A Message from the Founder
It seems like yesterday…spring 1996. I was holding my baby, dreaming about my life with my husband and this child, wanting to raise him to be a Child of God, a child with light. Then, I remember having a distinct impression from God with three simple words: Home School Academy. Interesting! Was that an oxymoron? Did something like that already exist? Little did I know that these three words would change my thinking, my ideas about the ideal educational experience and my future.
The journey to start a “Home School Academy” for my children took me to many places, engaged in many conversations, asking many questions, and meeting others who share common values. Several concepts and proposals were made – but in the end – a Christian Montessori model and a partnership with parents were determined to be the ideal. Several years of work and many hurdles happened as we dared to dream and forge a new hybrid in education.
The summer of 1999 and 2000 was the first implementation of this vision in a two-week Summer Camp thanks to the leadership and hosting of North Heights Lutheran Church with a few teachers, a few dozen students, and their willing parents. In the fall of 2000 and 2001, we started our Family Preschool and Family Musik Programs (ages 0-3), an ECFE format, with parent and child interaction and a Montessori appetizer. In 2002 we finally launched our first Children’s House (ages 3-6) and our first part-time Home School Academy (ages 6-12).
2007 brought a change when we became our own 501c3 non-profit corporation. In 2008, we moved into our dedicated educational wing in partnership with the Church of Corpus Christi and continued to grow. That fall, we also launched our Junior HIgH Program (ages 12-15), which nurtures adolescents and raises leaders. In the fall of 2010, we significantly changed programming by adding the Private Academy (ages 6-15) for those families who desire Christian Montessori for an entire school year.
In 2015, we added a second campus in Bloomington that not only houses our Bethany Children’s House and Elementary Homeschool and Private Academy (ages 3-12), but our MACTE-accredited Christian Montessori Training Center (CMTC) as well. The birth of the “The Crayon Box” blog occurred that year, inspiring conversations about Christ, children, and constructivism. The link to the Blog is https://hihcm.blogspot.com.
The journey continued, and in 2018, we outgrew our current location in Roseville, and it became critical for our school’s survival to find a permanent home. Through a series of miraculous events, we purchased a vacant and vandalized US Military Armory, and began rebuilding and restoring. We opened our doors in September 2020 and launched a new Infant and Toddler environment called the NIDO (means nest in Italian) for 0-3 year olds and a growing senior high program called CREO that brings out the best in our adolescent learners and provides the tuition-free PSEO program on our own campus.
As 2021 dawns, we will be creating a new Virtual Montessori campus for both stateside and worldwide learners to enroll on-line, in the comfort of their own homes, enjoying our Collaborative, Constructivist, Christian Montessori Community and are blessed to launch our new West Campus in downtown Wayzata - a seed that was planted from Nonna's Intergenerational Christian Montessori.
Today, we have grown to be one of the largest Christian Montessori communities, with over 640 students and over 100 staff and faculty on three campuses. We are all committed to the original vision of “Authentic Christian Montessori with a strong Parent Partnership.” We continue to look for new ideas of development and application as we seek to share this unique educational model with as many children and parents as possible, advancing the Kingdom of God through Christian Montessori.
I give God all the glory for the idea of Hand In Hand, a name God also dropped in my heart long ago. The journey and the fruition of bringing the Hand In Hand families together has been serendipitous. Surely the motto of Hand In Hand, “to write the truths of God’s Word and truths about God’s world on the hands and hearts of our children as we walk, talk, rise up and lie down,” based on the call in Deuteronomy 11:9, has been our purpose throughout the years.
Michelle Lee Thompson
Founder, Executive Director and Head of School