Montessori leadership December 2013

Page 1

VOLUME 15, ISSUE 4 | 2013

12 WEEK COURSES Building a World Class Montessori School January 15th - April 2nd 2014 UPDATED AND REVISED! Overview of Montessori Principles & Curriculum (for non-Montessori trained heads of Montessori schools) Summer 2014

An excellent and convenient way to gain new leadership skills and understanding, no matter what your current level of experience and Montessori background happens to be.

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Learn on your computer, in your own office or home, lead by Tim Seldin and Sharon Caldwell of The Montessori Foundation. Special discount for staff of IMC member schools and multiple attendees from the same school. For complete information, visit the Montessori Leadership wing of

Montessori Leadership is the official magazine of the International Montessori Council, a non-profit organization. The opinions expressed in Montessori Leadership editorials, columns, and features are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the magazine or the IMC. Acceptance of advertising does not represent endorsement of any product or service. The International Montessori Council does NOT grant permission to reprint material from Montessori Leadership in any other form (e.g., book, newsletter, journal). Copies of this issue or back issues are available for purchase online at .

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Montessori Leadership Features 5

Home Visits

by Lauren Speed


Testing in Montessori

by Tim Seldin


Montessori Training in the 21st Century:

The Challenges and Benefits of Training Models

by Marc Seldin

10 Variations: Helpful or Hampering?

by Cathie Perolman

12 Variations in Implementation Fidelity

in Montessori Education

by Sharon Caldwell

16 How a Montessori School Started a Business

by Dave Thompson

17 Key Qualities of Teammates: Focused,

Hard-Working and Fun, Too

by Lensyl Urbano

18 Actively Creating Diversity

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20 Using Professional Tools to Evaluate

22 The IMC’s New Accreditation Program 25 Kalimantan by The Children of Garuda Class 26 Our Live-In Experience by The Children of Garuda Class 28 Sunrise Kidz: Montessori in Vietnam by Hoang D. Quan Cover photo: Sunrise Kidz, Vietnam

Vo lu me 1 5 I ssu e 4 w 2 0 1 3 | | © Montessor i Leadersh ip


No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. — Aesop, The Lion and the Mouse Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war. — Dr. Maria Montessori

Leave a Legacy

Life is a challenge. Most of us need help at some point along the way. Maybe we received a college scholarship from an “angel” benefactor. Maybe a nurse held our hand in the emergency room when we were afraid. Maybe a kind word from a stranger gave us the strength to forgive an injustice. Maybe a teacher recognized our value when we couldn’t see it ourselves. It’s during the hard times that we are reminded that we must continue to demonstrate to children the value in positive acts of human kindness.

Montessori schools, teachers, and children since 1992. Through our leadership workshops, conferences, books, and journals (including Tomorrow’s Child, one copy of which is provided free of Montessori schools do this every day in charge to all Montessori schools in the their classrooms around the world. In US and Canada ), we help bring the benlarge cities and undeveloped countries, efits of Montessori education to schools for more than one hundred years, the big and small. Through our national work of Dr. Maria Montessori has inmodel school, we share everything that spired many thousands of children to we learn and develop with all Montessori live lives of purpose and integrity, know- schools, in order to enhance the proing that each one of them is a member of grams that they offer for their children. a global community and each one of them has the ability to change the world. Charitable 501(c)3 organizations, like The Montessori Foundation, need finanThe Montessori Foundation has helped cial assistance from people like you to continue our work. These gifts can be

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© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

by Lauren Speed, Infant/Toddler Guide NewGate School, Sarasota, FL


ach fall, during our professional weeks, we go on

They proceed to show us where they sleep, where they play,

‘home visits’ for all of our newly enrolled toddler stu-

their favorite books, and their favorite toys. Most of the visit

dents. The visit lasts for approximately 20 minutes.

we spend sitting on the floor engaged with the children. The

During this time, we deliver our classroom info packet to the

visit ends, and we are escorted to the door with the promise

parents, and we are available to answer any questions that they

of seeing the children again very soon. The goal is that when

may have. We can learn a lot about the family dynamic during

school starts, they will join us feeling welcomed, comfortable,

our visit, which is very valuable to us. Our main focus, howev-

and safe in their new environment: the classroom.

er, is the children. For many toddlers, this is the first time that they will be in school and away from their homes and parents.

Lauren Speed has her AMS Infant/Toddler Teaching Certificate,

We want the children to meet us in their space and on their

South Florida/MEC. This will be Lauren’s 22st year of teaching

terms, where they feel comfortable and safe. Typically, the

and her 14th year at NewGate, the lab school of The Montessori

toddlers greet us at the door and welcome us into their homes.


Vo lu me 1 5 I ssu e 4 w 2 0 1 3 | | © Montessor i Leadersh ip


by Tim Seldin Chair, International Montessori Council


he typical end-of-year stan-

those skills and facts will normally be

ticular problem or why they did work in



judged in very specific ways, in general,

a particular way.

schools administer are summa-

teachers are encouraged to teach what

tive accountability assessments meant

will be on the test and not to waste time

This process of assessment is informal,

to measure grade-level proficiency on a

teaching what will not.

in that it may or may not be recorded



for the student’s file, and it is subjec-

broad range of skills and knowledge or serve as a formal end-of-year exam for

This is very different from the way

tive and dependent on the accuracy and

a specific high school level course. They

Montessori schools tend to think about

objectivity of the teacher’s observations

are normally administered once a year or

the learning process and assessment.

and notes.

For us, assessment is ongoing.

It does have great merit, especially with

at specific grade levels. The scores count; these tests are meant to yield a score that

Montessori teachers, who have been

will be part of a student’s annual record and, pooled with the scores of other stu-

We tend to care little about how chil-

trained in careful observation and who

dents, to paint a picture about how well

dren compare against each other, at least

normally spend several years working

students perform in a given class, school,

not in terms of imagining them to be in

with the same students.

or across a school district. They are

a competition for the highest grades. Formative assessment is intended to mea-

described as high-stakes exams, because they typically are administered to all stu-

We focus on students as individuals and,

sure growth on a continuum of learning,

dents at the same time, over many hours,

thus, want to follow their progress as

and it differs from summative assessment

and across several days.

individual learners.

in a number of important ways.

In many schools, teachers know that

Assessment is used primarily to support

While summative assessment is intended

their teaching performance will be

learning rather than to measure it.

to objectively measure students according to predetermined standards, often

judged almost entirely on the basis of how well their students perform on the exam.

This approach to assessment is usually called

as a form of quality control, formative

developmental or formative evaluation.

assessment is primarily designed to provide useful feedback to both the student

Principals and other school administrators often feel similar pressure to pro-

Montessori teachers do this in a variety

duce good results.

of ways, which include: observation; challenging students to solve specific

Devoid of the pressure and judgment

Summaries of the test results are often

problems; asking them to collaborate

implicit in summative assessment, for-

published in local newspapers, and

with or teach a younger child a skill

mative assessment tends to be free of

schools are rated on the basis of their

that he or she has mastered; by writ-

student stress and is hoped to engage

students’ test results. This tends to

ing essays, working on projects; and by

learners in the learning process by help-

encourage teachers to focus on prepar-

explaining to us how they solved a par-

ing them to understand their current

ing children to take the tests, and, since


and the teacher.

level of skill or knowledge, inviting

© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

Assessment is used primarily to support learning rather than to measure it.

only takes about 45 minutes to an hour

for the average child to complete. The test begins at the level that the child might be able to do and becomes easier or gets harder in each area that is being evaluated, until the child is no longer

them to challenge themselves to work

¡ They are relatively non-

able to do the work accurately. In this

hard toward mastery.

intimidating to children.

way, the tests adapt to the learner, rather

¡ They can be administered

than comparing the student against

In Montessori schools, informal day-to-

either online or on paper;

how much other students of the same

day classroom activities give us evidence

personally, I prefer to

age/grade know within a predefined

of ongoing student learning. Given

take them online.

set of questions. The Scantron series is

that many Montessori materials and

¡ They do not take several days

nationally normed and can be used in

activities include built-in controls of

of sitting exams to complete.

most situations as an alternative to the

error, external evaluations are seldom

¡ If a child stops partway

standardized test batteries that most

required to help a teacher assess learn-

through, for whatever reason,

schools will give once a year or at the

ing as children tend to self-correct as

they do not lose their work and

end of specific grade levels.

part of the learning process itself. Where

can pick it up when they’re ready to

external evaluation is necessary, teachers

resume, whether it’s that day or later.

This test costs between $12 and $15 a

try to do this as part of a reflective pro-

¡ Teacher supervision is really

year per student, which allows teachers

cess that helps the child to self-correct

not required except for

to assess student learning in a number of

and self-assess.

minimal extent, allowing the

areas, including: math; reading; vocabu-

teacher to have one or two

lary and basic language-arts skills; and

Many Montessori schools also look

children or more take tests

science from kindergarten through the

for a more objective form of assessment,

whenever they’re ready.

twelfth-grade level. For a little more

which will provide evidence of how

¡ To be useful, a performance exam

expense, you can get Lexile scores that

the students are progressing. This is

needs to be something that can

show on what grade level the child is

particularly useful when parents and

be taken two or three times over

able to read.

researchers ask for ‘proof’ of the success

the course of the year, giving the

of the Montessori approach.

child, teacher, and school

This kind of test may not be able to

administration a baseline to show how

replace a standardized achievement test

The most Montessori-friendly tests that we

the child is continuing to

battery but can yield similar information

have found share specific characteristics:

progress in terms of learning s

about a learner’s academic progress. The

pecific skills and knowledge.

question would be whether a school is

¡ They are formative, rather

¡ Finally, the assessment

required by law to administer a state-

than summative.

ought to suggest what a

mandated test or to chose one from a list

¡ They are performance-criteria

child needs to learn next.

approved by the state schools.

referenced, rather than being based on comparative achievement.

My current favorite is the performance

There are valid arguments both for and

¡ They give teachers specific

series by Scantron. http://www.perfor-

against testing. It is important to be clear

information about what a

on exactly why you are administering tests and to do so in a way that supports

student knows or does not know in terms of actual learning

The Scantron Global Scholar Perfor-

Montessori’s educational aims and prin-

objectives (skills and knowledge).

mance Series offers a benchmark that

ciples rather than undermining them.

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In order to do this, the tests should be beneficial, first and foremost, in terms of the child’s development. While the Scantron Performance Series is the best that we have found thus far, it is not specifically written with Montessori students in mind.

Montessori Training in the 21st Century

The Challenges and Benefits of Training Models by Marc Seldin


s the Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS) prepares to launch the world’s first low-residency Montessori Infant/Toddler program, we thought it

might be an opportune time to revisit the reasons we created our blended learning Ideally, students would have access to

approach and what we believe may be the advantages of and shortcomings to alter-

skill-specific assessments that reflect

nate teacher training models.





which they are familiar, in addition

We all know how traditional Montessori training is conducted: long summer days

to traditional approaches. Students

packed into rooms, crowded around a presenter listening to lectures. Your hand

could complete these assessments,

may tire from furiously taking notes as you watch lectures and presentations, but

when they, themselves, feel ready.

the enthusiasm in the room is palpable, as learners interject questions and follow

Their individual results would high-

fascinating threads of conversation.

light (for students) the areas in which they need further review and areas

There is some strength to this traditional model, especially for those who thrive

in which they are fully prepared to

in classroom environments. The real-time aspect of classroom learning definitely

move forward.

holds some advantages, especially in terms of being able to get a question answered the moment it occurs. For many people, however, the experience is overwhelming

An assessment that combines both

and exhausting; for others, the traditional model is a transformative experience,

a Montessori approach and a tradi-

where the constant reinforcement of Montessori concepts can lead to real personal

tional approach for assessing knowl-

breakthroughs. Still, it can be very difficult for anyone with a full-time job or family

edge of a skill/concept provides

obligations to give up an entire summer, especially if a training center is some dis-

valuable insight that assessments con-

tance away.

taining only one approach will not. Specifically, such a hybrid assessment

Today, many training programs follow alternative models. Starting at the end of

will demonstrate if, when, and where

the last century and increasingly popular today, there are programs that offer week-

a student might be struggling to

end classes throughout the year. There are usually ongoing assignments that are

translate a concept from within the

submitted electronically or by mail. Although the occasional weekend class can be

context of the Montessori materials

inconvenient, busy people do report definite advantages. Despite sharing the same

to a more traditional context. This is

basic method of traditional programs, weekend courses offer less disruption. It may

of particular concern in the areas of

be easier for some people to process the Montessori curriculum if long training days

mathematics and science.

come in weekend chunks rather than full summers. The downside to this model is that people may have to drive more miles to visit distant training centers many

Formative assessments can equip

times a year.

students with a valuable tool for self-


evaluation and provide them with

Newer programs, such as the CGMS, the Age of Montessori, or Montessori Live

insights for managing their personal

offer even more convenience to the learner. While our programs differ, we all began

academic growth in an effective

with this question: If we were starting from scratch, what could teacher training


look like in the 21st century?

© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

Schools have always complained about

being presented to a real child. Student

The online format allows us to make

needing to properly train their teachers.

teachers will then practice the lesson

the course as long as we need; we aren’t

When designing our program, we won-

in their practicum classroom. Students

forced to cram an entire curriculum into

dered if there were a better way to do it?

can have their laptop or tablet right next

the summer holidays. For this reason,

At CGMS, our answer was that we

to them while they practice, rewind to

CGMS will be one of the first programs

didn’t want to give up the best parts of

check on the steps, and practice some

to include a significant nutrition compo-

the traditional model, but we wanted to

more. Periodically, students are asked to

nent, helping the new teacher to under-

face the fact that the world has changed.

record their lesson practice and upload

stand the powerful effects of healthy

Weekends are no longer times of rest,

this video to share with fellow students

eating during the critical developmental

and it is much harder now than it used

and a Montessori expert that we call an

period from birth to three years.

to be for a parent to go far away for an

Instructional Guide. We also visit them

entire summer. We live in a world where

several times in their classrooms to pro-

So, is online learning right for your

two-income families are common, and

vide extra support.

school? This may not be the best question. Instead, ask is it right for a par-

the costs of living in a distant city for a long period can be an impossible burden.

The same skills that are essential in

ticular teacher? A person with the time,

Would-be teachers often face other

traditional training are, if anything,

freedom, and income may thrive in the

obligations besides money that make

required even more for succeeding

traditional summer model. Although

prolonged travel difficult and giving up

in a low-residential one like our pro-

denizens of Facebook may disagree, the

weekends impossible.

gram. Students must have strong orga-

real extrovert may prefer the weekend

nization and time management skills.

learning model. Of course, anyone who

We also know a bit more about brain

The fact that students work at home,

is uncomfortable with a computer would

science than in Dr. Montessori’s days,

amongst the distractions of everyday

do best to look at a fully residential train-

and we all know about the brain fatigue

life, will require an above average level

ing option. We live in an era where

that comes from long days of uninter-

of focus and. Of course, these skills are

there is a Montessori training option for

rupted lectures. Not everyone can con-

essential for anyone who wishes to be a

every learning style. Summer and week-

tinue to absorb new information after

Montessori teacher.

end training programs will continue – and should continue – to exist. But

eight hours of instruction. During the course of the week, stu-

for those learners who thrive in online

At CGMS and other MACTE-accred-

dents at CGMS can work around their

environments, and for those would-be

ited low-residential programs, we distill

schedules. They still have to meet the

Montessori teachers who just can’t travel

the essence of what’s best about face-

class deadlines, but there are no ten-

or give up their weekends, there is now

to-face training into short, residential

hour days of lectures – unless, of course,

another option. In the 21st century,

sessions. For example, our Primary stu-

the student wants that. Our students

online learning will be just one more

dents perform one residency of almost

have more time to absorb the material

way to expand the reach of authentic

three weeks. After this, they continue to

and experience less brain fatigue. The

Montessori training. 

work with the same students in weekly

disadvantage to this is that it takes longer

modules; this is real group learning, not

to finish our course of study than a tra-

Marc Seldin is one of the principal found-

a place to study at your own pace.

ditional program.

ers of CGMS and still serves as its COO. A passionate Montessorian, Marc attended

Where does the rest of the learning

Our new Infant/Toddler program will

a Montessori school through 6th grade and

occur? Both online and in their class-

also follow this model. Launching next

has done consulting for numerous Montessori

rooms. The typical process begins with

summer, the entire course will be a bit

schools around the country.

a student watching a video of a lesson

more than a year long and very rigorous.

Vo lu me 1 5 I ssu e 4 w 2 0 1 3 | | © Montessor i Leadersh ip


by Cathie Perolman


n our training, we all discussed the value of variations.

bility to be sure that the work that a child does will enhance

I want to consider and explore the potential overuse

his learning and grow his skills. This is not to say that a guide

of variations and the effect it can have on the child and

should dictate each activity for each child. I do believe that a

the classroom.

child knows best and reveals himself to us through his work choice. It is the job to the guide to trust in the child to do work

What is a variation? A variation, in a Montessori classroom,

that is enhancing to their learning, but we affect that work

is an opportunity for a child to practice the same work at the

and those choices through the work that we make available

same level using different materials or different types of mate-

to the class and the choices that we put out on the shelf. So,

rials. So, a child might practice matching objects using animal

although the child has a choice, it is a choice from within, a

models, or rock samples, or artificial flowers.

carefully thought through sequence of opportunities. If there is a significant amount of interesting, ever-changing work that

As students of the Montessori Method, we all spent signifi-

is below the child’s academic level, it is possible for him to stay

cant amounts of time and creative energy thinking up ways to

busy and “working,” even though he is getting nothing new

practice each lesson slightly differently at the same level. We

or challenging from his work. I think this is something to con-

were taught that activities can be repeated over and over again

sider and be aware of each day as the work period is unfolding.

with the child growing from interacting with them during each repetition. This is one of the things that distinguish our

It is important to remember that the purpose of work in the

method from traditional education. Let us think about the

classroom, among other things, is to build skills. So, although

progression of a single child. For most first-year children, most

we need to have opportunities for a child to match symbol to

of the activities are quite challenging. In time, the activities

quantity at the 1-10 level, once that skill is mastered the child

that were difficult become easier, and the child gains skill and

should be encouraged to move on to more advanced work!

confidence from doing them again and again. After still more

This should happen through both his interest and the fact

time, the child moves on to other activities with increasing

that he has mastered the work on the shelf at that level. If that

levels of challenge. As the child grows, the activities that were,

exercise keeps being replaced with other interesting versions

at one time, so challenging are repeated for review, and this

of the mastered work, the child may go back to it again and

builds confidence and morale!

again even if he doesn’t need to. If we change the objects in the cards and counters exercise too often, the novelty may call

But lately, I have been pondering the possibility that too many

to a child who does not really need that work anymore. You

variations can actually hamper children’s development. Can a

might be saying, “But if a child chooses a work, he must need

classroom have too many activities at the same level and actu-

that work.” And to some degree, I agree. If we have multiple

ally slow the natural progression of the child’s development?

exercises at the same level on the shelf simultaneously, a child

Is it possible that too many variations can be negative for a

might choose to use his precious time doing the same level

child’s development?

of work over and over again rather than branching out and moving forward. The novelty may call to him instead of the


How is that possible? Each child has a finite amount of time

skill. If a child has learned to blend three letters into a word, he

in the classroom. Although we want the class to feel calm,

does not really need to spend a lot of time practicing that skill.

unhurried, and unpressured, I think we have some responsi-

Having three ways to simply practice blending words is moving

© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

to widen the child’s work not extend it.

master a skill, it might be necessary to

repetition will aid the child in moving

It is probably a better use of his time to

put out many works at the same level

towards mastery. In conclusion, like so

blend the three-letter words, match the

to create enough interesting practice in

many other things, the key is balance.

words to object or pictures, place the

that skill for that child or for all children.

Use variations when they will truly aid

labels they have read around the room or

Cutting with scissors is an example of

the development of the child but avoid

perform the actions that are on the words.

such a skill. Cutting is not something

them if they are hampering the child

These activities would extend the child’s

that is mastered quickly, so guides put

from moving through the concepts as quickly as s/he feels comfortable. Many

Use variations when they will truly aid the

teachers also need variations for their

development of the child but avoid them if they

exhilarating for many teachers and helps

are hampering the child from moving through the concepts as quickly as they feel comfortable.

own interest. Creating the extensions is to keep them fresh and interested in the classroom offerings. So I am finding myself increasingly cautious about the variations I put on my

learning. A single variation at any given

out multiple variations of exercises that

shelves. I find myself using the litmus

level would provide scaffolding for those

practice this skill. Strips of paper with

test of looking at which children are

that need it and allow those that don’t

lines and art projects that require some

choosing the variation and thinking

need it the enticement of the next, more

level of cutting are available year round

about the inherent value of that work for

challenging material. Our guidance

for sufficient practice to lead to mas-

that child. Is that child using the work to

should be with sequential work for those

tery. A child with a learning difference,

stay ‘busy’ or actually to learn and grow

that are ready.

a motor challenge, or who learns more

their skills! 

slowly than most children may require Then why have variations at all? Why

more variations. This child will need

Cathie Perolman is an experienced Montessori

not have only the basic materials and let

more opportunities to practice a skill

guide at the 3-6 level. She is a Montessori teacher

the children move through them. The

to achieve mastery. He will need to

educator and publisher of educational materials.

answer is this: We have variations for

have variations in the exercise to keep

Cathie lives in Columbia, Maryland.

the children who really need them to

his interest alive as well as to encour-

master materials and grow their skills.

age the necessary quantity of practice

If a child needs significant practice to

in that skill. For this child, significant

Thank you for your continued support Remember to renew early and recommend joining the International Montessori Council to a friend.

All memberships begin on July 1 of any given year. Your membership may be prorated

during the first year to move your date accordingly. Join through our online bookstore. Individual Membership ($60 USD/year) School Membership ($250 USD/year) Or call our membership office at Business Membership ($250 USD/year) 1 (800) 632-4121 Montessori Organization Member ($250 USD/year)

Vo lu me 1 5 I ssu e 4 w 2 0 1 3 | | © Montessor i Leadersh ip


by Sharon Caldwell


ontessori is not a brand. Many studies, particularly

hampers comparative research and distorts findings (Daoust,

those aimed at evaluating the efficacy of Montessori

2004, p. 2). Angeline Lillard states simply that “differences in

education as compared to conventional schooling,

implementation are multifarious, and there are no established

discuss Montessori as if it were a single, unified methodology

measures of Montessori program fidelity” (A. S. Lillard, 2012,

and curriculum (Murray, 2010). Other researchers recognize

p. 382) . She argues that variations in implementation fidelity

that Montessori is not a homogeneous system and cite the

may be at the root of the discrepancies in findings regarding

variations in fidelity of implementation as a major challenge

efficacy of the model.

(Danmore, Murray, Daoust, & Rabkin, 2010; A. Lillard & Else-Quest, 2006) .

Significant differences are discernable between what Angeline Lillard

has defined as “classic” and “supplemented”

Significant differences exist between schools, such that a con-

Montessori programs (A. S. Lillard, 2012, p. 381). This dis-

tinuum of theory and practice can be discerned. Disagreement

tinction is represented by the Association Montessori Interna-

exists over (for example) participation in standardized testing

tionale (AMI) and its affiliates, on the one hand, and a range

(Miller, 2009; Murray, 2005, p. 18); which materials should

of international associations representing various national or

be used (A. S. Lillard, 2011, 2012); abandoning the extended

regional bodies on the other.

work period to accommodate teacher-directed activities (A. S. Lillard, 2012, p. 381), (Lillard, Classic and supplemented,

AMI was founded by Maria Montessori and her son, Mario,

2012, p. 381); breaking up the multi-age grouping (Montes-

in August, 1929 to oversee all aspects of Montessori educa-

sori Schools Association, 2008, p. 18); and whether or not

tion around the world, with the express purpose of maintain-

homework should be assigned, and, if so, what form it should

ing “the integrity of her life’s work” (“AMI Website,” n.d.;

take (A. S. Lillard, 2005, p. 80; Seldin & Epstein, 2003, pp.

Kramer, 1988, p. 305). This mission extends well beyond the

140–144; Sullivan, 2007). Just about every aspect of Montes-

requirements of the school and incorporates the full range of

sori pedagogy is disputed within Montessori schools both

Maria Montessori’s vision as a social movement. For practi-

nationally and internationally.

cal purposes, however, AMI represents a bastion of “classic” Montessori, and AMI trained teachers are regarded as

Carolyn Daoust, was particularly interested in whether the

the integral component of high-fidelity implementation by

differences amongst Montessori schools are intentional or

researchers, such as Angeline Lillard. The NAMTA Journal

inadvertent and the extent to which this related to different

and AMI Communications are two journals that reflect this

perspectives and beliefs held by the teachers (Daoust, 2004).

tradition within Montessori.

Amongst her observations was that “some teachers were


unaware that they were implementing practices that were

The American Montessori Society is an example of a national

inconsistent with the philosophical tenets of the approach”

body with the express aims of promoting an interpretation of

(Daoust, 2004, p. 2). The inconsistencies in practice point

Montessori education more accommodating of other edu-

to a widespread problem: “What is consistently described

cational alternatives and open to incorporating pedagogical

as the Montessori Method in writings about the approach is

and curricular components that move “beyond Montessori’s

often inconsistently found in actual Montessori classrooms.”

insights to accommodate American culture” (Appelbaum,

This lack of clarity on the defining principles of Montessori

1971). Similar accommodations were made for national cul-

© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

ture and requirements in the United Kingdom, with a dis-

manufacturers, of which there are only three internationally

tinctively British approach to Montessori for the Early Years

(“Manufacturers of AMI approved materials,” n.d., “Stan-

Foundation Phase, represented by the Montessori St. Nicho-

dards for AMI Montessori classrooms,” n.d.). Non-AMI

las, Montessori Centre International and, more recently the

schools are likely to incorporate a far wider range of materials,

Montessori Schools Association (Sheridan, 1993) A similar

which may include conventional educational toys and what

What is consistently described as the Montessori Method in writings about the approach is often inconsistently found in actual Montessori classrooms. slide in implementation fidelity has been evident in South

are commonly called “extensions.” These are materials that

Africa, where the AMI approach was predominant from the

are based on classic Montessori materials but which do not

mid-seventies until the mid-nineties (Kahn, 1995). Some-

form part of the AMI approved collection.

time, shortly after the compilation of the Kahn report, AMI involvement ceased, the reasons for which have not been

In a survey of Montessori teacher trainers, Angeline Lillard

documented. AMI influence (and thus classical implementa-

highlighted areas where adherents of AMI, on one hand,

tion of Montessori) has all but disappeared in South Africa.

and AMS, on the other, differ. AMS aligned teacher train-

Overt efforts to modify Montessori in South Africa include

ers are more likely to accommodate conventional toys such

the work of Ian Moll and the Woz'obona project (Moll, 2004).

as Lego™, construction blocks, and puzzles, as well as work

A number of South African programs are the direct descen-

with playdough and preschool markers, with wide diversity

dants of St Nicholas and London Montessori Centre, while

in their understanding of what constitutes “practical life”

others support adaptations of their curricula to comply with

in the Montessori curriculum (A. S. Lillard, 2011). In the

the requirements of the National Qualifications Framework

United Kingdom, The Montessori Schools’ Association’s

(Nel, 2010). There is currently no AMI aligned training

Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage in Montessori Set-

available in South Africa, although a number of schools

tings (2008) indicates that MSA (and thus Montessori Centre

employing teachers trained by AMI (when it was active in

International, its chief training body) accommodates a range

South Africa or in other countries) attempt to implement a

of conventional materials and activities similar to those Lillard

more “classic” approach.

categorizes as “supplemented” Montessori.

Differences between classic, AMI aligned, orthodox programs,

Similarly, there are differences in the qualifications recog-

on one hand, and supplemented, adapted, or augmented Mon-

nized, (AMI only accredits schools with AMI trained teachers,

tessori programs, on the other, may seem inconsequential to

whereas other associations such as AMS and MSA recognize a

researchers, who are not completely informed regarding fun-

wide diversity of training) as well as class sizes and teacher-to-

damental tenets of Montessori orthodoxy. Proponents of clas-

child ratios (AMI requiring larger classes and a higher child-to-

sic Montessori hold that it is the “totality” of Montessori that

teacher ratio than the other associations). Another area where

accounts for its success (Haines, 2005; A. S. Lillard, 2012).

AMI is more stringent is in its insistence on classes being comprised of a minimum of three-year age groupings. While

One area where “classic” and “supplemented” Montessori

encouraging mixed-age groups, MSA accommodates groups

differ is in what materials are considered appropriate in the

of 2 - 4 year olds at the early childhood level, a grouping that is

Montessori classroom (A. S. Lillard, 2011, 2012). AMI accred-

not aligned to the AMI requirement of 3 - 6 year olds being in

ited schools are required to use only materials approved by

the same class (Montessori Schools Association, 2008, p. 18;

the AMI pedagogical committee, supplied by AMI approved

“Standards for AMI Montessori classrooms,” n.d.).

Vo lu me 1 5 I ssu e 4 w 2 0 1 3 | | © Montessor i Leadersh ip


There are, however, other differences that do not appear to

the audio recordings by going to this link in our online bookstore. Once

have been identified in extant literature. These have direct

your payment has been processed you will receive a unique password and

bearing on curriculum ideology. Some Montessori schools

user name to get the MP3 recordings delivered right to your computer.

may be more similar to progressive regular schools than to

“classic” Montessori schools; whereas, others may share com-


monalities with democratic or “free” schools. The positioning of schools on the conventional school/free-school contin-


uum can often be gleaned from their websites. For example, the name of “Academic Montessori” in Ontario, Canada says

AMI home page. (n.d.). Association Montessori Internationale.

it all. The school’s website reflects its academic goals, content-

Retrieved December 24, 2012, from http://www.montessori-

based curriculum, and general ethos. Montessori schools with

an academic focus, such as Whitby School in Greenwich, CT,

Appelbaum, P. (1971). The growth of montessori movement in

sometimes align themselves with the International Baccalau-

the United States, 1909 - 1970 (D.Phil). New York University.

reate model (Brunold-Conesa, 2010). At the other end of the

Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses: The Humanities

continuum are Montessori schools that are substantially dif-

and Social Sciences Collection.

ferent to anything that is recognizably “school” in the con-

Brunold-Conesa, C. (2010). International education: The

ventional understanding of the word. Namma Bhoomi in

International Baccalaureate, Montessori and global citizenship.

Kundapur, India, which is dedicated to a model that priori-

Journal of Research in International Education, 9(3), 259–272.

tizes student democracy and social activism (Caldwell, 2011;

Retrieved from

Ramachandran, 2003), and Nahoon Montessori School in

Caldwell, S. (2011). Children of the earth, architecture and

East London, South Africa, which was heavily influenced by

activism: Namma Bhoomi as an exemplar of the Erdkinder

the Summerhill and Sudbury Valley models of participatory

Vision. Montessori Leadership, 9 – 14.

democracy (Caldwell & Rich, 2007), represent the other end

Caldwell, S., & Rich, M. (2007). Thoughts on freedom and

of this continuum.

democracy in the Montessori environment. In D. Bennis & I. Graves (Eds.), The directory of democratic education (2nd ed.,

A related trend is that from the outset (to use Rita Kramer’s

pp. 26 – 31). Alternative Education Resource Organization

words), “Montessori’s followers had a way of finding in her


philosophy whatever it was they were looking for” (Kramer,

Danmore, S., Murray, A., Daoust, C., & Rabkin, D. (2010, October

1988, p. 352). Popular arguments have been put forward

22). Danmore 2010 state of Montessori research.pdf. Presented

aligning Montessori with philosophies as disparate as those

at the AMS Fall Conference 2010, San Dieogo, CA.

of Ayn Rand (Enright, 2013) and Pauolo Freire (“Education

Daoust, C. J. (2004). An examination of implementation practices

as human liberation: Maria Montessori and Paolo Freire,”

in Montessori early childhood education. University of California,

n.d.). Attempts have been made to integrate Montessori with

Berkeley, Berkeley, CA.

approaches, including the International Baccalaureate (Brun-

Education as human liberation: Maria Montessori and Paolo

old-Conesa, 2010); constructivism in its Piagetian (Moll,

Freire. (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2013, from http://www.

2004) and Vygotskyan incarnations, including the Reggio

Emilia approach (New, 1991); and Waldorf (Peterson, 2010). n

Enright, M. (2013). Foundations Study Guide: Montessori Education. Atlas Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.


Sharon Caldwell was a keynote speaker during the Montessori

Foundation’s 16th Annual International conference in Sarasota, Fl,

Haines, A. (2005). The totality of Montessori. Presented

US, November 7-10, 2013. Sharon’s keynote was video taped by our

at the 25th international Montessori Congress, Sydney,

recording partners EGAMI AV. The videos of the conference and the

Australia: AMI. Retrieved from

audio recordings of the workshops are now available for sale through the

Kahn, D. (1995). Montessori in South Africa: An overview of needs

Montessori Foundation for those unable to attend. You may purchase

and development. Montessori Teacher Education Collaborative.

© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

Kramer, R. (1988). Maria Montessori: A biography. Reading,

New, R. S. (1991). Projects and provocations: Preschool

Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.

curriculum ideas from Reggio Emilia. Montessori Life, 3(1), 26

Lillard, A., & Else-Quest, N. (2006). Evaluating Montessori

– 28.






Peterson, J. W. (2010). Waldorf and Montessori combined : A


new impulse in education. Encounter: Education for Meaning

Lillard, A. S. (2005). Montessori: The science behind the genius.

and Social Justice, 23(3), 21 – 27.

New York: Oxford University Press.

Ramachandran, V. (2003). The Concerned for Working Children:

Lillard, A. S. (2011). What Belongs in a Montessori Primary

Education, work and rights. In V. Ramachandran (Ed.), Getting

Classroom? Results from a Survey of AMI and AMS Teacher

children back to school: Case studies in primary education (pp.

Trainers. Montessori Life: A Publication of the American

22 – 53). New Dehli, India: SAGE Pubications.

Montessori Society, 23(3), 18–32. Retrieved from http://

Seldin, T., & Epstein, P. (2003). The Montessori way. Sarasota,

FL: The Montessori Foundation.


Sheridan, V. F. E. (1993). Relationships between theory and

Lillard, A. S. (2012). Preschool children’s development in classic

practice in London Montessori pre-schools. University of


Sussex, England.





programs. Journal of School Psychology, 50(3), 379–401.

Standards for AMI Montessori classrooms. (n.d.). Association


Montessori International/USA. Retrieved December 25, 2012,

Manufacturers of AMI approved materials. (n.d.). Association


Montessori Internationale. Retrieved December 25, 2012, from

Sullivan, N. (2007). Characteristics of early elementary homework: (tab “materials”)

Montessori and traditional. Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH.

MIller, J. (2009). Testing - A Montessori perspective. Montessori Australia eArticle, (4). Moll, I. (2004). Towards a constructivist Montessori education. Perspectives in Education, 22(2), 37 – 49. Montessori Schools Association. (2008). Guide


to the early years foundation stage in Montessori

As we continue the Montessori approach to education and more and more children and families are exposed to it, communities will begin to change and as the communities change, the nation will change.

settings. Montessori Schools Association. Retrieved from guide-to-early-years.pdf

Murray, A. K. (2005). Identifying challenges to the

That’s how I drive education forward.

future of public Montessori elementary schools. University of Kansas. Murray, A. K. (2010). AMS Research committee


white paper: Challenges of Montessori research. AMS.



Founder and Principal, Shining Stars Montessori Academy, PCS Washington, D.C.

Publications%20and%20Research/Research%20 Library/Position%20and%20White%20Papers. aspx Nel, A. (2010). An integrated learning programme for the Knysna Montessori School. Nelson Mandela


INFO SESSIONS: Jan. 9 and Feb. 6, 2014

Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth. HOW WILL YOU DRIVE EDUCATION



Vo lu me 1 5 I ssu e 4 w 2 0 1 3 | | © Montessor i Leadersh ip


How a Montessori School Started a Business by Dave Thompson, Founder, Educational Fontware, Inc. Editorial comment: In a recent edi-

ing fonts, one pixel (screen or printer dot)

stepped through the text, two letters at a

tion, we published an article on the benefits of

at a time, for each letter of the alphabet, plus

time, and changed all letters following b o

using cursive handwriting in Montessori class-

numbers and punctuation. It took me six

v w to top-connecting ones, hidden above

room, as opposed to the more conventional

months, because there are a LOT of pixels,

the keyboard letters in the font. While I

“ball-and-stick” type font. In 2005, I decided

72 of them per inch, each placed by hand,

was a programmer, programming the Mac

to convert to cursive in my own classroom. I

in several sizes for each letter. But I got it

was quite a challenge. It took a year to get

began to search for a font. I was delighted to find

done, and proudly delivered it to Nancy,

it all working, including the new cursive

that Educational Fontware offered a package of

who was pleased and a bit surprised, since

fonts. Whew!

fonts that matched not only my sandpaper let-

it had been a year since her request.

ters but also allowed for the opportunity to create

Nancy was thrilled. Kelly, less so.

a myriad of supporting materials for my class-

A month later, Nancy called again, praising

room. I was delighted to discover the Montessori

the fonts, but mentioning that Kelly had

A month later, I got another call from

connection (read Dave’s story below) and have

progressed to cursive writing, and could I

Nancy. A bit leery now, I asked what she

continued to use this software over the years,

do the same for D’Nealian-style cursive?

wanted this time. She said, and these words

receiving regular updates as I moved from PC

D’Nealian style has little connectors that

are burned into my memory, “Dave, all

to Mac and as I updated my operating system.

flip up at the end of the line and connect

my teacher friends want this. You need to

—Sharon Caldwell

naturally to the baseline start of the next

start a company.”

letter. Now that I knew the font-making Twenty-some years ago, my daughter

tool, I confidently replied, “Yes!”

Kelly was attending Montessori Country

So I did. I adapted Linkletter to run under Windows 3.1 (remember that?),

School on Bainbridge Island, WA, USA

As I went back to my own Macintosh SE,

now having to learn how to program

and having a good time learning. Noticing

I discovered a “little” wrinkle: the b, o,

using Windows, completely different from

that there was no computer in the class-

v, and w letters connect at the top, not at

the Mac. A year later, after all the paper-

room (in 1992, computers were not yet

the baseline! Huh! How is a teacher sup-

work and coding was done, Educational

ubiquitous), I donated a slightly obsolete

posed to figure out that any letter follow-

Fontware, Inc. was born in January, 1994,

Macintosh 512 and dot matrix printer.

ing b o v w has to connect at the top and not

a home-based business, proudly offering

start at the baseline? How could she key

teachers everywhere the ability to make

Nancy Michelle, Kelly’s teacher, called

in that special letter? The “little wrinkle”

handwriting lessons on the computer.

me one day and told me some bad news:

suddenly looked like the Grand Canyon.

“Kelly’s handwriting wasn’t very good.”

Yet I had told Nancy I would do it.

Nancy said that if I could find some

Twenty years later, our handwriting fonts are in over 20,000 elementary schools

D’Nealian fonts for the computer, she

One way to avoid making the teacher

around the world. We now have over 30

would give Kelly some special lessons. Well,

memorize funny keystrokes to get letters

different styles of handwriting. We’re still

there’s an offer that’s hard to turn down. So

to connect would be to modify Microsoft

home-based, first with Kelly as the Office

I searched diligently in all the computer

Word to do it automatically. Right, get

Manager, and now Elliott, as Jan and I

magazines I could find (prior to the Web’s

Microsoft to modify their program for me.

have retired. What could be a better “right

existence), asked my computer friends, and

Maybe not. The other way was to remove

livelihood” than helping a teacher do her

after six months, came up blank.

the typed text from Word, modify it, and

work better?

then give it back to Word to display and Being a computer programmer, this

print. Hey, cut and paste!

became a challenge. I bought a computer


We owe it all to a forward-thinking Montessori teacher, Nancy Michelle. Our

program that allowed me to make fonts,

Thus was born the LinkLetter program,

website is http://www.educationalfont-

and I proceeded to make D’Nealian-look-

which read text from the clipboard, Please come visit! 

© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

Key Qualities of Teammates: Focused, Hardworking, and Fun, Too


by Lensyl Urbano, Ph.D.

oday we reconstituted our

group work. The key part though was

to reconsider since it was already one of

small groups for science. One

the “when necessary,” because while

their current areas of strength.

student was late getting his

she does take charge, she’s very good

name into the bowl and he did not get

at managing her group—giving every-

I then let them pick a second quality to

randomly assigned to a group, so I devi-

one the opportunity for input while still

work on from the full list and had them

ated a little from our standard procedure

being decisive. Instead of bossiness, I’d

write their two chosen qualities down in

and asked him which group he thought

probably have used the term “leadership.”

a prominent place, because we would be checking them regularly over the course

would be the best for him. Not which group he most wanted to be in, but

After they had the time to compile the

of the next month to see what specific

which group he could be most effec-

list of qualities they wanted to see in

things they were doing to work on them

tive—and learn the most—in. But, as

teammates, we compiled a list on the

and how their efforts are going.

a means of following up on all of our

whiteboard. Perhaps it’s just that they

discussion at Heifer about what makes

know what I want to hear, but it was

a community, before I gave him the

quite nice to see that the top two char-

chance to answer, I asked the entire class

acteristics were focus and hard work.

Then I let the student choose his group. The discussion took the entire class period, and we did not get much

to identify what qualities they thought they brought to their groups, and then,

“Smart” and “fun” were the next most

“science” done, but if it can get students

separately, I asked them what qualities

popular on the list, but after some

to be a bit more focused on their work, it

they would like their teammates to have

discussion I/we decided to drop the

will have been well worth the time.

—qualities students would like to see in

“smart” since their criterion for smart

other people in their working groups.

was just having a basic level of intellec-


tual competence, and that was some-

Science at The Fulton School in St. Albans,

I got a number of interesting answers to

what less important than the other major

MO (U.S.A). He trained at the Houston

the question about what they thought

qualities listed.










Lamplighter Montessori School’s middle school

their qualities were. I know how hard it is to self-assess sometimes, so I required

Of the remaining three major quali-

in Memphis, TN (USA) for three years. His

that they only put positive qualities and

ties that they’d like to see in teammates

Ph.D. is in Geology and Geophysics. He

allowed them to ask their peers for an

—focused, hardworking, and fun—I

blogs at

external perspective.

asked them each to pick the one they were going to focus on developing over

My favorite response was from one girl

the next month of group work. I asked a

who asked her friend sitting next to her

couple of the students who chose “fun”

what her positive qualities were, and the friend responded, “bossiness.” She thought about that for a second, then nodded and said, “That sounds about right.” When I asked them both why they thought “bossiness” was a positive quality, they explained that the one girl was good at taking charge when necessary and telling everyone what to do. I couldn’t argue with that description,

Montessori Leadership seeks wellwritten articles that appeal to Heads of School, Administrators, Boards and Classroom Management. For further information on our submission requirements, please email, SharonCaldwell@ We publish 4 times annually.

because I’d observed it in their previous

Vo lu me 1 5 I ssu e 4 w 2 0 1 3 | | © Montessor i Leadersh ip


by Jana Morgan Herman



always has a friend sitting beside her

I see this kind of diversity and respect

ongoing process. We may not

when we go outside, because if she falls

as fundamental to creating peace on our

have control over who enrolls

on the mulch, she’ll tear her skin; in

planet. Think about it: How much vio-

in our schools, but it is imperative that

the child with Down’s Syndrome, who

lence and war in the world is, at its core,

we make every effort to ensure all fami-

has friends help him open his lunch

spawned out of ignorance that manifests

lies feel welcome in our schools and

and wash his hands; in the child with

as religious intolerance and disrespect?

cultivate a peaceful relationship with all

Autism, whose peers know just the right

peoples in the world.

way to calm him; and there are so many

We have Christian and Catholic fami-

more examples. When all of these things

lies; many kinds of Protestants including




Our school is not diverse racially, nor

Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, United

even socioeconomically. Our school is

Church of Christ, Church of Christ,

a charter school, so anyone in the state may attend, but if your parents don’t have a car or can’t pack you a lunch, attending our school is not really a choice. Our school is 95 percent Caucasian, and most of the few children who are not Caucasian are biracial or adopted by white parents. We have three Muslim families (out of almost 300). At our school, our primary areas of diversity are nurtured through our dif-

When children learn and live respectfully in an environment that values our differences as humans, the mindset extends to all kinds of diversity.



Lutherans, Presbyterians, Evangelicals; alongside Jews, Pagans, Atheists, Muslim, Buddhists, Wiccans, and Agnostics. In an environment that appears largely uniform on the surface, a closer look reveals food and dietary differences, an array of holiday celebrations, people who don't celebrate anything, children who don't believe in wishing, children who are vegan, vegetarian, Kosher, and any of the hundreds of other considerations

fering religions, diverse learning styles,

that come along with varying religious

and physical abilities. We learn and

beliefs. I have a child who is an Atheist,

model respect when the child who

happen without prompting, that’s respect

who does not attend the birthday walk,

we've had since he was three, at eleven

and diversity.

but instead chooses—without coercion —to stay with his friend on the patio

develops Tourettes and starts hurling



epithets loudly, uncontrollably, in a

On a different level, diversity comes

because she is a Jehovah’s Witness; he

9-12 studio of forty kids. He is horrified

from our respect for differences in races

also forgoes the birthday cookie because

and embarrassed, which makes it worse,

and cultures that we nurture in our les-

his friend can’t eat it. That’s the kind of

but we know and love and respect him,

sons, stories, and going-out experiences,

selflessness and multicultural respect we

as do the parents of the other children

as well as in their daily exposure to a

want to see in future generations.

in the room. We value diversity in the

multitude of religious and non-religious

child with Epidermolysis Bullosa, who

families’ beliefs.

© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

You can’t completely control what

tions. I think the kids who present

kind of diversity you have in your

love everything just as much as the

school, of course, even if you market

kids who visit. They understand the

openly and welcome everyone, but

importance of presenting the infor-

modeling respect for others looks

mation about the person or culture

the same with all kinds of diversity.

with great reverence and respect, just as they would like someone to rep-

When children learn and live respect-

resent them and their beliefs. Experi-

fully in an environment that values

encing this kind of sincere respect is

our differences as humans, the mind-

powerful and humbling.

set extends to all kinds of diversity. Students LOVE learning about

are great, it’s truly the day-to-day

other cultures. Throughout the

work we all do that creates a genu-

year, studios will have fairs like the

ine, lasting environment of respect

Asia Fair, or Africa Fair, or one of

and appreciation for diversity, and it

my favorites, the Peace Maker’s Fair,

is that same daily work that helps us see

where families and learners research

how much we are all actually the same.

The Montessori Foundation and IMC with it’s partner, The Peace Academy, return to the San Jose area for the 10th International Conference at the tranquil Dolce Hayes Mansion, Spa and Retreat Center, San Jose, California, March 20-22, 2014.

music and give presentations. In the

Here is a link for books that teach

course of their research, learners

about diversity. My all-time favorite

Our theme this year: The Courageous Path to Building Cohesive Communities

come to see that there are, indeed,

is Mem Fox’s Whoever You Are, Where

differences in what their families

You Are. Link: http://familysponge.

believe and the way children or


individuals from other areas of the


While special events and activities

together, dress, make food, have

world or different religions believe. For example, in the Peace Mak-

Jana Morgan Herman has been

er’s Fair, a child who is a Mormon

involved in Montessori Education since

selected Martin Luther, and a child

1992, first as a substitute teacher, then

who is Christian presented Gandhi.

as a classroom guide. She holds an

Each child learned how these Peace

AMS/ MACTE primary certification,

Markers were different from them,

a BA in English Literature, a Masters

yet so valuable to the world. In our

in Education, and an Indiana K-3

end-of-the-year reflection, the chil-

teaching license, with a reading specialist

dren overwhelmingly chose the Peace

endorsement. Jana is a regular speaker

Maker’s Fair as their favorite event.

at regional and national Montessori conferences. She is a teacher trainer for

Parents are invited. During these

MTEC-SFBA, a MACTE accredited

fairs, all the kids in the studio will

Montessori teacher training program.

be stationed with their materials

She also teaches writing and literature at

and prepared information and share

Indiana University Southeast.

as the entire school walks through, has samples, and listens to presenta-

Among our keynotes this year is Dr Anita Amos, addressing the topic of Big Data

Equals Big Opportunity for Montessori.

The Montessori Method has produced some of

the great innovators of our time yet remains widely misunderstood. In a rapidly evolving climate of

Education Reform, there has never been a better

time to demystify Montessori and demonstrate the Method’s effectiveness to skeptical parents and a public sector that is desperately in search for an

answer. Dr. Amos will discuss the ongoing efforts of The Montessori Foundation Research Institute,

which is presently collecting and analyzing real-life

data from Montessori classrooms across the globe. Look for a full brochure in January on If you are not on our conference email list please email margot@ and ask to be added to that list. We have a small block of rooms at the Dolce Hayes Mansion, gloriously set in a tranquil

residential neighborhood, so if you have to pick one conference this year, go with the one that

will renew and refresh your love of Montessori in a quiet, easy-paced venue and join us.

Vo lu me 1 5 I ssu e 4 w 2 0 1 3 | | © Montessor i Leadersh ip


by Prairie Boulmier


e all want to improve our

As Montessorians, we can probably all

to real kitchen equipment and mean-

schools and programs, in

agree that adequate preparation of the

ingful work in the practical life area! So

addition to keeping our

environment is very important. But how

what is a Montessori administrator to do?

schools running smoothly and taking

can we know our environments are ade-

care of day-to-day operations. Adminis-

quate? In the US, the industry standard

Thankfully, Montessori Research and

trators may find it challenging to clearly

for evaluating preschool environments

Development has created a tool that

identify key areas in their programs to

is called the ECERS (Early Childhood

looks and feels like the ECERS and

improve and the steps to take towards

Environment Rating Scales). If your

that is specifically designed to rate

progress. We may know what areas are

school is operating in the US, this is an

Montessori environments. Also divided

in need of support but struggle to find

assessment that your authorizer or state

into subsections with rubrics, this tool

clear frameworks. This article presents a

agency uses to rate compliance with

is easy to use and produces clear out-

few simple and effective tools that school

their requirements, along with state and

comes that can guide school administra-

administrators can consider when evalu-

federal codes. Based on current early

tors and teachers towards making steps

ating their programs.

childhood education theory and phi-

to improve their environments. I would

losophy (including “Developmentally

also recommend using this tool in

When choosing professional tools, it is

Appropriate Practice” or DAP), the tool

addition to compare with any agency

important to decide what areas you wish

is easy to use and inexpensive. Each area

that evaluates Montessori programs with

to study or improve from an adminis-

of the preschool environment is divided

the ECERS. For around $20 USD, the

trative perspective. Perhaps, you would

into observable characteristics using

Montessori Environment Rating Scale

like to evaluate classrooms and facilities

a rubric rating scale. The rater simply

is well worth the investment for the

to see how your classrooms compare

observes in the environment and circles

insight it provides.

to other Montessori programs or other

the appropriate number in each rubric,

early childhood programs in your area.

adds up the total for each area, and gives

Evaluating the most obvious area of your

Or maybe you would like to analyze

a composite overall score.

school is a great start at improvement, but we all know that good Montes-

the effectiveness and professionalism at


the administrative level, e.g., how does

While the ECERS is a simple and useful

sori schools need good administration,

your system compare to industry stan-

tool, many Montessorians are reluctant

an area in which few members of the

dards? Maybe you would like to have an

to rely on this scale because of pedagogi-

school community may have insight or

effective way of evaluating and support-

cal differences that become clear in the

experience. Especially for lone adminis-

ing teachers. Or perhaps, you would like

scale. For instance, the absence of dress-

trators, it is important to have guidance

uncut input from parents about their

up areas and play kitchens will lower the

that is objective, as running a school

real concerns and perceptions. There are

score. Of course, Montessori environ-

can often feel overwhelming and nebu-

many professional tools for all of these

ments do not usually include dress-up

lous. Thankfully, there is a good tool for

areas. Here are a few tools that may help.

activities or pretend kitchens; instead,

that as well. The Program Administra-

ideally, Montessori students have access

tion Scale (PAS) is published as a com-

© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

panion to the ECERS and deals with

pleted in the first person and one in the

the link. Parents click on the link, fill

such areas as policy, staff development,

third person), there should be plenty of

out the bubbles with a few mouse clicks

financial procedures, and strategic plan-

room for discussing similarities and dif-

and hit “submit.” The survey results are

ning. Like the ECERS and MERS, it is

ferences (from both perspectives), clear-

anonymous, nearly instantaneous, waste

broken into categories with easily scored

ing the way for real collaborative work

no trees, and best of all the results can be

rubrics. You may find that even glancing

towards staff improvement. In fact, it

quickly converted into charts and graphs

over the PAS gives plenty of insight into

may be a good idea for administrators to

for board meetings, staff meetings, or any

what areas of administration need sup-

ask staff to evaluate their performance

other venue where you need easy infor-

port. I encourage you to take the time,

and compare notes this way too. Not

mation to share with other stakeholders.

however, to go through the scale and rate

only is this a great way to get feedback,

As we strive to juggle the many hats of

your school. Perhaps you have things

but it also levels the playing field a little

school administration, it’s important to

much more in place than you suspected!

and creates a sense of ownership and

find ways to make our jobs more simple

It may also become quickly apparent that

responsibility for every member of the

and clear. Happy administrators, to me,

these scales and their scores have direct

staff. There is a copy of such an evalua-

are administrators with a clear plan of

relationships to the local authorizing

tion I adopted for Montessori schools on

action and the tools to realize that plan. I

agencies you deal with regularly. This is

the Montessori Foundation’s yahoo list,

hope that these resources help you enjoy

not a coincidence, but good planning by

but I am also happy to share copies.

your day more, reduce the number of late-night questioning, and lead to more

education professionals who care. I recommend taking advantage of their hard

All of these tools mentioned have to

work and for your peace of mind.

do with in-house issues and can assist

thoughtful and well-designed programs. ¾

programs in self-study. But what about

Prairie Boulmier is a Montessori Consultant

How about those looming teacher

that cloud of unknown opinion: the

and Researcher who currently leads the Lower

evaluations? Many authorizers require

thoughts and concerns of parents?

Elementary Montessori program at Daystar

such evaluations along with professional

At the end of the day, it is the parents

Academy in Beijing, China. Contact her at

development plans for each employee.

who chose to send their children to our

Some programs, bogged down by

schools, and we all know that happy,

paperwork requirements, hastily choose

engaged parents are essential to well-run

an evaluation tool to satisfy require-

schools. It is also sometimes very diffi-

ments without utilizing the great oppor-

cult to ascertain honest feedback from

tunity for collaboration, dialogue, and

parents. Here’s a suggestion for a quick

ECERS (Early Childhood Environment

thoughtful planning that staff evalua-

and simple anonymous way of survey-

Rating Scale):

tions present. I suggest adopting a simi-

ing parents: Survey Monkey.

Find the resources

mentioned in this article:

PAS (Program Administration

lar framework to the scales mentioned


above – simple scales that can be rated

Based on the internet, Survey Monkey is

quickly on a range of professional skills.

either free (for basic users) or plans can be

But here’s the key ingredient: collabo-

purchased for $20 USD or more for bells

MRS (Montessori Environment

ration. People get nervous about evalu-

and whistles. The site provides a number

Rating Scales): www.

ation and worry that their administra-

of survey templates and question formats

tors do not have adequate information

(multiple choice, one answer, comment

to make good evaluations. So, if you

boxes, etc.) and is easy to use. In a matter

Collaborative Staff/Admin Evaluation:

plan to rate your employees, why not

of a few minutes, a quick survey can be

have them rate their own performance

written by an administrator. Once the

as well? With two evaluations (one com-

survey is finished, simply email parents

Vo lu me 1 5 I ssu e 4 w 2 0 1 3 | | © Montessor i Leadersh ip


by Tim Seldin



in Sarasota, Florida. There are several

The school has a well developed vision and purpose, and the integ-

IMC schools that are currently complet-

rity of Montessori philosophy and curriculum is maintained through align-

ing the pilot program, as well as several

ment to this purpose. The vision and purpose of the school has been

others that began the self-study process

developed through a collaborative effort that includes input from the

under our original standards guide.

school community and is communicated to all stakeholders.

The new and streamlined IMC School


The International Montessori Council’s new School Accreditation Program was “launched”


during the November annual conference

Accreditation Program is now ready


for all IMC member schools. Within the IMC members’ area of our website,

The school is led and supported by governance and leadership/school

members will have access to a full suite of

administration that is committed to ensuring student learning and school

documents and resources, as well as the

effectiveness through the implementation of Montessori philosophy and methodology.

application form to apply for candidacy for IMC school accreditation. Members will also find a guide on how to write a



self-study, along with a library of sample forms, policies, and documents that may

The school provides an educational program that is effective and consistent with

be useful in the self-study process. Only

the characteristics of authentic Montessori practice at each age level offered.

current members have access to this area of the site.


The program was specifically designed to be used with AdvancEd’s new accredi-

The school provides appropriate resources to ensure effective

tation program and should facilitate the

implementation of its vision and purpose, consistent with the

process for schools wishing to seek dual

characteristics of authentic Montessori philosophy and methodology.

accreditation. STANDARD #5 There are five broad standards, which are


described in the following. In their selfstudy, schools describe the ways in which

The school engages stakeholders in a systematic process to evaluate student

they meet each standard and evaluate

learning and school effectiveness contributing to a 3-5 year Strategic Plan.

themselves against exemplary indicators of best practice.


© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

IMC School Accreditation offers a user-

Accreditation indicates to the public that

friendly program of school assessment

a school has voluntarily invited its pro-

and accreditation for the American and

grams, facilities, policies and procedures

international Montessori school commu-

to be compared with the standards of

nity. The program enables Montessori

best practice, established by leaders in the

schools of widely varying sizes and ages

international Montessori school accredi-

to evaluate the following: program quali-

tation community. At least once every

ty; instructional effectiveness; operational

ten years, an outside team of Montes-

and financial health; facilities and site uti-

sori school professionals, trained in the

lization; and future growth potential.

International Montessori Council School Accreditation Program, will visit the school

The primary purpose of the Internation-

to verify compliance with the standards.

al Montessori Council School Accreditation Program is to inform Montessori school administrators and trustees of best practices of the most respected and

The IMC Accreditation

Self-Study Integrated Phases

successful Montessori schools. Phase 1. Schools that fully-implement the prin-

School Identity and Philosophy:

ciples of Montessori best practice tend

The school clearly defines its institu-

to be particularly effective in their work

tional identity, Montessori principles,

with children and are worthy of public

enduring values and beliefs, and educa-

trust and confidence. IMC accredita-

tional outcomes.

tion places particular emphasis on the administration of key aspects of school

Phase 2.

operation, particularly those related to

The Self-Study:

the quality and integrity of the school’s

The school initiates a self-study, in

educational program and the health and

which the school documents how it

safety of students and staff. The stan-

meets the basic characteristics and prin-

dards establish guidelines for policies,

ciples of best practice found in all ex-

procedures, and practices. The school is

cellent Montessori schools. This phase

responsible for implementing those poli-

follows an easily understood, objec-

cies in a manner consistent with IMC

tive self-study approach. Each standard

standards on an ongoing basis.

is carefully laid out with examples and

The program considers two essential issues: 1. Is a school worthy of public trust? è Is the school clear in what it says it offers? è Does the school actually do what it says? è Is the school operated in a sound, stable manner that deserves public confidence? 2. Does this school, which represents itself as a Montessori school, actually follow the essential elements of Montessori best practice? The International Montessori Council School Accreditation Program allows for diversity among Montessori programs, while speaking to the central issue of what one should expect to find in a responsible school that wishes to represent itself as being a Montessori program.

suggested resources. Schools will have

plan, in which the school prepares an

A second purpose of the International

access to sample policies, handbooks,

ongoing plan for continuing to move

Montessori Council School Accredita-

and other resources that can be adapted

the entire school (educational program;

tion Program is to provide the public

for individual schools.

faculty; administration; facilities; mem-

with information that can assist them

bership and enrollment; marketing and

in the selection of schools that meet

Phase 3.

public relations; fundraising and capital

recognized standards of excellence in

The School Improvement Plan:

resource development; governance; and

Montessori educational practice.

After the self-study is completed, the

finances) closer to its ideal, as set forth in

school develops a written strategic

its vision and blueprint.

Vo lu me 1 5 I ssu e 4 w 2 0 1 3 | | © Montessor i Leadersh ip


Onsite Visit by a Team of IMC Validators

Once the self-study has been submitted

advance. Once they have completed

paid a daily honorarium. Schools cover

their third year of operation, they can

the cost of their travel from their homes

apply and complete any remaining steps

to and from the school, along with all

in the self-study document.

costs of lodging and meals during their

and reviewed, an onsite visit is scheduled with the school and conducted by a team of IMC-trained visitors, who will

stay. The cost will vary depending on The Cost of the IMC

Accreditation Program

spend from two to three days on cam-

the number of visitors, the cost of their travel to and from the school, and the cost of food and lodging.

pus, observing the school in operation

Accreditation Application Fee:

and validating the information provided

$5/US per enrolled student (Minimum

Continuing Accreditation

in the self-study report. This visit takes

$150/US; maximum $500/US, for each

Candidacy Fee:

place when the school is in full opera-


If the accreditation process is not

tion during the regular academic year. This process is repeated every ten years.

completed in one year: $200/US, for Cost of Preparing the Self-Study:

each site, in addition to the school’s

The self-study is generally prepared

annual IMC dues. Candidate schools

by volunteers, with some level of

must maintain their membership in

secretarial support from the school

the International Montessori Council.

office. The self-study will normally fill a

The cost of annual IMC school mem-

large three-ring binder. The school will

bership is $250/US ($100/US for each

The International Montessori Coun-

need to prepare several copies (or digi-

additional satellite school).

cil School Accreditation Commission

tally certified PDF documents) and send

reviews the Onsite Visiting Team’s

them to the IMC School Accreditation

Annual Continuing

Report and Recommendations and

Commission offices.

Accreditation Fee:

The International

Montessori Council School Accreditation Commission

makes the formal decision about

$200/US per site, in addition to the

accreditation, sometimes with recom-

Cost of the Onsite Visit:

school’s annual IMC dues. Accred-

mendations or provisional requirements.

Onsite Visits normally run from two to

ited schools must maintain their mem-

three days and an Onsite Visiting team

bership in the International Montessori

will normally be made up of at least

Council. The cost of annual IMC school

two team members. More visitors, and/

membership is $250/US ($100/US for

or a longer onsite visit, will be needed

each additional satellite school).

Eligibility for IMC

School Accreditation Any IMC school member in good stand-

depending on the size of the school

ing that has been in operation for at least

facilities, the number of classrooms, and

Upon successful completion of the

three years may begin the accreditation

the age ranges of the programs offered.

process, member schools receive a

process. New schools may want to use

Each classroom will need to be observed

certificate of their accredited status from

the School Accreditation Standards as

for at least a full morning or afternoon

the International Montessori Council

a planning tool during their first years

by a Montessori educator qualified to

and may display the IMC Accredited

of operation, thereby completing most,

evaluate programs at that age level. On-

School logo in their brochures, adver-

if not all, of the self-study process in

site Visitors are volunteers and are not

tisements, and other publications. 

If you would like more information about the program please contact Tim Seldin, Chairman of the IMC. His email address is The new IMC School Accreditation Program Standards and Handbook can be downloaded from


© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

by The Children of Garuda Class


Why would Montessori Leadership be publishing two articles by middle and high school students?


e went to Kalimantan because we were interested in learning about the life-

style of the Dayak people. We planned our trip a month in advance. We estimated the cost of the whole trip, but we were devestated, because we didn’t think we could pay for everything. So we started to sell some casava and corn, all that we had grown in our garden, until we came relatively close to the price. We

These articles grew out of discussions I

still didn’t have enough money to cover

had with the students of two schools in

the expenses of the trip, so we had to

us, and we performed a song for them

Indonesia: Jakarta Montessori School and

borrow some money from the yayasan.*

in exchange. They also taught us how to

Bogor Montessori School. I was in

When we had enough money, we just

do one of their traditional dances. After

Indonesia for a Conference hosted by the

had to wait for the day to arrive. When

the longhouse, we stayed at a resort for

Indonesian Montessori Society and met

the day came, we were very excited,

one night, before we ended our jour-

the students from these two schools. Being

because it was the first time any of us

ney in Kalimantan, and headed back to

impressed by the confidence of these young

had been to Kalimantan.


the experiences of their trips it occurred to

When we arrived in Kalimantan, we

On this trip, we met a lot of people

me that this might be of interest to the heads

instantly felt the humid weather hit us.

and learned about the dayak lifestyle.

of Montessori schools in other countries. I

We jumped into the cars and made our

We were also very surprised that a lot

was about to ask their teachers to write

way to the boat. On the boat journey, it

of people live in the longhouse with-

articles on their programs when it dawned

was so green we could almost feel it, and

out modern things like air condition-

on me that the students’ voices would be

we could see all the different kinds of

ing or an indoor toilet. We learned that

interesting and enlightening, not only to

wildlife and vibrant colours. We also felt

although we are all Indonesians, we live

school leaders, but also to the students of

isolated from everybody, because there

very different lives.

other Montessori adolescent programs,

was nobody else in our sight. A few days

looking for ideas and inspiration.

later, we stopped at a village and went

The Children Of Garuda Class, Jakarta

for a walk. On our walk, we met some

Montessori School, Indonesia

These two short articles, written in English

villagers, and we played and took pic-

Karel Lumban Gaol, Rachel Smith, Brandon

by adolescents for whom it is a second

tures with them.

McKinney, Clarissa Surjadi, Nazla Bowler,

people, and by their excitement in sharing

Maura Lumban Gaol, Zsazsa Erdapuspita.

language, give the students’ perspective on the trips which they planned and arranged

When we first arrived at the longhouse,

themselves, as well as explaining how they

we did something similar to a cere-

*Yayasan Goodwill International is a

funded the trips. We have not edited the

mony. We all sat down, and they per-

registered Indonesian charity. Its mission

articles to allow the young writers’ voices to

formed some rituals to welcome us. The

is to provide financial assistance, training,

shine through.

night we stayed at the longhouse, some

care, resources & advice to young

of the villagers performed a dance for

Indonesians. (

—Sharon Caldwell

Vo lu me 1 5 I ssu e 4 w 2 0 1 3 | | © Montessor i Leadersh ip


Our ‘Live- In’ Experience Hi! We are the secondary students of Bogor Montessori School, the first Secondary Montessori school in Indonesia. We would like to share our ‘Live-In’ experience in Jogjakarta. Every academic year, we have a ‘Live-In’ program. During a Live In, the students stay in a house and follow the routines of our foster parents according to their occupation. This year we had the Live In in Yogyakarta. We had a great time in Yogyakarta, and we hope that you’ll have fun reading it as well. On the morning of September 24, 2013, we gathered at a mall in Bogor to begin our journey to Seokarno-Hatta airport and fly to Yogyakarta. We arrived in Yogyakarta at 2.30 pm and start our journey to Candi Prambanan. We arrived at Candi Prambanan around 3.30 pm. Then we started our tour of the Prambanan Temple. For some of us, that was the first time we went to Candi Prambanan. At around 4.30 pm, we finished our tour at Prambanan and went to a church in Wonosari, a village about one hour from Yogyakarta, where we will meet our foster parents and be divided into pairs. At around 6 or 7 pm, we finally arrived at the church. We were late. After a short briefing, we were finally divided. There were 13 secondary students who joined this Live In. The students were Diana, Denise, Xerraphim, Eunike, Michelle, Destria, Orin, Raymond, Axel, Lucky, Oka, Christo, and Nadira. Diana was with Michelle; Xerraphim was with Destria; Raymond with Christo; and Oka with Orin. Since there were odd numbers of students, one of our friends, Denise, didn’t get any partner and stayed alone in her foster parents’ house. The following morning, we all went through different routines, but most of our foster parents are farmers and so most of us either went to the field or fed some animals. Two of our foster families are not farmers. One family is a Ronde seller, and the other family is Sate and Soto seller (note: ronde, sate and soto are the names of Javanese traditional foods.) There, the weather was very hot, because it was summer. So most of us didn’t stay in the fields for a long time. The farmers there don’t plant any paddy, but vegetables instead, and one plants grass to feed cows and goats. Diana and Michelle helped their foster parents prepare the ingredients for soto and sate, Axel and Lucky cropped spinach in their foster parents’ field, Orin and Oka prepared the field for cultivation, and Xerraphim and Destria fed their foster parents’ animals. Most of our houses are far away from each other, and most of our houses have gigantic kitchens. Some houses only have two rooms and some have three rooms. Most of the houses are not well-built. Most of them are partly covered with tiles, and some of the house walls are made of wood. Almost all of the bathrooms are located outside the house and are relatively clean. The next day we followed our foster parents’ routines again and in the afternoon went to the beach with the teachers. They picked us up at the church at 3 pm. We arrived in the beautiful Drini Beach at approximately 4 pm and, after taking some pictures, we headed for the waters. After we finished, we took a bath and had dinner and ate fresh grilled fish from the sea. The teachers then drove us back to each of our foster parents’ houses. That was our last night there. Around 9 am our foster parents took us to the church, where we first gathered when we came. We took pictures with them and made a video about our days living with them. Approximately 30 minutes after, we took off to our hotel in Yogyakarta. We stayed in LPP Garden Hotel that was located near Sanata Dharma University, where we practiced for our presentation about our school tomorrow (Saturday). Minutes after we arrived in our hotel, we went for lunch in “Sabar Menanti”


© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

restaurant, which is near our hotel. Then we went to Sanata Dharma University and practiced. At 4 pm, we went to Hotel Yogyakarta Plaza to meet Ms. Sharon Caldwell, from the Montessori Foundation. We chatted with her and asked some questions to her about Montessori and some about herself. We were there for about two hours and only left her hotel at 6 pm. We walked back to Sanata Dharma and practiced again for another hour. After that, we went to Malioboro, a famous shopping and culinary area in Yogyakarta for some needed fun. In Malioboro, we were divided into groups of three students and one teacher to roam freely and pick what we wanted to eat. We were also given a budget from the teachers of Rp.15.000 (note: around 1.5 USD) each for our food, if we spent more, we need to pay the extra charge ourselves. The teachers gave us an hour to eat and buy what we wanted, then we went back to our meeting point and drove to the hotel. At the hotel in our own rooms we finally got some rest and got a chance to clean ourselves after a long day. In the morning after breakfast, we prepared to go to Sanata Dharma university for the presentation and the AIMS conference. During the AIMS conference, we also sold some of our arts and crafts we had made at school. The presentation went well, and we also sold some of the things we sold. And in the afternoon, we went to the airport, and flew back to Jakarta.

Vo lu me 1 5 I ssu e 4 w 2 0 1 3 | | Š Montessor i Leadersh ip


“Welcome to Sunrise Kidz kindergarten!” Those were my first

Montessori offered to children. With this in mind, we

words upon seeing Ms Sharon at our purpose-built, five-story,

turned to the Montessori Foundation and the International

head office and kindergarten center in the new city center

Montessori Council as sources of inspiration and for support

of Hanoi, Vietnam in June 2012. Sunrise Kidz had invited

in developing our teachers into better Montessori guides and

Sharon Caldwell, from the Montessori Foundation, to come


to Hanoi for a program of in-house professional development with our teachers, focusing on Language and Mathematics.

As there is no full Montessori teacher training currently

Since those first greetings, Sharon Caldwell has been back to

available in Vietnam, we face a challenge of how to ensure

Vietnam this year to run another professional development

that our teachers are properly prepared to offer quality Mon-

program for our teachers. This year’s training took place at our

tessori education. While we have been able to recruit some

newest campus, a first of

staff who have obtained

its kind in Vietnam, located

Montessori training else-

inside a shopping mall.

where, we realize that ‘growing’ Montessori in

In 2001, I became inter-

general and the Sunrise

ested in education as an

Kidz brand in particu-

investment opportunity.

lar, will require solving

While maintaining my

the training conundrum.

day-time regional post at

All 56 teachers currently

a global bank, I trained

employed at Sunrise Kidz

to earn a diploma as a

have received in-house

Montessori teacher. After

Montessori training. As

graduating, I left bank-

our goal is to ultimately

ing and (in July, 2003),

provide world-class Mon-

I opened what was, to the best of my knowledge, Vietnam’s

tessori, we are recruiting teachers with full international qual-

first Montessori school. The Sunrise Kidz brand has grown to

ifications and exploring options to develop a national Viet-

include close to 300 students in our group of schools, which is

namese Montessori qualification in order to prepare teachers

currently comprised of five campuses. Over 1,000 students have

locally. The goal is to have all our staff fully qualified within

graduated from Sunrise Kidz schools over the past ten years.

the next 2 – 3 years. To this end, we have established strong working ties with the leading pedagogy college of Hanoi to

As I grew in experience and developed my knowledge of

nurture a pipeline of qualified teachers for our ongoing growth

Montessori through attending conferences and seminars, I

and needs.

become increasingly committed to improving the quality of


© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

The school is located in a newly built ‘up-market’ mall in the western part of Hanoi’s rapidly expanding city. The Combining Hanoi's 1000 years heritage, with Montessori 100 years history and Sunrise Kidz 10 years of development, and we were the 1st Montessori school in Vietnam ... thus we like the number 1111.

premises are designed to accommodate 120 children. Because the Indochina Plaza Hanoi (IPH) complex, where the school is situated, is a mixed-use block comprising 300 apartments, offices, and

Part of our distinctive model is to

retail units, the licensing requirements

develop the principals of the individual

included that a kindergarten be provided

schools from amongst our Montessori

for the residents and business tenants.

teachers, putting them through our own management- training program. Six

Being located in a mall posed a number

school heads have now graduated from

of challenges as well as presenting many

this program, which is ongoing.

advantages. The biggest challenge is a lack of an outdoor play area. Using

Because the Montessori model is rela-

a design concept of Outdoors Inside, we

tively new in Vietnam, and because

incorporated natural aspects of outdoor

we wish to distinguish between high-

life into the classrooms themselves. This

fidelity Montessori and other models,

includes a tree house, a Dutch windmill,

Sunrise Kidz now has three distinctive

a mid-Atlantic lighthouse. There are

brands: Sunrise Kidz, IMS, and SK

numerous staircases, platforms and lofts

Garden. Each of the three sub-brands

throughout the facility to encourage

has its own logo, which links to the cor-

movement and create opportunities for

porate theme of Sunrise Kidz.

children to gain different perspectives on the environment. The floorplan incor-

Sunrise Kidz is our original brand,

porates different levels and flowing lines,

which is generally regarded as Hanoi’s

with thick safety glass partitions, which,

leading bilingual kindergarten utilizing

together with lots of windows, create

families living in the center itself can

Montessori methodology as our core,

an atmosphere of space and light. The

benefit from the convenience of having

but which aims to be affordable and

children have access to a roof-top play-

a school in the building, and those trav-

accessible to working families. IMSK,

ground and benefit from swimming les-

elling from the surrounding area can use

established in March 2013, is our Inter-

sons in the complex pool.

the elevator, which comes straight into the school from the parking area. IMSK

national Montessori School. This is an English-speaking environment, which

The benefit is that the school’s location

is pioneering a Montessori solution to

we plan to develop into a world-class

in the mall provides the best market-

providing quality early education to

Montessori school, aspiring to IMC

ing any school can have. Parents with

children in densely populated areas.

accreditation once the school has been

children pass the school everyday and

in operation for the requisite three years.

can see our happy and focused children


There are six rooms, which are set up

using attractive Montessori equipment.

Sunrise Kidz extensions brand is the

to offer one area of the Montessori cur-

This generates a steady stream of enqui-

SK Garden schools. SK Garden is the

riculum in each, with the children cir-

ries. Marketing opportunities in the

perfect combination of Sunrise Kidz

culating freely between the rooms.

mall include long banners on the escala-

well-established name and trust, cou-

tors and decals on elevator doors. Many

pled with our traditional genuine care





Vo lu me 1 5 I ssu e 4 w 2 0 1 3 | | © Montessor i Leadersh ip


schools. In the process, we made some

achieve this we are making a substantial

mistakes and have had to relocate some

investment in developing a marketing and

campuses. Overall, the past ten years

corporate communications team, which

have taught us discipline and focus.

we hope will lead to higher enrollment.

With a decade of experience, it is time

ideology, focusing on the core curricu-

for us to look forward to the next twenty

We are currently in the process of trans-

years. Our vision for the future of

lating Susan Feez’s book, Montessori and

Montessori in Vietnam is that there will

Early Childhood: A Guide for Students to

be one hundred schools utilizing some

help Vietnamese parents have a better

or part of the Montessori approach. This

understanding of what to look for in a

will require establishing a minimum

Montessori school, and perhaps give

quality standard for Montessori schools

them the means by which they can dif-

in the country. With the help of IMC,

ferentiate between high-fidelity Mon-

we truly believe we can be the catalyst to

tessori programs and ‘pretender’ schools.

generate and maintain this quality base.

lum of the Department of Education.


Hoang D. Quan was born in Saigon and

The SK Garden schools are explicitly

First and foremost we recognize the

grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He studied

not Montessori schools, but are none-

urgent need to develop and maintain a

at Brooklyn College, St. John’s University,

theless inspired by Montessori phi-

constant flow of qualified teachers. We

INSEAD, London Business School and

losophy and respect for the children.

need to train them early on, and we need

VNU. He holds degrees in economics, finance,

This is a foray into a customer base that

to mass market that training. We aim to

strategy and education management. Mr. Hoang

would not usually consider Montessori

establish ourselves as the market leader

has truly been through life’s many challenges.

education, but the model allows each

in quality teacher training, first through

Having worked on Wall Street at a tender age

new family to see and interact with the

a local certification, then onward to an

of 19 as a runner, then as a trader, and later as

other schools within our predominantly

international certificate.

Our second

an analyst, and worked his way up to became

Montessori system, the hope being that,

goal is to continue the expansion of

CEO of a major bank, CEO of a Fund

over time, they will see the full benefits of

the Sunrise Kidz brand in Hanoi and

management company and finally founding

Montessori education and switch to our

to build more campuses. To realize this

his own kindergarten system – Sunrise Kidz

full program.

vision, I am relying on my experience as

Vietnam. He has lived in Asia for 20 years, 17

a CEO of a major bank. I am cognizant

of which in Vietnam. Mr. Hoang happily calls

In July 2013, we celebrated our tenth

of the importance of quality staff, qual-

Hanoi and Brooklyn his homes!

year of operation. We have built several

ity investment, and quality service. To

© Mo n t e sso r i L e a de r sh ip | w w w. m o | Volume 15 Issue 4 w 2013

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