History of Woodinville Montessori School

This video celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2013 still tells our story so well.

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“…excellence in education was of primary concern.”

Mary Schneider and Sheri Nick founded Woodinville Montessori School in 1983. Their purpose was to educate their own, and other children in an environment where excellence in education was of primary concern. They believed that the Montessori philosophy offered the ideal methodological support for that goal, and Woodinville, with its growing population of young families, was a good location.

First class launched

The first Early Childhood class opened with four pupils in the fall, and closed with 17 in June. The school rented a house in downtown Woodinville, near what is now Wilmot Gateway Park, for classes.
With plans to build an elementary school, officials began searching for the right piece of land. Owning the land and facilities was necessary for the school’s future security.

Woodinville Campus developed

In October 1984, the Nicks made a preliminary offer on two-and-a-half acres of the Kaplan property on 140th at NE 166th Street. Securing permits and erecting a building proved arduous, but in September 1986, WMS moved into its beautiful new building with two full pre-primary classes, and a fledgling, state-accredited elementary class of three first-through-fourth graders. By September 1987, elementary class enrollment called for a second building for them, which was ready by October 1988. The school leased the two buildings and land from the Nicks from that date until 2003, when WMS purchased the campus.
In the 1999-2000 school year, faculty and parents were asked to for their ideas for the future, as the school prepared for its first exercise in strategic planning, to be completed by the retirement of co-founder Sheri Nick in June of 2001.

New Board of Trustees

The school rewrote its bylaws in order to move school governance from the sole control of the founders and their spouses to a Board of Trustees. This was an essential step in safeguarding the future of the school. As now, the founders hoped to see the school and its programs last long into the future with continual progress made towards becoming the very best Montessori school possible. And with input from faculty, they drafted a blueprint of their vision and beliefs to help the Board follow the same decision-making process in use since the founding.

The year 2000-2001 saw the creation of a new Board of Trustees, their training and first strategic planning session. In addition to developing working procedures for all aspects of board function and reorganizing the Parent Association, the board began to grapple with the need to find additional space for our elementary program.

Expansion to North Creek

Additional space was leased in the North Creek Corporate Center and the Elementary program was relocated there in the fall of 2002. The former elementary classrooms were transformed into two new preschool classrooms. Two additional preschool classrooms were added at the North Creek Campus.

Junior High Program Launched

Our Junior High program was initiated for the 2003-2004 school year. Staff member Sharon Dunn completed the training for the adolescent program at Houston Montessori Center, and started with a group of ten new seventh- and eighth-graders. Ninth-grade curriculum was added and Alaine Owsley Davis joined the teaching staff in Junior High in 2004-2005. There are currently thirty-two students in the program.

Accreditation by NWAIS and AMS

During 2003-2005, our attention turned to scrutinizing all components of the school, including mission and vision, programs, staff, administration, governance, finances, health and safety, and facilities as part of our self-study for accreditation. We hosted a team of evaluators from the Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS) and the American Montessori Society in February, 2005, and after meeting their condition of expanding administrative staff, we were granted joint accreditation in spring of 2006.

Expansion at North Creek

The year 2006 saw the addition of a school library and expansion of the North Creek campus, allowing for an additional Lower El classroom, accommodating growing Upper El and Junior High classrooms, and providing much needed space for administrative staff.

25 Years of Excellence

2007-2008 marked our 25th anniversary!

New Toddler Program

Our first toddler classroom opened in January 2009 after years of planning. The classroom and schedule are designed to meet the needs of working families, including our own staff.

All Kinds of Minds School of Distinction

In March 2010 we became the first Washington state school selected by the All Kinds of Minds Institute as one of its Schools of Distinction. WMS embraces the organization’s vision of every student finding success in school and life through the practice of “teaching to how minds are wired to learn.”

King County Green School

In May 2010, as a result of our all-school focus on sustainability and efforts to rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle, we completed Level One of the King County Green Schools Program.

North Creek Expansion

Driven by increased enrollment at every grade level in 2011-12, we reopened a classroom in Woodinville and took advantage of additional space available in the North Creek building to provide larger learning space for Upper Elementary, a new fourth Lower Elementary classroom; library double in size and larger space for Learning Support; dedicated science lab for Junior High, larger ninth grade room, and larger classroom space; multi-purpose space for art classes, small group assemblies and drama; spacious Club House, also available for Music classes; improved access to our Toddler classroom, including a new viewing window; and office and meeting space for our administration and volunteers.

Finally a Permanent Home

After working intensively for several years on the search for a permanent home for WMS, the Board made a bid on the North Creek campus and two adjacent buildings, proceeded with an extensive due diligence period prior to finalizing the purchase, and took ownership of the North Creek Corporate Center on December 16, 2011.

Happy 30th Anniversary

Alumni students and their families, some dating back to our very first class, gathered to help WMS celebrate 30 years of excellence in Montessori education.

Orienteering Three-peat

WMS Orienteering Team came from behind to win first place as they defended their National Interscholastic title of the past two years.

Woodinville Montessori High School

In March 2013, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the expansion of our Woodinville Montessori High School, adding one grade per year, beginning with 10th grade in fall 2014 and 11th grade in fall 2015.

We Are a Level 2 Green School

In June 2013, thanks to the hard work of the Jr. High Environmental Leadership Club and the ongoing efforts of the entire WMS community, WMS attained Level 2 status! Continuing to operate at a high rate of compost collecting and recycling, with added focus on energy consumption and educating our community and neighbors.

WMHS graduates first class

In June 2017 the first senior class, composed of three students, graduated from the full, four-year high school program.

Our co-founder and first and only Head of School retires

On June 30, 2018, our co-founder and first and only Head of School Mary Schneider retired, after 35 years of guiding the school through growth and change.

A new Head of School steps up

And on July 1, 2018, Sunita Pailoor, long associated with WMS as a parent, a teacher and Associate Head of School, stepped into the role of Head of School.