CHARLESTON, W.Va. (June 9, 2021) — “Education must begin at birth.” ~ Maria Montessori

After 44 years of serving students starting at age 3, Mountaineer Montessori School (MMS) is expanding its programs to meet the need for high quality early education for younger children through the Montessori toddler curriculum–the only program of its kind in West Virginia. The program will begin August 2021.

A live information session on the program will be held Thursday, June 17, at 6:00 p.m. Interested parents may attend in person or online; registration is required. MMS will begin accepting applications on a  first-come, first-served basis starting on Friday, June 18, at noon. Visit for details.

The information session and the program will be housed at the MMS campus at 308 20th Street in Kanawha City. (Primary through middle school classes will be located at the former St. Agnes School, 4801 Staunton Avenue, starting in August.)

During the first three years of life, children develop more rapidly than at any other time. These are the years that lay the foundation for later learning—and the stronger the foundation, the more the child will be able to build upon it.

The Montessori toddler program is not traditional daycare — it is so much more. The toddler program, led by experienced Montessori educators, serves budding developmental needs of young children, including their desire for independence and exploration, while simultaneously exposing them to some of the early constructs of a Montessori environment that will support their transition to the early childhood (ages 3-6) environment.

Key components of the Montessori toddler program include: opportunities for self-care and care of the environment, refinement of large motor skills and fine motor skills, opportunities for language development; and social development. One of the primary portions of the child’s day will be the uninterrupted work cycle, during which the children are free to choose from lessons in the prepared environment while receiving gentle guidance from the directress as needed.  

The program will also incorporate a short “group time” each day during which children will participate in songs, stories, and movement activities.  Additionally, the day will include outside time, rest time, and an individual snack time that the child can elect to have at any point during the day (with help as needed.)  Children will also be supported in “toilet learning” as they show interest and readiness as an added piece of their other quest towards independence.  

The Mountaineer Montessori toddler program will provide support and guidance for families through programs that may include parent education and parent/child group experiences.

Samantha Van Den Berghe-Lynch will lead the new program.  A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace University, Samantha holds an American Montessori Society credential at the early childhood (2.5-6 year olds) level, and she will complete the AMS Infant/Toddler credential training this summer at the Virginia Center for Montessori Studies in Richmond, Va. Samantha has been a key member of our early childhood team at Mountaineer Montessori for six years. 

Founded in 1976, MMS is West Virginia’s original and largest Montessori school. It will serve an estimated 170 children ages 2-14 starting next fall at campuses in the University of Charleston neighborhood and at the former St. Agnes School. MMS offers an expansive academic and arts curriculum that meets and exceeds state standards. It is the only full member school of the American Montessori Society in the state. Financial aid is available. 

For more information, please see the MMS website: or call 304/342-7870.

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Media contact: JoEllen Zacks, (cell-text)