Our journey began in January 2017, when our school’s founder, Dr. Mercy Nyman decided to act on
the growing need for education that unlocks success for students of all abilities. The following seven
months tested the patience, resilience, and faith of the initial volunteer team that formed The Key to
Learning. In February 2017, Dr. Nyman took residence at Hope Academy, thanks to the generosity
and grace of Pastor Tony McCoy, with an initial three volunteers and twenty-two students under the
vision to create a place for students to feel secure, cared-for, and celebrated as they are. During the
following four months, The Key to Learning team sought funding, staff, a location, and formalization
as a school with the Department of Education and the State of Florida.
The Key to Learning received its formalization with the Department of Education in April 2017, its
articles of incorporation and approval as a non-profit organization (only one week after applying) in
May 2017. In June 2017, Dr. Nyman petitioned before the City Council of Minneola to approve a
location for the school to exist for one year. Initially the Council members denied the petition. Not five
minutes later, and after the powerful testimony of a former Minneola Mayor, the Council approved
Once the team received this approval, the roughly fifteen Key to Learning volunteers bought and
assembled furniture, hand-painted walls, and transformed the location of what was formerly a tile
shop into a welcoming and exciting learning environment. The team became masters of creativity-
tackling challenges like safety, curriculum design, and providing all the needs for these students in the
month and a half remaining before the school would open its doors. The Key to Learning opened the
doors to its first location in August 2017 with 92 students and 11 staff members.
In January 2018, the Key secured and transferred to its current, permanent location—a 13,000 sq ft
facility that was formerly a fire school. But even getting an approval from the City of Groveland was a
tough process as our team sat through many City Council meetings over numerous months. Even with
city council members in doubt and most likely not approving us to move forward, a kind gentlemen
came forward, whom none of us knew and spoke up for us and our vision and mission for the school.
It was a blessing, and the council did finally approve us.
In March 2018, the Key sought and received accreditation through the Florida League of Christian
Schools. The following school year, beginning in August 2018, the Key had 125 students and
established its first clinical setting for what was called the “Fab Five”- a group of students who
required an individualized learning program. The 2018-19 school year saw its first graduating senior
class. In the 2019-20 school year, the Key had 146 students. The school year finished with its second
graduating classes and saw classes transform to all virtual for the final three months of the school year
as the world navigated an unprecedented pandemic in the digital era. The 2020-21 school year had
165 students and saw another graduating senior class. The school year had three intensive cohorts,
two clinical setting groups, and one class that we call “Crew 4:7” which focuses on attaining life skills.
Each year, we continue to grow.
The journey of the Key to Learning is, above all, a testament to the faithfulness of God and His will
being done through willing servants. The staff at the Key has always done and will continue to do
heroic work and be champions for every student.
May 2017 — The Key to Learning with Dr. Nyman incorporated and receives non-profit status.
July 2017 — The Key signs lease for first location in Minneola
August 2017 — The Key opens for Inaugural school year in Minneola.
February 2018 — The Key signs lease for new location in Groveland
May 2018 — The Key concludes it’s Inaugural year and receives Accreditation from League of Christian Schools.
August 2018 — The Key begins second year in Groveland.
May 2019 — The Key graduates 16 students in Inaugural Graduation.