It’s not too late-summer enrollment information


MMS is growing!

Due to classroom expansions of our Primary and Upper Elementary programs, a limited number of new slots has opened up for the 2018-19 school year. A small number of seats are also available at the Middle School level.

Interested families are urged to make an appointment for a tour as soon as possible. We expect all classes to be filled before the start of the school year on August 20.

Plant the seeds for a great future for your child by filling out this online form.



2018-19 staff announcements and other back to school updates


Dear MMS Parents:

Thank you for being part of our school community!  We look forward to seeing you soon as Mountaineer Montessori School opens its doors for our 43rd school year, and our first full year as an AMS Pathways School.

We are pleased to announce our 2018-2019 staff, who will provide a solid and supportive Montessori foundation for your children. (Please see our staff overview page for links to bios.)


Our Primary program will consist of three classrooms this year, with students guided by Kathryn Rhoads (Primary I), Isabelle Bournigault (Primary II) and Samantha VanDenBerghe-Lynch (Primary III).  Michelle Scarbrough will return as an assistant in Primary II, with assistants for other classrooms to be announced soon.

The third MMS primary classroom, serving Morning Friends only this year, is being phased in as part of our strategic planning process.  The MMS Board is actively exploring several opportunities for expanded facilities to meet the exceptionally strong community interest in our school.  We have been making great progress and resolution on some exciting possibilities is hoped in the very near future.


Our Lower Elementary program will again consist of two classrooms.  Tara Fought and Nancy Johnston will continue to lead Lower Elementary I.  Becca Moore will return to guide Lower Elementary II, assisted by Alasha Al-Qudwah.   We are excited to announce that our Upper Elementary program will expand to two classrooms this year, led by Jason Winesburg and Emily Capece and assisted by Kristie Simmons.

Our Middle School Program (at Unity of Kanawha Valley, 804 Myrtle Road) will be led by Sarah Halstead (humanities, grammar/writing, micro economy), Julie Margolis (math and PE) and Emily Beal (science and math).  They will be joined by specialists Alasha Al-Qudwah (creative expression) and Colleen Anderson (writing workshop).

Plus Program and Specialists

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

Curriculum specialists will include Maria León Kershner, Spanish teacher, and Beth George, computer teacher.  Nancy Johnston will lead physical education classes and art classes and Darlene Spangler and Lindy Hoeft will provide Learning Support services.   Bernard DiGregorio will once again offer private-pay strings lessons to elementary-age students on Fridays. Please see Bernard’s letter for details.  Karen Morris will return as our Music Teacher for extended-day Primary and Elementary.

We wish a fond farewell to Kristyn Anderson and Bridgett Steveson, who will not be returning to MMS this fall due to out of state moves.  We thank each of them for their contributions to Mountaineer Montessori School and wish them all the best.

Ice cream social

Be sure to attend our Ice Cream Social on Thursday, August 23 from 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at Danner Meadow Park so that you can get acquainted and re-acquainted with all of our talented staff, MMS families, Board members and alumni.


Back to school start dates and orientations     

Staff returns to the building on Wednesday, August 8.  If your child is new to MMS or moving up to a new classroom (primary to lower elementary or lower elementary to upper elementary), you will need to register for an orientation session for you and your child with his or her teacher.  Orientation sessions for Primary, Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary will be held on Friday, August 17.  This provides an opportunity to see the classroom, meet the teachers, and to have questions answered in a relaxed, informal manner.

All middle school students and parents (returning and new) should attend our middle school orientation session on Thursday, August 16.

Class lists and instructions for registering for orientation sessions will be emailed by Thursday, August 9.

2018-2019 Student start dates will be as follows:

  • Monday, August 20 – Primary Extended Day, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary and Middle School
  • Tuesday, August 21 – Returning Primary Morning Friends
  • Wednesday, August 22 – New Primary Morning Friends

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

The Plus Program will be available from the first day of classes.  Please contact the office by August 8 in order to reserve a space in the Plus program for your child if he/she will attend from 11:50 a.m.-2:50 p.m.  Montessori Plus also accommodates students on a drop-in basis as space allows.   Advance registration (at least a day ahead) is required to reserve a spot.


Thank you for your patience over the past year as we debuted our new school management system, RenWeb.  We will continue to use RenWeb/ParentsWeb this year.

To create your ParentsWeb account:

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

Once you have logged in, please access and complete/update the following forms through ParentsWeb.  All forms should be completed before August 20.

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

Parents Web also contains the following resource documents:

  • Classroom supplies lists
  • WV Department of Health and Human Resources immunization requirements.  A complete and up-to-date immunization record must be signed by your physician and filed at school on or before August 20.
  • Plus Program information and supplies list
  • Strings letter
  • Arrival/Dismissal Procedures
  • Summer Assignments (Upper Elementary and Middle School) 


Stay in touch with MMS!

Visit our website at   It contains staff biographies, the school calendar, events calendar and other important information.  Our Facebook page and Twitter feed are updated regularly with school news and photos.

We will be communicating with the parent body primarily by e-mail, ParentsWeb and Constant Contact this year, so if you have not confirmed your current e-mail address, please contact Beth George at to do so.  If your e-mail address should change during the course of the school year, please let us know as soon as possible.   Please note that any information that is sent out via e-mail is important and may not be followed up with hard copies.  Our goal is to be as environmentally responsible as possible.

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

Best wishes,


Jennifer Carriger

MMS Director



Reaching new heights as an AMS Pathways School


For the last 42 years, MMS has built a strong tradition of excellence and innovation in education. And while we are very proud of our where we stand today, we understand that a commitment to superior quality never ends.

This year, that commitment was raised to a new level through the American Montessori Society (AMS) Pathways to Continuous School Improvement program. Pathways, a mission-driven, standards-based process that helps schools achieve and maintain Montessori excellence, is administered by AMS, the nation’s foremost Montessori organization. Mountaineer Montessori is the only full member AMS school in West Virginia.

MMS has made great progress on the Pathway, achieving Level 7, which requires schools to incorporate the core components of quality Montessori education and standards for learner outcomes. We are on track to complete the entire Pathways program in the near future. We congratulate MMS Director Jennifer Carriger on her leadership and commitment to this priority initiative and the MMS Board of Directors for their support.

The Pathways project builds on our annual investment in AMS/AMI teacher training and professional development. These educational opportunities equip our faculty and staff with the resources, knowledge and connections to offer the best learning experience possible for our students. Tuition for these courses is costly and most are only offered out of state and require extended study on campus. We believe that supporting professional development is one of the most important investments we can make in your child’s education.

As part of the Pathways project and other quality initiatives, MMS consults with nationally- and internationally-recognized Montessori experts who offer guidance on curriculum, facilities and governance. In the past year alone, four nationally prominent Montessorians have traveled to Charleston to continue to strengthen our school. These include:

  • David Kahn, executive director of the North American Montessori Teachers Association (NAMTA), for school resource development and adolescent programming.
  • Peter Piche, AMS Pathways adviser, on operations and curriculum.
  • Katie Ibes, Pedagogical Consultant, on math curriculum alignment (all levels, primary through middle school), upper elementary program expansion, and coaching for connection parent education
  • Susan Kambrich, AMS Administrator consultant, regarding governance and operations.

Recommendations from these experts are already being implemented as part of our goal to continually raise the bar at MMS and be a model for excellence and innovation for other schools across the state.

Important work like this goes on behind the scenes every day at MMS. Our teachers, administrators and board are committed to offering a superior education experience that helps children achieve their full potential. We are grateful to the support from our families, community partners and fundraising activities, which allow us to realize this commitment to your child.

MMS is honored to have been a trusted school home for more than 1,000 children over the past four decades. As we close down an amazing year and prepare for another to start up in the fall, we want you to know how very happy we are that your family is a part of this special tradition.

We look forward to Montes-SOARING with you to even greater heights in the year ahead.



2018 Montessori Meet-Ups Calendar


The 2018 MMS 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 your email, social media and the MMS blog for updates.

If you have an idea for an additional activity, please contact Hollie Hubbert, the 2018 Montessori Meet-Up Coordinator at; 304/389-3031 (cell).

Montessori Meet-Ups Summer 2018

Sunday, June 3: Symphony Sunday. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and enjoy a free West Virginia Symphony Orchestra performance and fireworks! A variety of great food vendors will be available. Contact: Hollie Hubbert,; 304/389-3031 (cell).

Sunday, June 10: Greenbrier Pool Party starting at 1:00 p.m., 5103 Chesterfield Avenue in Kanawha City. Admission is $3 for non-members. Concessions open for lunch and snacks. Bring bathing suit, sunscreen and towel. Contact: Holly Hubbert,; 304/389-3031 (cell).

Saturday, June 16FestivALL Art Parade. Celebrate Education in Living Color at MMS by participating in this fun and casual parade, which runs from Kanawha Boulevard down Capitol Street ending with a party at the Capitol Market. All ages (strollers, etc.) are welcome. WEAR YOUR M SHIRT. The parade steps off at 10:00 a.m. Participants should line up no later than 9:30 a.m. at Haddad Park. Coordinator needed

Saturday, June 23: FestivALL Children’s Art Show. Join MMS from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for make-and-take creative fun at our booth at the Kanawha County Library, presented annually as part of the the FestivALL Children’s Art Fair. Volunteers needed . Contact: Jennifer Carriger,

Wednesday, June 27: Dakota & Friends Dino Party , Kanawha County Public Library Main Branch, third floor, in downtown Charleston at 6:00 p.m. Dino Ed will be bringing realistic dinosaurs to the library! You may even get to ride one. See a baby dinosaur hatch from an egg and meet the triceratops triplets! Contact: Hollie Hubbert,; 304/389-3031 (cell).

Saturday, June 30: Magic Island Picnic , 10:00 a.m. (West Side of Charleston). Meet for splash park and playground fun and a picnic. Bring your sunscreen, bathing suits, beach towels, volleyball for sand volley ball, soccer balls and bikes–so much to do on Magic Island. Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch and blanket or lawn chairs. Contact: Enybe Diaz,

Monday, July 9: West Virginia Power vs. Hagerstown , 7:05 p.m. at Appalachian Power Park. Head out to the old ball game with MMS! Meet around section 102. Contact: David Bailey,

Friday, July 20: Live on the Levee , Haddad Riverfront Park. Live on the Levee brings live music to Charleston every Friday during the summer. Opening acts start at 6:30 p.m., with the headliners taking the stage at 7:30 p.m. Food vendors begin setting up at 5:00 p.m. Meet up near the sandbox.

Sunday, August 5: Greenbrier Pool Party starting at 1:00 p.m., 5103 Chesterfield Avenue in Kanawha City. Admission is $3 for non-members. Concessions open for lunch and snacks. Bring bathing suit, sunscreen and towel.Contact: Holly Hubbert,; 304/389-3031 (cell).

Saturday, August 18: Downtown Streetfest, 4:00-9:00 p.m., Capitol Street.

Thursday, August 23: MMS Back to School Ice Cream Party at Danner Meadow Park. Details TBA.

Reminder: This calendar may be updated with additional activities or changes as events and/or weather dictate. Watch your email, social media and the MMS blog for updates


Recycle yard signs through MMS ‘Art of Politics’ project

Every candidate is a winner with the MMS Art of Politics project!

The May 8 West Virginia primary is over and the yard signs have come down. Now rather than heading to the trash, the ubiquitous signs can take on a new life as garden art through a project at Mountaineer Montessori School (MMS), 308 20th Street.

The community is invited to place unwanted political signs along the front fence of the school, which is located in the South Ruffner/University of Charleston neighborhood from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday, now through May 31. Drop offs will be limited to two signs per person.

The discarded signs will be repurposed into works of art by area children enrolled in the school’s seven-week “Campessori” Summer Program in June-July.

“The ‘Art of Politics’ project will involve our students in caring for the environment, inspire conversations about civic engagement and offer a wonderful opportunity for creative expression,” says MMS Director Jennifer Carriger. “We look forward to the signs taking on a new life as beautiful art throughout our community this summer.”

MMS is West Virginia’s original and largest Montessori school, serving 132 students ages 3 to 8th grade. Founded in 1976, Mountaineer Montessori is a pioneer in bringing student-centered learning to the state, and is the only West Virginia school to be a full member of the American Montessori Society, the nation’s foremost Montessori organization.


For more information, please go to

MMS adds second Upper Elementary class for 2018-19

We are happy to announce that MMS will offer TWO Upper Elementary classes next year, a development that is a long time in coming due to the growing and sustained interest in our programs. Next year’s classes will be led by current Lead Guide Jason Winesburg and Emily Capece.

Up until now, we have been reluctant to make the shift, because of the warm chemistry of our existing group. To keep this intact, classes will be split into separate classrooms for the crucial three-hour work period in the morning. Students will stay with their guide for the morning, with individual and small group lessons. In the afternoon, we will come together for free time and afternoon lessons, as well as specials classes. That way, no one misses out on seeing close friends and both teachers get to work directly with all students.

There will be many other wonderful enhancements to Upper Elementary, including a new sixth-year project with Montessori Model UN, a year-long project where students pick a country and travel to New York to present their country’s position on modern issues and events. With the experience they have gained from years of oral presentations and debates, they will put their work to use while interacting with students from around the world.

More about MMUN below:

Our faculty will be working hard over upcoming months to build on the cherished Upper Elementary curriculum and traditions to enhance our program for today’s students.

This isn’t the only exciting development in the works. Stay tuned for announcements of other important updates. Forty two years and stronger than ever! We’re so glad you and your family are a part of this amazing movement that continues to raise the bar for education.


Positive Discipline parent education to be held April 14 & 21


Plans are now in place for the 2018 MMS Positive Discipline (PD) parent workshops. This year’s classes will be held Saturday, April 14 and Saturday, April 21 in the Upper Elementary classrooms from 12 noon to 5:00 p.m.

Susie Newhouse

Classes will be held by Susie Newhouse, an MMS educator with more than 20 years of experience in Montessori early childhood classrooms. Susie is a certified AMS Montessori Guide and certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator.







The cost for the workshops is $120 per family (1-2 participants). Space is limited. The fee includes:

  • Positive Discipline book
  • Positive Discipline workbook
  • Positive Discipline tool cards
  • Positive Discipline handouts folder
  • Light afternoon snack

Please download the workshop brochure for more information or to register:

2018 MMS Positive Discipline Parent Workshops

For more information, please contact Susie at


Workshops will cover:

  • Nurturing the development of character and life skills in our children
  • Using kindness and firmness at the same time
  • Developing routine charts to minimize bedtime and morning hassles
  • Encouragement vs. praise
  • Focusing on solutions rather than punishment
  • Natural and logical consequences
  • Family meetings
  • Developing mutually respectful parenting tools that invite cooperation
  • Helping children feel a stronger sense of belonging, significance and capability


Childcare is available for MMS students for $15/day. Snack is included.


About Positive Discipline

Positive Discipline is a time-honored approach for helping children develop a sense of belonging and contribution, responsibility, respect for self and others and problem-solving skills. PD teaches important social and life skills in a manner that is deeply respectful and encouraging for both children and adults (including parents, teachers, childcare providers, youth workers, and others).


Recent research tells us that children are “hardwired” from birth to connect with others, and that children who feel a sense of connection to their community, family and school are less likely to misbehave. To be successful, contributing members of their community, children must learn necessary social and life skills. PD is based on the understanding that discipline must be taught and that discipline also teaches.



But does it work? Montessori outcomes


Parents of Montessori students can see its benefits every day in the happiness of their children and their excitement for school. But what does that mean for the long term and is there proof that Montessori really “works?”

These questions are being affirmatively answered in a growing body of peer-reviewed research confirming the advantages of Montessori education for children from preschool all the way through high school:

  • A longitudinal study of public Montessori schools in South Carolina found a higher percentage of students in Montessori programs met or exceeded state performance benchmarks in language arts, math, science, and social studies, and showed faster growth in language arts over the course of the study.

Does a Montessori model work in public schools?

  • A three-year study of public Montessori schools in Hartford, Conn., found that Montessori children rated higher in academic achievement, social cognition, mastery orientation and school enjoyment than students in traditional classrooms. Even more important, the study found that Montessori closed the achievement gap between low income and more advantaged children.

Montessori education elevates and equalizes outcomes

  • A comparison of middle school students in traditional and Montessori programs found the Montessori students experienced higher levels of achievement, superior talent development and higher levels of interest and intrinsic motivation.


  • The Center for Montessori Education in the Public Sector compiles peer-reviewed research on Montessori. You can learn more here.


  • A comprehensive look at the research supporting Montessori education can be found in “Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius” by Angeline Stoll Lillard. Lillard presents the research behind eight insights that are foundations of Montessori education, describing how each of these insights is applied in the Montessori classroom. The book offers a clear understanding of what happens in a Montessori classroom and, more important, why it happens and why it works. Amid the clamor for evidence-based education, Lillard presents the studies that show how children learn best, makes clear why many traditional practices come up short, and describes an ingenious alternative that works. Copies of the book are available in the MMS office or on Amazon. This is a must-read for every parent!

I’m a Montessori student-what’s your superpower?


Some of the world’s most innovative, successful and creative people got their start in Montessori schools. The founders of Amazon, Google and Wikipedia, musicians and performers ranging from YoYo Ma to Beyonce to Taylor Swift, and history makers such as Julie Child, Anne Frank and Jackie Kennedy Onassis are just a few of the Montessori notables who changed their worlds — and ours.

Our own alumni are doing some pretty amazing things, too. The 1,000+ children who have attended our school are now doctors, lawyers, administrators of federal agencies , foreign service officers, entrepreneurs, designers , musicians , military officers, community leaders , and much more. They are even leading student support for West Virginia teachers !

As an MMS student, your child is experiencing the same power educational model that unleashes potential and builds a foundation for a lifetime of service and success. We can’t wait to see where their learning will take them in the years to come!


Harvard Business Review: Montessori Builds Innovators

The “Montessori Mafia”

Tech innovators who went to Montessori schools

Maria Montessori and 10 famous graduates from her schools


Why are people who went to Montessori schools so absurdly successful?

by Nadini Jammi, published in Nickeled

If you were lucky when you were a kid, you went to a Montessori school.You learned by doing. You were encouraged to touch ask questions, to fail early and often. You were taught to do more than you were expected to. You were given a little guidance and encouragement and figure out the rest. And this is when you were four years old.

There are two really strong cases for learning this way. One is called Sergey Brin and the other is Larry Page.

Both Larry and Sergey credit  their hands-on Montessori education  for building the foundation for their tendency to act and do, rather than passively accept information. ( Other notable Montessori alum include  Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and the illustrious P.Diddy.)

Montessori schools operate on a distinctive set of principles that are rather generous towards little people.

“The teacher’s task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child,” outlined Dr. Montessori in her handbook.

How Montessori’s “Prepared Environment” Breeds Quick Learners

Students at Montessori schools were sent into what  she referred to as “the prepared environment” :

Montessori believed that children learn best in a prepared environment, a place in which children can do things for themselves. The prepared environment makes learning materials and experiences available to children in an orderly format. Classrooms Montessori described are really what educators advocate when they talk about child-centered education and active learning. Freedom is the essential characteristic of the prepared environment. Since children within the environment are free to explore materials of their own choosing, they absorb what they find there. Maria Montessori was a master at creating environments for young children that enabled them to be independent, active, and learn.

 I know we’re all adults here, but doesn’t this sound awesome?


I went to a Montessori for a few years, and when I finally went to a “normal” school, I was reading through two grade levels ahead and writing cursive. It was a little confusing to see my peers struggling to read one line at a time.

Why? Because at my Montessori, I was given an exercise to complete (usually sensory or tactile, like gift wrapping a box or stringing together a new word out of wooden letters) and left to my own devices. My pace, my way.

I’m not here to argue that you should send your kids to a Montessori. I’m saying that’s how you should be approaching learning now.

This isn’t a kids-only approach. It’s for big people too.

There is a strong case for throwing employees into a job  sans  training:

One of the places where real life learning takes place is in the workplace, “on the job.” The reason for this seems simple enough. Humans are natural learners. They learn from everything they do. When they watch television, they learn about the day’s events. When they take a trip, they learn about how to get where they are going and what it is like to be there. [ What We Learn When We Learn By Doing ]

This constant learning also takes place as one works. If you want an employee to learn his job, then, it stands to reason that the best way is to simply let him do his job.


You do your best work on the job when you’re set up with a challenge, freedom and a little basic guidance.


Passive learning is falling to the wayside because it’s not how we do acquire knowledge in real life.

Shouldn’t all training be active like that? Does it matter if we’re kids or adults?

There are a few companies that do a mega impressive job of onboarding: Hubspot with  their academy , Slack with  their Slackbot , and Trello with  their Trello board . Forget that they’re fun – they’re effective.

They understand that documentation won’t help anyone get good at their products.

And yet, it’s still accepted practice to throw a wiki manual at the onboarding and training process. Or even more notoriously, offer no onboarding at all.

These successful companies we love do something very Montessori-like. They lay out concrete goals, give them the tools they need to learn at their own pace, and introduce new tasks as they become relevant to their users.

Is there any other way to learn?

A dad’s-eye view of Montessori

In honor of Montessori Education Week, MMS is sharing our story and highlighting the value that Montessori education brings to communities today and tomorrow.

The following is an op-ed by Board President Clifton Clark, an MMS alumnus and parent, on the impact of Montessori on his family and its benefit to West Virginia. Please watch for it in our state’s newspapers and business publications!

Opening the doors to the future

Clifton, Katie, Jay and Eliza Clark

Education is always front and center of the public conversation as policy makers, teachers and parents look for ways to elevate achievement and prepare tomorrow’s workforce.  While there is disagreement on how to achieve these goals, there is widespread consensus that the current model is not meeting the needs of the 21st century.

Today’s students must prepare for jobs that may not yet exist, and which require critical thinking, collaboration and creativity.  To be successful, they must be independent, curious lifetime learners, ready to adapt to change and create their own future.

Fortunately, a roadmap for aligning education with the needs of a changing society already exists: Montessori schools, where many of the education innovations currently under consideration have been successfully implemented for more than a century.

The Montessori method is named for Maria Montessori, the first female physician in Italy and a pioneer in child development. Montessori created a holistic system for teaching children from infancy through adulthood based upon her research that she described as “scientific pedagogy.”

From founding of the “Casa dei Bambini” in Rome in 1907, Montessori has stood the test of time. Today, there are an estimated 20,000 Montessori schools around the world. The United States is home to more than 4,500 Montessori schools, 450 of which are free to the public.


Wired to learn

Dr. Stephen Hughes, a past president of the American Academy of Pediatric Neuropsychology, calls Montessori the original “brain-based” educational model because it is based on scientific principles of human development.

Montessori understood that children are “wired to learn” and that the purpose of education was to unlock each child’s unique potential.  The Montessori system is designed to meet the specific cognitive, social, emotional and physical needs of students at each stage of their development. When these needs are met, learning and excitement soar.

In Montessori schools, children learn in multi-age groupings with research-based, hands-on materials. Subjects are not studied in isolation, but in a cross-disciplinary approach freed from the restriction of the bell or restraints of rigid curriculum. Learning happens in the classroom, in the neighborhood and throughout the community. Students work at their own pace, with or without classmates.  This format allows students to follow their own curiosity and take their learning as far as they desire.

The result is a child who is eager to learn, with the discipline and drive to develop his or her talents to the fullest.


Education for innovation

Some of America’s most innovative and successful companies, such as Amazon, Google and Wikipedia, were founded by former Montessori students. “I think it was part of that of… being self-motivated, questioning what’s going on in the world and doing things a little bit differently,” says Larry Page of Google.

A growing body of peer-reviewed research confirms the advantages of Montessori over traditional education. Most recently, a three-year study of public Montessori schools in Hartford, Conn., found that Montessori children rated higher in academic achievement, social cognition, mastery orientation and school enjoyment than students in traditional classrooms.  Perhaps even more important, the study found that Montessori reduced the achievement gap between low income and more advantaged children.


Building communities today–and tomorrow

Montessori schools are assets to their communities both for the future and the present. Their powerful educational method is preparing the next generation of business leaders, innovators, community builders and engaged citizens who can help West Virginia realize its opportunities and overcome challenges.

As a former Montessori student, I can attest to the lifetime benefit of Montessori.

I attended Mountaineer Montessori School in Charleston (MMS) as a child, where there was no limit to what I could explore and learn.  I was never rebuffed when I asked another “why?”  In fact, I was encouraged to ask as many questions about as many topics as I could imagine.  Additionally, I was encouraged to work not only alone, but with others who had different strengths, weaknesses and interests. I believe that my Montessori experience influenced me to give back, work well with others, to question the status quo and to look for outside the box solutions to challenges.  I apply these characteristics while volunteering in the community, working my career and investing in the businesses I own.

Not only am I the proud parent of two MMS students, but more importantly, an active board member.  In my role, I desire to help others evaluate the benefits the Montessori method can offer our children and community.

In the near term, Montessori schools are a strong draw to families seeking communities with high quality education options. Just last week, a family flew across the country to tour Mountaineer Montessori before accepting a job in Charleston. This is a familiar scene at MMS, as current residents and relocating families increasingly desire education that will prepare their children for the future. In the past five years, enrollment has increased by more than 80 percent, a trend that is not expected to abate. Earlier this year, a mother of a newborn inquired about enrollment!

Founded in 1976, Mountaineer Montessori has served more than 1,000 Charleston children, with 130 students, ages three to eighth grade currently enrolled. In honor of Montessori Education Week, Feb. 25-March 3, we join with schools around the world in opening our doors as a resource for rethinking education to benefit all children in all schools and to strengthen our communities today – and tomorrow.

For more information, please visit our website:


Clifton Clark, JD/MBA


Mountaineer Montessori School Board of Directors