The Montessori School of Ithaca was founded in 1979 by Andrea Blitzer and Carol Hill. Their goal was to transform the world by educating children in an atmosphere that promoted respect and dignity for all. The school, housed on the top floor of the T.G. Miller building in downtown Ithaca, had an initial enrollment of nine students. The school moved to its current location on East King Road in 1988.
In 1998, the Montessori School of Ithaca was renamed the Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca, in honor of one of our most beloved students: Elizabeth Ann Clune. As a three-year old, Elizabeth, a child with Down’s syndrome, had been a student in Andrea Blitzer Riddle’s pre-school classroom. In contrast with special education practices of that time, Andrea taught Elizabeth using the same materials and methods as every other child in her classroom.
Elizabeth thrived and was a student at the school for the next 12 years. The relationship between Elizabeth and the school proved to be formative in defining its mission. The faculty became passionately committed to educating all children – regardless of their personal strengths and weaknesses – using the Montessori Method. Furthermore, inclusion became a basic tenet of the school.
In 1998 the school acquired the house across the street on King Road, which was renovated for Upper Level use. A few years later, the blue house next door to the main building became our Middle School program.Now, in its 39th year, the school has an enrollment of 230 students in 10 classrooms! The incredible success and longevity of EACMSI can be attributed to Andrea Riddle’s unique vision of what it means to be a school; she blurred the usual boundaries between school, extended family and community. To this day, when parents enroll their children at EACMSI, the family as a whole is embraced and welcomed. As a result, EACMSI is a dynamic, deeply connected, and constantly evolving community: people of all ages come together to inspire the best in all.