Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Wildflower Schools is an ecosystem of decentralized teacher-led Montessori micro-schools. Wildflower Montessori started in January 2014 as an early childhood education program created by MIT Media Lab professor Sep Kamvar in partnership with two Montessori veterans. Since then, a growing network of teacher leaders has helped start more than two dozen additional Wildflower schools around the country and in Puerto Rico. Wildflower schools are 1-2 room schools located in shop-fronts embedded in neighborhoods, with the faculty both teaching and administering the school. The small scale of each school is meant to allow teacher-leaders to make day-to-day decisions that respond to the needs of the children and school-wide decisions that express their own vision. The Wildflower network is supported by a foundation that works to build capacity, systems, tools and research to grow and strengthen the network. The Drexel Fund has supported the growth and development of six Wildflower schools. Five are current portfolio members:
- Azalea Montessori Elementary launched in 2022 with students, ages 6 to 10, and plans to grow gradually over five years. Founded by two experienced Montessori educators, the school plans to conduct the majority of lessons outdoors. Its sister school, Azalea Montessori, is located just down the street.
- Hawthorn Montessori School and Fox Flower Montessori School are the first schools in North Carolina affiliated with the Wildflower network. Launched in fall 2019 as private schools participating in North Carolina’s statewide voucher program.
- Hyacinth Montessori School launched in 2022 in socioeconomically diverse West Philadelphia (ages 6 -12).
- Goldenrod Montessori School launched in Cleveland as a 12-student pilot program 2020-21. Its full school program launched in fall 2021. The private school will be eligible to participate in Ohio’s voucher programs.
- Magnolia Blossom Montessori School is building on a successful three years as a toddler-focused school and expanded into a program in fall 2020 that also serves students ages 3 through 6. In one years, school leaders plan to support the launch of an additional Wildflower school in southern Indiana.