History of WHMS

The history of our school begins with a special person, Dr. Maria Montessori. In 1896, Maria Montessori became one of Italy’s first female doctors. As a physician, Maria Montessori had an opportunity to work with many different children and to observe them under a variety of circumstances. Over time, she formalized her study of children and sought to design tools to help children learn. As a result of her studies Maria Montessori concluded:

  • All learning is an individual and personal experience. To be effective, education must be personal and individual.
  • Children at certain stages in their development are receptive to different types of learning. These stages must be identified and incorporated into an effective teaching system.
  • Children are naturally able and eager to learn when provided with the appropriate guidance, tools, and environment.
  • The goal of early childhood education must be to develop in each child his natural talents and to stimulate his desire to learn.

In 1911, the Montessori learning philosophy was introduced in the United States. At that time the country was not generally open to such a progressive view of children and their learning processes. In the early 1960s many social changes occurred, including a demand for alternative education, and interest in the Montessori educational philosophy was rekindled. In 1965, a group of Albany parents, in search of a higher standard of education, came together. As a result of their dedication to high educational standards, the Montessori School of Albany (“MSA”) was founded.

First School PictureInitially, MSA provided a program for children aged 2 years 9 months to 6 years. In order to meet the growing needs of its student body and parents, a 6- to 9-year-old Elementary program was introduced in 1985 to extend the unique educational experience to older children. In 1993, the 9- to 12-year-old program was added to complete the Montessori elementary school experience. In 2001, a seventh grade was added, and in 2002, the Middle School was completed with the addition of eighth graders.

In 1965, MSA received its charter from the New York State Education Department and became formally affiliated with the American Montessori Society. In 1999, MSA became fully accredited by the American Montessori Society, and was accredited by the National Association of Independent Schools in 2003. Fewer than 50 of the thousands of Montessori schools in North America have received this recognition. Woodland Hill is also fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

In the fall of 2002, the Montessori School of Albany changed its name to Woodland Hill Montessori School (WHMS), after the move to its beautiful new eleven-acre campus on a wooded hillside in North Greenbush. In 2007, a 2,200 square foot classroom addition and new athletic field were completed. In the spring of 2009, an 11,000 square foot gymnasium and classroom addition was completed. In 2019, another addition was completed. This included a new library, three new classrooms, learning resource rooms, a makerspace, teaching kitchen, and amphitheater. 

Over the past fifty years, WHMS has provided an educational program with a difference. We are committed to creating a learning environment that emphasizes respect for the child, freedom of self-expression, self-education, love of learning, and personal and social responsibility. We are pleased to have you join us in fulfilling our goals.