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WMS History - at a glance

Woodinville Montessori School is what it is today because of the work and dedication of its founders, Sheri Nick and Mary Schneider, and the support of parents, staff and faculty of the school. Below is the timeline of major events as we head into our 40th year of operation.

WMS founders breaking ground for Woodinville Campus
WMS founders breaking ground for the original Woodinville Campus

1983: Woodinville Montessori School was founded as a nonprofit corporation in 1983 by Sheri Nick and Mary Schneider and is entering its 40th  year.  Sheri and Mary believed that Montessori philosophy and pedagogy offered the ideal methodological support for the goal of educating their own and other children; and Woodinville, with its growing population of young families, seemed a good physical location in which to locate a school.  The first Early Childhood class opened with four children in September, grew to seventeen by June.  School was held in a rented house on the main street of downtown Woodinville near what is now Wilmot Park.  

First home of WMS in 1983
First home of WMS in 1983

 1984: In October, the Nick's purchased the two and a half acre Kaplan property on 140th at NE 166th St. in Woodinville. 

1986: WMS moved into a beautiful new building with two full Early Childhood classes and an elementary class of three (first through fourth graders). 

1987: The elementary class had exceeded their space in the east building office and the second building was started.  

1988: October, the elementary classes moved out of Sheri’s VW van and the Woodinville Alliance Church into their very own space. 

The school leased the two buildings and land from the Nick family until March 2003, when a generous donation from a WMS family allowed the school to make a down payment on the purchase of the property by the school.  

1999- 2000: Preparation for the retirement of founder Sheri Nick began. The founders focused on the long term sustainability of the school, along with continual emphasis on becoming the very best Montessori school possible. Faculty and parents were invited to share their ideas for the future in preparation for our first exercise in strategic planning.  A study of the governing structure of other schools was undertaken.  

The school’s bylaws were revised to move the governance of the school from the sole control of the founders and their spouses to an independent board of trustees.  In conjunction with the drafting of the bylaws, the founders and faculty drafted a blueprint of the school vision and beliefs - the Guideposts - to assist the Board in remaining in philosophical alignment in their decision making.  

2000-2001: A new Board of Trustees was created and trained. Also, the first strategic planning session was held.  In addition to developing working procedures for all aspects of Board functions and reorganizing the Family Alliance, the Board began immediately to grapple with the need to find additional space for our elementary program.  Thanks to their determination and unstinting efforts, an interim site for the elementary students was leased in the North Creek area of Bothell.  The elementary program was relocated there in the fall of 2002.  The former elementary classrooms in the west building were transformed into two new preschool classrooms.  Two additional preschool classrooms were added at the North Creek Campus.  

WMS North Creek Campus in 2002
North Creek Campus in 2002

2003: Opened a new Junior High Program. Between 2001 and 2003, in addition to adjusting to having the school in two sites, preparations continued to open Junior High.  Staff member Sharon Dunn completed the training for the adolescent program at Houston Montessori Center and was joined by a group of ten new seventh and eighth graders in the fall.  

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 Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools (PNAIS) and the American Montessori Society (AMS) in February of 2005.  After meeting their condition of expanding the administrative staff, we were granted joint accreditation from those organizations in the spring of 2006.  

2006-2012: The Board of Trustees, staff and interested parents began to explore options for a permanent location of WMS when our North Creek lease expired in 2012.  We added additional space to our North Creek site in 2004, 2006, 2008 and again in the summers of 2011 and 2012. These additions accommodated our growing junior high, added a second upper elementary, a fourth lower elementary and a third Early Childhood classroom. The Toddler program was introduced and Club House, the Library and Learning Lab were expanded.   Desperately needed storage space and administrative offices were added.  

In December 2011 the school was finally able to achieve its goal of securing a permanent home with the purchase of the 6.2 acres and three buildings of the North Creek Corporate Center.   

2012-2013:  WMS began to occupy Building 2, creating a lovely new space for Elementary Club House and new space for Junior High.  The Master Planning for the entire site was completed. It is currently being divided into phases to be achieved over time as funds and fund raising allows.  We also conducted a comprehensive self-study of every aspect of school functions in preparation for a November 2013 visit by accreditation teams from the Northwest Association of Independent Schools (formerly PNAIS) and the American Montessori Society.  

2013-2018: A parent and staff task force presented a proposal to the Board for the addition of the last three grades of high school beginning in fall 2014.  The Board approved the proposal in March 2013 and the 2013/14 year was devoted to finalizing the plans for this gradual expansion.  The summer of 2013 we created new space for our third upper elementary classroom, enlarged the Early Childhood before and aftercare space and added a fourth Early Childhood classroom. We graduated our first class of three seniors in June of 2017. In fall 2018 a fifth Lower Elementary classroom was opened and in the spring of 2019, the high school moved to a much larger space in the north end of Building 2 to accommodate the growth of the program and the needs of older students. 

After 35 years as Head of School, Mary Schneider retired in June 2018, and Sunita Pailoor became Head of School on July 1, 2018.  

Sunita Pailoor & Mary Schneider
Sunita Pailoor and Mary Schneider in 2018

2020-2021: The COVID-19 pandemic meant that the school year was a mix of remote and in-person education. 

2021-2022: Return to in-person education for all students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Self-study for re-accreditation with AMS & NWAIS begins.  

2022-2023: WMS celebrates 40 years of helping students Learn, Grow and Become in Bothell and Woodinville.

2023-2024: Construction/expansion project begins for buildings 2 and 3 at Bothell/North Creek Campus.