Montessori Farm Stand test markets student business ideas




After months of joy and frustration, seventh- and eighth-year students at Mountaineer Montessori School will test-market their entrepreneurship ideas at a series of Montessori Farm Stand pop-up shops in February. The pop-up shop, featuring student designed products and services, will be open from 2:30-5:30 p.m. on February 5, 12 and 26 at the school’s main campus, 308 20th Street, SE, in Kanawha City.

Entrepreneurship is a cornerstone of the Montessori middle school “education for life” curriculum.

Since the beginning of the school year, students have developed their own business ideas — ranging from a garden store to homemade baked goods to monthly breakfasts at the middle school — as a potential avenue for a class micro economy.

“We have seen good ideas and flop ideas, tears of joy and frustration, and continued hard work and dedication through all of the ups and downs,” says Bridgett Steveson, who leads the middle school program. “We have been encouraging students to work from start to finish and not give up. They are finally starting to see the fruits of their labor.”


Working with experts

Dr. Gene Coulson

Dr. Gene Coulson

Dr. David Luechauer

Dr. David Luechauer

To fine tune their proposals, students met with local business experts, including Dr. Gene Coulson, executive director of the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education, and Dr. David Luechaeur, director of the University of Charleston Master of Business Administration and Leadership Program. Based upon expert feedback, students updated presentations, which were shared in a “Shark Tank” style round table to the entire class.

After getting approval from both the class and MMS co-directors, students have been busy finalizing their ideas, finishing product labels, assembling products, and coordinating farm stand times and locations.

During the next few weeks, students will assess the popularity of products, calculate profit/loss margins and potentially add new products to the Farm Stand to support the MMS school garden and other spring projects.

In addition to the Farm Stand, middle schoolers have organized a series of “Parents Night Out” events at the school, which offer movies and pizza for MMS students for a fee. Proceeds also support middle school programs.

“But, above all it is the education of adolescents that is important, because adolescence is the time when the child enters on the state of manhood and becomes a member of society,” Maria Montessori noted.


About MMS

The Mountaineer Montessori Middle School, located at 804 Myrtle Road, is the only Montessori adolescent program in West Virginia. It offers student-centered, academically-rigorous curriculum that meets and/or exceeds Common Core standards, preparing students for the “real world” through entrepreneurship, community service and hands-on learning. It is a component of Mountaineer Montessori School, which serves 125 students in an authentic, fully-implemented Montessori environment at 308 20th Street. MMS is the largest, oldest and most established Montessori school in the state, serving an estimated 1,000 children since its founding in 1976.

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

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UC-MMS collaboration sprints ahead




Mountaineer Montessori School has enjoyed a long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship with our educational “landlord” and partner, the University of Charleston.  That collaboration has taken many forms over the years, from UC student teachers and interns in our classrooms, to PE at UC facilities, to special projects and events. Now, that collaboration is sprinting ahead through a new running program to be offered this spring that connects UC and MMS students as they train for a 5K run.



Message from Hallie Chillag, MMS parent and UC faculty member:

Greetings from the University of Charleston!  Most of you know me as an enthusiastic Mountaineer Montessori mom, mother of Cora who was at our school from 2003 through 2012 and mother of current MMS student, Matilda, who is a third year student in Nancy and Tara’s class. I am writing to you today though as a faculty member of the University of Charleston.

In the current academic year, I have returned to teach in our freshman experience program.  The design of the freshman orientation class at UC has a community change assignment in the spring semester that is aimed to highlight the larger role of the university and the responsibility of graduates to contribute to the larger community throughout their lives. My students expressed interest in working with children and addressing the issue of health and fitness in area youth.  Specifically, they want to gently train area youth to participate in a 5K on Saturday, March 19, that begins and ends on the UC campus.  Ultimately, the project process will be developed into a mini-documentary film for review by freshman experience faculty.

ReadyorNotTo this end, my freshman experience class and I looked to build upon our existing relationship with MMS. I approached Co-Directors Jennifer Carriger and Suzanne Sanders about collaborating on this idea with MMS students.  They brought the idea to the larger staff and last week we agreed to try to work out a schedule to prepare MMS elementary students to participate in the UC 5K event.  Further, I was able to collaborate with Nancy Johnston to work in our PE classes between now and the event to do some walking and jogging, gently building on jogging and running skills week to week, to prepare students for the 5K.

We would further like to offer training to supplement our PE work-outs after the school day as well.  We will open up post school training, starting on February 3, as well to any interested MMS staff, parents, siblings, the middle school, etc. over the course of the next six and a half weeks.


Training starts February 3

Race for Education 2015 101We will be offering said training, beginning in front of the school, from approximately 3:15-3:45 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday until our race date (March 19) as long as interest and participation are present.

Ideally, those preparing for the race will be repeating the activity they experience in their PE class twice more during the week, for a total of three work-outs a week.  It is our hope that MMS elementary students will either do this on their own or join us for the post school training.  We have worked to ensure a minimum of three trainers (combination of faculty, teaching assistant, and students) for both our PE class and post school training sessions.  Please be sure to dress your child in comfortable clothing suitable for brisk walking, jogging, and running on PE days and if he or she is able to attend post school trainings as well.

I understand that not all students will be available for the race date, but we are hopeful that our MMS runners will largely be able to participate on race day.  As I mentioned, the race is set at UC on March 19.  A link to the race registration can be found here:!shop/cz1e

Race for Education 2015 098The race has an entry fee of $15 as long as the runner is registered before noon on March 18. Students will receive a race bib and shirt with their entry. If this fee presents an economic hardship for any MMS student, I will waive the entry fee – please just reach out to me as soon as possible so I can make the necessary arrangements to get these students registered.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I am more than happy to answer any questions/concerns you might have.  In 2012, the same type of UC class collaborated with upper elementary to produce a community change project and mini-documentary about American Sign Language and larger deaf culture and it was a wonderfully rich experience for MMS and UC students (and faculty) alike.  I am most hopeful we will have the same significant experience in this go-around!  Thanks for your time and consideration.  We look forward to running with MMS over the coming month and a half!



Hallie Chillag Dunlap, Asst. Professor of Social Sciences

304-553-2437 (mobile, voice or text)


2016-17 enrollment underway!

OPEN ENROLLMENTEnrollment for the 2016-2017 school year is now underway for current Mountaineer Montessori School families. This will mark the beginning of our fifth decade of excellence and innovation in education!

Deadline: February 25, 2016

MMS anticipates continued enrollment growth and program expansion at all levels. Current families must turn in deposits and signed letters of intent by February 25. After that date, placement of your student cannot be guaranteed. Last year, there were many more applicants than space available at some age levels, making it vitally important that enrollment packets be completed and submitted by this deadline. Financial aid applications are also due on February 25. Please see the Financial Aid page of the MMS website or call the office at 304/342-7870 if you have any questions about this process.

Enrollment for new students and transfers will open on February 26. Please see our website for admissions procedures and/or call the MMS office at 304/342-7870 to schedule an interview if you have not already done so.

We look forward to guiding your children in our authentic Montessori environment and nurturing their curiosity, independence and love of learning for another exciting year….at MMS, children discover and become who they were meant to be!

Two hour delay on Tuesday, January 26

12647150_1105680786133279_4114452162131127093_nMMS will open on Tuesday, January 26, with a two hour delay. Please access the drop off line from the frontage road as 20th Street has not been plowed. Parents bringing students to the middle school are asked to exercise special caution in the Unity of Kanawha Valley parking lot. Please drive carefully…we look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow!

MMS closed on Monday, January 25

Copy of Copy of Add text (3)Due to continuing uncertain road conditions, MMS will be closed on Monday, January 25. Standardized testing will begin on Tuesday, January 26, unless otherwise indicated. Please continue to watch your email for important updates about school closings and testing. And please stay safe!

MMS closed on Friday, January 22

Snow day)Due to severe weather forecasts, MMS will be closed on Friday, January 22. Please stay safe and warm…we’ll see you on Monday, January 25!

Students meet with Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders to promote understanding, build bridges

Torah“I think it’s really cool that you are all friends.”

That’s how one of our middle school students responded when learning that Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in our community are colleagues and friends, working together to promote peace and understanding.

In the Montessori peace tradition, seventh- and eighth-year students are immersed in a unit on western religion this month, studying the Abrahamic faiths and their impact upon history and culture. This week, they met with Rabbi Victor Urecki at B’nai Jacob Synagogue, Monsigor Edward Sadie at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral, and Imam Dr. Sameh Asal at our middle school. All of the clergy expressed surprise at our students’ level of understanding and engagement in the project.

HostTo prepare, students have been reading fiction and non-fiction, conducting independent research, participating in college-like seminar discussions and experiencing different cultures through food, games and traditions. Next week, they will share a pot luck featuring dishes from students’ various national and religious backgrounds.

We extend our gratitude to Rabbi Urecki, Mgr. Sadie and Imam Asal for taking time out of their demanding schedules to share insights with and build understanding in our school community.

“Peace is what every human is craving for, and it can be brought about by humanity through the child.” Maria Montessori


Unity banner CDr. Asal Dialogue


She loved her son’s experience at MMS so much that she quit her job and joined our faculty

Becca and Drew Moore_AF_small

Becca and Drew Moore

When Becca Moore enrolled her son, Drew, at MMS, little did she know that it would lead to big change and a new career. Excited by what she learned through her son’s experience, Becca eventually left her position in the Kanawha County Schools and started training to become a Montessori teacher, joining our faculty last year.

Your tax-deductible contribution to our 2015 annual fund campaign, “Hand in Hand” will help ensure another year of excellence in education by sponsoring training for MMS teachers like Becca. Authentic, on-campus Montessori training is specialized, expensive and only available out of state.  Becca is pursuing one of the most rigorous programs available, AMI Montessori 6-12 training at the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee, Inc. She has completed two of three summer-long sessions in Milwaukee, learning with and from Montessori educators from around the United States and the world.



We invite you to learn more about Becca and her deep commitment to Montessori…a commitment that started by leaving her job and taking a chance on MMS:

Why did you choose to be a Montessori guide?

“I enrolled my son in Montessori after hearing about it through family members. I fell in love with everything he was doing and everything about Mountaineer Montessori School. I regularly talked with Dana (Gilliland) and Julie (Margolis) who both were adamant about me becoming a part of the school. I listened to them and left my job at Kanawha County Schools to embark on this journey.”

Becca Moore gets into the swim of Montessori.

Becca Moore and a lower el student get into the swim of Montessori.

Why did you choose AMI training?

“Dana had recommended that I attend an AMI training that would certify me from first grade through sixth grade. She was very passionate about AMI and the integrity that it withheld in Maria Montessori’s lessons and methodology. She knew it was a very thorough training and I would leave the training prepared in all ways for my Montessori career. I agreed to it because I wanted to know everything possible about Montessori and receive the best so I could give the best to my students.”

How is it different from others?

“AMI maintains the teaching that Maria Montessori and Mario Montessori started with based on her scientific findings on how children learn best and their specific needs at different periods of development. It upholds all that Dr. Montessori believed in and still maintains the importance of her lessons in their original presentations.”

Becca Moore consults with a lower elementary student on construction of a paper model home.

Becca Moore consults with a lower elementary student on construction of a paper model home.

What separates Montessori from traditional education models?

“The biggest factors that separate Montessori from traditional schools are that it follows the child, uses materials based on the development of the child, and allows for the education of the whole child. The materials support a child’s progressions from the need of concrete materials to abstract thinking. It’s not just about academics. It is about teaching a child how to become a part of a greater society as well.”

What are some of the Montessori methodology/philosophy’s greatest attributes for students?

“Maria Montessori talked about the construction of man in her lectures and how the child has a need for certain components to construct himself. He learns how to be independent, compassionate, and can think for himself and reason to a greater degree. The child is able to express gratitude for its surroundings and build a greater appreciation for his surroundings. It’s peace education in a world that needs a lot more peace and cooperation among men.”


HandinHand_2Becca believed in Montessori so much she quit her job to become part of MMS. A tax-deductible donation is one way you can demonstrate your thanks to her and our other dedicated professionals who are passionate about helping your child and all students discover and become who they were meant to be. Please put your hand in hers…and ours…with your gift today. Contributions may be made online or by sending a check to: MMS Annual Appeal, 308 20th Street SE, Charleston, WV, 25304.


Join hands. Give back. Move forward.

Becca and Drew Moore_AF_small

Becca Moore was so impressed by her son’s experience at MMS that she left her job and joined our staff! The MMS annual fund supports Montessori training for teachers like Becca. CLICK ON THE PHOTO to learn more about Becca and her Montessori journey.

For nearly 40 years, Mountaineer Montessori School has united the community, hand in hand, to create a better future for children, our school… and the world. That tradition was sustained over the past year thanks to supporters like you.

With your help, MMS expanded and elevated educational opportunities for children in our community and offered a model of true education reform for our state by:

  • Serving 125 children ages 3 through 14, a school record. Our middle school program–the only one of its kind in West Virginia–experienced a 150 percent increase in students this year.
  • Increasing our financial aid program by 31 percent.
  • Growing our Learning Support Services team to offer more students one-on-one instruction and guidance.
  • Ensuring continued educational excellence by sponsoring AMI/AMS training for four faculty members and providing additional on-site specialized professional development for all teachers and staff.



Hand in Hand: Moving Forward Together

Alumnus Clifton Clark says MMS was the only choice when it came to choose a school for their family.

Clifton Clark, an alumnus and board member, says MMS was the only choice when it came to choose a school for his family.

This year’s annual fund campaign is “Hand in Hand: Moving Forward Together.” Contributions enrich every aspect of our community. Your support and generosity will help MMS ensure educational excellence in the year ahead by:

  • Meeting the demand for quality early education. Last year, there were more applicants as space available for entering three-year-olds. MMS is actively exploring the addition of a third primary classroom.
  • Sustaining our major investment in Montessori teacher training to maintain the highest standards of classroom instruction. Authentic Montessori training is specialized, expensive and only available out of state.
  • Increasing financial aid awards by 10 percent.

Our campaign goal is $25,000 and we need 100 percent participation from our families and staff to reach it. Tuition does not cover the full cost of the premier Montessori academic and arts program offered by MMS. This helps keep our school accessible and allows the greater community to participate in our educational mission with a tax-deductible contribution.


Take our hand

HandinHand_2We invite you to join hands with our 125 students, our faculty, families and friends who are moving forward together, creating the future of education today here in Charleston.  Come along with us…move forward…hand in hand…and help us reach our goal.

Make your online gift today!



MMS has become a major component of her life, says middle school student Jasmine Phillips. "MMS is special, both in the way it educates and the way that we interact and that's what counts the most."

MMS has become a major component of her life, says middle school student Jasmine Phillips. “MMS is special, both in the way it educates and the way that we interact and that’s what counts the most.”

"There are all kinds of people from all over and I'm friends will all of them," says Chace Boland, a first-year student.

“There are all kinds of people from all over and I’m friends will all of them,” says Chace Boland, a first-year student.

Dina says MMS is the best place for her children to grow into independent, confident young adults.

Dina says MMS is the best place for her children to grow into independent, confident young adults.











‘Hand in Hand’ annual appeal steps off on #GivingTuesday

Hand in Hand Eliza and Anna. jpgThere’s a day for giving thanks. Two for getting deals. Now there is #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. Celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

As part of this worldwide celebration of thanks and giving, Mountaineer Montessori School (MMS) will launch its “Hand in Hand: Moving Forward Together” annual fund campaign. The fundraiser gets underway today, when coin banks will be distributed to all MMS students, who are being encouraged to fill them over the Thanksgiving holiday and bring them back to to school on #GivingTuesday, December 1.

The “Hand in Hand” campaign will expand over the week through social media, news coverage, collaborations and personal invitations to engage the entire community in helping MMS meet the demand for high-quality educational options and serve families of all economic levels.

Annual Appeal 2015 017Last year’s MMS Giving Tuesday/Annual Appeal enabled Mountaineer Montessori to increase financial aid by 31 percent, expanding access to its programs for the growing number of area families seeking a superior alternative to one-size-fits-all education.

The campaign will also help MMS meet the demand for high quality early education in Charleston. There were many more applicants as slots available for three-year-olds entering the school in the fall of 2015, and MMS is actively pursuing the possibility of adding a third primary classroom (ages 3-6) next year.

“Hand in Hand: Moving Forward Together” also provides critical funding for teacher training. Authentic, on-campus Montessori training is highly specialized, costly and only available out of state.

Hand in hand Ben and EileyThe “Hand in Hand” campaign will showcase MMS students, parents, teachers and alumni, who will share their moving personal stories and the powerful impact that their Montessori experience has made on them and their families.

Contributions may be made online through the school website or can be mailed to: MMS, 308 20th Street SE, Charleston, WV, 25304.

About Mountaineer Montessori School: MMS is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization offering a rich, child-centered academic and arts curriculum in an authentic Montessori environment to 125 children ages 3-14 at campuses in Kanawha City and South Hills. MMS nurtures each child to develop to his fullest potential – academically, socially, emotionally and physically. A recognized child development authority and academic innovator, MMS has been lighting the way for education since 1976, and is the oldest, largest and most established Montessori school in West Virginia. For more information, go to: or call 304/342-7870

Giving_Tuesday_LogoAbout #GivingTuesday: An estimated 30,000 organizations from all 50 states and 68 countries are expected to participate in #GivingTuesday. For more information, go to