Montessori High School at University Circle was founded by a group of Montessori educators and supporters. These individuals worked in concert with a national movement to expand Montessori education at the middle and high school level.
Because of its world-class array of institutions dedicated to the arts, culture, and education, University Circle was selected as the natural place for a Montessori high school program.
After more than a year of planning and development, MHS opened its doors to 37 students in August 2008.
At its founding, the school’s campus consisted of two houses on the north side of Magnolia Drive. In 2009, MHS was recognized as an International Baccalaureate World School (IB), and has since offered the IB Diploma Progamme. In 2009, a third house was added on the south side of Magnolia to accommodate steadily expanding enrollment.
MHS has maintained a community of approximately 110 students, 25 percent of whom choose to board on campus.
Montessori Education in Cleveland
The Cleveland area has a rich history of Montessori education, beginning in 1959 with the establishment of Ruffing Montessori School, one of the first Montessori schools in the country. Additional Montessori schools soon followed, and the area now boasts more than a dozen well-established elementary programs.
Cleveland is also home to the North American Montessori Teacher’s Association, which offers regular workshops and conferences in the area and around the country and publishes The NAMTA Journal, a quarterly journal focused on Montessori education and pedagogy.
The existence of such long established Montessori schools and the city’s role as a center of Montessori education made Cleveland the ideal place to establish a high school program that could build on years of tradition while sketching a blueprint for the future.
Maria Montessori and Montessori Education
The educational philosophy of Maria Montessori (1870-1952) is built on the understanding that education is not something that a teacher gives to a student, but is rather an internal process of self-construction. Trained as a physician, Dr. Montessori took a developmental view of education and based her methods on careful observation and constant refinement. Through such work she identified four planes of human development, each with specific characteristics. What would become known as the Montessori Method required the teacher to move beyond sharing facts that followed a course of study—the teacher became a guide supporting the full development of the student.
The Montessori Method has been used internationally for more than 100 years, and more than twenty-two thousand Montessori schools are in operation across the United States and around the world today. In these schools, students thrive with a balance of freedom and responsibility. At each stage of development, the environment evolves to meet the changing needs of students. From infancy through adolescence, Montessori students are given the guidance and tools to explore on their own and will often go far beyond expectations when given the opportunity. Maria Montessori called this approach simply “an aid to life” and preparation for adulthood.