Safety Harbor Montessori Academy is a community of teachers, learners, and families whose goal is to inspire passionate scholarship and compassionate citizenship, guided by a deep sense of integrity, responsibility, and determination to achieve personal best.
Head of School
In order to fulfill our mission statement, our first priority must be to provide an emotional environment that is safe and nurturing for all members of our community. To that end, we are committed to providing a developmentally appropriate environment and set of expectations at each level, guided by the basic tenets of Montessori philosophy. Each classroom and the school as a whole are infused with a sense of community, founded on mutual respect. Basic values such as responsibility, integrity, peacefulness, compassion, and an appreciation of the value of work are imparted through modeling, discussion, and daily social interactions.
Our academic program is designed to be challenging, stimulating, and engaging to each student. By finding a match between students’ academic abilities and challenges offered, we maximize each student’s ability to learn at his or her level of development. Our students learn through discovery and inquiry, constructing their intelligence and body of knowledge through work that provides for authentic feedback without value judgments. Choices in learning encourage students’ love of learning and personal involvement in their work. Our goal is to create lifelong learners, now more important than ever, since we live in an increasingly complex, information-based society. We strive to develop our students’ intrinsic motivation, avoiding external controls whenever possible, believing that strong, moral citizens must be guided by an inner voice rather than external approval.
We are dedicated to the Montessori philosophy of education, and to the importance of continuing to develop curricula, integrating new technology when possible, to support, update, and expand on Dr. Montessori’s brilliant, more than one hundred year work in progress. We are also committed to integrating new information about the way the brain functions and develops into what is already a neurologically sound approach to education.
Finally, we strive to provide a holistic learning experience that educates students physically, cognitively, morally, socially, and emotionally. To that end, we strive to help our students become independent workers, creative thinkers, strong collaborators, effective communicators, and avid problem solvers. By attending to all aspects of our students’ development, we celebrate the inherent value in their humanity, no matter what gifts and limitations they may have.
If you would like to book an appointment to meet with us and tour our school, just call us at (727) 724-1767 or use our contact form. We'd love to talk with you about how we can meet the needs of your family.
For more information about what Montessori education is all about, learn more by visiting the Montessori Approach page on our website.
Safety Harbor Montessori'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.
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 philosophy, click here.
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.
Safety Harbor Montessori Academy is proud to acknowledge Office Manager Lydia Buening and Primary teacher Linda Boulton, who both joined us when the school first opened in 1995 and are still part of the SHMA team today.
In addition, Athletics Coach John DiJohn, Associate Head of School Germaine DiJohn, and Upper Elementary teacher Robinne Cooke joined Safety Harbor Montessori Academy in the first years of expansion and have had 20+ year careers at the school. Other staff members with 10+ years at SHMA include Lynne Gulotta (2004), Richard Napolitano (2006), Meaghon Ross (2007), Tom McLaughlin (2007), and Stacey Kiser (2008). Primary teacher Lindsey Owens first came to SHMA as a student, and has now been part of our staff since 2012!