2021 Annual Appeal Ambassdors: Sara Beal

Mountaineer Montessori began its 45th year of excellence and innovation in education this fall.

While many things have changed over the years–including program expansions and a new campus–our mission remains the same: creating a better tomorrow through service to the child today.

Founded in 1976, Mountaineer Montessori is West Virginia’s original and largest Montessori school, offering a premier, child-centered educational experience to 178 students ages Toddler-Middle School right here in the heart of Appalachia.

“Creating the Future, One Child at a Time,” the 2021 MMS Annual Appeal, provides essential funding that enables us to lead, adapt and meet the growing demand for superior academic options in our community and inspire the next generation of innovative thinkers, problem solvers, community builders and visionary leaders.

Text mmsfuture to 76278 or visit the campaign platform to give now

As a part of the campaign, MMS students, families, teachers and alumni are sharing their Montessori stories and the impact they’ve had on their lives.

This is Sara Beal’s MMS story:


Sara Beal, director of publishing for Still Working/Roy Orbison Productions in Nashville, at a BMI Music Awards event with husband Jon Cavendish and colleague Jeff Allen, now at Viacom. 


I was lucky enough (thank you mom and dad!!) to attend MMS for first-sixth grades. Those years are a huge part of why I am who I am today. I remember actually looking forward to school, and having so much fun learning! I recently came across my botany book, a very detailed explanation of plants, and was reminded again of just how much I learned at MMS. I have specific memories of various lessons (bead chains, classified nomenclatures, the plastic box we used to create clouds, seeing first hand how plants give off water, the parts of speech – I still see red circle in my mind for verbs…) and it is overall a memory of a happy time. If I could go back to MMS again, I’m sure I would learn even more. 

Mary McKown was my teacher for those years, and she is such an important part of my life. I visited every time I could, and she was at my wedding! My husband finally got to meet the Mary I talk about all the time! 

There are so many incredible ways MMS has impacted all aspects of my life, reinforcing my love of learning, questioning the world around me, working well with other people, and always wanting to do my best are just a few. I started violin when I was three, and was already determined to be in a major orchestra, and that love was supported by Mary and MMS.

I honestly think I learned more in those six years than in the rest of junior high/high school, undergrad and grad school. I can remember in seventh grade consciously realizing all I had to do was memorize things I already knew for the tests. I keep telling my husband I could go back now and still learn! (I talk about Montessori all the time!)

Being able to attend MMS set me up for a successful professional and personal life. 

Sara Beal and family, from left, Jon Cavendish, Ellen Beal, Tom Beal, Ethan Spitz (MMS student), Sara, Arie Spitz, Emily Beal (MMS Middle School guide) and Owen Spitz (MMS student).


I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I earned my BA and master’s degree in viola performance. After graduation, I moved to Chicago to study with the assistant principal violist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I was right on track to achieve my dream! Then when I was 27, I survived a ruptured brain aneurysm which, unsurprisingly, changed the direction of my life. I moved to Nashville to be with my (now) husband, and I am currently the Director of Publishing for Still Working Music/Orbison Productions. We employ several of Nashville’s top songwriters (most of the country stars don’t write their own songs) and I handle the administrative side of the business, as well as the Roy Orbison estate. 

In my personal life – I am currently taking classes at Penn State via Zoom in meteorology to learn more about weather – an interest that began at MMS. I enjoy reading, and am learning about drag racing! I still play viola for fun and to record string tracks for various songs. 


We invite you to create the future with Sara  with your gift today…. text mmsfuture to 76278 or visit our campaign platform to give now.