about God’s Word and God’s world on the hands and hearts of our children as we walk, talk, rise up and lie down.
—Hand In Hand motto based on Deuteronomy 11:19
It seems like yesterday…spring 1996. I was holding my baby, dreaming about my life with my husband and this child, wanting to raise him to be a Child of God, a child with light. Then, I remember having a distinct impression from God with three simple words: Home School Academy. Interesting! Was that an oxymoron? Did something like that already exist? Little did I know that these three words would change my thinking, my ideas about the ideal educational experience and my future.
The journey to start a “Home School Academy” for my own children took me to many places, engaged in many conversations, asking many questions and meeting others who share common values. Several concepts and proposals were made, but in the end, a Christian Montessori model along with a partnership with parents was determined to be the ideal. Several years of work and many hurdles happened as we dared to dream and forged a new hybrid in education.
The summer of 1999 and 2000 was the first implementation of this vision in a two-week Summer Camp thanks to the leadership and hosting of North Heights Lutheran Church with a few teachers, a few dozen students and their willing parents.
The fall of 2000 and 2001 we started our Family Preschool and Family Musik Programs (ages 0-3), an ECFE format, with parent and child interaction and a Montessori-appetizer. In 2002 we finally launched our first Children’s House (ages 3-6) along with our first part-time, Home School Academy (ages 6-12). 2007 brought a change, when we became our own 501c3 non-profit corporation.
In 2008, we moved into our own dedicated educational wing at in partnership with the Church of Corpus Christi and continued to grow. That fall we also launched our Junior HIgH Program (ages 12-15) which nurtures adolescents and raises up leaders. The fall of 2010 we significantly changed programming as we added the Private Academy (ages 6-15) for those families who desire Christian Montessori for a full school year.
In 2015 we added a second campus in Bloomington that not only houses our Bethany Children’s House and Elementary Homeschool and Private Academy (ages 3-12), but our MACTE accredited Christian Montessori Training Center (CMTC) as well. The birth of the “The Crayon Box” blog, occurred that year, inspiring conversations about Christ, children and constructivism.
The journey continued, and in 2018 we outgrew our current location in Roseville and it became critical for our school’s survival to find a permanent home. Through a series of miraculous events, we purchased an vacant and vandalized US Military Armory, and began rebuilding and restoring. We opened our doors in September 2020 and launched a new Infant and Toddler environment called the NIDO (means nest in Italian) for 0-3 year olds.
In 2021 we added our third campus in Wayzata, and as 2022 dawns, we will be creating a new Virtual Montessori campus for both stateside and worldwide learners to enroll on-line, in the comfort of their own homes, enjoying our Collaborative, Constructivist, Christian Montessori Community.
Today, we have grown to be one of the largest Christian Montessori community with over 500 students and over nearly 100 staff and faculty on two campuses. We are all committed to the original vision of “Authentic Christian Montessori with a strong Parent Partnership.” We continue to look for new ideas of development and application as we seek to share this unique educational model with as many children and parents as possible, advancing the Kingdom of God through Christian Montessori.
I give God all the glory for the idea of Hand In Hand, a name God also dropped in my heart long ago. The journey and the fruition of bringing the Hand In Hand families together has been serendipitous. Surely the motto of Hand In Hand, “to write the truths of God’s Word and truths about God’s world on the hands and hearts of our children as we walk, talk, rise up and lie down,” based on the call in Deuteronomy 11:9, has been our purpose throughout the years.
In 1910, Dr. Maria Montessori dedicated herself to the work with young children and said “I offer myself as a [sacrifice] to Jesus Christ, our Lord, desiring to follow the path of his divine will.” E.M. Standings, her close friend and confidant challenged: “those who have read [this vow] and appreciate its contents would join in praying for the intention that Almighty God, in his love and wisdom, would raise up some individual or group of individuals, who under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, would found such an order – which would in fact be…the Children of Light.”
We have felt this inspiration and call at Hand In Hand and pray it does serve as a model for others as well.
Michelle Lee Thompson
Founding Parent, Executive Director and Head of School