Executive director of Hobe Sound Early Learning Center announces coming retirement


For nearly 30 years Mary King has dedicated her career to ensuring the care and healthy development of thousands of children across south Martin County. Now, the executive director of Hobe Sound Early Learning Center will get to enjoy even more of the same with her own grandchildren when she officially retires early next year.

“From Day One I’ve just loved working for this amazing organization,” says King. “Such incredible colleagues, loving families and the children—the joy the children have brought into my life—is beyond what I could possibly describe. I’ve cherished being a part of the Hobe Sound Early Learning Center. But I’m sensitive to the importance of timing and I recognize that this is the season in my life to spend even more time with my children and grandchildren.”

King says timing is perfect to announce her retirement. Hobe Sound Early Learning Center is currently undergoing capital expansions and investment in personnel and equipment to further build upon its pioneering role as a regional leader in the realm of early childhood programming. She plans to remain in her position through February and help onboard her successor.

Caring for 1- to 4-year-olds, the independent nonprofit was founded in 1962 and stands among the oldest businesses in Hobe Sound and among the most sought-after child development programs in the region.

Activities emphasize pre-reading, pre-writing, social and emotional skills as well as physical activities to develop motor skills. The center is acclaimed for its enrichment programs, creative atmosphere and emphasis on early development long before broader public awareness of such initiatives emerged, a vision that Rob Kloska, president of the center’s board of directors, credited King for implementing.

“Mary deservedly enjoys an iconic status in our community and in this field,” says Kloska. “Her impact is immeasurable. She was implementing practices to nurture children’s growth and brain development decades ago. She’s worked tirelessly to provide strong foundations for the children so they’re able to enjoy success and happiness as they grow up.”

The center also attained a $1.5 million grant from the Hobe Sound Community Chest for additional classrooms and teachers, parking, transportation options and upgrades to the kitchen. Forthcoming renovations include remodeling and creation of facilities for infant care—an underserved area. That’s fitting, as the center is in such demand many local moms sign up their children shortly after learning they’re pregnant.

“The impeccable reputation Hobe Sound Early Learning Center forged, the deep  and enduring connection it has to generations in our community, and the countless fond memories children harbor of their childhood—that’s Mary’s legacy,” says Tom Weber, CEO of the center. “While she certainly will leave some very big shoes to fill, we’re thankful that she’ll remain with us for months to come to maintain continuity and make sure the next director is the ideal fit.”