Receive Email From GPHC

The Roots Run Deep At Montview Community

Preschool teacher Caroll Kaniaru, dancing while balancing bean bags with Ridley Grunkemeyer, JJ Humphrey, Charlotte Romer, Dylan Stahl, Andrew Staff, Wesley Roper and Lucille Korb. Photo by Lynn Kalinauskas

Preschool And Kindergarten Founded Over 50 Years Ago By Former First Lady Bea Romer

Once you pass through the doors of so many places in Park Hill, you also step into history.

That is the feeling I got during a recent visit to Montview Community Preschool and Kindergarten. As I passed through the classrooms, I ran into people I knew from my days at Park Hill Elementary and Smiley Middle School. One could definitely feel the pull of the larger Park Hill neighborhood family.

Montview Community extends much further into history, however, as it started its operations more than 50 years ago. It has educated generations of little ones in its bright and colorful classrooms.

Currently headed by Linda Marrs, it is located at 1980 Dahlia St., on the grounds of Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church. Many have passed by, either on foot, on bike or in cars and seen the little ones playing outside on the playground that faces Montview Boulevard.

A school founded for all

Montview Community was founded by Bea Romer, Colorado’s former First Lady, in 1964. A mother of seven, she had a bachelor’s degree in child development and a master’s in educational psychology. Along with two friends, Ludmilla Glascock and June Wood, they persuaded Romer’s father – a pastor at the church – to open a preschool within the building.

Marrs explains that there was some resistance at first, because Romer did not want the preschool to be faith-based. In the midst of the Civil Rights era, she wanted a school that was inclusive, where children from diverse backgrounds, be it ethnic or religious, could play and learn together.

Both Marrs and Kathy Bruce, Montview Community’s current assistant director, explained that the school was established on the principles of quality teachers and classrooms, parental involvement, and inclusion. These principles continue to guide the school today.

Montview Community is a tuition-based preschool and kindergarten. Children must be three years old by Sept. 1 to attend the preschool and five by Oct. 1 to attend kindergarten. Preschool classes are half-day and parents can choose to send their kids for two, three or four days a week. The week-long kindergarten goes from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Continuing its early mission of quality education, Marrs stressed that all the lead teachers are experienced and have degrees in early childhood education or elementary teaching. Some have advanced degrees as well.

“Most teachers have had their kids here,” noted Bruce, whose adult children went through the school. Watching children sled down the small hill outside, Kris Garcia, an assistant teacher at the school, said the same thing about her kids who are now much older.

Meeting the standards

The school has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a metric for excellence in early education. NAEYC evaluates programs according to the following standards: relationships, curriculum, teaching, assessment of child progress, health, teachers, families, community relationships, physical environment, and leadership and management.

Marrs emphasized that the curriculum hits all the Colorado Department of Education standards. Boards in the hallway illustrate children’s work and explain how the standards are being met.

Montview Community also participates in the Denver Preschool Program, a tuition credit program to encourage families to send their 4-year olds to quality preschools. According to the DPP website,, “The amount of support a family receives depends on family size and income, the quality of the preschool chosen, and the child’s level of attendance. Denver Preschool Program tuition credits are available for all Denver families – regardless of income – with a child in their last year of preschool before kindergarten.”

The school also offers tuition assistance for families who qualify. All of Montview’s fundraising efforts are aimed at offering scholarships to families who otherwise could not attend.

Asia in the air

As I visited the kindergarten classroom, Asia was in the air. I saw children writing Chinese characters with brushes soaked in black ink, a list of ingredients written by the kids to make bibimbap, a Korean dish, and a play area turned into a restaurant with huge menus listing a variety of Asian foods.

All the children had writing journals, books they had chosen from the nearby Denver Public Library, and were engaged in a multitude of activities, including experimenting with emulsions in colorful bowls of both warm and cold milk.

A preschool class of 4 and 5-year olds was in the midst of studying light and dark. Camping had been part of the discussion and a small tent was set up in the classroom while s’mores were waiting to be heated up.

Another preschool class was getting ready for snack. As one little girl was diligently setting the tables, others were engaged with their teacher, dancing while balancing bean bags to the sound of song and music.

Children also enjoy 30-minutes of outdoor play every day. Young ones learn the process of dressing for cold weather, putting on their snow pants, boots, hats and mittens. The playground, dedicated to Bea Romer, has just been remodeled and is nature-based. “It gives kids the opportunity for healthy risk-taking” said Marrs, pointing to the fallen tree begging for someone to climb it. The playground is open to the community after school hours.

Community is the thread

Montview Community does not just encourage parent involvement, it requires it. Part of the school’s philosophy is to foster strong links between the school and the children’s home environments. Parents help out with various committees but specifically must participate in the classroom on a rotating basis as “helping parents.”

“Parent involvement is a critical piece,” Bruce said. “Parents bring assets to the classroom. In return, they take resources they can put into play at home.” It was indeed part of Romer’s mission to serve whole families.

Marrs noted the appeal of involved parents to the teachers at the school. “This is where they choose to be,” she said. “A big piece of that is parent involvement. Community is a thread throughout our program.”

Marrs says Montview Community is dedicated to serving students from diverse backgrounds. It works on educating its staff about aspects of non-dominant cultures and uses the Anti-Biased Education by Louise Derman-Sparks as part of its curriculum. The administration and staff work on celebrating the diversity that already exists at Montview, be it a bi-racial identity, use of different languages, or inclusion of LGBT families.

More information about the school, tuition and available tuition assistance can be found at

Lynn Kalinauskas is the education chair of Greater Park Hill Community, Inc.

Support GPHC & Our Programs

Every dollar counts! Gifts of any size support our programs supporting neighbors in Greater Park Hill. From our food pantry to our sustainability initiatives, we couldn't do it without your support.