Saturday, January 28, 2017

Capstone Connections January 2017

We are excited to announce our new blog project, “Capstone Connections”! Each month, we will feature interviews with our Montessori graduates (both current and alumni) so that readers can learn more about our program through personal accounts of the experience. We hope you enjoy!!

Our first story comes to us from Maria Santoyo (’16), who completed her Primary training at the International Montessori Training Institute (IMTI) in Atlanta and graduated from Loyola in 2016.

 Tell us about your journey as a student. What made you want to become a teacher?

I have always been drawn to the idea of truly making a difference in our world. Looking back, there was one teacher in particular who inspired me to pursue the opportunity to change lives for the better. He was my 4th grade teacher, and he became a beacon of inclusion and ambition for me. I had just moved to the States and my English was, let’s just say, less than useful! But in his classroom, there wasn't a single thing I couldn't achieve. I realize now, especially amidst such a divisive time in our country, how his kindness played a monumental role in who I am today. There are many ways to make a difference in the world, but helping a child develop confidence and self-worth is the most beautiful way to do it. 

I am a firm believer of Maria Montessori's quote, "Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war." I am incredibly proud to follow in the footsteps of many great educators and leaders who fight to make our world a more peaceful and inclusive place. This is just the beginning of my contribution to what still is a long fight ahead of us. 

When did you first venture into Montessori training, and what were your reasons for doing so?

My mother was a Montessorian, so I was a Montessori child and have been around it ever since. It came as the most natural transition to earn my AMI diploma and get involved in early childhood development. I completed my training shortly after my graduation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Congratulations on surviving the Montessori Summer Session! What were some of the highlights of your experience during those four weeks?

It was tough! But so worth it. There are many times when I have to stop and remind myself that it actually happened; it went by so quickly. I had heard both sides about whether it was better to take on the summer session immediately after training or not, but for me personally, it was definitely the right decision to do it right away. My brain was already in gear and I was used to the long study/work schedule from training. 

One of the coolest parts of the summer session was coming together as a group with people from all around the country to finalize our studies. To know that every single person there was just as devoted to pursuing Montessori education and making a difference for future generations was such a unifying feeling. Not to mention the professors and advisors from Loyola who worked so closely with us the 4 weeks we were there and shared their passion for education with us.

Now that you have completed the M.Ed. through Loyola, do you have any thoughts or concerns you want to share about our program?

It was very helpful to have had the check-ins with Jack while we were at training. If it hadn't been for that I would have felt very out of place when I got there. I had to remember to look at the bigger picture!

Do you have any hobbies you would like to tell us about?

Language is my other passion. I grew up trilingual and aspire to know 10 languages proficiently by the time I'm 30 years old. My vision is to combine language immersion and Montessori to create the ideal learning environment for children! It is so important to have exposure to other cultures other than one’s own, and language is a beneficial way to do just that. Instilling in children a sense of inclusion and appreciation for others could very well be the answer to a peaceful future. Currently, I am in charge of the Spanish program at Chesterfield Montessori School in St. Louis, which I recently founded. 

Thanks, Maria, for sharing your story!
#OurFavoriteInsight:  “There are many ways to make a difference in the world, but helping a child develop confidence and self-worth is the most beautiful way to do it.” – Maria Santoyo ‘16

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Miraculously, a tree festooned with baubles and bells appeared in our living room this week. This is a reoccurring event and one that catches me off guard every December. Over the next few days, presents will begin to appear beneath the tree and with them pleasant memories will return.

My hope is that no matter which traditions your family chooses during the holiday season
they are paired with peaceful times and happy children.

At the Center for Montessori Education it's been a special year and it gives me pause to think of all of the gifts I have received over the past several months.

At the Washington Montessori Institute it has been a pleasure to work with Jennifer Shields, Janet McDonell and Jamie Rue; such a dedicated group of Montessori trainers that truly devote themselves in service of their students so that our graduates can make a lasting difference in the lives of children. Thank you JJ and J.

Each summer, Loyola comes alive with dozens of Montessori teachers from all across the county. This past summer our students arrived with big ideas and lofty goals. They came to claim an education for themselves and commit to the highest standards of professional excellence. The picture I chose for this entry is Dr. James Snow's Educational Research class - I love the looks on their faces, an indication that the intersection of purposeful work in a pleasant environment can produce joyful scholars. Thank you Dr. Snow.

This summer we also had a number of firsts: our first graduates from the Houston Montessori Institute and the Southwest Institute for Montessori Studies in Phoenix. Additionally, new students joined our program at the Greenville Montessori Institute in South Carolina. Thank you students and partners (new and "old").

2016 also saw us welcome new friends to the Center for Montessori Education; Dr. Ann Epstein joined forces with Dr. Andree Rolfe to produce a world class course in Special Education taught from a Montessori perspective. I believe it is the finest short course treatment of Montessori Special Education in the world. I have heard our graduates comment that they use the resources from that course as much as their albums! Thank you Drs. E and R.

Our alumni continue to amaze us: whether it's Carrie Lange at the Baltimore Montessori Charter school, a double graduate of Loyola, who took up the Educational Leadership program at John's Hopkins and is providing incredible support to her school; Or Jessica Richards who sends me pictures of her classroom in Queensland, Australia. I am amazed by the passion and commitment that our graduates put towards our movement. Thank you Graduates.

Finally, I can't help but acknowledge a few organizations that help to promote our Center and support our mission. Friends such as the Judith Cunningham at the Montessori Model UN program, WMI graduate Wendy Calise at the Montessori Teachers Institute for Professional Studies, and Jackie Cossentino at the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. Thank you friends.

So let's enjoy this holiday season, treasure all of our gifts and come back relaxed and refreshed; ready to carry out the ambitious work that Dr. Montessori called us to take up, in service of the child.



Friday, July 15, 2016

On Poetry and the Cosmos

It doesn't happen often but occasionally I get poetic.

It happened a couple of weeks ago in front of group of 100 Montessori Teachers and friends. Judith Cunningham, Executive Director of the Montessori Model United Nations program had inspired all of us with stories of the Cosmic Task our students strive for, and her own purpose to use the United Nations and Montessori students to create a peace keeping armada in a time when the world so desperately needs it.

Judith's program has inspired 25,000 students to seek peaceful global outcomes. I dared our Graduate students to do better.

And as I looked out across the room, I knew that they would.

I can scarcely believe the talent that I have been honored to work with over these past 4 weeks as Montessori Teachers from across the world have used Loyola to springboard their careers. They have dug in deep on important issues and every one of them is poised to bring these explorations back to their communities. Finding their way back to the child.

After 27 years as an educator (can that number be right?) I seem to have settled into my own cosmic task. I realize my purpose is to clear a path for thousands of Montessori practitioners, researchers, trainers and leaders; each one of them will have a mammoth impact on the children that I have spent my life serving.

Today is the last day of our summer program. I have instructed the students to enjoy the weekend and then to get straight back to work next week completing final papers and then redirecting their energies to prepare for their classrooms.

My schedule has me back on the road to St. Louis, San Diego and Portland to orient new students to our graduate program. It's a path I'm happy to travel.

When you spend a career in education you call amongst your colleagues some of the finest people in the world. I never take that for granted.



Thursday, May 19, 2016

Greenville, South Carolina

I am pleased to announce that the Greenville Montessori Institute has joined the Loyola family. Last year I met Brenda Gonzalez and Robert Gilbert, both Alumni of our graduate program in Montessori Education (who in fact first met at our partner institute in San Diego) and who now operate GMI.

It was my first time in Greenville. Here's the rundown:

Charm? check. One stroll around downtown Greenville had me hooked. It's the kind of town where you run into a shop to grab a coffee and you ask yourself...why am I running? Let's just sit a spell and enjoy the sunshine, work can wait.

Beauty? check. Any city that can boast a rippling waterfall in the midst of its city center complete with walking, biking and hiking trails is on my must see list.

Hospitality? I've travelled a lot and I've been fortunate to find fantastic people everywhere I've gone, but in the southern U.S. they take hospitality to the next level. Every meal is home cooked and there's always plenty of time for a visit.

So I promised I'd be back and now I have every reason to do so. Our accrediting body Ok'd the application last week and now we can begin enrolling students in Greenville!