About SHMA
trio of pictures from the history of Safety Harbor Montessori Academy

Safety Harbor Montessori Academy's History

Mark and Melinda Robinson created Safety Harbor Montessori Academy based on a vision they had for what they felt should be present in an ideal school. The Robinsons have three daughters who were ages 7, 6, and 2 when the school first opened in 1995, and the Robinsons designed the school with both their family and the greater community's needs in mind.

The Vision:

Mark and Melinda wanted to build a school where children would feel safe, loved, and happy, but at the same time be challenged to work hard, develop a strong curiosity to fuel their education, and become contributors to a better world. They found that the Montessori philosophy fit their own goals for the school perfectly, as Montessori is founded on respect: Respect for oneself, for one another, and for the environment, both locally and globally.

The Robinsons wanted to create a school that upheld their own core beliefs. They felt that by treating children with respect and dignity, the child's humanity is elevated. By appreciating the differences in children, their uniqueness is celebrated. By recognizing that children have an innate desire to work toward success, and with it, their work ethic and love of learning is strengthened. For more about the Safety Harbor Montessori philosopy, click here.

Construction History:

Safety Harbor Montessori Academy must have filled a need in the community because the school grew quickly. It grew so rapidly that at times it was hard to keep up with itself! In 1996, the school leased a portable and added an additional primary classroom to the permanent building. Elementary classes, with the addition of a new upper elementary classroom, moved temporarily to the portable building. In 1997 the school added the current preprimary classroom as well as the business office.

By the end of 1998, SHMA was bustling with 170 enrolled students from age two through sixth grade, and a new elementary building was planned and built. In 2000 the final addition was made to the school, adding the current expanded middle school classroom, and making space for an additional upper elementary classroom in the elementary building.

Staff History:

Safety Harbor Montessori is proud to acknowledge that three teachers who were on staff when the school first opened in 1995 are still part of the SHMA team today: Lydia Buening (who is now the Office Manager), Linda Boulton and Kay Leahon. In addition, John DiJohn, Brigitte Bernhardt, Maureen Apple, Dorothy Conte (retired in 2011), Susan Carey, and Germaine DiJohn joined Safety Harbor Montessori in the first years of expansion and have had long careers at the school.