Founded in 1961, Milwaukee Montessori School is currently the oldest Montessori School in the nation. During its early existence the school changed locations seven times, and for a time rented two buildings, one with Children’s House classrooms, and another, several miles away, for the elementary levels.
In the early 1990s the School’s Board of Trustees recognized that not owning a building was an existential problem for the school, so to ensure its stability and longevity they launched a capital campaign that allowed them to purchase and renovate our building in 1997. Indeed, this foresight allowed MMS to transform from a small institution to an esteemed academic powerhouse with over 400 students.
As President of the MMS Board of Trustees since 2014, I have had the pleasure of working with past and current trustees who act as careful stewards of the institution’s financial stability. After 21 years in our building, and in a positive financial position, we feel that it is time to make another investment in the future viability of our school. With overwhelming support from the MMS Board, parents, and friends of the MMS community, we plan to break ground on our new Field House this summer.
After nearly two years of raising money for the project from donors in the wider community, we now appeal to you, our MMS families and cherished alumni, to help to make the Field House project a reality. Our goal is to raise $250,000 from our community, so we appeal to you today to consider making a heroic gift at this historic and critical turning point for our school.
Our own son, Harry, has been a student here at MMS since the age of four, so we know firsthand how MMS fulfills its mission of educating youngsters to become an informed, committed, and difference-making generation.
For our families and students today, for the faculty members who work so hard to educate our children, and even for the children of our children, we are committed to providing the quality facilities that will allow children to continue to thrive. Our unique school deserves a great Field House, so please help us build a Space to Grow!
Kate Lewis, Board President
In recent years, we have had to bus MMS students to other gymnasiums for team practices. The cost of gym rentals, buses, and guest tournament fees to those gyms for each volleyball and basketball team cost the School some $40,000 per year. This has resulted in us assessing fees as high as $500 per sport for participating families. As a price-sensitive school, we work very hard to maintain affordable full-day tuition just over $10,000 for all students because we are committed to offering exceptional value to our families in an environment that is both racially and socio-economically diverse. To help offset sports fees for families who need it, we subsided our athletic teams. However, over the past decade, as our upper-grade enrollment grew and our powerhouse athletic program took off, the financial burden of renting has become unsustainable.
The MMS Field House: Gym class, indoor recess, ballet, athletics, modern dance, athletic and academic tournaments, and musical performances.
Until now, our academic teams – such as robotics, science, and math, which earn regional and national awards – are not able to host competitions. We have never hosted a single basketball or volleyball home game or tournament.
Soon, a new generation of students will be able to experience the pride of hosting their peers from other schools!
The church space, built in 1953, does not offer a high school regulation-sized basketball or volleyball court, so our school cannot host tournaments or games. Also, the space does not allow for two athletic teams to practice at the same time. While all MMS teams have practice slots, none of them receive the optimal numbers of hours to practice.
Additionally, not owning the attached multi-purpose space limits our ability to craft a schedule and update the space to accommodate the growth and changing needs of our student program.
Having a new multi-purpose field house gives us the flexibility to host full-group learning presentations and provide children with performance space where they can actually see their parents in the audience, perform a classroom play, enjoy a professional theater group, or even have group lessons in martial arts, ballet, or chamber orchestra. Most importantly, having our own space frees us from the many constraints imposed by the church, meaning that children will be able to enjoy recess and physical activity every day.