Our Founder, Nancy Hildick
West Hills Montessori was founded on one family’s vision to honor and guide the important work of childhood, with the understanding that it takes a community to raise young humans who go on to make the world a better place.
Nancy Hildick was born in Portland in 1934. After graduating with a BS in Art Education from the University of Oregon, she married William Hildick and the couple, along with their two young daughters, Anne and Sue, settled in Portland in 1967.
Nancy was raised by an early childhood educator, as her mother, Patricia Hickox, owned a small child care center in Multnomah Village. In 1968, while assisting her mother in the family business, Nancy attended a conference that sparked a lifelong commitment to Montessori education. That same year, inspired by what she had learned, Nancy set out to prepare an authentic Montessori early learning environment. The mother and daughter team opened their first Montessori classroom in a former church building on SW Vermont Street in Portland.
In the years that followed, Nancy earned teaching certificates from the Saint Nicholas Training Centre for the Montessori Method of Education, the American Montessori Society (AMS), and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), as well as a MEd from the University of Portland. She devoted herself to growing the West Hills community, and to the early development of Montessori education in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and the United States.
Among her many contributions to the Montessori movement, in 1978 Nancy co-founded the Oregon Montessori Association and in 1979, co-founded The Montessori Education Center of Oregon, now known as Montessori Northwest, the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) teacher training center in Portland. Ever active in lobbying the Oregon Legislature for rule changes in support of Montessori programs in Oregon, Nancy also served as Treasurer for the North American Montessori Teacher Association (NAMTA) for ten years; all while administering West Hills Montessori School and its rapidly expanding programs.
Nancy was delighted when her eldest daughter, Anne, recognized her own passion for working with children and joined the family business as a Montessori Guide. After 18 years guiding a Montessori Primary class, Anne eventually took over as Head of School, though Nancy remains, to this day, a wise guide and mentor for West Hills’ administrative team . When she isn’t actively engaged in work for the West Hills Board of Directors and stewardship of West Hills campuses, Nancy enjoys artistic pursuits such as weaving, painting, and ceramics. She and Bill have an avid interest in professional rodeo, and enjoy spending time every summer in Sun Valley, Idaho. Most of all, she delights in time spent with her two grandchildren, Katie and Charlie.
Thanks in great part to the tireless work of our visionary founder, Portland boasts one of the most vibrant Montessori communities in the nation; and West Hills celebrates more than 50 years guiding children to be independent, creative, self-motivated, compassionate members of their community, society, and world.