MMS Tint Sprint to benefit classrooms, financial aid program

JurneeMMS students will run, walk, skip, roll, crawl, jump, climb, somersault, cartwheel, hop and hula hoop their way around Triana Field to raise money for classroom materials and financial aid at our “Tint Sprint: 2016 MMS Race for Education,” to be held Friday, October 14.  The action will include a “color run” obstacle course and other fun to as part of our school’s year-long “Education in Living Color” celebration.  Sponsorship will be accepted up until race day…and after the event. To support Education in Living Color, please call the MMS office at 304/342-7870.












MMS celebrates “Education in Living Color” at annual meeting


jackson9Montessori is education in living color. Alive. Bright. Real.

In Montessori schools, education jumps off the page, giving children hands-on, real life learning – in the classroom, the outdoors and the community. Montessori students draw upon their own interests and passions to create their personal education trajectory and realize their unique potential. For 40 years, MMS has been as a vibrant and vital education resource for our entire community, serving an estimated 1,000 children since our founding in 1976.

mms_in-living-color-logo-full-versionIn the year ahead, MMS will celebrate the beginning of our fifth decade of “Education in Living Color” through education outreach and special events.  The excitement got underway at our All School Parent Annual Meeting on September 19, where board members and staff presented updates on the past school year, took a look at what’s ahead and shared ideas for building community.

We invite you to join in the celebration of this colorful tradition and our bright vision for the future.  Take a look at our 2015-16 Annual Report to learn more! MMS Annual Report 2015-16


MMS Cross Country team prepares for new season

It’s time to get ready for another season of fun and fitness with the MMS Cross Country team. Coach Jason Winesburg shares the following message to help get you moving!



Dear Potential Runners and Parents of Potential Runners,

cross countryMembership for the Cross Country Running Team is open to all current MMS students in sixth through eighth grades. As the MMS Lightning, we compete in local meets with other middle schools. However, participating in the competitive meets is not a necessary part of being a member of our team, and we have fun every week just being outside and pushing ourselves and our teammates to their capabilities at practice. I aim to make the team more of a social experience this year, as well, with parties and events to bring us closer as a group.

I would love to see everyone participate on our running team, if at all possible. Running is amazing for students both as a primary sport and as an auxiliary sport, building cardiovascular fitness and overall endurance. Running can easily become a life-long habit, effective for keeping a healthy body weight and maintaining muscle mass throughout adulthood and even into old age. The sport of running requires minimal equipment and easily conforms to a busy lifestyle, unlike many sports which fall away after high school or college without continual investment. It can be taken as far as a participant wants, and can easily be a social pursuit or a very individual activity.

The lessons of running are important ones for a middle school age student. Success in running is directly linked to the amount of effort put in, and, more importantly, the consistency of that effort. Children of this age often become locked into thinking they are “not good” at something—art, sports, math, writing—when the only real different between them and their “more talented” peers is a few months of consistent practice. Cross-country running is a sport that rewards self-honesty and self-awareness, and the best runners become masters at evaluating their own individual progress over time.


Cross Country 2Please be thinking about what the most convenient days for after-school practice would be for you/your child, and let me know if possible. We will practice at least two times a week at school, and research has suggested that it is ideal to practice 2-5 times a week to make continuous progress. I will choose the practice days for us that allow as many of our students to participate as possible. There will be a small initial fee to cover meet entry costs and uniforms, and students will need to have a form signed by their doctor.






Summer training

If you want to get started early—and of course you do—I have some suggestions for some summer training.

Don’t worry overmuch about special running shoes. Good, comfortable sneakers will be fine. Middle school runs are 3K (about 2 miles) and the relatively short distances are easy enough on the feet.

Get a timer to time your running intervals. This is the one I use and it works well, though it is large and clunky.

This is another popular one:

Drink water before and after running, the body runs poorly when dehydrated. Again, middle school runs are not long enough to really worry about diminished electrolytes through sweating; simple water is just fine.

If you haven’t run before, don’t give up after a few rough runs, as each week will be easier than the last. Most people get some muscle soreness (DOMS) on muscles they don’t use often, and this will pop up about 24 hours after the first few runs. This is a good sign and shows you did good work! Things like ibuprofen help with DOMS if it bothers you. Runners will sometimes experience a “side-stitch” as well, which is a sharper pain in the abdomen during running. The cause of this is not completely known, but it typically becomes less and less frequent with more training and can often be alleviated by a short rest.


Get ready to run

I have used the following simple training schedule to rebuild my running endurance several times in my life, and it always works well for me. The idea is to gradually increase your time running until you can manage the longer distances without stopping, and then work on building speed once you have the endurance down. We will work on speed at school with pre-workout drills.

Practices 1-3: Run 4 minutes / walk 6 minutes – repeat 5 times

Practices 4-6: Run 5 minutes / walk 6 minutes – repeat 5 times

Practices 7-9: Run 6 minutes / walk 6 minutes – repeat 5 times

Practices 10-11: Run 7 minutes / walk 4 minutes – repeat 5 times

Practices 12-13: Run 8 minutes / walk 3 minutes – repeat 5 times

Practices 14-15: Run 9 minutes / walk 2 minutes – repeat 5 times

Practices 16-17: Run 10 minutes / walk 1 minute – repeat 5 times

Practice 18: Run 15 minutes / walk 1 minute / run 30 minutes / walk 1 minute / run 15 minutes

Practice 19: Run 20 minutes / walk 1 minute / run 10 minutes / walk 1 minute / run 30 minutes

Practice 20 and on: Run 25 minutes / walk 5 minutes / run 20 minutes / walk 10 minutes


With the dedication to practice four times a week, just about any adult or child can build to running the middle school distances in about a month! This will work for parents, too!

Of course, I am neither a medical nor an athletic professional, so take all advice above with a grain of salt (free electrolytes!).  Still, it should get you ready for when school starts. There will be a meeting with parents about cross-country once school begins, and I’m looking forward to helping build a strong year for our team!


Jason Winesburg

Upper Elementary Guide and Cross-Country Running Coach


Mountaineer Montessori collecting WV flood relief donations

WV Flood Relief-MMSMountaineer Montessori School will collect accept financial contributions for West Virginians impacted by this week’s devastating floods at its make-and-take art booth from 10:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m. today, June 25, as part of the FestivALL Children’s Art Fair at the Kanawha County Library on Capitol Street. Funds collected will be forwarded to the West Virginia Chapter of the American Red Cross. Please open your hearts and wallets to the many throughout the Mountain State who are hurting today.











Meet up with Mountaineer Montessori this summer!


Mountaineer Montessori School is offering a series of “Montessori Meet-Ups” to connect families with a wide range of educational, entertaining and enriching summer activities. The events are open to MMS families, alumni, community friends, newcomers and others interested in learning and living the Montessori way.

  • Saturday, June 11, 11:00 a.m. — Meet-Up at the Greenbrier Pool (5103 Chesterfield Ave, Charleston, WV 25304).  Admission is $3.00 per person for non-members.  Concession stand available.  For more information, contact Alisa Abdalla at
  • Friday, June 17, 7:05 p.m. — Meet-Up at Appalachian Power Park for a WV Power Game and fireworks.  Families should plan to purchase individual tickets for Section 102.  For more information, please contact Elizabeth Scharman at
  • Tuesday, June 22, 5:30 p.m. reception/6:00 p.m screening. — Adult’s Night out at Taylor Books for the WV International Film Festival screening of the 2016 Oscar-nominated Short Films. For more information, contact Suzanne Sanders at
  • Saturday, June 25 — FestivAll Children’s Art Fair.  Please stop by the MMS booth at the Kanawha County Public Library for a child-friendly make-and-take art project.  For more information, contact Jennifer Carriger at
  • Saturday, June 25, 3:00-5:00 p.m. — FestivAll Art-for-All Children’s Art Show reception and awards ceremony at the Clay Center.  For more information, contact Jennifer Carriger at
  • Sunday, July 10, 1:30 p.m. — Meet-Up at the Kanawha State Forest Pool.  Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for children.
  • Saturday, July 30, 1:00 p.m. — Meet-Up for Cotton Hill excursion.  Details TBA.


It was a very good year–order your MMS yearbook!

cGreenbrier 086MMS is thrilled to announce the upcoming publication of “Hand in Hand,” the 2015-16 yearbook.

We are working with Tree Ring, a publisher that offers customized school publications at a much lower cost than traditional yearbook companies or online photo book services. Tree Ring publications are printed on recycled paper and the company, working with Trees for the Future, will plant a tree in our name for each book ordered.

“Hand in Hand” will be a high-quality, 88-page, hardback, full-color book that captures all of the excitement of the school year, featuring class photos and shots from all of our classrooms and special classes (art, music, etc.), after school activities, field trips and many special events presented over the past nine months.

In addition, each order includes the opportunity to customize two pages with individual student art and photos from the school year. Additional customized pages may be purchased for an additional cost. What a great way to capture your child’s special memories and accomplishments!

Cost: $40.00 each


To order and customize pages:

Please go to Tree Ring to get started.

The MMS pass code is 101463315626468

Don’t miss this opportunity to capture the memories of a special year for MMS and your child. Order today!

For more information:

Salon: On-Demand Yearbooks Save Schools and Parents Big Money: Tree Ring

How to Purchase MMSYearbook

How to Customize Pages in Your Yearbook









Reveal an evening of creative fun at MASQUERADE


    Saturday, April 9, 2016

    7:00 to 10:00 p.m.

    University of Charleston

Reveal a night of creative fun

ELiza CFor 40 years, Mountaineer Montessori School has nurtured the next generation of West Virginia leaders, offering a child-centered, world class education option to children right here in Charleston. MMS currently serves 125 children ages 3-14, and is the largest, oldest and most recognized Montessori school in the state. Corporate, foundation and philanthropic investment in our mission enables us meet the growing demand for quality alternatives to one-size-fits all education.




An evening of elegance and intrigue

The Carpenter Ants, West Virginia's premier R&B band, will rock the house at Masquerade.

The Carpenter Ants, West Virginia’s premier R&B band will rock the house at Masquerade.

MASQUERADE, to be held Saturday, April 9, 2016, 7:00-10:00 p.m. at the University of Charleston, is a major fundraiser for our school. Proceeds will benefit MMS financial aid, teacher training and growth opportunities.

An evening of intrigue and elegance, MASQUERADE invites supporters to:

  • Rock out to The Carpenter Ants and Steve Himes.
  • Reveal their creative side through artistic fun.
  • Revel with live music, wine and dessert tastings, live and silent auctions…and more!
  • Reveal the promise of education for the next generation of business and community leaders, innovators and creators, dreamers and doers…



Ticket information

Steve Himes will open Masquerade with his signature jazz/blues guitar sounds.

Steve Himes will open Masquerade with his signature jazz/blues guitar sounds.


Individual tickets start at $60.00 per person. You can purchase them online at Event Brite.

Each regular reservation includes admission to the party, light hors d’ouevres, six wine/dessert tastings, and one additional ticket for beer or wine. You may purchase additional drink tickets. Coffee and soda are included. Each guest will receive a gift. Sponsors enjoy additional perks depending upon their level of support.

For more information, please contact Katie McFadden:; 202/701-7400 (cell/text).









C 3-24-16 116The suggested attire for MASQUERADE is cocktail/creative. Masks are encouraged, but not required. Students have been making masks for their parents….please feel free to wear a student creation or purchase one of your own. Costumes are NOT required.









Creative fun

Students are helping their parents get ready for Maquerade by creating masks for them.

Students are helping their parents get ready for Masquerade by creating masks for them.

Let your creative side run free at MASQUERADE, which will feature funky photo-ops, mask making and other artistic activities. Students are creating amazing class arts projects that will highlight the silent auction. They’re also helping their parents dress for the occasion by creating colorful masks to bring to the event.







C 3-24-16 017CCharly Hamilton chairs









c Mobile made from vintage silver by MMS primary studentsC Names of the artistsC Tile quilt by 3-4 year old students














Sponsors (as of March 31, 2016)


Advantage Technology

Benjamin Bailey and Brian Glasser

BrickStreet Insurance


Columbia Pipeline Group

Randall J. Hill, M.D. & Aaron R. Parry, M.D.


Aric Margolis Architecture

Dawn Bolyard

Diana Johnson

McKinley Carter Wealth Services



Sponsorship invitation

High profile fun at the 2014 MMS "Prom Night" fundraiser.

High profile fun at the 2014 MMS “Prom Night” fundraiser.

MMS is pleased to offer a wide range of exclusive education investment opportunities to our community partners participating in MASQUERADE. Your partnership in this high-profile, distinctive initiative will showcase your commitment to West Virginia’s children before thousands throughout the Kanawha Valley and provide critical support to MMS.  Contributions to MMS, a 501(c)(3) organization are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. 

We invite you to review our Education Investment Opportunities: MMS 2016 Masquerade Sponsorship Packet

For more information about sponsorships, please contact JoEllen Zacks at or call 312/622-3008 (cell/text).



Silent auction contributions

2013 MMS silent auction.

2014 MMS silent auction.

The MASQUERADE silent auction will showcase an incredible array of dining and entertainment packages, fashion and beauty items, jewelry, sports memorabilia, art and home accents…and more.  Bring your checkbook and pick up the perfect gift for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduation, wedding or shower.








Art C
















Fun, friendship and fundraising with MMS: Scenes from 2013-15




10409733_778872718814089_3298158111963270874_nMasquerade Ad Jpeg

Children smile a lot when they run: UC-MMS students train for race


UC-MMSUniversity of Charleston freshman are partnering with local elementary students to build a healthy future for the community as part of the UC Welch Colleague Half Marathon/5K to be held Saturday, March 19.

Nineteen UC First Year Experience Program participants have been training after school four days a week for the past two months with more than 70 Mountaineer Montessori School elementary students to get them ready for the 5K portion of the event.


Read the Charleston Gazette-Daily Mail article: UC-Mountaineer Montessori off to a running start

UC requires each class to plan and execute a service learning project within the freshman year.  Professor Hallie Dunlap, assistant professor of social sciences, has led her section of freshmen as they work with young athletes to build fundamental jogging and running skills.  The young MMS runners and their UC mentors will sport a custom UC/MMS combined t-shirt designed specifically to represent the program’s efforts.

Race for Education 2015 101After school training has been supplemented by twice-weekly running and jogging sessions as part of the MMS Physical Education program.

The goal of this project collaboration is to encourage children to be active and live a healthy lifestyle from an early age. Varun Shah, Peer Educator for the University 102 section, says the group’s goal “is to bring awareness of a growing national problem, obesity.”

“We chose to do a Couch to 5K-type event because it would be a good stepping stone for living a healthy life.  We chose to work with kids because they are the most impressionable group, and their habits would carry on work towards a healthier future.”

MMS, located at 308 20th Street in Kanawha City, has enjoyed a long collaboration with UC, its landlord and education partner.

C MMS UC Running Program 035

The MMS students weren’t the only ones who are benefiting from this latest collaboration, says Chillag, sharing her observations:

  • UC students didn’t imagine that they would grow to look forward to training sessions as much as they did – they began to understand that the MMS students counted on them and looked forward to seeing them and talk to them at scheduled times each week.
  • UC students realized quickly that young children smile a lot when they run.  We have speculated a lot about when we stop smiling and running and why that happens.
  • The time together became more than just preparation about running the 5K, but about our time together and learning about one another.
  • A lot of the MMS students were impressed that a number of UC student athletes were their trainers.
  • UC students quickly noted that MMS students would not be deterred from running in inclement weather.  At first, they emailed me, most certain that MMS trainings would be cancelled due to snow and rain only to realize that on those days, we had some of our biggest turn out in our after school training sessions.  MMS and UC trainers trained through cold, rain, ice, and snow to now, finally, be training in the sunshine.
  • I will say too that, as their professor, that this experience allowed me to get to know my students in a different way.  It expanded the opportunity for me to experience the students – some of my students who are the most quiet inside the classroom are the most enthusiastic and boisterous in the training sessions.  I found it easier as well to get some students to trainings than class.
  • Lastly, it is well understood that keeping kids active and at a healthy weight (and never gaining unnecessary weight) is the best recipe for life long health.  Walking and jogging and running is an easy thing to do almost anywhere and it costs very little.  We hope to establish habits with MMS children for lifelong health. 


CMMS UC Running Program 013c MMS UC Running Program 062C MMS UC Running Program 011

















The University of Charleston will host the second annual Welch Colleague 5K and Half Marathon Races on Saturday, March 19, 2016.

The races will start at the University’s MacCorkle Avenue location, with the Half-Marathon beginning at 8 am and the 5k following at 8:15 am.

The Welch Colleague program is designed to amplify the leadership abilities of UC students.  Senior Colleagues within the capstone level of the program carry out a community engagement project each year to exemplify their acquired leadership skills.

This years’ race was designed to be the only spring half marathon held in the Charleston/Huntington area, and features many unique components, all developed by students.

Highlights include:

Certification of the course by the USATF

Local companies employed for the manufacturing of our award medals

Involvement with local elementary school students to get students to participate in the race to promote healthy lifestyle choices.

The race medals were designed by local master potter, Julie Wingard of Fayettville, WV.  The medals are glazed clay cutouts of WV, with a UC Half Marathon logo pressed in the center.  Additionally, Hallie Dunlap, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Charleston, and her University 102 students are working in collaboration with Mountaineer Montessori School to coach elementary students in preparation for the 5K event.  UC and MMS students will continue to train together, four days each week, up until the date of the race.

Additional information can be found at!shop/cz1e.

MMS wins state chess championship

Chess Champsc 017Congratulations to Eli Painter and Sam Lopinsky of the MMS Lower Elementary Chess Team, who brought home the state championship in the K-3 Division. We are very proud of our chess program, which year after year, brings home individual and team championships to MMS.  Thank you to Coach Jason Winesburg and congratulations to all of our hard working chess players!












From the Charleston Gazette-Daily Mail, 3-8-16

Students test chess skills in tournament

CHRIS DORST | Gazette-Mail photos
Middle school and high school students set up their chess boards and timers on Saturday before starting the first round of the West Virginia Scholastic Chess Championship. Nearly 100 students from elementary, middle and high schools across the state competed in the tournament at West Virginia State University. Winners go on to compete in national tournaments later in the year.


The game of chess can get intense as it pits players against one another in a battle of the mind. That’s why a skilled player must always be aware, plotting his or her next move and the moves of the opponent all while taking score and keeping track of time.

For 90 students on Saturday, their skills were tested during the West Virginia Scholastic Chess Championship, an all-day tournament that determines which three of the state’s best chess players will go on to national competitions later this year.

“Chess is all about thinking and forming strategies,” said Craig Timmons, one of the tournament’s coordinators.

That’s also what Clare Higgins told a group of Horace Mann Middle School students huddled around her before they started their games. Clare, who has been playing chess for eight years and competing in the annual championship since second grade, was one of the most experienced players in Saturday’s tournament, which was at West Virginia State University.

In a pep talk that sounded more like a battle cry, the Capital High sophomore said winning requires paying attention. It also takes calculation.

“This isn’t the place to try out new plans,” she said, looking from player to player. “Stick to your game. You know your game.”

Chess requires quick thinking. Timmons said players in Saturday’s tournament, many of whom also participate in regional spelling, math, geography and other scholastic competitions, are adept competitors already familiar with the rigors of the game.

“They’re all very academic, smart kids,” he said.

Many, like Clare, have been competing for years. She and her fellow Capital High team members have been playing in the championship since they attended Piedmont Elementary. They also played as a team at Horace Mann. They’ve gone on to win several school championships, Clare said.

Robert Greer, chief tournament director, said chess has grown in popularity in recent years as kids come back and new ones enter the competition.

“It’s being recognized as an outstanding supplement for academics,” Greer said when asked why the game has seen a spike in participation. “Here, they learn team skills, but it also requires them to think for themselves.”

Another reason chess may be growing in popularity among academically inclined students is that it’s an inclusive game.

“It’s good for all students,” Greer said, adding that regardless of their age, gender or ability “they compete on the same playing field.”

It’s as if players are drawn to the competition, Timmons said.

“Kids come back year after year,” he said.

Timmons said he thinks many players are drawn to chess because it is a game of strategy. For others in Saturday’s tournament, Timmons said it provides a team environment for players who may not want to play baseball or football.

While chess is a game of wits, players still need to be in good shape, Greer said. Because tournaments can last hours, experienced players know to eat healthy and get plenty of rest so they stay alert on game day.

Saturday marked the tournament’s 49th year. Student teams from all over the state participated.

The tournament started as a high school only competition in the 1960s, but middle schoolers were invited years later. Soon after that, the tournament was opened up to any grade school student.

Today, players are paired in those age groups.

Other than age, matches are determined by a player’s chess ranking, which is determined by the outcomes of previous tournaments. The top players are matched against the bottom players. For instance, if there are 20 players, the No. 1 ranked player faces No. 9. Second plays 10th.

Greer said rankings are more of a guide though, used to instill order into the tournament.

“The big kid doesn’t always win,” he said.

Sometimes, even the most skilled players lose, Timmons said, adding that the clock can beat them before their opponent does.

Saturday’s games were timed. Players were given between 30 and 60 minutes for each game, depending on their age.

There were four sessions. Players who won in the first moved on to face in the second others who won. Each session paired down winners until a champion was determined.

Timmons said he hopes to do something special next year for the tournament’s 50th year.

Clare Higgins, from Capital High School, won top female player, and will be nominated to represent West Virginia at the National Girls Invitational Tournament in August. Malvika Bendre, of Overbrook Elementary School, won first place in the K-3 Division, and Thomas Ward, from Piedmont Elementary, won first place in the K-5 Division. Nicholas Palmer, of Notre Dame High School in Harrison County, won first place in the K-8 Division and will be nominated to represent West Virginia at the Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions. Parker Benson, of Lincoln High School in Harrison County, won first place in the K-12 Division and will be nominated to represent West Virginia at the Denker Tournament of High School Champions.

The team winners for the tournament were as follows: K-3 first place was awarded to Mountaineer Montessori School, K-5 first place went to Piedmont Elementary School, K-8 first place was awarded to Notre Dame High School and K-12 first place went to Lincoln High School.

Reach Samuel Speciale at, 304-348-7939 or follow @samueljspeciale on Twitter.



Nana knows best: Observations from a Montessori educator & grandmother

Dylan 3“Look, Nana! It’s Europe,” exclaimed three-year old-Dylan as he pulled out an irregular shaped piece of red construction paper from his backpack. As a retired Montessori teacher, I recognized it right away. “I see you poked it out,” I acknowledged with a smile on my face.

To some, that small bit of red paper may have looked like just a scrap, but after 39 years in a Montessori classroom and now a Montessori grandmother, I knew it represented much, much more. In his carefully prepared classroom at Mountaineer Montessori, Dylan was offered a myriad of stimulating activities from which to choose. That day, he decided to undertake a demanding and time-consuming fine motor activity. Under the guidance of his well-trained teacher, he learned how to carefully grasp the poking tool and punch holes precisely on the outline of Europe. Completing this work required concentration, self-control, and perseverance. You can imagine his feeling of accomplishment when, after considerable effort, he was able to hold the shape of Europe in his hands.

That is the beauty of the Montessori classroom. It offers the child an environment designed to thoughtfully exercise his natural tendencies for exploration, manipulation, repetition, exactness, activity, work and self-perfection. It allows the child the freedom to follow his internal motivation and to make the choices that will satisfy his needs while under the watchful eye of knowledgeable adults. The result is a child who develops qualities that support life-long learning.

photo 1I am so pleased that my grandson, Dylan, is attending Mountaineer Montessori School. As soon as I observed the Primary classroom, I knew it was the best setting to help him reach his full potential. I look forward to sharing many Montessori moments with him!

By Jane Reifsynder, a retired Montessori educator with 39 years of experience, and grandmother of Dylan, who is now six.

If you are considering Montessori for your child, we invite you to call our office to schedule a tour: 304/342-7870.