When a dream is expressed and a desire heartfelt, doors open along the way. The seed was planted when Tammy Whiting, Head-of-School, was researching for her degree in Early Childhood Education. She read a Masters thesis concerning children and their feelings during times of stress. For example, amidst a divorce or death, children felt that they had no control over their lives. The recommendation given in the thesis was that the child’s only option was to wait and hope that things would get better. She knew then that it was her calling to create an environment that would enable children to feel that they could impact their own lives; that what they did and felt mattered. Later, when Tammy Whiting was married with children, she attended an eight-hour Montessori workshop and was impressed by the role of the student in the classroom. She learned more about children and education in that eight hours than she had in her college career. She walked away with a full heart and a desire to fulfill her dream while fueling the flames she kindled in college.
Tammy Whiting continued to build her knowledge of Maria Montessori and the Montessori method. She spent numerous hours observing Montessori schools. She then shared her information with her husband and two like-minded couples, and they eventually formed a partnership. Montessori Children’s Centre was founded in 1985 by three couples, Sally and Rex Parry, Jean and Jack Squires and Tammy and Trey Whiting. Two sets of parents and one set of grandparents expected more out of an educational environment than what they had experienced in their lifetimes. The partners believed in an environment where children are treated with great respect and offered the opportunity to grow and learn at their own pace. They wanted to create an environment where all the senses and intelligences are used in acquiring information. They wanted an environment where the teacher acts as facilitator instead of the dispenser of all information. They purchased and renovated a home in Mesa, Arizona and started MCC, a private school. The dream was becoming a reality.
During the first school year, MCC had two small primary classrooms and a small 6-9 classroom. In the summer of 1987, a 1500 square foot addition was made to the existing building to accommodate the formation of an upper elementary classroom. In time, one couple opted out, their share assumed by the Whitings, and the other couple retired. Tammy and Trey Whiting were eventually the only partners running MCC.
The school remained private for nine more years. In 1994, the charter movement started in Arizona education with aggressive legislation written to achieve additional educational choices for parents. Through research and soul-searching, Tammy and Trey decided to apply for a charter. They received the charter for the 1996-1997 school year. Receiving the charter created an opportunity for expansion and a new name for a new entity; thus, Montessori Education Centre-Charter School (MEC) was born in 1996.