TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) — The Hillsborough County Public Schools District will start its first Montessori program during the 2022-23 school year at Essrig Elementary.

Families can apply for 3-year-old, 4-year-old and Kindergarten students for the upcoming school year starting May 18 at 5 p.m. Applications are accepted until May 27th.

Only 54 students will be enrolled in the Montessori Academy at Essrig during the first year of the program. More grade levels are expected to be added thereafter.

School leaders said it’s an opportunity for students to learn at their own level.

“We might have a five-year-old who is progressing at the same age as a seven-year-old or a three-year-old who is progressing beyond a four-year-old or a five-year-old. The point is to put them together so they can grow at their own pace and at their own speed,” said Kim Bays, Chief of Innovation at Hillsborough County Public Schools.

Montessori student selections will be based on a lottery system.