1513 Hall Johnson Road
Colleyville, TX 76034
Last year was an important one in the history of The Barbara Gordon Montessori School. It marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of the school, placing BGMS among the oldest, longest-established, and most respected AMI schools in the State of Texas and the United States.
Forty years of serving children and families and 40 years of modeling the best in Montessori education is no small accomplishment! It might be interesting to look back for just a moment and reflect on just how this all happened – how our school was founded, and how it has grown over the years.
Forty years ago, Barbara Gordon was the founder and the Head of School of St. Alcuin Montessori School in Dallas, which was then called “Montessori Academy.” Barbara lived in Southlake then, and of course she had lots of friends in this area. One day a local parent came to her and said, “My friends and I know about that great school you created for those children in Dallas, and we want our children to have an opportunity to go to a school like that – we want that same wonderful experience for our children.”
Barbara was very busy – she already was doing more than any one person could reasonably be expected to do. But, the parents were insistent, and she finally agreed to help if the parents would spearhead the project. It was through the vision, the desire, and the work of those first parents that our school was founded in 1971, 40 years ago.
Back then the school was called “Montessori Academy of Grapevine.” And it was just about as small as a “school” can be. It consisted of one small primary classroom in rented space at St. Francis Catholic Church in Grapevine. Later, the classroom moved to a little house out in the woods next to Barbara’s home in Southlake.
The Montessori guide then was Dr. Mark Ross. Many of the materials that Mark had in his class were homemade, made by Mark himself and his wife Gay. The parents repaired and maintained the house, and helped with material making, too -- sanding and painting the pink tower and the brown stair to make everything perfect for their children.
Back in the 1970s I was a Primary guide at St. Alcuin Montessori School, and my friends and I used to come out to spend the day in “the country” with Mark and Gay, cook and eat together, and talk about Montessori.
There was a very homey atmosphere then in that little house. The tone was set by the adults who created and supported this environment for the children – Mark, Barbara, and the parents who were working hard to sustain the school. I think what you felt most in those days was the idealism and the dedication of those adults. The school was so small, and they had very little in the way of resources, and yet they were 100% committed to providing the best possible environment and experience for those children.
Since those early days there have been many changes:
In spite of all the changes over 40 years, however, one thing has remained a constant. When you come onto our campus, you still feel that idealism and dedication, that commitment to making the best possible environment and experience for the children. That’s the heart and soul of the school, and that has stayed the same through all the changes.
And that comes from all of us. We create it every day. It comes from our teaching staff and our support team who believe in the children, and who give everything they have every day to create a place where the children can flourish and fulfill their potential. It comes from the parents, who see how their children grow and learn and how they love to come to school, and who recognize that Dr. Montessori was right when she said, “One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.” And of course, it comes from the children, who infuse the atmosphere around us with the peace of concentration, the buzz of happy exploration, the joy of discovery, and the excitement of creativity.
Our school has the most ambitious and inspiring mission of any organization I know:
To guide, nurture and support the development of the full human potential.
“The development of human potential” – that is the momentous, fundamental, awe-inspiring work that every child must accomplish. It’s such a miraculous, life-creating, life-affirming accomplishment that you would think it would be accompanied by a drum roll or a bolt of lightning. But in fact, it happens in silence, and it happens so subtly that if you weren’t watching for it, you would never even see it.
This is the greatest mission a school could possibly have – to participate in the positive self-construction of human life. Isn’t this our mission as parents, too – to guide, nurture and support the development of our children’s full potential? This shared mission is what makes us partners, school and parents together.