At Mountaineer Montessori Middle School, we jump into life!
21st century learning
Knowledge is the currency of the 21st century.
Rapid transitions in technology and increasing globalization present new and continuing challenges for today’s students. Innovation, critical thinking and collaboration are the skills that will separate young people who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments in the 21st century and those who are not.
The Montessori adolescent program is a powerful 21st-century aligned model that develops the competencies demanded in the information age. Montessori educates the whole person, fostering independence, critical thinking and a love of learning. Mountaineer Montessori Middle School prepares students to be engaged, productive and successful global citizens.
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 developmentally-aligned 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.
Mountaineer Montessori is proud to offer the only Montessori adolescent program in West Virginia.
“It will be vital to have more of the ‘right’ education than less…. The winners won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime.” Thomas Friedman
Education for life
The Montessori Middle School model 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
Out of the box and out of the classroom
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.
To develop a sense of place, and provide a meaningful context for student work, Middle School learning happens in a variety of places: at our school, in nature, and the city and state in which we live.
Adolescents need to be valorized through real work — work that has meaning to them and in their community. At MMMS, students are responsible for community chores, providing food for our community, planning trips into the larger community, developing and implementing a micro economy, and maintaining the classroom budget. These experiences allow students to experience the dynamics of social life, community organization and self-governance.
Our prepared environment expands into the larger Charleston area. Students work with community partners and travel throughout the region as part of their studies. Students take the lead in planning and organizing outings, which are essential for gaining independence and learning what is expected of them in society.
“The world of education is like an island where people cut off from the world prepare for life by being removed from it.”
Why a Montessori Middle School?
The future of education has been happening in Montessori schools since 1906. Many of the innovations and reforms now being introduced into traditional schools–such as project-based learning, student-centered instruction, collaborative learning, “Big History,” nature based learning, entrepreneurship education, etc.–trace their origins to Montessori.
Parents who have witnessed the positive impact of Montessori on their children at primary and elementary levels are increasingly seeking high quality education alternatives for middle and high school. Around the world, Montessori adolescent programs are being implemented to meet the demand for 21st century schools based on a proven methodology that has been successfully implemented for more than a century.
The Mountaineer Montessori Middle School was developed in response to an enrollment increase of more than 50 percent at MMS over the past four years and growing interest in our community for high-quality, academically superior 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!
Designed to succeed
Our 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.
MMMS is built on the foundation that has guided our Primary and Elementary program for 40 successful years: commitment to a superior, total educational experience; authentic Montessori; well-qualified teachers and staff; focus on continual improvement; ongoing investment in professional development and materials; and strong support from the MMS Director and Board of Directors. Over the past four decades, Mountaineer Montessori has established a proud tradition of excellence and innovation in education. That experience and thinking guide our Middle School, which extends our proven educational program to serve seventh and eighth year students.
Learn more about the Montessori adolescent curriculum here.
Click here to see an example of an entrepreneurship project.
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.
“It’s important that we touch history and not just read history.” Bernice King
Preparation for high school
The Mountaineer Montessori Middle School program offers an excellent foundation for high school — and 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.
“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
In the driver’s seat
Montessori is built on student agency, and at MMMS, students take ownership of their own education and are free to take their learning as far as they can go.
We offer learning without limits. Education is not confined to mandated standards or a grade level, but expands to encourage the abilities and interests of each student. Our comprehensive curriculum takes learning to a higher level, supporting deep understanding and lifetime knowledge. Faculty members guide students to reach their fullest potential, offering small group and individualized instruction that nurtures each student’s unique gifts and talents.
Peace curriculum and community engagement
The Montessori adolescent academic curriculum emphasizes community engagement. 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
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.)
Our Middle School program features a rich variety of creative self-expression opportunities for students to discover themselves and their world and channel energies during a time of great physical and intellectual transformation. Artists, guest teachers and instructors from the school community guide these artistic and physical pursuits. Students help design each year’s self-expression program, which can include art, drama, creative writing, crafting/sewing, wood carving and all types of music as well as various forms of physical expression, including archery, cross training, yoga and dance.
At MMMS, students operate their own small businesses. Through this process they develop responsibility, accountability, project management and problem-solving skills as well as an understanding of entrepreneurship, business and marketing and financial literacy.
Each year, students meet with business owners and conduct research to develop proposals for their projects, sharing their ideas in a “Shark Tank” format. Collectively, the community makes the final decisions on the interest and economic viability of their ideas. The development of a micro economy provides invaluable experience for practicing and participating in a real community.
Academic lessons are integrated into the micro economy program. For example, growing produce introduces biology and chemistry principles. Creating a budget develops math and planning skills. Creating an effective proposal hones written and oral communication and technology skills.
Fitness and exercise
Maria 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 gymnasium and pool, 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.
MMS is engaged in state wide efforts to increase access to public school sports and extra curricular activities for independent- and home school students. For more information about fitness and sports at MMS, please follow this link.
What happens at the Middle School?
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.
A total education experience
At Mountaineer Montessori, middle school 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, our seventh- and eighth-years work with primary and elementary students 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.
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.
Starting in their first 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, go here.
Caring and community
Through class meetings, 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.
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.)
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.)
Montessori Adolescent Education Information:
Montessori for ages 12-18, Michael Olaf
How a Montessori adolescent program prepares students for high school, Montessori Rocks
Montessori a growing trend for middle schools, Parenthood
Adolescence without tears: The Montessori High School, Tomorrow’s Child
Want to keep your middle schooler out of trouble? Washington Post, 8-20-14
Cool at 13, adrift at 23, New York Times, 6-23-14
The middle school ‘cool kids’ are not alright, Washington Post, 6-17-14
Teenage indecision? That’s just the growing brain, PRI 1-29-17
What happens when students create their own curriculum, The Atlantic, 11-23-15
Rethinking middle school, NPR, 6-13-03
K-8 schools may be better for adolescents, NY Times, 12-18-12
Mountaineer Montessori Middle School in the news:
WasSUP: Stand Up Paddleboarding with MMMS, South Hills Living, December 2016
Students learn balance with stand up paddleboarding, Putnam Review, 10-13-16
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
Middle school students cultivating a “culture of cooking” with Thaibilly Kitchen, Charleston Gazette, 3/1/15
Montessori Middle School Students Mapping Carriage Trail, WCHS-TV, Eye on Education, 1/28/15
West Virginia’s Only Montessori Middle School Opens in Charleston, WCHS-TV, Eye on Education, 8/21/14
Students at new Montessori Middle School Shape Curriculum, Charleston Daily Mail, 8/19/14
Montessori Middle School Opens in Charleston this week, WOWK-TV, 8/20/14
State’s Only Montessori Middle School Opens, West Virginia Executive, 8/18/14