Montessori School of Denver

We are a dynamic educational environment empowering students to use diverse knowledge and experiences to reach their full potential and do good in the world.

Organizational Overview

Montessori School of Denver
(303) 756-9441
1460 South Holly Street
Denver, CO 80222
(2013)Denver Montessori Society
We are a dynamic educational environment empowering students to use diverse knowledge and experiences to reach their full potential and do good in the world.

Background Statement

The Montessori School of Denver was established in 1965 by a small group of dedicated parents committed to providing Montessori education in Denver. Since then, MSD has expanded to meet the demands for quality education for its students. We currently serve approximately 300 students, two to twelve years of age, and offer a wide variety of educational opportunities year-round. Plans are underway to add a middle school by 2014, adding 7th grade in the fall of 2013 and an 8th grade by the fall of 2014.

MSD is the first Montessori school in Colorado to be accredited by both the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Association of Colorado Independent Schools (ACIS). MSD is also a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).

The Board of Trustees is the governing and policy-making body of the school. The Board is composed of parents of children who are currently enrolled in the school or alumni students, faculty representatives, and community members.

The Head of School is responsible for all aspects of the school and is the school's representative both locally and nationally. MSD is very proud of its faculty members who are selected from among the finest educators in the country. The head teachers have all received their training from a variety of Montessori teaching training centers affiliated with AMS and all hold at least a Bachelor of Arts or Sciences degree.

Impact Statement

We are proud to report the following accomplishments in the 2012-2013 school year:

• Developed a Montessori Middle School to open 7th grade in the fall of 2013 and an 8th grade in the fall of 2014 to complete the full educational experience to prepare students for high school;
• Created a second Toddler classroom to provide more access to more families in the fall of 2013;
• Purchased the Church property to the north of our campus, almost doubling the size of our campus;
• Created a new Campus Master Plan, along with our architects (and our 6th grade self-designated architects), that includes a renovated Upper Elementary/Middle School Building, a new Science and Innovation Tower, a new Arts and Athletics Center (Spring 2014), a new chicken coop and a student-designed treehouse, and much more;
• Sustained enrollment and continued to provide excellence in programming, and advanced our role as a nationally recognized model school for Montessori and independent school education;
• We partnered with Penny Harvest, a program of the Young Philanthropist Society. The Penny Harvest is a student-run program that allows kids to not only raise the funds to determine how the funds will be distributed. A council of students from our Lower and Upper Elementary classrooms managed the program from start to finish: organizing the classrooms, collecting the pennies, interviewing nonprofit organizations, and ultimately disbursing $2,100 to six worthy causes.

Executive Director Statement

At MSD, we believe in the Happiness Advantage.

Anyone who stands with us at the flagpole in the morning can see for themselves that there is a whole lot of happiness at MSD each day. Happy children who stick their heads through the sunroof in carline waving and singing, smiling kids who jump out of the cars high-fiving their teachers, boys and girls running far ahead of their parents who are eager to get to their classrooms.

As we watch our kids, it is clear that at MSD we have a powerful ingredient for achieving our mission to empower students to reach their full potential. We have what's now known as the Happiness Advantage.

What is the Happiness Advantage?

The Happiness Advantage is based on the work of Shawn Achor, one of the world's leading experts on human potential, and is rooted in the research of positive psychology. The Happiness Advantage begins with the idea that being happy and optimistic has a great deal to do with success.

Happiness is actually the pre-curser to success and not the other way around, as many people may believe. In fact, research shows that waiting to be happy limits our brain's potential for success whereas cultivating positive brains make us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative, and productive which drives performance upward.

And that is exactly what we do at MSD.

The idea that positive brains have a biological advantage over brains that are neutral or negative led us this to the yearlong theme of play. As Daniel Pink wrote in his book "A Whole Mind," play is an important part of personal well being, its importance manifesting itself in three ways: games, humor and joyfulness.
Our yearlong theme of play was an amazing one as everyone thought about ways to integrate games and humor into the curriculum and school day.

Albert Einstein once remarked that games are the most elevated form of investigation, and in that spirit, we incorporated academic games in math, reading, and grammar; simulations about how games are played in different cultures; and Immersion Days so that kids can really feel what it would be like to live in and experience Asia, Australia and Antarctica; games that incorporated technology and history; a Global Sustainability Fair inspired by Rube Goldberg (a comically involved complicated invention laboriously contrived to perform a simple operation); the FUNdamentals Fair, which students had the opportunity to demonstrate Lower Elementary learning; and Kindergarten KABOOM, an afternoon spent immersed in science.

There were even games during teacher/student morning meetings, such as, in drama class the "Machine Game"; in Lower El classes, running across the field to expend some of that good ol' Lower El energy; and of course, large and small group games at recess, with students and faculty playing together. And at field day, we played some more as we competed in athletic games designed for skill building and team building.

Students were also able to practice doing good with games that came to life with the Caine's Arcade build, a collaborative project between Kindergarten and Third Grade where the students worked together to design and build fun arcade type games out of recycled materials. The Sixth Year students had fun making regular visits to the Joshua School where they played games with the students there and forged new friendships.
We played Asian games during the All About the Arts extravaganza, and students had fun showing off their dancing, musical, and singing abilities in the "standing room only" Cinco de Mayo celebration. We were playful during our visit from Phil Kaye, the spoken word poet for this year's Tracy Collins Schwartz Endowment Fund event, as we wrote whimsical poetry and stood up to perform it in front of the entire school. And this June, we hosted the World Peace Game, a capstone experience that exposed children to systems thinking, critical and creative problem-solving, leadership responsibilities, decision-making, and negotiation through play. These tasks may some day influence the children who participate to succeed in achieving a more harmonious world.

Tony Wagner writes that "play, passion and purpose births innovators" believing a childhood of creative play leads to deep seated interests that blossom into deeper purpose for life goals. At MSD, we believe that to be true, and it is that shared conviction that led NAIS to invite us to present once again at the Annual Conference on the significance of play, in our "Think Big, Think Great" presentation.

The Happiness Advantage works for the adults in our community as well. Take the Faculty and Staff, for instance. It cannot be said enough that one of the things that keeps the folks who work at MSD happy is to keep learning new things every day just like our students. MSD has had a long-standing commitment to Professional Development and, indeed, it is one of the areas of the budget that is supported by the Annual Fund and Parent Association fundraising.

Each year, we support the Faculty and Staff as they attend workshops and conferences to learn things that directly benefit student learning and the overall well being of our school. Opportunities to be trained in Responsive Classroom and Love and Logic, to learn more about cognitive and gender diversity, and to demystify how iPads can be used most effectively in the classroom, are all gifts and very much appreciated.
The Happiness Advantage works for parents as well. Parent Education events, such as Catch the Buzz and Program level curriculum talks help parents to learn more about MSD's program and philosophy and help them to be a partner in their children's learning. As research shows, parents who are engaged in this way help to boost their children's success in school.
Integral to that goal, is the never-ending support of our collaborative, and generous Board of Trustees. Charged with ensuring that MSD is a model for Montessori and 21st century education, and ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of our school, the Board has moved forward with a strategic vision that will achieve all of those things, by:
• Starting a Middle School with an experience that will be second to none in Denver;
• Increasing the size of the Toddler program to provide more access to more families;
• Purchasing the Church and almost doubling the size of our campus;
• Working tirelessly with architects (and our 6th grade self-designated architects) to create a new Campus Master Plan that includes a renovated Upper Elementary/Middle School Building, a new Science and Innovation Tower, a new Arts and Athletics Center, a chicken coop an a student-designed treehouse; and
• Sustainable enrollment, excellence in programming, a thriving model school for Montessori and independent school education.
So, as we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, we take the next leap to a positively exciting future. Positivity and optimism breeds success - our own brand of the MSD Happiness Advantage.

Warm regards,

Stephanie Flanigan
Head of School
Montessori School of Denver

Needs Statement

• We have successfully begun to raise the necessary capital to a) to add a middle school to our program (7th grade in the fall of 2013 and 8th grade in the fall of 2014), and b) to complete a variety of vital facilities improvements that will benefit each and every student.
• Along with facilities planning for the addition of the 7th and 8th grades, the school has completed a comprehensive Master Plan, designed to address all MSD's program and campus needs including the purchase of additional property on which to build. We have renovated one existing property on campus and will be breaking ground on a new Arts and Athletics Center in 2013.

• Although the capital campaign is an important need, we continue to rely on the support of our Annual Fund to provide the necessary funding for additional operating expenses, financial aid support for our students, and professional development for our faculty and staff to continue to provide the quality education our parents have come to expect.

Board Chair/President Statement

As Board Chair of Montessori School of Denver, I have been honored to work alongside trustees that believe in the mission of our school. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, I remain humbled to be a part of a school that dedicates its resources to the education of the whole child.

This year, the Board of Trustees has been actively involved in the execution of our vision to add a middle school and provide for additional significant improvements to our campus.

After a year of careful planning, we began to manage the transformation of our campus, starting with the renovation of our existing Community Building this summer. This structure will now house our Upper Elementary/Middle School Programs and our exciting new Science and Innovation Tower. As we move forward in the fall, we will begin the construction of our new Arts and Athletics Center to be completed in the spring of 2014.

It is through the Board of Trustees' hard work, vision and dedication that we will be able to advance the addition of more than 16,000 square feet of usable space to our campus and significantly enhance the overall MSD program.

Aside from our work planning/launching our new campus project, we also achieved 87% parent participation in our Annual Fund campaign! We thank our remarkable community of parents, grandparents, alums, trustees and faculty and staff for their continued support of our school.

Happy 50th Anniversary, Montessori School of Denver!


Todd Pruitt
Chair, Board of Trustees
Montessori School of Denver

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