Sunset Hills Montessori School

Reston Pre-School and Private Elementary 20th Anniversary. Sunset Hills Montessori School is nestled in the woods of Reston, on the edges of Lake Audubon and Lake Thoreau. We provide a peaceful school setting for children ages 18 months to 3rd grade.

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May, 1994

Eileen and Joe Minarik purchase a building at 1980 Isaac Newton Square West in Reston’s first office park to house a new Montessori School.  The building, which was 4,350 square feet, had been vacant for 4 years and was in need of major repair. The Minariks embarked on an extensive renovation project that would take four months to complete.

The new school is named Sunset Hills Montessori Children’s House.  The name "Sunset Hills" comes from the history of Reston itself.  Most of the land that is now called Reston used to be Sunset Hills Farm.  Children’s House is a traditional name for the pre-school and kindergarten level in Montessori Schools.  The first Montessori school, founded in 1907 in Rome, Italy was called “Casa de Bambini” or “The Children’s House.” 

September, 1994 

Sunset Hills Montessori Children’s House opens with 40 students in 2 Primary classrooms (preschool-kindergarten).  The before school and after school programs are called "Sunset Club".   


September, 1995

Sunset Hills Montessori Children’s House opens for the 1995-96 school year with 80 students in three Primary classrooms.

September, 1996

SHMCH adds an Elementary Program. The Teacher Workroom is converted into an additional classroom and six children join the school as 1st graders.

September, 2000

The Elementary Program outgrows the classroom at Isaac Newton Square.  The Elementary Program moves to rented space at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Wiehle Avenue about a mile from the Isaac Newton Square Campus.

September, 2001

SHMCH opens a Pre-Primary class (toddler) with 12 children at the Isaac Newton Square Campus.

May, 2003

The Minariks buy the former United Christian Parish property in Reston’s South Lakes Village neighborhood.  The property is 2-1/2 acres with a 12,000 square foot church.  The Minariks hire the original architect of the church, Lawrence Cook, to renovate the building to house a school.  It is called the Ridge Heights Campus.


September, 2003

The Elementary program, which has now grown to encompass grades 1 to 4, moves into temporary classrooms in the former sanctuary at the Ridge Heights Campus while the lower level continues to be renovated.  Four Primary classrooms and a Toddler classroom are housed at Isaac Newton Square.

SHMCH retains Lawrence Cook to design an addition to the original building.

November, 2003

Two primary classrooms move from Isaac Newton Square to the new classroom at the former church. The school changes its name from Sunset Hills Montessori Children’s House to Sunset Hills Montessori School (SHMS) to reflect the growth of the school from toddler to grade 6.  The main office of the school moves to Ridge Heights.  A playground is installed.

September, 2004

The school continues to operate in two locations.  A Pre-Primary class opens at Ridge Heights.  Ridge Heights now houses 1 Pre-Primary class, two Primary classes, 1 Lower Elementary class (grades 1-4).  Isaac Newton Square now houses 1 Pre-Primary class and 2 Primary classes.

February, 2005

SHMS breaks ground for a nearly 12,000 square foot addition to the original church building.

July, 2005

The Minarik’s sell the Isaac Newton Square Campus.


September, 2005

All classes are housed in the original building at the Ridge Heights campus.  One of the Pre-Primary classes is housed in temporary quarters in the Teacher's Lounge.  Two primary classes take up temporary status in half of the former sanctuary.   

September, 2006

The addition opens.  The school is now nearly 24,000 square feet.  The addition contains two Pre-Primary classrooms, five Primary classrooms, a Lower Elementary classroom, a Multi-Purpose Room, four administrative offices, a new foyer and storage space.  The former sanctuary is now an Assembly Hall. A second playground is installed.

September, 2014

Sunset Hills Montessori School celebrates its 20th anniversary and school founder, Eileen Minarik, reflects upon the hundreds of students that have grown up with the school.