Montessori School Bali (MSB) was established in 1998 by Nattalia Sinclaire, a committed Montessorian and teacher of many years standing, with her husband Made Wiranatha, a prominent Balinese businessman. Over the preceding decade, since coming to live in Bali, Nattalia had recognised how an authentic and well-administered Montessori program would answer a pressing need for the children and parents in Bali. The recognition became a reality when the Montessori School Bali opened its doors with a Preschool class of 14 children (2.5 to 6 year-olds) christened the Rose Class in its first premises in Seminyak, South Bali on Jalan Laksmana, better known to locals as Jalan Oberoi. Four years later a second Preschool class, called the Garden class followed, opening in 2002.
A Time to Grow
Within three years of that, having seen how well their children had progressed under the Montessori approach, their parents were keen for them to continue on to the next step. Accordingly, and in close consultation with parents, pleased and confident at the good start that had been made, Nattalia was ready to expand the School, opening its first Lower Primary Class in 2005 for children aged 6 to 9 years.
By 2006 the number of children attending the School had grown considerably and MSB required more space to relocate and accommodate the existing Lower Primary classrooms, as well as the newly established Upper Primary classroom (ages 9 to 12 years). For the purpose, the school secured and renovated new premises nearby in Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak, and in 2010 further renovation was undertaken to provide a new design-built classroom to accommodate and better serve the increased number of Upper Primary enrolments.
A new introduction was the MSB Adolescent Program (ages 12-15 years) which begun in 2012. This was a milestone in that it meant that for the first time in Bali four cycles of Montessori education were now available.
In 2013 the Primary and Adolescent programs were relocated to new premises in the Jalan Bumbak area in nearby Umalas. However, it soon became apparent that due to the rapid expansion of demand for places at MSB, these two sites were not large enough to satisfy the need.
A New Campus
This realisation crystalised the ultimate vision and Nattalia, along with Wilma Grier (School Principal at the time) and Anna Maria Indrio (one of Denmark’s renowned architects), had long harboured to unite the two parts of the School on a single purpose-built campus. The result is the new Montessori School Bali situated in Berawa, on approximately 2 hectares of land with ample room for expansion and built to accommodate 200 students. The new campus, which opened in January 2017, with the relocation of all MSB programs, is truly a striking example of what vision and determination can achieve in furthering the education of our children. The first new activity to open on the new campus in 2017 was the 0-3 years program. At this point in development, since opening its doors some 20 years earlier, MSB could now offer for the first time the full Montessori experience from 0 to 15 years with all classes supported by fully qualified Montessori lead teachers and support staff for the student community.
In a Time of Covid
Then in February 2020 our whole world was changed radically with the coming of the Covid 19 pandemic and the ensuing lock-downs, confining whole populations to their homes, with the exception of workers in key services. The effects of these steps to curtail the spread of the pandemic upon the education of children in a little over two years was immediate and profound.
The situation presented parents with many difficult decisions and the resultant challenge to educators was great. Nothing compares as well in the teaching of children than learning face-to-face, but the law in Indonesia now required schools to close and for classes to migrate online. Nattalia was determined that MSB would not shut its doors, and that the quality of education for the children should not be compromised. As a result of this, and various other considerations affecting the running of the School, Nattalia came to the decision that at this critical juncture it was necessary for her as Founder to step in and undertake the direction of the School, which she duly did in July 2020.
This was the most testing period for MSB if it was to survive, for the administration and faculty as well as students and parents alike. As a result of this, our School Principal at the time and other key faculty made the choice to leave Bali. Attendance also dropped as many families left Bali in order to return to their own countries. Other families, who wished to remain, faced a variety of practical considerations. In such cases, wherever possible Nattalia found ways to overcome or alleviate the problems so that all those who wished to stay in Bali with the children in School were able to do so. It was a time when everyone pitched in as best they could. “I could not have done it”, Nattalia was to say later “were it not for the amazing support I received from the parents and staff who stayed”.
The first hurdle and a major achievement was in overcoming the ban on face-to-face teaching on school premises. Notwithstanding, this was resumed in August 2020 for students ages 3 to 15. This breakthrough was achieved through the consultation and diligent research Nattalia had conducted, whereby she became aware that certain hotels had what were known as, Camp Licenses. These allowed hotels that possessed them to host groups for meetings and which, after consultation with local authorities, would allow for a temporary campus to be established and classes to be conducted on a daily basis on hotel premises.
In this way MSB was one of only a few schools in Bali that were able to maintain a full face-to-face curriculum through the most critical period of the pandemic. A remarkable achievement that could not have succeeded were it not for the highly effective co-operation between school and parent.
In August 2021 the Berawa campus was re-opened becoming operational with a student body of twenty eight and a highly qualified teaching staff of ten along with an administration and grounds team, nearing 50 staff. A happy and yet still anxious moment both for Bali and for the School as nobody knew for sure if the pandemic was going away and if the people would come back. This was no time to relax and Nattalia with her team continued their full-on engagement at this crucial moment. It seemed a corner had been turned and through the good efforts of all concerned the number of students had grown to 80 over that academic year.
In August 2022 the School opened its new year with 106 students and growing…
The Future Beckons… and a Celebration
Having survived and learned the lessons from the recent pandemic, MSB is uniquely well-poised to face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The School looks forward with great enthusiasm to fulfilling its mission, which is to offer the full breadth of a Montessori education to parents and children in Bali and beyond.
On 2nd December 2022, under a glorious sunset as dusk drew on over the Montessori campus, some 1,200 people in a happy throng, made up of students, their families, their teachers, together with local neighbours, along with supporters and well-wishers, all came together for a Twilight Market to celebrate the fact that their School had come through three very tough years. The market comprised over 70 stalls with vendors serving local food, arts & crafts and of course music from local performers. The feeling among all there assembled was unmistakable, a quiet confidence that a corner had been turned, that Bali was back and the future set fair for Montessori School Bali pervaded the entire gathering.
In February 2023 the School re-opened its 0-3 Program. The 28th of May 2023 sees the School’s 25th anniversary.
MSB 25th Anniversary
Celebrating Our Past, Present and Future
Decorated in shimmering silver and blue, MSB campus was a beautiful venue for the 25th Anniversary party on 10th June, 2023. We welcomed current and past families, staff, and even alumni from 1998. With a warm welcome from The Principal, Jeff Waxman, cocktails in hand, we gathered the invitees for a flash-back narrated by the school’s Foundress, Nattalia Sinclaire. Guests were fascinated watching images on the screen that brought to life the very first classrooms, and so many staff and students in a photo montage that even featured many of the existing grounds, security and classroom staff!
After reflecting on the school’s history, the party moved through campus to the amphitheater space outside the Flamboyant classroom where we celebrated our current students watching a video set to music called “A Day in the Life, Montessori School Bali”
Next, Lidia Olivieri, who celebrates her 18th year as an MSB Lead Teacher this year, welcomed everyone and kicked off a special set of appearances via prerecorded messages from former heads of school, alumnae and teachers, ending with a presentation by Hannah, who attended in one of the first classes at Montessori School Bali. We were also lucky enough to have some former students at the event!
After more cocktails and canapes, Nattalia and Kadek’s son Putu, a graduate of the first class of students at MSB toasted the future of MSB. Once we all raised our glasses, a time capsule was buried under a brand new Sandat tree just outside the new Sandat classroom.
The evening ended with a spectacular Balinese Fire Dance Performance. The night was full of meaningful moments. It was a beautiful party to connect and reconnect with people within the extended MSB family.
And as if that weren’t enough, a motivated group of parents continued the party to a new nightclub down the street from the school, even joined by Nattalia and her son, Putu. Happy 25th Anniversary, Montessori School Bali. We are so excited to see what the next 25 years will bring!
Montessori School Bali was established by Kadek Wiranatha and Nattalia Sinclaire, a committed Montessorian who recognised how an authentic Montessori programme could benefit the children and families of Bali. The school first opened on Seminyak’s famous Jalan Laksmana with one Preschool class, the Rose.
Due to the popularity of the Preschool programme, a second Preschool class was added – the Garden class.
Montessori School Bali’s first Lower Primary class (6-9) opened.
As Primary enrolments grew, we needed to avail of more space so moved the Primary classes to a nearby location on Jalan Petitenget in Seminyak.
Montessori School Bali’s first Upper Primary class (9-12) opened.
Renovations were completed at premises on Jalan Petitenget to accommodate the growing Lower Primary class and an Upper Primary class.
Montessori School Bali’s first Adolescent Programme (12-15) opened.
As both Primary and AP programmes continued to grow, larger premises were secured in the Bumbak area.
All programmes were relocated to the current purpose-built campus in the beautiful Berawa area of Bali.
Montessori School Bali’s first Infant and Toddler Programme (0-3) opened.
Montessori School Bali celebrated it’s 20th anniversary!
Montessori School Bali celebrated it’s 25th anniversary!
Montessori School Bali’s third Preschool class (Lotus) and second Upper Primary class (Sandat) opened.
Montessori School Bali celebrated it’s 25th anniversary!