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Letter from the President

The Beginning of Colorado Montessori Association

Forming the Colorado Montessori Association (CMA) has been an exercise in collaboration.  To establish this organization of schools and educators has taken a lot of energy, and many meetings, in order to come together around common beliefs.  Dr. Montessori's philosophy inspires us all, so this should be easy.  However, each of us brings different training, experience, personality and ideas, and our unique passions can make acceptance of differing interpretations challenging.  Yet, here we are, continuing to structure this organization of Montessori schools and teachers.

The CMA is the third such organization in Colorado. First, there was the Montessori Association of Colorado (MAC), then there was MTAC – the Montessori Teachers Association of Colorado, and now there is CMA. Clearly, it not only takes effort to begin an organization, but also to sustain it. In that, we ask for your help. 
The Colorado Montessori Directors' Network, united informally and has been meeting since 2008.  Throughout this past sweltering summer, a small group of four committed Montessorians met to plan this next phase of organization. We sat around a table, strewn with notebooks, iPads, and glasses of water, making plans and sharing ideas. At the end of each meeting, we returned to our respective schools, each one different from the other, but each one called a Montessori school.  

Knowing it would make our work both more challenging and more meaningful, we then invited others to join us, creating a CMA board.  This further increased the diversity of interpretation of Dr. Montessori's words, and we welcomed that. We wanted board members with both AMS and AMI backgrounds. We sought trainers, consultants, teachers, and administrators in private and public programs, both large and small.
We hoped to find a way for Montessori education to respond to the statement many of us heard last year that, “there is no Montessori,” by finding commonality within our schools.  And, in trying to understand how it could be said that “there is no Montessori," we hope to find a way to support schools and teachers by providing a forum for conversation about Dr. Montessori’s work, so that its practice can be strengthened and interpretation enriched.
Our mantra was inclusion, which is not always a popular approach in the opinionated world of Montessori education. We hoped to set aside differences and search for common ground. We felt that by working together we would be stronger. We knew that by working together, we could give Montessori education a voice in Colorado. 
So what brought us to this place? What motivated some of us to begin to work together?
Discussion of the need to revitalize a formal organization of Montessori schools and teachers, in Colorado, began to surface in earnest last year, as we endured challenges to our programs and practices from the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS).  As directors of Montessori programs met together in the lightly organized, but effective, Montessori Director’s Network, stories emerged that made it clear that CDHS licensing specialists threatened some of our practices. They still do.
Then came House Bill 1276, sponsored by Colorado House Representative Crisanta Duran, which when passed, would provide Montessori programs a clear process for requesting a waiver allowing the use of small and/or breakable materials with children under the age of three, or in the case of breakable materials, with children under five. House Bill 1276 wound its way through two committees, picking up the support of Senator Linda Newell, and eventually passing unanimously in both the Colorado House of Representatives and the Senate. It was a powerful experience to sit in a committee hearing in the state capital building, listening to Montessori educators and parents from many various programs come together to support the bill.
The experiences of working to shepherd HB 1276, through the legislature, brought many of us together, often, and led to this organization. We need to continue to nurture our many Montessori schools by strengthening our ties to each other, providing opportunities for training, networking, and sharing ideas.

For freshly minted teachers, we will add professional development opportunities by offering a workshop, or perhaps two, each year. For directors and heads of schools, we will continue to support those who want to host Directors' Network meetings. We hope to reach out to teachers and schools far away from the Denver/Boulder area who tend to have to travel to get to workshops. We will keep an eye on legislative or regulatory agencies that might affect our programs and make our voices heard. 
Those of us, who have met together to establish the CMA, are just the few who raised our hands and offered to begin the process. In order to make our organization lively, and viable, we need your help – new teachers, seasoned teachers, administrators, interested parents, members of other educational organizations. We invite you all to help us propel the Colorado Montessori Association forward! 
-Kathryn Ross
Colorado Montessori Association

Have any great photos or noteworthy events in the Montessori Community that you would like to share in the CMA Newsletter?  Please e*mail CMA!
We will be providing the option of member schools posting job openings in our newsletter and also eventually on the website.  If you are interested in doing posting with us, e*mail CMA.
CMA Board of Directors

Kathryn Ross - President
RB Fast - Vice President
Christine Lowry - Treasurer
Rachel Averch - Secretary
Dot Thompson
Katy Myers
Sheila Wolfe
Lyn Mead
Karen Farquharson

Contact us by e*mail

Save the Dates...

Tim Seldin, M.Ed.
Coming to Denver 

January 24, 2013  6:15-8:15 pm
Cost = $15 per person
Renaissance Hotel (3801 Quebec Street Denver 80207)
Hosted by:  Montessori Children's House of Denver
RSVP by e*mail to: MCHD OFFICE

Tim Seldin, M.Ed. is the President of the Montessori Foundation and author of several books on Montessori, including How to Raise An Amazing ChildThe Montessori Way with Dr. Paul Epstein.  Tim will be speaking about about the benefits of Montessori for toddlers through adolescence.  

This talk will be beneficial to parents and teachers alike, and can count toward CEUs.  

Feather Berkower, LCSW
Parenting Safe Children Workshop 

January 30, 2013  5:30-9:00 pm
Cost = $50 per person
Children's Garden Montessori School (444 Detroit Street Denver 80206)
Hosted by: Children's Garden Montessori

RSVP by e*mail to Catherine Ramey

Feather Berkower is a licensed clinical social worker and holds a Masters of Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley.  She is an expert in the field of child sexual abuse prevention and has worked with over 70,000 children and 6,000 parents.

This talk will be beneficial to parents and teachers alike, and can count toward CEUs.  

MECR Professional Development Workshops
Saturday April 6, 2013
Montessori Education Center of the Rockies, Boulder
RSVP by e*mail to MECR

January Meeting
January 17, 2013  1:00-2:30 pm
Parker Montessori (10750 Victorian Drive Parker CO 80138)
RSVP by e*mail to Gina Abegg

Montessori Middle Schools coming in August 2013

*Montessori School of Denver
*Denver Montessori Junior/Senior High School

*The Secondary Academy (An Independent Affiliate of The Montessori Children's House of Denver)

Montessori Primary and Elementary Schools coming in August 2013

*Montessori Del Mundo

The Montessori Triad

By this time in the school year, the Montessori classroom is generally settled with the happy buzz of children engaged in their “work” and a variety of activities in all areas of the classroom. The morning work cycle of at least two hours gives each child the time and opportunity for prolonged attention and concentration on that special project that interests him that day. Younger children may be moving in an organized way between activities that are giving the opportunity to develop that concentration.  As the lead teacher, we now have the opportunity to give individual or small group lessons throughout the entire work cycle. Quietly moving from lesson to lesson, we have the time to learn more and more about each child we teach.  As we interact with each child giving a lesson, engaging with a Montessori material, or assisting with an ongoing work, we can carefully observe that child’s interests, strengths and weaknesses, and styles and ways of teaching that create that “ah-ha” moment for that child. And it is that moment of “I did it” that gives any learner, young or old, the confidence and encouragement to look for greater challenge and continued success.

Make the time to observe your class with the keen eye of the scientist. Are all of your students engaged in meaningful work that focuses the attention and sparks the excitement of learning and succeeding? Are your students, no matter their developmental level and age, making independent (or guided) choices and following through to complete the cycle of that work? Are your students coming to you for only the needed and necessary guidance that will keep them moving along on an activity or project? Are the social interactions between children supportive, positive, and encouraging? Are you and your students happy to be in your classroom each day?

Take an objective look. Make notes on what you see. Who is working, who are they working with, what choices are they making, what is the quality of their work, how engaged and satisfied do they seem with their work? Honest answers to these sorts of questions can give you the knowledge you need to prepare an environment that is truly responsive to all of the children in your classroom. Think about what you can do to create the kind of environment you will all be happy to be a part of.

The starting point is with us as the lead teacher.

-Christine Lowry, M.Ed.
Christine will be writing a column for each CMA newsletter especially for Montessori classroom teachers. She brings 21 years of experience as a Montessori administrator and classroom teacher to this column. In addition to her experience as a Montessorian, Christine has an educational and experience background in special education and has a special interest in serving the needs of special learners in the Montessori environment.
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