Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Refreshed!

Just got back from the AMI USA conference and refresher in Atlanta - all fired up to give our Montessori Graduate students the best experience possible this summer.

Favorite moments

Keynote by Alison Gopnik who got deep into the world of Early Childhood Educational Research - some tremendous evidence showing that Dr. Montessori's approach is aligned with contemporary research. I could tell her data driven methods were taking the crowd aback - it's great when a speaker can challenge the audience.

Michael Thompson discussed the irrationality of parents and I for one think that's just fine - Could I ever be rational about my own children - absolutely not - can't you tell by my twitter feed!

Steven Hughes never disappoints - a developmental neuropsychologist with an absolute passion for Dr. Montessori's work. I also love the way he pronounces "A.M.I." as "ahhmeee", cracks me up every time.

Laura Shaw, soon to be Doctor...don't you know... introduced her newest project; Montessori's own whitepaper press. Hoping to learn more about it when she comes to Loyola to deliver a talk on "Neuro-education" this summer. Thanks Laura.

Re-acquainting with my "old" Australian friends. Christine Harrison and Megan Tyne, two dynamos that made me homesick for Australia all weekend. Did I say home?

And there were plenty of quick hello's in passing with all of Loyola's Faculty - they are truly the leadership within AMI

A lifetime achievement award was given to Lilian Bryant, whom I met for the first time in Atlanta this summer. Well earned!

But my most favorite part was chatting with all of our recent graduates. They made it! There in the field making a difference - I could not be more proud!

Peace,

Jack


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

AMI USA



For 4 years in a row I attended AMI conferences and refreshers in Sydney, Australia. Last year, in my return to North America, I intended to make a big splash, Loyola was hosting a wee hospitality party to introduce me to the community as their new Center for Montessori Education Director. Instead snow happened, lots of snow and despite every attempt I never made it to Houston.

So this year the event is in Atlanta and I am determined to get there! In an attempt to make up for my absence last year I have convinced Loyola to try again and purchase a few snacks for after the keynote address for the conference participants to enjoy!
 
I'm looking forward to hanging out with Joen and Greg .... Silvia and Sharon.... Jen and Ginny... and the entire gang - it should be a great time.
 
I am also hoping to catch up with some of our graduates (especially the ones from Atlanta!) who by now will have started their careers and can reflect of the process of becoming an AMI trained guide with a Masters degree to boot.
 
It really is true that when you choose a career in education you are blessed to call amongst your colleagues some of the finest people in the world.
 
See y'all in Atlanta!
 
JR

Monday, November 10, 2014

Harmony

I just returned from Sarasota, where I spoke to a group of Montessori educators on the topic of Leadership. It is always enjoyable to re-connect with my friends from the Montessori Foundation and the International Montessori Council. I love the gathering because it is rigorously "non-denominational" in it's approach; it appeals to those in the audience at the very start of their Montessori journey's as well as established Montessorians looking to recharge in Florida's autumn sunshine.

It was lovely to see so many of our graduates at the event! - those who had just finished up their degrees this summer (...and are now working in exotic Caribbean locales...you know who you are...) and even experienced educators that remember their time at Loyola from a decade (or more...) ago.

I am very lucky to be able to be able to travel the country meeting Montessori educators from Louisiana, Oregon, Massachusetts and all points in between. This weekend's conference also allowed me to make new friends from England, Nigeria and Poland. It reminds me of how large and diverse the Montessori Industry has become and yet, when we come together, it always feels like a community.

It is an honor to particpate in the global Montessori movement. I feel a great sense of pride that I represent the small but significant role Loyola plays in merging Montessori study with higher education. Graduates from our AMI training centers are taking a rigorous treatment of Dr. Montessori's work, and are using it to make a difference in every setting where adults stand beside children and assist their development. I am humbled by their contribution.

Unfortunately, I believe I brought a Northeastern chill with me on my journey and mixed with a couple of late afternoon rain showers, the cocktail of weather dampened our enthusiasm for outdoor pursuits. Still, indoor options to occupy our time were abundant and I am grateful for the conversation and fellowship.

#harmony

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Houston Montessori Institute

It was past time for a visit to Loyola's newest AMI training partner, the Houston Montessori Institute, located at the gorgeous Post Oak School in the city's Bellaire neighbourhood. I remedied that condition this past week.

My schedule included meeting Mirani Smith, one of the HMI trainers and the Early Childhood Director at the Post Oak School. I also convened with the 2015 cohort who will complete their AMI training next summer before they make the pilgrimage to Loyola to finish their Master's degree in 2016 - what a delightful group of students!

My visit corresponded with an Open Session for the next multi-summer Primary cohort starting up this summer. Lot's of interest! Exciting times in Houston.

But the visit would not have been complete without a comprehensive tour of Post Oak with their Head of School, John Long, a delightful gentleman and a true thought leader in the Montessori Community. John could not have been more gracious with his time, and it was a pleasure to see a Montessori School so advanced in it's planning and vigorous in its practice. I believe the kinds of developmental high school models emerging at locations such as Post Oak will truly be the vanguards of education in the next 50 years.

Houston itself was a bit of a surprise to me, more cosmopolitan than I imagined, with a terrific museum district that the Post Oak students frequent. However, I don't mean to imply that I saw anything near the city's extent. As with everything "Texas Sized" (including my order of scallops) it's a 50 mile journey from one end of the city to the other, so there's more to see.

And speaking of site seeing, a word of caution, when the gentleman at the Derek Hotel tells you that it is impossible to walk from the Galleria District to Bellaire, while carting a fancy little knapsack over your shoulder and dressed in dress shoes and a tie, you would be wise to believe him. An hour into my walk-about, attempting to circumnavigate 15 lanes of freeway traffic as the Houston humidity came out in full force; I had visions that Houston might indeed be my final resting place. But not so, I made it - and if I was the first to do so, I will add it to the growing list of impetuous world's records I hold driven by my foolish need to say - nah I can do that!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The West Coast Swing

I had a lovely trip to California last week to visit the Montessori Institute of San Diego located in the gorgeous La Jolla neighborhood. There was so much energy at the center and it was my pleasure to introduce a new cohort of Loyola students into the graduate program. I enjoyed catching up with Greg MacDonald, the elementary trainer, and the team at the institute. As always, I was treated amazingly by Sharon and Vivian who spoiled me with a dinner out on the harbor; I hope that the Dean is not reading this post because the next time I make it out to the Institute I am definitely tacking on a day to my journey - I need to investigate the WWII aircraft carrier on the bay and the lure of the Torrey Pines golf course is too great.

It was exciting to learn more about the inclusion workshop which was held at the institute in the summer. I could scarcely believe how large a contingent came to the San Diego this summer (over 150 attendees!) to discuss Montessori's application to students with diverse needs. I look forward to watching this seminar continue to grow over the coming years.

Always so much happening at all of the centers and we look forward to orienting new students in Milwaukee, Atlanta and Portland in the coming weeks.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to Portland

The mid-west was sunny and cool; Portland was scorching! The thermometer hit 99 degrees but I still persevered and walked from my hotel to the training institute for my orientation with six new Assistance to Infancy trainees at Montessori Northwest.

Nancy Lechner, Montessori Northwest's new A to I trainer and former graduate of the Masters program at Loyola was on hand to help me orient the students. It turns out, as it always does in Montessori circles that she had been to my former school in Canberra, Australia, presenting a workshop - I missed her by a day. It is a small Montessori world.

The team at MNW were gracious enough to have me over for a quick social which was the perfect way to end my sojourn. It's been only six months, but I feel like an "old" friend whenever I visit.

The train continues with academic year programs starting up in Atlanta, San Diego, Milwaukee, Portland, and of course right here at home at the Washington Montessori Institute, Loyola's on-site training partner, located at our graduate center in Columbia, Maryland. I look forward to meeting a new group of Montessori practitioners in the fall.

Well enough of this diversion. I must return to marking the ED 625 Advanced Studies papers turned in from the recently concluded intensive summer session. There are some extremely articulate individuals in our program and the advanced study is a great way for them to demonstrate all that they know.  And I get to read them all :), I promise to reference all of your great ideas when I introduce the program to a new summer group in 2015. 'till then.....




Thursday, August 14, 2014

Montessori Institute of Milwaukee

I am standing in front of an old All-Girls Catholic School, which has now been redeveloped into office space for multiple Wisconsin based not for profit groups. To my right is the mighty and picturesque Lake Michigan, it recalls to me why the Great Lakes are so named. A quarter turn to my left and through a patch of Maple trees I can see the skyline of downtown Milwaukee in the distance, just close enough so it's there if you need it. I am talking to the Director of the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee Allyn Travis, who is pointing out the features in her view and explaining why she can never leave. Inside the Institute is state of the art, a full classroom of Montessori teacher trainees are being skilled on the finer points of Montessori elementary pedagogy, as Allyn uses a projector to capture every detail.

So many students at the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee are taking up the Loyola Masters of Education option. They are an international group that has come to this lovely center to pursue their AMI elementary training over a 3 summer format. Others wait in the wings taking the foundation course and are ready to jump into the academic year format in the fall.

Thank you for the tour Allyn I promise to say hello to Carolyn Hunter and Jackie Kirk. Two beloved Montessori teachers from Australia who you have similarly helped along in their careers.

Peace,

Jack