The name was changed in January as a way to commemorate 50 years of education, according to Jerri King, head of school.
“We’ve always had a description, but we’ve been so busy that we never came up with a name,” she said.
What originally began as one classroom in the basement of Pace Academy in Buckhead in 1963 now educates 280 children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. It was the first Montessori school to open in metro Atlanta.
Montessori schools are known for encouraging application of knowledge and allowing children to move through curriculum at their own pace.
“We are activity-based and focus on applied knowledge,” said King. “It’s important to remember there are critical periods of developments.”
King said, for instance, elementary-aged children learn best through collaboration. Each classroom in the school has a garden outside of it, and some class time is spent outside. The school also has 80 acres of land in Summerville that it utilizes for educational purposes.
Board member Sue Ellen Carpenter put both of her adult children through the school, saying she noticed an impact almost immediately.
“They both loved their educations,” she said. “There is a level of self-direction and independence here that you don’t see again until university life. They learn to make good choices for themselves here.”
The school has a staff of 45, including administrative personnel.
King said most of the teachers have more than 10 years of experience, with some teachers having as much as 25. It is accredited by the Association Montessori Internationale, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Southern Association of Independent Schools. The school is known for fostering a strong student-teacher relationship.
“I love that it’s discussion-based,” said 12-year-old student Owen Rohm, son of Wendy and David Rohm, of Dunwoody. “I really love the connections you have here with your teachers.”
Carpenter noticed the same relationships with her own children. “I was worried about my kids always going to small schools, but my son [Danny] went to Virginia Tech. It never occurred to him not to go to [professors’] office hours,” she said.
The school plans to continue growth, having gone from one classroom to transitions among churches to its current campus, which it has inhabited since the early 1970s.
“I have parents ask me about a high school — who knows, that could be in the plans someday,” said King.