Little Italy Non-Profits Unite to Provide Excellence in Education and Community Service

Little Italy Non-Profits Little Italy Non-Profits

The Alta House and Cleveland Montessori Board leadership have announced a partnership between the two organizations to create the Cleveland Montessori at Alta House, a joint collaboration that will significantly and positively impact the Little Italy community for generations to come. The combined efforts will include the Cleveland Montessori's educational mission, the preservation and renovation of the Alta House facility, and the joint undertaking of a $3 million capital campaign to formalize these enterprises resulting in a new entity that will become a magnet for educational excellence, a center for cultural appreciation, and a continuation of a rich Cleveland legacy.

Linekstudio, a Cleveland architecture and design firm, has determined what is required to preserve the aging facility and, at the same time, meet 21st century building requirements and code for pre-school through middle-school purposes. The renovation plans have been prepared and propose expenditures which include upgrades to exterior and interior structures, construction of a three-story addition to the front to establish elevators, a social room for Alta House programs, administrative offices for both organizations, as well as the modernization of major operating systems, including electrical, heat, and plumbing. Interior demolition and repairs to roof and windows began in June, and major renovation will begin in August. Snavely Construction is working with the organizations to complete the first phase of renovation of the project to accommodate the school by January, 2016. Second phase expansion, with the proposed addition of space, will allow for anticipated growth in the student population.

Cleveland Montessori is a small, urban, independent school currently serving 120 children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The school was founded to offer families who live and work in the greater Cleveland area an option for educational principles, developed by Italian physician/educator Dr. Maria Montessori, along with spiritual formation with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd curriculum. The Montessori model emphasizes self-directed, independent learning, which optimizes a child's creative potential. Emphasis is on self-directed learning - approximately 80% of classroom work is independently selected and 20% teacher guided.

The Alta House was founded in 1895 by Alta Rockefeller Prentice, daughter of John D. Rockefeller Sr., as a nursery school and kindergarten that provided reliable support for working mothers. Her financial investment in the development of the Little Italy settlement house addressed a community need, identified by Italian businessman Joseph Carabelli, whose Lakeview Granite Works created impressive monuments at nearby Lakeview Cemetery, the most notable being the magnificent granite obelisk in memory of her father. The Rockefeller family continued to finance additions to the facility to accommodate the interests of older youth with the addition of a library, swimming pool, gymnasium, and playground, making it a magnet for children of all ages. Alta House became a community center for the entire family to learn and socialize and served as a vehicle to empower Italian immigrant families and their children to value education and socialization as well as to maintain pride in their cultural traditions.

The Cleveland Montessori-Alta House partnership is a natural, next step for the distinguished heritage and endeavors of these institutions to continue their service to the greater community and continue progress and development in Little Italy. Relocation plans are dedicated to serving the interests of families who value exposure to the rich educational and cultural opportunities inherent in the neighborhoods of both Little Italy and University Circle.

For additional information on the building project or how to contribute, please contact the Cleveland Montessori School at 216-421-0700 or visit the website at