Hofstra University (and playing tennis), the University of Kentucky (and playing polo), Florida Atlantic University and Palm Beach Atlantic University.

“A high percentage of our students get accepted into their first-choice universities and colleges,” Kane said.

To learn more about #1 Education Place, call (561) 753-6563 or visit

The Wellington Collegiate Academy (WCA) educates children from kindergarten to eighth grade, enrolling 70 to 75 students. As of mid-May, it’s under new ownership, led by the husband-and-wife team of Horatio and Yaa McFarlane.

“We are looking forward to creating our own vision of education,” Yaa said. “Here, children will love to learn and feel amazing about themselves. I want to develop independent thinkers.”

“We’re excited to be adding to the lives of our students and supporting them in their education,” Horatio added.

While not teaching, Yaa will have a strong presence at the school.

“I will have a presence in the office, in the classroom and on the playground,” she said.

Yaa was born, raised and educated in England at a grammar school. She intends to bring a few English educational traditions to WCA.

“Our students will learn about William Shakespeare, and I want them to know who Charles Dickens was,” Yaa said.

While there will be some changes to the curriculum, many WCA traditions will remain the same.

“The main subjects such as English, mathematics, world geography, science and a language, such as Spanish, will continue,” Yaa said. “We are thinking about adding another language, as well.”

In addition to traditional subjects, there will be a strong emphasis on physical education, home economics, music and the arts.

“Physical education will include dance, team sports and running,” Yaa said. “We need to get our children running and incorporate P.E. into the daily curriculum.”

The students will also be introduced to gardening. “Children need to learn where foods come from,” Yaa noted.

Right now, the school has 10 teachers on the staff, and there are plans to add more for the upcoming school year.

The school’s commitment to music — which was a focal point of attention of the previous owners Juan Carlos and Jessica Valdez — will remain the same. In fact, Jessica Valdez, previously the choral director, has pledged her assistance to find an equally talented successor. “Music is so important as it helps the brain develop, improves a child’s ability to learn, be more creative and sleep better,” Yaa said.

Another aspect that will not change is the student-teacher ratio. In recent years, it has been eight to 12 students per teacher. That will remain the same.

Yaa is not a newcomer to the school, as she served as a teacher from 2016 to 2019, when the school’s founder Anna Oaks operated the school.

“Anna was looking for a ‘right-hand’ person, so I was asked to join her, which I did,” Yaa said. “I am still aligned with her vision of a small, faith-based school.”

Over the summer, the McFarlanes will be busy marketing and promoting the school to parents of current and prospective students.

“We are building a new web site, and we plan to offer a one-week summer camp program to current and new students,” Yaa said. “We will teach math, science, arts and crafts. We will possibly work with robotics and computers. There will also be lots of time for recess and sports.”

To learn more about the Wellington Collegiate Academy, call (561) 701-3462 or (561) 784-1776, or visit

The Children’s House of Wellington, co-owned by Catherine Williams and her daughter Jeri Williams, is a Montessori preschool now finishing its 20th year.

“I was at a Montessori preschool in Palm Beach Gardens,” Catherine recalled. “After it was sold to a new owner, they started to stray from core principles of the Montessori Method. I decided that if I wanted to continue doing what I love, I needed to open my own school.”

While the Children’s House of Wellington is licensed to teach as many as 44 students, they prefer to have fewer, capping out at about 40. Students range from age two-and-a-half to age six.

The big difference between a conventional school and a Montessori school is the overall approach to education.

“One of the hallmarks of Montessori education is that children of mixed ages work together. Groupings are based on the Planes of Development as identified by Dr. Maria Montessori,” Jeri explained. “Multi-age groupings enable younger children to learn from older children and experience new challenges through observation. Older children reinforce their learning by teaching concepts they have already mastered, develop leadership skills and serve as role models. Because each child’s work is individual, children progress at their own pace. There is cooperation rather than competition. This arrangement mirrors the real world, in which individuals work and socialize with people of all ages and dispositions.”

When it comes to the flow of the school day, there’s a great deal of thought given to what is done at any given time.

“The teacher prepares the environment of the Montessori classroom with carefully selected, aesthetically arranged materials that are presented sequentially to meet the developmental needs of the children using the space,” Jeri said. “Well-prepared Montessori environments contain appropriately sized furniture, a full complement of Montessori materials, and enough space to allow children to work in peace, alone, or in small or large groups.”

Montessori classrooms are designed to encourage children to move about freely and choose their own work, within reasonable limits. Those limits are the classroom ground rules and enable children to exercise their own free will while ensuring that their chosen activities are respectful of others.

“Within the prepared environment of the Montessori classroom, children are taught to complete a work cycle, which includes choosing an activity, completing the activity, and, perhaps, repeating the full sequence of the activity multiple times, cleaning up and returning the materials to the proper place, and experiencing a sense of satisfaction to have fully completed the task,” Catherine said.

A common trait of a Montessori school is a focus on social skills.

“In Montessori schools, children are formally instructed in social skills that they will use throughout their lives. For example, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ interrupting conversations politely, requesting rather than demanding assistance and greeting guests warmly,” Jeri said.

Students also learn about Mother Nature. “We are fortunate to have a garden at our school,” Jeri said. “The children plant seeds, bulbs and bedding plants. We harvest and enjoy the beauty of what grows. A respect for all living things is important to learn early.”

At the Children’s House of Wellington, students are given a regular dose of physical activity on the school’s playground.

“Playing outside is important,” Catherine said. “Learning to play with friends without hurting them and still having fun are skills that can only be learned by doing.”

To learn more about the Children’s House of Wellington, call (561) 790-3748 or visit


Adams Scholarship Recipients, Foundation Supporters, Donors And Volunteers Honored At WCF’s Annual Thank You Soirée

Adams Scholarship Recipients, Foundation Supporters, Donors And Volunteers Honored At WCF’s Annual Thank You Soirée

By Shannon Anastasio

The Wellington Community Foundation hosted its annual Thank You Soirée on Thursday, May 18 at the Boynton Financial Group offices in Wellington. The event celebrated this year’s Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship recipients, embodying the foundation’s commitment to supporting educational endeavors within the community.

The soirée, which featured a vibrant tropical theme, was made possible by the generous hosting of Ben and Joanna Boynton and the dedicated team at the Boynton Financial Group. With catering by Nosh Catering and an array of wine selections provided by Star Wine & Spirits, the evening was a resounding success.

Recognizing and honoring the foundation’s supporters, donors and volunteers was the top priority at the event. The annual Thank You Soirée was conceived as an opportunity for the Wellington Community Foundation to express gratitude to the individuals whose crucial support enables the nonprofit’s efforts. These sponsors, donors and volunteers play a pivotal role in empowering the foundation’s work. In his opening remarks, Wellington Community Foundation Chair Barry Manning emphasized their invaluable contributions and the importance of their continued support.

Also honored were the winners of the 2023 Arle and Ken Adams Scholarships. Scholarship Committee chairs James Seder, Joanna Boynton and Don Gross recommended the winners to the WCF Board of Directors at the May meeting. After meticulous review of numerous applications, the committee unanimously chose three outstanding candidates — Marlena Hutchinson, Abigail Lofstead and Victoria Loredan, whose achievements and dedication shine brightly.

The Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship recipients impressed the committee, the board and attendees as their accomplishments were read aloud.

Marlena Hutchinson, a student at Wellington High School, finished with a weighted GPA of 5.09 and has amassed 281 hours of community service. Her involvement as a leader in the Florida Future Educators of America club and her dedication to volunteering with the Best Buddies program highlight her commitment to education and inclusivity. Hutchinson aspires to be a pediatric occupational therapist, and she will be attending the University of Florida to pursue her dreams.

Abigail Lofstead, a student at Palm Beach Central High School, has demonstrated exceptional academic prowess with a weighted GPA of 5.27, ranking fifth in her class. With 253 hours of community service, she has exemplified a strong sense of civic duty. Lofstead’s passion for empowering women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math led her to found the Women in STEM club at Palm Beach Central. She will attend the University of Florida, aspiring to become a pediatrician. When not studying, Lofstead also enjoys snorkeling.

Victoria Loredan, a student at Wellington High School, stands out as an exceptional leader with a weighted GPA of 5.38, ranking second in her class. Alongside her 192 hours of community service, Loredan’s involvement in various organizations like the Black Leadership Achievement Student Team (BLAST) showcases her dedication to empowering her peers. Her goal is to become a pediatric psychiatrist. Loredan, like the other winners, is headed to the University of Florida to continue her education.

The legacy of late Wellington philanthropists Arle and Ken Adams live on through their many efforts throughout the village, and the foundation continues to honor their tremendous contributions to the community through its first scholarship program. These remarkable individuals, longtime residents of Wellington, dedicated their lives to serving the community.

Ken Adams, a former Palm Beach County commissioner and supporter of the village’s incorporation, believed that Wellington’s accomplishments were made possible by great people and leaders who care about future generations. He enthusiastically joined the foundation’s inaugural board of directors when it became an independent nonprofit organization, and the scholarship created in honor of both him and his late wife Arle brought him great pride, which he expressed prior his passing in 2020.

The Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship is just one of the many ways that the Wellington Community Foundation demonstrates its commitment to supporting Wellington students in their pursuit of educational success. The scholarship program serves as a beacon of hope for those in need of a helping hand to become tomorrow’s leaders.

In addition to the scholarship program, the Wellington Community Foundation remains dedicated to providing ongoing support to local students. This year, the foundation will be distributing 600 new school uniforms and 600 backpacks filled with essential school supplies. These foundation initiatives aim to alleviate the financial burden on families and ensure that every child has the necessary tools to thrive academically.

The Thank You Soirée provided a joyous occasion to celebrate the Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship recipients and express gratitude to the foundation’s dedicated supporters. The evening was filled with appreciation, camaraderie and the shared vision of creating a brighter future for Wellington’s students. Through scholarships, uniform donations and school supply provisions, the foundation continues to make a lasting impact on the lives of young individuals, ensuring that they have the resources they need to succeed. Through these efforts, the Wellington Community Foundation helps foster a thriving educational environment that empowers students and builds a stronger, more vibrant community.

To learn more about the Wellington Community Foundation, or if you would like to contribute to the nonprofit’s many ongoing initiatives, visit online at By getting involved, you can play an active role in building a stronger community and empowering future generations to achieve their educational goals.


American Heritage Leads U.S. In STEM

American Heritage Leads U.S. In STEM Local Students Win Prestigious Science, Math And Engineering Awards

By Melanie Hoffman

As the world continues to advance technologically, American Heritage Schools keeps pace with the global shift by integrating a culture of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) into its comprehensive and rigorous curriculum.

Founded in 1965, American Heritage Schools (AHS) is a nationally ranked college preparatory school with two 40-acre campuses in South Florida serving grades Pre-K3 through 12. The 4,800 students represent more than 60 different countries, more than 70 percent of the faculty holds a postgraduate degree and the student-to-faculty ratio is 5-to-1.

AHS alumni are notable leaders in their fields who are generating positive differences in the world. Dylan Cahill graduated from the AHS Palm Beach campus in 2014, from Dartmouth College in 2018 and is attending Harvard Medical School.

“American Heritage prepared me for college academics,” Cahill said. “Though I didn’t realize it at the time, the study strategies I developed in challenging classes at AHS helped make my transition into the demands of college life much smoother.”

Ranked among the top private schools in the State of Florida in STEM according to Niche, the leader in digital searches for the best K-12 schools and colleges, the students at AHS recently earned high honors in STEM, including No. 1 in Florida at the state science fair, No. 1 and No. 2 private school in Florida in math competition, and No. 1 in Florida in robotics competition.

The American Heritage Science Research Institute for select students in grades six through 12 enables students to conduct research on real-world problems, and in turn, they have earned international recognition for their findings.

The range of equipment in the science lab is unlike any other high school — fluorescent and inverted microscopes, UV/Vis plate reader (a spectrophotometer), a carbon dioxide incubator, a minus 86-degree freezer, a liquid nitrogen cryogenic tank and a scanning electron microscope, just to name a few.

“When our students graduate, they are equipped with a level of research knowledge they would not normally have without the opportunities presented in our program,” said Dr. Iris Thompson, director of science research at the AHS Palm Beach campus. “This sets them apart from their peers when applying to college or graduate school.”

Nolan Wen, a senior at the Palm Beach campus, published his science research as first author, which is an unusual feat for a high school student. His research was titled, “Development and characterization of laponite-enhanced tannic acid-based hydrogels,” in the Materials Letters journal. Wen will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall and was accepted to the school’s highly competitive seven-year bio-dental program.

“The rigorous course offerings and programs at American Heritage not only helped me get into Penn but have also prepared me well for life at Penn,” Wen said. “The BSL-2 level labs and incredible summer research program at American Heritage have provided me the platform to conduct graduate-level research and become an accomplished young researcher (published three times, Regeneron International Science and Engineering Finalist and Regeneron Science Talent Search Finalist). As vice president of Model UN, president of the TASSEL Cambodia Heritage branch, and a member of Education Rocks and various national honor societies, I have been able to both embrace the school community and make a positive difference on a global scale. I’ve had an incredible four years at American Heritage and cannot wait to continue my education at UPenn.”

The mathematics departments at both AHS campuses are equally strong. Starting in the Lower School, honors courses and honors math competition classes are offered for accelerated math students in fourth through sixth grades. This early learning enables the students to learn higher-level critical thinking and problem solving. The school earned the ranking of No. 1 elementary school in Florida and No. 2 private elementary school in the U.S. in math competition, and many of those students advance to the high school level with great success. Both the Broward and Palm Beach math teams at American Heritage ranked No. 1 and No. 2 private school at the Florida Association of Mu Alpha Theta (FAMAT) statewide math competition.

“The American Heritage Schools competitive math program has been an amazing place to foster my love for mathematics and meet other kids who enjoy the STEM fields as much as I do,” said Sharvaa Selvan, a senior at the AHS Broward campus and vice president for the state and national Mu Alpha Theta student delegates. “Our victory at the February statewide was a testament to the countless hours spent by both the students and our amazing coaches over the past few months.”

Selvan has been accepted to the prestigious universities MIT and Georgia Tech.

“Our win at the NSU statewide competition demonstrates the enormous collection of mathematical giftedness of the members of our math competition team,” said Dr. Radleigh Santos, competitive mathematics head coach and an MIT graduate. “I’m proud of all their hard work, and I’m looking forward to their future success.”

In the field of robotics and engineering, the AHS Wyld Stallyns team at the Palm Beach campus qualified for the World Robotics Championship in Houston. The team also won the Creativity Award sponsored by Rockwell Automation.

Senior Dylan McClish is a top student in the AHS pre-engineering program at the Palm Beach campus and was accepted to Princeton, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Michigan and the U.S. Naval Academy.

“I’ve been at American Heritage for seven years, and I am forever thankful for how much it has prepared me for college,” McClish said. “It has allowed me to take a vast array of college-level courses that other high schools don’t offer, such as multivariate calculus/differential equations, learning math that many don’t see until they are a few years into college. I have been part of the pre-engineering and science research programs, and it has been fantastic to pursue my interests in AI and robotics with the full support of the school’s amazing faculty and resources. It has been a lot of hard work, but I know that I will be well prepared for college, and I am grateful that American Heritage has given me the tools to succeed at the collegiate level.”

American Heritage Schools is ranked No. 1 in National Merit Scholars out of all schools in Florida and the No. 2 private school in the nation. The students from both campuses comprise 10 percent of all National Merit Scholarship semifinalists throughout the 2,227 public and private schools in Florida.

American Heritage Schools is open all year at both campuses. It also provides an extensive summer program from June to August for children and teens ages 3 to 17 from all over the world. The offerings include traditional day camps, specialty and sports camps, the Summer Institute, available in-person and online with more than 100 courses designed for every student’s interest, and 1-on-1 tutoring. The comprehensive summer enrichment ensures that students are prepared or ahead for the next school year and gives them a competitive advantage to succeed.

American Heritage Schools will continue to set high standards for growth and learning and prepare the next generation of global thinkers and problem solvers to succeed.

To learn more about American Heritage Schools, visit


Get Your Nursing Degree Locally

Get Your Nursing Degree Locally NRI Institute Of Health Sciences Working To Reduce Nation’s Nursing Shortage

By Mike May

Residents of Palm Beach County, specifically those living in the western communities who want to work as a nurse, have a locally owned and operated school where they can acquire the necessary qualifications to get a job in the nursing profession. They can get their nursing degree from the NRI Institute of Health Sciences, based in Royal Palm Beach.

The NRI Institute is a fully licensed and accredited private degree-granting and post-secondary school that is qualified to prepare students for a career in registered and practical nursing, as a nursing assistant, a medical assistant, and in the field of diagnostic medical sonography. Starting next year, students will be able to get a four-year bachelor’s of science degree in nursing from the NRI Institute.

Located at 503 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. in the Royal Plaza at the corner of Royal Palm Beach and Southern Boulevards, the NRI Institute currently has a 12,500-square-foot facility it calls home. When it opened in 2012, it had just 1,000 square feet of space and eight students. Now, it has 125 students with room for as many as 150 students. Since 2012, more than 400 students have graduated from the NRI Institute of Health Sciences.

The owners of the NRI Institute are the husband-and-wife team of Dan Splain and Elizabeth Stolkowski. Splain is the chief administrative officer, and Stolkowski is in charge of operating the school as the president and director of the nursing programs.

Both Splain and Stolkowski are well qualified to operate the school due to their extensive experience in the healthcare field. This includes working in hospital administration, managed care, nursing education and the international recruitment of healthcare professionals. For a number of years, the two of them operated a managed care facility in the Midwest, where they recruited nurses from overseas.

Stolkowski, a native of The Philippines, has three master’s degrees and a law degree.

“She is well qualified to oversee the academic side of the NRI Institute of Health Sciences,” Splain said.

What’s really important about Stolkowski’s role at the NRI Institute is her ability to get the students to cross the “finish line,” so to speak.

“Elizabeth has a talent for coaching students and getting them to pass the Nursing Council Licensure Examination,” Splain said. “After passing the exam, our graduates can then start working as nurses, where their starting salaries can range between $75,000 and $100,000 a year.”

Splain noted that there’s a great need for more nurses across the United States. That’s especially the case in Florida because of the large number of residents who are over the age of 65. Here in Palm Beach County, the number of residents over 65 expands greatly during the winter months.

This need for more nurses seems more acute now, but it is not a recent issue.

“Even before the pandemic, there was a nationwide shortage in the U.S. of more than one million nurses,” Splain said. “We still have a nursing shortage in this country.”

Many of the graduates of the NRI Institute of Health Sciences find employment in the western communities at facilities such as Wellington Regional Medical Center and Palms West Hospital, as well as many smaller medical offices and facilities. A number of graduates also land jobs in other Florida cities. And, of course, many of the nursing graduates get hired in other parts of the U.S.

“A large number of our graduates get jobs at Wellington Regional Medical Center because that’s where they do their clinical rotations,” Splain said. “They do such a great job during their clinical rotations at Wellington Regional that some are offered jobs before they even graduate.”

According to Splain, some graduates actually return to the classroom as instructors.

“We even have some graduates teaching in fine institutions all over the U.S.,” Splain said. “The nursing shortage in the U.S. can also be attributed to a shortage of nursing instructors.”

Time wise, getting a degree from the NRI Institute will usually take two years. The clinical rotations are interspersed with the classroom work. There are 12 faculty members, and the classroom sizes are usually eight to 10 students per instructor.

“We like to keep it small and teach them well,” Splain said.

According to Stolkowski, many of the students at the NRI Institute are not what you normally expect.

“We have many non-traditional students enrolled,” Stolkowski said. “We have students in their teens, 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. Many have families, as well as being enrolled full-time in school. Roughly 85 percent of our students are female.”

In addition to a wide age-range of nursing candidates, they also come from all parts of Palm Beach County, as well as Broward, Martin and St. Lucie counties. “A handful of students travel here from as far away as Vero Beach,” she said.

One aspect of being a student at the NRI Institute is the in-person educational experience.

“We don’t have any online classes,” Splain said. “You really need to have the hands-on academic experience in our classrooms to learn how to be a nurse.”

The NRI Institute of Health Sciences will hold its 10th commencement exercises on Thursday, June 8 at 5 p.m. at the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center. Thirty nursing and diagnostic medical sonography graduates will receive their degrees. The guest speaker will be Dante Mitchell Tolbert, founder and CEO of Florence Technologies, which is an innovative edtech company that aims to combat the nursing shortage through solutions driven by artificial intelligence.

To learn more about the NRI Institute of Health Sciences, call (561) 688-5112 or visit


Protect Yourself And Your Future

Protect Yourself And Your Future
Edward Jones Financial Advisor Lou LoFranco Enjoys Helping Local Residents With Investments And More

By Callie Sharkey

The world of finance and investing is constantly changing. Opportunities arise, and trends emerge and disappear without much warning. It can all be overwhelming. This is why finding the right financial advisor is worth the time and effort. Lou LoFranco, who works with the financial firm Edward Jones, enjoys investing his expertise as a financial advisor to help people in the Wellington area.

“The best thing about our office is we answer the phone,” LoFranco said. “We are a private company. We don’t sell a specific product or fiduciary, and it’s not about what we can make off our clients.”

LoFranco has worked in different sectors of the finance industry since the 1980s. He began working on the budget management side with UPS and shifted to a consultant role for GE, managing logistics for wind energy. Then he found FPL and took a position, also in wind industry management. After commuting from Fort Myers to Philadelphia, he realized that his family wasn’t happy, and they soon moved to South Florida permanently.

With six children being homeschooled by his wife Maria, LoFranco knew that there had to be a better way to take care of his family.

“I called my financial advisor, and he said that it’s time to come on board. I’ve been in Wellington since 2015, and what started as temporary work, well, it’s now nine years later,” LoFranco said. “It has been a great experience and a blessing to be working with the community and helping a lot of the elderly — that I really enjoy.”

He has a deep concern for senior care and quality of life, especially after being a caretaker for his own mother for more than four years. LoFranco worries when he learns of people taking advantage of the elderly.

“I just want to make sure they never run out of money and can live the life, have the lifestyle that they need, and they’ve worked all their life for,” he said. “I like to teach clients that it is more than just looking at the financial picture. We look at health insurance, life insurance or umbrella insurance. If we don’t have the whole picture, we can’t give a good plan for success. We try to do the deep dive; it’s building that relationship, personally getting to know their families, their kids, their grandkids. It’s a long-life process of legacy planning.”

Whether clients are looking for retirement and estate planning, or just trying to figure out where to begin, LoFranco and Edward Jones are there with research and data backing their plans. The company does not deal with any investments that are not federally approved, such as cryptocurrencies.

“I’m a faith-based advisor. We do everything ethically and morally,” he said. “I think we have a good client base that trusts us.”

LoFranco has clients who get more than just financial advice. He has helped them set up bill pay and is even helping a client get a new roof.

“It’s not about making money, it’s about comfort. We go car shopping with clients, too. ‘Can you help me find a boat?’ they’ll ask. We helped a client find a house,” LoFranco said. “So, that’s what I love about it — it’s more than the investments. Being a financial advisor has been a blessing because it gives you work-life balance. You can make all the money in the world, but if you don’t have time for family, it doesn’t matter. Now I’m living the dream of helping people.”

When asked his top advice on where to begin, LoFranco made it clear that it is important to tackle and manage debt. Clients may walk in with crippling credit card and student loan debt, but he has a strategy to help.

“I lay out a plan. If they have four or five credit cards, depending on the balance, we can help them pay it off within 24 to 36 months. If they don’t have debt, we look at their goals. What is important to you? We do a three-minute ‘priority’ quiz,” he said. “We’ve found that for clients, family is the most important, then travel and then retirement.”

LoFranco and his team of Yara Gonsalves and Tito Lopez have an office in Wellington that is open to walk-ins from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Gonsalves is also available to assist clients who speak Spanish. They are happy to work with clients and potential clients. Not only that, but the consultations are free.

“Appointments are an hour, and it usually takes two or three appointments because they might not be ready,” LoFranco explained. “There is no cost for the consultations, we don’t believe in that. We believe in finding out what’s important for them. It’s all about the long-term relationships because you become family. The trust factor is the most critical thing.”

Lou LoFranco’s Edward Jones office is located at 12020 South Shore Blvd., Suite 100, in Wellington. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, call (561) 798-4106 or e-mail


Staying Ahead Of The Storm

Staying Ahead Of The Storm Village Of Wellington Aims To Be Prepared As Hurricane Season Begins

By Jim Barnes, Wellington Village Manager

Living in Wellington means enjoying the beautiful weather here in our vibrant community. However, our proximity to the Atlantic Ocean also exposes us to the risks of hurricane season. Officially starting on June 1, and lasting until Nov. 30, hurricane season for us means hoping for the best and planning for the worst.

Be Prepared For The Season
It’s not just a motto; “be prepared” is good advice. Florida residents can attest that they didn’t expect Hurricane Nicole to be as devastating as it was when it slammed into their neighborhoods last year, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. In cases of severe disasters, the modern conveniences that we often take for granted — such as cell phones, ATMs and the ability to pump gasoline — become obsolete. That is why it’s important to make advance plans to take care of yourself and your family and make sure you have supplies on hand in case of an emergency.

Simple things such as developing a safety plan, stocking up on extra pet supplies and refilling prescriptions a few days early are some of the measures you can take to be prepared. As emergency managers point out, in times of disaster, resources are limited, so it’s important to take personal responsibility to lessen the impact on yourself and your family. This month, as we continue to prepare here at the village, I want to share some essential tips and guidelines for Wellington residents to proactively prepare for hurricane season.

Develop An Emergency Plan
Preparing a detailed emergency plan is crucial to efficiently navigate through a hurricane. Designate a meeting point for your family members in case of separation and establish a communication plan. Create a checklist of essential items, such as non-perishable food, water, medications, batteries, flashlights and a first aid kit. Stock up on necessary supplies well in advance, as stores may run out quickly during emergencies.

Stay Informed
This applies both before and after the storm. Keeping up to date with the latest weather information is paramount during hurricane season. In the event of an emergency, you’ll be able to find information on the village’s web site at Monitor local news channels, radio broadcasts and official web sites for updates from the National Hurricane Center. Sign up to receive emergency alerts through Alert Wellington at While you’re at it, download the GoWellington app from your phone’s app store for quick access to resources and information. Stay connected through Wellington’s social media platforms to receive real-time updates and helpful resources during an emergency.

Protect Your Property
Safeguarding your home against potential hurricane damage is crucial. Remember, all yard work and tree-trimming projects should be completed at this time to avoid overwhelming our waste collection system when a storm is approaching. Planning on cleaning out unwanted items in your garage or storage areas around your house? Do not wait! Do this now, so you have the space to store items during a storm. Consider investing in impact-resistant windows and doors for enhanced protection. Inspect your roof for loose or damaged shingles and repair them promptly. Review your property insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage for potential hurricane-related damages.

Evacuation & Sheltering
When authorities issue evacuation orders, it’s crucial to follow their instructions promptly. Prepare an evacuation route and share it with your family members. Identify local evacuation shelters and understand their policies, including accommodation for pets. Palm Beach County operates the Special Needs Shelter Program during emergencies for individuals with certain medical conditions. This special shelter is staffed with doctors and nurses, has backup power, and is in a wind-resistant building. To register for the special needs shelter, visit the county’s web site or call (561) 712-6400.

It’s also important at these times to look out for one another and check on friends and neighbors who may need assistance. Being prepared for hurricane season in Wellington is a responsibility shared by all residents. In the best of times and the worst of times, it’s good to be neighbors helping neighbors. It’s what brings us together as a community.

History teaches that a lack of awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. Wellington has been fortunate through the years to avoid the landfall of a major hurricane in our area. However, we should not be lulled into a false sense of security.

Preparedness is our best defense, and I encourage you to use this guide to assist you in keeping yourself and your family safe.



Enjoy Authentic Mexican Cuisine

Enjoy Authentic Mexican Cuisine Casa Tequila Is Celebrating 10 Years Of Serving Taste-Tempting Mexican Favorites In Wellington

By Shannon Anastasio

Looking for authentic Mexican cuisine that will tantalize your taste buds? Be sure to visit Casa Tequila Mexican Cuisine in Wellington, which is now celebrating its 10th anniversary. This cozy restaurant has been serving up delicious Mexican fare since 2013 and has become a local favorite for its flavorful dishes, friendly staff and lively atmosphere.

Manager Mario Rodriguez takes great pride in the food and drinks served at Casa Tequila. “We offer exquisite Mexican cuisine that is truly one-of-a-kind,” he explained. “Our dishes are made with fresh, high-quality ingredients and are full of flavor. We also offer a wide variety of margaritas, tequilas, beers and mojitos that perfectly complement our food.”

And the food at Casa Tequila certainly lives up to his high standards. The menu features classic Mexican dishes like tacos, burritos and fajitas, as well as unique creations that you will not find anywhere else. One standout dish is the Sizzling Fajitas, which come with your choice of chicken, steak, shrimp or a combination of all three. The fajitas are served on a hot skillet with sautéed onions and pepper. These tasty fajitas come with all the fixings you need to create your own perfect taco or burrito.

But it is not just the fajitas that keep customers coming back to Casa Tequila. The homemade salsa is made fresh daily and has just the right amount of kick, while the guacamole is made with fresh avocados and a blend of spices that give it a unique and delicious flavor.

The Ensalada de la Casa is another popular dish, with mixed greens, tomatoes, onions and avocado, topped with your choice of grilled chicken or steak. The Caldo de Pollo is a delicious, traditional Mexican soup made with tender shredded chicken, homemade Mexican rice, onions, bell peppers, cilantro, tomatoes and sliced avocado.

Other dishes to try are the Chicken Enchilada, served with refried beans, Mexican rice and fresh salad, and the Carne Asada, featuring thinly sliced skirt steak grilled to perfection, served with homemade Mexican rice, refried beans and garnished with fresh lettuce and pico de gallo.

What trip to a Mexican restaurant would be complete without a margarita? Casa Tequila has a wide selection of margaritas to choose from, including classic, fruit-infused and frozen options. All drinks are made with fresh ingredients and top-shelf tequila, making them the perfect accompaniment to your meal.

End your meal with a great Mexican dessert, such as the Cheesecake Chimichanga, a lightly fried, cheesecake-stuffed chimichanga drizzled with honey and chocolate syrup, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Another sweet treat is the delicious Churros, a lightly fried, thin dough pastry, drizzled with honey, cinnamon, sugar, chocolate syrup and caramel.

Beyond the food and drinks, the warm and welcoming atmosphere is another standout feature that makes Casa Tequila a must-visit restaurant. The restaurant is decorated with colorful paintings, bright red walls and traditional Mexican décor, creating an ambiance that makes patrons feel like they have stepped into a lively cantina south of the border.

Meanwhile, the staff is friendly and attentive, making sure you feel right at home from the moment you walk in.

“We want our customers to feel like they’re part of the family when they come to Casa Tequila,” Rodriguez said. “We take great care in providing excellent service, and we want everyone who visits us to have a great time.”

And that is exactly what you’ll have at Casa Tequila. The restaurant often hosts live music on weekends, and the bar area is a great spot to grab a drink and catch a game on one of the many TVs. The spacious outdoor patio is also a popular spot, with plenty of seating and a relaxed vibe that is perfect for enjoying a meal with friends or family.

Also popular at Casa Tequila is Taco Tuesday. “It’s a chance for our customers to enjoy the flavorful adventure of authentic, home-cooked tacos at a great price,” Rodriguez said. “We want everyone to be able to try our delicious food and have a good time doing it.”

Casa Tequila is a must-visit restaurant for anyone in the Wellington area who loves Mexican food. With a warm and welcoming atmosphere, delicious food and excellent service, it is no wonder that this restaurant has become a local favorite over the past 10 years. The next time you are in the mood for authentic Mexican cuisine, head over to Casa Tequila and get ready to indulge your taste buds.

The restaurant features lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and don’t miss happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Casa Tequila is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Delivery is available through DoorDash and Uber Eats, or you can call in an order and pick it up.

Casa Tequila is located at 12795 W. Forest Hill Blvd. in the Wellington Plaza. To view the complete menu, visit, or call (561) 557-1378 to make a reservation or place an order.


Mediterranean Marvel

Mediterranean Marvel Close To All Equestrian Venues, This Custom-Built Home Is Situated On One Of The Highest Lots In Palm Beach Point

Photos Courtesy Betsy Keiser/Keller Williams

This magnificent Mediterranean marvel sits on more than 10 acres in the exclusive Palm Beach Point community. The property features a nine-stall barn with an easy conversion for more, a tack room, a feed room, a laundry, a one-bedroom apartment, a large ring and 11 paddocks. The house and barn include a 45 KW generator, a reverse osmosis water system, and complete impact glass and doors. The adjoining five-plus acres is perfect to add an additional barn or housing, a covered arena, a grass field, paddocks and more. The main home is perfect for the family and entertaining. The home boasts cathedral ceilings, marble floors, Jerusalem stone and teakwood floors. The kitchen has custom wood cabinets with self-closing drawers, granite counters, a vegetable sink, GE Monogram appliances and a professional-grade gas range. The master suite offers beautiful onyx countertops, a Kohler spa tub, a walk-in shower, and a gas, quick-recovery water heater. Additional features include a gym and steam room with surround sound throughout. Two additional, large bedrooms each include a private bath. The family room features a built-in entertainment center, surround sound, a 55-inch television and a gas fireplace. The large, heated pool and spa includes a waterfall and is equipped with remote controls. The poolside summer kitchen has a GE barbecue and granite counters. There is also an exterior full cabana bath. The attached four-car garage provides ample room for vehicles. Meanwhile, the landscaping is impeccable, with a special touch of gorgeous purple and white orchids gracing the trees along the driveway, as well as in the pool and entertainment area.

Keller Williams Property Presented by Jennifer Drahan and Betsy Keiser

Meet Jennifer Drahan and Betsy Keiser

Jennifer Drahan and Betsy Keiser, along with the rest of their team, make up the Drahan-Keiser Team at Keller Williams Wellington. The team closed more than $25 million in 2021, and more than $40 million in 2022. This includes 68 seasonal leases, handling a minimum of 60 per year, farms and homes.

Drahan grew up in the Lone Star State and graduated from Texas A&M in 1995. Her love of horses and show jumping originally brought her to Wellington in 2002. She earned her real estate license in 2010 and has been working full time in the industry since 2012. Drahan specializes in equestrian, luxury and investment properties.

Keiser moved to Wellington with her family in 1984 as a high school student, coming from the Pittsburgh area. She has held a real estate license since 1996. She came to a career in real estate initially through family connections. Her family was involved in new home construction in Pennsylvania and Florida. After a career in property management, she has worked full time in the real estate industry since 2013.

Drahan-Keiser’s core values are simple: honesty and integrity in all things, unparalleled service regardless of price point, and creating a win-win environment for clients and staff.

Learn more about the Drahan-Keiser Team at




Lifetime Kitchen ‘Woof’ Paper Towel Holder By Everyday Solutions  Show the dog-mom in your life some love and appreciation with Lifetime Kitchen’s ‘Woof’ Paper Towel Holder — the “pawfect” counter accessory. The metal spring tension tail keeps your towels neat and tidy. $29.99

Barefoot DreamsLuxe Knit Throw From Macy’s Cozy up with mom this Mother’s Day underneath a Barefoot Dreams Luxe Knit Throw from the Macy’s Hotel Collection that features a super soft and sumptuous lofty volume. These knits are comprised of two distinct looks; a series of neutral solid shades and a set of bold patterned skins. This gift is sure to bring another layer of comfort to your mom’s home. $68.24

Ella Bella Collection Massage Candles Give mom a relaxing, spa-like experience using Ella Bella’s Massage Candles. These candles are made from coconut oil, vitamin E and essential oils. Purchase in-store or online. Contact Ella Bella Collection at (561) 779-6287 or visit $45.00

Pandora Birthstone Charm Bracelet Sentimental is mom’s middle name, and nothing is more sentimental than a customizable birthstone charm bracelet from Pandora. Add the birthstones of the people she loves most onto the bracelet, and she’ll be sure to cherish this gift. $110.00

Tommy Bahamas Fiesta Bahama Tote Mom will be the life of the party with this Fiesta Bahama Tote. Large enough for your next weekend getaway and light enough to carry every day, this bag’s faux-leather bottom base, storage pockets and island-inspired embroidery make it work for the boardwalk and beyond. $138.00

Brighton Pebble Medali Dual Tone Sunglasses These Balinese-inspired pebble and dot detailed sunglasses from Brighton are the perfect and practical gift for mom. The roundness of this frame gives it a soft look, and the cat-eye feels fun and feminine. Blonde tortoise-color frames are flattering and on trend. Lenses offer 100 percent UV protection. $150.00

Chico’s Ribbon Trim Hat Escape the Florida sun with Chico’s Ribbon Trim Hat. This beautiful hat pairs well with anything, from dresses to swimsuits, and is perfect for mom’s mid-day adventures on Mother’s Day. Decorated with a satiny ribbon trim, she’s sure to look sleek. $59.50

Natubri Coffee & Art Woven Fans Beat the heat this Mother’s Day using Natubri Coffee & Art’s handmade Colombian Woven Fans. This gift is multi-functional, as it can be utilized as a fan, or displayed as a beautiful piece of décor. You can’t go wrong with this unique gift. $12.00 each

The Mall at Wellington Green is a 1.2-million-square-foot, two-level regional shopping destination that features more than 160 stores. Retail and restaurant favorites include Macy’s, Dillard’s, Apple, Brighton, Chico’s, Forever 21, H&M, Helzberg Diamonds, Zales, Tommy Bahama, City Furniture, Lemongrass, Cask + Shaker, the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History and more. For more information, visit