Montessori Leadership Magazine - January 2022

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VOLUME 24, ISSUE 1 / 2022

Preparing for Black History Month, a candid conversation with three Montessori Guides of Color

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VO LU M E 24 , I S S U E 1 / 2 0 2 2


“Unifying a worldwide network of Montessorians dedicated to nurturing the human spirit of those seeking a peaceful world through the education of children using the Montessori method.” 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 by emailing for $8 US per issue (includes postage inside US). Copyright 2022 © by The International Montessori Council. All rights reserved.

IMC Chair Tim Seldin, M.Ed. IMC Executive Director Kathy Leitch IMC Membership and Customer Service Kristi Antczak Editorial Review, Article Submission, Classified & Display Advertising Maly Pena Conference Coordinator George Markham IMC Director of Accreditation Sheila Linville Bookkeeping Don Dinsmore (800) 655-5843 / (941) 729-9565 Fax: 941-745-3111 Layout & Design Valerie Wegener La Madeleine Graphic Design Studio

4 5 6 10

Letter from the IMC Executive Director By Kathy Leitch ................................................................................................................................. IMC|MF Conference Notes By Maly Peña .....................................................................................................................................

World-Class Montessori Schools Commitment to Excellence By Tim Seldin ..................................................................................................................................... MACTE Update By MACTE Staff ...........................................................................................................................................

CGMS director and staff awarded the Dennis Schapiro Award for Innovation in Montessori Education By Kitty Bravo, Maha Turner and Montessori Foundation Staff .......................................


BOOK REVIEW: Montessori for Every Family: A guide for living, loving and learning By Cassi Mackey...........................................................................................................................


Preparing for Black History Month, a candid conversation with three Montessori Guides of Color

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By Dr. Cindy Acker.......................................................................................................................................

IMC Accreditation Spotlight By Sheila Linville ....................................................................................................................

Social Justice Updates By Dr. Cindy Acker ..................................................................................................................... Individual Liberty and the Common Good Reflections on the Events of January 6; One Year After By Andrew Kutt ......................................................................................................................................

A Montessorian and a Braver Angel

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By Nirvair Khalsa .....................................................................................................................................

MPPI Update: The Build Back Better Act By Denise Monnier .................................................................................................................. TEC/TEP Update By Kitty Bravo..........................................................................................................................



Dear IMC Members...

Greetings to you and the new year!

mission and understanding how we can

serve on a task force, support our social

As we launch 2022, we have a gift

move in that direction with purpose,

justice work or volunteer at our annual con-

passion, and vision is our work.

ference. Please reach out to me if you have

and an opportunity! What are your hopes and dreams for yourself, your family, your school community…and all of humanity?

Moving in that direction, our inten-

any questions or want to participate in this essential work.

tions for 2022 include: governance,

This issue of Montessori Leadership

by small and intentional steps in the

finance, and internal systems to

provides rich content for you, our IMC

direction of our dreams.

ensure sustainable growth.

Montessori school leaders and educators.

Progress begins with big dreams followed

1. Strengthening


One of the remarkable things about

2. Developing an array of meaningful

Consider Tim Seldin’s article, “World-class

the school year cycle is that we have this

and responsive services aligned

Montessori Schools: A Commitment to Excellence,”

unique opportunity to have two “new

with our core values to attract,

as he shares ten principles to embrace

years.” First, the beginning of each school

retain and serve our membership.

while envisioning your school’s future path.

year provides us the chance to begin anew.

3. Leading educational innovation

Take time to question the status quo as you

Second, the new calendar year follows at

with a unifying voice and creating

read Dr. Cindy Acker’s “Preparing for Black

the halfway mark of our school year with

strategic alliances to impact education,

History Month: A candid conversation with three

another opportunity to reset and renew our

families, and Montessori worldwide

Montessori Guides of Color”. Get to know the



people of color in your school community… seeking

staff, students, and families. Be curious

wide network of Montessorians dedicated to

to understand and embody the

and learn about their history, culture, and

nurturing the human spirit of those seeking a

principles and practices of social

experience at your school. Although the

peaceful world through the education of children

justice, restorative practice, and

month of February is designated as Black

using the Montessori method” continues to be

conflict resolution, encouraging

History Month, we have a responsibility

our dream. Consistently reviewing this


to recognize that Black history is American

Our IMC mission of “Unifying a world-

4. Embracing





throughout the world.

history and as such be fully integrated

Throughout 2022 we will share

into our curriculum throughout the year.

our progress with you and invite your

Additionally, we have the opportunity for

participation. Our IMC board, staff, and

deep reflection with two important essays,

community members will continue to

“Liberty and the Common Good” by Andrew

work together to create a better future for

Kutt and Nirvair Khalsa’s “A Montessorian and

the children of the world. With so many

a Braver Angel”.

opportunities to participate, consider

So, pour a cup of tea, read an article

writing an article, submitting school,

or two, go for a walk, dwell in nature,

faculty, and student photos and stories,

create silence, and appreciate your family and friends. Reassessing where we’ve been

With purpose, passion, and vision,

and where we are going can provide clarity, peace, and optimism for the future. As Dr. Montessori reminded us, “Within the child lies the fate of the future.”

Kathy Leitch, Executive Director International Montessori Council



We at IMC wish you a happy and healthy 2022!


This past November and after

the Date

November 3-6


a fully digital conference in 2020, we were delighted to finally host our 25th Montessori Foundation | IMC Montessori Conference on a hybrid model. Over 600 people gathered on-site or streaming to celebrate and renew their Montessori philosophy. We want to acknowledge all our Speakers and Moderator volunteers who worked hand in hand to bring our digital audience to the site, our sponsors that supported our effort; as well as, our online and on-site exhibitors that brought a sense of normalcy to the event. Lastly, we want to celebrate all our attendees that made this an inspiring and enthusiastic event.

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA event, remember we have recordings of the Conference. They can be purchased, watched at your own pace, and offer 15 hours of Professional Development. Learn more at We want to thank the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, our home for so many years. Mark

The feat of creating a hybrid event was deeply rewarded by the happy

your calendars for our 2022 event at The

faces, the connections created, the old friends reunited, and above every-

Vinoy Hotel, in St Petersburg, Florida, from

thing, the quality and inspiration of over 40 different workshops that catered

November 3rd to 6th. We look forward to

to all Montessori age groups and leaders. If you could not make it to the

greeting you then!



World-Class Montessori Schools Commitment to Excellence BY TIM SELDIN

Over the past decades, a constantly growing number of

PRINCIPLE 1: An uncompromising commitment to excellence.

schools have approached the Montessori Foundation ready, willing,

World-class Montessori schools make an uncompromising

and anxious to begin the journey from being simply good

commitment to becoming excellent in all areas of their programs,

Montessori schools to becoming great ones. We have called this

facilities, resources, and operations. They clearly define their iden-

process Building a world-class Montessori school.

tity, mission, and core values. They seek out and turn to examples

This can be a daunting task. It normally requires several

of true excellence in Montessori practice around the world.

years of focused hard work, complex and difficult decisions, plan-

They consciously define what excellence will look like in every

ning, and a considerable investment of resources. Once begun,

aspect of their programs, facilities, and operations. They have

the school cannot back off from its commitment to excellence.

plans for how they will create and maintain this excellence in each

The school must be prepared to meet raised expectations among

area of school operation.

parents and staff and follow through on its commitments to the school community. This is not something to be undertaken lightly. It requires an absolute commitment to excellence. We recommend that you have this vision in mind as you begin your

They have determined what it will cost to create and sustain excellence in all areas and have developed a plan for funding it. PRINCIPLE 2: Institutional memory and integrity. World-class Montessori schools ensure a strong sense of

process of starting a school and hold it as your goal moving forward.

institutional memory and integrity within the school.

Principles Which Underpin Excellence

No school can be great without a clear sense of its core values and

A school lives in the minds and vision of a group of people. We have found several principles to be critical in building a Montessori School that is truly world-class.


the institution’s culture: this is who we are and how we do things here. World-class Montessori schools are not generic Montessori


schools – they have a unique identity.

ing Montessori Leader. Montessori schools that wish to remain

The character of any school will evolve, but it should evolve

faithful to their legacy need to be led by a first-rate Montes-

slowly and in a logical progression of maturation. Unfortunately, it

sori educator. Being true to the underlying principles that

is all too easy for Montessori schools to make compromises that

distinguish them as Montessori programs, world-class schools will

threaten the integrity of their program because of tight budgets,

be based on a different set of assumptions and beliefs about the

lack of parent understanding and support, or because Montessori-

nature of learning, the definition of what constitutes a first-rate

trained teachers are hard to find. Sometimes schools lose their

education, and the relationships among students, educators,

clear identity because they grow too fast, adapting an initial vision

families, and school to that on which excellent conventional

to accommodate market pressures or to capture a growing market

schools will be based.

in a new area.

Research has consistently shown that the Head of School

What we say our school does, and the principles we believe

is the most influential person in any school. In great schools,

must be translated into day-to-day reality. A great school stands for

the Head of School is, above all, a visionary who articulates and

something distinct. It cannot possibly please everyone. The school

represents the school’s core values and educational philosophy.

that some deeply respect and admire will not appeal to others.

They are not simply an administrator or business manager. Such

PRINCIPLE 3: Clearly stated mission, core values, and educational beliefs.

skills are essential, but administrators and managers are not necessarily leaders and can be hired more readily than a great

World-class schools carefully define and write the school’s mission, core values, and educational beliefs. All policies and

educational leader. A first-rate Montessori Head of School can build a school from the ground up.

strategic decisions are based on these core values. Many people assume that Montessori means the same thing to everyone. This is, however, not true. There is a wide variety in the way Montessori is applied. Unless a school can clearly define its unique character and understanding, parents, staff, and the wider community may become confused about the disparity between their assumptions and what the school is actually offering. The ideas that define the nature of a school are the very soul of the school as an institution. It is essential to have a clear understanding and agreement about your mission, vision, and core values. Only by going through this process to develop clarity and consistency from class to class and level to level can you discover and define the school’s true nature as you want it to be. PRINCIPLE 4: Consistency in philosophy and practice throughout the school. World-class Montessori schools ensure that the school is consistent in philosophy and practice from class to class, from one level to the next, and from year to year. Many Montessori schools are made up of individual teachers who do their own thing in their classrooms, without much

It is rare to find someone who is both a sophisticated

awareness or concern about coordination with the other classes

independent school leader and trained and committed to

within the school. As a result, it is not unusual to find Montessori

Montessori education. While many non -Montessori trained

schools made up of several classrooms that bear little resemblance

educators can glibly espouse a Montessori -like philosophy and

to one another. Parents and teachers often hold very different

values, few understand or pay much more than lip service to it in

perspectives of the school’s mission, philosophy, and priorities.

practice. A Head of School who is not Montessori in both training

For a school to grow and enjoy respect, parents should be

and philosophical orientation will generally be ineffective as the

confident that their children’s experience in the school will be

school’s educational leader, may quickly get into conflict with the

highly consistent from year to year, from one class to another, and

faculty, or in some cases will lead the school away from Montessori

from one level to the next.

toward a traditional educational program.

PRINCIPLE 5: Leadership by an inspiring and consensusbuilding Montessori leader.

Can you imagine asking a Catholic priest to run a Baptist church-affiliated school or a rabbi to head a school run by Quakers?

World-class schools have an inspiring and consensus-build-

Even with all the goodwill in the world, they are unlikely to share



the school community’s culture, traditions, and values; and would not be likely to be seen by faculty and parents as appropriate leaders for this school. At their core, authentic Montessori schools are based on an educational philosophy and system of beliefs as distinct as those of any school that promotes a specific religion or a culture quite different from the one held by most people in the local community. All too many fine Montessori schools have suffered through a series of weak or disruptive leaders after the founder retires. In almost every case, these Heads of School were neither Montessori trained nor Montessori oriented in their educational philosophy or leadership style. We can all name non-Montessori-trained people who are highly effective Montessori leaders. However, each is ‘Montessori’ in everything but a teaching credential; each is genuinely committed to the Montessori vision. We strongly believe that Montessori schools need sound Montessori leadership to thrive. Not doing so endangers the integrity and future of the school. PRINCIPLE 6: Clear line of authority and accountability within the school. World-class Montessori schools have a clear understanding of accountability and how it is embodied in a line of authority in the school. Once a Head of School has been hired, she should oversee the entire school. All faculty and staff members should report to the Head of School. The Head of School should have clear day-to-day authority over the school’s programs and practice. If there is a school Board, it is critical to clearly define the authority of the Head of School in contrast with that of the Board. All too often, confusion results when the roles of the Board and the Head of School are not clearly defined. It is not uncommon to see Board members performing administrative functions or making decisions more appropriately by the Head of School.

single biggest priority. The goal should not only be to fill each

This can lead to mistrust and conflict among the Head of School,

opening and thus meet our budget, but to gather children who will

the Board, and the faculty. This has the very real potential to

blossom within a Montessori setting, with families for whom the

destabilize the school.

school is almost a perfect match with their values and long-­term

Heads of School must be given the authority to manage the

Relatively few parents leave Montessori because of cost per se

your school to continue along the lines of a caring, supportive, em-

or are particularly unhappy with what the school has done. More

powering community, it will always be essential to have a Head of

often than not, they leave because they do not understand the

School with the right balance of perspective, values, philosophy,

benefit of a Montessori experience as opposed to the convenience

skills, and experience. Finding the right person when you need one

and relatively lower cost of public schools. Whether they decide

for your school is no mean feat.

to move their children to a more traditional private school or the

PRINCIPLE 7: Admissions process - focuses on finding the perfect match. World-class

local public schools, parents leave Montessori because they have not been convinced that our schools offer their children





opportunities for intellectual and social growth that are equal

admissions processes that find families for whom the school is a

to and better in some unique way than the other schools in the

perfect match. This contrasts with policies aimed at simply filling


openings. The process of admissions must be a Montessori school’s


goals for their children.

school within very broad guidelines established by the Board. For

Too many families place their children in Montessori with little or no knowledge of what it is and what it offers, and


weighing out carefully whether Montessori is the right fit for both their children and their family’s values before they enroll. PRINCIPLE 8: Parents are kept very well informed about their children’s progress. Parents expect to have many points of tangible and meaningful evidence confirming the wisdom of their decision and the effectiveness of the education that their children are receiving. World-class Montessori schools keep parents very well informed about their children’s education and academic progress. Most parents do not simply look for academic evidence alone. We should not underestimate how vital social opportunities and extracurricular programs are to most children and parents. Worldclass Montessori schools find multiple ways to communicate with parents on an ongoing basis. PRINCIPLE 9: Stable enrollment Attrition refers to a reduction in enrolment from children leaving for reasons other than graduation. World-­class Montessori schools work to reduce attrition from year to year. This means that the school actively works to retain students once enrolled. To be truly effective, the Montessori program requires that children stay for a full three-year cycle at the very least. Elementary programs depend on their success on children moving through from the 3 -6 program. Adolescent programs are designed to meet the needs of children who have had Montessori elementary experience—losing children before the end of a cycle and admitting children without previous Montessori experience at successive cycles impacts a school in several ways. Firstly, children who leave early may not fully integrate their learning and may reflect poorly in-regard-to learning outcomes. This could create a negative opinion about the school. Secondly, the class may be left without its leaders when children leave early. Montessori classes need a full age span of at least three years to certainly with no real thought given to any relationship beyond

function properly. While some attrition is inevitable because of

the next year or so. These families are simply looking for the best

parents leaving the area, ideally, schools should aim for attrition of

opportunities for their children, with no special commitment to

no more than 10%. PRINCIPLE 10: Deliberate financial planning ensures that

Montessori education or as a specific school. Montessori schools, however, need to find people who are

the school is financially sound.

willing to work with us as partners. We need families who share

To be excellent, a school must be financially sound. To

core values and goals for their children’s education that are

become financially sound, a school must have a budget, a good

compatible with the school’s. Ensuring that they stay with the

bookkeeping system, and a financial plan that focuses on funding

school, it is important to challenge them to think long-term,


Tim Seldin is the President of the Montessori Foundation and Chair of the International Montessori Council. His more than 50 years of experience in Montessori education, includes 22 years as Head of the Barrie School in Silver Spring, MD. Tim was the co-founder of the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies and the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. He currently serves as the co-Head of the New Gate School in Sarasota, FL. He earned a B.A. in History and Philosophy from Georgetown University; an M.Ed. in Educational Administration and Supervision from The American University; and his Montessori certification from the American Montessori Society. Tim is the author of several books on Montessori Education, including How to Raise An Amazing Child, The Montessori Way with Dr. Paul Epstein; Building a World-Class Montessori School; Finding the Perfect Match – Recruit and Retain Your Ideal Enrollment; Master Teachers – Model Programs; Starting a New Montessori School; Celebrations of Life; The World in the Palm of Her Hand and most recently Montessori for Every Family with Lorna McGrath.





What a year it has been! After the





Kitty Bravo led a table talk discussion on

Program, holds the distinction of being the

Assessing Adult Learners in a Virtual World:

first program to submit its Self-Study for

Exploring virtual strategies for assessing projects,


material making, albums, and practicums. There

The growth of Montessori worldwide

were five other tables with topics that

did not slow down in 2021, and MACTE

ranged from university program network-

welcomed two new Montessori organiza-

ing to preparing teachers to be trauma-

tions as affiliates, Christian Montessori

informed. The MACTE Symposium closed



with the awards ceremony. Five in our

MACTE hosted our first virtual Asia Sym-

community received the Wisdom of the

posium to explain how MACTE functions

Elders Award: Patricia Anne Darby,

as an organization, discuss the value of

Marta Donahoe, Chandra Fernando,

accreditation and answer questions from

Barb Jens, and Eva Parrucci. We hon-

attendees. The MACTE board met five

ored two Montessorians with the Dennis

times to vote on accreditation decisions

Schapiro Award for Innovation in

(you can view all the programs reviewed at

Montessori Education: Kitty Bravo

for 2020 and Maha Turner for 2021.


We felt so blessed to have Dennis Schapiro’s



tumultuous pandemic times of 2020, we

MACTE staff has continued to conduct

widow, Jeanne Andre, and their two sons,

entered 2021 filled with hope and eager

much of our work virtually, maintaining

Tokumbo and Jeremiah, present this

anticipation of regaining a sense of “normal.”

home offices and conducting meetings and

prestigious award to both recipients. You

While the delta and omicron variants

accreditation visits online. We are eternally

can check out all the topics, presenter

caused us to recalibrate plans once again,

grateful for our verifiers who volunteer their


we are pleased to see our MACTE accredited

time to participate in accreditation visits,

slideshow at

programs doing well and continuing their

and in 2021, we completed 41 on-sites

Looking forward to 2022, we are

dedicated work of preparing competent,

verification visits. If you would like to

honored to announce the induction of two

caring, and qualified Montessori teachers

contribute your time and expertise to the

new MACTE board members, Sungti Hsu,

and school leaders.

Montessori community as a team member

a founding member of the Association for




In March, we celebrated the renewal

for on-site verification visits, please follow

Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation

of our recognition from the United States

MACTE’s Facebook page and website to see

(AAQEP), and Kathy Leitch, Executive

Department of Education (USDE); this

when the next training webinar will occur.

Director of IMC. These two new board

milestone came as a result of a lengthy,

2021 wrapped up with our annual

members will bring a depth of knowledge

rigorous, and somewhat nerve-wracking

board meeting and an afternoon discussion

and expertise to the MACTE accreditation

process. This is all to say, we understand

with Montessori leaders the day before our


how you feel about writing a Self-Study!

8th MACTE Symposium. For the first time,

MACTE will increase our focus and ef-

We go through this process to hold MACTE

the MACTE Symposium was live-streamed.

forts in widely sharing the importance of

to a high standard and because we know

The theme was “Channeling Difficult Times

accreditation for our programs, their gradu-

how beneficial USDE recognition is for our

into Positive Energy,” and our keynote speak-

ates, and state work efforts. MACTE will

programs and their graduates. In May, we

ers, Peter Mishler, Dr. Craig Bailey, and

continue supporting our programs while

announced that MACTE was accepting ap-

Kim Phillips-Knope, all brought that posi-

collaborating with organizations that are

plications for the accreditation of the new

tive energy to their presentations. Lively

part of the accreditation world, such as

Administrator Credential. The Center for

discussions at the table talk sessions fol-

AAQEP, the National Association of the

Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS),

lowed the keynotes. IMC’s Kathy Leitch and

Education of Young Children (NAEYC),


and the National Workforce Registry Alliance (NWRA). We will also continue to be engaged in and supportive of those

The Montessori Leadership Institute

working towards having credentials from a MACTE accredited program recognized for state teacher licensure. At the pandemic’s start, we witnessed an outpouring of support from the Montessori community to one another. Programs worked tirelessly to continue instruction, held virtual town meetings to offer ideas and help, extended work hours well past the norm to help accommodate adult learners, and much, much more. While we do not wish to return to those dark, scary times from the start of the pandemic, we do hope everyone can continue the acts of kindness and the spirit of grace and courtesy we gave and received so freely. MACTE wishes you all health and happiness in the new year, and we look forward to supporting and being a part of the great things to come from the Montessori community in 2022. The MACTE Staff Rebecca Pelton, Carolyn Pinkerton, Aimee Fagan, Erin Moore, Elisabeth Chidester, Stacy Seapy, and Jay Seals

Rebecca Pelton is the President of the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE). MACTE serves as the national accreditor for Montessori teacher preparation programs and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Rebecca has been active in the area of teacher program accreditation for the past 14 years. Prior to her work with MACTE, she served as the Vice President for Membership for the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). She has presented at many national conferences and participated in over sixty onsite visits preparing for teacher program accreditation. Rebecca earned her B.A. in Music Education from Alma College and went on to teach in public and private schools for 20 years. She earned her M.Ed. from Bowling Green State University in Education with an endorsement in Gifted Education and continued to teach, as well as develop a number of programs in gifted education and gifted enrichment. She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Delaware. Her tenure at MACTE is based on commitment to supporting Montessori teacher preparation and thereby improving the educational experience of Montessori students.

Montessori Leadership Courses Online 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. For more information visit

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Recruiting, hiring, and building a strong Montessori faculty team



CGMS director and staff awarded the Dennis Schapiro Innovation in Education Award By Kitty Bravo, Maha Turner and Montessori Foundation Staff

On December 3rd, Kitty Bravo and Maha Turner accepted the Dennis Schapiro Award for Innovation in Montessori Teacher Education. The Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) grants this award annually to a Montessori teacher educator who has been truly inspiring and innovative and brought about significant change. The International Montessori Council (IMC) is thrilled to congratulate Kitty and Maha on this award for their lifetime contributions to the advancement of Montessori teacher education! Kitty Bravo is the Director of Education with the

1996, began telling his dad, Tim Seldin, that Montessori needed

Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS). She

an online teacher education program. But in 1996, the Montessori

accepted the 2020 award for her work envisioning,

community wasn’t ready.

creating, and leading this groundbreaking online, low residency graduating

Montessori over




out the plan for the first CGMS online course. Shortly after, the




IMC board approved the CGMS pilot program as their first teacher


fifteen-year history. CGMS is a MACTE accredited and IMC-affiliated teacher education program.

Kitty Bravo’s acceptance speech


Almost ten years later Tim, Marc, and Jon began to sketch


education program affiliate. But something was missing. When you have three good men working on a project, what do you need? A woman willing to work hard and get it done.

It is a great honor to accept the MACTE 2020 Dennis

In 2006 I began working with my partners to develop the pro-

Shapiro award for Innovation in Teacher Education and to have

gram. I also began working with MACTE. Being the first teacher

this recognition for my work with CGMS and online learning.

Education Program (TEP) to seek accreditation for a program

An innovator is usually someone with a good idea and I can’t

designed around online learning, there was a lot to figure out.

take the credit for the idea of the Center for Guided Montessori

Through many phone calls and emails, I worked with the MACTE

Studies (CGMS). That credit goes to my partners, Marc Seldin, Tim

staff and Gretchen Warner, the MACTE Executive Director at that

Seldin, and Jon Wolff. It especially goes to Marc, who, as early as

time to figure out how to demonstrate we met the standards when


our format often did not quite fit into the usual charts. And some

Now let’s fast forward to

things just had not been determined, such as the number of hours

2020 when so many of you

required for the face-to-face residential session. I asked on numer-

zoomed into the world of

ous occasions but could not get an answer. Finally, it got down to

online education. I know it

the wire as we were getting ready to launch, and I called Gretchen.

was challenging, but hope-

She told me to write a proposal to the MACTE board, and that is

fully, your online work has

how we ended up with the 120-hour residential requirement that

helped you experience and

we still have today.

imagine new ways to reach

We launched the first cohort in the spring of 2008 and, in 2009,

your adult learners and bring

became the first blended learning TEP to receive MACTE accredi-

Montessori to the masses.

tation. While we were the first to receive accreditation, we were

Because, my friends, if we

not the first to begin dabbling in online learning. I want to give a

are truly going to have an

shout-out to two people who really were pioneers, Elizabeth Parks

impact in this world, that’s

from Chaminade and Barb Jens from Omaha. They both had done

what we need to do. The

a lot of work with online learning in their programs and had shared


their ideas at a MACTE meeting. Their work was an inspiration and

tessori graduates, and to

greatly influenced what I did with CGMS.

make that happen, we need




It may surprise you that I did not come to the CGMS project

more Montessori teachers.

completely sold on the benefits of online learning. I had no back-

Our world needs dreamers,

ground in distance education and only mediocre computer skills.

problem solvers, peace makers, and innovators. No educational

However, seeing many prestigious universities adding online de-

model does that better than us.

grees, I felt like it was an idea whose time had come. Though I will say, not many Montessorians in 2008 agreed it was time, or ever would be time for online Montessori of any kind. In fact, someone once told one of my partners that we and online learning would ruin Montessori. It is never easy to boldly go where no one has gone before… Even more than believing the time was right for online learning and that it was important for it to be done well, I was hopeful that this new format could provide an opportunity to enhance teacher training. I specifically hoped it would provide more opportunities for reflection and deep discussion that could support the transformation of the Montessori guide. Remember, this was 15 years ago, before the advent of Facebook teacher’s groups where you can post a question and, in a flash, have 20 responses from Montessori educators with ideas and

The world needs more Montessori graduates, and to make that happen, we need more Montessori teachers. Our world needs dreamers, problem solvers, peace makers, and innovators. No educational model does that better than us.

support. Our first online cohort was excited to have this new online platform for communication. We were eager each day to get up and

Innovation is at the heart of Montessori. Our educational

check the discussion forums, often checking multiple times a day

approach exists because of the innovative ideas of Dr. Maria

to see what had been added, what ideas our friends had to share.

Montessori. She was bold and tireless in looking for solutions to

Within just a few weeks, I felt our learning community was

the problems of society, especially those of women and children.

growing as strong as any teacher ed group I had worked with in a

She continued to develop and expand her educational approach

physical space. I also knew it was working to support the spiritual

throughout her life, always seeking to make it better, to adapt it to

transformation of the teacher, when at just three weeks, one of my

meet the needs of individual children and various cultures.

adult learners typed into a forum, “This is already changing what I do with children.”

I believe her mandate to us is to continue to do the same; to constantly examine our practice, expand and adapt to meet the

It was also changing what I did with my adult learners. This

needs of our time and the unique needs of the people of this time.

new format required me to constantly examine teacher ed prac-

We can only meet those needs if we continue to stretch and grow. I

tices, I had to consider every assignment and all the usual expecta-

believe this growth does not mean abandoning the core principles

tions to understand their purpose and determine how they could

of Montessori. We can hold on to the most important principles

be adapted to the virtual world.

that are the life and soul of Montessori while also being open to VOLUME 24 ISSUE 1 • 2022 | WWW.MONTESSORI.ORG/IMC | ©MONTESSORI LEADERSHIP


new ideas and adapting to make the best use of the technologies

people that make up the CGMS faculty and staff. This award be-

of our time.

longs to all of you, but it will be staying at my house.

One day back in early 2008, just before launching our first co-

I am grateful for the life of service Montessori has provided

hort, I got a phone call from Denny Schapiro. As always, Denny

and for the wonderful community of learners and educators I share

asked very direct and thought-provoking questions about how

it with. Thank you to all for being on this journey with me. Thank

we would make this online program work. I remember he asked

you for your important work.

specifically if we would allow someone to do a practicum in their home without the materials. The answer was and still is no. The practicum experience in a well-prepared Montessori environment is essential for teachers to move from abstract ideas of Montessori

And a very special thank you to Denny’s family and MACTE for

the honor of this award.


to concrete practice and possibly is even more critical when the Maha Turner, a Montessori

training is predominantly online. Over the years, I often think of that conversation with Denny,

early childhood guide with

especially when an unusual practicum situation arises or when an

twenty-five years experience

adult learner needs accommodation. We all have these kinds of

at Somersfield Academy in

situations, whether we are a hybrid program or an entirely onsite

Bermuda and an Instructional

traditional program. We all face situations where we must find

Guide with CGMS, is being

creative ways to make adaptations while still assuring our


learners have the experiences needed to become competent

an international, innovative

Montessori guides.

opportunity for teacher edu-

And these kinds of questions are essential as we continue to walk

Maha’s Mission

the razor’s edge, remaining committed to fidelity while being open


Montessori, schools


Syrian refugees in Jordan,

to innovation. Both are essential to move Montessori forward and sustain it for future generations.


cation. Maha’s organization,

I so appreciate Denny’s queries. He helped keeping us real.

Turkey, and Egypt. Her students were her inspiration.

I am proud of the part CGMS has played in moving us toward

As they passionately discussed the Syrian refugee crisis

that future. We have tried to set the bar high for Montessori distance

with Mrs. Turner, they encouraged her to “... help them by

education. I trust that many of you will help carry the work even fur-

starting a Montessori classroom and making sure

ther. As more of you wade into the waters of online learning and as

you put in a Peace Table just like ours!”

technology continues to advance, I am confident we will find new innovative ways to support the development of our teachers.



Almost immediately, the refugee children, all of whom have endured war-related trauma, exhibit signifi-

I am proud to share this award with my partners Marc, Tim, and

cant changes. They find peace, develop concentration,

Jon. I also share it with Ann Winkler, Kathy Leitch, Lori Karmazin,

and discover the joy of learning. Over forty-one women

and Cathie Perolman, who have been with CGMS from the begin-

who have received their IMC Early Childhood Montes-

ning and continue to help us fine-tune and advance our programs.

sori Teacher and Assistant Credentials are empowered in

I also have to mention Ellyn and Heather and their admin team,

their community and on the road to independence! Over

who keep everything organized and running smoothly. And I share

seven hundred children have benefited from a Montessori

this honor with all of the CGMS instructors, the most amazing

education through Maha’s work in the past five years.


Maha’s update on her mission

“ I was introduced to Montessori education philosophy in

and children sheltering in mass tent camps, escaping their coun-

1991. The concepts I both learned and taught and the results I wit-

try’s devastation and persecution. This was a shock for me to see

nessed in the last thirty years prove beyond all doubt that the founder,

firsthand how desperate humans become when they have lost

Maria Montessori was a genius who understood child learning and

their entire existence and only have a few clothes and cooking

development and the importance of collaborative and independent

utensils as comfort. Their immediate concern is shelter and survival;

creativity combined with Peace Education. Along the way, I achieved

educating their children is a distant luxury in these conditions.

Montessori certification through several training centers, among them

As I got to know the refugee families, I learned of the injustice

New England Teacher Education Center. I earned a Master’s degree in

and corruption that is a massive part of life for many people on

early childhood education and completed doctoral courses in early

earth. Sadly, power is the common corrupter in human society, and

childhood education. Learning is a life-long journey.

it is typically the poor that pay the price through persecution due

One of the primary purposes of Montessori education is to

to lack of resources, eventually becoming politically expendable.

create a better world for humanity. In 2016, I made a conscious

Education is the only tool that can eventually bring justice and

decision to use the knowledge and experience I acquired to

equity to those that do not have a voice, perhaps not in the current

assist those in the world who had lost all of the things many of us

generation but in the future.

take for granted. We all hear news stories about refugees or forcibly

With the welcomed assistance of the Center of Guided

displaced people in distant places around the world, but we rare-

Montessori Studies; I have managed to train multiple cohorts of

ly know their real stories and the horrors they have experienced.

refugee women (mostly widowed) in both Turkey and Jordan by

The compassionate among us tend to donate to the known charity

using their education material. These documents needed to be

organizations hoping that we can contribute to their plight in a

translated from English to Arabic. Fortunately, I was introduced

meaningful way.

to a skilled English to Arabic translator living in Germany who

I began my new journey by traveling to Jordan and then

completed the huge task of translating all the resources to Ara-

South Turkey bordering Syria to assist the Syrian refugee women

bic. The adult students subsequently completed their course and



have taught and provided for their own families. They are now

edge the structural renovation completed. However, the ongoing

helping me to train more refugee adult students. I have opened

expenses of this institute will continue to be contingent on the

Montessori schools in Jordan and Turkey with the help of donor

support of valued donors to maintain the operation of the building

friends that I am forever grateful to. Those schools were used for

and employment of the dedicated teachers.

the adult students to complete their practicum phase. The school in Jordan is running itself with the help of UNICEF.

Additionally, transportation to and from the school in Nizip is needed to ensure the younger children have access to early Montessori education. Turkey is a very cold country, and it rains a lot during the winter, making attendance very difficult for young children. We are trying to obtain funding for bus transportation. Refugee or displaced children with learning disabilities do not always receive sufficient support from social providers. In our Montessori classrooms, a few children are in dire need of weekly speech and physiotherapy, which is currently unfunded. While we are extremely grateful for significant individual contributions to get these projects initiated, we kindly ask for any denomination of donation to meet our projects’ ongoing needs in Istanbul and southern Turkey. Currently, I am training a teacher cohort in Yemen’s war-torn, impoverished country. So far, we are meeting virtually and hoping

Presently, I have two schools in Turkey, one in Istanbul dedicated to the Uighur orphan refugees. They have suffered severe oppression at the hands of the Chinese and have emigrated to Turkey primarily from the North-Western region of Xinjiang. The horrors of their treatment have been well documented and personally verified. In addition to Montessori education, we also provide meals for the children at this facility. This school has two Montessori classrooms, which need to upgrade, their worn materials. The second school is based in Nizip, South Turkey, near the refugee campsites that closed a couple of years ago. Earlier this year, we entered into a long-term agreement with the local authorities to secure a permanent 4-story building. The facility required significant upfront renovation to convert to a functional school assisted with generous private donations. One classroom is fully equipped and operating as a Montessori classroom for children between 3 and 6 years old. We are in the process of equipping two more Montessori classrooms in the building to make three classrooms. One room will be dedicated to infants and toddlers, 0-3 years old. Additional floors are used as after-school facilities and


to start a Montessori classroom for their practicum phase.

summer camps, where Arabic, English, and Turkish are taught. This

I share a charity site with two American friends at the URL below.

project serves over 500 children between the ages of 0-17, and the

Any support you or anyone in your network can provide towards the

demand continues to increase. The region of Nizip lacks Arabic-

continued proliferation of the Montessori philosophy

speaking schools, so there is a desperate need to expand this

amongst those who are in the greatest need of peace

education project. The local government recognizes the value and

and education is truly appreciated.

importance of this project and has waived lease fees to acknowl-


BOOK REVIEW by Cassi Mackey

Montessori For Every Family:

A practical parenting guide to living, loving, and learning by Tim Seldin and Lorna McGrath telling. The charming illustrations look like

defined topics for easy access and do not

ordinary moments on first inspection but

even need to be read in order. It is benefi-

hold magic in the possibilities of growth.

cial when the whole school community is

There is also no need to be familiar with

working from the same resource. It pro-

Montessori to benefit from this book

vides consistency for the child, the guides,

because it provides you an introduction to

and the parents as children change class-

Montessori and focuses on key Montessori

room environments and guides.


I would use this book in a parent book

As a Montessori leader, what immedi-

club, as well as give a series of workshops

ately came to mind while reading this book

for parents based on the concepts of the

was the support that it can give to guides


and administrators while working in partnership with families.

It is quite possible this might become your most highlighted and ear-tagged book because every page is packed with significant

Montessori For Every Family: A practical

and ready-to-use gems

parenting guide to living, loving, and learning

of advice.

by Tim Seldin and Lorna McGrath is the

Tim and Lorna share

picture-perfect guide to championing

their wisdom, knowl-

families in the creation of hallowed spaces


where love, joy, connection, and respect

and experience in an

are nurtured by amalgamating Montessori


principles into a family’s daily life. This

can enrich and cel-

book honors and respects all families

ebrate family life in

and is meant to offer suggestions and

so many ways. Make

understanding, book


support. It is extremely practical, giving

Educators are committed to the

this a go-to book in your parenting journey

parents a plethora of organized tools and

development of the whole child and focus

or as a Montessori educator supporting

named strategies that they can apply im-

on growing strong, confident, compassion-

families. Montessori For Every Family: A

mediately to create and strengthen posi-

ate, and capable human beings. And the

practical parenting guide to living, loving,

tive family life. The authors offer specific

whole child includes their family. I highly

and learning is an intention, a guide, and

suggestions for different stages and ages

recommend this book be given to every

a reminder of the sacredness of having a

of a child’s development throughout the

Montessori guide and every parent to use

peaceful family, as well as a reminder of

book. The writing is conversational and in-

as a resource. It will aid in establishing

the many blessings families already, have

cludes many real-life stories from families;

a partnership based on mutual respect,

as well as those on their way.

their willingness to be candid and vulner-

love, shared language, strategies, and con-

able allows for beautiful relatable story-

sistency. The short chapters have clearly

Cassi Mackey, M.Ed. is passionate about helping communities create spaces where people are encouraged to make changes to improve relationships. Cassi has witnessed the transformational power of communities that engage in Courageous Conversation and Collaborative Coaching as imputable practices. It is a promise of more meaningful relationships, greater depth of experience, and a broader, more compassionate view of oneself and the world. She truly believes open, honest, and kind communication is essential for our c h i l d r e n and the future of humanity. Cassi is currently a principal, as well as a lead teacher in a 9-12 classroom at Montessori Education Centre-Charter School in Mesa, Arizona and has successfully guided her school, as well as others, through this transformation. Cassi recently completed her AMI Administrator Certification. She consults with and provides advice to Montessori communities that are intent on generating positive and lasting change.



Preparing for Black History Month A candid conversation with three Montessori Guides of Color BY DR. CINDY ACKER

“We must never forget,” said Yvette Clarke, “that Black history is American history. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s greatness.” In a period in which we have begun a spiritual practice of opening our eyes to the contributions of those who have historically been invalidated. In this particular issue, we want to recognize a few of the many of those who have made contributions specifically in Montessori education. As we recognize Black History Month, we pause to acknowledge a few teachers of color who are bringing a contribution of their own to their classrooms. The more teachers of color we have in Montessori classrooms, the more we

enhance ourschools, and

provide our children and our staff with positive models of educators and leadership. Dr. Laura Turner-Essel, parent and psychologist, wrote:




The truth is that schools are

don’t appear to value them, and

more than academic institutions.

they spend most of their time

more hostile and demoralizing than

They are places where children go


other students do, that they are

to gain a sense of who they are,

rather than guided towards their

disciplined more frequently and

how they relate to others, and

highest potential, well… what can

more harshly for typical childhood

where they fit into the world. The

we really expect? How are they

offenses…, that they are often

best schools are places that



labeled as deviant or viewed as

answer these questions positively



deficient more quickly than other

– ‘you are a valuable human being,

have been crushed?

children, that teachers have lower

you are a person who will grow up

Here’s the good news. In my

academic expectations of Black

to contribute great things to your

years of school shopping…I have

students (which, in turn, lowers

community, and you belong here,




those students’ expectations of

with us, exploring the world and





learning how to use your gifts.’



parents feel less respected and less


more enriching and more affirmative


















master if




basic spirits



environment for Black children. The

teachers and school administrators.

universal questions of childhood

Montessori method, developed by

Perhaps these are some of the

will often hit a brick wall once they

Italian physician Maria Montessori



walk into the classroom. If the

and introduced to the U.S. in the

students tend to underperform in

curriculum does not reflect their

early 20th century, is one such

most schools across the country.

cultural experiences, the teachers











However, to support children of color,

an ad out of a lo-

What is the greatest obstacle to

research indicates that teachers of color

cal paper and was

having more Montessorians of color

help close achievement gaps for students

blown away about

in the classroom, and what can we

of color. The report, Diversifying the Teach-

the degree of con-

do to overcome it?

ing Profession: How to Recruit and Re-

centration and the

Raina Ford I think the greatest obsta-

tain Teachers of Color, sadly finds that

level of learning

cle to having more Montessorians of color

while the population of teachers of color

taking place in the

in the classroom is exposure. As a woman

overall is growing, Black and Native

Primary class. I have been hooked ever

of color, I did not know Montessori was a

American teachers are a declining share of


teaching option until I was in my 20’s. We cannot have more Montessorians of color

the teacher workforce and the gap between the percentage of Latinx teachers and

Do you feel that you contribute to

come through the door if we do not share

students is larger than for any other racial

children of color or children of more

the beauty of Montessori with more of the

or ethnic group.

European origin? If so, why?

world. We have to sort of hit people in the face with it because Montessori changed

In the fall 2019 issue of Montessori Public,




my life. I’m confident that if more educators

(AMI-USA, the

of color knew about Montessori’s philoso-

gathering of Montessorians who reminded

phy, we would see more of them taking on

us of the efforts of Black Montessori edu-

the training. Another issue is the cost of the

cators to bring Montessori education to

training. We must do more to help support

children of color, from Black Montessori

and sponsor educators of color to find and

preschools founded in the 1920s to the

take the training.




Central Harlem Association of Montessori Parents (CHAMP) and the CHAMP Teacher Education Program (TEP). The research, the history and lived experiences of others, indicates the emergent need that during the month of Febru-

Raina Ford Honestly, I feel that I

ary AND every day of every month, children,

make a contribution to any child that I have

teachers, and parents, live their own history

the pleasure of working with. What I can say

of people of color. In our Montessori class-

is that I feel, as a Black teacher, I have the

rooms, we need to hear the voices of our

ability to connect to those children of color

Nargees Jumahan One of the ob-

children and teachers. In the information

who otherwise may not have had that con-

stacles I have had in my training was the

below, we asked teachers of color why they

nection because we do still have discrimi-

lack of people of color as trainees – the lack

became Montessori teachers, what they

nation and it is very much in schools. As a

of people of color in training programs. In

see as our greatest challenges and their ad-

black teacher to children of European ori-

the two years of my Montessori training, I

vice to people of color who are considering

gins, I feel that I show them that people of

encountered only three people of color who

becoming Montessori teachers.

color are in positions of leadership.

were trainers. I felt in my earlier years, my


difference for children of European descent.

Lower Elementary

I had a child who licked me in my first year of

Tiffani Battle The greatest obstacle

teaching. I asked why and he explained that

is the actual knowledge of Montessori. It is

Why did you decide to embark on a

I looked and smelled like chocolate. At that

usually only known in exclusive neighbor-

journey of becoming a Montessori

time, I wore cocoa butter lotion. The child

hoods. If we could do a massive campaign


was about six and a half years old, so I was

to reach people on the margins, I think it

Tiffani Battle I sought Montessori

pretty surprised. But I realized then that I

would bring interest from diverse commu-

training after working in a school for two

was his first encounter. From that moment

nities. I also believe that in the Montessori


I was public school trained and

forward, I used my platform as a teaching

community, there is definite discrimination

had worked in a 1st-grade class for a time

experience. In every class I have had, I intro-

present on all levels. If we can tackle that

before discovering Montessori. I answered

duce children to my culture.

head-on, it could help people of color to

Tiffani Battle I definitely feel I make a

professors (who were of color) had a bigger impact on me as an educator.

feel more welcome.



What has been your most treasured

with others who are just like me. There is


something to be said about what happens


when one of few becomes one of many.

Montessori as their career would be to find

Nargees Jumahan My most treasured general experience is sparking curi-

Nargees Jumahan I think my to





other Montessorians of colors and build a

osity in my students. However, an individu-

What is your advice to adults of color

al treasured experience involved a student

who are considering Montessori as

in my class, who recently immigrated to the

their calling?

support system to help them thrive. Tiffani Battle I would advise this: Come.

Join our Montessori world.


US and spoke very little English. I shared

Raina Ford My advice to an adult of

with her my story of immigration and my

color considering Montessori as their call-

struggle with English and the challenge

ing, would be to go for it! We need you in

of slowly overcoming it. It completely

our classrooms because we are underrep-

If we truly believe that people of col-

changed her attitude towards the language.

resented. Do it - and put your whole heart

or have and are making a contribution to

She began to express herself verbally and

into it because once you enter into the

our worldwide tapestry, then we will fully

in writing. In the school, she opened up

world of Montessori, it really does change

commit to supporting the voice, access,

and connected with other students.

are making the world a better place, one student at a time.

you. Taking the Montessori training helped

structure, and equitable needs of children,

Tiffani Battle My most treasured ex-

me become more peaceful, and it widened

families, and teachers of color. It is then

perience has been to attend a Montessori

my perspective. It can only add to your life

that we can truly make the invitation, as

Conference in Denver a few years back. It

and your qualifications. So if you have the

Montessorian Tiffani Battle so aptly put

was the first time I went to a community

opportunity to take Montessori training,

it: “Come. Join our Montessori world. We

event with the Montessorians of Color. It

reach out and grab that opportunity.

are making the world a better place one

was the best experience to be in a space

student at a time.”

Dr. Cindy Acker holds degrees in human development, culture and spirituality and a doctorate in educational leadership from UC Berkeley. She is former VP of the National Child Care Association and has served as a public policy adviser for Montessori schools and school associations. She is a five-time award winner in areas of social justice, and has created platforms for school social justice and protocols for school re-entry post covid-19. She was trained by Ursula Thrush and is head of The Child Unique Montessori School and Montessori Elementary School in Alameda.


Sheila Linville Director of Accreditation & Affiliation, International Montessori Council (IMC)


Sheila is passionate about Montessori Education and has three decades of experience as a Head of School, Classroom Guide on the Primary and Lower Elementary levels, and Leadership/Teacher Coach and Consultant. She currently serves as Director of School Accreditation and Affiliation with the International Montessori Council (IMC). She receives great satisfaction from helping schools organize a Guidance Program for their students and families. She is the Executive Director of The Andrews Educational Institute, a foundation for supporting Montessori and Progressive schools. Sheila has two sons, both who are Montessori graduates, and works alongside her dedicated and loving husband Scott.

I am delighted to be sharing our work in Accreditation. Firstly, let me share the exciting News that IMC has 17 fully Accredited schools. We have 12 Schools in the Self Study process from all over the United States, including Poland, Qatar, and the Cayman Islands. These schools are small, medium, and large public, charter, private, or affiliated with a religious organization. Last year, we conducted an OnSite Visit for Accreditation in the Virtual World. Starting in January, we will be back into our wonderful schools, celebrating and validating all of the great work happening. This Winter/Spring, we will be busy with visits to all of these schools who are first-time accreditations OR re-accreditation with IMC: Ghent School, VA; New Gate School, FL; Montessori Community School Salt Lake City, UT; Leap Montessori, NM; Innovation Montessori School, FL. We updated the Accreditation Handbook and all forms that relate to the process. We have attracted over ----new volunteers to our Volunteer Corps to assist with accreditation visits. Additionally, we are working on teams for joint Accreditation Organizations, ie. AMS, Cognia. Working with Regional, State, National, and International Organizations strengthens our relationships to support fully implemented Montessori Schools. It is my privilege to spend time creating a personal relationship with schools, leaders, and teachers. If you would like to become a part of the Accreditation Volunteer Teams, kindly reach out. We have opportunities to read self-studies and become a part of OnSite Verifying Teams. At IMC, we are grateful for our community of IMC volunteers. I am looking forward to building strong and lasting relationships within our community. Sheila Linville


Social Justice update:

the season of Non-Violence by Dr. Cindy Acker

“The worst form of justice,” Plato said, “is pretended justice.” In December, we watched the footsteps of an attempt

Historical Integrity). The position of Homer Plessy as a man of

at restoration of justice and the rewriting of history, as the

courage is not to be missed in telling his story. He was not a

Louisiana state board of pardons unanimously voted to par-

convict but was a man of courage who, although he could have

don Homer Adolph Plessy (posthumously) for his conviction of

moved through life as a White looking man, chose to stand

sitting in the “whites-only” section of a railroad car. Governor

up for the rights and freedoms of others. This is the lesson for

John Bel Edwards has agreed to sign the pardon, which may

children to learn - that regardless of the derogatory situations

have occurred by the reading of this article.

that have occurred in history, there have also been people who

Although a pardon is not an expungement, this work represents a step toward calling out the need for justice.

have stood up for what is right. Plessy and the Citizens’ Committee of New Orleans prepared themselves for this courageous

“True peace… suggests the triumph of justice and love

stand. Everything that the Committee had organized occurred

among men; it reveals the existence of a better world where

as planned, except for the decision of the Supreme Court in

harmony reigns” (Montessori, Peace and Education).

1896. The loss of the Supreme Court case of Plessy vs. Ferguson

Learning about new and uncovered history is true prepara-

resulted in many unjust “separate, but equal” laws that exac-

tion for the teacher, as we take on this task of THI (Teaching with

erbated segregation and discrimination. The pardon of Plessy,



some 125 years later, tells us that justice is not always exacted as it should be, but as Montessori stated, “the triumph of justice... reveals the existence of a better world where harmony reigns.”

Peaceful Bookends Montessorians appreciated the International Day of Peace in September. We now appreciate historical moments: the work in October to expunge the record of Claudette Colvin (predecessor of Rosa Parks), the Board of Pardons’ decision about Plessy, and the awaited Governor’s signature in January. We encourage you to consider these bookends and interior historical parts leading to the Season for Nonviolence, which begins on January 30th and ends on April 4th. The Gandhi Institute writes: “The Season, launched at the United Nations in 1998, marks the annual 64 calendar days between the memorial anniversary of the assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi on January 30 and that of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4. The Season teaches that every person can move the world forward in the direction of peace through daily nonviolent choices and actions.” Some cities include a day of community service and a word of the day to be discussed in schools, City meetings, and organizational forums. If you would like a list of Season of Nonviolence words, please contact Cindy Acker at The SFNV site includes a Nonviolence Pledge, suggested readings, and many resources, including suggested daily practices for each of the 64 days during this Season of Nonviolence, such as:

questions for the Season of Nonviolence: 1) What dream do you think Martin Luther King had for the world? (early childhood)

“Today: I will share a sincere smile with everyone I meet, knowing

2) How do you practice peace like Gandhi? (lower elementary)

that my smile contributes to peace.” For more information, please

3) How are the peace beliefs of Montessori, King, Jr,

see: Season for Nonviolence


Additionally, we invite your students to answer one of these

and Gandhi similar? (upper elementary) Feel free to send them to:


It was mid-2020, the whole world was in shock after watching the gruelling videos of George Floyd as well as the social outcry that followed his death. As we watched the events unfold, we decided, as Montessori leaders, we had to do something. Our duty was to provide a safe space, to have the tough conversations, and provide resources that guides needed to support their community. We reached out to our IMC Board Member, Cindy Acker to find guidance in these unbelievably difficult times. After over 1.5 years of efforts we are happy to announce the creation of the Dr. Cindy Acker Social Justice Fund that will hopefully support schools across the country in creating a more inclusive, empathetic world.

In Dr. Acker’s words... our journey We began with a Town Hall for a few weeks to open up conversations with Montessorians on social justice and racism. However, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. And we discovered that there was a lot that we needed to learn. It was hard work, and it still is. We discovered that social justice work is deep living work, and it is ongoing. One week of Town Hall became four weeks, and we recently celebrated 1.5 years of Montessori Town Halls on various aspects of this subject. We learned where the term “race” originated, how education was a tool for oppression and discrimination, how racism manifests itself in schools. AND we learned that we can replace shame with strength, and how now more than ever, we need to refresh our classrooms with a new insight on history. We learned that we must roll out Montessori teachers who are giving children the service of knowing about other cultures. And we learned that that work is NOT singing some songs and engaging in some celebrations. So, our work has been: • Our series of Town Halls – now involves preparation of curriculum • We partnered with AMS in a BLM rally • We created a tool for the IMC board to examine the association for proper social justice practice • We partnered with Dr. Ayize Sabater (AMI-USA) and WPFW and presented a piece on Critical Race Theory • IMC created a Social Justice Task Force • IMC hosted the showing of a play about the landmark court case of desegregation of schools, entitled, Words That Made the Difference, written and directed by Dr. Cindy Acker • Kathy Leitch engaged a teacher education task force and reached out to MACTE to discover what changes can be made in teacher education as well as IMC Teacher Education Guidelines and Requirements • Tim Seldin is planning a rewrite of his Celebrations of Life book • We created the beginnings of sub-committees for the social justice task force • We began responding to schools needing support via workshops or feedback • We created a book list of books addressing race, gender, sexual orientation, ability • Partner with AMS: Teacher workbook on social justice in Montessori classroom (Rise Up!) • Center for Guided Montessori Studies (IMC) committed resources and support for teacher education for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, and Egypt • Center for Guided Montessori Studies (IMC) awarded scholarships to several aspiring Montessori educators of color • Tim Seldin supported the efforts and provided the resources to Association of Montessori Afrika to help make their conference dream a reality

What your donations will provide... • • •

Creating updated materials and activities Bookstores that fund books for schools Professional development for classroom guides



Individual Liberty and the Common Good Reflections on the Events of January 6 By Andrew Kutt

Editor’s Note: As we embark on a new year and reflect on this past year, Andrew Kutt’s reflections from last January are a relevant and essential reminder. A reminder of the great “American experiment” and a reminder that we continue to see hope through the eyes of the children. “Within the child lies the fate of the future.” Maria Montessori

The invasion of our Capitol on January 6th was a watershed

a remote wilderness compound. It was a desecration of the citadel

moment in the history of the United States. It will sit among the

of our ideals that struck at the heart of the United States. A sacred

darkest moments in our nation’s history and will continue to

threshold was breached. The temple of our democracy was ran-

haunt us as we try to understand what led to this disturbing event.

sacked. The events we citizens watched were gut wrenching; the

We hope it will also spur us onward to become a better version of

images we saw an affront to our love of our country. We recoiled


because we could feel something terrible attacking the soul of

During that day, I happened to be with a group of my elementary students from Oneness-Family Montessori School. We were


America. It was clear that on this day the “better angels of our nature” had been overrun by the darkest forces in American society.

in the woods alongside a creek, and the students were cheerful-

As Americans, we have faced many trials and tribulations in

ly building a shelter out of fallen limbs and branches. They were

our 245 years, as we’ve soldiered on, however slowly and irreso-

blithely unaware of the shocking events happening just a few miles

lutely at times, toward a more perfect union. The tapestry that is

to the south. I, too, was in their cocoon of contentment, though

America has been stretched to the brink at times, as during the

increasingly distracted by the news and images coming through my

Civil War and the two World Wars. It has been torn and burned,


when we’ve fought over our national identity during Reconstruc-

January 6th brought a new and unique horror, because it was

tion and the Civil Rights Movement. Our country has stayed intact

not some small band of anti-government resisters camped out at

due to the resilience of the threads that hold this tapestry together;


these include the belief in the rule of law, the veneration of reason

One of the things that has defined the “American experiment”

as superior to blind passion, and the commitment to the peaceful

is the idea that government should not just be the voice of the

transfer of power.

people and the upholder of laws, but that it should strive to en-

We cherish these threads of our national fabric in a sacred—a

sure the well-being of its citizenry. This trait of the American idea

trust not just in the vision and ideals of our founders, but in each

has origins as far back as Aristotle, who used the idea of “common

other as citizens. That trust is based upon a shared and commonly

interest” as the basis for the distinction between good and bad

accepted understanding of our constitutional republic, that no

governance. Saint Thomas Aquinas held the “common good” to be

matter how vehemently we may disagree on policy and legislation,

the goal of law and government. Thinkers such as David Hume,

we respect the votes of our elected officials, and we honor the will

who used terms such as the “public” or “common interest,” paved

of the people. Inherent in this understanding that we embrace as

the way for James Madison and Thomas Jefferson’s own thinking in

citizens is the knowledge that, while we each have individual rights

those early days when our foundational ideals were drafted.

and freedoms, we also share a commitment to, and must play an

Fast forward to January 6, 2021: The tension between our right

active role in, maintaining the well-being of our country as a whole.

to individual liberty and the commitment to the common good

This sacred trust is the essential knot that keeps the American

boiled over in a paroxysm of violence from which we are still reel-

form of government functioning smoothly. Yet throughout our his-

ing. The rights we have to protest come with a solemn responsi-

tory this sacred trust has been strained by the tension between two

bility to do so peacefully. That is the compact we make to each

core principles of our national identity—that of individual liberty

other as citizens, for we know when that compact is broken, the

on the one hand and general welfare on the other.

very fabric of who we are is torn, and we can no longer ensure the

The notion of individual liberty is perhaps most notably

well-being of our country.

enshrined in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed… This was the radical idea, the bold proposition that made America unique in the history of modern human civilization. The United States was the first to break away from the tyrannical empires of Europe; the regimes that ruled for centuries through blood lineage, military might, and the suppression of individual freedoms. Inspired by thinkers of the Enlightenment such as Hobbes,

Our freedom of speech is not unlimited. It is proscribed by the

Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Voltaire, America’s founders

commitment to exercise our free speech in accordance with exist-

fashioned a new vision that placed the rights of the individual citi-

ing laws protecting the welfare of other citizens, as well as private

zen at the center of the body politic. There would be three branches

and public property. To put it another way, if in the act of protest-

of government, but the engine that drove it all was the freedom of

ing, one attempts to destroy the buildings that exist to preserve

the individual to speak their truth and to cast their vote.Meanwhile

one’s right to protest, then that protest is a grotesque miscarriage

the concept of the general welfare, or of the common good, is em-

of the right to free speech itself. We have the right to speak out

bedded as a core principle in the preamble of the Constitution:

stridently against our government, but we don’t have the right to

We the People of the United States, in Order to

take up arms against it. Inherent in who we are as Americans is the

form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common de-

faith that we can resolve our differences by honest debate and by casting our votes at the ballot box. As Americans, we now face a somber time of reckoning as we

fense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the

ask ourselves how we got here. We reflect upon these new painful

Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Poster-

rips to that great tapestry that is our national soul, which has with-

ity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the

stood furious and fierce onslaughts in times past. We face harsh

United States of America.

challenges ahead.



The political divisions in our society are as great as they’ve

good through our acts of service to the welfare of our fellow citizens;

been in our worst moments. The loss of faith in our electoral sys-

and 4) While the Constitution specifically charges the federal gov-

tem, fueled by the epidemic of misinformation and fanned by the

ernment with maintaining a free public education system, it is we

duplicitous words of demagogues, is a severe illness that will need

who must value learning for our children and for ourselves.

an inoculation of truth via congressional action and educational

On January 6, my elementary students were focused on work-

initiatives. The rise of hatred spread by white supremacist groups

ing together to build their shelter. There was quiet unity as they

will need to be confronted not just by the force of the law, but by

worked in harmony under the trees and the singing birds. They were

the power of a country-wide counter force energized by empathy

energized by their common purpose. They made enthusiastic sug-

and unity. And the stories we embrace about who we are as a

gestions about the design of their shelter, yet deferred when better

nation need to be examined in a new light as we seek to better

ideas were expressed by others. In the end, they displayed a pal-

understand the mistakes we’ve made along the way, so we don’t

pable sense of fulfillment in the collective work they had done to-

risk perpetuating or repeating them.

gether. The lessons they unwittingly taught me were simple: build-

It will be a long road, but our forebears knew that it would

ing things collaboratively is fulfilling and fun. Keeping a balance

be when they embarked on this American journey nearly two

between your own wants and the needs of others is both wise and

and a half centuries ago. From the writings of our founders,

effective in reaching your goals. Solving differences peacefully is

and through the actions of so many bold, heroic leaders since,

easier when you embrace a common purpose.

we have learned (and re-learned) a few hard-fought, important truths: 1) Though we elect leaders to represent us, the power

As I watched my students that day they filled me with hope, even as I knew that a tragedy was unfolding just down the street.

they hold is delegated by us, the citizens; 2) Though we rely on

My students reminded me that we have within us an indomi-

national, state, and local governments to uphold the laws, it is

table spirit, which has demonstrated time and again that we can

we as a collective citizenry that sustain the rule of law by acting

overcome the obstacles facing us and transform challenges into

lawfully; 3) Although the general welfare is the stated responsi-

opportunities, as we march ever onward toward a more perfect

bility of our governing bodies, it is we who uphold the common


Andrew Kutt is the Secretary of the board of the International Montessori Council. He is the founder of Oneness-Family School, which is located in Chevy Chase MD. In addition to being the founder of Oneness-Family School, Andrew has served the global Montessori community by training teachers, advising school leaders, and supporting schools to reach their goals. He has developed curriculum programs in areas such as personal reflection, happiness, gratitude, conflict resolution, and positive discipline. Andrew is also an accomplished author, poet, and songwriter. Oneness-Family School serves children 2 years old through 18 years old, and students come from over 60 countries, making it a truly international school. Oneness-Family School has been voted Best Montessori School in the Washington DC area for the past 5 years in a row.



A Montessorian and a Braver Angel by Nirvair Khalsa

Like many Americans, I was stunned

to people. Instead of avoiding difficult

will be by the better angels of our

by the vitriol that accompanied the 2016

conversations, I wanted to learn how to


pre and post-election season. In our deeply

have them.


polarized country, the expected mud-

One day in early 2017, I heard a voice

I joined the organization, now known

slinging between candidates seemed to

on a television talk show that my husband

as Braver Angels, trained as a workshop

extend to everyone. Now Americans were

was watching in the next room. The man’s

moderator, and organized workshops in

hurling insults, labels, accusations, as-

name was David Blankenhorn, and he was

Arizona to bring people together across

sumptions, and blame at each other. My

talking about reconciliation, conversation,

the political divide. The pandemic required

own family was politically divided, and

unity, and depolarizing America. I joined

Braver Angels to move all workshops

some family members were no longer talk-

my husband and listened. Blankenhorn

online, and new programs were added.

ing to each other. Those that were still

said he and a group of “reds” and “blues”

Online Braver Angels national debates

talking wanted to ban any mention of poli-

were building an organization inspired by

have attracted more than 400 people per

tics. News reporting had taken a strident

the words of Abraham Lincoln in 1861:

session. The 2021 pre-inauguration Hold

tone, everyone on television seemed to be


America Together conversation online drew

shouting, and I stopped watching. I re-

“We are not enemies, but friends.

an audience of over 4,500.

alized I had as little understanding of

We must not be enemies. Though

As a Montessori educator for over

the “other side” as they had about “our

passion may have strained, it must

four decades, I have aspired to nurture a

side,” and I found within myself a longing

not break our bonds of affection.


to talk with the “others” to try to

The mystic chords of memory...

community of learners at our school who

understand them better. I didn’t want to

will yet swell the chorus of the Union,

care for and are curious about themselves,

hear from the pundits. I wanted to talk

when again touched, as surely they

each other, and the world we share. From





resolving conflicts with the peace rose in

may not like the politicians my neighbor

Braver Angels offers suggestions that I

primary, to engaging in animated com-

supports, but I can still love my neighbor.

have found helpful in protecting our

munity meetings in the middle school,

Braver Angels strives for diversity in

Montessori community, promoting good-

and problem-solving together during staff

its membership -- political, racial, genera-

will, and supporting one another as we each

meetings, we have been learning to talk

tional, geographical, and gender -- and has

respond in our own way to national and

through our differences, see each other

braved national conversations on current

global events:

through a lens of compassion, seek under-

topics such as police reform, mask-wearing,

• Listen. If the topic of conversation

standing, and find solutions. Maria Mon-

reparations, the role of facts in politics, and

turns to politics, slow down, and listen. If

tessori saw the peaceful Children’s House

the cancel culture. These conversations

they are distressed, acknowledge feelings

as a hopeful alternative to the destruction

welcome free expression of deeply-held

and give support. If you disagree, seek to

she witnessed in the world of adults in her

opinions, beliefs, and values within an at-

listen and learn instead of declare and debate. Listen to understand instead of to change their mind. • See the person in front of

you. This is a person like yourself, not an ideology. Remember to treat others as you would like to be treated. • Respectfully disengage if you

need to. If the time is not right or the conversation doesn’t seem productive, excuse yourself. • Seek to understand. If you want

to have this conversation, keep it respectful. Even if you disagree with the person, be curious. Instead of arguing, be responsive, “I hear you”, “tell me more about that” , “what has been your life experience that has influenced your thinking on that?” Listen for underlying values. • Accept

that differences of

time. The political challenges of our own

mosphere of mutual respect and goodwill.

opinions and beliefs are ok. Under-

time give us an opportunity to apply the

During the pre-and-post-election cycle,

standing different perspectives and life

community skills we have honed in our

and continuing throughout the transition

experiences gives us a broader under-

Montessori schools and contribute to con-

to a new administration, the With Malice

standing of our world.

versations that bridge the political divide.

Toward None and Hold America Together

• Be respectful of everyone in

For me, Braver Angels has provided an

campaigns have encouraged communities

the room. Don’t assume that everyone

opportunity to engage with people across

such as civic groups, congregations, and

in the conversation agrees with you. We all

the political spectrum, to learn how to lis-

schools to agree that regardless of political

tend to be less respectful about the other

ten without assumptions, and to see with

outcomes, we will maintain respect for one

side when we are talking with people from

new eyes people that I previously would

another and will not let politics divide us or

our own side. Avoid stereotypes, labels, and

have dismissed as hopelessly misguided.

interfere with our work together.

assumptions about the “other”.

I have learned to see beyond stereotypes

Like our national and local communi-

• Focus on what we have in

and have experienced moments of surprise

ties, our Montessori school communities

common and our shared hopes

and wonder at the nuances and complexity

include staff and families with a diversity

and dreams. We will continue to work

of each individual’s unique perspective. I

of experiences, beliefs, and perspectives.

together for our children, our future.

Nirvair Khalsa is the founder (1976) and director of Khalsa Montessori School in Tucson, Arizona and a state co-coordinator for Braver Angels Arizona. She has four adult children and four grandchildren who have all attended or currently attend Montessori schools.



The MPPI and it’s involvement in the Build Back Better Act By Denise Monnier, Director of State Advocacy

The Build Back Better Act is a historic legislative proposal that if passed will change the landscape of early care and education in America by funding near universal access to child care and preschool, and raise early childhood educator and childcare provider income to levels more comparable to the important work that they do. We are optimistically anticipating the possibility of this legislation as it is comprehensive and will increase access to high-quality early childhood experiences enabling all children to have the advantage of a positive start to life. We have been working to first understand the bill language and intent and its implication for both private and public Montessori schools, while meeting with Senators and Senate Committees to include language that would allow Montessori schools to participate in the funding opportunities without compromising on our comprehensive and researched pedagogy. There are two enormous funding streams for early childhood which will be available to private schools/ child-care centers and public schools. Both will give our community the opportunity to serve many more children from lower income families and have funding for 3’s and 4’s where there currently is none to have a full 3 year age grouping for primary. There will be a lot of significant advocacy work to be done at both the federal level and within each state to ensure that provisions in BBB do not impede full Montessori implementation. We need everyone informed and ready to jump into action when opportunities are identified.

What are your next steps? Connect with your state advocacy leads so everyone in your state can work as a team and coordinate strategy and outreach. Let them know you’re willing to volunteer to help with the state level advocacy work for Build Back Better. For further information please read our brief here.



IMC Teacher Education Montessori teacher education is more important than ever as many of our schools face teacher shortages which seems to have only been exasperated by COVID. The IMC-affiliated teacher education program, The Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS), is working hard to tackle the problem, currently preparing over 500 active learners in MACTE accredited programs for teachers of all levels. With over 15 years of experience with blended learning Montessori teacher education, many schools turned to CGMS for support during the pandemic and continue to look to CGMS to provide convenient, high-quality courses to meet their teacher education needs.



by Kitty Bravo, Chair, IMC Teacher Ed Commission In spring 2021, MACTE expanded its scope to include accreditation

Teacher credential serve as a guide to assure these new programs

of School Administrator programs. CGMS was excited to be the

prepare individuals for a successful career as a Montessori para-

first to apply right away and submitted the accreditation self-study

professional and hopefully serve as a stepping stone for some who

for their School Leadership/Administrators credential program in

may later choose to take lead teacher training. IMC recognizes the

November. Designed in partnership with the Montessori Founda-

importance of well-prepared adults in every role in our schools and

tion according to IMC guidelines, the course focuses on nine es-

looks forward to future affiliates offering these important assistant

sential elements of school leadership presented from a Montessori

teacher credentials.

perspective. The response from the first school leaders enrolled has been very positive. They especially appreciate the supportive community of learners, including school leaders from private and public schools and some individuals from international schools. IMC is pleased to welcome a new affiliate applicant, Montessori Teacher’s College (MTC) in Sacramento, California, which is currently completing the join process for MACTE accreditation and IMC affiliation. The directors of Montessori Teacher’s College, Norman Lorenz and Sara Nelson are seasoned Montessori educators with a passion for supporting the development of teachers. In fact, Norman was one of the people who helped organize MACTE back in the 1990s. MTC began with a small cohort of local students in their first Early Childhood course, but with their blended learning format, hope to reach more students and eventually add an Elementary program. The first IMC Early Childhood Assistant Teacher Credential was awarded in 2021 to adult learners who completed the Vietnam Montessori Advisory and Training Center program in Hanoi. VMAT has offered two sessions of the assistant teacher course with 32 graduates. CGMS will begin its first Early Childhood Assistant Teacher cohort in January 2022. With a focus on understanding the role of the assistant teacher, both the CGMS and VMAT programs provide learners a strong foundation in Montessori philosophy and classroom leadership and a robust overview of the Montessori Early Childhood curriculum. The IMC competencies for the Assistant



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