Neighborhood Nexus

Young girl, age 7 to 10 giving a speech.
Family Star’s youngest board member, Gaby Reynoso, giving a speech during the celebration that marked the opening of Family Star in 1990.

Family Star began in 1985 as grass-roots initiative focused on revitalizing the city’s economically distressed Northeast neighborhood. Prompted by parental concerns, Martha Urioste, then Principal of Mitchell Montessori, Denver’s first public Montessori school, led a multi-year effort to transform an abandoned nine-unit apartment building across the street from the school into an intergenerational family center focused on 0-3 Montessori programming.

The “crack house,” as Urioste refers to it, became, first a nexus of activity, and then a demonstration of what is possible when committed people come together. Almost immediately, the group adopted the name “Family Star” to signal the wider implications of turning a place of decay into a beacon of hope.

In addition to reclaiming the “crack house,” Urioste invited Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) trainer Judy Orion to move to Denver in order to open a training institute specifically designed to support Family Star. Since the early 90’s the Montessori Institute of Denver has been a hub of 0-3 Montessori training and until very recently, one of only two centers in the US offering this specialized training. In 1997, Family Star became one of the nation’s first Early Head Start sites and today Family Star operates on two campuses and serves over 300 children through a blend of federal, state, and local support.

children and adults working together painting steps.
Children from Mitchell Montessori painting the railing of the 9-plex unit as the community adopted the building in 1990.

Visit Family Star Montessori School online.