Our History


In 1965, a parent study group dedicated to the educational theories of Dr. Maria Montessori came together and hired Montessori trained teachers to begin teaching their children. In 1966, the Montessori School of Lake Forest (MSLF) was founded as a not-for-profit organization. It was the fifth Montessori school to be established in the State of Illinois.

For six years, the group rented space at the North Shore Unitarian Church in Lake Bluff. In fall 1971, MSLF moved to its own building at 1180 South Western Avenue in Lake Forest. Demand for a 0-3 program prompted the school to open classes at the Friends Meeting House in Lake Forest in 1977. Continued growth led MSLF to lease temporary space at Lake Bluff’s former East School. To better provide for expanding enrollment, MSLF search for a site suitable for consolidating all of MSLF’s programs.

In 1988, MSLF purchased property in unincorporated Lake County and retained the architectural firm of Serena & Sturm to design a facility to accommodate a full service school, offering Full Day as well as Parent Infant, Toddler, Primary, and Elementary programs. MSLF moved into the new 23,000 square foot facility as scheduled in the fall of 1990, a fitting celebration of MSLF’s twenty-fifth year.

In October 1997, MSLF added two spacious new Elementary classrooms, allowing faculty and staff to re-occupy their conference room and faculty lounge. In February 2000, MSLF added a Multipurpose Room and Parent Infant room. This 5,000 square feet expansion also included a nurse’s office, a music room, and tutoring rooms.

In August 2002, MSLF opened its Adolescent Program, one of the first land-based Montessori adolescent programs in the nation. The Adolescent Program serves students 12 to 15 years old, and is located on farmland at Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Illinois, nine miles west of MSLF’s main campus in west Lake Forest.

In 2003, MSLF completed its Outdoor Learning and Discovery Project, which provided classroom yards, playgrounds, prairie, woodland, additional gardens, and reconfigured drives and parking lots.

In 2007, MSLF purchased property at Prairie Crossing to build a permanent facility for the Adolescent Program.

The Montessori School of Lake Forest continues to pursue Dr. Montessori’s philosophy of educating children. MSLF serves more than 200 students from 30 communities. The school continues to thrive by offering excellence in Montessori education. MSLF’s stability is due to the generosity of the school community: Board members, parents, faculty, and staff, who give of themselves on behalf of their children, and the children of the future.