Chiaravalle (“Care-a-volley”) Montessori School was incorporated in 1965 by nine couples committed to offering a Montessori education to children in the Rogers Park/Evanston area. The name is taken from the birthplace of Maria Montessori and means “Valley of Light.”
From its beginnings in the basement of Bethlehem Lutheran Church the school has grown from a preschool with twelve students to a pre-eminent educational institution, serving children aged 6 months to 14 years.
A History of Growth
As it met the community’s desire for expanded program offerings, the School moved a number of times. In 1980, it settled into its present location, the historically significant H.H.C Miller Public School building, designed by Daniel Burnham.
In 1973, Parent/Child and Toddler classes were added, full day-care options were enlarged, and the School was able to accept developmentally challenged children. The Elementary program was inaugurated in 1980, coinciding with the final move. At the request of parents, the Middle School program of sixth through eighth grades was added in 1992.
By the mid-1990s, Chiaravalle had achieved full accreditation by the American Montessori Society and the Independent Schools Association of the Central States.
In 1998, Chiaravalle was granted long-term lease with the City of Evanston to remain in its present location. The subsequent $2.5 million, two-year renovation enhanced and updated the facility, adding full handicapped accessibility and major aesthetic improvements to the century-old building.
In 2003, Chiaravalle made additional infrastructure improvements to the infant/toddler floor through the investment of $500,000. The Middle School was moved to rented space at the First Congregational Church of Evanston in 2006, one block from the 425 Dempster Street site.
Building Our Future
To ensure that a Montessori education is available for children in Evanston and the surrounding communities, Chiaravalle is working to secure a permanent home. In 2010, Chiaravalle purchased its historic brick building from the City of Evanston. Concurrently, the school launched the Campaign for Chiaravalle: Preparing the Environment, outlining the long-range vision of the schools future and the funding needed to support that vision. The projects begun through the Campaign included purchasing the building and renovating second and third floor classrooms.
In 2012, Chiaravalle extended the lease from the First Congregational Church for the suite of Middle School classroom spaces. This allowed the school to invest in extensive refurbishment of the Middle School.