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!
Colorado Montessori Association