|What is Montessori?|
On January 6, 1907, the first “Casa de Bambini” opened in a slum quarter of Rome. Fifty children, aged three to six were part of an astounding revolution in education begun by Maria Montessori.
Sixty years later, in September 1967 Donna Bryant Goertz opened Austin Montessori School in an abandoned WWII army barracks on the campus of St. Edward’s University. Seventeen children, aged two and one-half to five, and one assistant formed the founding class of a Montessori institution that develops the potential of children, and which offers the city of Austin and surrounding areas a quality in education that is not easily matched.
From the old building at St. Edward’s (where you had to kick the furnace to get any heat!), Austin Montessori moved to the Jones Road campus. One classroom grew into two and two grew into three. Eventually the first elementary class was formed and the second soon followed. Parents began pushing for the natural extension, the upper elementary level. For a few years a small upper elementary class was tucked away in a small space but soon that level was solidly established, and currently AMS has two thriving Upper Elementary classes and one Middle School with over fifty students. Austin Montessori School has grown from seventeen to over three hundred students as a result of the guidance and dedication of Donna Bryant Goertz, and the idealism of a creative and resourceful staff, and the support of the loyal parents.
The very beginning:
In the summer of 1965, Gail King Coffee, started the first certified Montessori School in Austin and it was called Austin Montessori School. Donna worked as Gail’s assistant for a year and then started her own school (in the barracks), which was called The Montessori School of South Austin.
Both schools continued for a few years and then Gail King Coffee decided to return to graduate school. Also at this time the land where her school had been housed was taken over by the state school for expansion. She decided to sell her school (materials, furniture, etc.) to Donna and the classes were relocated to a building at the Unitarian Church. Thus, the two schools became one and “South” was dropped from the name.
In the beginning, within the first three years of the school’s founding, before we had even thought that the school could have, should, have a logo, one of the mothers, whose child’s name was Jacqueline, made us an offer. She said she would like to design a logo for the school Oh, how nice! But what ideas did she, did we, have?
We stopped to think that we had seen a logo or two belonging to other Montessori schools. We especially liked those designed around Montessori materials. We walked around the classroom and looked at the materials. Nothing struck her imagination.
At that time our school was one children’s house classroom ready to break into two. We had no elementary materials because we had no elementary children, but we did have a Neinhuis catalogue and it did have photos of elementary materials. They were gorgeous and intriguing. We especially like the ones showing the Pythagorean Theorem, and she found those enchanting.
Jacqueline’s mother took the catalogue home for the weekend and returned with a strangely distorted and stretched out design for our logo. We said that we couldn’t do that to the Theorem of Pythagoras. She said of course we couldn’t, but she could because she was an artist and a designer. Since we were fully engaged with the new school, with the development of a new staff, with the practice of Montessori with the children, with the meetings to explain to the parents what we were doing, we nodded and sent the logo on to the printer.
Every three or so years since, various ones of us and various new staff members and parents, ask who messed up the Theorem of Pythagoras and why we use it for our logo. We say we really have to design a better logo. So that’s been going on for forty years plus years, because we are fully engaged with developing the school through the levels, acquiring grounds and buildings, training and enriching staff, and working with parents and families.
The logo? What is it? Well, it’s our logo—for now.