Beginning on September 14, 1964, eighty children between the ages of two and seven sat in four classes under the overall tutelage of Ms. Lena Wilkramaratne. A renowned educator, Lena studied with Maria Montessori and her son Mario in Ceylon and India while developing a Montessori Primary Teacher Training Course. The list of prominent area parents set the early tone for the school by establishing a strong, participatory parent base - a key component in Villa's early success. Building on that early tone, a legacy of parent leadership has led Villa through the years.
From the school's founding until 1995, the school operated as a private institution serving students from eighteen months through sixth grade. In 1995, Villa converted the Kindergarten through sixth grades into a charter school to make the school more affordable for a larger number of families in the community. Charter schools are independent public schools designed and operated by private entities and sponsored by designated local or state educational organizations who monitor their quality and integrity, but allow them to operate freed from the traditional bureaucratic and regulatory red tape of traditional public schools.
Villa received its charter from the State Board for Charter Schools in 1995 becoming one of the first charter schools in Arizona. Since becoming a charter school, Villa has expanded its enrollment to meet the demand for its now more affordable education increasing the number of classrooms at each program level and adding a middle school program. Despite these structural changes, Villa continues to maintain the same ideals and standards upon which it was founded.
Villa remains a community of parents, teachers, friends, and administrators dedicated to the development of the whole child who believe in the effectiveness of the Montessori Method as the foundation in this process. Villa's parents and former parents continue to provide invaluable leadership and support through their time, unique talents, and financial commitment. Villa's teachers still set the standard for Montessori educators in Arizona. As the first Montessori school in Phoenix and one of the first charter schools in Arizona, Villa remains committed to finding innovative and effective ways of meeting the needs of children.