> Mission Statement > Montessori Philosophy > Accreditation > History of Highlawn  

Highlawn Montessori School, established in 1963, features one of the first AMI accredited Primary Programs in the Kansas City Area. The school has gradually expanded from one Primary Classroom of 20 children, ages three to six, to five Primary Classes of 24 children. Highlawn also offers a growing Montessori Elementary Program for children from first to sixth grade.

Highlawn is a Kansas 501-C-3 Not-for-Profit Corporation under the operative organization, Friends of Montessori Association. The property and business of the corporation is controlled and managed by a Board of Directors consisting of current Highlawn parents.

Mission Statement

The mission of Highlawn Montessori School is to provide a child-centered Montessori community which facilitates the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of each child.

Montessori Philosophy

The philosophical foundation of the Montessori approach is based on the fact that education should cultivate the child’s natural desire to learn. In the Montessori classroom this objective is met by allowing the child the freedom to experience the excitement of learning by providing carefully selected choices. Respect for the child’s personality and his ability to “create” himself is the basis for all our interactions in the classroom.

A special environment is prepared enabling the child to interact with the materials through hands-on exploration. Adults assume the role of facilitator and guide, allowing children more freedom and choices as they assume more responsibilities. The Montessori materials are designed to isolate specific skills or concepts and are self-correcting. The child, after having been shown how to use the material (had a “lesson”) is free to explore and practice the lesson for as long as desired. Young children do not do a task to complete it like adults. They repeat the task for the pure joy of the activity. Repetition of a task is an important part of learning for preschool age children.

The environment provides experiences and materials that lead to physical independence, socialization, sensorial awareness, the development of concentration, language and mathematical exploration, cultural exposure and opportunities for creative expression. The multi-aged grouping in the classroom community allows each child to act as an observer and role model and promotes a cooperative atmosphere in the classroom.

Respect for, and an appreciation of life in all its forms, is a cornerstone of education at Highlawn. Discovery of the interconnectedness of all life, an awareness of the order and harmony in the universe, and respect for the value of work at all levels of society is nurtured.

Education at Highlawn should be viewed as a partnership where there is a mutual trust and a common educational philosophy between the family and the school. Maria Montessori believed strongly that parents play a critical role in their child’s education. The parent is the child’s first and most influential teacher. We strive to make the Montessori classroom a secure and comfortable extension of the home and encourage parents to be actively involved in the school community.

Montessori Method: Education as an “Aid to Life”

A well-known Montessori trainer explained the Montessori Environment “as a place physically and psychically prepared to respond to all needs of the child so he can develop in harmony.”

After many years of careful observation, Dr. Maria Montessori was convinced that every child had his own innate means of developing his personality and acquiring knowledge. Based on her observations, she developed a method of education that required proper training of teachers and the meticulously prepared environment. In a properly prepared environment, she witnessed the ability of each child to absorb more than had ever been imagined possible. These children were happy and calm. They were developing character and will. They could care for themselves, and were careful of others and their environment. The children explored in great depth the academic environment and reaped amazing rewards from materials which they loved. These children received, what she called “an education for life.”

This amazing method, Maria Montessori’s “education for life,” has been jealously guarded and handed down through the decades by means of the AMI training centers established all over the world. To read more about the Montessori Method and its philosophy of education, click on http://www.montessori-ami.org/


The Highlawn Montessori School Children’s House is approved by the
Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), the organization
established by Maria Montessori in 1929 to guarantee the quality of
teacher training and child education for future generations.

History of Highlawn

In the spring of 1963, several parents visited Wee Wisdom Montessori School in Lee’s Summit and were very enthusiastic about what they saw. The method of instruction, the materials used and the whole atmosphere exemplified what these parents were searching for, for their small children.

These same parents, with the desire to establish a similar preschool in Kansas City, began looking for a site. Miller Nichols suggested The Herb Woolf Farm as a desirable location and he generously allowed the parents to use the buildings and grounds rent-free. The old farmhouse needed considerable renovation and this was accomplished by donations of time and materials by an expanding group of interested parents and friends. Eight sponsors were found who were interested and enthusiastic about the concept of preschool education exemplified by Maria Montessori. They most generously contributed $1000 each to help start the school and several of these sponsors have made additional contributions since that time.

The Highlawn Montessori School opened in September 1963 in temporary facilities at the Country Club Christian Church until renovation on the house was completed in November that same year. The old Herb Woolf farm was a lively place with flowers and vegetable gardens and children running, laughing and exploring the spacious grounds. The staff consisted of Mrs. Charles Caspari, acting as Teacher Trainer and two qualified teachers. A morning session was held with an enrollment of 20 children.

The first year was so successful that enrollment doubled for the fall of 1964. An afternoon session was added to accommodate a total of 45 children.

In 1969 a permanent site was purchased from the J.C. Nichols Company just two blocks to the east on Somerset Drive. The present building opened its doors in September of 1977 and we believe the environment especially designed for the Montessori Method offers children the best possible preschool education in our community.

In September of 1984 the first phase of our expansion program to accommodate an Extended Day program in all classrooms became a reality. During the summer of 1987 a third Children’s House classroom was added to the south side of the original school. In the fall of 1994, the east building was completed. In the fall of 2001, our lower level was renovated and we began an elementary class with eight students. We purchased the property to the east of the school in December 2002 to further the expansion of our elementary program which has grown steadily. During the fall of 2009, a new playground and class garden area was created on this property. A second story, two classroom addition on the West building was built during the summer of 2012 and during the summer of 2015 we added two additional elementary classrooms, a multi-purpose room for our growing elementary program. This beautiful new facility is a net zero building completely powered with solar energy.