History of School
A Foundation of Cultivating Community
City Garden Montessori School operated a small preschool in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood from 1995-2010. It was founded by Trish Curtis and Mary Mitchell with an intent to provide high-quality early educational experiences to children in the City of St. Louis for a very affordable price. City Garden is rooted in the value of simplicity, creating a wonderful, nurturing environment with minimal space and funding, utilizing resources that seem to “arise” from the surrounding community.
City Garden’s vision has always been to introduce children to the idea of being peacemakers in our world. The Montessori approach, hands-on and individualized, helps to instill a firm understanding of respect and boundaries for oneself and others. The school’s curriculum has a multi-cultural focus, making connections with children, cultures and environments around the world. Cultivating what Howard Gardner calls the “naturalist intelligence,” children’s natural wonder at the world is harnessed into an ecological sensitivity and a capacity for scientific observation. Music, art, reading, math and foreign languages are also central to the curriculum. City Garden students have generally gone on to become compassionate, well-rounded, confident human beings who are eager to learn and who excel in many areas.
Situated in the heart of St. Louis city, the City Garden preschool experience has included an emphasis on the joy of city living: children go on regular field trips, often utilizing the Metro buses and Metro Link. They also frequent neighborhood parks, nearby museums and cultural institutions such as the St. Louis Zoo and the Missouri Botanical Garden. The school has had a friendly and reciprocal relationship with the nearby McCormack House, an assisted living center for seniors, where the children regularly sing, perform their semi-annual plays and deliver holiday cards.
In January of 2006, seeing a need for more quality schooling options in the City of St. Louis, the director and teachers, parents and the board of directors decided to pursue the expansion of City Garden to include an elementary program. It was decided that a charter school would allow City Garden to provide an excellent, innovative schooling option that would be accessible to children of all incomes, races, family backgrounds and abilities. A Charter Planning Committee was formed and began the work of creating a charter school. The elementary expansion of City Garden Montessori School builds upon what has been established at the preschool, cultivating a nurturing, intimate atmosphere and implementing an interactive learning approach that honors each child individually.
In Fall 2008, City Garden Montessori School opened its doors with 53 students in grades kindergarten through third grade. The school will continue to add 25 students and one grade level until it is a K-6th grade school with a capacity of 175 students. City Garden Montessori will continue in the tradition of being rooted in the community, committed to diversity, nonviolence, simplicity and sustainability. We aim to cultivate compassionate and critically thinking young people who will make a difference in our world.
Our hope is that this school will be a community school—a space for members of the surrounding neighborhoods to gather, learn and get to know each other, a school in which families and community members feel a sense of ownership and pride, and a place that will be a source of hope and vitality for our community.