Koreen Drexler Thompson’s first exposure to the Montessori philosophy of education came about four years ago when she and her husband Erle were living in Tacoma, Wash.

Koreen Drexler Thompson’s first exposure to the Montessori philosophy of education came about four years ago when she and her husband Erle were living in Tacoma, Wash.

Koreen Drexler graduated from Montevideo High School in 1993. She served for 13 years in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of major, before resigning to raise a family.

While she was pregnant with her first daughter, Francesca, she asked herself, “How am I going to educate my kids?”

She wanted her children to love learning, not become fearful of mistakes or feel inadequate.

There was a Montessori school in Tacoma that a friend recommended to her and Koreen became sold on the concept. Shortly before the Thompsons moved to Monte­video two years ago, Koreen discovered that the University of Wisconsin-River Falls had a graduate Montessori program. Six months after their move, she began commuting from Monte­video to River Falls and will soon receive a Master’s degree and certification to teach Montessori education at the 3-6 age level.  

“When considering education, a great question to ask is what is the purpose of education? For me, education is a preparation for life; to learn to think critically and creatively; to develop self control, independence and a community conscious spirit. My hope for our daughters is they become women who believe and are equipped to contribute something positive toward the world’s future progress,” said Thomp­son.

She describes a Montessori education as one that will discover and build on each child’s interests and strengths in an environment that fosters independence, self-control, decision making, creativity and problem solving.

Montessori is not a new education concept. Maria Mon­tessori was the first woman Italian doctor who devoted her life to educating children, first in Rome in the early 1900s and then throughout the world.

She developed her teaching method based on her observations of children and experimentation with the environment, materials and lessons available to them.

Montessori education was first introduced to the United States in 1931. Warmly received by innovators like Alexander Graham Bell, its influence stagnated as a result of resistance with the American educational establishment.

Brain research in recent years supporting the Montessori pedagogy is increasing its demand. According to the North American Montessori Teachers Assoc­iation (NAMTA), there about 4,500 schools in this country and 20,000 worldwide (as of 2013 data).

Thompson plans to open the Wildwood Montessori school in Montevideo this fall. The Thompsons are confidently moving forward to acquire the former Blossoms & Bridal building on Montevideo’s main street at the end of April.

An area of the building will be remodeled to house one classroom for students ages 3 to 6 and another room for Montessori toddler care 16 months to 3 years old.


For more on this story and others pick up this week’s paper or subscribe today!