A Brief History of School of the Woods (Established 1962)
When School of the Woods opened its doors in 1962, the Montessori method of education had been in use throughout the world for half a century. School of the Woods, the oldest continuously operating Montessori school in the Houston area, provides an educational program proven and strengthened through more than four decades of successful experience.
Some people understandably think the school was named for the sylvan setting of its campus. Its name, however, honors Ernest and Hilda Wood, who inspired and guided its founding along Montessori principles. Dr. Wood, a Sanskrit and Asian scholar, introduced the Montessori philosophy to the study group who were considering establishing a new nursery school. When the school opened, he was president of the first board of trustees. School of the Woods' first home was a classroom on then Unitarian Fellowship campus at the present school location on Wirt Road.
By its second year School of the Woods had begun to move to a strongly Montessori oriented program. That movement continued with staff attendance at the 1963 Montessori national convention, staff in service and workshop training and the hiring in 1965 of its first teacher certified in the Montessori method.
By 1969 enrollment had grown to 132, and by 1970, almost the entire staff was educated either in the Montessori method or a specialty area. That same year, School of the Woods inaugurated its first elementary class, 75 five to seven year olds and a team of teachers specialized in six different learning areas. In 1973, the School formalized it permanent commitment to the Montessori Method by initiating affiliation with the American Montessori Society, which continues today.
In 1975, the school started acquiring its permanent home with the purchase of the property immediately south of the Unitarian Fellowship campus. The current 5 acre campus on Wirt road is the result of that acquisition program.
A full-day program for children 21/2 to 6 years old began in 1976; and, enrollment kept growing, to 219 by 1977. During 1980, an eventful year, a new building was completed for pre-primary children and upper elementary as well as the addition of a fourth-grade level class.
In 1981, a fifth grade was added and, in 1982, the sixth grade. Seventh and eighth grade classes began in 1984 providing School of the Woods programs from early childhood through middle school (7th and 8th grades).
During the years between 1985 and 1995, four permanent buildings were constructed for the elementary, upper elementary and middle school programs. In 1999, the Performing Arts Multi Purpose facility was remodeled. During the 1998-99 school year enrollment grew to 330.
In September 1999, the school inaugurated a ninth grade class, added the tenth grade in September 2000, the eleventh grade in September 2001 and finally the twelfth in September 2002. During the summer of 2002 the school purchased a 5 acre track of land on Westview (just east of the corner of Wirt and Westview) to be the permanent home of Woods High. Plans are being formulated to develop this site and facility.
In 2002, the school received accreditation from three bodies: American Montessori Society (AMS), Texas Alliance of Accredited Private Schools (TAAPS) and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).