Children in the Montessori program experience a multi-aged, multi-grade learning environment based Dr. Maria Montessori’s 4 Planes of Development. Classrooms are equipped with the full complement of Montessori materials which are purposefully and functionally designed to support each Plane of Development with both intellectual and sensory engagement.  Materials are organized sequentially, and child sized shelves and furniture are utilized to support freedom of choice, movement and accessibility. By frequently working individually or in small groups at a self prescribed pace, children enhance their sense of order and concentration. Additionally, they strengthen their self-esteem as they are given a balance of freedom and responsibility. Montessori teachers are specially trained with the depth of skill required to prepare and maintain an impactful and strategically evolving Montessori environment. Also, teachers observe students in their self directed work cycle in order to understand what level of differentiated support is needed to guide students toward robust academic outcomes.

Children who enter the program at age four benefit most from the program. In order to gain the greatest benefit, children should attend through the terminal grade. The Montessori approach is non-traditional. To fully understand how Montessori instruction takes place, parents are encouraged to visit the school during an Open House prior to applying. Open House dates can be found in our Open House tab.  You may also contact your Montessori school of interest to schedule a visit. Students seeking Montessori placement above 1st grade are considered “late entry” and will need to undergo the late entry process outlined in the Entry Requirements section below.

Please note, tuition and an additional charge for bus transportation is required for the Pre-K program serving four-year-olds . Limited scholarships are available. Please see the tuition and scholarship section below for more details. North Carolina law requires students to reach age five on or before August 31st to enter kindergarten that school year. To ensure students can enter kindergarten upon completion of Pre-K, CMS requires children to reach age four on or before August 31st to be eligible for the Montessori Pre-K program.

Special Features​​

  • Provides a child-centered learning environment which places high regard for each child’s developmental level
  • Uses hands-on works that help students develop responsibility, self-confidence and independence
  • Offers classes with multi-aged groupings
  • Teachers receive special Montessori training in addition to standard teacher certification
  • Montessori is the only Magnet program that begins in pre-K

Montessori Schools

Level Blue Green Violet
Elementary School
(including Pre-K and grade 6)

Secondary School
(Grades 7 – 12)

Entry Requirements

Because of the specialized sequence of coursework taken in the Montessori program, the School Choice Lottery application process only permits rising Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and First grade students to apply on the elementary level. On the secondary level the School Choice Lottery application process is available for grades 7 through 10. Second through sixth grade students as well as secondary students who are new or returning to Montessori will need to complete the late entry admissions process.

Late Entry into Montessori

While Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and First grade present the most optimal entry points for Montessori teaching and learning, the Late Entry Process is available for students above First grade and up to tenth grade.  This process is best suited for students who are currently registered in a Montessori program outside of CMS, have immediate, prior Montessori classroom experience, or demonstrate an equivalent degree of compatibility to the Montessori approach.  This unique Montessori instructional approach can present a challenging shift for students transitioning from traditional schools after Grade 1. A successful transition requires the student and family to fully understand and embrace the Montessori philosophy and instructional practices along with its emphasis on intrinsic motivation, cooperative community, self-direction, strong character, order, concentration and coordination. The Late Entry Process is instrumental in making this determination. Please note, due to historically low turnover in Montessori schools, seats typically do not become available after Kindergarten.

The Late Entry Process

The late entry process consists of the following steps:

  1. Ensure your child has active registration in CMS
  2. Contact the school to verify if there is space available on your child’s grade level
  3. Submit a reassignment/transfer application through Student Placement
  4. Complete the school’s late entry application
  5. Participate in a school visit 
  6. Participate in a family interview
  7. Receive the final decision

For Students new to CMS

  • ​If the student is new or returning to CMS after a withdrawal, they must first complete the registration process. Once the registration process in complete, formal notification will be sent and the student will be assigned to their home school.
    • Registration application form here
  • A request for reassignment to the Montessori school of choice must be completed next. The 2024-2025 Reassignment/Transfer Period will take place from February 1st- July 15th requests are completed on a first come, first served basis.
    • Request for Reassignment form can be found here.  
  • The Reassignment process must be completed in order to be considered for late entry into a Montessori School. Reassignment/transfer eligibility may be contingent upon seat availability at the specified school and will be completed in the order it is received. It is highly recommended that you contact your school of interest directly to ask if there is space available on your child’s grade level BEFORE submitting a transfer request.

For Students currently registered in CMS

  • It is highly recommended that you contact your school of interest directly to ask if there is space available on your child’s grade level BEFORE submitting a transfer request.
  • A request for transfer must be completed within the determined transfer period.
    • Request for transfer form can be found here  
  • Please note: Reassignment/transfer eligibility is contingent upon seat availability at the specified school and will be completed in the order it is received.

For all

  • Once the reassignment or transfer application is complete, keep the application confirmation number. After your reassignment/transfer application is received you will be mailed formal notification.
  • Complete the late entry application
    • Late entry application link here
  • Once the school receives the late entry application, the school will arrange an interview which will be conducted by the school staff using a standardized late entry interview rubric. Additionally, a school visit will be scheduled to allow the student and parents to experience the Montessori environment and gauge compatibility.
  • Within three business days of the late entry process, the school will provide the family notice of the outcome on school letterhead.
  • Upon receipt of the letter, confirming a successful assessment, the family must indicate that they have reviewed the applicable Magnet Expectations Agreement. 
  • The school will submit notification to the Student Placement office the status of the family’s Late Entry assessment.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Approval of your reassignment/transfer request will be based on the outcomes of the Late Entry Process AND based on space available at the school. If the late entry process is not successfully completed OR there is no space available, Student Placement will be unable to approve your reassignment/transfer request.

Please note: Students who previously attended a CMS Montessori school and wish to return are required to adhere to the Montessori Late Entry Process.

Late Entry Application

Access the Montessori Late Entry Application for grades 2-6 here.

Access the Montessori Late Entry Application for grades 7-10 (JT Williams Montessori) here.

Magnet Expectations Agreement

Montessori Expectations Agreement English version

Montessori Expectations Agreement Spanish version

Pre-K Montessori

Montessori Begins with Pre-Kindergarten

The Montessori program is the only CMS magnet program that begins with pre-kindergarten. We welcome pre-kindergarten students who enjoy working independently and exploring new ideas. If you would like to register for a Montessori school, your child will have the benefit of beginning CMS earlier than normal, as a four year old.

Pre-Kindergarten Options: Park Road, Chantilly, Highland Mill, Lincoln Heights

Pre-K Montessori Fees

Program Fees

Full-day program = $3,000/year. Financial assistance is available based on family need.

Half-day program = $2,200/year. Financial assistance is available based on family need.

Payments are due on the 15th of each month.

Transportation Fees

One-way and Two-way bus transportation is available for a monthly fee. Please contact the transportation department for the most up-to-date rates. Financial assistance is available based on family need. See the Scholarship link below to apply.

Applying for Financial Assistance

If you win a seat in the lottery, you may apply for financial assistance, if needed. Although CMS charges for tuition and transportation for the pre-k year of Montessori, the amount is based on a family’s financial need. Click below to apply for a scholarship; full and partial scholarships are available!

Pre-K Montessori Tuition Payments

Payments are due on the 15th of each month

1.      Online – A 2.25% processing fee will be applied to each payment​

  • Click on the link above (Pay Pre-K Tuition Online)
  •  Select payment type: Tuition
  • Enter Amount, Student Name & School
  • To add another student, select payment type (tuition) again.
  • Complete billing information and payment method
  • Accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover and Checking/Savings
  • Click Next
  • After reviewing payment, click submit

2.      Bill Pay – Free of charge at your bank

  • Set up CMS account as the payee
  • Make checks payable to: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
  • Address:
    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
    Magnet Programs
    4421 Stuart Andrew Blvd., Suite 608
    Charlotte, NC  28217
  • Account Number: Enter Student ID (to ensure proper credit)
  • Memo: Child’s name and School
  • Schedule your payment
  • For bill pay assistance, please contact your bank regarding set up.

3.      Personal Check/Certified Check/Money Order

  • Make checks payable to: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools or CMS
  • Address:
    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
    Magnet Programs
    4421 Stuart Andrew Blvd., Suite 608
    Charlotte, NC  28217
  • Memo: Student ID, Child’s name and School (to ensure proper credit)

Video Highlights from our Montessori Schools

Highland Mill Montessori Virtual Tour