Who We Are
“The environment itself will teach the child, if every error he makes is manifest to him, without the intervention of a parent or teacher, who should remain a quiet observer of all that happens.”
Dorothy Barry first opened the Montessori Children’s House on Lakeview Street in Pineville in August of 1978. Mrs. Barry had become interested in the Montessori Method of education and received her Montessori certification from American Montessori Society while living in St. Louis, Missouri.
The school began with a morning only program with six children, ages three to six. Mrs. Barry was assisted by her niece, Marilyn Miller. The Montessori Method has always emphasized family involvement, and Mrs. Barry began a tradition of encouraging interested parents to consider Montessori training and become certified Montessori teachers. Mrs. Doris Armand, a parent of one of the early students, completed her training and became the first parent who was recruited to become a staff member. Mrs. Armand taught over 20 years as a Montessori teacher.
As enrollment grew, a new location was needed, and through contributions by parents, a small house on Beech Street in Alexandria was purchased in 1981. The name was changed to Montessori Learning Center, and Donald Barry, an educator himself, joined the staff. As the student body grew, more interested parents became first volunteers, then interns, and then after completing their Montessori training, certified teachers.
More growth in numbers of students and staff meant another move, and by the fall of 1989 the school reopened on the first floor of the Pan American engineering firm office at the corner of Bolton and Jackson streets in Alexandria. At this point, the school incorporated and became the Montessori Educational Center, Inc. With more space to grow, the school expanded to two primary environments, and the elementary program was extended through sixth grade, with a total enrollment of 119 students.
In May of 1990, Donald and Dorothy retired and returned to Missouri while Rosemary Smith was appointed as educational director. MEC remained at this location for seven years. During the 1995-1996 school years, construction began on a permanent facility on North Bolton Avenue. The new campus, with two primary, two Junior Elementary, and one advanced elementary environments, opened in august of 1996 under the administration of Mrs. Camille LaCroix. Enrollment was then at 117 students with a staff of 16. In 1997-1998 school year a third primary environment was added, resulting in an enrollment increase to 129 students and 21 staff members. Mrs. Camille Robison took over as administrator in 1999. Mrs. Julia von Hefley became administrator in 2000.
The school has continued to grow and expand at its current and permanent location. MEC is now offering classes in art, music, and Spanish, as well as providing an after school program. In 2003 Mrs. Bessy Banister became administrator. Then in 2009, Mrs. Joelle Flahertybecame administrator. In 2011 the toddler, building was built, and in 2014, the middle school was added and the enrollment was 165 with 22 staff members.