MMS wins $50,000 in WV school vaccination contest





CHARLESTON, W.Va., Nov. 15, 2021 — Mountaineer Montessori School (MMS) had some special visitors—and a big surprise today—when West Virginia Governor Jim Justice delivered a check for $50,000 to Director Jennifer Carriger as part of a state-wide “I Got Vaxxed Competition.

MMS was one of four elementary school winners, and the only private elementary school, in this phase of the competition, which was created by the Governor to encourage eligible school-aged children, faculty, and staff to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Mountaineer Montessori is an independent, non-sectarian, non-profit school serving 178 students ages 2-14. Its main campus is located at 4801 Staunton Avenue, SE, in Kanawha City (former St. Agnes School). Founded in 1976, MMS is the state’s original and largest Montessori school.




Through the “I Got Vaxxed” competition, a total of 12 West Virginia public and private schools – four elementary schools, four middle schools, and four high schools – with the largest percentage of eligible vaccinated staff and students will each win $50,000 to use for activities or initiatives to will improve the student experience. 

MMS will use its award winnings to help fund technology upgrades at the school, including a large projector screen and speakers so that presentations from guest speakers can be viewed in the classroom. The funds will also be used to create and enhance outdoor learning, playing and eating areas around the new campus in Kanawha City, enabling students to spend more time outdoors during the school day and in the after school and summer programs.

A total of 77 public and private schools entered the competition, and all submitted vaccination data was verified by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to identify the winners. At least one winning school in each category is a private school. Schools were required to submit entries by Oct. 8.

The Governor was joined by his English bulldog, Babydog, at the event. Babydog was a hit with the students, and enjoyed homemade dog treats made by the seventh- and eighth-grade class.

The Governor was greeted at the announcement with a performance of “The West Virginia Hills” by Middle School student Ellie Hoblitzell on the violin and MMS teacher Alasha Al-Qudwah on the guitar. All MMS students gathered on the school lawn to sing “Country Roads” to the Governor and Babydog as they departed the campus.




“We are thrilled and honored to be a winner in this competition,” said MMS Director Jennifer Carriger. “It reflects the dedication and commitment of our students, teachers and parents to keeping our school and community safe over the past 20 months. We are very grateful to Governor Justice for encouraging schools to do their part to stop of the spread of COVID-19. With these winnings, we can enhance education inside our building and keep our children learning and playing outside for longer periods of the day and after school.”

As part of the Montessori peace curriculum, children learn to take care of themselves and each other, their classrooms and the community right from the start.  

“Our entire school family embraced the opportunity to put Montessori values into practice by wearing masks, following social distancing guidelines, participating in testing and getting vaccinated when eligible,” said Carriger. “This award is a testament to those values.”

“As an MMS parent, I am thankful for the leadership and support of Jennifer and our staff, our Board of Directors and the MMS COVID-19 Task Force, which helped us stay strong and stay together throughout the pandemic,” said MMS Board President Clifton Clark. “Working together, we have been able to minimize disruptions, stay true to Montessori learning, and promote health and safety for all.”





Since March 2020, MMS has undertaken a range of extensive measures to help keep students and teachers safe, including:

In addition, several MMS teachers, families and alumni promoted vaccination by participating in production of a community immunity PSA produced by the Center for Rural Health.

“This award is a powerful affirmation of our efforts to help protect the health of our community and incentive to remain diligent as we work to stay strong and stay together through the rest of the school year,” Carriger said.

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