Inspired by the philosophy and practices of Dr. Maria Montessori, Elvira and Otis Charles established the Washington Montessori School in 1965 with the assistance of Helen Parkhurst, founder of The Dalton School and an early proponent of Montessori education. Serving students aged three to six, WMS operated without an administration and was overseen by a Board of Trustees committed to the Montessori philosophy.
In 1975, Pat Werner was hired to be the Head Teacher in the school’s first Lower Elementary classroom of 8 students. Over the next four years, the Lower Elementary program grew to 48 students in 2 classrooms, the school was poised to add an Upper Elementary program and it became obvious to the Board that it was time for the burgeoning school to have a proper administrator. In 1979, Pat became Head of School.
The school flourished under Pat’s leadership which continued until her retirement in July 2018. WMS now offers academic programs for 250 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, as well as special programs for infants and toddlers. WMS graduated its first Middle School class in 1982—a class of one. Since then, hundreds of students have received diplomas from Washington Montessori School, gone on to succeed in high school, college and beyond.
Washington Montessori School has gained a reputation for graduating students who are self-motivated, confident and curious thinkers, well-prepared to take on the challenges of a rapidly-changing world. Students from WMS have gone on to a variety of private and public high schools including Canterbury, Choate, The Ethel Walker School, Exeter, The Frederick Gunn School, Forman, Hotchkiss, Kent, Litchfield, Loomis Chaffee, Marvelwood, Millbrook, Miss Porter’s, New Milford, Shepaug, South Kent, Taft, Wamogo and Westover.