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Our History


The need for quality schools of early education has been the topic of surveys, studies and legislation since brain development research has proven that the preschool years are of the utmost importance in creating individuals ready for future life experiences. Solid preschool education is the key to early literacy, completion of high school, positive experiences leading to good citizenship and a better foundation for continued learning. Not only education, but the process of education is also a key component. In fact, learning how to learn is an earmark of a Montessori environment.

The need in this area for effective, quality early education for local children was apparent in 1981, when Patricia Jennings founded the Montessori Family Center. Discovering that children learn kinesthetically and sensorially, Maria Montessori embarked on an educational philosophy brought to the United States in 1950. This educational philosophy, begun in 1896, has been continually reinforced by the recent brain development studies showing how children learn. A student of Montessori education, with a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Jennings satisfied a need in the Upper Valley for a quality early school for young children.

The first location was in a renovated house at 1425 Oak Avenue, rented from the adjoining church. The school was the solution to meet the needs of St. Helena families who were hoping to support a quality preschool in the community.

In less than two years, the school required expansion, and the board of directors sought an affordable location, appropriate for children, which would meet the needs of zoning requirements. The location was a renovated warehouse, at 960 Dowdell Lane. The toddlers remained at the Oak Avenue location and the Preschoolers and Kindergarteners moved to the Dowdell location. In November, 2006, both campuses were reunited when the preschool and kindergarten program moved next door to the Toddler House, allowing a more fluid transition for toddlers and easier access for parents.

Sun and Stars Montessori School continues to serve toddlers, preschool and kindergarten age children with Spanish instruction in the Stars class and Spanish immersion in the Suns class. The staff of teachers, each with a specialty to enhance the curriculum, offers a well-rounded program incorporating an emphasis in the arts and cultural subjects.

The vision of Sun and Stars Montessori School is to provide a nurturing educational environment; one which feeds the entire child emotionally, cognitively, physically. and spiritually. We believe that when the environment is appropriate for the child’s growth and development, it will result in children who learn how to learn and develop a true joy for the process.