Blame Hurricane Irma, and after that a twist of fate that threatens to leave the Marco Island Montessori Academy in the lurch.
The hurricane destroyed the building housing the 12-year-old school, serving PK to Grade 3 students.
After that, founder and principal Lisa Nguyen and her board secured new premises at the Presbyterian Church, but after 15 months have been informed that the church needs the space for its own use.
The private Academy, offering “different approaches” to traditional education, will remain open at the church until the end of the school year.
But the crunch is right now, and Nguyen says if nothing materializes by Dec. 31, it will be the end of the road for the school.
“That would give us enough time to retro-fit (for the new school year),” said Nguyen, who has drawn blanks so far in a concerted effort to find premises or possibly a lot on which to build.
She has looked at other churches, office blocks and standalone buildings all over Marco, but says one fixed requirement is “green space” to provide a playground and outdoor area for the young students.
The move to the Presbyterian Church was the third since its establishment in 2006, and Nguyen says an ideal situation at this stage would be a long lease.
Islander Jim Timmerman has been involved with the school since day one.
He has two children who attended and graduated from the school, and is concerned about the possible closing.
At the same time, he said getting the word out to the community might just resonate with some people able to help.
“There’s always the benefit of another set of eyes,” said Timmerman, “despite the parameters of green space and the time crunch.
“Permitting is difficult at best, too, but there may be the ideal setting where a property has the zoning and certification for conducting those types of activities.”
Nguyen said should a lot come into the equation; her husband Jason is a builder, and could possibly hasten the process.
The Montessori philosophy is “a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood.
“It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child — physical, social, emotional, cognitive.”
In one of the reviews posted online, a parent sums up her opinion on the school.
“Island Montessori Academy may be a small package,” the parent writes, “but it’s the whole package. It is so wonderful to witness our daughter’s excitement as she prepares for and returns from this gem of a school.”
The school has a staff of five and just under 30 students.
Anyone able to help should call the school at 642-2020, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.