About Us

The Montessori School of University Heights was founded in 1968 by Betty and Jack Hissong. Prior to this Mary and Jim Ruffing along with members of the John Carroll University Alumni Christian Life Community, including Betty and Jack Hissong, opened the first Montessori school for three to six year old  children in 1961.  That school was originally called "Cleveland Montessori" but later changed its name to "Ruffing Montessori" in honor of Mary and Jim Ruffing whose efforts made the school a reality. 

Betty Hissong became a Montessori guide and worked at Ruffing for a number of years. Besides the regular Montessori program, Betty began to work on ways that children could develop a relationship with God, using Montessori principles. Gradually many people who enrolled their children were not very interested in helping the children develop a religious life.  As these parents became more numerous and more involved in the school, some becoming board members, the importance of religious experiences for the children began to be less important for the school.

Betty left Cleveland Montessori School and she and Jack started the Montessori School of University Heights so that the spiritual development of the children could proceed in harmony with their physical, emotional, intellectual, and social development.  Betty directed the Montessori School of University Heights from 1969 to 1999, retiring to care for Jack who had become ill.  At that time Maria Wood, who became Betty's assistant in 1990 and had taken Montessori training with Betty as her mentor, stepped in to direct the school.  The school gratefully acknowledges the extraordinary effort, dedication, love, and expertise that Betty Hissong and her family poured into the school.  The school strives to maintain the standard of excellence begun by the Hissong family. 

The school was initially housed in an empty building in the Cleveland Heights/University Heights school system, hence our name.  The next year the school district decided to place a special education program in that building and the school moved to the First Baptist Church on Fairmount Boulevard in Shaker Heights with University Heights, just across the street, hence our name remained.  The school remained at that location for thirty years until the church requested that we relinquish the space to make room for their own daycare program. In the year 2000 the school relocated to its current location at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Lyndhurst.