About The Discovery Tree Academy®


We envision living in a prosperous, healthy and vibrant community that embraces education and the importance of early learning as the foundation for success of our families.

Our mission at The Discovery Tree Academy® is:

Encouraging the why in children.™


Our philosophy is based on cultivating the natural curiosity children have about the world around them. As educators we see this every day, from the infant who is sees a toy across the room and is inspired to crawl, to the two year old who is constantly asking “why?”, to the four year old who wants to assemble the train set “all by myself.” What sets The Discovery Tree Academy® apart is the strategic infusion of this philosophy of inquiry and discovery in the curriculum from infants to VPK.

Our classroom environments are characterized by love, laughter, harmony, patience, honesty, trust, and friendship. This creates a community where children know their curiosity is celebrated and encouraged. The teachers begin developing a language of inquiry and discovery in the infant classrooms. As the children grow through our program, the language of inquiry becomes second nature.

Academic Advisory Board

The Discovery Tree Academy® has an Academic Advisory Board who helps to implement our philosophy into what we do each and every day. The Academic Advisory Board is responsible for integrating our philosophy and mission into the curriculum that is taught from infants to VPK.

Jennifer Freeman, owner

Ms. Freeman has over 20 years in the field of education. She taught at the preschool and middle school levels and served as an assistant principal. Jennifer holds a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Social Science Education and History and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of South Florida.

Catherine Hardison, director

Ms. Hardison holds her Florida Directors Credential and her Child Development Associates degree from Lake City Community College. She has over 15 years of experience working in Early Child Care.

Jennifer Mergos, member

Ms. Mergos has 14 years as a classroom teacher from elementary education to the middle school level. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida in Elementary Education and is currently working on her Master’s in Educational Leadership.

Alyse Ridgeway, member

Ms. Ridgway has been teaching for 4 years in Manatee County, Floirda. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Education K-6 at the University of South Florida and received a minor in business. She is also certified in English Speakers of Other Languages and Exceptional Student Education.

Denise Merkel, member

Ms. Merkel has worked in early childhood education and care for more than 20 years. As a nanny and homeschool teacher for several families over the years, she brings a unique perspective to the Academic Advisory Board. She has had the opportunity to use and evaluate numerous strategies and curriculums for teaching at the early childhood level.

Our Locations



Our School Day Meet Our Team Transportation Nutrition
7629 Old Middleburg Road • Jacksonville, Florida 32222

San Pablo


Our School Day Meet Our Team Transportation Nutrition
3232 San Pablo Road • Jacksonville, Florida 32224

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