West Virginia’s only Montessori middle school opens Aug. 18
Mountaineer Montessori Middle School: A 21st century program built on old-school values
A new chapter in West Virginia education history will unfold when the state’s only Montessori middle school welcomes its charter class of students tomorrow, Monday, Aug 18.
The Mountaineer Montessori Middle School, located at Unity of Kanawha Valley at Myrtle and Bridge Roads in Charleston’s South Hills neighborhood, is a new concept based on old-school values: high academic standards, responsibility and real-life work for students.
The new program, serving seventh and eighth graders, was developed in response to an enrollment jump of nearly 50 percent at Mountaineer Montessori School (MMS) and increasing requests from the community for alternatives to one-size-fits-all education. The Montessori adolescent program is designed to help students develop academically, socially and emotionally in an environment that encourages their unique and great potential.
The Mountaineer Montessori Middle School program will offer a program of high expectations based on an academically rigorous, project-based curriculum emphasizing STEM, arts, entrepreneurship, environmental stewardship and community service. A farm-to-table agricultural program will be implemented the first year. Students will devote their mornings to classroom studies and apply those lessons in their “occupations” — gardening, cooking, beekeeping, trail builds, school maintenance and running their own businesses – in the afternoon.
The program is based upon Dr. Maria Montessori’s vision for a “school of experience in the elements of social life,” emphasizing work that is meaningful, collaborative and adult-like. Her plan for work and study offers adolescents true integration of knowledge and experience as well as opportunities for genuine contribution to their community. The result is intellectual independence, an awareness of human connections and the strengthening of moral character.
West Virginia’s Only Montessori Middle School Opens in Charleston, WCHS-TV, Eye on Education, 8/21/14
Students at new Montessori Middle School Shape Curriculum, Charleston Daily Mail, 8/19/14
Montessori Middle School Opens in Charleston this week, WOWK-TV, 8/20/14
State’s Only Montessori Middle School Opens, West Virginia Executive, 8/18/14
A community open house and official ribbon cutting ceremonies are planned for September 23.
Uniquely qualified leadership team
The MMS Middle School faculty team will be led by Suzanne Sanders. Sanders, a graduate of Penn State University, has more than 15 years of experience in authentic Montessori classrooms in Costa Rica, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Charleston. She trained this summer with educators from around the world at the AMI Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies (ages 12-18) through the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association at Hershey Montessori School’s Huntsburg Farm Campus near Cleveland — the only Montessori adolescent teacher training of its kind offered in North America.
MMS Head of School Dana Gilliland, whose more than 25 years of Montessori experience includes opening a Montessori middle school program in Indonesia, is offering overall guidance for the new program. Gilliland and Sanders are the only two educators in West Virginia certified in 6-18 year Montessori education. Rachel Scarpelli, a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, will serve as the middle school classroom assistant. Scarpelli is in her second her at MMS.
The MMS 7th and 8th grade program was developed in partnership with two of the world’s leading Montessori adolescent education consultants: Laurie Ewert-Krocker, the founding head teacher of the Hershey Montessori School Farm School, widely considered the premier Montessori adolescent program in the country, and David Kahn, executive director of the North American Montessori Teachers Association (NAMTA). Their expert advice contributed to site selection and facilities, curriculum design and resource development.
About Mountaineer Montessori School
MMS is West Virginia’s largest, oldest and most established Montessori school, serving an estimated 1,000 students
since its founding in 1976 by education pioneer Mary McKown. MMS provides a rich and rigorous academic and arts curriculum to 120 students ages 3-14 at locations in Kanawha City (308 20th Street) and South Hills (804 Myrtle Road). All MMS faculty train at programs certified by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) or the American Montessori Society (AMS), the two most recognized Montessori teacher programs world wide.
MMS is an independent, non-sectarian 501(c)(3) organization governed by a board of directors elected from the community.
For more information
Enrollment and curriculum: MMS Head of School Dana Gilliland at 304/342-7870; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mountaineer Montessori launches middle school Charleston Daily Mail, 12/4/13
About the Montessori Adolescent Program
Maria Montessori understood that adolescence is a time of profound creative and social change, identity formation and self-confidence building. Dr. Montessori laid out a plan for what she called a “school of experience in the elements of social life,” emphasizing work that is meaningful, collaborative and adult-like. Her plan for work and study offer adolescents true integration of knowledge and experience as well as opportunities for genuine contribution to their community. The result is intellectual independence, an awareness of human connections and the strengthening of moral character.
The Montessori adolescent program creates an environment that meets the needs of students at this pivotal time in their life:
- They need to work.
- They need to be challenged.
- They need to be empowered.
- They need the earth (land).
- They need to build community.
- They need to develop a personal vision.
Ready, set, GROW! (published January 2014)
In response to our strong enrollment and demonstrated interest from our families, MMS will extend its unmatched educational program through the eighth grade in an environment that meets the unique need of adolescent students. “Planting the Seeds for the Future” lays the groundwork for expanding the school’s curriculum beginning in August 2014. Through this campaign, we will engage business, community and educational leaders in this exciting program to build a new generation of leaders, innovators and thoughtful citizens who will shape the future of West Virginia.
The campaign was launched December 3, 2013, as Laurie Ewert-Krocker, who advises schools around the world on adolescent education, met with MMS parents and faculty and toured potential sites for the new program. Laurie, the founding head teacher of the Hershey Farm School in Ohio, widely considered the premier Montessori adolescent program in the country, and David Kahn, executive director of the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association, comprise the world-class consulting team guiding Mountaineer Montessori’s middle school expansion activities, including site selection, curriculum design and resource development. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates on this exciting project that promises to be a model for the future of education in West Virginia.
Plant the Seeds for the Future with MMS
A resource campaign to support the middle school site, curriculum development and transition is underway. Your financial and/or real property contributions and participation on our fundraising team will help open a new era of excellence and innovation in education for adolescent students in West Virginia. For more information, contact Dana Gilliland, Head of School, at 304/342-7870; email@example.com.