2018 Annual Appeal Ambassador: Karen Kelly

At Mountaineer Montessori School, we’re spreading our wings!

Our elevated approach to education fosters learning without limits, freeing children to go as far and as high as they can.

We’re nurturing West Virginia’s future community builders, problem solvers, innovators, business leaders and peace makers…creating a brighter tomorrow…today!

Founded in 1976, Mountaineer Montessori is West Virginia’s original and largest Montessori school, offering a world-class educational experience to 140 students ages 3-14 right here in Charleston–the heart of Appalachia.

“Spreading Our Wings,” the 2018 MMS Annual Appeal, will provide critical funding to help us meet the growing demand for superior academic options in our community and sustain our 42-year tradition of excellence and innovation in education.

Give now.

As part of our “Spreading Our Wings” campaign, students, teachers, alumni and families are sharing their stories, telling what MMS means to them and how Montessori education lifts up children, our community and our world.



This is Karen Kelly’s story:


When did your MMS story begin?

In 1996, my son started at MMS in the Primary Program. I was involved in the school as a parent, reading to the children and caring for the school’s pets. In 1999, I joined MMS as an assistant in the Lower Elementary class. Although I loved my former career as a veterinary technician, MMS gives me the opportunity to hopefully make a difference in the life of a child by encouraging a passion for learning and an appreciation and ability for compassion and tolerance.


What is your role at MMS?

I am director of the MMS after-school Plus Program. I also teach  zoology, botany and knitting. I am an expert splinter-extractor, caretaker of the school pets, and love telling the students stories of my childhood.








What impact has MMS made on your family?

The main goal I had for enrolling my son at MMS was to encourage his love of learning (Robert went all the way through Middle School at MMS.) He recently graduated with a master’s degree in history and continues to explore his passion for that subject as an historian at the Craik-Patton House. MMS has been the catalyst for decades-long friendships with the families and staff that we have met.


What makes MMS special to you?

MMS really is a family. We care about each other in a way that I have  never experienced anywhere else that I have ever worked or attended school.


Do you have any favorite “Montessori moments?”

I have so many ‘Montessori’ moments, if not every day, at least once a week. Older children teaching younger ones how to play a game or going across the monkey bars on the playground. The look on a child’s face when we go to Kanawha State Forest and they catch a crawdad for the first time, or the pride and enthusiasm when an older child asks if they can read aloud at story time. But, one of my absolute favorite memories was when I brought orphaned kittens toschool for the children to care for. They were meticulous about measuring the formula, testing the temperature of the milk replacement, and feeding them. The tenderness, compassion and exquisite kindness that I saw took my breath away. (All the kittens were adopted by MMS families after they were weaned.)



What is your hope for our students?

I hope that my students develop a love of learning throughout their lives, compassion, responsibility, critical thinking, skills, patience, an appreciation of diversity, and a desire to make the world a better place for everyone.

Favorite Montessori quote?

“Within the child lies the fate of the future.”

Other thoughts:

I’ve always thought you can tell quite a bit about a person by their bookshelves. So, here are a few of my favorite children’s books: Yertle the Turtle and The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss, A Wrinkle in Time by M. L’Engle, The Hundred Dresses by E. Estes, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg, The Secret Garden by F.H. Burnett.





This year’s MMS Annual Appeal goal is $25,000. Your gift will help us:

At MMS, potential unfolds and possibilities take flight. With your support, we can continue to elevate education and our community in the year ahead. The sky’s the limit. 

Give now.