MMS October 2019 Newsletter

The latest issue of the “M” news is out. Please take a look to stay up to date on all of the important announcements, updates and calendar of upcoming events!

MMS October 2019 Newsletter






MMS embarks on 43rd year of Epic Education



“Montessori empowers humanity to build a better world.”

The new mission statement of the American Montessori Society lays out a big challenge to all of us.

Education with such an inspiring aim cannot, by definition, be small, confined or standardized. It must be bold, empowering and exciting. It must give children the independence, confidence and knowledge to seek new horizons, explore their world, seize opportunities and solve problems, and take their learning as far and as high as their vision. It must be “epic!”

At Mountaineer Montessori, we’re into our fifth decade of this very special approach of “no limits” learning. We are proud of our tradition of excellence and innovation of education, forged by generations of incredible students; highly qualified, experienced faculty and staff; unwavering commitment to high-fidelity Montessori; continuous investment in teacher training, the educational environment and materials; and enthusiastic support from our families and community

Our 1,000+ alumni have taken their MMS experience across the country and around the globe to do some amazing things and build a better world…with current students following right behind.

“Epic Education,” our 2018-19 Annual Report, notes major highlights from the year, including:

  • Introduction of the Montessori Model UN program for sixth year students and expansion of the “pedagogy of place” curriculum at the Middle School.
  • Realignment of our geometry curriculum, Primary through Middle School, through the AMS Pathways to Continuous School Improvement program. MMS is the only full member school of the American Montessori Society and the only AMS Pathways school in West Virginia.
  • Major facilities enhancements at the main campus and upgrades at the Middle School.

We hope you enjoy this look back, become inspired by our vision, and embark with us on another epic year at MMS!


MMS 2020-21 Prospective Parent Tours Scheduled

Tomorrow begins today!

Tours for the 2020-21 school year at Mountaineer Montessori School have been scheduled.

Families interested in enrolling a student in Primary (ages 3-6),  Elementary (ages 6-12) or Middle School (ages 12-14) classes next year are invited to reserve their space at one of the following upcoming tours:

All tours begin at the MMS main school, 308 20th Street. The tours provide an overview of Montessori education, information on MMS admissions procedures and policies, and the opportunity to observe classrooms in action.

TOURS ARE FOR PARENTS ONLY. Space is limited to three slots (three couples).

Classes fill up quickly and MMS has maintained a waiting list for the past several years. Future MMS families are encouraged to begin the admissions process at their earliest convenience.


2020-21 Prospective Parent Tour Schedule:

October 2: Primary

November 6: Elementary and Middle School

November 20: Primary

December 4: Primary

December 11: Primary

January 15: Primary

January 22: Elementary and Middle School

January 29: Primary

February 5: Primary

February 12: Elementary and Middle School

March 4: Primary

March 11: Elementary and Middle School

March 18: Primary

April 1: Primary

April 15: Elementary and Middle School

April 29: Primary

May 6: Primary

May 13: Elementary and Middle School


To request a tour, please complete this online form.

MMS serves more than 140 children ages 3-14 in a fully implemented Montessori environment, offering an expansive academic and arts curriculum, along with an extensive after-school program, summer camps, foreign language, chess, robotics, individual learning support, cross country and other enrichment activities. Founded in 1976, MMS is the original and largest Montessori school in West Virginia, and offers the first Montessori Middle School program in the state. MMS is an AMS Pathways to Continuous School Improvement school and the only full member of the America Montessori Society in West Virginia. All lead teachers train at programs certified by the Association Montessori Internationale or the American Montessori Society.  Financial is available.

MMS considers all children for admission based upon their readiness for school, potential for success in a Montessori classroom and our enrollment capacity. MMS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, creed, religion or ethnic or national origin in its admission policy.

MMS Volunteer/Board Survey 2019-20













Want to make a difference for your child, your school and your community?

Be a part of a dynamic parent community that is helping create a world class education experience for our students–today and tomorrow.

MMS is not just your child’s school–it’s your school too!

Our school was started as a parent co-op and strong volunteer and financial support from our community has shaped and sustained MMS over the past five decades, becoming an expectation and tradition.

Whether you can help out for a few hours or the entire year, give a little or give a lot, your support will be valued, honored and have an impact.

Please take two minutes to take a very short survey to let us know how you can help this year. We are seeking volunteers for a variety of committees and activities, classroom parents, and new members of the MMS Board of Directors. The survey also offers opportunities to share your ideas and suggestions for the school.

Click here: MMS 2019-20 Volunteer/Board Interest Survey

Please complete the short survey by Friday, August 30 , so we can all get to work right away creating the best year ever for your child and our school.

Thank you for being part of a community that has been remaking education since 1976. And we’ve only just begun!


MMS August 2019 Newsletter

The latest issue of the “M” news is out. Please take a look to stay up to date on all of the important announcements, updates and calendar of upcoming events!

MMS August 2019 Newsletter

MMS Summer 2019 Newsletter

The latest issue of the “M” news is out. Please take a look to stay up to date on all of the important announcements, updates and calendar of upcoming events!

MMS Summer 2019 Newsletter

MMS teacher honored with AMS scholarship

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.


A look back at 2018-19 in pictures



Enjoy this beautiful look back at the 2018-19 school year in Primary II by Lead Guide Isabelle Bournigault!





20th annual MMS tie dye day makes headlines

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.

Our 20th annual tie dye day, held on June 3, attracted wide spread media coverage, including a front page feature in the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Thank you, Karen, for 20 colorful years..after two decades, the tradition is a bright as ever!




































Charleston Mayor kidnapped-can the Cloaked Villain be stopped?


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!