Our History –
Over 50 years of Academic Excellence

In 1965, Montessori Center was established by four AMI teachers in Santa Barbara. The first campus was at 2028 Alameda Padre Serra. The school was originally owned and administered by Margaret and Neil Waterfall as a for-profit corporation.

In 1972, The Waterfall family turned over ownership to a group of active parents and teachers. The school was incorporated as a non-profit organization and the name was changed to Montessori Center School.

Once MCS was established as a non-profit organization, the student population quickly grew to 125 children. In 1975, MCS hired its first full-time Head of School, Margaret Cota. Under Margaret’s guidance the school added a library, a pre-primary program and eventually moved to the Hope School campus.

By 1982, MCS’s enrollment had grown to 230 students with a staff of 36. With a larger student population to support, MCS added the specialist program. This program offered music, art and physical education specialists to the growing staff.

The Fairview Campus that we currently enjoy became MCS’s home in 1997. Shortly after funds were raised to add a multi-purpose building to the campus and additional primary and pre-primary rooms.

Now, MCS is looking to the future and a permanent home. In 2008, MCS purchased an 11 acre site on Hollister Ave. Unfortunately plans to move the campus was put on hold due to the 2008 housing crisis and California drought. The New Campus Committee has been working diligently to make the Hollister campus a reality and in 2015 Santa Barbara County approved zoning plans to allow MCS to continue plans to build a new campus.

With over 50 years of dedication to the Montessori principles, parents who attended MCS as children now return to the school to educate their sons and daughters!


History of Montessori Schools

Montessori education dates back to 1907, when Maria Montessori opened the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House, in a low-income district of Rome. Her unique philosophy sparked the interest of educators worldwide, and in the following decades Montessori schools opened throughout Europe, in North and South America, and, finally, on every continent but Antarctica.

Countless books and articles about Montessori have been published in nearly every language.  Dr. Montessori first described her approach in Il Metodo della Pedagogia Scientifica applicato all’educazione infantile nelle Case dei Bambini, published in 1909.  The book’s English-language version, succinctly titled The Montessori Method, was a ringing success on both sides of the Atlantic.

In 1929 Dr. Montessori established the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) to support the swell of Montessori schools, teacher education programs, and national organizations around the world.

In the United States, Montessori caught on quickly, propelled by prominent advocates and glowing media reports. But by the 1920s the movement had fizzled, and 40 years would go by before Montessori schools would return in substantial numbers.

The leader of the American revival was Nancy McCormick Rambusch, a vibrant, persuasive educator intent on bringing about change. In 1960 Dr. Rambusch launched the American Montessori Society, the first—and still the largest—of several modern-era organizations supporting Montessori in America.