Parent Study Group Begins Primary Class


Parent Study Group Begins Primary Class

In 1965, a parent study group dedicated to the educational theories of Dr. Maria Montessori came together and hired Montessori trained teachers to begin teaching their children. The new Montessori Primary class has 12 children enrolled and meets at the Unitarian Church in Deerfield.

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MSLF Founded


  A group of 12 dedicated parents from the parent study group found the Montessori School of Lake Forest as a not-for-profit organization. It becomes the fifth Montessori school established in the state of Illinois. Twenty students form the first official class at MSLF.

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Primary Classroom Added


An afternoon class for Primary aged children is added. Enrollment grows to 31.

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New Program for Two-Year-Olds


New Program for Two-Year-Olds

The beginnings of a Toddler program is created, when a class for two-year-old children is added. Enrollment increases to 40 children.

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Foreign Language Program Introduced


A French program is introduced for the Primary children. Written in a February 1969 newsletter: “A French Program is to expose a child in the 3-6 year old group to new sounds and to teach him how to pronounce these sounds correctly. At this young age, the child’s adaptability to new situations, the flexibility of his oral muscles, and his freedom from psychological blocks, all conspire to allow him to repeat with near perfection the sounds he hears.” The school is currently enrolling 45 children.

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New Location Purchased


Property for the school is purchased at 2100 Half Day Road in Deerfield, under the name Montessori Society of Lake Forest, Inc. An open house held on November 20 includes discussion about a permanent site for the school, moving the discussion beyond the board members and staff to include parents of the school. Bob Tschetter (Board Treasurer, 1968-1969, Board President 1969-1971) is instrumental in negotiating for a new site and building for the school. The Primary class is led by Mrs. Joan Karstrom and assisted by Mrs. Marchand, and the school enrolls 45 children. Plans to add an additional afternoon class are discussed, to start in January 1970.

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Successful School Year Ends – Plans For the Future


Successful School Year Ends – Plans For the Future

A very successful school year comes to a close and plans for a new building continue to be discussed, but are postponed due to the lack of finances. All staff members will enthusiastically return for the next school year, including Full Day Directress Mrs. Joan Karstrom and Mrs. Katharine Kenneth, who was hired as the first administrator, As Administrative Directress, Mrs. Kenneth was engaged in both teaching and administrative functions. Enrollment is at 50 students.

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First Summer Session


In July 1971, the first summer session is held at the Quaker Meeting House, Old Elm and Ridge Road in Lake Forest. The summer program will have familiar Montessori materials plus Montessori oriented work in nature, art, music and movement.

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School Moves to New Building


School Moves to New Building

Montessori Society of Lake Forest, Inc. moves to building at 1180 S. Western Avenue in Lake Forest. Only morning classes are held when the school year begins on September 13, 1971, with 40 students enrolled. On Sunday, October 24, 1971, the new building was officially dedicated. Mrs. Judy Siegel, Board President, was Master of Ceremonies. There was good attendance by parents of past, present and prospective students. Also in attendance were Mrs. Keith Bohlig, a founder, with her two alumni children and mother; Mrs. Kenneth; Mary Small from the Illinois Montessori Society, as well as several teachers from area schools. All directresses and interns were present too. Brian Kent was noted as instrumental as Building Committee Chairman.

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Afternoon Classes Added


Afternoon classes are added to accommodate demand. Enrollment increases to 70 children.

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New Vision for Growth


Katherine Kenneth shares her vision: “a vision that MSLF would grow slowly, but steadily…allowing the children to further their skills and insights…that little boys and girls would experience the joy of learning…that children would be active in music, gym, and foreign language classes, directed by a staff willing to learn and grow. Enrollment expands to 78 children.

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Additional Space Needed for Expansion


Additional space is rented at Woodlands Academy, to accommodate the addition of a new Primary class. Enrollment expands to 84 students.

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Celebrating 10th Anniversary


Celebrating 10th Anniversary

MSLF celebrates the 10th anniversary of the first gathering of parents to create the school. Morning, afternoon and Saturday classes are initiated for children 18-30 months. Enrollment increases to 90 children.

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First Fundraiser Held


The first fundraiser is held, an auction at the Drake Theater at Barat College in Lake Forest. Enrollment stands at 90 students.

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Toddler Program Begins


Sonja Koenig starts the formal Toddler program at the Friends Meeting House. In the February 1978 newsletter, she writes, “the classroom has provided us the opportunity to have an indoor gym area, and the outdoor environments around the Meeting House have proven to be a scene of wonderful discoveries.” Due to the increasing demand for programs for children under three years of age, there will be three classes during the next semester: one for children 18-24 months, one for children 2-2.5 years, and one for 2.5-3 year olds. There are 90 children enrolled.

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Lissa Hektor Hired as Executive Director


Lissa Hektor is hired as the school’s first Executive Director. Hektor came to the school in 1978, as an intern working under Pat Johnson in a Primary class. By 1980, she was teaching and coordinating the Toddler program. Enrollment reaches 100 students.

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Enrollment Grows; Second Location For Classes Needed


In September 1982, enrollment grows to 126, and MSLF offers classes in both Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. Children 3-6 years of age will be served at the schools own building at 1180 South Western Avenue in Lake Forest. Classes for two year olds and and an additional 3-6 class will be held at the Lake Bluff East Elementary School on Sheridan Place in Lake Bluff.

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School Celebrates 20th Anniversary


MSLF board, faculty, parents and children celebrate the schools 20th Anniversary with an ice cream social. Enrollment has grown to 168 students.

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Laurel Drive Campus Land Purchased


MSLF purchases the land for the Laurel Drive Campus location. Enrollment is 155 students.

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Laurel Drive Campus Construction Begins


Construction begins on the Laurel Drive Campus building. The first Elementary class with four students is started. Enrollment dips to 150 students.

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Laurel Drive Campus Opens


MSLF celebrates 25 years. The school’s new campus opens in September, offering classes from Parent Infant through Elementary in a new 23,000 foot facility. Enrollment drops to 99 students with the move to western Lake Forest.

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Program Expansion; ISBE Recognizes Elementary Division


Art and Music teachers are hired. The Illinois State Board of Education recognizes the Elementary Division. Enrollment rises to 167 students.

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First 6th Year Graduate


Stacy Kane becomes MSLF’s first sixth grade graduate, Del Christian starts the Upper Elementary class, and a teacher hired to lead Foreign Language program. The school’s enrollment grows to 187 students.

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Accreditation Achieved


Association Montessori International (AMI) and American Montessori Society (AMS) affiliation accreditation achieved. Enrollment grows to 200 children.

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School Celebrates 30 Years


The school celebrates its 30th anniversary. Enrollment is 232 students.

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Elementary Classroom Expansion


The Capital Campaign and the Spring Auction raise $265,000 allowing the school to start and complete the 4,000 sq. ft. expansion of the elementary classrooms. Elementary Graduates for the school year are Jamie Knight, Carrie Johnson, Harry Goshgarian, Neel Mansukhani, and Matthew Morelli.

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Enrollment Reaches New Milestone


Enrollment rises to over 250 students, with children from birth to age 12 from 26 different communities. The 5th class graduates from MSLF, bringing the total to 18 graduates since the Upper Elementary program was introduced in 1993.

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Groundbreaking and Dedication


The Multipurpose Room and Parent Infant addition ground breaking is held and the Knight Family Nature Area is dedicated.

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School Adds Additional Space


MSLF dedicates the Multipurpose Room and Parent Infant classroom. The 5,000 sq. ft. expansion includes additional space for tutor rooms, the nurse’s office, and the after school room.

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Outdoor Learning and Discovery Project Begins


MSLF initiates the Outdoor Learning and Discovery Project at the Laurel Drive Campus, working to improve the campus grounds and outdoor environment.

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Pilot Adolescent Program Opens


MSLF opens the pilot Adolescent Program. Phase One of the Outdoor Learning and Discovery Project is completed, featuring the installation of classroom patios and play areas adjacent to the Jensen Terrace.

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Adolescent Program Approved


MSLF leases Adolescent Program space at Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Illinois, and votes the Adolescent Program into permanent status.

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Significant Progress for Adolescent Program


MSLF forms committee to negotiate with Prairie Holdings Corp. to secure permanent facilities for the Adolescent Program. In January 2004, MSLF moves the Adolescent Program to Prairie Crossing Organic Farm in Grayslake. Linda Davis becomes Adolescent Program Director. Adolescent Program students work on the Prairie Crossing Learning Farm. The Learning Farm offers MSLF students opportunities to work with students from other schools, and with on-site specialists in conservation, commercial organic farming, greenhouse management, and poultry management. The Adolescent Program also maintains valuable connections to local colleges, cultural institutions, and other school outside of Prairie Crossing.  

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School Celebrates 40 Years


School Celebrates 40 Years

The Adolescent Program marks success with it’s first graduates in June 2005. MSLF celebrates 40 years by initiating Phase 4 of the Outdoor Learning and Discovery Project, completing the Garden Tribute Program and installation of window awnings.

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First Full Program Graduates


Paul Ahern and Rachel George become the first MSLF students to complete all programs at MSLF, beginning in Parent Infant and graduating as 9th years in June 2013.

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