Children develop a natural love of learning at Old Colony Montessori School

February 29, 2024 By Carol Britton Meyer

Students attending the Old Colony Montessori School in Hingham develop a natural love of learning that lasts a lifetime.

OCMS Head of School Tracey Buckeridge, who first experienced this unique “inspired learning” approach when she was a young child, is a testament to that philosophy.

She started at OCMS in 1976 and stayed through fourth grade. Her mother was president of the board of trustees for many years, and her father was the auctioneer during fundraising events at Hingham Community Center, among other roles.

“Life was a lot slower then,” Buckeridge recalls. “I remember my mother running off copies on the mimeograph machine before school started. We had a school secretary , but parents would fix things in the building over the weekends, hired teachers, and gave tours of the school until they felt the need for a head of school.”

Buckeridge’s Montessori experience remained with her and close to her heart as she continued her education at Derby and Thayer academies and while studying elementary education in college.

“When I was in the middle of my student teaching, I came home during one of my holiday breaks and went back to OCMS to see my childhood teachers,” Buckeridge told the Hingham Anchor. “This visit reminded me of what Montessori was all about and why I loved  it.”

When Buckeridge walked into the classrooms, the teachers weren’t the first people she saw.  “I didn’t enjoy standing in front of a blackboard, but at Montessori the teachers were sitting on the floor or at a table with the kids. This seemed so much more peaceful and natural that I decided I wanted to become a Montessori teacher.”

After receiving a bachelor degree in elementary education from St. Michael’s College, Buckeridge completed her Montessori training in Perugia, Italy.

She was a Children’s House teacher at OCMS for more than 15  years, taking several years off to raise her children — all of whom attended OCMS, along with many nieces and nephews.

Tracey Buckeridge

‘OCMS is my second home’
Buckeridge is honored to be in her fifth year of serving as the second head of school since the school’s founding in 1963.  “OCMS is my second home and my extended family,” she said. Mikey Walker was the first head of school for many years starting in the 1990s.

In this role, Buckeridge hires and works with a staff of 20, is responsible for advertising, enrollment, fundraising, and maintaining state licensure and also works with families to address any issues or concerns. “You might also see me fixing something that needs to be fixed in the building!” she quipped.

Buckeridge’s favorite part of the job is the Montessori community — the children, staff, and parents —  who all work together as a team.

OCMS’s mission is to uphold the principles and practices set forth by founder Dr. Maria Montessori; to develop the skills necessary for active and intelligent exploration and a lifelong love of learning; create an environment that allows for optimal learning experiences, community awareness, and respect for others; encourage self-discipline and a positive sense of self; and to foster a passion to embrace all of life with respect and love.

“At OCMS, the teachers guide the students rather than take an authoritarian approach in the classrooms, which are child-centered,” Buckeridge explained. “One of our main objectives is for younger children to gain independence by small tasks they complete by themselves, such as putting on and taking off their shoes and preparing their own snacks.”

“Grace and Courtesies” lessons are part of the curriculum, teaching children how to speak politely, how to properly introduce themselves and greet others, “and even to tuck in their chairs so no one trips over them,” she said.

Students also work independently in classrooms where everything is child-sized — called the Children’s House. It’s all about providing them with freedom that also comes with  responsibilities.

“We recognize that kids don’t always enjoy sitting in a circle for 45 minutes for show and tell or another activity, so they have the freedom to talk with a friend or to move around the classroom — within some boundaries,” Buckeridge explained. “OCMS provides an opportunity for students and teachers to express their own interests and personalities in the classroom.”

OCMS is the oldest Montessori institution south of Boston and is one of the only AMI-certified (Association Montessori Internationale) Montessori schools in the area, where children gain the skills and knowledge to “approach the world with self-confidence, intellectual curiosity, joy, and respect.”

Helping children become productive individuals
AMI’s global network empowers teachers and communities through the holistic approach of Maria Montessori, “helping all children become truly capable and productive individuals by focusing on their moral, behavioral, emotional, and intellectual development.”

The vibrant OCMS community, which is celebrating its 60th year with a gala on April 6, serves about 100 children from Hingham and all over the South Shore each year.

While parent-run when OCMS first opened its doors in the early 1960s, the model has transitioned over the years as times have changed.  The school is now run by Buckeridge and a board of trustees, with a good amount of support from parents.

The toddler classroom is a mix of children ages 18 months to 2.9 years old; the Children’s House, ages 2.9 to 6; and the elementary classroom, grades 1 to 3 — all of whom enjoy numerous fun family events throughout the year. These include the Fall Festival, Winter Sing-a-long, and the Spring May Day celebration.

Plans are underway to open an upper elementary classroom in the fall through grade 6.

The onsite organic garden — which is maintained with support from Holly Hill Farm — offers a variety of herbs, vegetables, and flowers.

Dr. Maria Montessori

“The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” —  Dr. Maria Montessori

Dedicated staff
The dedicated OCMS teachers and staff, most of whom have been with the school for many years, work hard to inspire each child’s passion for learning and to assist families in nurturing their children’s development as individuals.

Among Buckeridge’s goals is to gain more visibility for the school — “to help more people learn about who we are and what we do, whether they have children or are interested in a career,” she said.

Buckeridge and nine other OCMS staff members recently returned from an AMI refresher course in Texas, enjoying lectures around the theme of bringing peace to school and the classroom. “It was an inspiring experience,” she said. “OCMS — although not living in a bubble — provides a peaceful, safe place to be. It’s like a home away from home.”

While Buckeridge has been around young children for so many years that she could write a book about all the funny things they say, there’s one memory in particular that has made her laugh through the years whenever it comes to mind.

“We used to have a portrait of Maria Montessori hanging on the wall at school. Back in the ’90s, kids would walk past it and say, ‘Look, it’s Mrs. Doubtfire!'” she recalls. “Ever since then I think of Robin Williams when I see a picture of Dr. Montessori!”

In her spare time, Buckeridge is an active member of the Hingham Yacht Club and loves spending time on the water at Hingham Harbor as well as playing Trivia and other board games. “We’re so fortunate to live in such a beautiful town,” she said.

For more information about OCMS, go to

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