2020 Annual Appeal Ambassador: Max Gottlieb

Mountaineer Montessori empowers the potential in each child and creates an inspired future for our students, community and world.

Founded in 1976, Mountaineer Montessori is West Virginia’s original and largest Montessori school, offering a world-class educational experience to 142 students ages 3-14 right here in Charleston. “What the World Needs Now,” the 2020 MMS Annual Appeal, will provide critical funding to help us meet the growing demand for superior academic options in our community and sustain our 44-year tradition of excellence and innovation in education.

As part of our campaign, MMS students, families, teachers and alumni are sharing their Montessori stories to highlight what epic education means to them and the impact our school has made.


Give now or text mmsworld to 76278


What was your time  at MMS like?


Max Gottlieb, MMS alumnus

MMS fostered a sense of creative freedom and intellectual curiosity. When I was at school, I felt encouraged to pursue my interests and engage meaningfully in the things that interested me. My teachers always seemed to guide my interests, helping me to focus my inquisitiveness while developing a well-rounded set of skills and knowledge. Never was there a day where I felt bored or stifled. And that academic engagement took place in a welcoming environment, where I learned with and beside people who were different from me. Overall, MMS was the type of environment that you wish you could take with you throughout your life’s pursuits.    




What impact did your Montessori experience have on your subsequent education and career path? 

At MMS, I was encouraged to pursue wide-ranging academic interests and follow my intellectual curiosities. Allowed to engage freely in the study of varying topics, I learned how to draw connections and identify points of intersection. Time and again, I returned to the well of that connection-drawing that I developed through the Montessori experience. It was the academic freedom at MMS that permitted me to forge my own process of critical assessment. And at every stage of my academic and professional pursuits, I have continued to successfully implement that process. I am grateful for the opportunities to pave a path of academic independence afforded to me by MMS.

MMS nurtures the values and skills that the world needs now. Which is important to you?

Although MMS helped me become a responsible, empathetic, and creative member of my community, the critical thinking skills I honed at MMS have left a lasting impact on my academic and professional pursuits. Not limited by a predetermined boundary of intellectual development, MMS allowed me to critically engage with questions and topics that I may have otherwise not had the opportunity to explore. For instance, during my time in lower elementary, I developed interest in classic mechanics. Using the materials and support available at MMS, I pursued that interest years before I would have in a more regimented and standardized learning environment. Such opportunities were frequent and enabled me to think analytically about topics and subjects based on my own intrigue.


Any favorite “Montessori Moment” from your time at MMS?

In Upper Elementary, two of my friends and I had learned about early Greek philosophers and their schools of thought. We took an interest in the subject, and after studying more, we had the idea to write a short skit with my friends playing Socrates and Aristotle, respective, and me playing Plato. The skit played upon the philosophical differences between those three influential thinkers. I vividly recall writing the skit, donning our home-made togas to perform our piece. Such an exercise would never have been possible without the academic freedom of MMS and the supportive approach of the MMS teachers and staff. 


Education info/career/personal highlights:

After graduating manga cum laude from Georgetown University and obtaining my J.D., Order of the Coif, from Washington and Lee School of Law, I returned home to West Virginia. I clerked for Judge Robert C. Chambers, District Court Judge for the Southern District of West Virginia, and Judge Robert B. King of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. I now am an attorney in Charleston, representing all matter of clients in litigation and transactional matters.  


Give now or text mmsworld to 76278