After finishing high school, Nora entered a convent—her goal was to become a nun for the Columban Sisters. After graduating from college, the sisters decreed that Nora should go to the Philippines to establish a Montessori school, which was becoming very popular in Europe, though not yet so in America.
Nora got as far as Los Angeles and circumstances prevented her from going to the Philippines, so she decided to leave the Sisters and applied to the Pope for a dispensation, which was granted.
In Los Angeles, Nora was intent on establishing her own Montessori school. She believed strongly in the principals of Maria Montessori and applied for a teaching credential from her association, then run by Dr. Montessori’s son Mario, who administered her final test, approving her appointment. “He was tough…it was a very difficult time for me.” She passed.
She searched for a location in Orange County and briefly rented four classrooms in another school, but that did not meet her needs for growth, so she decided to relocate with her own property. She was fortunate to find this wonderful craftsman home in Orange, owned by Emile and Martha Shanackenberg, who had arrived from Nebraska in 1910. She was so impressed with this wonderfully designed home that was still in mint condition, as well as the property, which had several outbuildings, so with the help of friends, her offer to purchase the home was accepted: although she had to guarantee that she would always maintain the home in its original condition. Which she has.
Classes started in 1980, and soon her vision of providing an authentic Montessori education was finally fulfilled. Later, Far Horizons came to include room for over 180 students from Preschool, Elementary and Junior High School.
What is unique about Nora’s story is her vision for helping students attend Far Horizons Montessori School. Far Horizons only charges a bare minimum of tuition—$620 per month for a full day of education from Preschool through Junior high, but they also provide enrichment classes (which other schools charge for) in music, science, computers, dance and physical education—all for the same low monthly tuition.