River Valley Charter School is a regional public Montessori school serving students from Amesbury, Newbury, Newburyport, Salisbury, and West Newbury.
The school was founded when a group of parents, whose children had attended preschool at a local Montessori school, were sharing how much they appreciated the educational programming their children received in the Montessori environment. The group formed a Founding Alliance and began the arduous task of creating a public Montessori program.
After two attempts applying to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the application for a public Montessori charter school was granted!
River Valley opened in September 1999 with 160 students enrolled in grades 1 through 5. The school reached full capacity of 256 students in grades 1 through 8 in 2002. In 2003, River Valley received approval from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to add a kindergarten program and in September the school opened its "Kinderhaus" program with 32 additional students. This brought total student enrollment to 288. In 2011, the Kinderhaus program, which had included 32 students, was split into two separate classrooms of 16 children each.
Students enroll by means of a public lottery with the only preference given to siblings, and those who live within the five sending towns.
River Valley joins a population of more than 500 public and 5,000 private Montessori schools in the nation, but it is Massachusetts’ first charter Montessori school started "from scratch," with a majority of students having no previous Montessori experience. River Valley Charter School also joins a population of more than 5,300 charter schools in 41 states, with 83 charter schools in Massachusetts.