CHARLESTON, WV -- Citing positive enrollment trends, Mountaineer Montessori will expand this fall to include a middle school program and another elementary class.
There are more than 400 Montessori middle schools in the country, but Mountaineer's program will be the first in West Virginia.
The creation of the two programs comes after consecutive years of 10 to 20 percent enrollment growth. Over the past year, Mountaineer has gone from 82 enrolled students to 100.
Dana Gilliland, head of the school, expects to have 109 to 117 students next year.
She said parent demand influenced the decision to expand. Because new space will be needed to accommodate more students, a site selection committee is seeking a location to house the new middle school program.
Gilliland doesn't want to stop there, though. She said the school is in the process of creating a strategic plan that outlines growth over the next 3 to 5 years.
Benchmarks of that plan include building Mountaineer's own campus so the school doesn't have to rent classroom space anymore. The school will also pursue becoming a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) school and start agricultural and agrarian programs that use outdoor classroom space.
"We have lots and lots of ambition," Gilliland said.