Our mission is to provide programs and services that recognize and support a learner's curiosity, strengths, interests and talents as the foundation of his or her educational experience.
We believe students should be able to participate in the design of their own educations. When their interests guide their activities, it leads to greater excitement, stronger motivation, and deeper educational experiences. Every aspect of their growth — physical, spiritual, mental and psychological — deserves attention.
Pat Montgomery, PhD, and her husband, Jim, founded Clonlara School in 1967. Their vision was to create a school where children of all creeds, races and ages would learn and grow in an unhurried, relaxed atmosphere; where enrollment would be a limited number of students so that the children, staff and parents would all get to know one another; and where parents would share intimately in the life of the school and in the education of the children.
The democratic principles on which our country was built would become a reality in the everyday lives of the teachers and students. Students would not be coerced into learning what a board of education or what textbook publishers thought they ought to learn at any given time. They would be respected as thinking, feeling human beings and be treated humanely. The issues affecting their lives daily — the environment, war and peace, world issues — would be part of the curriculum. Travel would also be an integral part of their learning and growing.
The Home Based Program began in 1979, a year after a family asked Pat to help them teach their nine-year-old at home using the same approach she designed for the students of the campus school. She agreed to help the family, seeing the wisdom in sharing the 12 years of knowledge and experience she had gained by developing and nurturing the campus school’s programs.
Pat’s vision for the Home Based Education Program was to foster students’ independence and self-confidence by encouraging them to embrace the responsibility for their own education. She believed students are capable of identifying their goals and passions, choosing their own educational resources and establishing their own schedules.
Another central premise of the Program was to give students a lot of choice: choice of curriculum, resources, method and timing. Pat wanted to give students the freedom of flexibility, with the assistance of experienced Advisors, to self-design their education.
Clonlara has been a leading advocate for alternative education and home schooling since day one. In fact, Pat Montgomery was invaluable in making homeschooling a legal, acceptable option. In the 1980s, she filed a lawsuit on behalf of Clonlara School and home educating families against the Michigan State Board of Education.
Clonlara’s lawsuit contended that Michigan school officials were enforcing public school policies against parents educating their children at home as if those policies were law. After winning the courts on the first level, the State appealed and then Clonlara again won the Appeal.
In 1993, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Clonlara’s claim was correct: the State Board of Education was attempting to enforce a law that did not exist. This victory was a coup for homeschooling families across the country. The Michigan Supreme Court’s decision in Clonlara's favor has been used as precedent in many other cases.
Phone: (734) 769-4511
Fax: (734) 769-9629
Web form: Contact Us
Mail: 1289 Jewett, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Hours: M - F 8:30 am – 5 pm (EST)
Clonlara School is inclusive of all areas of diversity including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, marital status, language, disability, or immigration status.