WHY MONTESSORI?

MARIA MONTESSORI (1870 – 1952)

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So many of us have asked the question, why Montessori?

Maria Montessori was the first woman in Italy to qualify as a physician. She developed an interest in the diseases of children and in the needs of those said to be ‘ineducable.’ In the case of the latter she argued for the development of training for teachers along Froebelian lines (she also drew on Rousseau and Pestalozzi) and developed the principle that was also to inform her general educational program: first the education of the senses, then the education of the intellect. Maria Montessori developed a teaching program that enabled ‘defective’ children to read and write. She sought to teach skills not by having children repeatedly try it, but by developing exercises that prepare them. These exercises would then be repeated: Looking becomes reading; touching becomes writing.

 

The success of her method then caused her to ask questions of ‘normal’ education and the ways in which it failed children. Maria Montessori had the chance to test her program and ideas with the establishment of the first Casa dei Bambini (Children’s house or household) in Rome in 1907. (This house had been built as part of a slum redevelopment). This house and those that followed were designed to provide a good environment for children to live and learn. An emphasis was placed on self-determination and self-realization. This entailed developing a concern for others and discipline and to do this children engaged in exercises de la vie pratique (exercise in daily living). These and other exercises were to function like a ladder – allowing the child to pick up the challenge and to judge their progress.

 

‘The essential thing is for the task to arouse such an interest that it engages the child’s whole personality’ (Maria Montessori – The Absorbent Mind: 206).

 

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This connected with a further element in the Montessori program – decentralizing the teacher. The teacher was the ‘keeper’ of the environment. While children got on with their activities the task was to observe and to intervene from the periphery. (Here there are a number of parallels with Dewey).

 

The focus on self-realization through independent activity, the concern with attitude, and the focus on the educator as the keeper of the environment (and making use of their scientific powers of observation and reflection) – all have some echo in the work of informal educators. However, it is Maria Montessori’s notion of the Children’s House as a stimulating environment in which participants can learn to take responsibility that has a particular resonance.

 

MONTESSORI PHILOSOPHY

 

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Note: The following essay is excerpted from The Montessori Way by Tim Seldin and Paul Epstein, copyright 2003 by The Montessori Foundation.

There are more than four thousand Montessori schools found throughout the United States. Montessori schools are also found in North and South American nations, throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Some schools only offer early childhood programs; others offer early childhood through elementary or secondary. Most are private or independent schools, founded either by an individual teacher or a parent board. There are a growing number of public school programs, and many home schools implement aspects of the Montessori approach.

Each Montessori school is built upon the educational legacy of Dr. Maria Montessori and her influential work, which began nearly one hundred years ago. Since 1907, the year of her first school, children and adults have engaged in an approach to learning that addresses all aspects of growth: cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual. In Montessori schools throughout the world, children develop the habits and skills of lifelong learning. Guided by teachers trained to observe and identify children’s unique learning capabilities, children learn in educational partnership with their teachers. Because children’s interests are heard and honored, Montessori students develop confidence and become self-directed. A powerful learning formula emerges as a result of this self-directed, self-initiated orientation to learning. When interested, a child becomes self-motivated. Self-motivation leads to becoming self-disciplined. When self-disciplined, a child engages in a process of mastery learning and fully develops his or her potential. Dr. Maria Montessori called this a “normal” approach to education.

 

We call this The Montessori Way…

The Montessori Way refers to: the knowledge of how children naturally learn; a curriculum based on that knowledge designed for the developmental needs of infants, toddlers, three-to six- year-olds, elementary, middle, and secondary students; a method of instruction involving learning how to observe and how to develop learning environments in which teachers challenge each child to extend fully his or her unique style of learning; a profession; a school characterized by calm, orderly, focused, and respectful learning behaviors; and, a person named Maria Montessori.

 

In 1907, Dr. Maria Montessori discerned a fundamental premise about children and humanity in general: All children are uniquely intelligent.

 

This premise challenged long-held beliefs about intelligence and the inherent nature of mankind as violent and competitive. Whereas Montessori wrote about unique, individual potential, it is more fashionable today to discuss each person’s “multiple intelligences.” This is the belief that intelligence is not fixed at birth and that the human potential is without limit. The validity of this belief has been confirmed by the research of Piaget, Gardner, Goleman, and many others. Accordingly, then, the practice of highly selective educational institutions requires further examination: Does the design and conduct of schools, including the forms of testing they use, privilege some forms of intelligence while ignoring others?

 

We know that each child is a full and complete individual in her own right. Even when very small, she deserves to be treated with the full and sincere respect that would be extended to her parents. Respect breeds respect and creates an atmosphere within which learning is tremendously facilitated. Montessori educators work with infants, toddlers, young children, and adolescents. In each age, we see an inherent tendency towards discovery, cooperation, kindness, and nonviolence. These observations challenge ideas about life and human motives in the social order, including subjecting millions of children to impoverished learning conditions.

 

Each day, children exhibit the vast wonder of the human spirit, the endless faces of intelligence, creativity, and inventiveness in Montessori schools throughout the world. This suggests a far richer and more pleasant, productive, and peaceful world than most of us have ever known or imagined.

 

The Montessori Way stands in sharp contrast to the current fervor to use children as measures of adults’ performances: Test scores, not complete potential; prescribed standards and objectives, not self-empowerment. Parents are required to accept a political definition of teacher effectiveness. Teaching “to” the test and rehearsed test taking may result in schools with test scores that reward adults with jobs and funding. But what is the cost to children? Why are too many children under this regime now denied music, art, physical education, recess — and, in some schools, science and history?

 

What is a child’s daily experience of sitting in classrooms led by anxious or even frightened teachers waiting to be graded by these scores? Current brain research urges adults to establish learning environments that are stimulating and relaxed; intriguing and safe for exploration. Thinking, problem solving, and forming trusting relationships are all possible once a child is freed from stress.

 

“When interested, a child becomes self-motivated. Self-motivation leads to becoming self-disciplined. When self-disciplined, a child engages in a process of mastery learning and develops his or her potential.”

Our Faculty

Mr. Darrin Chappell

Hello! My name is Darrin Chappell and I am very excited to be back at Mission this year, at the Larkspur campus. This will be my second year at Mission Montessori, having spent this summer in Houston for my training in the Lower and Upper Elementary programs. I grew up in the Bay Area just

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JoDene Tryon

The founder and Executive Director, has committed her life to bringing the Montessori Method to all children, both under-privileged and affluent, which has been demonstrated by her career direction over the past four decades. She began in 19 73 as a public school teacher in the Roosevelt School District where she worked with children who lived in a

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Ms. Patti Sandler

Ms Sandler earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; a Master of Arts in Guidance and Counseling from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois; and has Montessori Certification, 6-9 & 9-12, from the College of St Catherine, Minneapolis, MN/Houston Montessori Center. She has taught for the Chicago Public Schools, Hopkins

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Deborah Summers

Deborah Summers  grew up as a military child and began school in Munich, Germany, and  continued her elementary and high school education in Puerto Rico, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. She attended the University of Arizona earning the  bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Science and masters degree in Special Education.  Her second masters  from

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Ms. Georgene Cunningham

Ms. Cunningham is AMI and AMS certified for ages 3-9. She holds a BA in Sociology. She also earned her AEPA (Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments) in Elementary Education. She looks forward to getting to know each of you as we create a partnership to make these years together memorable.

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Dr. Heather Devich Ed. D.

Our school is so lucky to have such a wonderful human being running our sustainability and gardening program. Her heart is truly a loving one and the students and parents of Mission Montessori absolutely love her. Her wisdom and knowledge are a welcome part of every day life at this school. Her academic achievements are tremendous

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Ms. Sarah Stipanovich

Ms. Sarah Stipanovich is certified from Montessori Teacher Education Center in Infant/Toddler education, where she received her early childhood training for 2 ½ to 6 year olds from The Center for Montessori Teacher Education in 2005. She has been working in a Montessori environment for over 18 years and this is her 10th year at Mission Montessori Academy. Her

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Mr. David Zapotocky

Music Director (Upper Elementary & Middle School) David Zapotocky (Mr. Z) is a specialist on woodwind instruments and music composition (though he can teach and play just about any instrument!). Mr. Z has a Bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree in jazz studies from California State University, Long Beach. In

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Dr. Lalit Ecka PH

Dr. Ecka serves our community as principal and site manager of our E2 Larkspur Campus. With a Doctorate in Public Health, a Master’s in Sociology and years of service in the Montessori world, Dr. Ecka moved to Arizona last year to join Mission on their quest to educate children for the 21st Century.

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Ms. Maura Kelly

My name is Maura Kelly and I would like to welcome the new and returning families to my class this is my 11th year at Mission Montessori. Prior to my years here, I taught in Montessori schools back in New Jersey. Although most of my teaching experience is in the Montessori classroom, I also worked

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Ms. Debbie Wright

Ms. Debbie Wright has been the lead teacher in our infant program for the past five years. She believes that the basis of a good education starts at the infancy stage and requires time, attention, trust and respect. She is Montessori Certified for Infant/Toddler programs and a Mother of 3.

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Ms. Alicia Kimbro

Ms. Kimbro attended Arizona State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education in 2005. she is a “Highly Qualified” Arizona state teacher with an SEI (Structured English Instruction) endorsement. She recently earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work this past May.

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Ms. Brittany Baisley

Ms. Baisley has been a Montessori teacher for 8 years, both in an infant and toddler environment. This will be her 4th school year at Mission Montessori, and her second year as a lead toddler teacher. Her Montessori journey started at a very young age as a toddler student through to Eighth Grade.

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Ms. Crystal Macias

Ms. Macias is Montessori trained and certified to teach E2 (4-6 Grade). She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, Biology and Anthropology. She has worked in various learning environments, including special education, and has found the Montessori Method to be the most impactful for all students.

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Mr. Brad Colburn

Mr. Colburn has a Master’s Degree in Special Education and a Bachelor’s in English Literature. After 17 years of teaching, he has decided to become Montessori trained this summer and is eagerly awaiting the upcoming school year. His knowledge and kind heart make a perfect fit for Mission.

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Ms. Danka Dobrikova

Ms. Danka has been with Mission Montessori for the past 13 years and an educator for 38. Her wisdom and love for teaching is easily seen by anyone who enters her room. She has a Master’s in Early Childhood Education and a continued enthusiasm and exuberance to teach new children every year.

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Ms. Claudia Ramirez

Ms. Ramirez is a Mexican born spanish teacher who loves the learning process. She is a great addition to our middle school and completed training in Houston, TX to become a lead in that environment. Her abilities to teach comes from her willingness to learn. Her drive

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Ms. Joslyn Maike

Welcome to Middle School… Ms. Maike graduated from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI with a Master’s in Education. Her undergrad  degree is in Fine Art from Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, MI. Ms. Maike received her secondary Montessori training at Houston Montessori Center with Dr. Elisabeth Coe and went on

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Ms. Caitlin Collins

I love our Middle School… Ms. Collins graduated from Baylor University in Waco, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in history & anthropology in 2005 and spent the following summer studying archaeology in Beijing, Xi’an and Chengdu, PRC through the International Scholar Laureate Program. Ms. Collins received her secondary Montessori training at Houston Montessori Center

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Ms. Laine Rutkowski

Hello parents! I would like to share some information about myself so that you may better get to know me, as we begin this new school year together. My name is Laine Rutkowski and this will be my fifth year teaching at Mission Montessori. I started my career at Mission teaching Spanish to the Elementary 1,

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Ms. Kelly Wisley

Hello! My name is Kelly Wisley. I was born and raised in Minnesota with two sisters, my mom and dad, and our dog.  I played competitive soccer for fourteen years and played rec soccer for nine more years until I started my family.  I have lived in Arizona for almost ten years and have been

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Dr. Glena Hegstad Ed.D.

Following attending one year at Oklahoma College for Women on a music scholarship, I transferred to Oklahoma City University. Upon achieving a bachelor’s degree from that university in Elementary Education, I went on to obtain my master of arts in teaching. As part of the course work for my master’s degree, I was able to

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Ms. LeAnna Gonzalez

My name is LeAnna Gonzalez. I have been involved with Montessori education for 14 years. This school year will be my 12th year as a Montessori teacher and my 6th year at Mission Montessori. I have two daughters one attends Mission Montessori at the Del Jardin Campus and the other is at Mission Montessori on

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Ms. Veronique DeAngelo

Ms. DeAngelo is a certified Montessori Teacher for ages 3 to 6 years old. Her passion for teaching and her commitment to the Montessori Philosophy and Method are paramount in her daily activities.

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