40 years of the Montessori School Zurich 1976–2016

A brief history of the Montessori School Zurich and the beginnings of Montessori education in the Canton of Zurich.

From 1960 to 1962, Claudine Baumann-Closuit (*1943) trained at the first Montessori kindergarten in Bern, founded in 1950 by Hildegund von Wurstemberger (1913–2003). In the summer of 1961, she visited the ‘Corso Nazionale Metodo Montessori’ in Rimini, under the direction of Giuliana Sorge (1903–1987), and gained a diploma from the ‘Opera Nazionale Montessori’. Giuliana Sorge was a close aide to Maria Montessori (1870–1952) from 1924 until Montessori’s death.

On 3 May 1976, Claudine Baumann-Closuit opened the Montessori School Zurich on Scheuchzerstrasse in Zurich, the first private**) Montessori kindergarten in the Canton of Zurich. At the time, the Montessori system of education was virtually unknown to the general public in Zurich. Only seven children attended the school when it first opened. By the end of the summer holidays, that number had increased to fourteen and, by the spring of 1977, the target number of 25 children were receiving a Montessori education.

The school was soon receiving visits from numerous Swiss and international seminarians, teachers and lecturers from teacher training institutions. Many aspiring Montessori teachers also completed internships there.

In summer 2002, Regula Horner (*1962) took over the school. She trained with the Association Montessori (Switzerland) or AM(S) section of German and Romansch-speaking Switzerland in Bern, Zurich and Düsseldorf in 1987/88 and obtained a diploma from the German Montessori Association (DMV). Regula Horner was the Course Secretary and Assistant at the first Swiss Montessori training course in Bern (19/07–15/10/1993), and Course Secretary at the second in Zurich (20/07–16/10/1998). From 1988 to 1990 and 2002 to 2004, Regula Horner also sat on the committee of the AM(S), and was its Secretary from 1990 to 2002 and Vice President of the Board of AM(S) from 2004 to 2005.

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Even before World War II, some classes in public schools were based on the Montessori educational philosophy:

Hilde Steinemann (1909–2000), Selina Chönz-Meyer (1910–2000) and Marianne Augsburg-Käser, all holders of diplomas from the Association Montessori International (AMI), ran public Montessori kindergarten classes on Zurlindenstrasse in Zurich from 1931 to 1933, 1933 to 1941 and 1951–1958, respectively. Selina Chönz-Meyer later found fame following the publication of her children’s book Schellen-Ursli [A Bell for Ursli], which she said she wrote under the guidance of Maria Montessori.

Hedwig Staub (1893–1972), holder of an AMI diploma, ran a Montessori class in Dänikon-Hüttikon from 1930 to 1960.

Doris Länzlinger-Dötschmann (*1935), AMI diploma. 1964–68: Special Class (later called Special Class B) for children with learning disabilities, Bockhorn school, Zurich; 1968 to 1981: normal class at the Rüterwies B school, Zollikon; 1981–1986: normal class in Pfäffikon, Zurich.