Alumni share impact of MMS on education, career paths

One of the many highlights of our “Paint the Town” 40th anniversary celebration were tributes to our school and our wonderful arts educators by MMS alumni. Among those sharing memories and the impact of their Montessori experience on their later education and professional journeys were Carly Thaw, Robert Simmons, Deema Kahwash and Emily Beal.

Meet more MMS alumni here.


Carly Thaw

Barrie Kaufman and Carly Thaw

Carly is the daughter of Laura Bly Thaw and Rob Thaw and was a Mountaineer Montessori student for eight years. She was a National Merit Finalist and graduated from George Washington High School with highest honors in 2014. Carly is now a student at American University majoring in graphic design with a minor in theatrical design. She is a Presidential Scholarship recipient and has won many awards for her art. This summer Carly will attend the Rome Art Program as an American University Scholars and Artists Summer Fellow. She was awarded a research grant and will study coal mining history and culture in West Virginia.


Robert Simmons

Jennifer Carriger, Charly Hamilton and Robert Simmons


Robert attended Mountaineer Montessori for 10 years, from primary all the way through to middle school. He is the son of MMS faculty member Karen Kelly and Gordon Simmons. He attended George Washington High School and is now a graduate student at Marshall University, where he has earned numerous academic honors, including the Dean’s List, Phi Alpha Theta (honorary history society) and Golden Key Honor Society.


Deema Kahwash

Deema Kahwash, Nancy Johnston and Jennifer Carriger


Deema, a daughter of Dr. Zeina Haidar and Dr. Ziad Kahwash, graduated with highest honors from George Washington High School in May and is a National Merit Finalist. She will attend George Washington University this fall.


Emily Beal 

Emily Beal, right, with Marion Baer and Barrie Kaufman


Emily is a graduate of Capital High School and the University of Illinois, where she earned a B.S. in astronomy. She went on to earn a dual PhD in geoscience and astrobiology from Penn State. An environmental consultant, Emily is now the parent of an MMS student. “MMS gave me a wonderful foundation for my education and a love of learning. Throughout my life, I have talked to people from many states and countries and different backgrounds, and I cannot name one person who had a better elementary school based both on happy memories and good education,” she says.


Our former students are the best advertisements for the power of Montessori, and we were thrilled that they could be a part of this amazing celebration that kicks off our fifth decade of excellence and innovation in education. The best is yet to come for them and for MMS!