Every candidate is a winner with the MMS Art of Politics project!
The May 8 West Virginia primary is over and the yard signs have come down. Now rather than heading to the trash, the ubiquitous signs can take on a new life as garden art through a project at Mountaineer Montessori School (MMS), 308 20th Street.
The community is invited to place unwanted political signs along the front fence of the school, which is located in the South Ruffner/University of Charleston neighborhood from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday, now through May 31. Drop offs will be limited to two signs per person.
The discarded signs will be repurposed into works of art by area children enrolled in the school’s seven-week “Campessori” Summer Program in June-July.
“The ‘Art of Politics’ project will involve our students in caring for the environment, inspire conversations about civic engagement and offer a wonderful opportunity for creative expression,” says MMS Director Jennifer Carriger. “We look forward to the signs taking on a new life as beautiful art throughout our community this summer.”
MMS is West Virginia’s original and largest Montessori school, serving 132 students ages 3 to 8th grade. Founded in 1976, Mountaineer Montessori is a pioneer in bringing student-centered learning to the state, and is the only West Virginia school to be a full member of the American Montessori Society, the nation’s foremost Montessori organization.
We are happy to announce that MMS will offer TWO Upper Elementary classes next year, a development that is a long time in coming due to the growing and sustained interest in our programs. Next year’s classes will be led by current Lead Guide Jason Winesburg and Emily Capece.
Up until now, we have been reluctant to make the shift, because of the warm chemistry of our existing group. To keep this intact, classes will be split into separate classrooms for the crucial three-hour work period in the morning. Students will stay with their guide for the morning, with individual and small group lessons. In the afternoon, we will come together for free time and afternoon lessons, as well as specials classes. That way, no one misses out on seeing close friends and both teachers get to work directly with all students.
There will be many other wonderful enhancements to Upper Elementary, including a new sixth-year project with Montessori Model UN, a year-long project where students pick a country and travel to New York to present their country’s position on modern issues and events. With the experience they have gained from years of oral presentations and debates, they will put their work to use while interacting with students from around the world.
Our faculty will be working hard over upcoming months to build on the cherished Upper Elementary curriculum and traditions to enhance our program for today’s students.
This isn’t the only exciting development in the works. Stay tuned for announcements of other important updates. Forty two years and stronger than ever! We’re so glad you and your family are a part of this amazing movement that continues to raise the bar for education.
Plans are now in place for the 2018 MMS Positive Discipline (PD) parent workshops. This year’s classes will be held Saturday, April 14 and Saturday, April 21 in the Upper Elementary classrooms from 12 noon to 5:00 p.m.
Classes will be held by Susie Newhouse, an MMS educator with more than 20 years of experience in Montessori early childhood classrooms. Susie is a certified AMS Montessori Guide and certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator.
The cost for the workshops is $120 per family (1-2 participants). Space is limited. The fee includes:
Positive Discipline book
Positive Discipline workbook
Positive Discipline tool cards
Positive Discipline handouts folder
Light afternoon snack
Please download the workshop brochure for more information or to register:
For more information, please contact Susie at email@example.com.
Workshops will cover:
Nurturing the development of character and life skills in our children
Using kindness and firmness at the same time
Developing routine charts to minimize bedtime and morning hassles
Encouragement vs. praise
Focusing on solutions rather than punishment
Natural and logical consequences
Developing mutually respectful parenting tools that invite cooperation
Helping children feel a stronger sense of belonging, significance and capability
Childcare is available for MMS students for $15/day. Snack is included.
About Positive Discipline
Positive Discipline is a time-honored approach for helping children develop a sense of belonging and contribution, responsibility, respect for self and others and problem-solving skills. PD teaches important social and life skills in a manner that is deeply respectful and encouraging for both children and adults (including parents, teachers, childcare providers, youth workers, and others).
Recent research tells us that children are “hardwired” from birth to connect with others, and that children who feel a sense of connection to their community, family and school are less likely to misbehave. To be successful, contributing members of their community, children must learn necessary social and life skills. PD is based on the understanding that discipline must be taught and that discipline also teaches.
Parents of Montessori students can see its benefits every day in the happiness of their children and their excitement for school. But what does that mean for the long term and is there proof that Montessori really “works?”
These questions are being affirmatively answered in a growing body of peer-reviewed research confirming the advantages of Montessori education for children from preschool all the way through high school:
A longitudinal study of public Montessori schools in South Carolina found a higher percentage of students in Montessori programs met or exceeded state performance benchmarks in language arts, math, science, and social studies, and showed faster growth in language arts over the course of the study.
A three-year study of public Montessori schools in Hartford, Conn., found that Montessori children rated higher in academic achievement, social cognition, mastery orientation and school enjoyment than students in traditional classrooms. Even more important, the study found that Montessori closed the achievement gap between low income and more advantaged children.
A comparison of middle school students in traditional and Montessori programs found the Montessori students experienced higher levels of achievement, superior talent development and higher levels of interest and intrinsic motivation.
The Center for Montessori Education in the Public Sector compiles peer-reviewed research on Montessori. You can learn more here.
A comprehensive look at the research supporting Montessori education can be found in “Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius” by Angeline Stoll Lillard. Lillard presents the research behind eight insights that are foundations of Montessori education, describing how each of these insights is applied in the Montessori classroom. The book offers a clear understanding of what happens in a Montessori classroom and, more important, why it happens and why it works. Amid the clamor for evidence-based education, Lillard presents the studies that show how children learn best, makes clear why many traditional practices come up short, and describes an ingenious alternative that works. Copies of the book are available in the MMS office or on Amazon. This is a must-read for every parent!
Some of the world’s most innovative, successful and creative people got their start in Montessori schools. The founders of Amazon, Google and Wikipedia, musicians and performers ranging from YoYo Ma to Beyonce to Taylor Swift, and history makers such as Julie Child, Anne Frank and Jackie Kennedy Onassis are just a few of the Montessori notables who changed their worlds — and ours.
As an MMS student, your child is experiencing the same power educational model that unleashes potential and builds a foundation for a lifetime of service and success. We can’t wait to see where their learning will take them in the years to come!
Why are people who went to Montessori schools so absurdly successful?
by Nadini Jammi, published in Nickeled
If you were lucky when you were a kid, you went to a Montessori school.You learned by doing. You were encouraged to touch ask questions, to fail early and often. You were taught to do more than you were expected to. You were given a little guidance and encouragement and figure out the rest. And this is when you were four years old.
There are two really strong cases for learning this way. One is called Sergey Brin and the other is Larry Page.
Montessori believed that children learn best in a prepared environment, a place in which children can do things for themselves. The prepared environment makes learning materials and experiences available to children in an orderly format. Classrooms Montessori described are really what educators advocate when they talk about child-centered education and active learning. Freedom is the essential characteristic of the prepared environment. Since children within the environment are free to explore materials of their own choosing, they absorb what they find there. Maria Montessori was a master at creating environments for young children that enabled them to be independent, active, and learn.
I know we’re all adults here, but doesn’t this sound awesome?
I went to a Montessori for a few years, and when I finally went to a “normal” school, I was reading through two grade levels ahead and writing cursive. It was a little confusing to see my peers struggling to read one line at a time.
Why? Because at my Montessori, I was given an exercise to complete (usually sensory or tactile, like gift wrapping a box or stringing together a new word out of wooden letters) and left to my own devices. My pace, my way.
I’m not here to argue that you should send your kids to a Montessori. I’m saying that’s how you should be approaching learning now.
This isn’t a kids-only approach. It’s for big people too.
There is a strong case for throwing employees into a job sans training:
One of the places where real life learning takes place is in the workplace, “on the job.” The reason for this seems simple enough. Humans are natural learners. They learn from everything they do. When they watch television, they learn about the day’s events. When they take a trip, they learn about how to get where they are going and what it is like to be there. [What We Learn When We Learn By Doing]
This constant learning also takes place as one works. If you want an employee to learn his job, then, it stands to reason that the best way is to simply let him do his job.
You do your best work on the job when you’re set up with a challenge, freedom and a little basic guidance.
Passive learning is falling to the wayside because it’s not how we do acquire knowledge in real life.
Shouldn’t all training be active like that? Does it matter if we’re kids or adults?
They understand that documentation won’t help anyone get good at their products.
And yet, it’s still accepted practice to throw a wiki manual at the onboarding and training process. Or even more notoriously, offer no onboarding at all.
These successful companies we love do something very Montessori-like. They lay out concrete goals, give them the tools they need to learn at their own pace, and introduce new tasks as they become relevant to their users.
In honor of Montessori Education Week, MMS is sharing our story and highlighting the value that Montessori education brings to communities today and tomorrow.
The following is an op-ed by Board President Clifton Clark, an MMS alumnus and parent, on the impact of Montessori on his family and its benefit to West Virginia. Please watch for it in our state’s newspapers and business publications!
Opening the doors to the future
Clifton, Katie, Jay and Eliza Clark
Education is always front and center of the public conversation as policy makers, teachers and parents look for ways to elevate achievement and prepare tomorrow’s workforce. While there is disagreement on how to achieve these goals, there is widespread consensus that the current model is not meeting the needs of the 21st century.
Today’s students must prepare for jobs that may not yet exist, and which require critical thinking, collaboration and creativity. To be successful, they must be independent, curious lifetime learners, ready to adapt to change and create their own future.
Fortunately, a roadmap for aligning education with the needs of a changing society already exists: Montessori schools, where many of the education innovations currently under consideration have been successfully implemented for more than a century.
The Montessori method is named for Maria Montessori, the first female physician in Italy and a pioneer in child development. Montessori created a holistic system for teaching children from infancy through adulthood based upon her research that she described as “scientific pedagogy.”
From founding of the “Casa dei Bambini” in Rome in 1907, Montessori has stood the test of time. Today, there are an estimated 20,000 Montessori schools around the world. The United States is home to more than 4,500 Montessori schools, 450 of which are free to the public.
Wired to learn
Dr. Stephen Hughes, a past president of the American Academy of Pediatric Neuropsychology, calls Montessori the original “brain-based” educational model because it is based on scientific principles of human development.
Montessori understood that children are “wired to learn” and that the purpose of education was to unlock each child’s unique potential. The Montessori system is designed to meet the specific cognitive, social, emotional and physical needs of students at each stage of their development. When these needs are met, learning and excitement soar.
In Montessori schools, children learn in multi-age groupings with research-based, hands-on materials. Subjects are not studied in isolation, but in a cross-disciplinary approach freed from the restriction of the bell or restraints of rigid curriculum. Learning happens in the classroom, in the neighborhood and throughout the community. Students work at their own pace, with or without classmates. This format allows students to follow their own curiosity and take their learning as far as they desire.
The result is a child who is eager to learn, with the discipline and drive to develop his or her talents to the fullest.
Education for innovation
Some of America’s most innovative and successful companies, such as Amazon, Google and Wikipedia, were founded by former Montessori students. “I think it was part of that of… being self-motivated, questioning what’s going on in the world and doing things a little bit differently,” says Larry Page of Google.
A growing body of peer-reviewed research confirms the advantages of Montessori over traditional education. Most recently, a three-year study of public Montessori schools in Hartford, Conn., found thatMontessori children rated higher in academic achievement, social cognition, mastery orientation and school enjoyment than students in traditional classrooms. Perhaps even more important, the study found that Montessori reduced the achievement gap between low income and more advantaged children.
Building communities today–and tomorrow
Montessori schools are assets to their communities both for the future and the present. Their powerful educational method is preparing the next generation of business leaders, innovators, community builders and engaged citizens who can help West Virginia realize its opportunities and overcome challenges.
As a former Montessori student, I can attest to the lifetime benefit of Montessori.
I attended Mountaineer Montessori School in Charleston (MMS) as a child, where there was no limit to what I could explore and learn. I was never rebuffed when I asked another “why?” In fact, I was encouraged to ask as many questions about as many topics as I could imagine. Additionally, I was encouraged to work not only alone, but with others who had different strengths, weaknesses and interests. I believe that my Montessori experience influenced me to give back, work well with others, to question the status quo and to look for outside the box solutions to challenges. I apply these characteristics while volunteering in the community, working my career and investing in the businesses I own.
Not only am I the proud parent of two MMS students, but more importantly, an active board member. In my role, I desire to help others evaluate the benefits the Montessori method can offer our children and community.
In the near term, Montessori schools are a strong draw to families seeking communities with high quality education options. Just last week, a family flew across the country to tour Mountaineer Montessori before accepting a job in Charleston. This is a familiar scene at MMS, as current residents and relocating families increasingly desire education that will prepare their children for the future. In the past five years, enrollment has increased by more than 80 percent, a trend that is not expected to abate. Earlier this year, a mother of a newborn inquired about enrollment!
Founded in 1976, Mountaineer Montessori has served more than 1,000 Charleston children, with 130 students, ages three to eighth grade currently enrolled. In honor of Montessori Education Week, Feb. 25-March 3, we join with schools around the world in opening our doors as a resource for rethinking education to benefit all children in all schools and to strengthen our communities today – and tomorrow.
MMS is joining with schools around the world in celebrating the child-centered approach to education that has been transforming lives for more than a century during Montessori Education Week February 25-March 3.
We’ll be highlighting Montessori education and our school through media outreach and social media platforms and organizing special events and ongoing activities for our school community in the week ahead.
Please mark your calendars for the dates below:
“Ask Jennifer,” Thursday, March 1, 8:15-9:30 a.m., at the Middle School (804 Myrtle Road – Unity Church). In honor of Montessori Education Week, Director Jennifer Carriger will host a special coffee for parents. This is a wonderful opportunity to have your questions about Montessori education, what’s happening in our classrooms and/or school operations addressed.
“M” shirt day, Friday, March 2. Everyone is encouraged to show their Montessori spirit by wearing M gear to school.
“The thing I like best about Mountaineer Montessori is…” Students, parents, alumni and our community are invited to share what makes MMS special to them via social media posts (starting next week) and fun art sheets that will be distributed at school. You and your child can get started now by completing the attached form. Responses will be posted throughout our hallways! MMS Education Week Art
Please watch your email and social media for announcements of other activities that will take place in the week ahead. After 111 years of Montessori education around the world and 41 years in Charleston, we have a lot to celebrate!
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.
“Flight of Fancy,” our annual spring fundraiser, will be held Saturday, May 19, 7:00-10:00 p.m., at the Charleston Woman’s Club. This very special evening will benefit our financial aid, teacher appreciation and specialty programming funds.
Monte-SOAR with us!
FLIGHT OF FANCY is a major Mountaineer Montessori fundraiser, benefiting our Teacher Appreciation, specialty programming and financial aid funds. We invite our friends to join us as we:
Celebrate education that elevates
Applaud MMS programs and faculty
Enjoy a one-night-only performance by West Virginian’s best musicians with Ron Sowell and Friends
Bid on amazing bird houses created by MMS students
Enjoy live 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
A highlight of FLIGHT OF FANCY will be an exciting auction of amazing bird houses and other works of art created by individual students and MMS classes. Take home a one-of-a-kind masterpiece and support edu
cation that elevates!
Rise to the occasion!
MMS is pleased to offer a wide range of exclusive education investment opportunities to our FLIGHT OF FANCY partners. We invite you to make a splash with a unique themed sponsorship…. bluebird to sparrow! 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 MMS.
Contributions to MMS, a 501(c)(3) organization are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org. Your sponsorship dollars support this important community-building effort.
Mountaineer Montessori serves 130 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.
Our “Free to Fly” campaign 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.
The 2018-19 MMS school year calendar is being finalized and will be available in its entirety soon. We know many families plan vacations well in advance and want to make sure you have the basic information now.
Here are some of the 2018-2019 calendar highlights:
August 17: New Student Visits
August 20: First Day for Students – Primary Extended Day, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Middle School
August 21: First Day for Students – Returning Primary Morning Friends
August 22: First Day for Students – New Primary Morning Friends
September 3: School Closed/Labor Day
November 19-23: School Closed/Thanksgiving Break
December 20: Noon dismissal/Winter Concert
December 21-January 1: School Closed/New Year’s Break
January 21: School Closed/Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
One of the oldest buildings in South Hills has started a new chapter in its long and storied history.
The stone structure, located at 804 Myrtle at Bridge Road, has been home to several religious congregations since it was built in 1902. For the first 55 years, the building housed Elizabeth Memorial Methodist Church before the church relocated to Oakwood Road in 1977, and later welcomed a Presbyterian congregation. In 2007, it was purchased by Unity of Kanawha Valley (UKV).
The sanctuary, which features majestic stained-glass windows, was completed before Bridge Road was paved. The original building was constructed from stone quarried on Davis Creek and hauled over mud roads on horse drawn wagons. In 1955, the building was expanded with a community room addition.
UKV, which had moved from North Charleston to the South Hills location, undertook extensive repairs and updates to help restore the sanctuary to its original splendor. The building soon became home to not only religious services, but a wide variety of community events.
But while the building was a hub of activity on the weekends and evenings, it was generally quiet during weekdays. So when Mountaineer Montessori School began looking for locations to add an adolescent component to its existing preschool to sixth grade program, 804 Myrtle Road, it seemed like a natural fit: the two organizations shared a similar vision and commitment to service, the building offered a large lower level and kitchen and the location provided a perfect home base for community-based, experiential learning that is a hallmark of then Montessori Middle School model.
Mountaineer Montessori Middle School opens
Lead Guide Bridgett Steveson, Unity President Sharon Mullins, Designer Jill Watkins and MMS Director Jennifer Carriger
In August 2014, Mountaineer Montessori Middle School (MMMS), serving seventh- and eighth-grade students, officially opened its doors at the South Hills church and an inspired partnership was born.
Since then, students and teachers have taken full advantage of the location, establishing classrooms and individual and collaborative learning areas throughout the church’s lower level, using the kitchen for weekly cooking sessions and frequent fundraising events and enjoying the beautiful Sunrise neighborhood and access to the Carriage Trail and downtown Charleston.
“It has been a treat for the staff and visitors to hear the laughter of the students both on the grounds and in the building,” says UKV President Sharon Mullins.“ School and church personnel find many ways to cooperate in enriching student experiences,” she said.
As the MMMS program continued to expand and it evolved, new needs surfaced and the two organizations took their partnership to a new level by collaborating on facility improvements last summer. Both parties wanted to upgrade the carpet, ceiling and paint the walls of the activity room. Students also had ideas for enhancing their school, and developed own wish lists and design concepts for new learning areas.
Transforming a vision into reality
Bridgett Steveson and Sharon Mullins.
Jill Watkins, a professional designer, volunteered her professional skills to transform those ideas into a reality.
“I have friends whose children attend the school and I am familiar with the Montessori approach to teaching. I wanted to merge ideas generated by the students with a professional design approach and have the final design be in line with Montessori values. I do some community work occasionally, and this seemed like a good opportunity to help out,” said Watkins, who brought 24 years of experience to the project. She opened Watkins Design Works, a West Virginia-based commercial and residential interior design and green building consulting firm, in 2014. Her work features an emphasis on green design, sustainability and locally-sourced products.
The original space needed to be a bit brighter and updated so that the school could be more functional and lively, she noted. To achieve that objective, separate areas were created within the large activity room including a morning gathering space with the fireplace as focal point; a group project area with movable custom-made wood tables crafted from West Virginia trees by Mark Bolton; and the stage, which became more functional with book storage and bean bags. New ceiling tiles, lighting and paint brightened the room, and carpet tile selected by the church will be easy to maintain, she said.
A community effort
Combining funds and volunteer labor and guided by the professional design plan, the Unity congregation and school collaborated to create a beautiful, functional space that serves both the school and weekend and evening church activities.
The refreshed spaces have met with rave reviews from students, Unity members and the public.
“Many church members enter the building from the parking lot. As they open the door, they see the beautiful new carpeting, the handsomely crafted maple tables, the stage with library bookcases and the bright color photos of students in their activities throughout the community. What a lovely introduction to the facility!,” Mullins said.
“Design is important in all aspects of our lives, and can affect our outlook, productivity and general well-being. It is something we notice, even if on a subconscious level. Everyone deserves good design,” Watkins said.
Unity of Kanawha Valley offers a wonderful home base to prepare students to go out into their community and world.
The redesign of the Unity community room is a big hit with students, teachers and congregants alike.