In 1982, a group of six Columbia families faced a dilemma. Each family had a kindergartener attending one of the two Montessori preschools in downtown Columbia, and these children were reading and doing math that put them far ahead of peers in traditional kindergarten. Where would these children go after Montessori preschool? The local elementary schools were not equipped to deal with first-graders who knew how to read, add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Local school administrators told the parents of these students that their children could sit in the back of the classroom and read while the other students had their first-grade lessons. After such an engaging preschool experience, sitting at the back of the room did not seem like a fitting progression in their children’s educational career.
So these six families—the Richstads, Dicksons, Scarboroughs, Katzes, Crytals, and Rothmans—decided to start an elementary Montessori school. Barb Richstad, one of the parents and a teacher who had worked in traditional schools, volunteered to attend Montessori training in New York during the summer of 1983. That fall the school opened with a class of six first graders at Incarnation Lutheran Church in Five Points. The school remained there for a year and a half until one of our parents found a building for sale on Oceola Street in the Rosewood neighborhood.
In 1999 MSC expanded to offer a preschool programlocated at Trinity Presbyterian Church on Greenlawn Drive. It became clear that the school needed a consolidated campus and a bigger space. The board and staff looked at undeveloped property and existing buildings for many years. Eventually in 2006, the school began purchasing residences directly beside the elementary school. At that point the board decided that the school should remain in its existing neighborhood.
Today, MSC has approximately 160 students, ages 3-14, in seven classes on a quaint, 2.5-acre campus in the heart of the Rosewood neighborhood.