Our Story - Treasure Village Montessori School History

    “Shaping minds, shaping dreams, shaping futures, one student at a time.” ~ Kelly Astin, Principal 1997-2013


    In 1998, a group of parents and community members organized and wrote a contract or charter that would enable children in the Upper Florida Keys the ability to attend a public elementary Montessori school. Their vision; a charter school that embraces the Montessori philosophy that would be free from tuition and transportation constraints, it would increase available resources and enable the school to offer a fuller scope of subjects in addition to the traditional ones, offer competitive pay and benefits to increase the quality of staff while securing facilities that meet the needs of a high intensity, high standard program.

    Initially a K-3 program of 60 students, Treasure Village Montessori (TVM) now encompasses grades VPK through 8th grade with an enrollment of 215 students. TVM is large enough to offer far-reaching social and academic ability

    Photo, circa 1953, courtesy of www.keyshistory.org
    choices, yet small enough to cater to the individual needs of each and every student. Through its evolution, this Treasure Village Montessori, a charter school was been under the direction of Principal Kelly Astin. She retired in 2013.

    Our current leadership includes Principal Kelly Mangel, who served as Assistant Principal at TVM for 7 years, and recently appointed Assistant Principal, Connie Chapell. They, along with the help and support of the Treasure Village Montessori staff, board of directors, parents, students, and the community at large, continue to build a highly competitive program that specializes in the Montessori approach to learning while successfully integrating National Common Core Cirriculum standards. As a result our charter school has become a well established, accredited, A-rated, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Montessori program.

    Treasure Village Montessori Facility

    The charter school facility, once sited in 5000 square feet of space, has also under gone its own evolution over the years. Currently the facility now occupies over 10,000 square feet of space, doubling from its original size and includes gardens, courtyard playgrounds, learning labs, outdoor classroom space, a library and Spanish lab, music and art rooms all within a spectacular environment once celebrated as an historic museum. The facility and property have been described by a visitor as, "Like a child-sized college campus nestled into a secret tropical garden, contained in a castle, as if designed by the imagination of children."

    TVM Fortress

    Treasure Village Montessori is located on foliage-rich grounds in the beautiful Village of Islamorada in the Florida Keys at Mile Marker 86.7. The charter school is housed in a building once known as Art McKee's Museum of Sunken Treasure, hence the name of the school, Treasure Village Montessori. Built in 1950, the building originally housed millions of dollars of salvaged treasure discovered by the late Art McKee. All of the treasures once kept safe in this facility were found in the surrounding waters from various Spanish Galleon wrecks including The Capitana El Rui, circa 1733 and 9 other wrecks from the same fleet, lost to a hurricane. The Montessori school's facility resembles that of a fortress and rests on 2 1/2 acres of land. It features a naturally occurring estuary and from the 40-foot tower or Keep, one can gaze upon both the ocean and Florida Bay.

    The fortress-like exterior of Treasure Village Montessori opens to a unique and inviting interior campus. The school wraps around a large courtyard/playground, surrounded by covered walkways and classrooms. Upon entering the building known as Horton Hall, the Library and Spanish lab are the first areas encountered as well as the administrative offices. Horton Hall serves as the gateway to the campus and offers a feeling of old-world ambiance combined with the new world technology. Combining the two, new world and old world is commonplace at our unique charter school. Each offers avenues for learning and exploring which are fundamental elements of Montessori education and Florida's Sunshine State Standards.

    TVM Courtyard

    Leaving Horton Hall, visitors enter the catwalk, which extends around the entire interior of the building. After passing the well-known upper elementary "Wreck" room, visitors will encounter the courtyard playground, one of two on property. There are slides, monkey bars, sitting benches, palm trees, and other structures that offer students many social and physical opportunities.

    Lining the catwalks are the classrooms. Each set of French doors open to a world of discovery. The classrooms are harmonious and colorful. Everything in the room has a purpose, and everything is appropriately sized to the students a concept developed by Maria Montessori. The concentric rings of the courtyard, catwalk and classrooms enclose a perfect setting for learning embraced within in a nourishing, safe environment.

    To learn more about our Montessori program you may want to read about Considering TVM, Academics and
    Program Highlights.