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: www.mountaineermontessori.org


Clifton Clark, JD/MBA


Mountaineer Montessori School Board of Directors


MMS celebrates Montessori Education Week 2018

MMS is joining with schools around the world in celebrating the child-centered approach to education that has been transforming lives for more than a century during Montessori Education Week February 25-March 3.


We’ll be highlighting Montessori education and our school through media outreach and social media platforms and organizing special events and ongoing activities for our school community in the week ahead.


Please mark your calendars for the dates below:


  • “Ask Jennifer,” Thursday, March 1, 8:15-9:30 a.m., at the Middle School (804 Myrtle Road – Unity Church). In honor of Montessori Education Week, Director Jennifer Carriger will host a special coffee for parents. This is a wonderful opportunity to have your questions about Montessori education, what’s happening in our classrooms and/or school operations addressed.


  • “M” shirt day, Friday, March 2. Everyone is encouraged to show their Montessori spirit by wearing M gear to school.


  • “The thing I like best about Mountaineer Montessori is…” Students, parents, alumni and our community are invited to share what makes MMS special to them via social media posts (starting next week) and fun art sheets that will be distributed at school. You and your child can get started now by completing the attached form. Responses will be posted throughout our hallways! MMS Education Week Art


Please watch your email and social media for announcements of other activities that will take place in the week ahead. After 111 years of Montessori education around the world and 41 years in Charleston, we have a lot to celebrate!


2018-19 MMS School Year Calendar Highlights


The 2018-19 MMS school year calendar is being finalized and will be available in its entirety soon. We know many families plan vacations well in advance and want to make sure you have the basic information now.

Here are some of the 2018-2019 calendar highlights:


  • August 17:    New Student Visits
  • August 20:   First Day for Students – Primary Extended Day, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Middle School
  • August 21:    First Day for Students – Returning Primary Morning Friends
  • August 22:   First Day for Students – New Primary Morning Friends
  • September 3:  School Closed/Labor Day
  • November 19-23: School Closed/Thanksgiving Break
  • December 20:   Noon dismissal/Winter Concert
  • December 21-January 1:  School Closed/New Year’s Break
  • January 21:  School Closed/Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • February 18-22:   School Closed/Winter Break
  • April 15-19:    School Closed/Spring Break
  • May 27:  School Closed/Memorial Day
  • June 7:  Last Day of School/Early Dismissal/Picnic

An inspired partnership: Mountaineer Montessori Middle School and Unity of Kanawha Valley

One of the oldest buildings in South Hills has started a new chapter in its long and storied history.

The stone structure, located at 804 Myrtle at Bridge Road, has been home to several religious congregations since it was built in 1902. For the first 55 years, the building housed Elizabeth Memorial Methodist Church before the church relocated to Oakwood Road in 1977, and later welcomed a Presbyterian congregation.  In 2007, it was purchased by Unity of Kanawha Valley (UKV).

The sanctuary, which features majestic stained-glass windows, was completed before Bridge Road was paved. The original building was constructed from stone quarried on Davis Creek and hauled over mud roads on horse drawn wagons. In 1955, the building was expanded with a community room addition.

UKV, which had moved from North Charleston to the South Hills location, undertook extensive repairs and updates to help restore the sanctuary to its original splendor. The building soon became home to not only religious services, but a wide variety of community events.

But while the building was a hub of activity on the weekends and evenings, it was generally quiet during weekdays. So when Mountaineer Montessori School began looking for locations to add an adolescent component to its existing preschool to sixth grade program, 804 Myrtle Road, it seemed like a natural fit:  the two organizations shared a similar vision and commitment to service, the building offered a large lower level and kitchen and the location provided a perfect home base for community-based, experiential learning that is a hallmark of then Montessori Middle School model.


Mountaineer Montessori Middle School opens

Lead Guide Bridgett Steveson, Unity President Sharon Mullins, Designer Jill Watkins and MMS Director Jennifer Carriger

In August 2014, Mountaineer Montessori Middle School (MMMS), serving seventh- and eighth-grade students, officially opened its doors at the South Hills church and an inspired partnership was born.

Since then, students and teachers have taken full advantage of the location, establishing classrooms and individual and collaborative learning areas throughout the church’s lower level, using the kitchen for weekly cooking sessions and frequent fundraising events and enjoying the beautiful Sunrise neighborhood and access to the Carriage Trail and downtown Charleston.

“It has been a treat for the staff and visitors to hear the laughter of the students both on the grounds and in the building,” says UKV President Sharon Mullins.“ School and church personnel find many ways to cooperate in enriching student experiences,” she said.

As the MMMS program continued to expand and it evolved, new needs surfaced and the two organizations took their partnership to a new level by collaborating on facility improvements last summer. Both parties wanted to upgrade the carpet, ceiling and paint the walls of the activity room. Students also had ideas for enhancing their school, and developed own wish lists and design concepts for new learning areas.


Transforming a vision into reality

Bridgett Steveson and Sharon Mullins.

Jill Watkins, a professional designer, volunteered her professional skills to transform those ideas into a reality.

 “I have friends whose children attend the school and I am familiar with the Montessori approach to teaching.  I wanted to merge ideas generated by the students with a professional design approach and have the final design be in line with Montessori values.  I do some community work occasionally, and this seemed like a good opportunity to help out,” said Watkins, who brought 24 years of experience to the project. She opened Watkins Design Works, a West Virginia-based commercial and residential interior design and green building consulting firm, in 2014. Her work features an emphasis on green design, sustainability and locally-sourced products.

The original space needed to be a bit brighter and updated so that the school could be more functional and lively, she noted. To achieve that objective, separate areas were created within the large activity room including a morning gathering space with the fireplace as focal point; a group project area with movable custom-made wood tables crafted from West Virginia trees by Mark Bolton; and the stage, which became more functional with book storage and bean bags.  New ceiling tiles, lighting and paint brightened the room, and carpet tile selected by the church will be easy to maintain, she said.




A community effort

Combining funds and volunteer labor and guided by the professional design plan, the Unity congregation and school collaborated to create a beautiful, functional space that serves both the school and weekend and evening church activities.

The refreshed spaces have met with rave reviews from students, Unity members and the public.

“Many church members enter the building from the parking lot. As they open the door, they see the beautiful new carpeting, the handsomely crafted maple tables, the stage with library bookcases and the bright color photos of students in their activities throughout the community. What a lovely introduction to the facility!,” Mullins said.

“Design is important in all aspects of our lives, and can affect our outlook, productivity and general well-being.  It is something we notice, even if on a subconscious level.  Everyone deserves good design,” Watkins said.

Unity of Kanawha Valley offers a wonderful home base to prepare students to go out into their community and world.

The redesign of the Unity community room is a big hit with students, teachers and congregants alike.









Stand up for our students: Tim Tebow law up for vote again


MMMS students shared their views with WV Senator Kenny Mann, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, at the Capitol last year.

For  the past several years, Mountaineer Montessori School has been involved in efforts to pass legislation to open access to publicly funded extra curricular activities covered by the WVSSAC to independent and home school students (“Tim Tebow Law”).

Due in part to advocacy by our students, teachers and families, a bill was passed by the WV Senate and House during last year’s legislative session. However, the bill was vetoed at the last minute by Governor Jim Justice.

Two Tim Tebow-type bills have been introduced this year.

Yesterday, the House Education Committee voted down one of them, HB4007, 16-9.

Our best hope is SB130, which was passed by Senate Education last week. It now needs to be approved by Senate Finance. Click here for the text of the current bill.



We encourage all MMS families and friends to write, visit and/or call Senate Finance Chair Craig Blair and urge him to put SB130 on the committee agenda.

He can be reached at:

Senator Craig Blair

Room 461M, Building 1

State Capitol Complex

Charleston, WV 25305




Lobbyists for groups opposing opportunities for our children have been very active and visible on this issue and it is important that our students’ voices be heard at the Capitol.

As always, please pass this along to friends and family. We need all the help we can right now. Please email Dr. Heather Clawges, who has been spearheading this effort statewide, with any questions or suggestions: wvtimtebowbill@gmail.com.

For those who are interested, below is the committee vote for HB4007, which was defeated yesterday:


Chaiman Espinosa – Yea

Vice-Chairman Statler – Yea

Atikinson – Yea

Blair – Yea

Campbell – Nay

Cooper – Nay

Dean – Nay

Evans – Nay

Folk – Yea

Hicks – Nay

Higginbothom – Yea

Hornbuckle – Nay

Kelly – Yea

Moye – Nay

Pyles – Nay

Rodighiero – Nay

Rohrbach – Nay

Romine – Nay

Rowan – Nay

Rowe – Nay

Thompson – Nay

Upson – Yea

Wagner – Nay

Westfall – Nay

Wilson – Yea



Coaching for Connection: special event for parents of teens and preteens to be held January 25

Coaching for Connection: Tools for Parents

with Katie Ibes

Thursday, January 25

6:00-7:30 p.m.

Mountaineer Montessori Middle School (804 Myrtle Road)

Read about the program! Coaching for Connection




Being a parent of a pre-teen and teenager can be particularly challenging and confusing. And yet, incorporating just a few basic coaching techniques can offer support and guidance while opening a window into their world.

At this special MMS Parent Education event, Katie Ibes, Montessori teacher, trainer, consultant, and life and leadership coach, will lead parents through some simple coaching exercises that invite a new way to maintain connection with the young adults in our lives.

Ibes is a principal of Grow Wise Coaching, and the Pedagogical Director for Great River School, a first- through 12th grade Montessori charter school in St. Paul, Minnesota.

At the event, attendees will practice coaching techniques with each other, gaining first-hand experience and appreciation of how vital and powerful this methodology can be.

While this workshop is primarily geared towards parents of children ages 9-18, all parents are welcome – the earlier we bring this work to our children, the better!

This event is open to MMS parents and the public. Admission is FREE.

Plus Program Available

Childcare is available at the main campus for MMS students whose parents are attending the session. Please plan to drop your child(ren) off with Karen before heading over to the middle school. There is no charge. Please email Karen at kkelly@mountaineermontessori.org to register.


MMS on two-hour delay January 17

Due to weather conditions, MMS will open on a two-hour delay on Wednesday, January 17. Stay warm and safe!







Re-enrollment deadline is February 1



Re-enrollment for the 2018-19 school year is underway at MMS!

We ask that all returning MMS families login to ParentsWeb and complete the re-enrollment process by February 1, 2018. A 5 percent tuition deposit must be paid upon enrollment. Please contact us if this is a concern for you.

From a desktop or laptop computer, follow these steps to access and begin the process:

  • Go to www.renweb.com
  • Select Login from the menu bar and ParentsWeb Login from the drop-down menu.
  • Type in our district code (MM-WV), your username and password. If you have forgotten your username or password, please click on the link provided.
  • After logging in, click on the Family Information button in the left menu.
  • Click on the Enrollment/Reenrollment button.

Please note that a completed new application for enrollment for new siblings is required.

After February 1, we will offer remaining classroom spaces to new families. Because space is limited in all classes, if we do not receive your materials in by February 1, we cannot guarantee that your child will have a place next year.

The online financial aid application process is open, and applications are due by March 30.  Notification of awards will be sent in writing by April 20. If your financial aid award is not sufficient to meet your needs, your tuition deposit will be refunded to you.

New families should complete the admissions process, including a tour, as soon as possible. Classes fill quickly and we have maintained a waiting list for the past several years. Please see the Admissions page for more information.

We look forward to welcoming returning and new families to MMS for our 42nd year of excellence and innovation in education next fall!



MMS Ski Club is back!

The MMS Ski Club is returning this year thanks to Hollie Hubbert. Her message below has all of the details:


The MMS Ski Club is back. As a first step, I will register MMS with the Winterplace school ski groups at https://www.winterplace.com/school-groups

For those not familiar, Winterplace is a ski resort about one hour and 15 minutes south of Charleston on I-77, just past Beckley. By becoming part of their school group program, MMS students and their families will have the option to receive a weekly ski or snowboarding lesson and weekday evening passes at a reduced rate. There are a variety of package options for the after school 3:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.; five weeks or eight weeks, the day of your choice, Sunday – Thursday or Monday – Thursday for skiing, snowboarding or tubing.  The rates vary depending on the options you choose. All ski and snowboarding options include a weekly lesson and equipment. If children are under 6, a parent needs to be with them for the lesson.

Please see the attached document for more information: Winterplace Ski Club Information

Families do not have to go on the same days and can change the day for which they registered. For example if a family signs up for Tuesdays but needs to go on a Wednesday instead it is OK.  We must choose one lesson time, on the hour, such as 5:00 or 6:00 p.m.

Everyone must register on the same roster, seven days in advance of the start date. Each person/family can pay and receive their passes on their first visit.  Our school participant roster sheet will be submitted to Winterplace on Wednesday, January 10. This would make our MMS start date Tuesday, January 16. For those who want a five week pass the end date will be Thursday, February 15. For those who want an eight week pass the end date will be Thursday, March 8. Once we know the families who will participate we can coordinate possible ride sharing, a preferred lesson time, etc.  I will attend the all-family meeting, Tuesday, January 9 to answer and collect questions, etc.


Please let me know if your child(ren) and other family members are interested in participating by Tuesday, January 9. If you would like to join you will need to complete the last two pages of the attachment: safety checklist and roster information and send it to me or give it to me at the all-family meeting on Tuesday, January 9. If you have questions please email me at hollie.m.hubbert@wv.gov, call or text at 304.389.3031 or talk to me at the all family meeting.  Thanks!


Hollie Hubbert

(mom of Thomas Bailey – Primary I)