Countryside Montessori School was founded in 1967 by Frank and Annette Kulle and has been a fully recognized AMI school for over twenty-five years. The school is located on its own campus in Northbrook, IL, a northern suburb of Chicago. It is situated on wooded acreage with plans to build a nature preserve in the future.
The school is a pioneer at integrating physical education, music, art and foreign language instruction into the formal school day within the framework of AMI standards. In addition CMS has successfully developed a model for an All Year Montessori classroom which is consistent with Montessori pedagogy. All teachers are AMI trained, including physical education teachers, and their average tenure at Countryside is 13 years, with 5 teachers who have been at the school for 20 years. The school has been accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) for over 20 years.
While being responsible for the day-to-day operation of the school for over 40 years, co-founder Annette Kulle was the catalyst for the continuous professional development of her faculty, which included yearly consultations beyond the requirement for recognition. She was responsible for initiating further instruction for the teaching of music in the classroom; the Physical Education program; Foreign Language instruction; and the All Year Montessori program. She also made the school available for workshops for the Montessori community at large.
CMS Co-founder Frank Kulle was one of the founding members of the Montessori Administrators Council (MAC), which was the first attempt to organize Heads of Schools and elevate their leadership and management skills while supporting AMI as a distinct group. He was Executive Director of MAC and together with the executive committee was responsible for organizing many workshops for Heads of Schools. He has twice given presentations at AMI Summer Institutes.
Frank was also one of three Illinois Heads of Schools who were responsible for successfully lobbying the Illinois legislature to exempt Montessori schools from licensing as day care centers, having Montessori schools recognized as schools, and having AMS and AMI teaching certificates recognized by the State. He was President of the Illinois Montessori Society for over 20 years. In that capacity, he represented all the independent schools in Illinois on an advisory committee to the Department of Children and Family Services and all Montessori schools on the Illinois Coalition of Non-Public Schools.