The ‘only choice’: MMS testimonials

“The only choice”….. “a gift”….a “magical experience”…..”excited about learning”…..”different from any other place”….”a complete educational experience.”

These are a just a few of the words you’ll hear from MMS parents, students and alumni when asked to describe their experience at our school. We invite you learn more about Mountaineer Montessori from the people who know it best:


I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many of my MMS classmates have excelled in life both professionally and personally. My classmates are now physicians, scientists, climate activists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, musicians, educators, and so many others have fantastic and interesting careers. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that when people are asked what my strongest trait is they say I am loyal. MMS taught us to respect our fellow man, work as a team, and lift up those in need. These are lessons you can’t learn from a textbook but must experience as part of a culture.”  Dr. Molly Seidler

Read Molly Seidler’s MMS story







“I think every parent wants to see their child learn and be successful. With Montessori, you can see a foundation being built that prepares your children for life long success. Tenets of respect, responsibility, independence, self motivation, and leadership will shape their lives forever. We couldn’t ask for anything more.” 

Dr. Rayan Ihle, and Isaiah (Lower Elementary II), Paul Ihle, and Abigail (Upper Elementary I).

Read the Ihle family’s MMS story






“I like how each person can learn at their own pace, which is different from traditional schools that give all students the same work and a deadline. Montessori tailors its education to each student. Some of my favorite memories are working with my friends on projects like the egg drop. Another experience I enjoyed was a trip to Spruce Knob where we camped outside and learned life skills, like how to make a campfire and how to find your way back with a compass.” Danny Zanabli, eighth year student

“I chose Montessori because the curriculum challenges students and allows them to experiment and engage with subjects in a unique way. My favorite thing about the school is how students learn, how they have a say in what they learn, which allows them to feel invested in their education and their future.” Nasrin Zanabli

Read Danny’s MMS story


“I honestly think I learned more in those six years (at Mountaineer Montessori) than in the rest of junior high/high school, undergrad and grad school. Being able to attend MMS set me up for a successful professional and personal life.” Sara Beal, Director of Publishing, Still Working/Roy Orbison Productions, Nashville, pictured at a BMI Awards event with with husband Jon Cavendish, left, and colleague Jeff Allen, now at Viacom


Read Sara’s MMS story





“I hope that the children in our class remember that Tara (Fought) and I want the best for them. We will do our best to make sure beautiful memories and great learning experiences were developed here.  I would love for them to look back and say, ‘Mountaineer Montessori gave me the foundation to excel in my education–and life.’”  Sonji Byers-Baldwin, Lower Elementary I Assistant

Read Sonji’s MMS story






“We get a lot of peace of mind knowing that we are providing the best education for our family that is not only teaching them information, but helping them be curious, creative and respectful… for us, kindness and leadership are particularly important. We want our children to be kind to others and the environment and to help through positive leadership.” 

Enybe Diaz and Brandon Merritt, with Lucia (Lower Elementary), Oliver (Primary) and Sammy 


See more from the Merritt family




“What makes MMS special is that everybody doesn’t have to learn the same thing at he same time. I get to learn at my own pace and work with physical materials instead of worksheets. Working with other students helps accomplish things faster and helps me to understand things better… What I like best is the kindness of the students, teachers and administrators.”

Christopher Hicks, Upper Elementary student  

See more from Christopher






“As an educator, I appreciate the high level of focus on professional development and am excited to be in a community where my learning and growth is also important… MMS offers opportunities for students to explore their musical and artistic interests in specialized classes as well as through integration in the general classroom. Creative expression is truly a part of the culture at MMS.

Emily Christian, Upper Elementary I Lead Guide

See more from Emily





“We appreciate the family atmosphere and love our children receive from every single person at Montessori. They are respected and treated like equals and taught to respect others the same… We have observed our children learn responsibility early with their work environment. their daily chores. and peers… As they grow, we see it move from the classroom to each community they are a part of.”

Melissa Wilbur and Richard, Rowan (Upper Elementary) and Macie (Lower Elementary) Wilbur

See more from the Wilburs 




“At MMS, I was encouraged to pursue wide ranging academic interests and follow my intellectual curiosities. I learned how to draw connections and identify points of intersection.  Time and again, I returned to the well of that connection-drawing that I developed through the Montessori experience… the critical thinking skills I honed at MMS have left a lasting impact on my academic and professional pursuits. It was the academic freedom at MMS that permitted me to forge my own process of critical assessment.” 

Max Gottlieb, MMS alumnus, attorney; BA, Georgetown University, J.D. Washington and Lee School of Law 

See more from Max Gottlieb






“We find the idea that our children are learning to be leaders and listeners as the navigate new challenges at MMS. to be epic. Success in relationships and careers is based on the ability to listen and lead with grace, compassion and strength. Our children are learning these skills each day as they navigate communication, respect, leadership, and problem-solving in the classroom. We know that the skills thy are learning at MMS shape every aspect of their lives — and that is epic education.”

Abbey Fiorelli, former Montessori student, with AJ Fiorelli and Dylan (Upper Elementary), Noelle (Lower Elementary) and Emmy (Primary), 2019.

Meet the Fiorelli family



“At Mountaineer Montessori, they don’t put it on a screen, They help you understand it. What’s epic to me is learning by doing and the field studies. We get to see that the real world says about something, not just what a book says.” Angel Lillard, MMS eighth year student, 2019








“Since beginning at MMS at age 3, our son has remained genuinely excited to attend school everyday day. We are grateful a strong foundation and early love of learning have been established. He is respected and valued at MMS, which has directly impacted his confidence and self-esteem. His growth is fostered in all areas — social, notionally, intellectually. We appreciate being part of a community, and have benefited from classes offered to parents.” Carolyn Head with Lucas Head and Eloise and Arthur (Primary), 2019.

Meet the Head family





“An epic moment for me was hearing that my daughter stood up for someone. Through MMS, my children learned about community and what it meant to be a friend. MMS helped my children gain confidence to stand up for themselves, for others, and for what is right. I hope today’s students realize that MMS is a very special place. They can be themselves, study in-depth in areas that interest them, learn to be leaders, learn to listen, and learn to work cooperatively. I hope their passion, joy, and love of learning continue to grow.” Beth George, MMS Assistant Director and parent of three alumni, 2019

Meet Beth George and her family



“We love that our children’s education is in the hands of professionals who truly care about them, their well-being, and their future. They understand child development and behavior. Our children are encouraged to learn in ways that work for them and are supported in learning when they are truly developmentally ready to learn various concepts with a highly individualized curriculum. This allows our boys to expand upon their strengths as well as develop and grow in areas that are more challenging. Our goal is for our boys to reach their utmost potential, spread their wings and fly to whatever heights they aspire to. With MMS, we feel we are giving them the best foundation possible.”

Amanda Fields with Dr. Ahmed, Jacob, Rayan, Zach and Jonas El-Gammal,  2018

Read the El-Gammal family’s MMS story





“My favorite memory is as a kindergartner, eating honeysuckles that grew behind the school with my classmates.  I was amazed to discover that their beauty, smell, texture, and flavor grew in nothing more than soil and water.  I wasn’t in a classroom or a traditional learning environment, yet I was learning about nature, the food chain, and sustainability.  As I look back, this memory fully encapsulates what makes MMS so great – every moment is an opportunity to learn and the teachers encouraged us to do so.    

MMS is a special place for my whole family.  My sister and I both attended, and both loved our time as students.  I think we were especially able to appreciate it after attending other schools and being exposed to other methods of education. The academic freedom that MMS provided was unlike anywhere else and allowed us to advance as quickly as we were ready, rather than being bound to a lesson plan designed without any specific individual in mind.”  

David Victorson, litigation attorney, BA/MFA, University of Southern California, JD Harvard Law School, 2018

Read David Victorson’s MMS story





“When one of our children seemed to need more than we could offer as home schoolers, we immediately considered Montessori. We enrolled our second grader, who felt befriended and needed as an important part of the school community from the first day. The individually driven and paced environment, created by the kind and enthusiastic staff, eliminated frustration and encouraged her to explore her interests at her pace and comfort level. We quickly realized our first grader needed the MMS experience too. The exceptional staff and students swept her into the school community. Our middle schooler soon became envious of the exceptional education her younger siblings received. As we looked into Middle School, we realized it offered opportunities for our eighth grader to expand her horizons. I love that my children’s teachers see each of them as a unique being, perched daily on the ledge of the learning experience, ready for guidance on   how to spread their wings and fly to the adventure of their choosing.”

Janell West with Dr. Brian and Amanda, Eve, Caleb and Jessica West,  2018

Read the West family’s MMS story


“I have gone to Mountaineer Montessori my entire life. I have met so many great friends, teachers and families. Now being in the seventh grade, Montessori has impacted me a lot. It has taught me how to read, write, listen, and learn in an environment where I am able to express myself and be who I want to be. Montessori has showed me it is ok to ask questions and go deeper into what you already know.”

Julianna Storm, seventh year student,  2018

Read Julianna’s MMS story






“MMS really is a family. We care about each other in a way that I have never experienced anywhere else that I have ever worked or went to school.

I have so many ‘Montessori’ moments, if not every day, at least once a week: Older children teaching younger ones how to play a game or going across the monkey bars on the playground. The look on a child’s face when we go to Kanawha State Forest and they catch a crawdad for the first time, or the pride and enthusiasm when an older child asks if they can read aloud at story time. But, one of my absolutely favorite memories was when I brought orphaned kittens to school for the children to care for. They were meticulous about measuring the formula, testing the temperature of the milk replacement, and feeding them. The tenderness, compassion and exquisite kindness that I saw took my breath away. (All the kittens were adopted by MMS families after they were weaned.)”

Karen Kelly, Plus Director/Science Specialist and MMS alumni parent, 2018

Read Karen’s MMS story




Emily Beal, Ethan (Lower Elementary student), Arie Spitz, Owen (Primary student), and Ellen and Tom Beal

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, Middle School Guide, 2017

Read Emily’s story







“I distinctly remember doing basic algebraic equations in kindergarten, which kept me interested and motivated. This desire to keep up with and perhaps even complete a little with the older students is what drove me at the time and the rest of my life. I have to believe that my ambitious spirit was instilled in me at an early age at Montessori and this stuck with me throughout the remainder of my academic career and remains with me today.”

Nilay Shah, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Hematological Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation, West Virginia University/MMS Alumnus, 2017.

Read Nilay’s story






“Montessori has impacted me in so many ways, from the nonrestrictive work schedule to the one-on-one teaching methods, it has pushed me to do my best without the structured and confined atmosphere of a regular school program. MMS has helped me ‘fly’ by letting me work the way I need to work and helping me the way I need to be helped.”

Shannon Rogers, Eighth Year Student, 2017.

Read Shannon’s story








The Faridi Family

“The Montessori method for the child’s development as a whole always inspires me. It teaches them how to be a productive member of the society no matter what profession they choose. In today’s world, which is so self-centered, when you see your 11-year -old taking initiative to help the poor and needy and show concerns for the environment, you know that you have made the right decision!”  

Kiran Faridi, M.D., mother of four MMS students, 2017.








Becca and Drew Moore_AF_small

After experiencing her son’s education at MMS, Becca Moore received her AMI 6-12 certification and joined our staff.

“Montessori guides children toward independence with more freedom to go where they need to go rather than where the testing goes. Instead of just checking boxes for a list of standards, a Montessori education helps children to discover and become who they were meant to be.

Rebecca “Becca” Moore, MMS parent who became an Montessori guide, 2016.  Learn more.









Alumnus Clifton Clark says MMS was the only choice when it came to choose a school for their family.

Alumnus Clifton Clark says MMS was the only choice when it came to choose a school for their family.

“I attended MMS as a child. My experience at MMS fueled my desire to learn. That desire to learn is invaluable to me and has set me up for success in life. As a parent, I wanted my own child to have a similar opportunity, and Mountaineer Montessori was the only choice for my wife and me.”

Clifton Clark, JD/MBA , 2016.









“I want the students to come away with their minds full of thousands of ideas and opinions. I want my students to care about the world, to have strong feelings about the world, to abolish their apathy. I hope to model moral courage and a strong work ethic for them, and I hope that they come away with a love for work and the satisfaction it can bring. I try to instill in them a healthy skepticism, without it curdling to cynicism. In the end, I want them to be able to say that they experienced freedom at MMS.”

Jason Winesburg, Upper Elementary Lead Guide, Former Montessori Student, 2017.

Read Jason’s story










Ukiah Cordell

MMS is a place that I can be myself without worrying about judgment.”

Ukiah Cordell, seventh year student, 2016

Real more about Ukiah.












Yasin, Bettina Werner, Dr. Ali Shams and Amin

“The most important decision parents make in their life is how to provide the best education for their children in order to make them happy and successful individuals. After doing extensive research we decided that a Montessori school was the best choice for us. Montessori schools keep the curiosity and the love of learning that every child is born with alive, and help them become happy individuals by showing them there are no limits to what they can do.” 

Ali Shams, M.D., 2016

Learn more from the Shams family.







Connor, Judi, Luke and Daniel Malone

“We relocated to the Charleston area from Georgia over the summer.  Connor had been attending a Montessori school there and we wanted to continue in a Montessori environment to help him transition to our new hometown and because he was thriving in the classroom.  We were thrilled to find a well-established Montessori school here. We sense that when the concept of a ‘MMS community’ is discussed, it is not just lip service.  In our short time at the school we have all felt welcome and included.  Connor loves going to school at MMS and looks forward to going to school each day.” 

Daniel Malone, 2017

Read the Malone family story








Jenna, Leana and Deema Kahwash

“Montessori influenced my education by reminding me the point of why I go to school. It’s easy to get lost in the point and grade system, so having the background of Montessori helped me not lose sight of learning.” Deema Kahwash, senior, George Washington High School; National Merit Semi Finalist, Beta Club.

… although Montessori has greatly influenced my success in academics, the most important things I learned there were not from a book. The teachers treated me and all of the students as equal and did not dismiss opinions and concerns just because of the age of the speaker, but listened and took every child into consideration. I learned, through my experiences, to respect everyone, especially those who share vastly different opinions than me. I learned to appreciate diversity and the value of knowing people from different backgrounds and learning from their stories.” Jenna Kahwash, 10th grade, George Washington High School; Beta Club. 

“Montessori has influenced my education and interests in an amazingly positive way. It has helped me think deeply about situations and analyze them differently.” Leana Kahwash, sixth year student


Learn more about Deema, Jenna and Leana



Dylan 3“I am so pleased that my grandson, Dylan, is attending Mountaineer Montessori School. As soon as I observed the Primary classroom, I knew it was the best setting to help him reach his full potential. I look forward to sharing many Montessori moments with him!”

Jane Reifsynder, a retired Ohio Montessori educator with 39 years of experience, and grandmother of Dylan, who is now a fourth year student.  

Read more observations from this proud Montessori Nana and teacher here.









MMS has become a major component of her life, says middle school student Jasmine Phillips. "MMS is special, both in the way it educates and the way that we interact and that's what counts the most."

MMS has become a major component of her life, says former MMS elementary and middle school student Jasmine Phillips. “MMS is special, both in the way it educates and the way that we interact and that’s what counts the most.”

“Mountaineer Montessori School has become a very big component of my life — it has shaped a lot of my social life, friendships, mindsets, and education in such an important way. I like it because I enjoy the way I learn and figure things out and can be independent at the school that’s all different from a lot of other places. If you ask me, MMS is special, in both the ways that we educate and the way we interact, not only to me, but a lot of other people, and that’s what counts the most.”

Jasmine Phillips, 2015








Tysean Lynch, Samantha Van Den Berge-Lynch, primary guide, and Xavi, second year student

“The Montessori difference is that the education the child receives is for the whole child and that it is such a personal path. I think that one of my favorite components of the Montessori approach is the concept of ‘following the child.’ I think it’s such a beautiful opportunity for children to take the lead and show the guide what resonates most with them. As I think of my son growing up, I hope most that he will always be engaged in the direction his life path goes that is what he has learned and continues to learn at Mountaineer Montessori.”

Samantha Van Den Berghe-Lynch, Primary Specialist and MMS parent, 2015

Read Samantha’s story






Dina says MMS is the best place for her children to grow into independent, confident young adults.

Dina Sorour says MMS is the best place for her children to grow into independent, confident young adults.

“If you are wondering whether MMS is worth the investment, I want you to know that it is! We enrolled our fourth child this fall. This school offers more than academic excellence, it offers a complete educational experience for our children. Our 11-year-old daughter is confident and happy with who she How many 11-year-old girls do you know that can say that? MMS is the best place for our children to develop and grow into independent, self-confident young adults.”  

Dina Sorour, mother of four MMS students, 2015








Sarah Halstead says her son is excited about learning at MMS. (Photo by Charleston Gazette.)

Sarah Halstead says her son is excited about learning at MMS. (Photo by Charleston Gazette.)

“Our son has learned so much in his first year and he’s so excited about learning. We appreciate the focus on personal responsibility and accountability and the emphasis on caring for others. The nature of the lessons in different topical areas offer Chace and other kids amazing opportunities to ask questions, to work independently, and together to explore and experiment and master information and skills that are so important to life. We can’t imagine a better, more loving and intellectually stimulating place for our child.”

Sarah Halstead, 2015









Brian Glasser, a Rhodes Scholar, chose MMS for

Brian Glasser, a Rhodes Scholar, is the father of four MMS alumni

“We are living in an age of knowledge.  Only the highly educated will be positioned to succeed. The Montessori method gives children the intellectual discipline to understand how learning is a personal responsibility.”

Brian Glasser, co-founder, Bailey & Glasser, LLP, and parent of four MMS alumni.










"There are all kinds of people from all over and I'm friends will all of them," says Chace Boland, a first-year student.

“There are all kinds of people from all over and I’m friends will all of them,” says Chace Boland, a first-year student.

“The thing I like best about my school is that here are all kinds of people there from so many places and I’m friends with them all. I make new friends every day. The adults lift you. They encourage you, not discourage you.” Chace Boland,  2015












At MMS, "it's figure it out. Do it," says Jamie Coleman.

At MMS, “it’s figure it out. Do it,” says Jamie Coleman.

“It’s not sit down, book, paper, pencil. It’s get your hands on it.  Do it. Figure it out.”

Jamie Coleman, former middle school student, 2017














Learn more about MMS and its impact on education, career and life from our alumni.