Mountaineer Montessori School: Lighting the way for education since 1976
Welcome to Mountaineer Montessori!
Our story begins more than 40 years ago, a time when parents, volunteers and teachers across the country began to rethink traditional education and create their own Montessori schools to offer a child-centered learning experience for children in their communities.
Mountaineer Montessori, founded in 1976 by Mary McKown, was part of this pioneering movement from the start. What began out as one classroom with primary students (3 to 6 year olds), is now the oldest, largest and most well-established Montessori school in West Virginia, serving an estimated 1,000 students in the last four decades. Currently, 134 students ages 3 to 14 are enrolled at MMS.
At Mountaineer Montessori, we are proud of our tradition of excellence and innovation in education. MMS is:
- a full member school of the American Montessori Society, the highest level of membership. MMS is the only Montessori school in West Virginia to achieve this status in the world’s foremost Montessori professional organization.
- led by an AMS certified Montessori Administrator, Jennifer Carriger. She is the only educator in the state to hold this credential.
- home to the only Montessori adolescent program in the state.
- an AMS Pathway of Continuous Improvement School.
MMS is an independent, non-sectarian, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization guided by an elected board of directors comprised of parent, community and faculty representatives.
Our school receives no government support, and is funded solely through tuition, contributions, grants, business partnerships and fundraising events. Financial aid is available. Learn how you can invest in our mission here.
To request information or begin the admissions process, please complete this online form.
Download our About MMS brochure.
Learning without limits
Built on a 40 year tradition of excellence and innovation, MMS offers a complete educational experience. Our comprehensive 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 to 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.
The MMS curriculum 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.
Learn more more about Montessori education here.
At MMS, we value, respect and nurture human potential and celebrate its diversity. Our programs are designed to free that potential and encourage a lifelong love of learning.
Mountaineer Montessori School exists for children. We:
- view the responsibility for education as a partnership between students, teachers and parents
- understand that children learn in many different ways;
- acknowledge that children learn because they are interested, have creative imaginations and possess the innate desire to become competent;
- recognize that the teacher’s role is to inspire, mentor and facilitate the learning process;
- provide educational experiences that cultivate the child’s sense of independence, self-respect and love of peace; and
- prepare aesthetic learning environments that meet the needs, interests and abilities of the children.
Our world class academic curriculum is enriched by a comprehensive music and arts program and myriad creative expression opportunities; foreign language classes; technology instruction (including coding); learning support services and tutoring; an extensive community service component; physical education at the University of Charleston pool and gymnasium; and exceptional after school and summer opportunities.
Excellence in education starts with excellent educators. Our faculty includes AMI/AMS trained Montessori teachers and administrators, and specialists in environmental education, STEM, art, music, physical education and fitness, technology, Spanish, Positive Discipline, gardening/urban agriculture and other specialty fields. Meet our faculty.
We are proud to offer a fully-implemented Montessori program, including the only Montessori middle school in West Virginia.
At MMS, children to discover and become who they were meant to be!
Students set the pace
At MMS, we follow the child, allowing the students set the pace and direction of their education and take their learning as far as they can go. Education is not confined to mandated government standards or a set grade level, but expands to unleash the abilities and interests of each student. Our comprehensive curriculum takes learning to a higher level, supporting deep learning and lifetime knowledge. Faculty guide children to reach their fullest potential, offering small group and individualized instruction that meets each student’s unique gifts and talents. Learning support services and tutoring supplement classroom instruction as needed.
Joyful learning…a world class education… a neighborhood setting
Our unmistakable sign — a 20-foot long piece of art created by Charly Hamilton in collaboration with MMS students in 2011 — signals the joyful learning that can be found throughout our campus.
Our primary and elementary programs are housed in a vintage three-story brick school building brimming with accessible and intriguing educational materials, a colorful art studio, a menagerie of animal friends, a children’s library, an inviting after-school room and Apple computer lab. Our beautiful outdoor environment includes a new student-designed playground and equipment, a garden, playhouses and other features that invite discovery and creativity.
Mountaineer Montessori is located at 308 20th Street in the heart of Charleston just off MacCorkle Avenue, providing us with easy access to all of the rich cultural offerings of the city, the amenities of our leafy Kanawha City neighborhood and the facilities of the University of Charleston, with whom we enjoy a mutually beneficial and long-standing relationship. Daily free time (recess) and physical education activities for elementary students are conducted at UC’s Triana Field or the UC pool and gymnasium.
Our Middle School is housed 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.
We invite you to visit our MMS in the news page and other areas of our website to learn more about our school, its programs and people, see what’s cool about our school and find out how to support us.
Authentic Montessori education
Since the beginning, MMS has held fast to the philosophy of Maria Montessori and the vision of our founder. MMS is staffed by experienced, certified Montessori teachers — enabling us to provide a superior, authentic Montessori education to the children of the Kanawha Valley. Meet our faculty.
All faculty prepare at programs certified by the American Montessori Society (AMS) or Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), the two most recognized Montessori teacher training programs worldwide. Our curriculum, which meets and surpasses state standards, is approved by the Kanawha County Schools. MMS knows Montessori!
All MMS teachers have completed specialized training in Positive Discipline and our faculty includes certified Positive Discipline Parent Educators.
MMS is a proud member of the American Montessori Society, the Ohio Montessori Alliance, Virginia Montessori Association, West Virginia Non-Profit Association and the Charleston Area Alliance.
Commitment to excellence
MMS is committed to offering the best learning experience possible for your child. Each year, we make a major investment in training and consultants to ensure we continue to achieve the highest standards of Montessori education. Beyond their Montessori certification training, our faculty participate in ongoing professional development and specialty workshops. Nationally recognized consultants are brought in to observe our school and advise faculty on curriculum and facilities and lead parent education programs. MMS administrators and board members participate in non-profit and school management training to provide strong, ethical and visionary leadership for our organization. At MMS, learning is for life…for students, teachers, parents and board members.
Maria Montessori believed in the power of education to create a better world through the child. The Montessori curriculum helps children develop respect 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: Community Engagement
A community of learners
Mountaineer Montessori is not just your child’s school, it’s your school too.
At MMS parent involvement is encouraged and welcomed. Throughout the year, parents have the opportunity to observe their child’s class, meet with teachers in scheduled conferences or at other times as needed, participate in Parent Night and other educational events, and enjoy family outings and other social activities.
Keeping parents and our community up to date is a priority. A monthly newsletter, website, blog, social media channels, emails and texts deliver timely and important school information. Our office is staffed throughout the day and we strive to always have an MMS administrative or faculty member ready to answer your call.
We also invite involvement in your child’s education through the MMSPO (our parent organization); serving as a classroom parent; sharing your talents as a guest teacher, volunteering pro bono professional services, participating in fundraising activities and special events, assisting in the office, or other capacities; and/or serving the the MMS Board of Directors. Every person can play a role in enriching the MMS educational experience.
- Parent and Community Education opportunities (Parent Night and special events).
- Community of Learners (parental engagement and volunteer opportunities)
- Community Engagement (the Montessori peace philosophy and volunteerism at MMS).
- Montessori Meet-Ups (social events)
“MMS gave me a wonderful foundation for my education and a love of learning. Throughout my life, I have talked to people from many states and countries and different backgrounds, and I cannot name one person who had a better elementary school based both on happy memories and good education.” Emily Beal, PhD.
Learn more: We invite you learn more about Mountaineer Montessori from the people who know us best on our Testimonials page.
MMS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization overseen by an elected board of directors comprised of faculty, parent and volunteer leaders from varied professional backgrounds who are passionate about Montessori education, dedicated to the mission of MMS and advocate on behalf of the school, its programs and staff. The MMS Board of Directors provides strategic direction and policy guidance to our school and develops the resources needed to offer the highest quality Montessori education to our students.
The MMS experience is shaped by many cherished traditions that have developed over our five decades. These special activities and events enrich our academic programming, foster friendships and build lifetime memories for our students and their families. From the Sixth Year Project, to student-run lunch program, to trips to The Mountain Institute, MMS offers many unique and powerful learning opportunities for our school community.
Learn more: MMS Traditions
The future of education is happening today at Mountaineer Montessori School. We recently launched “MMS@50,” a “think big” 10-year strategic plan that builds on our tradition of excellence and innovation with an inspirational vision for our school and education in West Virginia as we approach our 50th anniversary.
Implementation of a toddler program, exploration of a Montessori high school, development of a community outdoor classroom and construction of a new purpose-built facility to house all MMS programs are among the plan’s lofty aims. It’s an exciting time to be a part of Mountaineer Montessori.
MMS celebrates the rich and vibrant diversity of our school community and actively nurtures an inclusive and open learning environment for all children. New students and those transferring from other schools are warmly welcomed and quickly become part of the fabric of our school.
Perhaps our students, composing “At Mountaineer Montessori” (MMS School Song), said it best:
“We all come from different places
We all have different faces
And we are all connected
At Mountaineer Montessori!”
Charleston’s Montessori school
Since its founding, Mountaineer Montessori has enriched the lives of more than a thousand students, who have gone on to academic achievement, distinguished professional careers and active community engagement and public service. After 40 years, we’re proud to say that we are Charleston’s — and West Virginia’s — Montessori school.
We invite your family to become part of this special tradition!