MMS reaches major milestones as it begins fifth decade

Mountaineer Montessori School is celebrating several major milestones as it begins its fifth decade of excellence and innovation in education this fall.


Enrollment is at an all time high, with 134 students ages 3 through 14 currently registered. This represents a remarkable 83 percent increase over the past five years, reflecting a strong and growing demand for high quality education options in West Virginia.


MMS Director Jennifer Carriger has been awarded the American Montessori Society (AMS) Administrator Credential from the New York Center for Montessori Education. Carriger is the only educator in West Virginia to hold this level of certification. The two year credential program prepares educators to work with students, staff and families to create a school that is in accordance with the best practices of Montessori education.


Jennifer Carriger
MMS Director

Now in her tenth year at Mountaineer Montessori. Carriger received a B.A. in international studies, a B.S. in secondary education and an M.S. in special education from West Virginia University. She is the co-founder of the Appalachian Reading Center and in 2014 was named “Teacher of the Year” by the West Virginia Learning Disabilities Association.


This fall, MMS achieved full membership in AMS, the highest level of school membership in the world’s leading Montessori professional organization. Mountaineer Montessori is the only school in West Virginia to be granted this status. AMS is the foremost advocate for quality Montessori education, setting the professional standards that inform Montessori education as practiced in AMS-accredited schools and taught in AMS-affiliated teacher education programs.


MMS was founded in 1976 by Mary McKown, a visionary educator who touched the lives of generations of West Virginia children. What started as a preschool in a church basement is now the largest and longest-established Montessori school in the state, serving an estimated 1,000 students over the past 41 years. In 2014, MMS introduced the only Montessori adolescent program in the state. MMS has campuses in the University of Charleston and South Hills neighborhoods of Charleston.

MMS proud to be a full member AMS school


Mountaineer Montessori School is proud to be a full member of the American Montessori Society.

Full level membership requires that all classroom lead teachers hold Montessori credentials for the level(s) they are teaching. The credential must be issued by a teacher education program accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE).

Mountaineer Montessori is the only AMS full member school in West Virginia and the only to be led by a certified AMS Montessori Administrator.

The American Montessori Society (AMS) is the foremost advocate for quality Montessori education, setting the professional standards that inform Montessori education as practiced in AMS-accredited schools and taught in AMS-affiliated teacher education programs.
A not-for-profit organization based in New York City, with nearly 13,000 members worldwide, AMS is also a hub of all things Montessori: an information center for its members, the media, and the public; a voice in the public policy arena; and a mobilizing force for the global Montessori community, through support services, research, and professional development events.


Free to fly: MMS all school annual meeting to be held Sept. 18


Free to fly…education that elevates!


Mountaineer Montessori School will present “Free to Fly,” its 2017 Annual Meeting and Report to the Community, on Monday, September 18 starting at 6:00 p.m. at South Ruffner Presbyterian Church, 300 20th Street.

At the event, MMS faculty and board members will update attendees on the school’s programmatic and operational plans for the year ahead, share progress from the past 12 months, discuss the “MMS@50” strategic plan, introduce new and returning staff and elect new board members. The annual gathering is open to MMS families, alumni, education leaders and community friends.

This fall begins Mountaineer Montessori’s 41st year serving children in the Kanawha Valley. Currently, 132 students ages 3-14 are enrolled at campuses in Kanawha City (308 20th Street) and South Hills (804 Myrtle), representing a 9 percent increase from 2016-17 and an 83 percent jump over the past six years.

“Free to Fly” will celebrate Mountaineer Montessori’s time-tested, child-centered approach to education, which fosters learning without limits, and offers students the time, space and encouragement to go as far and as high as they can.

Founded in 1976, MMS is the longest established and largest Montessori school in West Virginia and offers the only Montessori adolescent program in the state. Reflecting growing community interest in high-quality education options, nearly every MMS class is at capacity this year and tours and enrollment for 2018-19 and beyond are underway. Financial aid is available.

For more information, please call:  304/342-7870.


Complimentary child care for MMS families is available upon reservation. To save a spot for your child, contact Karen Kelly,


Staff meal volunteer sign ups underway-cook up some appreciation for MMS teachers

To support all the hard work and dedication of our wonderful faculty, it is a tradition that parent volunteers provide meals for the monthly MMS staff meeting.

Sign ups are now open for this year’s staff meals. As a small community it is best when we all do a little, so feel free to sign up just yourself for even a single item or coordinate with a small group to create an entire meal. Each meal consists of beverage(s), salad, bread, two main dishes (one vegetarian), and a dessert.

The 2017-18 MMS staff meeting dates are:

  • October 5
  • November 2
  • January 4
  • February 1
  • March 1
  • April 12
  • May 10



To Sign up please follow the directions below. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. I look forward to working with you to support our dedicated teachers and staff.


Samantha Hicks

Lower Elementary Parent

Staff Meeting Meal Coordinator



We’re using to organize these meals.

Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps:

1) Click this link to see our SignUp on

2) Review the options listed and choose the spot(s) you like.

3) Sign up! It’s Easy – you will NOT need to register an account or keep a password on

Note: does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact me and I can sign you up manually.




M gear orders due on Sept. 1

Orders for our singular “M” t-shirts and accessories are due on Friday, September 1.

Based on a design of our school sign by Charly Hamilton and students, M gear gives you the chance to wear a work of art and celebrate our school in living color!

In response to your requests, our M gear line continues to expand and includes child and adult size shirts and hoodies, shirts and tanks for women, men’s tanks, tote bags, drawstring bags and magnetic car decals. Please see the attachment for order information.

M Gear Order Form 2017-18

For more information, please call the office at 304/342-7870.

Support MMS through Kroger, Amazon Smile and Box Tops programs

Put your child’s education in your basket every time you shop!

Your everyday grocery, gas and household shopping can make a big difference to your child’s school when you participate in community rewards programs through KrogerAmazon Smile and Box Tops for Education.

MMS receives 5 percent of all Kroger grocery and gas purchases through accounts linked to MMS. To link your card, go to:
to sign in or create an account, if you have not done so before. You will need your Kroger Plus Card number, or you can request a new one online if you do not have a Kroger Plus Card.

Select “Mountaineer Montessori School” as your beneficiary. Our school number is 82464. Once your Plus Card is linked to MMS, simply be sure to use it each time you shop at Kroger or fill up at a Kroger gasoline station. PLEASE REMEMBER TO RE-ENROLL EACH YEAR TO MAINTAIN YOUR MMS ACCOUNT.

Your Amazon purchases can also benefit MMS. Go to and select “Montessori, Etc.” as your designated charity–a portion of every purchase will be donated to MMS.

FInally, don’t forget to clip Box Tops coupons from your grocery purchases and bring them to the MMS office.

Thank you for taking the time to complete these steps! if you experience any difficulty, please call or stop by the school to request assistance from Beth or Jennifer.

MMS Eclipse Day update for parents


Dear MMS Parents,

I’ve been working with our staff to determine our plan for Monday’s eclipse. Here’s what we’ve decided:

  • School will operate on a regular schedule on Monday, including our 2:50 p.m. dismissal.
  • Primary and Plus children will stay in the classrooms as normal on Monday afternoon until dismissal.
  • We have purchased approved eclipse glasses (conforming to and meeting the Transmission Requirements of ISO 12312-2 Filters for Direct Observation of the Sun) for our Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Middle School students and staff.These classes will walk to a viewing area on Monday afternoon to watch a portion of the eclipse together. They will return in time for dismissal and will be instructed to refrain from looking at the sun during dismissal. Students will bring their eclipse glasses home. Students may bring baseball caps to wear on Monday if desired.
  • Elementary and Middle School parents are welcome to join us on Monday afternoon at 2:00 to walk to the viewing area.You must bring your own eye protection. Please let your child’s teacher know if you plan to attend. Please wait at the picnic tables in front of the elementary building until the class meets you there. You may reach the teachers by email:
  • Tara –;
  • Becca –;
  • Juli –;
  • Jason –;
  • Bridgett –
  • Parents are welcome to pick children up early on Monday or keep them home, especially if there are concerns that your child may not follow instructions regarding keeping eclipse glasses on to avoid eye damage. Please be sure to let Beth know if your child will not be attending school on Monday or if they will be checked out early.
  • If your child will be viewing the eclipse with us on Monday, please stress the importance of wearing the eclipse glasses. We will stress this in school as well.
  • If you do not feel your elementary or middle school child can safely participate in Monday’s eclipse viewing, please let me know and we will make alternate arrangements.


If you have any questions about Monday’s plans, please call or email me any time.


Best wishes,

Jennifer Carriger

MMS Director




Elementary and Middle School parents, please see the message below for more details regarding preparations for the eclipse viewing:


Dear Elementary and Middle School Parents and Friends,

The year was 1994: Forrest Gump rocked the Academy Awards for best picture, Justin Beiber was a newborn babe and West Virginia experienced its most recent 90 percent solar eclipse. 

On Monday, at around 2:30 p.m., the elementary classrooms will be viewing the upcoming eclipse with the aid of our special viewing glasses. An eclipse occurs when the sun, earth and moon are completely lined up. In the case of a solar eclipse, the moon blocks out the light of the sun. Here in West Virginia, the sun will appear as only a thin crescent, appearing somewhat like the crescent moon.

Prior to the viewing, the elementary and middle school teachers will be engaging students with lessons about the historical and astrological significance of the eclipse. In lower elementary, much emphasis is placed on the movements of the earth and the sun, explaining the massive scale of our universe and placing ourselves in the schema of the cosmos. In upper elementary, which places the students within the schema of human history, the eclipse will be placed in the context of its historical significance to ancient civilizations. Middle school students have been studying astronomy with guest instructor Emily Beal.


We will be attending carefully to the safety of the children while viewing the sun. Special eclipse glasses with solar filters block out enough UV radiation to protect the eyes and make viewing safe for the eyes. Children will be well-monitored when we enjoy this event together.

If you miss the event, don’t worry—you can join us for the next nearby eclipse in 2024! If you want to experience a 100 percent solar eclipse, you have only to wait for September 14, 2099!


The Elementary and Middle School Guides


MMS celebrates the eclipse

Mountaineer Montessori School is presenting a series of special education activities to celebrate the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse that will occur on Monday, August 21.

Elementary and middle school students will take part in an all-school eclipse viewing event on Monday afternoon at Triana Field.

Leading up to the event, all students in primary through eighth year will participate in astronomy projects and lessons led by MMS faculty and experts including Dr. Emily Beal, who holds a dual degree PhD in geosciences and astrobiology from Penn State University.

The timing of the eclipse dovetails perfectly with astronomy lessons which kick off elementary studies each fall. The Montessori elementary curriculum is under-girded by the “Five Great Lessons,” which tell a sweeping story of our universe, our planet and the people and animals who make Earth their home. Each year begins with the “First Great Lesson,” which tells the story of the universe.

“The Great Lessons are an important and unique part of the Montessori curriculum. These lessons are bold, exciting, and are designed to awaken a child’s imagination and curiosity. The child should be struck with the wonder of creation, thrilled with new ideas, and awed by the inventiveness and innovation that is part of the human spirit.” Montessori for Everyone.

MMS eclipse lessons even include art activities, such as these commemorative tee-shirts by lower elementary students!

Back to school information







The start of a new school is just around the corner.

Please take note of the important update sent to all parents by Director Jennifer Carriger. It is packed with critical information regarding school start dates and deadlines; RenWeb, our new online parent portal system; faculty and staff assignments; and special events.  Expanded information on all of these exciting developments will be shared in the days ahead….but for now, please take time to update your calendars and get ready to join us for our FIFTH decade of excellence and innovation in education!


Dear MMS Parents:

Thank you for being part of our school community!  We look forward to seeing you soon as Mountaineer Montessori School opens its doors for the 2017-2018 school year.   We are pleased to announce our 2017-2018 staff, who will provide a solid and supportive Montessori foundation for your children.

Our Primary program will continue in two classrooms, with students guided by Kathryn Rhoads and Samantha Van Den Berghe-Lynch. Kathryn will lead Primary I and will be assisted by Kristyn Anderson.  Samantha Van Den Berghe-Lynch will lead Primary II and will be assisted by Michelle Scarbrough.

Our Lower Elementary program will consist of two classrooms. Tara Fought and Nancy Johnston will continue to lead Lower Elementary I.  Becca Moore will return to guide Lower Elementary II, assisted by Alasha Al-Qudwah. Jason Winesburg and Juli Phillips are returning to lead Upper Elementary this year. Kristie Simmons will assist part-time in Upper Elementary and will also lead our morning plus program and provide a variety of office and classroom assistance throughout the school.

Our Middle School Program (at Unity of Kanawha Valley, 804 Myrtle Road) will be led by Bridgett Steveson.  Bridgett will be joined by Julie Margolis (math and PE) and Emily Capece (creative expression and writing workshop), as well as specialists Stan Bumgardner (West Virginia studies) and Colleen Anderson (writing workshop).

Karen Kelly returns to lead Montessori Plus this year.  Karen will be assisted by Maria León Kershner and Susie Newhouse.

Curriculum specialists will include Maria León Kershner, Spanish teacher, and Beth George, computer teacher.  Nancy Johnston will lead physical education classes and art classes and Darlene Spangler and Lindy Hoeft will provide Learning Support services.  Bernard DiGregorio will once again offer private-pay strings lessons to elementary-age students on Fridays. Please see Bernard’s letter for details.  Karen Morris will return as our Music Teacher and will be sending home information about her special enrichment class options.  We wish a fond farewell to Katie McFadden and Kate Laishley, who will not be returning to MMS this fall.  We thank each of them for their contributions to Mountaineer Montessori School and wish them all the best.

Be sure to attend our Ice Cream Social on Thursday, August 17 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. at Danner Meadow Park so that you can get acquainted and re-acquainted with all of our talented staff, MMS families, Board members and alumni.

Staff returns to the building on Wednesday, August 2.  If your child is new to MMS or moving up to a new classroom (primary to lower elementary and lower elementary to upper elementary), you will need to register for an orientation session for you and your child with his or her teacher.  This provides the opportunity to see the classroom, meet the teachers, and to have questions answered in a relaxed, informal manner.  Orientation sessions for Primary, Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary will be held on Friday, August 11.

All middle school students and parents (returning and new) should schedule an orientation session with Bridgett, Julie and Emily.  Middle school orientation sessions will take place on Thursday, August 10.

Class lists and instructions for registering for orientation sessions will be emailed by Thursday, August 4.

2017-2018 Student start dates will be as follows:


  • Monday, August 14– Primary Extended Day, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary and Middle School
  • Tuesday, August 15– Returning Primary Morning Friends
  • Wednesday, August 16– New Primary Morning Friends


Arrival for all students at the main campus begins at 7:50 a.m.  Morning Friends will be dismissed at 11:50 a.m.  Extended Day and Elementary students will be dismissed at 2:50 p.m.  Middle school arrival begins at 8:00 a.m. with dismissal at 3:10 p.m.


The Plus Program will be available from the first day of classes.  Please contact the office before the first day of school in order to reserve a space in the program for your child.         Montessori Plus also accommodates students on a drop-in basis as space allows.   Please call at least a day ahead to reserve a spot.


Mountaineer Montessori School is excited to announce that our new school management system, RenWeb, is ready for our families to use. ParentsWeb, the private and secure parents’ portal, gives you access to many features, including attendance, school announcements, and school directories and forms.


To create your ParentsWeb account:

  • From your laptop or desktop, go to:
  • Type the school’s District Code:   MM-WV
  • Click Create New ParentsWeb Account.
  • Type your email address and click Create Account.
  • An email will be sent which includes a link to create your ParentsWeb login. The link is active for 6 hours.
  • Select the Click to Create your ParentsWeb login link.
  • A web browser displays your Name and RenWeb Person ID.
  • Type a User Name, Password, and Confirm the password.
  • Click Save User Name and/or Password. A message displays at the top of the browser, “User Name/Password successfully updated.”
  • You may now log in to ParentsWeb using your new User Name and Password.


Once you have logged in, please access and complete/update the following forms through ParentsWeb.  All forms should be completed before August 14:

  • Family demographic form:  please check the form for completeness and accuracy
  • student medical form
  • custodial parent form(s)
  • transportation form
  • field trip form
  • consent for use of student images form
  • in lieu of transportation form

Parents Web also contains the following Resource Documents:

  • Classroom supplies lists
  • WV Department of Health and Human Resources immunization requirements. A complete and up-to-date immunization record must be signed by your physician and filed at school on or before August 14th.
  • Plus Program information and supplies list
  • Strings letter
  • Arrival/Dismissal Procedures
  • Summer Assignments (Upper Elementary and Middle School)


Visit our website at   It contains staff biographies, the school calendar, events calendar and other important information.  Our Facebook page and Twitter feed are updated regularly with school news and photos.  We will be communicating with the parent body primarily by e-mail, ParentsWeb and Constant Contact this year, so if you have not confirmed your current e-mail address, please contact Beth George at to do so.  If your e-mail address should change during the course of the school year, please let us know as soon as possible.   Please note that any information that is sent out via e-mail is important and may not be followed up with hard copies.  Our goal is to be as environmentally responsible as possible.

We are excited to be able to continue providing our families with a strong educational program at Mountaineer Montessori School.  Thank you to the MMS Board of Directors, families, and alumni, all of whom continue to provide enthusiastic and generous support.

Best wishes,

Jennifer Carriger


Middle school selected for global science program sponsored by NASA, NOAA and NSF

Mountaineer Montessori Middle School has been selected to join a worldwide community of students, teachers, scientists and citizens working together to better understand and sustain the Earth’s environment. Starting next fall, students will be a part of the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program, which is jointly sponsored by NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation (NSF), with support from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

GLOBE is an international science and education program that provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process, and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment.

Lead Guide Bridgett Steveson will participate in on-site GLOBE teacher training this summer to prepare for the program roll-out.

GLOBE provides grade level-appropriate, interdisciplinary activities and investigations about the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and soil/pedosphere, which have been developed by the scientific community and validated by teachers. GLOBE connects students, teachers, scientists, and citizens from different parts of the world to conduct real, hands-on science about their local environment and put in a global perspective.