History & Timeline

"Education should no longer be mostly the imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities."—Maria Montessori


Lake Country School was established as an urban Montessori school in June 1976, founded by Pat and Larry Schaefer through a grant from the O’Shaughnessy Foundation. LCS was the first Montessori school in Minnesota to offer a program for 9 to 12 year olds and the first to offer a Montessori junior high program. The school began with seventy-two students in the school building at the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis. In 1980 the school moved to its present location, initially renting the school building from Incarnation Parish. The property was purchased in 1986, and the following year Children’s House classrooms and other major renovations were made on the lower level. In 1989 a new wing, including the gymnasium, junior high space, research center, and office, was completed. Renovation of the elementary levels took place over the summer of 1999. 

In 1996 Pat and Larry Schaefer, co-principals of Lake Country School, retired after two decades of leadership, and Kathy Coskran became principal. That same year a 160-acre farm in Dunn County, Wisconsin, was purchased. It allows a rural experience for the entire community, students and parents, and the junior high students partake in a 2-week farm stay annually. In 2003, thanks to the generous support of the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation, Lake Country School broke ground on the O’Shaughnessy Homestead at the Land School.

In the spring of 2004, Paulette Zoë was selected as principal to replace Kathy Coskran. Amidst drumming and song, the Lake Country School community gathered again to fill the air with words of love, respect and gratitude that celebrate life’s transitions and to strengthen our commitment to the work we do together on behalf of all children.

In the fall of 2004, Lake Country received the largest single gift made to its endowment fund from the Drake-McLaughlin alumni family, enabling us to add more support to families through our tuition assistance program. 

In recent years, LCS has become more involved with sustainability by installing a rain garden at the school entrance and initiating a stronger organics recycling program that generates little waste. One of our main focuses continues to be on our environment, both indoors and out.


Remember making timelines as a student at Lake Country? Here is one just for you to help rekindle those memories...


  • Larry and Pat Schaefer move to Minneapolis to work at the St. Paul Montessori school sponsored by the Montessori foundation at the invitation of Larry O’Shaughnessy


  • Lake Country School is established, incorporated and opens at the Basilica of St. Mary’s with 72 children in one Children's House and two elementary classrooms
  • The first Board of Directors is appointed with Brad St. Mane as president
  • The first elementary performance is Panic in a Desk Drawer


  • Janet Williams’ E1 classroom is established
  • Larry Dittberner starts in January
  • The performance is The Prince and the Pauper
  • 110 children enrolled


  • First class graduates from 6th grade
  • Lois St. Mane's E1 classroom is established
  • Patricia Bachmeier join the staff
  • First auction chaired by John and Betty Heefner
  • The performance is Persephone


  • Kathy Coskran and Sarah Endsley open second Children's House classroom
  • Millie Dosh establishes the Research Center
  • Madame Fisk starts teaching French
  • A building search committee is formed
  • LCS moves to Cleary Hall on 38th St. and Pleasant Ave. on July 12, 1980
  • E2 students go to Duluth


  • LCS opens in Cleary Hall with 210 enrolled; cafeteria is shared with Incarnation School
  • Beloved teacher Janet Williams dies
  • First E2 trip to “Widji”
  • First Science Fair is held


  • Lois St. Mane changes her name to Zoe
  • Jean Melom joins Children's House
  • Children hold performance at Macalester


  • Junior High opens in the Incarnation Building
  • First Junior High trip to Kampsville, Illinois with 14 students
  • First Junior High bike trip - three day tour of Hennepin County
  • Junior High performs You Can’t Take it with You
  • Doug Alecci joins the Junior High
  • First ISACS accreditation self-study
  • Research center is remodeled
  • 225 students enrolled


  • Junior High 8th grade Odyssey East to Montreal, Canada, and New York City; 7th grade trip to Kampsville, Illinois
  • Third Children's House classroom added
  • First year of Extended Day
  • Junior High performs Feast of Ortolons
  • LCS is accredited by ISACS


  • First Junior High Odyssey-West to Crow Canyon
  • Junior High performs A Midsummer’s Night Dream


  • First Junior High Odyssey-East to historic Williamsburg
  • First capital campaign planned to buy Cleary Hall, renovate Children's House and build the gym and Junior High
  • Jill Olsen and Mindy Holte join the staff
  • Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story are the performances


  • Ann Luce joins staff
  • LCS purchases Cleary Hall
  • Children “hug the building” during the spiral dance


  • Children's House moves into newly remodeled classrooms
  • Twins win the pennant and Children's House writes stories about the Twins and everyone sings Let’s Go Out to the Ballgame


  • First observance of Wisdom Day
  • Building of gym and Junior High completed
  • Back lot purchased from U.S. West


  • First Future’s Day Celebration—trees planted
  • First exchange with Moscow School #31
  • LCS cosponsors National Montessori conference on the Humanities


  • Second ISACS evaluation
  • Rainiest bike trip ever


  • First all-school recitation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech


  • Jane Goodall visits LCS
  • Roots and Shoots environmental club is established


  • Larry Schaefer hosts Adolescent Conference in St. Paul


  • First Amity scholar, Paul Alain, arrives from Cameroon
  • Field of Dreams is auction theme to raise money for playground equipment
  • Pat and Larry Schaefer announce their retirement as co-principals


  • Kathy Coskran begins as Associate Principal
  • Board approves purchase of the Land School
  • Playground is renovated
  • First Winter Count alumni gathering
  • LCS staff create quilt portraying the first twenty years of the school in a spiral of block prints
  • 301 students enrolled
  • Junior High meet Paul Wellstone in Washington, D.C.


  • Kathy Coskran becomes new Head of School
  • “Great Gatherings” auction tradition established
  • First Land School harvest
  • E2 performs The Odyssey
  • First exchange with Swedish students
  • Steve and Mimi Fisher present the sculpture “Montessori’s Vision” to LCS in honor of their daughter and alumna Carly


  • First child of LCS alumnus enrolled
  • Junior High performs The Life of Insects
  • Pat Schaefer’s class writes award-winning symphony
  • Astronaut Sally Ride visits LCS


  • LCS launches its second capital campaign, For the Children, to renovate the elementary levels, build a lodge at the Land School and establish an endowment
  • LCS wins Baker for a Day contest at Great Harvest Bread Co.
  • Infant program is established
  • First Living Your Values round table discussion
  • First Board Pancake Breakfast
  • LCS Alum John Mullin '84 begins teaching in Class D


  • Elementary students return to newly renovated classrooms
  • Planning begins for construction at the Land School
  • LCS buys the property next door on Pleasant Ave.
  • Junior High plants 6,000 trees at the Land School


  • 25th Anniversary Year
  • Endowment established with $226,000 in gifts and $408,000 in pledges


  • Land School committee hosts a charette to involve community in designing lodge


  • Council of Children established and writes school pledge
  • LCS breaks ground on the O’Shaughnessy Homestead at the Land School


  • Lake Country School urban campus dedicated as a peace site
  • O’Shaughnessy Homestead at the Land School dedicated
  • Kathy Coskran retires as Principal


  • Paulette Zoë begins as new Principal
  • First Junior High residency at the Land School
  • First year of the 9th grade with one 9th grade student
  • First Odyssey South to Mississippi with focus on Civil Rights and marine biology
  • Class H works with Mike Hazard, a.k.a. Media Mike, to produce The Magic Green School Bus, a documentary about the life of Paul Wellstone
  • LCS receives $500,000 endowment gift from the Drake-McLaughlin alumni family


  • 30th year of Lake Country School
  • Junior High play is Much Ado About Nothing and is performed with two casts


  • Montessori Centenary: Maria Montessori opened the first Casa di Bambini in January of 1907
  • Junior High performs Oklahoma!
  • Junior High has four 9th graders


  • In an LCS first, Aaron Lockridge ‘90 begins his teaching career in Children's House 2 alongside his former Children's House teacher, Sarah Endsley
  • LCS participates in 100 Steps for Montessori, a global event to celebrate the Montessori Centenary
  • Auction theme is The Prom-Moonlight in Paradise and is chaired for the first time by an LCS alumnus, Dan Johnson ‘84, with wife Tanya and Nancy Warner


  • Katie Mullin becomes the first child of an LCS alumnus to graduate from the Junior High
  • Zoe St. Mane announces her retirement, to be phased in over a period of two years
  • Junior High performs Wizard of Oz; Children's House 2 is so captivated by this performance that they produce their own version of it


  • A 15-day Farm Stay is initiated allowing Junior High students to live at the Land School while focusing on the work of the farm, micro-economy, and occupations
  • E2 collaborates to write, produce, and perform A Sea of Stories as their level play
  • A special classroom observation and luncheon is held at the urban campus for Friends of the Future Circle members
  • Through a camera placed in its den, Children's House 2 follows the birth and first months of life of Hope the bear; their interest in bears culminates in a classroom performance of Little Black Bear Goes For A Walk
  • Remodeling at the Land School homestead greatly increases the number of sleeping areas, allowing for full elementary class overnight stays. On one such visit, Class C plants over 1000 corn and pumpkin plants
  • Eleven Junior High students participate in a thirteen-day educational and cultural exchange with El Colegio Montessori de Tepoztlán, our sister school in Cuernavaca, Mexico


  • 35th anniversary year of Lake Country School!
  • Larry and Pat Schaefer begin work on a memoir of the founding years of the school
  • The 9th grade has 5 students, and 15 LCS alumni have their children at the school
  • Year one of Lake Country School's fifth ISACS 7-year accreditation cycle
  • Sarah Endsley and Zoe St. Mane retire after teaching for over three decades
  • Planning for the Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE) renovation begins and house on the lot next door is removed
  • Luminary Fund was established to honor the life's work of retiring Lake Country School teachers, to recognize their essential contributions to students and to the future, and as an endowed source for support for children and families 


  • New Mission Statement ratified
  • Pat deLeon retires


  • Phase one of the OLE, consisting of the Green Space and Pergola, completed
  • Donations to the Zoë Bee Makovetsky Memorial Music Fund made possible the commissioning of several new "school songs" from LCS alumni parent and songwriter, Bret Hesla
  • Jean Melom retires after 32 years as a LCS guide


  • Phase two of the OLE, including the Pleasant Ave. lot and Children's House garden, completed
  • Steve Anthony, Patricia Bachmeier, Kathy Gustafson and Joyce Mitchell retire
  • Care packages are sent to 8th grade LCS graduates for their 1st year at college


  • Phase three of the OLE, the installation of a recycled recyclable synthetic turf in the back lot, is completed


  • 40th anniversary year of Lake Country School!
  • 20th anniversary of our rural campus, the Land School!
  • A new LCS Logo is revealed adding "Montessori" to the image
  • Anniversary celebrations include a 40/20 Music Festival at the rural campus, Homecoming & Tailgate Auction, and Spring Open House at the urban campus
  • The Council of Children choose LCS's first mascot, Wander, The Walleye
  • 32 children of LCS alumni are enrolled
  • Founders Larry and Pat Schaefer write their memoir, "Creating a Real School 1976-1996"
  • Commercial kitchen built in LCS's lower level to support children's work of cooking and sharing with classmates 


  • Phase four of the OLE, parking lot renovation, begins
  • Larry Dittberner, Katherine Vassell, and Jill Olsen retire


  • Snow Kreilich hired as architects to create a Facilities Master Plan which focused on both the urban and rural campuses


  • Principal Paulette Zoë retires after 31 years in the LCS community (15 years as principal)


  • Alum Ben Moudry '89 begins as the new Head of School
  • LCS shifts to "Learning From Home" beginning March 2020 through the end of the school year per Governor Walz's order to mitigate community spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota
  • Longtime staff member Barb Kitze retires after 34 years at LCS. Ms. Kitze served in the Research Center for 16 years, and previously served as a Classroom Assistant and Art Specialist 

Mission Statement

Lake Country School is a Montessori learning environment that fosters independence, critical thinking, and creativity within each child. We are a community that promotes diversity and inclusion, as well as respect and responsibility to self, to others, and to the earth.

Contact Us

3755 Pleasant Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55409
Phone 612.827.3707
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