The Colorado Montessori Association is a membership organization that serves and unites the community of Montessori educators and supporters in our state. CMA prepares a respectful and collaborative environment for advocacy, networking, and professional development, which incubates our individual and collective potential to transform education in Colorado.
Colorado Montessorians unite! Support Montessori advocacy in Colorado while also enjoying the benefits of networking, community forums and discounts on events, including great speakers like David Kahn!  
If you aren't already a member, click here to sign up now. 

                        WHO'S SPECIAL?



 â€œYou are not special. You are not exceptional.” These are the words that rung out over a crowd of graduating high school seniors near Boston in the spring of 2012. English teacher, David McCullough Jr. delivered this commencement speech to the children he has taught for the past four years. His words were spoken with truth and clarity and they were the exact words his students needed to hear. The only problem with his speech was that this message came into the lives of these children too late. It would have been an amazing lesson for these children to learn from the start.

Guess what? Your child isn’t special either, nor is mine. They’re just super average people who are extra special to us. That is an important distinction to make. Your child is special to you, but this does not mean that he is special to the world. Although this may not feel good to hear, it is the absolute truth.
McCullough went on to clarify exactly why nobody is special when he said, “Even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of seven billion, there are still nearly 7,000 people just like you… You see if everyone is special, no one is special. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless.” The point of this speech was to call into question our achievement based society.
We have become so obsessed with being special that we’ve robbed ourselves of delighting in what is truly special about life. There are tiny miracles and beautiful moments happening around us all the time, yet we are so concerned with ourselves and with our children as extensions of ourselves, that we have stunted our connection with the world around us. Our greatest moments do not come in the form of straight A’s and participation trophies. The magic in life comes through witnessing the beauty of a flower becoming a fruit, through forming deep bonds with other humans in a way that is truly grounded in mutual trust and respect, or through giving for the sake of kindness and expecting absolutely nothing in return.
When a person starts out in life believing that she is special, she also believes that the world owes her accolades for this inherent specialness. She will walk into her grown up life expecting that those around her should feel blessed and excited to know her, regardless of any genuine offering she may bring to the relationship. She will believe that good things should come to her by way of her being fantastic. And finally, she will believe that she should not have to give in order to receive.
This is becoming very apparent in the new generation of the American workforce: Millenials (I feel comfortable speaking about this lazy and spoiled generation as I am one of them). There is a surprising sense of entitlement and expectation. It is a shock to many young workers I know that their bosses expect them to refrain from personal cell phone use during the work day. They are not just surprised, but angry about it. When their time off requests are denied they loudly proclaim, “Well I’ll just quit. My parents will help me out with rent.” Recently an acquaintance on social media publicly tore into her boss for writing her up for being late to work. Her solid defense being, “It was only ten minutes.” I guarantee that when she was late for her curfew in high school she used this argument with her parents and got away with it.
Being special isn’t really all that it’s cracked up to be. Truly special people are often somewhat tortured souls. When you are special, that means that you are not normal, which means that you will struggle to relate to the 99% of the population that is normal. Then there are the people that are special because they have learned to plow their way into it. This Floyd Landis/Mark McGwire type of special-ness is unfortunately becoming the norm. Parents are frantic to give their kids an â€œedge” in anything they do, regardless of the lessons their child learns about being pushy, inconsiderate and downright dishonest. If getting straight A’s is the expectation, cheating is a totally acceptable avenue to get there. If working hard at something about which you care is the expectation, then working hard itself becomes the avenue.
The truth in all of this is clear: you’re not special, I’m not special and our children are not special. However, we do all matter and we do all have a right to be able to meet our basic human needs. Therefore, we must recognize that not only do we matter but the other people in our community matter as well. When we begin to see ourselves as “special” we create a barrier that prevents us from having genuinely reciprocal human interaction. Average people beset on declaring their own uniqueness become fixated on collecting proof of their special-ness such as ribbons, trophies, public recognition and anything else they can find. It seems as though they almost don’t feel real unless someone is validating them externally. On the other hand, people who accept that they are simply a part of a much bigger whole can let go of the need to prove themselves and move to a plane of existence that is validated by love, pain and effort.
A life well lived is one in which we are motivated by experience and curiosity. It is one in which our hearts and bones get broken and our own resiliency is what heals them. You and your child both deserve the opportunity to live an authentic existence without preoccupation over one’s self. It is terrifying to let go and a marvelous relief when you finally do. Are you ready to stop being special and start living? I am.


Directors' Network Meetings

Thursday, January 16, 2014 
Time: 1:00 PM
Host: ECEA (Early Childhood Education Association of Colorado)
Speaker:  Kathryn Hammerbeck
Topic:  Funding legislation, QRIS, CDHS
Cost: None
Location:  1120 Lincoln Street #203, Denver CO 80203

Come and join other Montessori Heads of School as we network, discuss relevant issues and support one another in leading our schools.  Don't miss it!

Director's Meeting Calendar for Spring 2014:
2014 Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference
March 14-15, 2014
Host: ECEA (Early Childhood Education Association of Colorado), CAEYC (Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children) and DPP (Denver Preschool Program)
Topic:  Click here for workshops.  Click here for keynote speakers.
Location:  Colorado Convention Center
Registration: Click here to register now (Registration opens December 6th).
Letter From the President...
January 2014

Dear CMA Members,


I’ve come to believe that “preaching to the choir” is exactly the right thing to do. If I can help those who already share certain beliefs and dreams sing their song a little clearer, a little more confidently, I know they will take that song back to their networks.
                                                                                                            - Margaret Wheatley


Sometimes as I talk to other members of the Colorado Montessori community, I realize that we are all preaching to the choir - we are the choir. We share an understanding of child development and a vocabulary that is our own – sensitive periods, planes of development, cosmic task. All of those terms make sense to us. Wheatley, who wrote Leadership and the New Science, encourages us to strengthen our own understandings, our own practice, and then take that song back to our networks.


So that is what we do. We talk to each other. We write articles for Montessorians about Montessori education. We offer workshops and provide forums for conversation and arrange social gatherings. We get to know each other better and support each other in our challenging work. What Wheatley suggests to us – that we make each other stronger – can’t be more important and more essential. It is where we must begin our work.


However, we do not operate our schools and our classrooms in isolation. Our Montessori network is nested within other networks created by other educators who have different terminology, educators who have chosen to work in organizations that govern us. Whether we like it or not, we are part of the greater Colorado educational community – we are part of the world. We must communicate with others, which is what Wheatley encourages us to do. Become clearer about what we mean by excellent Montessori education, and then share it, defend it, bring it not just to our “choir” network, but to the larger network of educators in the United States.


As I ponder these two goals to strengthen our own practice and understanding of Montessori educational practices, and to communicate with the rest of the educational community, I hope for balance. Preaching to the choir can be satisfying and enjoyable – who doesn’t enjoy feeling understood and valued, and who says the choir can’t get better and better? There are many people in our community – our network – who do this beautifully, filling us with inspiration and information they have distilled over decades of practice.


And there are other individuals in our network who enjoy facing the challenge of working beyond the Montessori community and do it well. They reach out to legislators and join other Colorado educational organizations beyond our community, asking for understanding and sharing until they get it.


We need both – Montessori educators who inspire and clarify our song, and Montessori educators who take it to the larger Colorado educational community.


Mostly we need involvement. We need to build our network and make it stronger. We need you and your schools. This is slow work, this clarifying of song. It takes a long commitment and many voices and repeated phrases. I am repeating a chorus, but it is an important one - add your voice to the choir and join us in our song!


Kathryn Ross
President, CMA

                         TEACHER TIP - JANUARY


 Montessori Leadership 101

By: Rachel Averch

When I went through my Montessori Teacher training program, I was completely in love with the depth and breadth of what I had learned. I left feeling inspired and ready to change the world one child at a time.

As we all know, the realities of teaching in the classroom can be very different than what we learn in our training. As I settled into my new role as a lead teacher, I quickly realized that far from being done, my journey of learning had only just begun. It was evident that I also needed to learn how to be a leader of adults.

Leading people is what we do as Montessori teachers, whether we realize it or not, but good leadership can be tricky to learn and navigate. Fortunately, Montessori provides us with a road map to help us rise to the occasion. The basic Montessori principles and techniques that we follow when we work with the children in the classroom empower parents and assistants just as beautifully. Here are just a few examples:

  1. Embody Respect. A deep and resounding respect for everyone in the community is a foundation of good leadership. There is no “above” or “below” in a Montessori classroom or in true leadership. We are all valuable members of the greater community.

  2. Have a sincere desire to support others’ success. With the children, we see them as they truly are: brimming with potential. Even when they make mistakes, handle something poorly, spill, or stumble, we trust that they have good intentions and give them specific and caring feedback, supporting them to try again and learn from their mistakes. When we see our assistants, the parents, and anyone else in the school community the same way, we help everyone reach their potential.

  3. Be present in the moment, listen and observe. To teach your students, you must first deeply see, know and understand them. To lead assistants and parents, the same is true. Take the time to get to know the hopes, dreams, fears and worries that your parents and your assistant teachers face. See them for who they are and accept them with the same love and compassion that we do the children in our classrooms.

  4. Catch people doing the right thing. As the saying goes, “You get what you pay attention to.” How many times in the classroom have we said, “Joey is sitting so nicely!” only to see all of the other children scrambling to sit beautifully just like Joey. Adults are not so very different. When we notice what people are doing well, and give  them that specific feedback (especially in front of their peers) we reinforce the good in people in a way that helps to build relationships, trust and community.

  5. Empower others to grow, learn and do things themselves. Just as we guide the children in the classroom, nurturing their interests, we should guide our staff and our families. Teaching an assistant who loves Geography to present Geography lessons helps the entire classroom to grow and gets the assistant excited about contributing in a fun and meaningful way. Using a parent who loves to cook to regularly come in and cook with the children quickly bonds that family with you and the school.

  6. Give regular specific, honest, kind and respectful feedback. Feedback that comes from a place of helping others grow is kind and lets people know that they matter to you and you have their best interests at heart.

  7. Be the change you want to see. Be the role model of the behavior you desire in others. Like yelling at a child to be quiet, complaining about a negative parent is not effective and sends mixed messages. Instead, meet negativity with positivity. Listen to those who don’t listen. Adults don’t learn from what we say, but rather from what we do, just like the children.

  8. Listen closely and with an open mind to feedback. When someone has ideas or feedback for you, be open and receptive. Fight the instinct to go on the defensive. You don’t have to take every piece of advice you get, but by really listening and sincerely considering others’ ideas, you allow yourself to grow and learn as well.

These principles are common sense, really. We ourselves would probably want to follow someone who embodies these qualities. However, it is a tall order. You must be spiritually ready to be an effective leader just as you must be spiritually ready to become a Montessori teacher. Fortunately for us, Maria Montessori wove the basic tenants of good leadership directly into her method to help each of us rise to the occasion.

Submitted by:
Rachel Averch
Montessori Children's House of Denver

Get Involved with CMA... 
Speakers Needed
  • CMA is putting together some mini-presentations with our community members. Are you interested in presenting something cool that you are doing in your classroom? Would you like to speak on a topic that you care about? We want to gather a groundswell of people just like you to come and talk at a CMA workshop. Sound right up your alley? Email CMA at: with some details about yourself and what you might like to speak about.
Articles Needed - Submission deadline: the 3rd Friday of each month.
  • Are you a published author? Would you like to be? Submit your original work to CMA by the 3rd Friday of each month with the possibility of having your article selected for one of the future newsletters. Submit articles for consideration to CMA at with a copy of your article and some details about yourself. (CMA reserves the right to edit all material prior to publication). 
Teacher Tips Column - Submission deadline: the 3rd Friday of each month.
  • Would you like to contribute a monthly column to the CMA newsletter? CMA is looking for someone to write the monthly Teacher Tips column for the newsletter. If you are interested, please email CMA at: with a sample Teacher Tip and some details about yourself.
Be a member!
  • If you aren't already, sign up to become a member of the Colorado Montessori Association, by clicking here.  
  • If you are already a member, don't forget to renew your membership now!
Building the Pink Tower
How can your organization be a part of Building the Pink Tower?

Through our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, everyone who has ever been touched by Montessori education can be a part of telling this story. Your network of Montessori educators and supporters has a message to share with the rest of the world: the Montessori model has the power to change education. With their experience in Montessori learning environments and with communities of children eager to learn, they know more than anyone what Montessori can do.

Spread the word and help your members honor their schools and communities by supporting this documentary film project (and be listed in the film credits for gifts of $100 or more). All Indiegogo donations will help us leverage at least $20,000 in additional challenge grants.

Support this project. Spread the word. Education has a future.

Thank you!
Jan Selby & Vina Kay
Building the Pink Tower will be a documentary film that reimagines schools and learning through the lens of Montessori education. In a climate of concern and criticism about schools, Building the Pink Tower will remind us of what we want in education: eager learning, creative thinking, and collaborative work. The film will change the debate about education by showing how the 100-year-old Montessori method nurtures the imagination of children and lays a solid foundation for their success in life.

Head of School

Children's Garden Montessori
Denver, CO

Start Date: June 2014

Position Description
Children's Garden Montessori School (CGMS) is seeking a talented leader and educator as its Head of School (HOS) commencing with the 2014/2015 school year when our current Head of School retires.  We are in our 40th year of providing nurturing and child-centered Montessori education to students aged 18 months to 6 years. The HOS serves as the school's chief executive, responsible for overseeing all aspects of the school's operation and implementing its educational mandate and strategic priorities. The new HOS will join a successful, vibrant preschool and work with dedicated teachers, experienced administrative and admissions personnel, and committed board members in guiding CGMS into its next chapter.

To learn more about this opportunity, interested candidates should visit the school's website at


Fort Collins Montessori School
Fort Collins, CO

Start Date: June 2014

Position Description

The Head of School is the chief operating officer appointed by the Board of Directors to administrate the school’s mission and operating policy. Working closely with the Board, the Head of School fosters the vision for the school and implements the strategic plan. He/she is an educational director who provides day-to-day educational leadership for the school while also supervising faculty and staff and administering policies established by the Board. The Head of School serves as a non-voting member of the Governing Board of Directors and serves on Board committees as assigned by the Board. The Head of School will create and maintain a positive culture and climate within the school, be able to work with students and parents in a trusting relationship, and support teachers as they implement Montessori education.

Fort Collins is a university town (Colorado State University) on the Front Range, with access to world-class skiing within 100 miles, and hiking and camping in the beautiful Rocky Mountains and Poudre Canyon a short drive away. Our community has been consistently ranked in the top ten most livable cities, Best Places to retire, most Bike-Friendly, and Best Place for Employment. We have 300 days of sunshine a year, with an active population and many family-friendly activities. We are situated 63 miles north of Denver and 40 miles east of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.

To learn more about this opportunity, interested candidates should contact
Montessori Certified Lead Teachers (Toddler through Middle School)
Montessori Children's House of Denver
Denver, CO
Start Date: August 2014
Position Description
MCHD is currently accepting and reviewing applications for Lead Teachers at all levels in preparation for the 2014-2015 School Year.  Apply now for an opportunity to work within the MCHD community.
Position Requirements
Montessori Certification through an accredited teacher training program
Bachelor's Degree is preferred. 

For more information about MCHD, visit our website:
Please email or fax completed application and resume to Beatrice Watson, Executive Director: 
Email:   Fax: 303-355-8629  Phone: 303-322-8324 x 121

Administrative Assistant
The Montessori Institute

Denver, CO
Start Date: June 2014

Position Description
The Montessori Institute. Part-time administrative assistant needed. AMI training at any level and MAC skills preferred. Contact us for more information.
Position Requirements
AMI Training at any level
MAC skills preferred 

For more information about The Montessori Institute, visit the website:
Please email or fax completed application and resume to Karey Lontz: 
Email:   Phone: 303-832-6781
Address: 700 Knox Ct., Denver, CO 80204

If you have a position that you would like to see posted in the CMA newsletter, please contact us with your position information at: 

Cost:  $35.00 per month for Member Schools, $75.00 per month for Non-Member Schools. 

Position posting deadline is the 3rd Friday of each month for the coming month's newsletter.

To become a CMA member school, click here.
Felt Snowman
from: Pinterest  and The Little Giggler


Dancing Oobleck
from: Pinterest and
Housing a Forest

 Cool!! It's alive! One of the coolest science experiments ever!- cornstarch and water mixture moves to sound

CMA Board of Directors
Kathryn Ross - President
RB Fast - Vice President
Rachel Averch - Secretary

Katy Myers - Treasurer
Dot Thompson
Sheila Wolfe
Lyn Mead
Karen Farquharson
Jim Barrett

Contact us by e*mail
Would you like to have an article you have written published, or do you have any great teacher tips, photos or noteworthy events that you would like to share in the CMA Newsletter?  If so, please e*mail CMA! The deadline for newsletter submitting is the 3rd Friday of each month.

Member Benefits:

  • Two program administrators are enrolled at no extra charge.
  • Lead teachers receive a $10 discount on membership.
  • Discounts on admission to CMA sponsored professional development events.
  • Featured on CMA website with a link to the school’s website.
  • $40 discount on job advertisements in the CMA newsletter.
Forward to Friend
Edited by: Rose Henson