2018/19 Yearbook NOW ON SALE

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2018 – 2019 Information


We are thrilled to partner once agin with Picaboo yearbooks for the 2018/19 school year.

This year, you may also personalize your yearbook with 4 pages of your own photos, plus select either soft or hard cover. Students (and parents) will be able to make their choice when personalizing their yearbook via the Picaboo website.

Soft Cover $30

Hard Cover $40

Finalize your personalization by April 26, 2019


Camp Lakewood Expanded Summer Offerings

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Camp Lakewood at Innovation Montessori Ocoee

We are excited to announce that Camp Lakewood at Innovation Montessori is returning for its second year. Join us for an unforgettable summer where you can explore the world of dinosaurs, create your own inventions, or perform in a musical!

Camp Lakewood offers 8-weeks of fun with low adult/child ratios, themed weeks, and an expanded summer theatre program taught by some of the area’s top professionals.

We offer Day Camp for PK3 – Kindergarten and rising 1st through 6th grade. The Summer Stage option is available for rising 2nd through 10th grade.

Day Camp participants will enjoy small groups led by IMO teacher assistants and other AM/PM team members. Campers can choose from numerous enriching activities including STEM activities like making slime and building a marble maze, exploring nature, and learning the basic skills of Photoshop. Join us for a week or all summer for memories that will last a lifetime!

Summer Stage offers an unforgettable summer where you can perform in a musical, develop your skills in master classes with professional instructors, participate in Q&A sessions with guest artists, and more! Through proven warm-up techniques, rehearsals, classes, and individual coaching sessions, we will focus on supporting and building each participant. Whether you are a seasoned performer, or this is your first theatrical experience, let us help you cultivate your talents in a fun, collaborative environment!

Read More….



IMO’s Spring Musical, Aladdin – This Weekend at Winter Garden Theatre

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Don’t forget to buy your tickets for Innovation Montessori’s spring musical, Aladdin Jr. – performing this Friday and Saturday at the Winter Garden Theatre (see below for showtimes and a link to buy tickets). The show promises to be great family entertainment.

Prepare to be transported to the Arabian nights of old where you’ll be enchanted by the genie’s lamp, flying carpets, music, dance, and shimmering costumes designed by Cindy Maners.

Disney’s Aladdin JR. is based on the 1992 Academy-Award®-winning film and the 2014 hit Broadway show about the “diamond in the rough” street rat who learns that his true worth lies deep within.

The Aladdin Jr. cast has been hard at work for the past 6 months: learning lines, mastering choreography and practicing production numbers.

“We are so excited to bring Agrabah to life – our cast is incredibly talented, we assembled one of the best production teams in Central Florida, and we have a group of volunteers that are amazing. It has been an incredible journey and we can’t wait to share this show with our community,” adds Michael Caruth, show producer and IMO’s Director of Bands and Music Enrichment.

The story you know and love has been given the royal treatment! Aladdin and his three friends, Babkak, Omar, and Kassim, are down on their luck until Aladdin discovers a magic lamp and the Genie who has the power to grant three wishes. Wanting to earn the respect of the princess, Jasmine, Aladdin embarks on an adventure that will test his will and his moral character. With expanded characters, new songs, and more thrills, this new adaptation of the beloved story will open up “a whole new world” for all to enjoy!

Show times:

Friday, April 5 – 7:00 PM

Saturday, April 6 – 2:00 PM Matinee

Saturday, April 6 – 6:00 PM

Link to buy tickets:


IMiTA Brings Agrabah to Life in Aladdin JR

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Innovation Montessori in The Arts! presents Aladdin JR at the Garden Theatre April 5th and 6th. Tickets are on sale NOW through the Garden Theatre Box Office HERE!

Disney’s Aladdin JR. is based on the 1992 Academy-Award®-winning film and the 2014 hit Broadway show about the “diamond in the rough” street rat who learns that his true worth lies deep within.

Premier night is Friday, April 5 at 7PM, with two shows on Saturday, April 6 at 2PM and 6PM. Saturday, you can enjoy Spring Fever on Plant street before heading inside and seeing this fantastic show!

You can purchase ads or shout outs for Aladdin Playbill below:


Production of

Music by


Lyrics by


Book by


Based on the Disney film written by Ron Clements, John Musker, Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and directed & produced by Ron Clements & John Musker


Disney’s Aladdin JR. is based on the 1992 Academy-Award®-winning film and the 2014 hit Broadway show about the “diamond in the rough” street rat who learns that his true worth lies deep within.

The story you know and love has been given the royal treatment! Aladdin and his three friends, Babkak, Omar, and Kassim, are down on their luck until Aladdin discovers a magic lamp and the Genie who has the power to grant three wishes. Wanting to earn the respect of the princess, Jasmine, Aladdin embarks on an adventure that will test his will and his moral character.

Show Dates

Performances for Aladdin Jr will be at the Garden Theatre in Winter Garden, Florida

  • Friday, April 5th at 7PM
  • Saturday, April 6th at 2PM
  • Saturday, April 6th at 6PM


2019 Summer Stage

presented by Innovation Montessori in the arts!

Join us for an unforgettable summer where you can rehearse & perform a full musical, develop your skills in master classes with professional-level instructors, participate in Q&A sessions with guest artists, and more! Through warm-ups, rehearsals, classes, and individual coaching sessions, we will focus on supporting and building each participant. Whether you are a seasoned performer, or this is your first theatrical experience, let us help you cultivate your talents in a fun, collaborative environment! REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN, SPOTS ARE LIMITED!

Visit our Summer Stage page for information

Art Auction Preview

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The Preview for the Arteco Art Auction is now LIVE!

Our annual auction will take place on Saturday, March 2, 2019 from 11AM to 3PM.

In the past, this auction was held during the Share the Love Gala. With no gala this year, we needed to find a new home. It is a welcomed addition to our festival! The format for this year’s auction is also new as it will be a silent auction. What is a silent auction you ask?

During a silent auction, bids are written on a sheet of paper that is placed next to the item. At the predetermined end of the auction (3PM), the highest listed bidder wins the item.

In addition to the art seen below, the auction will feature the ever popular Teacher Experiences/Items! For example, our Arts Department is offering a VIP Aladdin experience for up to 4 Guests that include premium tickets, a tour of the Garden Theatre, a signed script, and a meet and greet with some of the Cast and Production Team!

Be sure to check the bids often to make sure you have the wining bid!

All materials were donated and proceeds go directly to IMO.


Making Casa Our Home

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by Amanda Cease

Since he was three months old, our son has been in a structured environment and attended daycare daily, which we believe helped him develop in many ways. As we started to approach the age of “real school” we wanted to find a place to call home and feel confident that he would be encouraged, challenged and guided. As we started to ask friends and family about their school my brother and sister-in-law talked highly about Innovation Montessori Ocoee (IMO). Their kids have been a part of the school since 2012, even before it moved to Ocoee and got its new name.

My brother and his family described the school as, “Different than what we grew up in, but a place they love and feel good about sending their kids.” What does that even mean? – ‘Different than what we grew up in.’ We took a tour of the school and quickly realized what it meant – no desks, no homework, a place that focuses on child-centered learning and provides both individual and group work opportunities. It is different than the school system we grew up in, but different is okay and we were ready to give it a try. We were ready to enroll our son in their pre-school program – the Casa program.

As the teachers hosted a meet-the-teacher and provided documents about the school we quickly hoped the underlying focus of ‘grace’ and ‘courtesy’ would be ones to trickle through the home life as well. No desks – because they move about the room to different stations. No homework – because they are encouraged to do outside activities in the evening and spend time developing other interests. Could this school really be one that teaches the kids during the day but also makes them a more understanding, compassionate and caring individual? We were ready to find out.

Immediately we were excited to see a list of suggested responsibilities for a child at home based on their age. We’re first-time parents. We probably baby our son too much and it was nice to see some of the things that we should be asking him to do on his own. And guess what – he can do them! The sense of responsibility has grown so much with him in just the few months we have been at the school.

One of the biggest differences we saw right away was the mixed grade levels. He is in a class with 3-5 year olds – pre-K through kindergarten. Our son is four. Would he be too advanced for the work they’re doing? Will he not be able to catch on because he’s not in kindergarten yet? These fears quickly went away as we learned about their child-led learning. Learning at the level and the way the child learns best. If they don’t seem to catch on, the lesson can be taught to them again. Are they mastering it already? Then they can move on.

Our son would come home and talk all about the friends he was making in his new school but didn’t talk too much about the specifics of the work – though we knew he was learning about the solar system and would tell us all about the planets he wanted to visit, and which ones would have which climates. To be honest, we were learning something too! What he hadn’t mentioned was his new-found love for not just hearing stories but reading them. During the first check-in with the teachers they told us how he was reading, and we couldn’t believe it. They suggested books we could get that mirror what he’s reading in class and we have loved encouraging the reading at home based on his progress. Don’t get me wrong, we still enjoy reading to him too, but it’s fun to see him reading to us and his little sister. It’s another example of how if you encourage them to do something on their own, they likely can!

As a part of the community, parents are required to volunteer to support the school – whether it’s on site or from home – and I was able to see the child-led learning in person as I volunteered to read with the kids. Each kid I read with was on a different book and different level, but it didn’t matter. They were reading, and they were proud of themselves for where they were and I was able to encourage them at the level they were at.

We feel like we’re being encouraged to be better parents through the school too – learning ways to talk to them differently, asking them different questions about the work they’re doing, motivating them to do things differently, disciplining differently. All things that should help our son grow and become a well-rounded, responsible citizen of the world.

All parents want what’s best for their kids, and in this season of life, we believe we have found it. We look forward to continuing to grow with our son, the IMO community and as parents through being a part of this Casa.

Arteco Festival

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Innovation Montessori in The Arts presents Arteco

a festival of art, music, food, and environmental exploration & learning!  Programs from Innovation Montessori in The Arts will entertain as guests enjoy artistic and environmentally friendly vendors. Be sure to catch our awesome featured guest Rob Greenfield, a seminar, and visit the Art & Science Expo.

  • Student artwork will be on display throughout the campus
  • You will have the opportunity to take home some of the art! Be sure to bid early and often at our annual art auction. PREVIEW THE ART AUCTION HERE
  • IMO is hosting its first Science Fair as part of the Festival
  • Rob Greenfield who is a “dude making a difference” is our phenomenal featured speaker
  • Catch a sneak peek of our Spring production, Aladdin JR. TICKETS ON SALE NOW HERE

Innovation Montessori in the arts! (IMiTA) offers many programs for our students: Art, Concert Band, Winterguard, Theatre, Percussion Ensemble, Drama Class, Drama Club, and Music Class.


Admission to the festival is $5 per person with proceeds benefiting our programs in the arts.

In addition, we are partnering with IMO Food Pantry and ask that each guest in attendance bring a nonperishable food item to build our pantry.

IMO Food Pantry is committed to working within our community to ensure that all students have access to healthy lunches daily. Through donations and partnerships those willing to help IMO food pantry strengthen our ability to maintain lunches for any member of our school that is in need.

*We ask that donations are made in accordance to the IMO food restrictions as we are a peanut are school, and avoid unhealthy snacks such as chips and soda

Read more Read More

Wondrous Wednesdays: A Time to Explore

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By Ilene Costelo, Upper Elementary Teacher, Aristotle Classroom

It all started with one student.

Montessori philosophy teaches us to follow the child and guide them to explore their own interests. Two years ago, a 4th grade student expressed a strong passion for writing; she had been writing stories and experimenting with her craft for many years. Her teacher wanted to provide an opportunity for this student to follow her passion, and she knew that there were parents and members of our school with many interesting gifts and talents. The desire to help students explore their interests, along with the diverse interests of parents, led to the creation of Wondrous Wednesday. The purpose of Wondrous Wednesday is to allow students to expand their knowledge and further their interests while making connections with parents and other students.

Throughout the year, there are several Wondrous Wednesday sessions. Each session begins with brainstorming, as students share topics that they are interested in. Then this list is shared with parents and groups are formed as matches are made between student and parent interests. The sessions last for three weeks, with each group meeting for three hours total. All the students look forward to each session, as it provides a time for them to grow and learn academically and socially. Group topics have included bonsai, sign language, ocean conservation, art/sewing, math games, STEM bags, yoga, and coding.

When asked to describe Wondrous Wednesday, the students were able to eloquently express their thoughts and feelings.

“Wondrous Wednesday is a time for laughter, a time for joy. A time for creativity, a time to toy.

All the students work today, making, creating the Montessori way.

The parents join in on all the fun too, teaching the skills of life to you.

On Tuesday, I fill with glee, because for tomorrow, you see,

We will laugh, love, and all of the above, but my favorite part to call,

Is the kindness share from one to all.”  – Piper Lee, 6th grade

“Wondrous Wednesday is when you have an hour to explore what you want, whether it’s strategy games, saving the planet, or something else. I like that it gives us the freedom to chose what we want, and we get to be creative.” -Manny Santiago, 6th grade

“I like Wondrous Wednesday because you make new friends, use teamwork, and you learn.” -Nicholas Burden, 4th grade

“Wondrous Wednesday is awesome because I get to learn something cool every Wednesday. The other cool thing is that you have so many groups to choose from like art/sewing, bonsai, and lots of others. Every Wondrous Wednesday is really, really fun.” -Cameron Chase, 5th grade

“Wondrous Wednesday is a time to learn about specific interests. The lessons are taught with objects and interactive activities. You may explore field of knowledge you never thought about before.” – Laurel Johnson, 6th grade

“My favorite part about Wondrous Wednesday is making a craft or presentation to take home. I was in the bonsai group, we learned to care for and cut small trees. After our first lesson, we got to make our own bonsai to take home. I know that the research group makes power points and anatomy/physiology create models of different parts of the body. The hardest part of Wondrous Wednesday is choosing a group.” – Olivia Rodgers, 6th grade

The opportunities for Wondrous Wednesday are endless. We are very excited to continue this unique space for exploration of interests and passions and we are excited to see where it will go in the future. Please reach out to your child’s teacher if you are interested in sharing your gifts and talents with our Upper Elementary students.

Why I Enrolled My Kids at IMO/IMHS After Homeschooling for 9 Years

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By Shannon Watson, Montessori Mom

Let me start by saying that I’m not one of those parents who thought that homeschooling was the only way for children to get a good education. And no, I don’t have any more patience than the next mom! But as parents, we all want what’s best for our children, right? When my then-third grade daughter begged me to homeschool her in 2009, she needed it. We considered all of the pros and cons together and decided to make the leap. After watching their sister hang out in pajamas while they went to school, her two brothers asked if they could opt in for Year Two. And, when the fourth sibling was old enough for school, we had been homeschooling long enough that public school was something she read about in books like Junie B. Jones — and that was it.

When we moved to Florida in early 2016, we started the two middle children with FLVS Flex: still homeschooling, but with some accountability to someone besides Mom. Last year, the youngest became eligible for the FLVS Flex Elementary program and completed her fifth grade coursework there.

Summer 2018: Pivot!

Don’t life’s big changes all seem to happen at once?

Kid #1, age 20: starts 2-year volunteer service commitment, ending in June 2020.

Kid #2, age 18 (the original homeschooler): departs for Germany to spend her senior year on a State Department scholarship. For the first time since 2009, she’s enrolled in a traditional school…in a language she barely knows. Gutsy!

At that point, the plans for Kids #3 and #4 were To Be Determined.

Kid #3 had taken a few high school classes through FLVS, but I kept getting the feeling that if he was going to be empowered to chase his dreams of working at NASA or SpaceX, that wasn’t going to happen at home with me. Why? There’s something to be said for positive peer pressure — that sense of “Hey, everyone else in the room is working on this assignment; I guess I’d better get it done too.”

Kid #4 had been asking to try school; she had spent one day at our local elementary school back in Illinois and was Not Impressed, and we weren’t thrilled with our zoned options here. I had heard that there were Montessori schools in the area, but I (mistakenly) thought that they were all private schools that we definitely couldn’t afford.

In mid-July, I was talking with a friend from church after she enthusiastically posted to Facebook that her kids had just been accepted into IMO and IMHS.

Wait. It’s public. As in, no cost? Yes.

It’s Montessori…which means that it’s a lot closer to the way we had approached homeschooling than a traditional public school? That too.

They even have a high school program?! A brand-new one, where the students get to pioneer the learning environment, including unique opportunities like Innovation Incubator and helping to design the future high school building.

My extrovert-in-a-house-of-introverts Kid #4 was ALL IN. Sign her up, buy her a lunch box, she’s ready to go!

I pitched the idea to Kid #3. To my shock (and delight), he said he thought it sounded like a good idea that he was willing to try. Within a day, he was in; a few nail-biting days later, we got the news that Kid #4 had also been offered a spot.

So, in a period of just over 3 weeks, I went from being a homeschooling mom of 4 to a Montessori mom of 2 (plus 2 semi-adults ☺).

The Aftermath

So, how did it go? Was it all butterflies and rainbows?

No, and definitely not at first.

But big changes rarely come easily. And, we all went into it knowing that it was going to be a HUGE shift going from homeschooling into a Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 3 or 3:30, mid-August through May routine. Even though we found out that our approach to homeschooling had actually been fairly in line with the principles of Montessori, the kids still had to adjust to the new environment:

  • 40+ students in a combined 4th through 6th grade classroom (with two lead teachers and an aide).
  • Car line
  • Actual class periods for high school
  • Standardized testing (though fortunately, IMO/IMHS doesn’t spend hours and days and weeks teaching to a test; so far, my kids have only taken the tests used for diagnostics and might “minimally participate” in the rest)

Here’s the most telling piece of evidence, though: neither one of them is asking to be homeschooled next year (so far!). I think that has a lot to do with amazing activities like Drama Club for Kid #4 and Strategic Gaming Club for Kid #3, one morning a month spent at the Oakland Nature Preserve for the Upper Elementary students, and a gorgeous new school building on a campus with plenty of nature that they actually get to enjoy at recess, lunch, and throughout the day.

I can’t imagine a better environment than IMO/IMHS for homeschooled students who are transitioning into a more traditional school setting in Central Florida.

10 Very Montessori Gifts You Can Give Your Children This Christmas

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By Cathy Tobin, Assistant Principal

Here are some ways that you can incorporate Montessori principles into your family’s celebration of the Christmas season. These are gifts that will have a lasting impact.

  1. The Gift of Work

Help grow your children’s fine motor skills, concentration and sense of being a contributing member of your family by engaging them in making holiday decorations for your home. String popcorn for the tree, make salt dough decorations, cut and glue paper chains, pour Christmas candles. While, in Montessori, we put more emphasis on the process than the product, there are so many great internet articles out there on eco-friendly Christmas crafts, that you will easily be able to transcend tackiness and hit hipster levels of cool with your homemade décor.

  1. The Gift of Environmental Awareness

Keep Mother Nature in mind when drawing up the Santa List. Avoid the urge to splurge on countless trinkets and tchotchkes that are quickly discarded by your children and end up sitting in a landfill for decades. Model environmental responsibility in your purchases by choosing toys made of natural materials when possible. Take the time to explain to your children the why this is important.

  1. The Gift of Creativity

Buy toys that encourage open ended explorative play. Some examples are wooden blocks, Lego sets, Magna tiles, puppets, kinetic sand, science sets, and art and craft sets. If choosing video games, ensure they are creatively geared rather than destructive or violent.

  1. The Gift of Cultural Awareness

Encourage your children’s sense of connection to people all over the world. Spend time with your children learning how Christmas is celebrated in other countries, as well as learning about the holidays people of other religions celebrate around this time of year. Head to the local library to borrow some books or DVDs on the topic.

  1. The Gift of Responsibility

Children should always participate in doing what needs to be done for the family and home. Give your children age appropriate responsibilities that contribute to the common good – preparing food, doing housework, serving guests, tidying up after gift exchanges. Christmas should be enjoyed by all the family, and your children can still have a magical experience while also being allowed to feel like their efforts helped make the season better for everyone involved.

  1. The Gift of Personal Boundaries

Christmas is a time when rarely seen relatives and friends descend demanding hugs and kisses from children with the vaguest memories of them. Allow your children to set physical boundaries and give your family members and friends a heads up in advance that this is a practice in your home. Family members may certainly ask if your children would like a hug, but they should also be prepared to hear, “Not right now, thank you”, if your child feels uncomfortable. Think about how often we parents expect our children to grin and bear unwanted physical interactions, and think about the message that sends them. In the same vein, if you have a child who is absolutely is horrified at the thought of sitting on Santa’s lap for a photo, have a good think about that too.

  1. The Gift of Good Manners

Grace and courtesy are important. While you are empowering your children to set personal boundaries, be sure and set an expectation of good manners with them too. If they deny a hug, teach them how to extend an arm for a handshake instead (and make it a nice firm one). Teach your children the importance of eye contact when speaking to anyone (this may be an inappropriate expectation of children on the Autism spectrum, though). When an adult asks your children how they are, teach them to answer and then ask the question back. Teach graciousness around receiving gifts. Have a conversation about the importance of the intent of a gift (kindness, generosity, love) well in advance of gifts being received. That way, even if the content of the gift is a dud, your child will be able to interact with well-intentioned, but gifting challenged, Aunt Sheila, in a way that doesn’t leave her distraught or disgruntled.

  1. The Gift of Self Reflection

Santa Claus is coming to town, and if you don’t get your act together it will be a lump of coal for you! Many parents look forward to the month of December as a chance to use Jolly Saint Nick, and his dreaded sidekick, the Elf of the Shelf, to manipulate their children’s behavior.  In Montessori, we aim to avoid extrinsic motivators (both the carrots and the sticks), preferring instead to encourage children to see the direct relationship between their good choices and the resultant good outcomes. Rather than spending the weeks in the run up to Christmas dangling the Santa threat over your children’s heads, how about making the Christmas season a time for reflection on good choices? Make it a nightly practice in the month of December to have a conversation with your children about the things they have done that day that they feel proud about. Remember, what you focus on grows.

  1. The Gift of Kindness

Make it a family tradition to spend at least a few hours every Christmas season, volunteering to benefit the less fortunate in your community. This is a gift that extends with great length and breadth into your children’s lives. Not only does it make them realize how much they have to be grateful for, it also teaches them the joy of doing good deeds. Have conversations about those feelings at the end of your time volunteering. Don’t say, “Good boy. Well done”, say, “You really helped. How does that make you feel?”. Connect your child with the great feeling of giving.

  1. The Gift of You

More than any material gift you can give your children this Christmas, the gift of spending time with you, when you are fully present, is the best gift possible. It is the gift that will endure, long after that Must Have toy is a distant memory. Put down your phone, get your children to put down theirs (if they’re at that age) and engage. Many of the activities mentioned above will help you to accomplish this – making crafts, prepping food, volunteering, having conversations about good choices together. This gift is a gift for you too, of course. In this very hectic time of year, it makes you stop, and it makes you appreciate. There’s a long term gain too, because the traditions you establish with your children, are likely to become, in time, the traditions they share with theirs.

I wish your family a very happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas.

-Cathy Tobin