From Mary Ellen Maunz, Program Director
I write with lots of rain coming down outside. Southwest Montana often has gorgeous extended Indian summers, but not so much this year. Oh well, it’s back to school and more indoor activities.
I’d like to fill you in just a bit on my summer. It has been a busy one! If I could put it all in a nutshell, it is weddings, students and airplanes! My beautiful daughter, Lydia, got married on June 29th and went off to Iowa to pursue her Ph.D. in Victorian literature. I could write an entire article on the feelings of watching your child marry the man she loves and pursue her dream of a Ph.D.
Our Age of Montessori Intensive began on July 11th and we worked with 22 students from around the nation and Australia who received all of the Montessori material presentations and spent their afternoons practicing with them.
We worked hard and had some fun with birthday parties too, and sang Happy Birthday in seven languages! Me with younger daughter, Lenore, and faculty member Susan Hoffman both of whom helped out with the summer intensive.
On July 25th we held a wonderful event, our second annual live webinar with faculty Randall Klein and me along with our current students at AOM Live! We invite you to check in our online archives to watch a video replay if you have not seen it yet.
I flew to Portland, Oregon for the International Montessori Congress, sponsored by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and many other Montessori organizations including Age of Montessori. It was well done and very exciting to see Montessori advertised all around Portland, from the sides of buses, street signs and a great exhibit on downtown Portland’s main square.
There were three fully equipped classrooms on the square (toddler class, preschool class and an elementary class, with children at work in each of them – a fabulous testament to how it works even with a few hundred observers at any one time!
New spirit of cooperation
There were wonderful keynote speakers and sessions to choose from during the remainder of the day. Perhaps the most thrilling part of the conference was a couple of sessions that discussed the new levels of cooperation between various Montessori organizations that have not always worked well together in the past.
The catalyst was a number of small foundations who wished to promote Montessori with grants for 100 community center schools. They were surprised to find that the Montessori community was not entirely working together but often competing. They sponsored a series of get-togethers of the leaders of all the various Montessori organizations with the clear directive – no foundation, no large corporation will ever fund Montessori until you have one voice!
And so, new discussions, new levels of mutual trust and coordinated planning are getting started. There were cheers reverberating through the audience along with a sincere desire and profound hopes that we can more readily meet the needs of children everywhere by more adult cooperation among all the organizations that have all sprung from the same root – Maria Montessori.
Age of Montessori and Pan-American Montessori Society
In the first week of July I flew to Atlanta, Georgia to participate in the training course founded by Dr. Feland Meadows, distinguished Montessori educator and, with Dr. Elisabeth Caspari, founder of the Pan-American Montessori Society. Old friends from the early 1980s, Dr. Meadows and I decided that since we are both direct students of Caspari, we really ought to work together! His course is also MACTE-accredited, as is ours, so we are able to offer our online component to his students who stay and do their intensive with him in Atlanta rather than traveling to Bozeman.
It is such a powerful thing to find your true collaborators, and we are grateful!
Keeping the wheels on the bus at home
So much to do here in Bozeman when life brings me back home! Friend and colleague Jennifer Williams, founder of Heartmanity, and I have been working hard on some new parent education materials, soon to be released.
We are also working on additional DVDs of our Royal Road to Reading series. Before I started work on Age of Montessori, I spent many years as a reading specialist, designing materials and training teachers in several large public school districts and in one large national chain of early childhood schools, as well as Montessori schools around the US and Canada. Colleague Randall Klein also brings a long history of professional work as an early reading specialist. Having started to develop our reading program in the late 70s, our joint efforts have continued to grow and flourish into a well-defined program that complements Montessori classrooms, early childhood programs and homeschools.
Advanced Training in St. Petersburg, Russia
Shortly after the Bozeman intensive concluded, I traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia for my 12th trip over there. I held a two-week training course for former students who wanted to dive a little deeper into solving the problems of practical application. It was such a wonderful group! We worked hard, had fruitful discussions, sang and danced, and one student even found time for a bit of a nap!
Part of the Russian culture is flowers, and here is the bowl of lovely blooms that they gave me in celebration of my birthday:
It is impossible for me to go to St. Petersburg and not go downtown to the Nevsky Prospect, the main street of the city and visit such landmarks as this incredible church, commonly called the Church on Spilled Blood.
For many years I had wanted to visit a refurbished palace of the Emperor Paul and his wife Maria who were active at the same time as the American Revolution. The palace is known as Pavlovsk and once I got inside, I was especially taken with the unique light-fixtures throughout the palace.
Then it was on to Moscow, where I had been invited to come visit an orphanage that is part of the Moscow State Orphanage System. It was a moving experience, especially learning that it was only the Americans who ever adopted special needs children, and now that President Putin has banned American adoptions, these children are languishing with very little hope. The orphanage I visited is for newborns through age 4 or 5, and it was beautiful.
There is a Montessori classroom for the children, but they are not allowed because of strict schedules to be in there for long enough for the real work of normalization to take place.
Here are two friends trying to get settled for their mid-day nap, but quite interested in a visitor with a camera!
When in Moscow, the place to go is Red Square! Right next to the famed Kremlin, you find St. Basil’s and the lovely fountains of Alexander Park.
This visit to Moscow was capped by a butterfly, who landed on a gentleman sitting on a bench right next to the Kremlin wall. It was a sweet, light-hearted moment in a city that is filled with both beauty and heaviness.
Hawaii, a real vacation
Finally, after all these rich and fulfilling trips, I was ready for a vacation; the kind defined by me and the beach. I had a great opportunity to go to the island of Kauai and really relax. The beaches were beautiful, as were the underwater coral reefs. And I saw at least one rainbow every day, rain or shine!
Home at last! (and getting ready to go out again)
It’s good to be home, and back into the swing of things in our office. Just last week I did a Professional Development webinar on the subject of the Early Development of the Mathematical Mind. Click here to view the professional development webinars. We had schools from around the country as well as individual parents and teachers join us for the live broadcast. We have more than 20 webinars in our archives now, most of them complimentary, so click here to see what’s available. Click here to read the blog I did on the mathemical mind.
Planning is afoot for visits to interns around the country (for example, we have four interns in and around Nashville), including an early November trip and attending the annual Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education meetings in Alexandria, Virginia in December. Do let us know if there are any events in the D.C. or New York City area that you would like us to present. We have lots to share!
Age of Montessori’s two-year anniversary
On Friday, September 27th we had a birthday party, celebrating our second birthday as Age of Montessori! Complete with all our faculty, business office, volunteers, our social media team and our Board members. It was a lovely event with a slideshow of all that we have miraculously accomplished and to honor all of our team’s contributions. Yay, Age of Montessori!