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The journey to Pembroke

Sisters launch new school focused on home values
  • The staff at Pembroke Academy. From left are Danielle Bain, Mya Minnis, Sonia Bain and Simone Bain. KANDICE ELDON


Published: Aug 14, 2017

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On Mount Royal Avenue stands an historic mint green Bahamian home with a strong foundation, pillars and a porch. Within the hallowed rooms and spaces of this precious place are cherished memories brimming with love, laughter, discovery and an educational journey like no other. For the generations who grew up there, school was in session every day, just not with traditional textbooks and lesson plans. For decades, life was fully lived, sung, taught and acted out loudly in the home of the late Leroy Pembroke Hanna and his creative wife, Gwendolyn.

“We chose to name our school Pembroke Academy because it all happened at his house. Our grandfather was very quiet and very unassuming. We invaded his house every day… a generation of cousins would gather there in the summers or any break when our parents were at work. That was the place of our first school,” recalls granddaughter Danielle Bain.

A firm believer in the transformative power of education, Leroy, affectionally called “Pemmy”, and Gwendolyn, known as “Gwenny”, opened their hearts and home to mentor their grandchildren creatively and freely.

“She was very hands on, she was a real teacher who taught us by life experiences. There was no paperwork, yet we had a full schedule at their house every day,” explains Danielle. Using day-to-day items like egg cartons, plastic bottles or old Junkanoo scrap pieces dragged into the backyard, Gwenny pushed the creative envelope unlocking their imaginations while strengthening family bonds.

As sturdy as the foundation of the home, the children in their care learned the value of being good citizens, thinking critically and innovatively, and placing God in the center of their worlds.

“We learned our purpose in this house… we also did not know we could sing. One day, we were just playing around singing and our grandmother said, ‘You all can sing’, so she formed a praise team, choir and a drama group,” recalls granddaughter Sonia Bain with a chuckle. “They shared everything with us including their faith. I gave my heart to Christ in her home and during our many stays there we were taught to love God with all our hearts. She created such a big picture of who God was. This is the essence of Pembroke.”

Opening in September, Pembroke Academy (Early Learning Center) nursery and preschool, located on Parkgate Road, caters to children ages three months to three years. Pembroke offers affordable daycare services with a modern integrated curriculum. Co-owned by four sisters — Sonia Bain, Simone Bain, Danielle Bain and Mya Minnis — the quartet of highly experienced educators is committed to the journey to ensure Pembroke cultivates scholastic growth in a nurturing, fun and family-like environment.

The four, all with international educational degrees and certifications, have more than 20 years of classroom experience at top schools in the United States and in The Bahamas. The team is grateful for their own educational journeys in the classroom and for those who mentored them along the way. All this has been in preparation for their “leap of faith”, leaving the familiar to boldly launch something new while holding onto each other for support to see their dreams become a reality.

“The good thing about this leap is that we are doing this together; sink or swim, we are riding the wave together and we are trusting in God. We know this is a move of God. Myles Munroe always talked about how some of the best giftings are in the ground and not executed because they’ve died along with so many gifted individuals. We have to execute this gift, now is the time,” says Simone.

The school encourages expression through the arts with a focus on physical fitness. As a multi-talented Bahamian musician, Mya a former teacher at Lyford Cay International School will be orchestrating the arts program at Pembroke, specializing in music, Spanish and physical education. With a love for children, she looks forward to exploring new and creative ways to teach and inspire those under her care.

“I love to see how they [the children] approach different situations. Children inspire me in my own creativity just to observe how they learn everything… from physical education to math, to music, to learning English; it all works together. To see sparks go off, and see them learn and grow, it truly inspires me,” said Mya.

The team is ready to open its doors, proud of the legacy on which they stand with smiles on their faces, heads high, shoulders back and arms wide open to love, teach and train in the Pembroke way.

The mission of Pembroke Academy is to welcome children and families of diverse backgrounds providing a safe, warm, nurturing, innovative and creative learning environment of quality education, culture, arts based on service and Christian values in all areas academically, physically and socially. For more information or to enroll, call 810-4611, email pembrokeacademy.bs@gmail.com or visit its Facebook page.

 

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