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Dreamers Academy holds ribbon-cutting for Newtown campus

The bilingual school’s new campus, located in Sarasota's Newtown, offers a dedicated space for learning.

Dreamers Academy founder Geri Chaffee (center) cuts the ribbon at the Newtown campus.
Dreamers Academy founder Geri Chaffee (center) cuts the ribbon at the Newtown campus.
Courtesy photo
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Geri Chaffee, founder of Dreamers Academy, described a scene filled with exclamations of joy among students, laughing parents and excited teachers as a ribbon-cutting and open house was held for the school's new campus on Aug. 7.

The new campus, located at 2146 Myrtle St. in Newtown, is the first dedicated space for the bilingual elementary school, which alternates its instruction between English and Spanish throughout the week.

“Everybody loves the school. They love the colors,” Chaffee said. “It's very bright and big. The spaces are comfortable. 

She said the school, which had previously rented a space at Temple Beth Sholom, saw a need and a great potential among the children in Newtown. The teaching focuses not only on literacy but also on oracy, or speaking, she said.

"We don’t just want to close the achievement gap," she said. "We want to surpass the achievement gap."

The ribbon-cutting was followed by an open house for parents and students.

Features of the campus include a new bilingual library. The school will also offer two to three events per month that allow parents to participate, she said.

The ribbon-cutting was attended by officials including school board chair Bridget Ziegler and board member Tom Edwards, Sarasota County Commissioner Mark Smith, and Sarasota County Schools Director Harriet Moore, as well as individuals from community foundations, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office and parents. 

Without the support of the community’s nonprofits, the dream of a campus couldn’t have been realized, Chaffee said.

“It feels amazing,” said the school's principal, Catherine Rodríguez, who brings a graduate degree in clinical health psychology and counseling. “It was a lot of work, a lot of sweat and tears, but we made it happen. And it was a team effort.”

Dreamers Academy teacher Josette Ortega, student Juliette Bautista, teacher Camila DeVeau-Biter, student Josiah Bautista and parents Jessenia and Josué Bautista.



Ian Swaby

Ian Swaby is the Sarasota neighbors writer for the Observer. Ian is a Florida State University graduate of Editing, Writing, and Media and previously worked in the publishing industry in the Cayman Islands.

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