The mission of Millhopper Montessori School, LLC, is to provide education that is integrative, evolving, and grounded in respect for individual students and their intrinsic motivation to develop their mental, physical, and emotional abilities. This mission is achieved by the Head of School, administrative staff, and faculty team, and reinforced by support from parents. A distinctive blend of 21st century education practices, family atmosphere, and Montessori philosophy epitomizes “The Millhopper Way.”
A COMMITMENT TO QUALITY
Millhopper Montessori School has enjoyed a reputation of quality and goodwill since 1977. As the school expands to meet its goals, the commitment to remaining a high quality school with a family-style atmosphere holds a top priority. MMS is based on the Montessori philosophy as well as other methodologies. It offers an educationally challenging learning environment. The teaching staff is comprised of teachers holding credentials in Montessori (Preschool, Elementary, and Middle School), Early Childhood Education, and Elementary Education. The student-teacher ratio is approximately one teacher per twelve students (One teacher per eight students for toddlers).There is no discrimination in employment regarding race, creed, political affiliation, marital, sexual orientation, gender, or number of dependents. A staff that is representative of both men and women and of varied religious, racial, and cultural backgrounds is encouraged for the good of the students, their parents, and the community, as well as the faculty itself.
Millhopper Montessori School recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of their inaugural school year, the class of 1977-1978. At the age of 25, with just one other teacher and 24 students ages 2 1/2 to 5, Christina Miller opened her Montessori school in one room in the back of Parkview Baptist Church. In 1989, after 10 years at a cottage on NW 23rd Avenue, Christina expanded MMS to the five-acre campus on NW 39th Avenue where they remain to this day. Today, she is still the school’s director and is one of the 4th/5th grade teachers, truly embracing the Montessori hands-on approach.
When Millhopper Montessori opened, I-75 was in the middle of nowhere and the Oaks Mall had just opened. In the years since then, the school has grown along with Gainesville. When reflecting on the changes the school has undergone over the years, Miller remarked, “It’s everything I’ve dreamed of all my life. When we were in the early years, every day, I told myself, ‘All fear of expansion is released’. I said it every day and I believed in it. I believe that you can direct the circumstances of your life. And children can, too. They’re so underestimated, and that’s part of the reason I do what I do.”
From their humble beginnings, Millhopper Montessori has gone through multiple expansions. There was significant growth in the student body and the addition of two buildings in the 1990’s when The Little House for ages 2 through 4 and the middle school were added. They currently serve approximately 220 students ages 2 through 8th grade with a complete 21st century, STEAM-focused Montessori curriculum. Many of the teachers and staff have been there for over 20 years. There are alumni who have joined the staff and second generations of students attending the school. They are one of only two area schools to be accredited with the Florida Council of Independent Schools and they are affiliated with the American Montessori Society.
Christina Miller and student (left); Class photo from first school year, 1977-78 (right)