Our Story: The GW Elementary Montessori School

“It is not in human nature for all men to tread the same path of development, as animals do of a single species.”
Dr. Maria Montessori 


Valerie Hannum came to Kingston over a decade ago with her family as principal of the Robert Graves Elementary school. As a former Montessori child, teacher and administrator from the Pennsylvania area, Ms. Hannum brought her rich background into the city of Kingston’s public educational system. After ten successful years at Graves, Valerie wrote a proposal for funding to create a ‘Public Montessori’ making Kingston 1 in just over 400 in the nation and Canada. In what the Legislature reported as being ‘one of the best educational proposals they had ever read’, the monies were approved for a $350,000 start-up in 2008/2009.  With the support of former superintendent Gerard Gretzinger the GW Elementary School, a title one school located in the densely populated midtown section of Kingston, was selected as the pilot for the program.

Experienced educators, respected and trusted in the community, enthusiastically stepped up to the plate for the rigorous training.  Pre-K teachers (The Children’s House) required 1,800 hours of training while Elementary certification, a total of 3,600 hours of training. Today, the staff are all fully certified in their areas.

The Montessori method is about making a long-term impact. Studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally.  They are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.

Building Kingston’s Community of Learners. 

One of the primary reasons families choose to live in any community is on the basis of the quality of its schools.  Now with a waiting list, numerous parents can attest to having chosen this particular neighborhood specifically because of GW’s outstanding reputation far beyond Kingston.  The GW Elementary/Montessori program’s demand was so great in 2011 that another classroom was added to make room in the first weeks of enrollment.

In Kingston, another added benefit is that the classrooms are becoming increasingly diverse. Children are exposed to all different nationalities, languages and socio-economic backgrounds. With mixed age classrooms, older children are given a chance to act as ‘mentors’ while the younger children benefit to learn from their older classmates.

This kind of quality eduction in midtown Kingston brings something that generally is only afforded to children who have the monetary means, as a Montessori education can cost upwards to $10,000 – $15,000 per year, more in larger cities.

We are proud to promote such an asset to attract families to the city as is critical to Kingston’s overall economic stability.

We look forward to meeting you. Please come and VISIT us.