From Montessori Day Schools to Montessori Day Public Schools Chartered.
Montessori Day Schools was founded as a private school in the summer of 1981 and held its first summer session on the back porch of Peg Huffman, MDS’ Executive Director. Its mission was to make quality Montessori education available and affordable for every child. This meant offering Montessori education along with full day care – staffed by Montessori professionals – at day care pricing: a unique concept at the time and one which continues to be financially challenging.
With the advent of Arizona charter law in 1995, and the subsequent creation of Montessori Day Public Schools Chartered (MDPS), tuition-free Montessori education became an option for families. The Charter School continues to grow, with parent demand for program expansion into the upper elementary and middle school levels at all campuses.
For more information about MDS’ and MDPS’ shared mission and goals, please read our Mission Statement.
By July, the first classroom was ready at 8818 North 12th Street (Sunnyslope campus), and by September two additions were ready for use. There were eight elementary students that fall and twenty-plus primary (3-6 yrs) students. Tommie Walker, who now leads a senior elementary class at the Mountainside campus, came to help at lunch, wheeling her youngest daughter (now an MDS alumna) in a baby carriage.
Within a year, the community needed more space and the “North Building” was readied for use, opening in February 1983. Search for a larger site began, as well, resulting in purchase of the Mountainside property from the Petersons (who continued to live on campus until January 1991). Summer construction was hot, intense and successful: the first two Mountainside buildings opened for classes in September 1983. Now home to primary classes, the billing office, and multi-purpose use, they housed the school office, two primary classes, and one elementary class, making room for MDS’ first toddler class at Sunnyslope.
Within two more years, additional classroom space was needed. Fall of 1985 saw the completion of Mountainside’s current junior elementary and office building, and MDS’ first senior elementary class. As enrollment grew, a new senior elementary building was constructed (now home to SEI and SEII). For its debut, this building hosted MDS’ December 1992 winter program. Classes first met there in January 1993.
In August 1993, MDS added the Lakeshore campus on Lakeshore Drive in Tempe. This school has since re-located to Chandler, with MDS’ purchase of former church facilities on Warner Road. Modifications at Lakeshore included classroom space in the church’s large community building; and addition of wrought iron fences and gates to create secure areas. A great new playground is now being finished. The program has grown from one toddler and one primary to include one toddler, two primary, one junior elementary, and one senior elementary.
Throughout 1995-1996, a group composed of MDS parents, administrative and teaching staff teamed to form a new entity, separate from MDS, with a charter approved by the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools. It was established to provide a tuition-free, public Montessori education for K-8 students. It was set up as an Arizona non-profit corporation, leasing space and resources from MDS, and named “Montessori Day Public Schools Chartered”.
Now in MDS’ third and MDPS’ second decade, we continue our Montessori adventure in joyful service of the Child.