The year was 1984, and three women saw a need for an early childhood center of the east side of Columbus. Their dream saw a comprehensive program, addressing both early education and childcare needs for 3 to 6 year olds. They saw a nurturing environment, one that was developmental in its approach so that each child would be taught and cared for at his or her individual level and ability. They saw a school that was available to a diverse socio-economic population, had an aggressive fundraising program in order to offer a significant amount of financial aid to its students and a school that made a partnership with parents.
In August of 1984, the doors opened at the South portion or Redeemer Lutheran Church as Columbus Montessori School with 51 children in two classrooms. By the next school year, the program expanded to 77 children by adding a third classroom. In the third year, 1986, the program expanded to 110 children by adding a fourth class, the maximum size it could maintain in its church location.
From 1991 through 2005, Columbus Montessori was chosen by the Franklin County Department of Education to be a site that would serve children ages 3-6 with developmental disabilities so that would experience an integrated learning environment. Since school districts now offer this service, Columbus Montessori phased out this program. Since January of 1992, Columbus Montessori has offered a part-time toddler program. In 1993, a collaborative Head Start program was begun with Child Development Center of Franklin County, Inc which evolved into the current program called Early Learning Initiative (ELI).
In October of 1992, Columbus Montessori purchased a permanent facility just a mile north of its original location. The 27,000 square foot building located on 7 acres of land was originally built and used as a Columbus Public elementary school. The facility allowed Columbus Montessori to greatly expand and improve services for its 3 to 6 years olds and add the Jessica Kass Center – the first Montessori infant/toddler program in Central Ohio.
The new facility expanded parent, teacher and community education programs and includes the innovative Huntington Playground, which has been designed to improve community recreation for all children, including those who are physically challenged. Because of our commitment to the surrounding East side Columbus community, the Huntington Playground is open for public use daily after the CMEC academic day ends.
The McElroy-Minister Tot Lot was designed specifically for the developmental needs of young children. The playground, located near the school’s vegetable garden, is a favorite stop for students and families to enjoy.
Spearheaded by a dedicated group of Columbus Montessori parents, the CMEC Peace Labyrinth is a project that has been supported primarily by donors, teachers and parents.