Middle School

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The Montessori adolescent program is a place- and nature-based approach to education.

“But, above all it is the education of adolescents that is important, because adolescence is the time when the child enters on the state of manhood and becomes a member of society.” Maria Montessori

The Mountaineer Montessori School adolescent program, serving seventh and eighth year students, combines the best of Montessori practices with current research on adolescent education, with a special emphasis on the unique intellectual, emotional and physical transitions students at this age experience. Our program offers an academically rigorous curriculum with high expectations for each student. Holistic, individualized support enables each student to develop his or her full potential as a future leader and contributing member of society.

Education for life

The program is based upon Dr. Maria Montessori’s vision for a “school of experience in the elements of social life,” emphasizing work that is meaningful, collaborative and adult-like. Her plan for work and study offers adolescents true integration of knowledge and experience as well as opportunities for genuine contribution to their community. The result is intellectual independence, an awareness of human connections and the strengthening of moral character.

“The goal of the Montessori adolescent program to produce adults who are equipped with the confidence in themselves and actual skills to live in the real world.” Montessori for Everyone









Community as classroom


Agriculture is a hallmark of the Montessori middle school program.

The Montessori adolescent curriculum is a place-based, integrated approach to education that gives students a hands-on, real-world preparation for higher education..and for life.  Our program leverages natural and built resources in our community, state and beyond to offer unmatched agriculture-, nature- and entrepreneurship-based learning opportunities to adolescents. Please see our Community as Classroom page for more information.







Why a Montessori Middle School? 

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Students enjoy cooking classes with area chefs and prepare lunch for their classmates once a week.

The Mountaineer Montessori middle school was developed in response to an enrollment jump of more than 50 percent at MMS in the last two years and increasing requests from the community for alternatives to one-size-fits-all education for students beyond their sixth year.

Research supports the advantages of the Montessori adolescent curriculum, including:

  • Higher levels of achievement
  • Superior talent development
  • Higher levels of interest and intrinsic motivation

Hear from our alumni how Montessori prepared them for their future education…and for life!







Program and curriculum design

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Seventh-year students learned trigonometry, cartography, data measurement and organization, and history as they mapped the Carriage Trail.

MMMS offers an academically rigorous, project-based curriculum emphasizing STEM, arts, entrepreneurship, environmental stewardship and community service. Our program has been carefully reviewed and meets and/or exceeds all seventh and eighth grade Common Core standards.

The program was developed in partnership with two of the world’s leading Montessori adolescent education consultants:  Laurie Ewert-Krocker, the founding head teacher of the Hershey Montessori School Farm School, widely considered the premier Montessori adolescent program in the country, and David Kahn, executive director of the North American Montessori Teachers Association (NAMTA).  Their expert advice contributed to site selection and facilities, curriculum design and resource development.

Learn more about the Montessori adolescent curriculum: MMS-Middle-School-Prospectus_1

Click here to see an example of an entrepreneurship project.














Classroom format


The Rev. Ron English, an assistant pastor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., leads a discussion on the civil rights movement.

The Montessori adolescent program builds on students’ intense interest, passion and curiosity to support deep understanding of academic subjects and their connections to the world around them. Rather than learning through textbooks and lecture alone, students conduct independent research, search out primary sources, meet with experts and participate in student-led seminar discussions that develop critical thinking, verbal and written communication skills and lifetime knowledge.







Preparation for high school


Hands-on science is a hallmark of our Middle School program.

The Mountaineer Montessori Middle School program offers a strong foundation for high school — beyond. Homework, grading and testing are administered within the Montessori setting to equip students for success in future traditional educational classrooms.  MMS consults with area high schools to ensure that our curriculum meets and surpasses admission requirements and to facilitate a smooth transition from our seventh- and eighth-grade program to ninth grade. Starting the fall of 2016, students may be eligible for distance learning opportunities that offer high school credits for their work at MMS in subjects such as Algebra I and Spanish.






Peace curriculum and community engagement


Students plant kale at a WV SAGE location, which provides food for families served at the Schoenbaum Center.

The Montessori adolescent academic curriculum emphasizes community engagement.  Weekly public service work extends classroom learning into the community and puts the Montessori peace philosophy into practice.  To learn more about the tradition of service at MMS, please see our Community Engagement page.














Guest teachers and artists-in-residence

During their study of Western religions, students toured houses of worship and met with local clergy.

During their study of Western religions, students toured houses of worship and met with local clergy.

Business and community leaders, neighbors, artists and subject matter experts enrich our middle school program, sharing expertise and insights that connect students’ academic learning to the real world. (Please see this impressive list of recent MMMS guest teachers and artists-in-residences for more information.)








Creative expression

csup-104Creative expression opportunities nurture students’ discovery of themselves and their world through art, music, drama, creative writing, dance and sports. MMS faculty members, specialists and subject matter experts from the community help students explore and develop their potential through a wide range of activities.













Fitness and exercise

20150923_084434Maria Montessori was a pioneer in establishing the mind-body-spirit connection. Middle school students engage in daily physical activity through formal PE classes with specialists at the University of Charleston, YMCA and  South Hills and Kanawha City campuses, and in free time opportunities, which include yoga, lawn games and frequent hikes on the historic Carriage Trail, which connects to our school.






What happens at the Middle School?


Niks is one of two pups attending the middle school program this year. They are being trained by students as therapy animals.

The Gazette, featuring articles and photos by seventh- and eighth-year students, offers a students’-eye view of life at Mountaineer Montessori and the type of lessons and activities that students experience.  We invite you to take a look at the Gazette to gain the student perspective on our adolescent program.












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Middle school students ended their first year by presenting a “little free library” to community.

The Mountaineer Montessori Middle School is located at Unity of Kanawha Valley, 804 Myrtle at Bridge Road, in Charleston’s South Hills neighborhood.  This convenient location provides ready access to the historic Carriage Trail, the lovely Sunrise neighborhood and downtown Charleston.

The middle school program also utilizes amenities at our main campus in Kanawha City and the University of Charleston, with which MMS enjoys a long-standing and mutually-beneficial relationship.  In addition the Montessori approach extends the curriculum beyond the classroom walls, with students pursuing their education throughout our community, state and region.







Standardized testing

Middle School Surveying Project 021

Mapping the Carriage Trail.

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 Director Jennifer Carriger (jcarriger@mountaineermontessori.org).





Caring and community


At Mountaineer Montessori, we are family.

Classes led by Sky Kershner, director of the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center, 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.









Bridgett Steveson and Kate Laishley

Bridgett Steveson and Kate Laishley

The MMS Middle School program is led by Bridgett Steveson, who brings extensive experience at some of the most respected environmental education programs in the world, with assistance from Kate Laishley. (Learn more about MMS faculty here.)







Emma Grose Middle School Math Specialist

Emma Grose
Middle School Math Specialist

Maria Leon Kershner Spanish Teacher

Maria Leon Kershner
Spanish Teacher

The MMMS educational experience is strengthened with classes led by highly-qualified subject matter specialists, including Emma Grose, who teaches advanced mathematics twice a week, and Spanish teacher Maria Leon Kershner.  (You can learn more about our faculty specialists here.)










What do our students say?


Students describe the Mountaineer Montessori Middle School program as “an exciting ride of self-discovery” and “It’s not book, pencil, paper. It’s get your hands on it. Do it. Figure it out.”


Mountaineer Montessori Middle School in the news:



Mountaineer Montessori Middle School students head to the Kanawha River, WCHS-TV, 9-28-16

DOW volunteer leads STEM project at middle school, State Journal, 9-5-15

Students map Carriage Trail, Charleston Gazette, 8-8-15

Montessori students open “Little Free Library” in Charleston, WCHS-TV, 6-3-15

Students open “Little Free Library,” Metro News, 6-11-16

Little Free Library opens in South Hills, Kanawha Valley Neighbors, 6-11-15