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 ten Wildflower schools. Five are current portfolio members:
- Azalea Montessori Elementary is located in Norwood, a working-class city bordering Cincinnati. Azalea 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.
- 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.
- Blazing Stars Montessori School launched in January 2023 in Dade City, the seat of mostly rural Pasco County. The microschool, serving ages 3 to 9, will add enrollment gradually and expects to reach a full student body of 42 in about five years. It is one of the first two Wildflower schools in Florida.
- Desert Peach Montessori will launch in August 2023 in Reno, Nevada with 20 students and grow over two years to a full student body of 38. It will be the first Wildflower school in Nevada.