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.