Brad and Diane Smith are the new owners of the former Clarklake Community Church building on Hyde Road.  This website in March reported their desire to convert the building for use as a Montessori pre-school for ages 30 months to 6 years.  Now a major step has been taken to making that a reality.  Diane is the founder and director of Countryside Montessori School in Hillsdale, which she will continue to operate.

Having closed on the purchase recently, they are turning their attention to remodeling the space to accommodate four classrooms.  For that, they will employ an architect.  Site plans required by the Township are another priority.

Brad says the number of children who can be served will depend on space and the site plan.  Their Hillsdale Montessori has an enrollment of 76.  Once the many tasks ahead are accomplished, they intend to open on June 1, 2024.

The Country Montessori website points to Diane’s 32 years experience teaching preschool age children.  Diane and her husband own and operate a crop farm in Addison Michigan, where they raised their 7 children. Brad Smith is a patent attorney in Jackson.

In commenting on their decision to move forward at Clark Lake, Brad said he and Diane feel this is a calling.  They don’t want to lose money, but success will not be about financial reward.

In March, Diane outline her thoughts at a meeting of the Columbia Township board.  Here are her comments.


The Clarklake Community Church held its last service in 2020.  To learn more, read this article from October 2020.