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Keystone's G​oal

To provide a stimulating environment for children from the ages of 18 months through kindergarten, based on the educational principles of Dr. Maria Montessori.



Keystone Montessori School is affiliated with the American Montessori Society, which provides standards for the school and consultation for professional development.


Keystone Montessori School grew out of a small program that started in 1981 and located in the Sycamore Church on Navellier Street in El Cerrito. It was a ‘morning only’ program with 12 students and was called “Cerrito Vista Montessori” because it was located close to Cerrito Vista Park. 

By 1988, the school had grown to a full-day program and enrolled about 35 students. The school had one primary classroom of 24 children and a toddler classroom which was run by Dawn Nash. 

In 1990, Joe Weaver became an Assistant Teacher at the El Cerrito school while doing an internship at St. Mary’s College.

In 1995, Keystone moved to the property at 6639 Blake Street into a new childcare facility built by Owner Farrokh Shehabi with Peter Braun as the Architect. 

In 2002, Keystone grew to approximately 60 students and 15 staff members. We now have some of our former students returning to the school as volunteers, parents, and staff.

In 2019, Keystone is under the new management of Rohini Pathak was Director of Keystone and Ajay Pathak as Business Manager.​​

Keystone's Approach


Our children, teachers and administrators share a bond of acceptance, respect, and trust. Priority is given to the emotional needs and self-esteem of our children. We encourage children to work and play together in a peaceful, caring group. As a regular part of our curriculum, children learn kindness, compassion and acceptance. We welcome students of many cultures and celebrate this diversity in our classrooms.



We encourage our children to discover creative ways to work with materials. Our approach to the Montessori method is not a rigid one. We are more inclined to follow Dr. Montessori's wish that her educational method remain dynamic, and change with the times by “following the child.” Of course, we carefully incorporate new learning materials and educational techniques as we feel they are appropriate.


Our classrooms are inviting, lively places. We recognize that our children are developing critical language skills. Our teachers act as facilitators, to help the children talk out their problems and give them the words they need for expressing themselves and solving problems. Our children learn how to be good friends.


We employ a few basic rules for your child's security, in order to enhance learning and foster self-esteem. Our disciplinary techniques include prevention, modifying the environment, substituting activities and redirection. Teachers assist children to “use their words” to express their feelings, and talk through their difficulties, in order to avoid physical aggression.


Our children progress through Keystone at an individualized pace. Within their classroom, children move from one activity to the next according to individual readiness. When children graduate from one class to the next, they “move up” according to readiness, not age. Teachers keep records of each child's progress and meet with the parents regularly throughout the year to discuss their child's growth and needs. Emphasis is always placed on maximizing each child's potential and encouraging the child to engage with all aspects of the environment.


Our classrooms have been designed -based on many years of teaching experience- to meet the needs of the children and the teachers. Our school building was designed by architect Peter Braun, and emphasizes high ceilings, streams of natural light, and a colorful atmosphere. Our facility was designed especially for small children and exceeds all earthquake and fire requirements.


We designed our program based on the kind of loving, growth-oriented environment we wanted for our own children. Each family enrolled in the school receives our complete attention from the child's first day in the Sandpiper Room (Toddler Program) to graduation from Kindergarten.

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