By Juliette Coulter
Located in the heart of Dallas’ Lake Highlands neighborhood, Montessori Children’s House and School (MCHS) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Since it was founded, MCHS has grown and prospered — expanding from a handful of students led by one teacher in a rented home on Blair Road, to more than 90 students in a first-class educational center on an expansive 3.5-acre property. MCHS provides an authentic and accredited Montessori education to children 3 to 6 years of age, a time when they are naturally enabled with the capacity to make substantial leaps in their academic, cognitive and social development.
According to Christa Montague, MCHS head of school and alum parent, “The Montessori approach is truly unique — with mixed ages and emphasis on individualized learning, Montessori classrooms consist of a community of learners immersed in purposeful activity. By encouraging exploration and discovery, emphasizing the importance of personal responsibility, and providing the joy of choice, our school helps students develop into lifelong learners who realize the satisfaction and confidence that can only be derived from personal accomplishment.”
Since MCHS’ founding, more than 1,000 students have attended the school and now live around the globe. These alumni continue to be “Lifelong Learners,” which is also the school’s 50th anniversary theme. In honor of its anniversary, MCHS is asking for former students to share photos and memories by submitting them online at mchsdallas.org and to post memories on a private Facebook page.
Clint Bowers, MCHS board of directors president and MCHS alum parent, said, “Dreaming of a different kind of learning experience for their children, two Southern Methodist University alumni, Mary and Carl Schwalm, founded Montessori Children’s House and School in 1970. Under their clear vision and strategic direction, the first MCHS families planted the seeds of our legacy by supporting what has become an exceptional Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) accredited school. I see how this education set my children on the path of being lifelong learners, and we want even more children to benefit from this type of learning.”
The Schwalms led the first MCHS board and its first families to open in the fall of 1970 on Blair Road. Shortly thereafter, the group located and purchased a wooded lot at 7335 Abrams Road where MCHS currently resides.
After a highly anticipated one-year remodel from 2008-2009, the school expanded to meet the growing local demand for quality Montessori education. While it has grown bigger, MCHS continues to guide children’s development using the same principles and methods Maria Montessori herself developed more than 100 years ago. Staying true to its mission, The original program and property included farmland for growing crops. Produce was grown and sold by the children at a farmer’s market. They also cared for a variety of livestock, including a sheep that the children sheared for wool, horses to plow their fields, as well as chickens and goats.
Today MCHS boasts of similar animal friends in their care, including a pair of two-year-old goat brothers named A.J. and P.D. Jr. and a brood of chickens. The MCHS Butterfly Gardens, a recent addition, is certified by Texas Discovery Gardens. These gardens are designed to attract and sustain caterpillars and butterflies alike, supporting the local ecosystem while providing MCHS students a hands-on experience exploring natural life cycles.