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
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!
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 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, email@example.com. Your sponsorship dollars support this important community-building effort.
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.
Alasha Al-Qudwah, a Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher at MMS, has been awarded a scholarship from the American Montessori Society (AMS) Joanne P. Hammes Scholarship Fund. Alasha is one of a select group of educators nationwide, and the first in West Virginia, to honored by the nation’s foremost Montessori organization with a scholarship towards specialized training.
Alasha is pursuing Upper Elementary certification at the Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collaborative in Waltham, Mass. As part of the intensive two-year program, she will spend six weeks this summer, as well as fall and spring sessions, training with educators from across the country and around the world at the METTC campus outside of Boston.
This fall will mark Alasha’s sixth year in Montessori education. She previously served in various administrative and arts capacities as well as an elementary classroom assistant. Starting this August, she will lead one of the two Upper Elementary classrooms at Mountaineer Montessori, serving students in fourth through sixth grades.
Alasha holds bachelor’s degrees from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and West Virginia State University and is trained in the Wilson Reading System. She is a composer, music instructor and performer, and contributed to the success of one of West Virginia’s most notable bands, Qiet.
“We congratulate Alasha on this well-deserved honor, which recognizes her dedication to Montessori education, commitment to our students and professional excellence,” said MMS Director Jennifer Carriger. “During her time at our school, Alasha has introduced wonderful new opportunities for our students. We can’t wait to see the enhancements she will bring to Upper Elementary as a Lead Guide starting in August.”
We invite you to learn more about Alasha, her educational philosophy and plans for her students in the year ahead:
What was it that drew you to Montessori education?
The peace-oriented education model that the Montessori classroom implements attracted me greatly to the curriculum. My daughter, Avalee, was starting to approach age 3 as I started researching the Montessori method after being hired to play music at an MMS event (the 2013 “Luminaria Gala”) at the Clay Center. Intrigued by musical experience and talking with teachers, I went home right away to research the idea of Montessori education. Every sentence I read on various websites made my eyes widen with joy as I realized this was the type of atmosphere I wanted her to grow and flourish in. Little did I know, I myself would be growing and flourishing right alongside her in this environment!
You are taking a big leap and a career change as well as making personal sacrifices to become a lead guide. What is motivating you?
I feel this the next step in my life and career. I had many amazing experiences of touring big cities through my music, recording albums in studios of famous audio engineers, creating and running a creative studio, and overall nurturing my creative passion with music for 20 years. To now spend my upcoming years nurturing a classroom for our students feels like an opportunity I’ve been grooming toward since the start of my employment in a Montessori school. I feel my personal sacrifices will ultimately become personal gains, as the Montessori classroom will help shape our future thinkers with compassion, creative insight, and social / environmental / cultural awareness.
What are you hoping to learn/discover in your training this summer?
This will be the first time I’ve been away from home and my daughter this length of time since her birth; that absence in itself will create a lot of self-growth and “shift of self.” The online training and assignments have already started changing the way I view my environment and how I approach my philosophy of teaching. With the summer training, I hope to learn the most effective ways of running a classroom, engaging our students in meaningful work, and still pushing academic growth through cross-circular activities that call on their creative lens. I am excited to learn how to organize my creative ideas into functional lessons that inspire and foster a love of learning in our students. I am also excited to connect with other professionals in this field; METTC has already proved to be a supportive environment and I am thankful I’ll be doing my training with their staff this summer.
It’s hard to fathom just how much I will learn because I know it’s going to be A LOT. However, my brain and spirit are ready to take in all that this intense, immersive training will offer. I know it will change my life–as it’s already started to!
Do you have any vision or special plans at this time for Upper Elementary II next year?
In my first year, I hope to gain the reins on planning an effective prepared environment that helps the students flourish in their creativity, academics, social relationships and cultural and environmental awareness. I am very excited to take on Montessori Model United Nations program next year with our sixth-year students. I am lucky to be stepping into a classroom that has been well prepared through the efforts of Upper Elementary Guides Emily Capece and Jason Winesburg, our consultant, Katie Ibes, and Director Jennifer Carriger.
I am looking forward to all the ways of putting my own community experience to use within my classroom and introducing our children to the amazing community that surrounds us in Charleston. I know as the years unfold, I will have many visions for our students.
Tell us about your preparation for training. What will your training entail and how long to full certification?
I finished up my first eight week online “Primary Overview” course where I was able to culminate the experience in an original piano piece with a video presenting “Sensitive Periods in Education.” The trainers strongly encourage creativity in all of the assignments, which resonates deeply with me as an artist. It was a lot of work to complete the weekly assignments with a full-time job and child in tow, but I truly encouraged it and have already learned a lot behind the motivations of the Montessori classroom.
My training this summer will be a stand-alone on campus 9-12 training through METTC in Massachusetts. It will be an intense training as we are in class Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m – 7 p.m. (We do labs at the end of each day to practice what we’re taught – which I love!) We have much to accomplish and learn in the six weeks, and it is easy to see no moment will be wasted! Once I return from training, I will have a follow up week week online course, as well as fall and spring seminars to attend at our training site in Massachusetts.
As someone who loves to travel, this all very exciting. As an artist, I find it very inspiring to plant myself in a new city for six weeks to deeply learn a skill that will become part of my life forever more. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I thrive off creating and completing meaningful goals, so this will be a great transition of self in the world I’ve known.
You have been involved in Montessori education for six years. What have been some highlights? Some surprises? Montessori Moments? What do you like best about the Montessori approach?
The highlights seem endless. My first highlight was creating an arts camp utilizing the amazing artists and musicians in our community to do a series of classes with students. It was my first experience in successfully organizing a month-long event as a director and gave me a confidence I didn’t know I was capable of having when it came to creating a program for children. I found a talent in leading and organizing that I was never aware of up until that point.
Highlights also include organizing my first music concert with grades K-6; creating an after school program that implemented enrichment programs; having my first experience teaching and guiding an original play with lower elementary students; having my first experience of guiding and helping lower elementary students create an original film; connecting deeply with all of my students on a community level; creating the most beautiful art project with middle schoolers that culminated in a huge pair of wings that accompanied our school’s gala; teaching group ukulele for the first time; making music with our middle schoolers at a graduation ceremony where it wasn’t teacher and students, but an equal stage where I accompanied them on violin to a Jason Mraz song that put us all in tears. It was one of the most beautiful highlights.
More highlights that are Assistant oriented: helping children learn to read and watching that spark take place; connecting with children at a one on one level that needed extra encouragement to seek their work; and the love of our children – the hugs, the compassion, the sense of trust they have in you. It’s beautiful.
Any personal reflections on MMS?
MMS has changed my life completely. Once I started working at MMS, I knew instantly I was at the right place and this felt like “home.” I was extremely nervous and took a huge chance when I applied to the school, not expecting there to be an opening. Once I was hired, my life only started transcending upward and all felt as if it was falling into place. The support of the administration and staff make your co-workers feel like family. The professional development brought into our staff meetings make it an enriching, professional experience that I had not experienced in a workplace up until that point. MMS gives not only the children the opportunity to “spread their wings”, but the staff, as well. It’s amazing to think of the foreshadowing MMS has had in my life since before my daughter was age 3 – the gigs, my obsession with the logo colors, and the community presence the school has. Now, I can’t imagine not being part of the mission of MMS.
What impact do you think Montessori has made on your own child?
Montessori has shaped my daughter’s love of learning. She is curious, inspired, and takes her work very seriously because the classroom has made it meaningful for her. She is able to learn at her own pace, which allows her to expand her horizons and take on deep research into what she’s interested in. She understands the importance of independence and has developed a deep respect for her environment because of the outdoor classroom and zoology lessons. (I learn something new every week because of how much she absorbs Karen Kelly’s lessons!) She has a sense of confidence that cannot be tamed when it comes to understanding what she is studying. I am so grateful that her teachers thus far in Primary and Lower Elementary have guided her in a way that instills a love of learning, self-care, respect, compassion, and sense of purpose in her life. The classroom pushes her to face her fears and challenge herself.
Favorite Montessori quote and why?
“Within the child lies the fate of the future.” This has always been my favorite Montessori quote as it gracefully puts a strong realization into the hands of adults: our children ARE the future of the society and environment we live in. It is our job to raise compassionate souls that implement peace, care for the environment, and empathy. In addition to structuring an enriching academic profile for them, the social elements outlined in the Montessori classroom are truly what can send courageous adults into society that can help better the world around them through awareness. It has been amazing watching the Middle School curriculum unfold as it gives me more of a purpose to cultivate our Upper Elementary students’ awareness and creativity through deep thinking.
What does the scholarship mean to you?
I am truly humbled that AMS has chosen me as part of their scholarship recipients this year. It means the world to me that they believe in my ability to become an instructor through their training program, and also makes me feel that much more connected and motivated to experience the new journey ahead.
Thousands of shirts. Even more thousands of dye packs. Countless memories in the making. Since 1999, Mountaineer Montessori School has celebrated the end to a year of education in living color with an all-school tie-dye-a-thon.
The tradition was started by Karen Kelly, then a parent to a young MMS student. Some things have changed since then — Kelly is now a Mountaineer Montessori science teacher and heads the after school program and her son has earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Marshall University – but children’s excitement at creating their own colorful souvenir of the year never fades.
The Cloaked Villain has kidnapped the famous singer Amanda and Patches, her guinea pig, a famous jockey, a Mountaineer Montessori School teacher, and even the Mayor of Charleston, West Virginia! What is behind this villainous spree? Will she be stopped before she strikes again? And, can she be saved from herself? This original drama scripted by MMS Lower Elementary II third year students will have you in suspense as entire class joins in on the action to follow and end the reign of fear that The Cloaked Villain has brought to the town. They also learn that behind every villain is a story that can have a happy ending!
Op-ed by Amal Faridi, an MMMS seventh-year student appearing in the June 2, 2019 edition of the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The piece is adapted from an essay, “The Day that Changed My Life,” created during a writer’s workshop with Colleen Anderson.
I always saw myself as different. Living in Logan, West Virginia, there wasn’t a very diverse population, so I was always the odd one out. I used to come home asking my mom why we talked the way we did or looked the way we did. I am a 13-year-old Muslim of Pakistani descent. My parents were born in Pakistan, but I was born in New Jersey.
Whenever we went on a trip, strangers stared at my mother’s hijab, or head scarf. I hated it. I didn’t understand what people saw different about us. I pretended I looked like everyone else. I would rather fit in than stand out.
One day, my mother showed me a video of two planes crashing into tall towers. “What is that?” I asked. I was old enough to tell that the planes hit the buildings, but not old enough to know that it was a terrorist attack. She explained to me about the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001, more than four years before I was born. My eyes widened and my jaw dropped. I studied the screen. “What is the Pentagon?” I asked. This was all new to me. She sighed and explained that, too.
After that, I didn’t know what to think. It all made sense now. I had always thought that America was a white people country and we were foreigners. When I went to see the Statue of Liberty in 2012, my father read us the poem on the pedestal, and I was confused. America wasn’t a refugee country, it was a white country, right?
That night, my mom showed us the lights where the Twin Towers used to be. It was so sad. Because of some bad people, so many civilians died, and I will never see the two towers. Because of them, I have to be careful in what I say, how I act, how I portray Muslims. I feel like I am walking on eggshells, all because of something I wasn’t even alive to see.
A few months ago, I was doing my homework, watching TV, just minding my business, when my mother rushed in. She told me that there was a poster
at the West Virginia Capitol, and it was super offensive. She pulled up a picture on her phone titled, “Never forget — You said.” There was a picture of 9/11. The title was nished with a photo of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and a caption reading: “I am the proof you have forgotten.”
The next day, there was a meeting with all the legislators. Muslims and other people, including my family, went to show their support. I was glad to see people from my school attending, too. When we entered the room where the posters had been put up, I shivered as I wondered what it would have been like if I were in the room, or any Muslim woman, wearing her hijab. What would they have said to her?
Later, we met all the legislators. They were so nice, giving their condolences, and telling us there is no room for hate. One woman even cried about what had happened. The amazing thing was that she wasn’t even Muslim. The legislators came out and apologized, and I got to shake many of their hands.
When I went to school the next day, most of my classmates were so supportive. They asked me questions about Ilhan Omar and Islamophobia. We discussed what happened, and their support made me feel happy.
Good people aren’t the most expressive, but evil people are. People hardly ever talk about the good things in this world, but there are so many, and I think it is worth mentioning. After all, I learned that West Virginia is no place for hate.
Amal Faridi is a seventh-grader who attends Mountaineer Montessori Middle School.
The 2019 Summer Montessori Meet-Ups line up has been set.
Meet-Ups are opportunities for MMS families and friends to connect and have fun over the summer. This is a great way for new families to meet others and for current students to say in touch with their friends in the weeks ahead.
While most events have a contact person listed, no RSVPs are needed unless noted…just show up and hang out with your Montessori friends…wear your “M” shirts and look for others wearing their MMS colors!
Please note that this calendar may be updated with additional activities or changes as events and/or weather dictate. Watch the website, your email, social media and the MMS blog for updates.
Thank you to Hollie Hubbert for once again heading up our Meet-Ups events. If you have an idea for an additional activity, please contact her 304/389-3031 (cell).
Work by selected MMS students and other young artists from five counties will be showcased at the Clay Center during FestivALL. A reception and awards ceremony for featured artists will be held on Sunday, June 29, from 3:00-4:30 p.m.
This play, brought to you by Bright Star Touring Theater, marks the history of flight and space travel from the ancient tale of Icarus, to the first flights of the Wright Brothers on the beaches at Kitty Hawk, to the Great Space Race of the 1960s and beyond! Your young pilots and astronauts will be thrilled to learn about the real-life characters that took One Small Step!
Join in make-and-take creative fun at the MMS booth and other stations offering free art activities for children, as well as family-friendly entertainment presented throughout the day on Capitol Street.
Meet for splash park, picnic and playground fun. Bring clothes to play in splash park, bikes, balls, picnic lunch, sunscreen and anything else to enjoy an afternoon of fun with friends at Magic Island.
Meet at the Spotted Salamander Trail, which has a small parking lot across the street from the big barn. If the parking lot at the trail head is full, park across the main road at the big barn. We will do the simple loop trail which is paved (wheel chair and stroller accessible). Carolyn and Luke (biologist) Head can offer some other trail and playground ideas for families to enjoy, depending on the age of the children who attend. Bring water, sunscreen, and bug spray. Bring a picnic lunch if you wish to stay longer. There are picnic areas and playgrounds throughout the forest. We are excited to explore with everyone! (Note: KSF does not have cell service)
Add together West Virginia’s most famous food, Charleston’s incredible arts festival, a favorite childhood game and the inventive and entrepreneurial thinkers at our Middle School.Mix with creativity and curiosity.
The result? The first Charleston Pepperoni Roll Walk t o be held Saturday, May 25, 1:00-2:00 p.m. during FestivALL “Taste of All” at the Four Points by Sheraton Charleston . Instead of cakes, participants will circle the chairs for a chance for delicious pepperoni rolls. MMMS students are managing the entire event. Come join them for the fun that goes on all day from 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. (MMS faculty member Alasha Al-Qudwah performs with Minor Swing from noon-1:00 p.m.)
MMS Main Campus will open on a two-hour delay today, Monday, May 20, due to a sudden water shortage. If you have not left for school, we ask that you wait until further instruction. Thank you for understanding.