Elderberry Icon with School Name

Welcome to Elderberry Montessori in San Francisco, CA. We provide an authentic Montessori education for children ages 3-6.

Elderberry Montessori is a community-focused Montessori preschool dedicated to empowering all children to develop their innate gifts of curiosity and autonomy. Through a mix of independent exploration and guided engagement children develop the foundation of a life-long love of learning.

Please contact us to receive more information about our school.


Location, Hours & Tuition


Coming September 2020!

Elderberry will be located in Noe Valley, San Francisco, CA.

Stay tuned for our exact location!

Hours & Tuition

Monday – Friday

8:00am – 1:00pm :: $2,150

8:00am – 3:00pm :: $2,500

(Elderberry offers a tuition assistance program.  If interested, please click the box for tuition assistance on your application.)

After Care/ Enrichment Program

Monday – Friday

3:00pm – 5:30pm :: $400/month

Our Calendar

Our school year runs September to June with summer school options available.

Important Dates for the 2020-2021 School Year:

  • First Day of School: September 2020
  • Thanksgiving Break: November 23rd through November 27th
  • Winter Equinox Celebration: Friday, December 18th
  • Winter Break: December 21st through January 4th
  • Spring Break: March 29th through April 2nd
  • National Holidays observed: Labor Day, Indigenous Peoples Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Day, Lunar New Year, Presidents’ Day, and Memorial Day
  • Teacher Prep Days (No children):
    • 2020: October 13th
    • 2021: January 19th, February 12th, April 26th

Our Teacher Leaders

MaryAlice Fowler
Founder, Co-Head of School, Co-Teacher Leader

MaryAlice is a dedicated, life-long educator who hails from South Portland, Maine. She is passionate about the Montessori method being especially designed to focus on the whole child and bring out the most in children, emotionally and academically. MaryAlice has 12 years teaching experience in Montessori, Public and Special Education fields and is well crafted as a Teacher Collaborator, Parent Educator and Curriculum Designer.

She has a dual-BA in Elementary Education and Special Education from Salve Regina University. MaryAlice received her Montessori Early Childhood Certification from the North American Montessori Center and has spent 7 years teaching in a Montessori Primary classroom here in San Francisco.

Get to Know MaryAlice

Q:  What do you love most about the Montessori Method?

Maria Montessori had a deep and resounding respect for children, and this is reflected in the Montessori Method and pedagogy.  I love this idea of celebrating children’s innate curiosity and drive to learn and engage in the world around them. Montessori classroom materials have so much intentionality.  There is little redundancy across the materials and if there is, it’s on purpose. It’s inspiring to see how these interwoven classroom experiences help children make connections.

Q:  What’s your favorite Montessori work? 

As a whole, Math. If I had had Montessori math as a child I know I would be more keen on it.  The bead bar system is both simple and powerful. The materials are concrete and sequential, building on past lessons.  The children can visualize and physically explore numbers. There is also a control of error which makes the works self-correcting to help children stay engaged.  This concrete process of learning numbers and of being introduced to the decimal system makes math not only fun and educational but also more retainable.

Q:  What’s your favorite children’s book?  

My favorite book to read to children is Amos and Boris by William Steig. It tells the tale of an unlikely friendship between a mouse and a whale. The language is vividly rich as the book weaves an incredible journey of how two strangers help each other through kindness and compassion.

Q:  What do you enjoy most about working with preschool age children?

Young children have minds like sponges.  Their synapses are firing all the time, and you can see it in their expressions.  It’s incredible to see that power of discovery. I especially love guiding them through their processing.  When you can give them that tender moment and guiding hand, it feels like a huge honor.   

There’s a harmony and beauty that’s created for a child when they come to school and spend their days with a classroom full of their peers.  Those peer interactions are energizing, as children marvel at their discoveries and go through the spontaneity of their day. Maria Montessori said it well when she said, “The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take as its aim the development of these hidden possibilities.” (The Absorbent Mind)

Rocio Becerra
Co-Head of School, Co-Teacher Leader

Rocio is a bilingual Montessori educator who is passionate about bringing a multicultural perspective to her teaching practice.  She grew up in Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States and is fluent in English and Spanish. Rocio went to Universidad Anáhuac in Mexico, earning a degree in Economics and International Business.  After successfully launching and running her own business in Costa Rica, she decided to pursue her life-long passion for Montessori early childhood education.  Rocio received her Montessori certification from the Montessori Institute of San Diego in Costa Rica and has over 10 years of teaching experience. Rocio is an avid Montessorian who believes the Montessori Method helps children develop to their fullest potential.  

Get to Know Rocio

Q:  What do you love most about the Montessori Method?

I’m most inspired by how the Montessori Method focuses on building a strong foundation for each child’s character development as well as academic development.  The child’s experience at school is largely self-driven. The classroom is truly the children’s space and everything in it is child-sized. The Montessori works are specially designed to be step-by-step and self-correcting so the child is both challenged and highly motivated.  Children have many opportunities for decision-making throughout their day, helping them develop self-confidence and independence.  

Q:  What’s your favorite Montessori work? 

My favorite work is the Sandpaper Letters, a cornerstone of Montessori’s Language area.  It is so simple and engaging for the children and so powerful in its multi-sensory approach – the child sees the sound, feels the sound and hears the sound.  The child traces each letter which builds a foundation for writing. At the same time, they hear the sound and understand how it’s written which builds a foundation for reading phonetic words.  This is the first work children do in the Language area, and the students are always excited to work with it.

Q:  What’s your favorite children’s book?  

My favorite children’s book is The Everybody Club by Anne O’Brien because it’s such a sweet and powerful example for the children of how to be inclusive.  At times I’ve encountered a student struggling with feelings of exclusion. After reading this book to the entire class during Circle Time and reflecting on the moral of the story with the children, they really become inspired to practice empathy and inclusiveness.   

Q:  What do you enjoy most about working with preschool age children?

Working with young children fills my days with inspiring moments and sweet challenges.  I love how curious and present children are as they engage with the Montessori works. Each child is different so I’m constantly challenged to think creatively about how to best engage each student to help them absorb a lesson.  Those moments where a child makes a powerful connection and shares a new idea that occurred to them is incredibly fulfilling.  

Enroll Now

Tour/Info Session - Meet our Heads of School

The application process begins with attending an Information Session where you will learn more about Elderberry Montessori. Next we invite you to submit an application online (see below), and meet for a one-on-one with our Heads of School.  

Complete an Application

Apply Here

2020-2021 School Year

Earlier the better!  Space is limited.

For the 2020-2021 application cycle, we are not charging an application fee.  

Elderberry offers a tuition assistance program.  If interested, please click the box for tuition assistance on your application.

If you choose to apply, we will be conducting parent interviews Tuesday, February 18-Friday, March 6th. We will email acceptance and waitlist letters on Tuesday March 10, 2020 aligning our timing with the other SF preschools to ensure you are able to make an informed and timely decision.  All applicants will receive either an acceptance email or a waitlist email; please contact us if you submitted an application but did not receive an email from us on March 10th.

Non-discrimination Policy

Elderberry Montessori School is a nonprofit organization and does not discriminate by race, color, national or ethnic origin, creed, religion, sex, disability, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or status with regard to public assistance. Furthermore, Elderberry Montessori School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

News & Events

Past Events

San Francisco Preschool Preview Night

  • Thursday, September 19, 2019

Information Sessions @ Noe Valley Public Library

  • Tuesday, October 22, 2019
  • Thursday, November 7, 2019

Noe Valley Farmers Market:  8am-Noon

  • Saturday, September 28, 2019
  • Saturday, November 2, 2019


“MaryAlice is not only an extraordinary Montessori educator, she’s also a natural-born leader. In her tenure with us, MaryAlice transformed her classroom’s experience to be highly engaging, launched a successful series of community enrichment activities, and was dearly beloved by the diverse community of children in her classroom. I’m excited for Elderberry Montessori families who will receive the benefit of her passion for the Montessori Method, her vision for how to run a world-class preschool and her joy of helping children develop their innate drive to explore, learn and engage in the world around them.” – Maria Hassel, Former Head of School of Montessori House of Children

“Rocío is a talented, dedicated, and passionate professional. I saw her put in extra time and energy to listen to parents and children, contribute to the community, and come up with great ideas for process at our school. Rocío worked with young children, their parents, and classroom assistants with grace and excitement. I saw firsthand her ability to relate to people of all ages and roles. At our school, Rocío brought in a breath of fresh air. I absolutely recommend her as an addition to any school or business.” – Karissa Lightsmith, Former Head of School of Lighthouse Montessori

“We offer our highest recommendation for MaryAlice  as an exceptional Montessori educator and as the architect for our son’s Pre-K program. Truly the highlight of this journey has been MaryAlice’s class. She brought a level of passion, dedication and creativity that was unique in our experience. MaryAlice set up and lead a truly authentic Montessori classroom. We’ve been constantly amazed by the breadth of curriculum, our son’s excitement toward his class, and his accelerated development.” – Former Parent  

“Above all, we have been impressed with the personalized attention MaryAlice gives to our son. She recognizes the unique challenges our son faces, in terms of physical, academic and social development perspectives. And when he has shown particular passion or interest in a subject or area, she enables him to explore that activity or even design new activities. For our naturally hyper-curious son, this freedom and support has been priceless.” – Former Parent

“We are huge fans of MaryAlice and feel blessed that our child had MaryAlice as a Montessori teacher throughout their preschool years.  MaryAlice is not only deeply kind, gracious and perceptive, she also seems to have a magic touch when it comes to engaging children in a way that brings forth their inner drive to explore and learn with focus and thoughtfulness.  We didn’t know much about the Montessori Method heading into preschool, and we could not be happier that we chose Montessori for our child. They truly gained a love of learning and ability to focus and engage at school thanks to their Montessori experience.” – Former Parent

“I find it so difficult to adequately thank those who care for and love my children. They hold the most valuable and important role to us, our community, and our world. I thank Rocío for the many (maybe millions!) moments when she conveyed love, acceptance, respect, delight in, seeing and care for my child. We are deeply and humbly grateful.” – Former Parent


Living Montessori: Stephen Curry & Family

“An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking: it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to times in which they live.”
​Dr. Maria Montessori, Education and Peace

“Love and trust, in the space between what’s said and what’s heard in our life, can make all the difference in the world.”
Mr. Fred Rogers

Why Wildflower?

Learn more about the Wildflower network from its founder, Sep Kamvar.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Montessori education and what are the benefits? 

Dr. Maria Montessori made education her life’s work and passion. Over the course of her lifetime she keenly observed children paying close attention to their social emotional needs and their capacity for academic growth. Montessori pedagogy is tried and true. It fosters independence, a child’s natural inclination to learn while empowering children to be stewards of the earth and mindful citizens of their community and the world. 

How does Elderberry Montessori differ from other early childhood programs? 

Montessori education values self-directed learning and hands-on activity “work”. We believe children can be empowered to follow their interests and curiosities if given the independence and tools to do so. Montessori values self-expression, building a sense of community, and raising kind, thoughtful, caring humans.

What are my options for enrollment?

Our program is five days a week.  We offer various pick up times during the day to meet your family needs: 1:30pm, 3pm and rolling pick up between 3pm and 5:30pm. 

What are Elderberry’s typical classroom size and ratios? 

Elderberry is proud to offer quality education for a maximum of 24 children. Our teacher to student ratio is 1:8 which is well below the state requirement of 1:12. We pride ourselves in giving your child individualized attention and care. 

What does a typical school day look like?

8-8:30 am Morning Drop Off
8:30-11:30 am Morning Work Period
11:30a-12:15p Lunch
12:15-1:30 pm Outside time/ Visit to the Local Park
1:30pm Mid-day Pick up
1:30-3 pm Naptime for ages 3-4
1:30-2 pm Rest for ages 4+
2-3 pm Afternoon work period for children ages 4+
3 pm Afternoon Pick up / End of School Day
3-5:30 pm Aftercare / Enrichment Classes – Open ended pick up time
5:30 pm School Closes

What are the expectations surrounding toilet training?

We ask that children have a steady routine in place at home. We require children wear regular underwear during the school day and bring a change of clothing to be stored at school in case of accidents.  We’ll help the children adjust to their new toileting patterns at school and will provide regular reminders of bathroom breaks for the first few months of school for younger children. 

What food does Elderberry provide?

We provide snack in the morning and afternoon for children in the aftercare program. Nutrition and healthy eating habits are part of our educational program. We talk to children about foods that give energy and nutrients for growing and fighting off illness. Daily snacks served in the classroom include vegetables, fruits, whole grain crackers, and cheese. We provide filtered water because it is best for dental health. 

How does Elderberry Montessori manage allergies?

Parents are asked to directly communicate any and all food allergies with teachers and staff. We are a tree nut and peanut free school community.

Wildflower Schools

Elderberry Montessori is a member of the Wildflower Schools Network

Wildflower is an ecosystem of decentralized Montessori micro-schools that support children, teachers, and parents. Our schools aspire to give all children and families the opportunity to choose high quality, beautiful learning environments as they follow life’s unfolding journey.

About Wildflower Schools

Wildflower is an ecosystem of decentralized Montessori micro-schools that support children, teachers, and parents. Our schools aspire to give all children and families the opportunity to choose high quality, beautiful learning environments as they follow life’s unfolding journey.

Our aim is to be an experiment in a new learning environment, blurring the boundaries between home and school, between scientists and teachers, between schools and the neighborhoods around them.Our schools are small and teacher-led, with deep parent engagement. At the core of Wildflower are 9 principles that define the approach.

Our network is supported by a foundation that works to build capacity, systems, tools and research to grow and strengthen the network.

Learn more about our story.

Our Principles

Blurring the boundaries between home-schooling and institutional schooling, between scientists and teachers, between schools and the neighborhoods around them. At the core of Wildflower are 9 principles that define the approach.

Read about them here.

Our Network

After the first Wildflower school was created in January of 2014, there was intense interest in the school and the approach. This interest led us to open-source the model and help other family groups and teacher-leaders to create new Wildflower schools. Each teacher-leader at each Wildflower school serves on the board of at least one other Wildflower school, creating a community of schools that are linked by both a shared philosophy and a network of shared relationships.

View our network.