The first meeting of the Pittsburgh Montessori Society was held on April 28, 1963. The purpose of the Society was to establish a study group to look into the possibility of starting a Montessori school in the Pittsburgh area. The group, led by Laura Hertig, was interested in knowing more about Maria Montessori’s method. At that first meeting they agreed to raise the membership dues from $1.00 to $10.00 in order to purchase literature explaining Maria Montessori’s method.
By October of that same year, the group had progressed in their understanding to the point that Tom Egan, a member of the Society, agreed to travel to Chicago in order to visit the Alquin School which used the Montessori method. The members wanted a better understanding of the procedure they needed to follow in order to open a school of their own. At that time there were approximately one hundred Montessori schools in the United States.
In the fall of 1963, the Society also became established as an official study group of the American Montessori Society. Over the course of the next several months (October 1963-September 1964), the Pittsburgh Montessori Society recruited their first Montessori trained teacher, increased their membership base and learned more about the Montessori method. On April 2, 1964, the Society received notice of its non-profit status from the IRS. By August 25 of that same year, the school was registered in Harrisburg as a non-profit corporation. Although the school did not open until the first part of 1965, the minutes from their meetings list September 15, 1964 as the day the school was founded.
The first official meeting of the Western Pennsylvania Montessori School, Inc. (WPMS), was held on November 8, 1964. The first fifteen Corporation members were elected. The school’s assets at the time were $429.00. The board agreed to charge $400 a year in tuition, to be paid on a monthly basis. The school opened in the basement of the Bellwood Church in January of 1965. Jean Keegan and Bianci Nardi were the two teachers. Twenty-five children enrolled that first year and classes lasted two and half hours. The school moved to Poff School from 1966 to 1968 and then to the Wildwood Road House from 1968 to 1970. In 1970, the school rented the Wyland School building for two years. It was later purchased from the local school district in August of 1972.