About MMS


Virtual school tours and Zoom admissions sessions for 2022-23 are underway. Please see the Admissions page of this website for more information.


Mountaineer Montessori School:  Remaking education since 1976


Mary McKown created a “sanctuary of learning” for generations of Charleston children

Welcome to Mountaineer Montessori!

Our story begins 45 years ago during a renaissance of Montessori education in the United States.  Mountaineer Montessori, founded in 1976, was part of this exciting movement to rethink education from the beginning.

We began as a parent co-op serving one classroom of primary students (3 to 6 year olds) led by Mary McKown, a pioneering educator who went on to touch of the lives of generations of Charleston children. From that early start, MMS has continued to grow and inspire–we are 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, 180 students ages 2 to 14 are enrolled at MMS, which includes young children enrolled in our new Toddler Program. 




At Mountaineer Montessori, we are proud of our strong tradition of excellence and innovation in education.

MMS is:

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 is funded 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.

MMS Non-Discrimination Policy






Learning without limits


Built on a 45 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.


Our philosophy



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.

At MMS, we:


Creative expression



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, high fidelity 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



Beginning in August 2021, MMS Primary through Middle School classrooms will be housed at the former St. Agnes School, 4801 Staunton Avenue, SE.  Our Toddler Program will be located at our original UC campus, 308 20th Street. 



Authentic Montessori education

From the beginning, MMS has held fast to the philosophy of Maria Montessori and thams logoe 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 and recognized by the WV Department of Education. MMS knows Montessori!

MMS holds WVDHHR child care licenses for both campuses. We are are proud to uphold the standards of the American Montessori Society and WVDHHR, including student-teacher ratios, while caring for your child. 

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.

Learn more:

Meet our faculty

Montessori and our school

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.


Community engagement



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.

Learn more:





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.


Only at MMS


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 moreMMS Traditions



Our community


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

KCCCommendationSince 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!