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.






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 middle school program connects students with business and community leaders and 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.






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.

The Mountaineer Montessori Middle School, introduced in August 2014, is the only one of its kind in West Virginia.  It offers an academically rigorous, project-based curriculum emphasizing STEM, arts, entrepreneurship, environmental stewardship and community service.

The MMS seventh and eighth year 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










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 Mountaineer Montessori School adolescent program offers a range of educational opportunities unmatched in West Virginia–and beyond. (For one, puppies!) The MMMS 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.






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 new program 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!





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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.





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.









Standardized testing

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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 Co-Directors Jennifer Carriger (jcarriger@mountaineermontessori.org or Suzanne Sanders, ssanders@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.






Dina Hornbaker, left, and Bridgett Steveson

Dina Hornbaker, left, and Bridgett Steveson

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 Dina Hornbaker, who has a rich background in permaculture, music and Spanish language. (Learn more about MMS faculty 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:


keraDOW 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