Spreading Our Wings Gala to soar on May 18




At Mountaineer Montessori School, children are free to fly!

Our child-centered approach to education fosters learning without limits, offering students the time, space and encouragement to go as far and as high as they can.

Since our school’s founding in 1976, we’ve given wings to an estimated 1,000 children, freeing them to discover their passions, fulfill their unique potential and create stronger communities and a promising future.

“Spreading Our Wings,” our annual spring fundraiser, will be held Saturday, May 18, 7:00-10:00 p.m., at the Charleston Woman’s Club.  Buy tickets now


This very special evening will benefit our financial aid, teacher appreciation and specialty programming funds.

We invite our friends to join us as we:

  • Celebrate education that elevates
  • Applaud MMS programs and faculty
  • Bid on amazing class art projects and an array of exciting silent auction prizes Bid online now
  • Enjoy music, dancing, wine/beer, hors d’oeuvres…and more!
  • Mingle with old friends and new
  • Lift up the next generation of business and community leaders, innovators and creators, dreamers and doers

Great night for a great cause!

DJ Mark Davis loves helping people celebrate good times with music, bringing 25 years of musical performance and decades of collecting the best music of every genre to our annual spring event. Mark and Vinyl Village will get you — and keep you — on the dance floor all night long. Surprise appearances by well known musicians and performers are also planned!






Going, going, gone!


A highlight of SPREADING OUR WINGS will be an exciting auction of amazing class art projects and other works of art created by individual students as well as an extensive silent auction featuring an amazing array of vacation and entertainment certificates, fashion and beauty prizes, children’s packages..and more. Take home a one-of-a-kind masterpiece and support education that elevates!

Bid online now!

Text MMS Wings 52181

Auction donation information

Donation receipt













MMS is pleased to offer a wide range of exclusive education investment opportunities to our SPREADING OUR WINGS partners. We invite you to make a splash with a unique themed sponsorship…. bluebird to finch! Your partnership in this high-profile, unique event will showcase your commitment to West Virginia’s children to thousands throughout our region through a sustained marketing campaign and provide critical support to MMSContributions to MMS, a 501(c)(3) organization are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Complete sponsorship information is available on our online giving platform or here:

Spreading Our Wings Sponsorship Menu

Spreading Our Wings Sponsor RSVP Form


Spreading Our Wings Auction Letter


















Individual reservations start at $85 per person and include a tax-deductible contribution to MMS. Your reservation includes admission to the most uplifting party of the year, live music, beer/wine and heavy hors d’oeuvres, creative entertainment…. and affirms your support of our mission, faculty and students.  MMS will maintain a guest list and no individual tickets will be mailed.

Because it’s important for our entire school community to join in the celebration, a limited number of free and reduced price reservations will be available. For more information, please contact MMS Director Jennifer Carriger, jcarriger@mountaineermontessori.org.  Your sponsorship dollars support this important community-building effort.

Early bird prices end on April 30, 2019….make your online reservation or complete this form today: Spreading Our Wings RSVP Form



Education that elevates

Mountaineer Montessori serves 140 students ages 3-14 in Charleston, West Virginia — the heart of Appalachia.  Our mission is to elevate our students and region with forward-thinking, 21st century-aligned education that nurtures tomorrow’s problem solvers, creators, entrepreneurs and community builders…a new generation that will lead the way to a brighter tomorrow and a better world.

MMS is a community-based non-profit organization created to unlock the potential of West Virginia’s children through the scientifically-based, time-tested, child centered approach to education pioneered by Dr. Maria Montessori. We receive no government funding. Our operations are funded solely by tuition, foundation and business partnerships, and personal donations.

Community support helps keep our program accessible to the growing number of families seeking access to high-quality alternatives to one-size-fits-all schools. Enrollment has grown 83 percent over the past five years and we are currently unable to enroll all applicants due to space and financial constraints.

SPREADING OUR WINGS provides critical funding for financial aid, teacher training and classroom materials and programs, and help us continue to grow a world-class education option in our region.


Celebrating friends, fun and friendship with MMS!














































MMS 2021-22 Forward Together Handbook Supplement-Covid policy update

Back to school is always a time of great anticipation for students, teachers and parents. This year brings not only the excitement of a new year of learning, but a new facility, new programs and many new families to our school — all at a time when our health and safety environment continues to evolve.

 It’s within this dynamic of excitement and change that we present Forward Together, a 2021-22 supplement to our parent handbook. This document updates the policies and protocols that have been developed to support a safe, strong and successful school year for our community, and reflects evolving best practices as well our own experience administering new procedures over the past 16 months.

Forward Togetheris a living document. We will expand, revise and update this handbook to meet changing conditions and new directives, as well as to provide further guidance as required. Now, more than ever, your patience and partnership will be essential for a successful year.

 Founded in 1976, MMS has built a proud tradition of excellence and innovation in education, continually evolving and growing to elevate our programs and community. If the past is any indication, and with your support, we have every confidence that we will continue to raise the bar in the year ahead.

 Welcome back!







MMS Toddler Program starting this fall


“Education must begin at birth.” ~ Maria Montessori

After 44 years of serving students starting at age 3, MMS is thrilled to announce a new program starting this fall for younger siblings through the Montessori Toddler Curriculum–the only program of its kind in West Virginia.

A live information session on the program will be held Thursday, June 17, at 6:00 p.m. Interested parents may attend in person or online; registration is required.

MMS will begin accepting enrollment applications on a first-come, first-served basis starting on Friday, June 18, at noon. 

During the first three years of life, children develop more rapidly than at any other time. During this phase, the child absorbs large amounts of information from the environment through observation and experiences. These are the years that lay the foundation for later learning—and the stronger the foundation, the more the child will be able to build upon it.

Samantha Van Den Berghe-Lynch, who has been an integral part of our Primary 3-6 team for six years, has more information:

“I am enthused to share news of a new Toddler program at Mountaineer Montessori School. Having spent the last six years with a focus on the early childhood developmental plane, I am looking forward to venturing into new territory, embarking on the preceding plane of development and thus opening the door to serving our youngest friends. This new venture will provide a space for these young friends that will serve their budding developmental needs, while simultaneously exposing them to some of the early constructs of a Montessori environment that will serve them well when it comes time to transition into the early childhood environment.”

Follow this link for more information about Montessori Infant and Toddler environments: 



What ages will be served by the MMS Toddler Program?

Initially, we plan to “start small” with our pilot program serving children 2 years and up.  As the program grows, we may move toward a full toddler model by offering care for younger children.  


Where will the program be housed?

This program will be housed at the 20th Street location in what is currently the Primary I building.  We will be making adaptations to the space to ensure that it is tailored to the specific needs of our younger friends. In the near future we will share opportunities to come take a look at the space as we prepare it for your children! 

Note: Starting in August 2021, MMS Primary-Middle School classes will be located at our Staunton Avenue campus in Kanawha City (former St. Agnes School).


What will the hours be?

We will start with the hours of 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Monday-Friday.  There may be an option for half days (8:00 a.m. to noon).  All enrollment will be for the full week. 

We will follow the MMS school calendar. The Toddler program will be a “school-year” program, running this year from August 23, 2021-June 3, 2022. 

We will follow the school year calendar of Mountaineer Montessori School.


What does the Toddler classroom look like? How does it differ from daycare?

The Montessori Toddler program is not daycare — it is so much more.  The Toddler program will be focused on fostering your child’s budding quest for independence and exploration. 

Some of the key components of the environment will be: opportunities for self-care, and care of the environment, refinement of large motor skills and fine motor skills, opportunities for language development and social development. One of the primary portions of the child’s day will be the uninterrupted work cycle, during which the children are free to choose from lessons in the prepared environment while receiving gentle guidance from the directress as needed.  

We will also incorporate a short “group time” each day during which we will do songs, stories, and movement activities.  Additionally, we will have outside time, rest time, and individual snack time that the child can elect to have at any point during the day (with help as needed.)  Samantha also intends to support children in “toilet learning” as they show interest and readiness as an added piece of their other quest towards independence.  

The Mountaineer Montessori Toddler program will provide support and guidance for families through programs that may include parent education and parent/child group experiences.


How will the Toddler program prepare my child for the next step in his/her school experience?

The routines of everyday living are the foundation of Montessori Infant & Toddler programs. Activities promote independence, order, coordination, and concentration, as well as support social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. These learning activities include:

  • Self-care: washing, dressing, toileting, and eating, according to each child’s individual capacity
  • Care of the environment: cleaning, food preparation and food service; plant care and animal care
  • Large-motor activities (indoors and out): walking, climbing, running, jumping, balancing, climbing steps, and more
  • Fine-motor skills: reaching, grasping, picking up objects, transferring objects, using tools and utensils, doing art work
  • Language: naming objects, describing actions and intentions, discussing pictures, conversation, music, and singing
  • Social skills: developing manners through interactions with peers, teachers, and adult-led small group games


How can I learn more about Montessori Infant and Toddler programs?


We encourage you to visit the American Montessori Society website for more information about Montessori Infant and Toddler programs


Who will be teaching and caring for my toddler?

Samantha Van Den Berghe-Lynch is our lead Toddler teacher.  Samantha holds an American Montessori Society credential at the early childhood (2.5-6 year olds) level, and she will complete the AMS Infant/Toddler credential training this summer at the Virginia Center for Montessori Studies in Richmond, Virginia. Samantha has been a key member of our early childhood team at Mountaineer Montessori for six years. 

Samantha’s bio may be found here

Depending on the number of children enrolled, Samantha will be joined in the classroom by one or two assistants. Our teacher/student ratio will reflect AMS and WVDHHR standards.


What is the cost?


  • The tuition for the full day Toddler program (8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.) is $7,200 for the school year. 
  • The cost for the half day Toddler program (8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.) is $5,400 for the school year.
  • There are 36 weeks in the school year, and as with our other programs, we ask for a year’s commitment as part of the enrollment process. 
  • Flexible, individualized payment plans are available through FACTS Tuition Management.


How do I apply?

The online enrollment process for the Toddler program will open on Friday, June 18 at 12:00 noon. New families will need to create an account first, then complete the online application.  Applications will be considered on a first come-first served basis.  



Handwriting, cursive at MMS

Handwriting is an important part of early education. Unfortunately, many schools have abandoned explicit handwriting instruction due to time constraints and a belief that handwriting/work with pencil and paper is not as important as it once was in our society.

A number of scientific studies point to the importance of handwriting, including this one which concluded that handwriting (as opposed to typing or tracing) guides preliterate children toward developing reading skills. This article highlights five of the important reasons we should not allow direct instruction in this area to go by the wayside. Not only does learning handwriting early help children develop skills needed for reading, evidence suggests it makes children better writers, spellers, and leads them towards future success in academics. When children are able to write fluently with proper and consistent letter formation, they are free to complete big work without having to stop and think about how to write the letters.









In Montessori schools, handwriting is a critical component of children’s learning. As with so many other skills, our curriculum takes a spiraling approach, indirectly preparing children prior to direct instruction. Very young children develop the muscles necessary for a pincer grasp while they manipulate materials such as the knobbed cylinders, a Montessori favorite!  







There are two other important materials in the Primary classroom that facilitate handwriting readiness: the metal insets and the sandpaper letters. The metal insets are wooden trays that hold a series of stencil-like shapes. Removable shapes are blue with a pink background. Some shapes have straight-lined sides while others are curved. Children trace the shapes with a pencil, giving their hands a chance to practice creating a variety of lines. Increasingly challenging activities encourage children to create different patterns with colored pencils while staying inside the original traced lines. At first glance, this may appear to be a fun art activity but its main intention is to prepare children for their upcoming work in handwriting.

handwriting sandpaper letters cursive

Montessori sandpaper letters take the work a step further. Twenty-six wooden tiles are adorned with gritty, sand-textured letters of the alphabet. Children are given lessons on how to trace these letters with their fingers and say the sound. (As a side note, Montessori children are taught the sound of each letter in conjunction with its name, which makes much more sense for reading preparation.) 

Once children enter the elementary years in a Montessori school, they are required to write throughout the day. Typically, children work throughout the morning work period on a largely independent basis, unless they are receiving a direct, small-group lesson from the guide. During this independent work they record parts of their work in notebooks. Children also record their goals for the day in writing.

handwriting cursive

As part of our multi-year curriculum alignment work, we have identified end of level outcomes specific to handwriting. At MMS, Primary children are given direct instruction with manuscript (print) letters, starting with lowercase and moving into uppercase before the child transitions to Elementary. In Lower Elementary, the first-year students spend time fine-tuning the manuscript letter formations, and then move into cursive writing. By the time the children complete the third year of Lower Elementary, we expect that they will have mastered the formation of all cursive letters, lowercase and uppercase. When the children enter Upper Elementary, they spend some time fine-tuning cursive writing before learning keyboarding skills. When students leave Upper Elementary and transition to Middle School, we expect that they will be able to use manuscript writing, cursive writing, and keyboarding for written expression.


MMS June 2021 Newsletter

MMS June 2021 Newsletter

MMS Spring Gala to be held June 5-text mmsgala to 76278

MMS is thrilled to return to an in-person format for our annual Spring Gala. While our 2020 event was a smashing virtual success, nothing can replace celebrating together in person (safely, of course)!

What the World Needs Now, the 2021 event, will be held on Saturday, June 5, 7:00-9:00 p.m., on the outdoor terrace of Edgewood Country Club. This expansive outdoor space accommodates social distancing in beautiful surroundings; in case of inclement weather, the party will be moved to the facility’s spacious ballroom. The gala format has been streamlined to meet safety guidelines and best practices.

Reservations will be strictly limited, and adjustments may be necessary in response to changing circumstances. Please watch for announcements and deadlines so you don’t miss out.

Edgewood Country Club






















Sponsorships and ticket information:

Reservations are now open for sponsorships, which start at $250. The gala platform details sponsorship levels and benefits. Sponsorships committed by Thursday, April 29, will be acknowledged in the gala invitation mailing.


Gala information is also available in document format:

MMS Spring Gala 2021 Sponsorship Menu

MMS Spring Gala 2021 Sponsorship RSVP

MMS Spring Gala 2021 Auction Letter

MMS In-Kind Donation Form



Individual ticket sales will launch Friday, May 7. Reservations will be strictly limited.

This major school fundraiser generates 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.

Proceeds will fund continuing facilities enhancements and expansions, teacher appreciation and financial aid.


Text mmsgala to 76278 for more information.






We invite our friends to join us to:


  • Celebrate education that nurtures what the world needs now
  • Applaud MMS programs and faculty
  • Bid on amazing class art projects and an extensive array of exciting prizes (online bidding will be available for silent auction items!)
  • Enjoy entertainment by DJ Vinyl Village and Minor Swing (with Upper Elementary II Guide Alasha Al-Qudwah)
  • Enjoy delicious passed hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer and non-alcoholic options
  • Mingle with friends old and new
  • Lift up the next generation of community builders, innovators, entrepreneurial thinkers, problem solvers and creators
  • Featuring host Jim Strawn


Your support will help:

  • Fund ongoing facilities upgrades and expansions
  • Continue to grow our financial aid fund-nearly $50,000/year to Charleston families each year
  • Support teacher training and appreciation

At MMS, potential is empowered and the future is inspired. With your support, we can continue to elevate education and our community in the year ahead.

 Volunteers of all kinds and silent auction donation welcomed and needed. For more information, please contact Erica Hoffman.

Text mmsgala to 76278 for more information.



Play for the Playground: MMS Race for Education 2021


The excitement is building as students plan what they will do for the MMS Race for Education, an all-school virtual fundraiser to be held March 20-21.

They’re looking forward to running, biking, rollerblading, kayaking and paddle boarding to help raise funds for outdoor learning and play environments at our new Staunton Avenue campus.

How will YOU Play for the Playground? The possibilities are endless!

We counting on everyone to play their way to reach our $15,000 goal.

All you have to do is:

  • Sign up on funrun.com
  • Share with family and friends on social media, texts and email
  • Get a move on for 60 minutes over March 20-21
  • Wear your “M” shirt and post your photos on the Play for the Playground FB event page.
  • Want to support the new outdoor environment with a check? No problem. Just leave your donation with Beth in the main office and note “Race for Education” in the memo line.
  • Enjoy fun rewards! Every student who reaches the $150 individual goal will receive an M metal water bottle. Classes with 100% participation will enjoy an Ellen’s Ice Cream celebration!

Help make our field of dreams a reality!





Located at the former St. Agnes School, 4801 Staunton Avenue, SE, our new consolidated campus (starting 2021-22) features several acres of lush green space, athletic fields, outdoor classroom areas and playground equipment. Play for the Playground will help MMS undertake safety enhancements and equipment and aesthetic improvements to make it “Montessori-ready” for all students in the fall.


MMS Newsletter April 2021

MMS Newsletter April 2021

Campessori 2021 to be held June 21-July 30

Mountaineer Montessori’s signature summer program returns for 2021, with six weeks of awesome to be presented at our new consolidated campus at 4801 Staunton Avenue (former St. Agnes School). Campessori will run June 21-July 30.

Sessions, led by trained MMS faculty with both camp and classroom experience, include specialty and theme week events, with tracks for both primary- and elementary-age children.  

This year’s summer program has been planned to meet health and safety guidelines while remaining true to our school mission. Space will be limited. Registration will open March 15. For more information, contact Campessori Director Alasha Al-Qudwah: aal-qudwah@mountaineermontessori.org.

MMS Newsletter February 2021

The  February 2021 edition of the “M” news is out. Please be sure to read for important updates, upcoming events and other school announcements. 

Text mmsworld to 76278-MMS 2020 Annual Appeal


Text mmsworld to 76278


Peace. Kindness. Creativity. Critical thinking. Leadership. Responsibility. Community. 

These are just a few of the values that the world needs now–and which are at the heart of our mission at Mountaineer Montessori School. 

Founded in 1976, MMS is West Virginia’s original and largest Montessori school, offering a world-class, child-centered educational experience to 145 students ages 3-14 right here in the heart of Appalachia. 

“What the World Needs Now,” the 2020 Annual Appeal, provides essential funding to help us meet the growing demand for high quality academic options in our community and inspire the next generation of innovative thinkers, problem solvers, community builders and visionary leaders.

Your gift will help our school: 

  • Fund facilities upgrades and safety enhancements for all students
  • Benefit our teacher appreciation and training funds and support ongoing curriculum alignment through the AMS Pathways to Continuous School Improvement process.
  • Continue to increase community access through financial aid. 


The goal of this year’s campaign is $25,000. We plan for 100 percent school participation to reach this goal. Every gift of every size matters and makes a difference!


Thanks to your generous contributions to 2019 fundraising, MMS:

  • Expanded to a second facility at the former St. Agnes School to create enlarged, safe learning environments and support future growth.
  • Sponsored out of state AMS training for two teachers, provided professional development and support for remote learning, and worked with national consultants to guide our curriculum alignment initiatives.
  • Provided nearly $50,000 in tuition support and financial assistance to local families.

At MMS, potential is empowered and the future is inspired. With your support, we can continue to elevate education and our community by nurturing what the world needs now.


Please text mmsworld to 76278 or give here today!

Fundraising FAQ 2020


2020 Annual Appeal Ambassadors

We invite you to meet the 2020 Annual Appeal Ambassadors and learn what the epic MMS experience means to our students, families, alumni and staff.



“We get a lot of peace of mind knowing that we are providing the best education for our family that is not only teaching them information, but helping them be curious, creative and respectful… for us, kindness and leadership are particularly important. We want our children to be kind to others and the environment and to help through positive leadership.” 

Enybe Diaz and Brandon Merritt, with Lucia (Lower Elementary), Oliver (Primary) and Sammy 


See more from the Merritt family




“What makes MMS special is that everybody doesn’t have to learn the same thing at he same time. I get to learn at my own pace and work with physical materials instead of worksheets. Working with other students helps accomplish things faster and helps me to understand things better… What I like best is the kindness of the students, teachers and administrators.”

Christopher Hicks, Upper Elementary student  

See more from Christopher





“As an educator, I appreciate the high level of focus on professional development and am excited to be in a community where my learning and growth is also important… MMS offers opportunities for students to explore their musical and artistic interests in specialized classes as well as through integration in the general classroom. Creative expression is truly a part of the culture at MMS.

Emily Christian, Upper Elementary I Lead Guide

See more from Emily







“We appreciate the family atmosphere and love our children receive from every single person at Montessori. They are respected and treated like equals and taught to respect others the same… We have observed our children learn responsibility early with their work environment. their daily chores. and peers… As they grow, we see it move from the classroom to each community they are a part of.”

Melissa Wilbur and Richard, Rowan (Upper Elementary) and Macie (Lower Elementary) Wilbur

See more from the Wilburs 






Critical thinking

“At MMS, I was encouraged to pursue wide ranging academic interests and follow my intellectual curiosities. 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… the critical thinking skills I honed at MMS have left a lasting impact on my academic and professional pursuits. It was the academic freedom at MMS that permitted me to forge my own process of critical assessment.” 

Max Gottlieb, MMS alumnus, attorney; BA, Georgetown University, J.D. Washington and Lee School of Law. 

See more from Max Gottlieb



Please text mmsworld to 76278 or give here today!


The 2020 MMS Annual Appeal theme was inspired by this whimsical painting, “What a Wonderful World,” created by MMS Middle School students in partnership with Charly Hamilton.