“Education should no longer be mostly imparting knowledge but must take a new path, seeking release of the human potential.”  Dr. Maria Montessori 


The Joy of Discovery

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Lower elementary students release trout raised in their classroom into the wild.

In our elementary program, children gain a deep understanding of the hows and whys of the world through a discovery-based approach to learning.

The Montessori elementary curriculum guides children toward independence, “with more freedom to go where they need to go rather than where the testing goes,” explains Lower Elementary Lead Guide Becca Moore. “Instead of just checking boxes for a list of standards, a Montessori education helps children to discover and become who they were meant to be.






Elementary Education at MMS


Hands-on science is a hallmark of the Montessori elementary curriculum.

MMS elementary classes are divided into lower elementary (ages 6 to 9) and upper elementary (ages 9 to 12) groups. MMS currently has two lower elementary and one double upper elementary classroom, each led by a minimum of two trained, experienced Montessori faculty members.

Meet the MMS Elementary Faculty

About Montessori and how it differs from traditional education






“Cosmic” Education

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As part of their year-long study of ancient civilizations, upper elementary students staged an Egyptian fashion show.

Our experienced elementary teachers are passionate about inspiring students to explore and fulfill their individual potential through a discovery-based approach to learning. Elementary students connect subjects together in a meaningful or “cosmic” way as they explore the interrelationships that exist among all of the math, language and cultural subjects. (See the Five Great Lessons.)

Lessons are personalized and given at each student’s pace, capitalizing on the student’s particular areas of interest. Hands-on materials are used to clarify abstract ideas. While independent work is encouraged, students also study in small groups or with mentors to help them learn to work cooperatively and to develop strong social skills.






Elementary Curriculum


Presenting a Montessori math lesson to fourth-year students.

The Montessori elementary curriculum covers six subject areas: math, language, history, geography, science and geometry.  In-class Spanish instruction, computer classes and a comprehensive arts and physical education program further enrich our elementary curriculum.

Using concrete, semi-concrete and abstract materials, students are given individual and small group lessons in each subject area. Follow-up work is done independently with careful teacher guidance. Teachers conduct daily assessments of each child and plan lessons accordingly.

Based on our 40 years of experience serving more than 1,000 children, students who complete our elementary program are extremely well-prepared to be successful in whatever future educational setting they choose. We invite you to learn more about Montessori outcomes and our alumni




Peace Curriculum

Students build a "buddy bench" for the playground, learning math and woodworking along the way.

Students build a “buddy bench” for the playground, learning math and woodworking along the way. When a child sits on a buddy bench, it lets others know he is looking for a buddy to play with.

“Peace is what every man is craving for and it can be brought about to humanity through the child.” Maria Montessori believed in the power of education to create a better world through the child and was a pioneer in peace education.  The Montessori peace curriculum helps children develop respect and care for themselves and others, their school environment, their community and their world.  At MMS, the Montessori peace philosophy is practiced in the classroom through grace and courtesy and in the larger world through community engagement and volunteer service. Learn more about our tradition of service on our Montessori Peace Philosophy and Community Engagement page.







Foreign Language

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At MMS, Spanish is a part of the curriculum from primary through middle school.

Twice weekly classes led by native Spanish speaker Maria Kershner-Leon help students develop second language skills and broaden their global awareness. In recognition of our strong foreign language program, Spanish classes at the middle school level may qualify for credit at area high schools.










Collaboration and Community

Students collaborate to chart the orbits of the planets.

Students collaborate to chart the orbits of the planets.

All of the aspects of the elementary community are designed to support the strong social and emotional needs of the students. They develop collaborative skills, self-confidence, leadership skills and compassion through their group work. Our teachers are also skilled guides in helping the children to work through conflict, helping them to solve their own issues in a kind and compassionate way.












Creative Expression

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Learning water color techniques with Barrie Kaufman, an internationally-known artist and 2014 WV Artist of the Year.

MMS offers exceptional arts education opportunities for students at all levels. Creative expression is embedded throughout the Montessori cross-disciplinary curriculum, incorporating art, music, dance, drama and creative writing to engage students and support deep learning. In addition, twice-weekly art and music classes  allow students to explore and develop their creative talents under the direction of well-known arts educators, including Barrie Kaufman, Karen Morris and Bernard DiGregorio. Please see our Specials page for more information on our highly-regarded academic enrichment programs.






Community as Classroom

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Conducting water tests at The Mountain Institute.

Off campus learning is a major component of the Montessori approach to education. Children at all levels enrich their academic lessons through multi-sensorial learning experiences off campus, including field trips and other interactive activities. These include an annual three-day session at The Mountain Institute at Spruce Knob for upper elementary and middle school students.

To learn more about MMS field trips and off campus learning, please see our Community as Classroom page.







Guest Teachers and Artists-in-Residence 

Well-known Appalachian artist Charly Hamilton leads a wood print class for lower elementary students.

Well-known Appalachian artist Charly Hamilton leads a wood print class for lower elementary students.

Frequent guest speakers, artists-in-residence, educational presentations and school assemblies enrich our elementary program, inspiring imagination and opening horizons for our students.











Elementary Classrooms

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Lower elementary students are introduced to algebra through the trinomial cube.

MMS offers a fully-implemented elementary program, with a rich and full complement of rotating Montessori materials and equipment. We invite you to take a back-to-school photo tour of our four elementary classrooms:

Lower elementary

Upper elementary

Hands-on science










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Students learn coding, a language that helps them communicate and create in the 21st century.

Students are introduced to technology starting in their first year of elementary education. Professionals lead weekly classes in our Apple Lab,  where students learn keyboard use, Internet safety, the full Microsoft suite of programs, graphic design and online research skills.  In the spring of 2016, our comprehensive computer curriculum was expanded to include coding, a “second language” that helps students communicate, create and construct in the digital world. Laptops and computers are also available in classrooms to support students’ learning as needed under the guidance of a faculty member.











Our yoga “studio” has a great view!

If you want children to learn, you’ve got to let them move! Physical activity is integral to a Montessori education. Lower and upper elementary students participate in a full physical education curriculum and daily free time exercise opportunities.  Utilizing facilities at the University of Charleston pool and Triana Field, along with those in the outdoor environment, Nancy Johnston and other members of our full-time, Montessori-trained faculty help children develop a positive attitude toward the improvement of physical health, strength and coordination.  Sixth-year and middle school students are eligible to participate in the MMS Cross Country team, which competes against other Kanawha County Middle Schools. Please see our Specials page for more information on our exercise and movement opportunities and after school sports programs.






Sixth Year Project and Traditions

Ellis got into character for his presentation on the Beatles to families, faculty and the community.

Ellis got into character for his SYP presentation on the Beatles to families, faculty and the community.

Our popular “Sixth Year Project” is a year-long writing and research project that culminates students’ elementary studies. Learn more about the SYP and other cherished sixth year student traditions here.












Character and Community

We are family

At MMS, we are family.

Weekly classes led by Sky Kershner, director of the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center, and the Rev. Ron English, help students develop communication and interpersonal skills that support positive personal, academic and social  relationships and inspire them to become compassionate and socially conscious citizens of our school, community and planet. Students practice the Montessori peace philosophy through grace and courtesy in the classroom and public service and volunteerism. Learn more about our tradition of service on our Montessori Peace Philosophy and Community Engagement page.







Education Customized for Your child

c3-24-16 059Montessori education meets children where they are.  In addition to daily progress assessments by classroom teachers, detailed bi-annual parent/student reports and annual standardized testing, all MMS students receive private academic screenings to align their educational path with their individual needs and interests. Experienced specialists with advanced training work with students on a one-on-one basis to provide additional support as needed. Our Learning Support Team is headed by MMS Co-Director Jennifer Carriger, co-founder of the Appalachian Reading Center and the WV Learning Disabilities Association Teacher of the Year.










Standardized Testing 

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Montessori prepares students for a world of opportunities.

Starting in their third year of elementary education, MMS students participate in the Stanford Achievement Test.  The “Stanford 10” is a nationally-normed assessment that is considered more comprehensive than most state standardized tests.  At MMS, we do not “teach to the test” and standardized testing is not emphasized. However, over the past four decades working with 1,000 children, it has been our experience that MMS students compare very highly with private and public school students across the nation and are extremely well-prepared for other educational settings in the future. For more information about standardized testing at MMS, please contact Directors Jennifer Carriger (jcarriger@mountaineermontessori.org.