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.



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Meet me in St. Louis

I thought I had been everywhere, but as I flew into St. Louis last week I realized it was my first visit to the city.

I was there to greet a new cohort of Loyola students just starting out in their multi-summer AMI primary training odyssey. A journey that will conclude when they wrap up their Masters of Education in Baltimore at the conclusion of their AMI diploma.

The group has just moved into a lovely facility which will serve as a teacher training facility, as well as a lab school. Dr. Annette Haine's the primary trainer gave a beautiful presentation on the thermic tablets which captivated the attention of the group. There is something so amazingly therapeutic about Montessori Education and it is why with all wonders in the world it must be seen to be appreciated.

Annette let me know that the Institute will be hosting an academic year program starting in the fall of 2015 in addition to their multi summer cohorts, busy times ahead.

I am a little miffed that I only had a few hours to spend in St. Louis what a fantastic city, still I spent those fleeting minutes wisely with a drive along the Mississippi and check in at the arch, a peek at the Ball Park and the finest slab of ribs I have ever tasted.

What a town. I'll be back!

Monday, July 14, 2014


When I first left teaching to become a school Principal, I secretly wondered if I was still an educator. After spending 12 years at the vanguard of the educational process, I  believed that a teacher's vantage point was the only position from which to impact learning. I was wrong.

I found out that a Head of School has a surprisingly large ability to impact what goes on in the classroom. The effect is a little more indirect but the people you hire, the professional development you support, the culture you create and the respect that you demonstrate is scrutinized endlessly. The effect is difficult to measure on a daily basis but over a 3 or 5 year period there is no more impactful position at a school that its leadership.

As a Head of School I still considered myself a participant, never a pundit. People would ask me "what I believe" and I would quickly redirect to conversation to "watch what I do".

Now after 24 years as a teacher and school leader I come to a new position as Director of a gradate program in teacher preparation. Am I still an educator? Are my effects so indirect to be rendered superficial? Am I am "pundit" and if I was a teacher would I listen?

Last Friday was the end of my first season on the job, only 6 months but nevertheless a full campaign cycle with students completing their Montessori training, coming to Baltimore and finishing their Masters degree. For my part, I was involved in coordinating the show and participating as an instructor in two classes of advanced studies in education.

But it wasn't until the reception at the Dean's house on Friday that I understood the role I was playing. It turns out I am a matchmaker! I looked over the lawn and saw representatives of the 118 Montessori Teachers that completed their degrees in Montessori Education this year. I saw friendships being made, colleague relationships forming, ideas being shared, tears being shed and people in harmony. My role is to lead that jazz band of experiences without ever playing a note.

At times I miss preparing my classroom or leading a school through a sticky situation but now my role is to set the conditions to ensure that there are 100's more every year ready to do the same. From the graduates I met during my first summer I can only be sure of one thing:

The future is in good hands.



Monday, June 30, 2014

Mile High and the summer in Baltimore

The Summer Session is in full swing. Our cohort of 100 recently trained Montessori teachers are completing their graduate studies over the next 3.5 weeks in Baltimore and will emerge with a Masters of Education. It is the final stretch of a rewarding road that for some candidates began almost 5 years before! Dean Smith greeted the students at orientation two weeks ago and highlighted the tremendous partnership that Loyola enjoys with the 10 AMI training centers we work with, creating a model that is innovative and unique. It is lovely to see students from Portland to Atlanta working together, creating presentations, studying, socializing and forging friendships that will travel with them throughout their careers. I am thoroughly enjoying teaching my two sections of ED 625, Advanced Studies of Education it is exhilarating to be a resource for so many talented young teachers who are asking poignant questions about education and their craft. 

As a contrast to those completing their Masters, I took the time last Thursday to pop up to Colorado to orient students that are just beginning their Graduate studies in the multi-summer A to I format in Denver. It was fantastic to see Judi Orion who operates an incredibly popular training center in the Mile High city. I last saw Judi in Canberra, Australia in one of her many circumnavigations of the globe while, spreading the word of Dr Montessori. 

My words to the incoming cohorts at orientations was about the fantastic people that you meet in a career in teaching. I am in an honored position when I get to call people like Dean Smith and Judi Orion amongst my colleagues.

Last Friday the group assembled on campus for a some much needed refreshments after class and this Wednesday in a test of my organizational skills I am bringing a group of 50 downtown to an Orioles game. Wish me luck. 

A big shout out to Carrie Stroup, our program coordinator for her incredible skills in organizing the programming from intake to completion and thank you to the entire Loyola community for making the Montessori gang feel at home.

Two more weeks to go .... I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Green Green Rocky Road

When I go back to Baltimore
Got no carpet on my floor
Come along and follow me 
We'll go down to Galilee

2 weeks until the summer session for our Montessori M.Ed. students begins, so forgive my folk singing with the Baltimore reference. All faculty are in place are ready to go! Elana Rock, Sharyn Rhodes and Marie Celeste, will be delivering our course on working with Special Needs students. The well loved Jim Snow and prized new comer Denise Bike are ready to proceed with our educational research course. And noted Montessori educator John Feeley and myself will advise students through their Advanced Study in Education.

I have been working on preparing materials for my courses and I am going to start with John Hattie's meta analysis to try to get some interesting discussion started on contemporary issues. Looking forward to it!

The Loyola campus is in incredibly "good nick", I went for a 5 minute walk today and it turned into a half hour just because I I didn't want to go back inside. Gorgeous.

I wish everyone safe travels on the way to Baltimore.

Hooka Tooka, Soda Cracker
Does Your Momma  - chew tobacco
If your momma, chews tobacco
Hooka Tooka,, Hooka Tooka Soda Cracker

And if you don't like my version,

Green Green Rocky Road, Oscar Issac

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Year End

Lot's of action at our partner sites with the academic year programs closing at the Washington Montessori Institute and Montessori Northwest in Portland. Students are writing exams and completing orals, the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work.

At the International Montessori Institute in Atlanta the Primary Academic Year program is finishing up as noted by the stream of albums coming in to be read and checked. A similar scene can be witnessed in San Diego, Portland, Houston and at Loyola's graduate center in Columbia where the Washington Montessori Institute is housed.

Soon multi-summer elementary programs will commence in Milwaukee and the Montessori Institute of Atlanta. A primary multi-summer cohort will begin in St. Louis.

Assistance to Infancy will begin in Portland, San Diego and Denver in July. 

At Loyola we are gearing up for our intensive summer program where 100 students representing all of our training centers will be coming to complete their Masters degree at the Evergreen campus.

It's all happening!

On May 22nd  - wait that's this Thursday.... I'll be hosting a virtual information session for applicants to our 2014 / 2015 sessions. Sign up at for more information.

The last piece of the puzzle to be placed at this time of year are graduation ceremonies at our partner centers as students celebrate the successful completion of their AMI diplomas. "Congraduations" to all!

It's a race to the finish but hopefully there will plenty of opportunities to celebrate and reflect along the way.

"Free the child's potential and you will transform him / her into the world"