OCOEE – Innovation Montessori Ocoee, a new charter school coming to Ocoee, acquired commission approval for its second construction phase and quickly is coming together.
Formerly known as Montessori of Winter Garden Charter School, which operated out of a strip mall for six years, Innovation Montessori Ocoee will be located on 18 acres at 1610 N. Lakewood Ave.
The campus will have an 800-student capacity and three buildings totaling 46,000 square feet of indoor learning space: an 8,000-square-foot classroom building for about 125 pre-K through kindergarten students; a two-story, 34,000-square-foot building that will house about 675 first-grade through eighth-grade students; and a 4,000-square-foot multipurpose building.
Sherilyn Moore, the school’s governing board president, said the multipurpose building likely will be used to host several different school programs, student gatherings and events, including yoga sessions, indoor recess, after-school activities, parent activities, clubs and assemblies.
But the most prized features of the campus are its environmentally friendly focus, playgrounds, gardens and structures that serve to contribute to a more hands-on learning atmosphere.
“We actually hope to get the students outside as much as possible, and having that land gives us the opportunity to do that,” Moore said. “There are a couple of different spaces that we included in our site plan to do that, and one of them is near the retention pond where parent volunteers are going to be creating this gorgeous garden space.”
In addition to the flower and herb gardens, which will be situated near a retention pond, the site will have an outdoor classroom, a 4.5-acre nature preserve and two playgrounds. Both playgrounds will have shade provided by some of the 200 existing oak trees the school board decided to integrate into the campus. One playground, which will be for the primary students, will be 17,000 square feet and the second, for the elementary and middle-school students, will be an environmental playground.
The idea is to give the teachers the opportunity to take the students out whenever they see fit, cultivate a more hands-on learning approach and preserve one of the main goals of a Montessori education, which Moore said is to create stewards of the natural environment.
“We wanted to create a school that we always dreamed of going to when we were younger,” Moore said.
The primary classroom building is expected to open in August, and the school’s two-story, 34,000-square-foot building and multipurpose building are slated to open in January.
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected].
Editor's note: A previous version of this story originally stated the primary playground would be 1,700 square feet. The figure has since been corrected to 17,000.