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