“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



The MMS elementary program supports the “whole child,” nurturing intellectual, social and emotional development and guiding children to reach their full potential.  We offer a discovery-based approach to education that fosters learning without limits, and children enjoy the time, space and encouragement can go as far as their interests and curiosity take them. At MMS, children develop a lifetime love of learning, become confident and self-motivated and take ownership of their education.

Our program provides an excellent academic foundation for education for high school, college and beyond and prepares students for the opportunities and challenges of the future, building tomorrow’s innovators, problem solvers, leaders, entrepreneurs and engaged global citizens.

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.”

Learn more about Montessori education.

Download our brochure: About MMS

Montessori Model UN Program coming to Upper Elementary next year


Elementary Education at MMS


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 two upper elementary classrooms, 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



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.)

Our comprehensive curriculum takes learning to a higher level, supporting deep learning, critical thinking and lifetime knowledge.  Education goes beyond mandated standards and set grade levels, expanding to encourage the abilities and interests of each student.

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


Unlike traditional schools, where subjects are studied separately in tightly timed schedules, Montessori students gain a deep understanding of concepts by learning in context and working through extended learning time blocks. This big picture learning helps students learn the hows and whys of the world.


The Montessori elementary curriculum starts with six core subject areas:

In-class Spanish instruction, computer classes and a comprehensive arts and physical education program further enrich our elementary program.

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


Community as Classroom


At MMS the community is the classroom and off campus learning is a major component of the elementary curriculum. Children at all levels enrich their academic lessons through 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 mark their rise to upper elementary, third year students enjoy a special overnight trip each spring.

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



Peace Curriculum


“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


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.


Guest Teachers and Artists-in-Residence 

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



Montessori Model UN and Sixth Year Traditions



The sixth year is an important milestone at MMS. Sixth year students participate in special projects and enjoy special privileges to help transition to middle school. Starting in the 2018-19 school year, sixth year students  participate in the Montessori Model United Nations Program in New York. Learn more about this amazing opportunity here.

Learn about other cherished sixth year student traditions here.






Collaboration and Community

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 and the Arts


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.





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.

In spring 2017, our hands-on STEM programming expanded to include robotics for all students in Lower and Upper Elementary and Middle School through a partnership with NASA IV & V.

Learn more about robotics here



Elementary Classrooms


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




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.

For more information on fitness and sports at MMS, please follow this link





In addition to their volunteer projects, students gain valuable real-world experience and connect with our community through a variety of educational outreach activities such as Lemonade Day, FestivALL and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events.

Learn more about our tradition of service on our Montessori Peace Philosophy and Community Engagement page.





Character and Community

Through class meetings and special seminars led by Sky Kershner, director of the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center, and the Rev. Ron English, 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.

MMS teachers have received specialized training in and practice Positive Discipline in our classrooms. Our faculty also includes certified Positive Discipline Parent Educators.

Learn more about our tradition of service on our Montessori Peace Philosophy and Community Engagement page.




Education made to fit


Montessori 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 three private reading screenings per year 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 and tutoring as needed. Our Learning Support Team is headed by MMS Director Jennifer Carriger, co-founder of the Appalachian Reading Center and the WV Learning Disabilities Association Teacher of the Year.




A total education experience

At Mountaineer Montessori, elementary students enjoy the benefits of our total education experience and participate in the full life of our school community. As part of the Montessori mixed-age approach to learning, first through sixth years work with primary and middle school on lessons and school projects and participate together in many wonderful special events throughout the year. We invite you to learn more about some of our signature events and activities and the traditions that define the MMS experience for students and their families.


Standardized Testing 


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.

Learn more about standardized testing at MMS here