KMS truly cares about the individual student. . . . They encourage the children to develop their own skills. KMS Parent, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions

About Montessori | At KMS | Calendar/Hours of Operation | Class Info – Primary

Class Info – Elementary | Enrollment – Primary | Enrollment – Elementary

For Parents | KMS – Beyond | Special Needs/Security | Tuition and Fees

About Montessori

What is Montessori?

Montessori is a holistic approach to education, developed by Italian physician, Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. The Montessori method focuses on nurturing the natural social, emotional intellectual, and physical development of the child from birth through maturity.

Here is  a great video and a free publication, Montessori 101, by the Montessori Foundation.

Are all Montessori schools connected?

All of the Montessori schools in Knoxville use the Montessori Method, but they are separate and independent institutions.

Are Montessori schools religious or secular?

Like KMS, most Montessori schools are secular.

How does self-direction work?

Montessori students choose their own lessons, work at their own pace, and are free to move around the classroom to work independently or in small groups, under the direction of a trained Montessori teacher.

What is the teacher’s role?

“The role of a Montessori teacher is that of an observer whose ultimate goal is to intervene less and less as the child develops. The teacher’s first objective is to prepare and organize the learning environment to meet the needs and interests of the children as well as promote independence. The focus is on the children, not on teachers teaching. Through careful observation and planning, Montessori teachers remain constantly alert to the direction each child is heading and actively works to help them succeed.

In an atmosphere of calm, order and joy, the Montessori teacher is there to help and encourage the children in all their efforts, allowing them to develop self-confidence and inner discipline. The children learn from their own discoveries and draw their own conclusions.”

(“The Role of the Teacher,” Northstar Montessori School)

What are the materials? Textbooks?

Montessori students use hand-on, multi-sensory materials that encourage exploration and facilitate deeper learning.   Worksheets are sometimes used to supplement the hand-on lessons, but they are never the sole focus. Textbooks may be used by older Elementary students as references or research material.

Do students receive letter grades?

No. Grades are external rewards that set artificial limits on what children learn. Teachers encourage children to reflect on how well they are doing their work and how much more they can do each day. This approach builds a sense of personal satisfaction and responsibility.

How are Montessori students evaluated?

Montessori teachers observe their students working and take copious notes about each student’s activities.  This process forms the basis for ongoing evaluation of the child’s progress, what additional help they need, and what they are ready to do next.

Why are there multi-age classrooms?

Multi-age classrooms give students ongoing opportunities to interact with children of different ages, which enables them to learn from and teach each other and develop teamwork and leadership skills. This happens less often in single-age classrooms because the students are all on more or less the same level and so have less to offer each other.

How does Montessori help students develop?
  • Basic skills, such as math, reading, writing
    • Hands-on materials adapt to different learning styles and foster a deeper understanding.
    • The integrated curriculum helps students move naturally from one level to the next.
  • Social/Emotional
    • Daily activities nurture self-confidence, self-reliance, teamwork and leadership.
    • Multi-age classrooms enable children to learn from, teach and inspire each other.
    • The Peace Curriculum fosters self-discipline and responsibility.
Who are famous Montessori graduates?

Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google Founders); Prince William and Prince Harry (Royal Family); Jeff Bezos (Amazon Founder/CEO); Anne Frank; Will Wright (Sims Creator); Sean Combs (Artist/Produce/Entrepreneur); Dakota Fanning (Actor, Academy Award Nominated); David Blaine (Magician); Julia Child (Chef & Author); T. Berry Brazelton (Pediatrician & Author); Peter Drucker (“Founder of Modern Management”); Katherine Graham(Owner/Editor of Washington Post); Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Nobel Prize Winner in Literature); Melissa Gilbert (Actress); Helen Hunt (Academy Award Winning Actress); Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Bouvier (First Lady & Editor)

Where can I find explanations for common Montessori terms?

Click here for a great list of descriptions for common Montessori terminology.

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How does KMS handle snacks and lunches?

In Primary, each family in turn provides snacks for their child’s class. In Elementary, students bring their own snacks.
In both Primary and Elementary, students bring lunch from home.
In all classes, filtered water is provided for snack, and students can choose filtered water or milk at lunch.
In both classes, we encourage healthy food – no sweets, chocolates, cookies, juice, or other sugary treats.

When was KMS founded?


Where is the school located?

4311 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919

What grades does KMS include?

Pre-K through 5th Grade.

Is KMS for-profit or non-profit?

KMS is a non-profit private school, run by a parent/teacher/community board. KMS is a 501(c) tax-exempt organization.

How many students does KMS have?


What is the student/teacher ratio?

Number of students in each grade level:

Primary I – 1 teacher and 1 assistant: 20 Students
Primary II – 2 teachers and 1 assistant: 22 Students
Elementary – 2 teachers and 1 assistant: 32 Students

Who are the teachers/staff?

Find out more about KMS teachers and staff on our faculty webpage.

How diverse is KMS?

KMS is widely recognized as one of the most diverse schools in Knoxville. Approximately 1/3 of our students are children of color and/or children from families who have come to the United States from other parts of the world.

How does KMS evaluate its students if there are no tests or grades?

Our teachers observe their students working and take copious notes about each student’s activities.  This process forms the basis for ongoing evaluation of the child’s progress, what additional help they need, and what they are ready to do next.

How does KMS deal with religious holidays?

KMS is a secular school that “honors all faiths and practices none.” We do not celebrate any religious holidays, but we are happy to excuse students whose families wish to celebrate their faith holidays.

What technology is incorporated?
  • Computers – Montessori teachers recognize that children learn best through hands-on experience. As a result, there are no computers in our Primary classrooms. There is one computer in the Elementary class that students there can use for research. Older Elementary students can also use this computer to type their presentation.
  • TV – Again, Montessori teachers recognize that children learn best through hands-on experience. As a result, there are no televisions or video players in any of our classrooms

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Calendar/Hours of Operation

What are the school’s hours?

7:30 AM – 6:00 PM.  Before Care is from 7:30 to 8:00 am. The School day for the Primary Classes is 8:00 AM until 2:30 AM.  The School Day for the Elementary Class is 8:00 AM until 3:15 AM.  After Care is from 2:30 until 6 PM for the Primary Classes and from 3:15 until 6 PM for the Elementary class.

If I need to be at work at 8:00 am, can I drop my child off before then?

Yes.  We offer complimentary “Before Care” starting at 7:30 am.

Can my child stay at KMS later than the School Day dismissal?

Yes.  We offer “After Care” until 6 pm for $5/hour.

What happens in After Care?

In good weather, much of After Care is spend on the playground, where children can create activities and games, get the exercise they need, and practice their social skills. During inclement weather, After Care is inside, where children can choose a variety of games, puzzles, drawing materials and other indoor activities.

Can I enroll my preschooler part-time?

KMS’s minimum enrollment is 5 half days, Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM – Noon. We do not offer 2, 3, or 4 day options.

What if my 3 or 4 year old child isn’t ready to go to school for the whole day?

If a 3 or 4 year old is not ready to stay until the end of the school day 5 days a week, parents have two choices:

  1. 5 Half Days: Parents can enroll their child from 8:00 – noon, Monday – Friday.
  2. Mixed Weeks: Parents can enroll their child for a mix of half-days and school days as long at the child attends a minimum of 3 consecutive School Days. For example, a child may leave at noon on Monday and Friday but stay until 2:30 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Minimum enrollment for Kindergarten students is 5 school days (8:00 AM – 2:30 PM)

Does KMS have the same calendar as Knox County Schools?

The KMS calendar is roughly the same as the Knox County calendar. We typically start a week later in August and end a week later in May.

Does KMS have a summer program?

KMS does not currently offer summer programs.

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Class Info – Primary

How is my first-year child introduced to his/her fellow students and classroom activities?
  1. In August, on the Monday of the first week of class, the new Primary students come in for a short, 30 minute visit with their parents between 10 AM and noon. The students use this time to personalize their Friday folders.
  2. On Tuesday, new Primary students visit their classes for 1.5 hours in groups of 5-8 students each. One group visits from 8:00-9:30, and the other group from 10:00-11:30, so they can learn about the daily activities at those times..
  3. On Wednesday, the small groups switch times.
  4. On Thursday and Friday, the new Primary students stay home, and the returning KMS students come for their regular day.
  5. On the following Monday, new and returning students begin their regular school days.
What are the major elements of the Primary curriculum at KMS?

KMS offers an age-appropriate curriculum that:

  • Meets and exceeds the preschool and Kindergarten standards set by the Tennessee Department of Education
  • Combines hands-on Montessori materials and holistic learning activities that nurture each child’s social emotional, physical and intellectual development
  • Is organized into the following learning areas:
    1. Practical Life
    2. Sensorial
    3. Language (reading and writing)
    4. Math
    5. Science
    6. Geography and Culture
    7. Peace Curriculum
Are there opportunities for students to learn about music and fine arts in the Primary Classes?

Enrichment activities include:

  • Art: Art is a part of the daily work in the classroom. Drawing, coloring, building, and other creative activities that help students engage all of their senses in the learning process, strengthen large and small motor skills, and nurture creativity
  • Music, Movement and Dance: All Primary students have 30 minutes each week in small groups outside of the daily work in the classrooms. These classes are designed to engage students’ minds and bodies through singing, dancing, yoga and playing instruments
Are foreign language classes offered to Primary students?

Yes. Primary students can choose to participate in our optional after-school Spanish classes.

  • Spanish classes are taught by Ms. Nuria Hernandez
  • Classes are held twice a week for 30-40 min.
  • The curriculum for Primary students includes Spanish greetings and vocabulary, games with pictures, songs, story-telling, and crafts. Each session is a half-hour of creative learning and fun.
  • Basic concepts covered include colors, numbers, animals, foods, greetings
What is a typical day like for students in a KMS Primary Class?

The daily schedule for our Primary classes is as follows:

  • 7:30 a.m. – Before Care
  • 8:00 – 8:15 a.m. – Arrival Time
  • 8:15 – 11:15 a.m. – Morning Work Cycle
  • 11:15 – 12:00 p.m. – Recess
  • 12:00 p.m. – HALF DAY DISMISSAL
  • 12:00 – 12:30 p.m. – Lunch and Clean Up
  • 12:45 – 1:30 p.m. – Nap and Quiet Reading Time for 3 and 4 Year Olds/Enrichment Activities for Kindergarten-age Students
  • 1:30 – 2:15 p.m. – Quiet Work Time (for students who aren’t napping)
  • 2:30 p.m. – SCHOOL DAY DISMISSAL
  • 2:30 – 6:00 p.m. – After Care
How is the Kindergarten year different from the rest of the Primary Class?
  • We strongly encourage all families whose children start Montessori at 3 or 4 to keep their children at KMS for their Kindergarten year. The Kindergarten year is an amazing experience and cannot be matched in a traditional program.
  • Building on the foundation of their previous year(s), returning kindergarten-age students go beyond the traditional Kindergarten curriculum – working on lessons that the State of Tennessee considers 1st, 2nd, and even 3rd grade work.
  • Kindergarten-age students also build self-confidence and leadership skill by mentoring and teaching younger children
  • Click here, for a great video about Kindergarten in Montessori.

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Class Info – Elementary

What is a typical day like for students in the KMS Elementary Class?

The daily schedule for the Elementary class is as follows:

  • 7:30 a.m.- Before Care
  • 8:00 – 11:45 a.m. – Morning Work Period
  • 11:45 a.m. – 12:45 – Lunch – Setting Table, Mealtime, Table Clearing, Dishes
  • 12:45 – 1:45 p.m. – Recess
  • 1:45 – 2:15 p.m. – Silent Reading
  • 2:15 – 2:45 p.m. – Afternoon Work Period; Ice Skating (Jan.-March)
  • 2:45 p.m. – Clean up
  • 3:00 p.m. – Story Time – Selected Children’s Literature
  • 3:15 p.m. – Dismissal
  • 3:15 – 6:00 p.m. – After Care
What are the major elements of the Elementary Curriculum?
  • The Montessori elementary curriculum meets and exceeds the State of Tennessee guidelines.
  • KMS Elementary curriculum builds on the work students do in the Primary Classes
  • The curriculum is not broken down year by year because different children will show interest in topics at different times, allowing them the opportunity to pursue their interests without limitations
  • The curriculum is organized in 5 areas:
    1. Language
    2. Math
    3. Science
    4. History and Culture
    5. Advanced Geography
Are there opportunities for Elementary students to learn about music and fine arts?

Art: In Elementary, daily activities include regular art projects using a variety of styles and media.

Music, Movement and Dance: Elementary students have an hour-long class, once a week. Older students learn to read music and play recorder. Click here for more info about Georgie Schmitt’s Music curriculum.

Do KMS Elementary students take standardized tests?

The second through fifth year students take the Stanford tests in the spring.

What field trips are offered to Elementary students?
Are foreign languages offered to Elementary students?
  • Elementary students can choose to participate in our optional after-school Spanish classes.
  • These classes are taught by Ms. Nuria Hernandez
  • Classes are held twice a week for 30-40 min.
  • Building on the Primary Spanish lessons, Elementary students engaging in more extensive conversation, read and writing, and even beginning to use verb conjugation

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Enrollment – Primary

What is the enrollment deadline for Primary?

KMS offers rolling admission, as long as space is available.

Does it cost to apply for Primary?


What is the application process for Primary?

Interested parents may fill out the “Visit KMS” interest form on our website, or they may call the school at (865)525-6042.  A member of the KMS administrative staff will email parents the KMS information packet, which includes a Brochure, Staff Credentials, and an Application Packet, as well as set up a time to schedule a Parent Visit. Parents may bring the completed application to the Parent Visit or at their earliest convenience.

What are the requirements for Primary enrollment?
  1. Children must be 2.5 to 3-years-old to begin enrollment in Pre-K at KMS.
  2. Children must be judged developmentally ready by a teacher.
  3. Children must be toilet trained.
What are the requirements for Kindergarten enrollment?

KMS follows the Tennessee Dept. of Education Kindergarten entrance requirements, which state that to be eligible for Kindergarten a child must be 5 years old on or before August 15 of his or her enrollment year.

How do I apply for Primary (Pre-K & K)?

How do I apply for Primary (Pre-K & K):
Our application process for Primary (preschool and kindergarten-age) children includes the following steps:

  1. A visit by one or both parents, preferably without the child. During this visit, the parents will observe one of our Primary classrooms, tour the rest of our facilities, and meet with our Director to discuss whether Montessori would be a good fit for their child and answer any questions they might have. To arrange a visit, click the following link: Visit KMS.
  2. Submission of the Primary ApplicationYou can bring the completed forms to the Parent Visit, or send them to us afterward.
  3. An after-school interview for the child with one or two of our teachers. During this interview, the teacher will introduce the child to some of the Montessori lessons to see if they enjoy working with them and how well they follow directions. If possible we prefer that the child meet with the teacher alone. If the child is unwilling Parents can accompany the child as long as they allow the child and the teacher to interact directly as much as possible.
  4. After the interview and the class visit, it is usually clear to the parents and to the KMS staff if KMS will be a good fit for the child. If it is, we will either admit the child or place them on our waiting list, depending on the number of available spaces
What happens during a parent visit in Primary?

Parents are encouraged to visit KMS.  During their first visit, they will have an opportunity to observe one of our Primary classrooms, tour our facilities, and talk with the director about Montessori and whether or not KMS would be a good fit for their child/children. For more information about observing in a classroom, see our Observation Guidelines.

What happens during a child’s interview for Primary enrollment?

During the child interview, one of our Primary teachers takes the child into her classroom and gives them a chance to work with some of the Montessori materials. The interview has two main goals:

  1. To see if the child can listen to the teacher and follow directions, and
  2. To see whether the child enjoys the lessons and whether Montessori would be a good fit for them.

If possible, we ask that parents remain in the front office with the Director during the child’s interview.  After the interview, the child can join our after care program for a few minutes while the teacher talks with the parents about what the child did and answers any additional questions they may have about KMS and Montessori education.

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Enrollment – Elementary

How do I apply for Elementary?

The application process for Elementary (1st-5th grade) students includes the following steps:

  1. A visit by one or both parents, without the child. To arrange a visit, click the following link: Visit KMS.
  2. Submission of theElementary Application Form and Authorization for Records Release. You can bring the completed forms to the Parent Visit, or send them to us afterward. You can also submit the Records Release Form directly to your child’s school.
  3. If a review of the child’s application and records suggests that the KMS Elementary class might be a good fit, we will invite the child to spend a day with the class.
  4. Following the class visit, KMS staff make a decision about enrollment.
What happens during a parent visit in Elementary?

Parents are encouraged to visit KMS.  During their first visit, they will have an opportunity to observe the Elementary class, tour our facilities, and talk with the director about Montessori and whether or not KMS would be a good fit for their child/children. For more information about observing in a classroom, see our Observation Guidelines.

What happens during a child’s Elementary class visit?

When the child arrives for their class visit, the teachers introduce them to some of our current students, who act as their guides and mentors during the day. These students explain how things are done in the class and introduce the visiting child to some of the Montessori lessons. The visiting child then works with the other students during the morning work cycle and joins the class for lunch, recess, and the afternoon activities. The teachers observe how the child adapts to the class and may work with him or her if necessary.

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For Parents

How can parents of KMS students find out how their children are doing?

KMS offers many opportunities for parents to learn about their children’s work, including:

Parent Orientation
Classroom Observations
“Walk around the Sun” birthday celebrations
Fall and Spring Parent/Teacher conferences
Open House
Elementary Field Trips
End of School Program

What opportunities are there for KMS parents to be involved at the school?
  • Volunteer Opportunities: parents are able to help with special events and activities at KMS including: caring for the gardens, taking recycling, Volunteer Family Workdays in Fall/Spring, Greekfest parking
  • Primary Classes: Each Primary Class (2) needs two Class Parents who can help support the teachers during the school year. Activities include preparing materials, helping with special events and more
  • Elementary Field Trips: Elementary parents often serve as drivers and/or chaperones for class field trips
  • Board of Trustees: KMS is governed by a Board of Trustees, composed of parents, community representatives, and members of staff. Click here, for member info.
  • Committees:
    1. Building and Grounds: develop plans for improvements to our facilities
    2. Fundraising and Events: coordinate special events and help with fundraising for the school
    3. Marketing: plan and coordinate efforts to publicize our work and support our recruitment and fundraising activities

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KMS – Beyond

How do KMS students do after the leave?

KMS students typically do very well after they leave KMS. Because of their Montessori background, they love learning and have the intellectual and organizational skills to do succeed in even the most challenging classes. They have also learned to be responsible and to act appropriately in a wide range of situations, and they usually seek out friends who share their interests and values. As a result, they usually do well in school, and – equally important – they have the confidence and ability to navigate the many different challenges that come with growing up in our complex modern world.

Is it hard for students to transition from KMS into non-Montessori schools?

Most Montessori students go through a transition period when they move to a traditional classroom – adapting to the stricter rules and learning the new vocabulary that traditional teachers use. They may also have trouble with standardized tests at first, because Montessori does not prioritize teaching to these tests.

In most cases, however, Montessori students adapt quickly to their new environment and do very well – especially if they have completed the full cycle of whatever Montessori classroom they were in (through the Kindergarten year in Primary and through 5th Grade in the current KMS Elementary class). This is important because the final year is a capstone experience academically and socially for most students, and it gives them the skills and confidence they need to succeed at the next level, wherever that may be.

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Special Needs/Security

How does KMS handle food allergies?

If a child has an intolerance to a particular food or foods, KMS staff can work with the family to help the child avoid these foods. If a child has a life-threatening allergy to one or more foods – like nuts or shellfish – this situation is more complicated. In these cases, our part-time Nurse requests more information from the family about the precise nature of the allergy and whether it is triggered by ingestion, contact, inhalation, or a combination of these. We then work with the family to determine if KMS can meet their child’s needs. For example, we can usually help a child avoid ingesting particular foods, but our facilities are not large enough to enable us to isolate a child to avoid inhalation during lunch, snack, or other activities.

If our staff believes we can keep the child safe, we will admit them and then work with the family and their physician to develop an Individual Health Plan for the child. This IHP includes a plan for avoiding the child’s trigger substances in class, on field trips, and in other venues, and signed orders from the child’s doctor specifying how KMS staff are to respond if the child has an allergic reaction.

Following state guidelines, all KMS staff receive annual training in managing food allergies and responding to allergic reactions, including training in how to administer emergency epinephrine injectors. So we are both trained and legally able to administer epinephrine when needed.

If the child returns to KMS in subsequent years, we meet with their family again at the beginning of each year to get updated doctor’s orders, find out if their condition has changed, and revise their IHP as needed.

How does KMS handle gifted children?

A Montessori classroom can be a wonderful place for gifted child. The materials offer many opportunities for learning, and the individual nature of the curriculum means that children can move ahead at their own pace. Instead of being limited to doing specific things in a specific year, they can move on to more challenging lessons whenever they are ready. Our classrooms already contain lessons that are one or two years ahead by state standards, and if child exhausts what’s available in the class we will bring in more advanced activities for them.

Does KMS admit students with special needs?

In many cases, children with special needs do very well in Montessori classrooms. The individualized approach, the hands-on materials, the ability to move freely around the room, and the emphasis on peace, cooperation, and respect make it possible for many children with special needs to function more successfully in a Montessori class than in a traditional class.

At the same time, there are aspects of the Montessori approach that can cause difficulties for children with special needs. These include the distractions caused by other students moving around the room and the fact that the teachers cannot provide individual attention to particular children at all times. It is critical that all Montessori students learn to manage themselves appropriately without ongoing guidance from the teacher. In some cases, this is harder for special needs children, and they would do better in a smaller, more structured classroom.

In light of all this, children with special physical, emotional, or developmental needs will be considered for admission on an individual basis. If a child has already been diagnosed, specific medical information about his/her condition will be required. Admission will depend on the ability of the child to benefit from a Montessori education, the probable effect of the child on other students, and the faculty’s qualifications and willingness to enroll the child on a trial basis.

What Emergency Plans does KMS have?

KMS has an extensive emergency plan covering situations like fire, extreme weather, or intruders on campus. Our staff reviews this plan regularly and updates it as needed. We conduct monthly fire drills and practice going into the basement for extreme weather as well.

How is the building secured?

KMS has only one entrance, which is locked at all times. No one can enter the building without being admitted by a member of our staff. Our property is surrounded by a fence that has two gates in front. These are kept locked as well.

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Tuition and Fees

What are the enrollment costs?

A non-refundable Enrollment Fee of $300 is due with the enrollment contract.

Is there a security deposit?

A one-time Security Deposit of $500 is payable upon enrollment. KMS holds the Security Deposit while the child is enrolled and applies it to the May tuition of their final year.

Are there other fees?

There are two other fees:

  1. An annual Materials Fee of $150, payable at the beginning of each year
  2. An annual Facilities Fee of $180 that can be paid at the beginning of the Fall Semester or in monthly installments of $18.
Do I have to buy pencils, paper and other material for my child at the beginning of the school year?

No – materials are provided by each classroom. A Materials Fee of $150 is due at the beginning of the Fall Semester.

How do I pay for tuition each year?

Families enrolled at KMS have 3 options to pay tuition for each school year:

  1. Monthly – parents can choose to pay every month, from August to May (August tuition is 50% of total monthly tuition)
  2. Annually – parents can choose to pay the entire tuition for the school year in one payment by August 31st (Includes 5% reduction)
  3. 11-month tuition – parents can choose to pay every month, from August to June. This allows for smaller monthly payments over a longer period of time.
Is there a sibling discount?

YesFamilies with siblings enrolled at the school qualify for a 5% discount on their total tuition.

If my child is in Elementary, will I need to pay for field trips each semester?

No – field trips and other enrichment activities are included in the tuition.

Is financial aid available?

Yes, through the Jan and Carl Goddard Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is need-based.

  • When can I apply for financial aid? Students must be accepted at KMS before their families can apply for financial aid. KMS provides financial aid on a rolling basis.
  • How much aid is given? Financial aid is granted annually and can cover up to 50% of tuition.
  • Who is eligible for financial aid? All families can apply for financial aid.
Should I expect tuition increases for next year?

For the past several years, the KMS Board has raised tuition 2% – 3% each year to pay for raises for our hard-working staff.  We expect that tuition will continue to increase 2% – 3% each year in the future as well.  New tuition amounts are announced in the Spring and go into effect the following school year.

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KMS has been a fantastic school for our daughter and a wonderful community for our family. KMS Parent, 2010