Tomorrow’s Promise, THE Montessori School of Huntsville was founded by Kaye Boehning in 1997. Through their non-profit status, they also give back to our community by making the Dolly Parton Imagination Library available to our area. Caring about children and the entire county is just what they do. Boehning shared her story.
My vision, my mission, my goal 23 years ago was for all children to have the opportunity to learn in the way designed to teach children naturally where they can excel at their own pace. We expect mastery before they advance. In traditional education, you have to achieve a minimum of a 70 to move on. With our students, you have to score at least a 90 or above before advancing. Otherwise, how do you build on something that you don’t know?
I had a degree in fine arts with an emphasis in advertising and was working in a bank doing their advertising. I was tired of that kind of work and pursued my CPA. When I was 21 hours away from sitting for my CPA exam, I started having fun teaching my 18-month-old son, so I switched my major to education and I got my master’s in education. As I was working on my degree, I enrolled my son in a Montessori school at my roommate’s suggestion. I ended up working there and fell in love with the way they taught children. I was determined to become a Montessori teacher.
My biggest challenge is I am really a very shy person. I’ve never seen myself as a leader. I need to have more leadership skills and am honored to have been selected for the Emerging Leaders program through the SBA. A good leader surrounds themself with the best of the best–my teachers, my team–everybody that works at the school has a significant role in its success. Charlotte Baker is my right hand. She has been with me 21 years, almost the whole time. She is invaluable to our school.
It’s hard to believe I have been doing this for 23 years and I’m not tired of it. Each day, each new child, each teacher …there’s always a challenge – some way to grow, some way to improve, some way to do something better. I am always striving to be better, to make the school better, or to help someone be better, give a parent advice, to help a child. I have kept my faith through it all.
When asked what Kaye has learned about herself during her time at Tomorrow’s Promise, her husband Rick chimed in and said “She is one tough cookie, with the emphasis on ‘TOUGH’!”
One time my dad said to me, “I don’t know how you do what you do. I could never do it.” I’ve always looked up to my dad and I could never understand what he meant. The thing I have learned is I am more resilient and creative than I thought possible.
I babysat my cousin when I was younger. I told my dad I was “never, ever, ever, ever having children.” I have a biological child for every “ever” I said! I think, just for fun, God threw in the school after that! We have students from Madisonville, Trinity, Riverside, Livingston, Coldspring, and some SHSU professors that come from The Woodlands and bring their children to Tomorrow’s Promise. What’s the old saying? We make plans, and God laughs.
When God laid on my heart the need to open a school, I knew I had to listen. At the time, I didn’t have the money, didn’t have the training, and didn’t have a building. My father sold his company and I had some stock in it and all of a sudden, I had the money. I got accepted into the Houston Montessori Center in Houston, and my journey began. I had no building, no supplies, and nothing other than I knew what I wanted to do. In a matter of a few weeks, I ordered supplies, found an old frat house near downtown Huntsville and signed the lease, began renovations, obtained my license and inspections, and met all the remodeling requirements. We proudly opened on Sept. 2nd, 1997. To do all of that in such a short period of time was nothing short of a miracle.
The school kept growing. In 2000, I had to either turn students away or find a place. I’d been looking for over a year for a place to buy. We prayed about it on Sunday at church. On Tuesday, I drove by the current location of the school and saw a for sale sign in the yard. We bought the property in February 2000, remodeled, and were ready several months later. We opened the doors and within a few weeks, we were at capacity.
That started us looking for a place to expand. We found the house next door. We signed on August 15th and got busy getting it ready. Three years from first opening the business, our second building was ready. The children actually moved the classroom material, on lesson at a time, to the new building. They obtained ownership and were so proud of themselves. It was so cool. In 2005, neighbors came to me and we bought the third building that is now our after-school building.
We are extremely excited about opening our new elementary school this fall for the coming school year. These students need to be able to work at their own pace. We are concerned many children may not have stayed on track through the remote learning due to Covid. Because we are a private school, we stayed open during the pandemic. We offer small environments, and many parents feel safer with their kids in a smaller setting. Our elementary school opening will meet the needs of these families. We also work with the parents to take their financial situation into consideration when assigning fees. We do our best to accept students on their parents’ ability to pay and not let finances prevent them from having a private school opportunity.
The traditional system of education we have was designed in the beginning to turn out good factory workers for the cities. Montessori is the only system developed by a doctor using a scientific method, using what was in the best interest of the child. This entire journey began with me wanting to do what was best for children. I didn’t want to see that lightbulb of desire for learning in them go out.
There is a falsity out there that you can’t be Christian and be Montessori. In fact, Montessori believed God gave her this way of teaching. He inspired her and led her in developing the methods. We are reintroducing Christianity to Montessori. I am a member of Christian Montessori Fellowship and am excited to be in the process of getting Tomorrow’s Promise approved to be a MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education) school with Christian Montessori Fellowship as a training center to train Christian Montessori teachers.
The founders of Google, Wikipedia, and Amazon, as well as Prince Harry, Prince William…Julia Childs, Dakota Fleming…all received their education at a Montessori school.
It’s important to me that children have the desire to learn, are excited to learn, and have learned as much as they can learn when they leave this program. Our numbers continue to grow. My mindset is to do what God wants me to do. My original mission was to bring Montessori to Huntsville and make it where everybody who wanted to be there can afford to be there. There was no limit on how many kids, how many buildings, or how many teachers. I’ve just been along for the ride ever since.
What is old is new again and better than ever! At Tomorrow’s Promise, they took what was once a simple container and reimagined it through breathtaking artwork to now become a teaching tool for students. What once was an “old house” is now part of a high quality learning environment for your child. What once was a simple backyard has become the largest playground in Huntsville. And what once was an empty space is set to become a new private elementary school for students through 3rd grade! Kaye says, “Ready! Set! Register!”