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History & Timeline

History & Timeline

"Education should no longer be mostly the imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities."—Maria Montessori

Lake Country School was established as an urban Montessori school in June 1976, founded by Pat and Larry Schaefer through a grant from the O’Shaughnessy Foundation. LCS was the first Montessori school in Minnesota to offer a program for 9 to 12 year olds and the first to offer a Montessori junior high program. The school began with seventy-two students in the school building at the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis. In 1980 the school moved to its present location, initially renting the school building from Incarnation Parish. The property was purchased in 1986, and the following year Children’s House classrooms and other major renovations were made on the lower level. In 1989 a new wing, including the gymnasium, junior high space, research center, and office, was completed. Renovation of the elementary levels took place over the summer of 1999. 

In 1996 Pat and Larry Schaefer, co-principals of Lake Country School, retired after two decades of leadership, and Kathy Coskran became principal. That same year a 160-acre farm in Dunn County, Wisconsin, was purchased. It allows a rural experience for the entire community, students and parents, and the junior high students partake in a 2-week farm stay annually. In 2003, thanks to the generous support of the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation, Lake Country School broke ground on the O’Shaughnessy Homestead (now called O'Shaughnessy Lodge) at the Land School.

In the spring of 2004, Paulette Zoë was selected as principal to replace Kathy Coskran. Amidst drumming and song, the Lake Country School community gathered again to fill the air with words of love, respect and gratitude that celebrate life’s transitions and to strengthen our commitment to the work we do together on behalf of all children.

In the fall of 2004, Lake Country received the largest single gift made to its endowment fund from the Drake-McLaughlin alumni family, enabling us to add more support to families through our tuition assistance program. 

In recent years, LCS has become more involved with sustainability by installing a rain garden at the school entrance and initiating a stronger organics recycling program that generates little waste. One of our main focuses continues to be on our environment, both indoors and out.

Remember making timelines as a student at Lake Country? Timelines are a fundamental part of a Montessori classroom. Here is one just for you to help rekindle those memories...


1975-76: Larry and Pat Schaefer move to Minneapolis to work at the St. Paul Montessori school sponsored by the Montessori foundation at the invitation of Larry O’Shaughnessy
1976-77: Lake Country School is established, incorporated and opens at the Basilica of St. Mary’s with 72 children in one Children's House and two elementary classrooms
1979-80: LCS moves to Cleary Hall on 38th St. and Pleasant Ave. on July 12, 1980
1982-83: Junior High opens in the Incarnation Building, with the first Junior High trip to Kampsville, Illinois with 14 students and the first Junior High bike trip, a three day tour of Hennepin County
1984-85: First Junior High Odyssey (West to Crow Canyon)
1986-87: LCS purchases Cleary Hall
1988-89: First observance of Wisdom Day, building of gym and Junior High completed, and back lot purchased from U.S. West
1994-95: First Amity scholar, Paul Alain, arrives from Cameroon, Pat and Larry Schaefer announce their retirement as co-principals
1995-96: Board approves purchase of the Land School
1996-97: Kathy Coskran becomes new Head of School
1999-2000: Junior High plants 6,000 trees at the Land School
2002-03: Council of Children established and writes school pledge, LCS breaks ground on the O’Shaughnessy Homestead at the Land School (now called O'Shaughnessy Lodge)
2003-04: Kathy Coskran retires as Principal
2004-05: Paulette Zoë begins as new Principal, first Junior High residency at the Land School
2010-2011: Planning for the Outdoor Learning Environment (pergola, front lot, back lot turf, parking lot, Green Space, and Children's House garden) renovation begins and house on the lot next door is removed, OLE renovation work is completed in 2017
2015-16: 40th anniversary year of Lake Country School, 20th anniversary of our rural campus, the Land School, celebrations include a 40/20 Music Festival at the rural campus, Homecoming & Tailgate Auction, and Spring Open House at the urban campus, and the Council of Children choose LCS's first mascot, Wander the Walleye!
2018-19: Principal Paulette Zoë retires after 31 years in the LCS community (15 years as principal)
2019-20: Alum Ben Moudry '89 begins as the new Head of School
2020-21: The LCS Renovation and Addition Project begins construction on the urban campus, adding administrative and program spaces and a new entrance/atrium

  • Creating a Real School: Lake Country School, Montessori Learning Environments, 1976-1996 by Larry and Pat Schaefer with Lori Sturdevant (Nodin Press 2016)
  • The Land School (reprinted from Edible Twin Cities, Winter 2005)
  • Lake Country School is a Peace Site (LCS Courier, Fall 2003)
  • Montessori Quilt - written and performed by Paul Dosh, '88 LCS alumnus, poet, and professor, for the opening of the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota. To read the text or hear Paul perform Montessori Quilt, click here.
  • A Montessori Dictionary (Annette Haines, January 2001, reprinted with permission)