It began on September 21, 1982 with an ad in the Austin American-Statesman. Charlene Trochta answered the ad and met Jim and Lee Person. Jim, a partner in Tao-Ono Development, owned an old house on 9th street. He envisioned it as a preschool until it could be developed later for another use. An agreement was reached to form Casa Montessori Child Development Center, Inc. as a nonprofit educational organization. The Articles of Incorporation were finalized on November 2, 1982. From November through March 1983, the house was remodeled and a Montessori learning environment prepared. Information sessions for interested parents were held in March.

The morning of April 6, 1983, the first children came to the door – Currie, 5, Wells, 3, Andy, 3, Noelle, 3 and Kathryn, 3. Vanessa, 3, joined us a few days later. Charlene Trochta and Lynn Goodman Strauss were there to greet them and introduce them to a new exciting way to learn. By September 1983,  the class was fully enrolled with 30 children, ages 3 through 5. Casa Montessori continued to welcome new children and a second class was added in 1984. We moved to our current location on the grounds of the American Legion Home in 1987. Waiting lists grew longer, and the Board realized that more space was needed. In 1998, a third classroom was built and enrollment increased to 90 children.

In 2006, the previous playground area was transformed into a “backyard.”  In addition to an arbor-shaded area with climbers, a tunnel, balance beams, and chinning bars, it now includes a nature area with space for garden plots. A running track encloses a circle of native Texas plants that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and other local wildlife. The patio and extensive decks provide other areas for  a wide range of outdoor creative work and play activities.

Over 33 years, Casa Montessori and its staff have opened young minds and helped children to grow – physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Our “extended family” of children and parents has grown. Casa’s children go on to public, private, and parochial schools throughout Austin. They take with them a love of learning, an independent and self-confident attitude, and the ability to function cooperatively in group situations, often as leaders. Alumni, now graduated from college, often drop by in person or through e-mails to share with us their chosen professions and achievements. Some visit the class they were in and tell stories to current children about their favorite activities, and what they are doing now. Some have married and started new families and Casa is beginning to greet a 2nd generation of children.

At our 10th anniversary celebration in April of 1993, a noted Montessorian, Margot Waltuch, was our guest speaker. Margot was trained by Maria Montessori in Italy in the early 1900s and worked closely with her for many years. As she walked through Casa’s classrooms, and observed the children at work, she remarked, “This is how it is supposed to be.” A favorite song of ours about being a family says what Casa’s children celebrate with the world as they go forth from our gate: “helping, sharing, loving, caring – I celebrate my family {the human family}, people close to me.” As Maria Montessori believed – if the world is to be changed for the better, it must begin with the children. This has been and always will be Casa’s reason for being!