Gloria Dei Montessori began when Virginia Varga, a UD graduate and teacher, was bitten by the Montessori "bug". In 1961, she and her husband Don moved to Greenwich, CT where Ginny enrolled in the country's first Montessori training program. Returning to Dayton, OH in 1962, they incorporated Children's Laboratory Schools and began their first classes in a rented house on Kenwood Avenue. Not only was this our first Gloria Dei class, it was the first Montessori class in Dayton, and only the second in Ohio. The class was made up of the children of some friends who were excited about this new venture, and children of members of the year-old Dayton Montessori Society, a parents group interested in Montessori education. Ginny taught the class, assisted by her husband and Lois MacMillan.
In 1963, with the help of Mason Bagwell Sr., Gloria Dei moved into rooms in Shoup Mill School. A class for six-year-olds was added there in 1965. Also in 1965, Gloria Dei began the first Montessori toddler class in the United States. All this growth began to demand more space, so in 1967 the school moved into rooms at Valerie Elementary. Later in 1967, the school left the spaces in the Dayton schools and started the "church basement" years. In the lower level of the First Church of God on Salem, Ginny conducted classes for children 18 months to 9-years-old. A few years, later they moved the whole operation into the Salem Lutheran Church at Catalpa and Norman. In 1975, after adding a middle school, Ginny and Don purchased the present building on Shiloh Drive and turned it into a Montessori school. In 1991, the school completed work on a second building on Shiloh Drive that is now home to two Primary classrooms.
Gloria Dei has a long list of "firsts" in our first 50 years: first Montessori class in Dayton, first toddler program in the U.S., and one of the first Lower Elementary (6-9) and Upper Elementary (9-12) programs in the U.S.
Continuing the school's 40 years of excellence after Ginny’s retirement, Christina M. (Sutter) Allen, a former Gloria Dei Montessori student and a certified Montessori teacher, became Head of School in 2002. Joseph Keegan, who came to the school as a Lower Elementary Head Teacher in 2007, became Head of School in 2011. Laurie Kemp is the current head of the school. The school continues to foster independence, a love of learning, intrinsic motivation, and respect for all things.