Thursday, January 7, 2016


It's that time of year. The one where we list all of things we'd like to accomplish in the New Year. My strategy is to make it a bold list so that even if I make it half way, there will be plenty to talk about by the end.
When I reflect on 2015 at Loyola's Center for Montessori Education, there were a number of notable accomplishments that make me proud of the work that got done. Although the initial list we tried to tick off was long and likely ... overly ambitious, by the end, I was very proud of the landmarks we achieved.

Here's the Top 10.
  1.  The Center added Montessori Northwest's new A to I and Primary trainings in San Francisco to our list of partner locations. I wish I could explain all of the internal compliance and certification processes that underlay the addition of a new site... but if you're like me, you'd rather see the baby than hear about the delivery. Suffice it to say, it took a team and we are thrilled to be adding more students to our graduate program from across the country.
  2. And we didn't stop there - in 2015 we also welcomed the Southwest Institute for Montessori Studies in Phoenix, Arizona. The family continues to grow!
  3. One Hundred Montessori Teachers completed their M.Ed. in Montessori Education this summer. That's one hundred new leaders of our movement that will serve thousands of Montessori Students in the coming years. Ultimately - that's what its all about.
  4. One Hundred New Montessori Teachers began the program in 2015. The journey began anew for so many teachers in so many destinations. I am humbled by the talented young teachers who chose our program.
  5.  This summer Loyola recognized the Inclusive Education course in San Diego as 10 Continuing Education Units from the University; this assists all teachers in showing recognized progress of their continued Professional Growth. This model of recognizing professional learning activities is one we would like to share throughout our Network of Training Partners in the future.
  6. I love all Montessori Associations. They all have a place at my table. However I do acknowledge that the activities of the Center for Montessori Education at Loyola would not be possible without our strong association with AMI and AMI USA. AMI is our True North. All of our training partners have been and will continue to be AMI affiliated programs. Our faculty at the Washington Montessori Institute and our affiliates across the county are a veritable all star cast of the Leadership within the AMI community and indeed the global Montessori movement. In fact, many of our faculty completed their M.Ed. degrees at Loyola. They make us proud everyday. To all of our faculty a tremendous thank you and a debt of gratitude for all you do. I'll see you all in Los Angeles in February.
  7. 2015 marked the first of a now annual speaker series on campus hosted by the Center for Montessori Education. Our first speaker was Laura Shaw who demystified and debunked a number of "Neuromyths". It was important for a group like ourselves that aspires to a model of scientific pedagogy to challenge our own assumptions about what recent advances in Neuroscience are telling us. It was a great night, a big crowd and lovely reception on campus afterwards. The planning for the 2016 speaker is in the works and the details will be finalized shortly...
  8. Two of our 2015 summer graduate students submitted papers for publication! It is a trend that we hope to encourage in the future. In addition an alumni of the Loyola program and now an Affiliate Faculty member in the program, Dr. Andree Rolfe, completed an excellent Independent Study on the topic of Spelling, a tremendous contribution to our field. In addition Dr. Rolfe is participating in additional scholarship around the topic of Special Education inclusion. Well Done!
  9. I have become convinced in the past year that as a Montessori Movement we need to address the need for Leadership Training and Development. I have begun lecturing in Loyola's Department of Educational Leadership and have spoken at a number of venues including the International Montessori Council's recent conference in Sarasota. Myself and my colleague Dr. Peter Litchka are planning a Montessori Leadership Cohort to commence at Loyola in the summer of 2017. Leadership Development throughout all levels of the Montessori movement will be crucial to ensure that Dr. Montessori's work survives and thrives in the next 100 years.
  10. 2015 continued to see an expansion of Montessori Education in the Public Sector. I personally worked with many candidates to secure a pathway to state certification in their jurisdictions. In some states the process was seamless, in others it was a challenge. Still! there exists no Universal, National or Statewide process towards teaching certification for Montessori Teachers; even in states that are proud to claim Montessori pubic schools and charters! This universal recognition is my aim (and the charge of many others), I confess it did not occur in 2015 but new year's hope springs eternal and we will redouble our efforts in 2016. It's been 110 years and our movement lives on ... we're not going anywhere!


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New Friends

I have just returned from a whirlwind tour of our partner institutes.

The first stop was just up the road in Columbia, where I met the new Primary and Elementary students at our home grown training center, the Washington Montessori Institute. It was the first day and there was so much enthusiasm and energy in the air - great to see.

Next stops: San Francisco, Portland, Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Phoenix. Carrie pinch hit for me in San Diego - though I promise to get out to see that cohort soon! I am extremely lucky to be able to be on hand when the next great leaders of our precious and important movement are born.

In all, 118 students have been admitted into our graduate program in Montessori Education this year. A number we are very proud of: but makes me think of a meeting that I had in my first week as a Head of School...

I was taking over the leadership of the Montessori Country School in Ontario, Canada and my predecessor agreed to spend a week with me to get me oriented. I needed it! By Friday, after a week of policy review, risk assessments, procedures and budgets, I noticed that she had gathered her belongings and was standing at the exit - waiting to be dismissed :)

I went over to shake her hand and I knew that she had one more thing left to say.

"Any final words of advice," I asked.

She just smiled and said "Don't Count".


So today I will stop counting, the new students are no longer applications, interviews and essays. They are part of the fabric of the Loyola Community. I look forward to welcoming each of them on to campus when their time comes and playing a small part in their journey.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My tribe

The first time I felt it was at McGill University in Montreal. Over a few brief weeks in the Faculty of Education, working together with best friends I had only just met. I realized I was with My people. Shared values and shared experience.

The next time I felt it was was at the Toronto Montessori Institute, where Sheila Fitzgerald and Paula Glasgow welcomed me into a community that would define my Place, for the remainder of my career.

I felt it again this week at Dean Smith's house, at an event hosted by the Center for Montessori Education at Loyola University Maryland. I stood looking out over 100 Educators who had just concluded the Intensive Summer Session and would soon be conferred their Master's Degrees in
Montessori Education. I knew I was looking at the future leadership of the Montessori Movement, a group that would continue to move us in a direction towards the lofty goals that Dr. Montessori held for humanity.

I don't know what "it" is. But it has something to do with the following words that one of the students passed along to me at the end of the program. All I know is that I can't wait to feel it again and I know that I will.



Monday, July 6, 2015

Laura Shaw and a Very Enjoyable Evening at Loyola

I make people laugh. At me...With me... whatever it takes.

Last Friday was the first of what will become an annual speaker series, from the Center for Montessori Education at Loyola University Maryland.

Laura Flores Shaw discussed several everyday myths that prevail around the fringes of education. Her message to our students: become a savvy consumer of educational research and don't let the media or popular notions guide your practice.

It was fantastic to have Laura on campus for our intensive summer session. Laura is right in the middle of contemporary Montessori research as a member of AMI's research committee, publisher and founder of the White Paper Press and a doctoral student in Mind, Brain Teaching at Johns Hopkins University.

A great night. Laura. Your signed poster is now framed and in the annals of Loyola's Center for Montessori Education. And as for the summer lecture series ... no one else will ever be first.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Laura Flores Shaw

An impressive scholar and a good friend is coming to Loyola on Friday June 26th. Laura Flores Shaw will be addressing our summer cohort (and interested guests) with a talk on Neuromyths: What Educators Need to Know about Brain Development. It is a timely message - I see some profound signs on the horizon that the educational pendulum is beginning to swing away from an over reliance on high stakes testing to a more holistic, developmental model. And why shouldn't it - wouldn't it seem right that the next century of education might be founded on what makes brains work better.

Laura's talk might just be a perfect "hold your horses" moment. Before we all run off presuming we know what current research in Brain Development is telling us; might it not be a good idea to hear from someone in the field. It's not as if we as an education community have ever run off half cocked with half baked ideas before... who .... no ... not us.

Good friends, good discussion and great after snacks. See you there.

Reserve Your Seats to Laura's Talk

Monday, May 4, 2015

5 Questions from the Road

I'm back from my tour of our partner training centers - and as always, I met some fantastic future educators. It is always an honor. I also got asked some great questions - the kind I usually don't have a ready made answer for - but alas after many hours on planes, trains and assorted other modes of conveyance ... I have responses!

1. Is Baltimore OK?

Yes, I can report that Baltimore, Maryland is fine. Baltimore like all urban centers in this country deals with its issues every day. The turmoil which caught up to Baltimore this week has subsided, however the discussion about social justice and inclusion continues - another good sign. I am proud to call Baltimore home and I enjoyed being back on the light rail Monday morning.

2. If you could take one level of Montessori training what would it be?

Since the answer is a personal one, I'll answer it only from my own perspective. I would take A to I training in a heartbeat. I spent 12 years as a Montessori Head of School and I am indebted to the people at the Toronto Montessori Institute who gave me a start. I guess I've always been fascinated with the stages of life where children deal with the most significant changes. Having spent many years working with adolescents I see the obvious parallels to the 0 - 3 age group. Or maybe it's just because my youngest child is 17 and I can now see grandfather-hood not so far on the horizon...

3. What is the best decision you made in your career?

Completing a graduate degree. It multiplied my options ten fold. It has brought me into new areas, taken me around the world and most of all allowed me to apply a different kind of thinking to my outlook as an educator. When I think of the cost and benefit, it was the most rewarding thing I have done as a professional.

4. Do you miss working with children?

I do, although I am enjoying this opportunity at Loyola because I get to teach and advise young teachers and future leaders. The one thing I am most proud of is that in the 23 years I spent in schools, I gave it all my energy every day!

5. What happens to children in a Montessori School that struggle academically?

One of the fundamental things I have noticed in Montessori Schools is that the students who do not instantly ace academics still love school. There is no disenfranchisement. Those who are not academically inclined still feel empowered. They persevere and keep trying because there is no time clock on success; there are so many areas to succeed at and they are all valuable. And the students who are subject matter whiz kids don't feel the stress of having to always be the top of the class. There is no top - it's just your journey.  It is the one aspect of a Montessori education that I wish I could bring to all children.