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Picture of Maria Montessori and with a quote from her.

Our School

The school was named in 1913. This was the same year that The Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson with Annotations were published twenty-one years after his death. 

In 2018, Emerson opened a newly renovated campus. The old building's bones have been used as the foundation for the new additions, including a new amphitheater that can double as a tornado shelter. The school is the only public Montessori school in the state.

Emerson, Our Namesake


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was a Unitarian minister and Harvard graduate. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a critic of the countervailing pressures
of society and disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of
transcendentalism in his 1836 essay "Nature." Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing fixed philosophical tenets, but
developing certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, the ability for mankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world. Emerson is one of several figures who rejected views of God as being separate from the world. When asked to sum up his work, he said his central doctrine was "the infinitude of the private man."

His essay “Self Reliance” is at the core of the history of American Individualism. Emerson was a staunch anti-slavery advocate who was disappointed that Lincoln was more concerned about preserving the Union than eliminating slavery outright. Emerson was a
supporter of the spread of community libraries.

As a lecturer and orator, Emerson was the leading voice of intellectual culture in the United States. There is little disagreement that Emerson was the most influential writer of 19th-century America, though today, he is largely the concern of scholars. He was complicated: a community advocate for public learning, and a learned scholar. Unitarians (he was a Unitarian minister), academics, English scholars, poetry lovers, and those who view themselves as spiritual but not religious may look up to Emerson.

Emerson was quite contradictory about his stance on race. While being an avid abolitionist who was known for his criticism of the legality of slavery, Emerson struggled with the implications of race. His usual liberal leanings did not clearly translate when it came to believing that all races had equal capability or function, which was a common conception for the period in which he lived. Many critics believe that it was his views on race that inhibited him from becoming an abolitionist earlier in his life and also inhibited him from being more active in the anti-slavery movement.

He saw direct ties between race based on national identity and the inherent nature of the human being. White Americans who were native-born in the United States and of English ancestry were categorized by him as a separate "race" which he thought had a position of superiority to other nations. His idea of race was based more on a shared culture, environment, and history, rather than on the more biological aspects of race. 


Field, P. S. (2001). The Strange Career of Emerson and Race. American Nineteenth Century History, 2(1), 1-32. doi:10.1080/14664650108567029

McAleer, J. (1984). Ralph Waldo Emerson: Days of Encounter. Retrieved from Aleer.pdf

Richardson, R. D. (1995). Emerson: The Mind on Fire. Berkeley: University of California Press. Ward, J. H. (1887). The Andover Review. Boston, MA: Houghton, Mifflin and.

Montessori, our method

Biography of Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori, a short biography

Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870. When Montessori was growing up, Italy held conservative views of the role of women in society. Montessori consistently resisted these views by first attending classes at an all boys’ school where she developed a passion and deep competence for biology. She went on to graduate with honors from medical school at the University of Rome in 1896, becoming the first female doctor in Italy.

As a doctor she specialized in psychiatry and pediatrics, and became the director of the Orthophrenic School for developmentally disabled children in 1900. It was here that she began to research and develop her educational theories and methods. Her methods and research began to spread across Europe as increased improvements began occurring when her methods were utilized.

She was asked by the Italian government to take on a project in the slums of Italy, where children were not in school and were running free. In 1907 she created the “Casa dei Bambini”, which translates to “The Children’s House”.  It was here that the Montessori method began to take shape. The environment was a living learning environment with child sized furniture and a child centered approach where the teachers are asked to “follow the child”.

By 1925, more than 1,000 Montessori schools had opened in America. She has since earned two Nobel Peace Prize, and her method has been used in schools across the globe.


A picture of Dr. Maria Montessori

History of the Montessori Method

  • Late 1890s: Montessori begins her work with children with exceptionalities and applying her research.
  • 1899: Montessori established the Orthophrenic School in Rome, she began training teachers and developing and using materials to use with children.
  • 1904: While the Professor of Pedagogic Anthropology at the University, Montessori refined her work in Early Childhood education.
  • 1907: Montessori develops and opens “Casa dei Bambini”, “The Children’s House” school. This is the first established school to use the Montessori method.
  • 1909: First training course for Montessori guides.
  • 1909-1920: Rapid growth of Montessori schools and training programs. Montessori toured Europe, America, and Australia to facilitate training courses and lectures.
  • 1920: Montessori is appointed Government Inspector of Schools by the Italian government.
  • 1934: Friction arose between Montessori and Mussolini.
  • 1936: All Montessori schools in Germany and Italy were closed due to the friction between Montessori and Mussolini.
  • 1939: Montessori lived in India and her method began to spread across the region, new schools opened.
  • 1946: She renewed interest in England in the Montessori method.
  • 2018: Tulsa Public Schools begins training teachers and converting Emerson elementary to become Oklahoma’s only public Montessori school.
  • Current day: There are over 4,000 certified Montessori schools in the United States, and over 7,000 world wide.


Aerial photo of the old Emerson building.

Aerial photo of the old Emerson building.

Contact Us

Emerson Elementary
910 N. MLK Jr. Blvd
Tulsa, OK  74106