The Colorado Montessori Association is a powerful voice for Montessori advocacy providing a forum for networking and professional growth in the Montessori community. It is a highly functioning, evolving professional organization, unified in its vision, respectful, purposeful and inclusive.

What You Need to Know about QRIS

By Rachel Averch

Tim Garcia, the Director of Quality Assessment at Qualistar Colorado, presented at the March Director's Network Meeting and provided a wealth of information. Here is what we learned:

Colorado Shines & QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement System) is here, and you need to know what to do to help your Montessori school be successful as ratings of programs begin. The first programs that will be getting rated are those participating in CCCAP followed by the Alternative Pathways Programs. It is expected that the remaining programs will be able to go through the system this summer.

All licensed early childhood programs will be rated on a 5-star rating scale, and this information will be available publicly.

Any licensed program will automatically be assigned a Level 1 (1 star) rating. To pursue Level 2, you can go into the Colorado Shines website (, set up an account and log in, and the needed information to pursue a Level 2 rating will be available there.   Quality improvement grants become available to schools once they receive a Level 2 rating. You can apply for those grants through the Office of Early Childhood.

Levels 3-5 are determined based on a point structure. For details on the point structure, you can obtain the QRIS Point Structure Guide by clicking here or by going on the Colorado Shines website. This point structure guide details what is required for each level of quality rating on their scale. For a Level 3 rating, the Environmental Rating Scale (ERS) must be at least a 3.75, for a Level 4 rating, it must be at least a 4.75, and for a Level 5 rating, it must be at least a 5.75. There is good news: according to Tim, so far the Environmental Rating Scale Averages for Montessori programs matches up with the averages for the rest of the programs state-wide.

If you don't wish to go through the QRIS process, there are some options. They are offering alternative pathways to reaching Level 3 and Level 4 quality ratings. However, the only way to reach a Level 5 rating will be through QRIS. Alternative pathways include the following so far: Level 3 Alternative  Pathways: NECPA, AMS, ACSI, NAFCC & Level 4 Alternative Pathways: NAEYC. Any accrediting organizations that would like to be considered for an alternative pathway, may apply by submitting an application through Colorado Shines.

If your school achieves (or already has) accreditation status through one of these organizations, you will still need to submit an application with documentation of your school's accreditation.

A crucial component of getting your rating, regardless of whether you will be going through QRIS or an alternative pathway, is utilizing the Professional Development Information System (PDIS). PDIS is a web-based system to support individual credential tracking and also professional development hours for the ECE workforce. There are 3 components to PDIS: The Professional Portfolio, The Learning Management System, and The Professional Development Advisor. You can get Six Steps to PDIS Success on the Colorado Shines website to help you navigate the system and better understand its purposed and importance under the new system.

It is important to note that all schools wanting a rating above a Level 1, including those who would qualify for the Alternative Pathways Ratings (such as AMS or NAEYC accredited schools), must have all of their staff members register in the Professional Development Information System (PDIS). This system will provide a full professional profile for staff members and will also be a method of determining qualifications. Further, it will provide a method of meeting and tracking continuing education hour requirements.

Within PDIS, there will be ways to determine your staff's qualifications using several competencies. Credentials will now take into consideration formal education, professional development, experience, and demonstrated competencies. Credentials will now be based on an objective point system that ranks individuals between a Level 1 credential (lowest) and a Level 6 credential (highest). The good news? Staff will now be able to apply things like their experience and demonstrated competencies toward their credentials rather than needing to rely as heavily on formal education, and according to Tim, it is expected that staff will overall rank higher on their credentials in the PDIS than through the current system.

Tim's recommended next steps for schools? Set up your account in the Professional Development System once it is fully functional (they expect mid-April), and have your staff all do the same. This will take some time, and it is important for your success.

For more information about what to expect and when, take a look at the Colorado Shines Overview and Timeline. 

Most importantly, CMA's goal is to provide Montessori schools with support to help them show up in their ratings as the high quality schools that they are. CMA provided all of the QRIS raters with a training about Montessori a few months ago that was given by RB Fast of Beeline Consulting so that they would have a clear understanding of what we do before rating our schools.

We recommend that administrators and teachers take the time to read up on the Montessori guide to ECERS so that they can communicate effectively with their raters and help them to see the ways that Montessori meets or exceeds their requirements when they come to visit your school.

As we navigate this new territory, it is our wish at CMA that authentic Montessori education be acknowledged by the policy-makers as well as the masses as the high-quality method of education that it is rather than thought of as a fringe philosophy. This is going to require that we all learn to speak one another's language, forge good relationships and collaborate with one another and with the policy makers and the raters. Thank you for partnering with us to make that happen!

The helpline for Colorado Shines: 1-844-477-4441.
Colorado Shines website:
PDIS Registration and Information:
CDHS PDIS Information:
CDHS QRIS Information:!qris/c5ch
Article Submitted by: Rachel Averch, CMA

CMA Directors' Network Meetings
April CMA Director's Network Meeting
What:       Directors' Network Meeting
Speaker:  Julie Bragdon
When:      Thursday, April 16th, 2015, 1:00-3:00 pm
Where:    Montessori School of Denver
Phone:    303-756-9441
Topic:      "So Many Hats." The role of the adult when working with other adults.

Much has been written about the role of the adult in a Montessori classroom when working with children. What about the role of the adult when working with other adults? Maria Montessori wrote "the real preparation for education is the study of oneself" What does this preparation mean to our own work relationships? Working in a Montessori school can be a complex experience, full of diverse relationships and evolving roles. There are a multitude of relationships that need to be navigated and supported from being both a parent and staff member, teacher to a co-worker's child, peer, co-teacher, supervisor, friend, assistant, mentor, and confidant.

How do you tread these diverse relationship waters when they are smooth and even more challenging, how do you work through complex adult relationships when challenges come-up? We will share vignettes to illuminate the complex tapestry of adult relationships as well as explore the positives and challenges of each role. We will share exercises and resources that we have used to help support our adult community members so that they can celebrate everyone's part of the greater good and also feel empowered to have challenging and respectful conversations when necessary that ultimately support a healthy adult community that benefits our students and whole school community. Take-aways will include communication tools that guarantee reduced conflict and increased aliveness and positivity. This workshop will be a playful exploration of interpersonal dynamics that will leave attendees empowered to carry on Maria Montessori’s charge of studying oneself.

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!

CMA Director's Network Meeting Calendar
Click here for a copy of the 2014-2015 calendar for CMA's Director's Network Meetings.

April Events
Colorado Collaboration
What:    Collaboration between the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector Montessori Education Center of the Rockies
When:         Friday and Saturday, April 10-11, 2015
  • April 10: 6:00-8:30pm, "Starting a Public Montessori School," $55
  • April 11: 10:00am-4:30pm, "Following All the Children: Montessori and Early Intervention," $135
Where:        Montessori Education Center of the Rockies
Register by clicking here. 
Montessori Secondary Education Workshop - FREE
What:       "What are the Essential Elements of a Montessori Secondary Program?" 
Join Marta Donahoe, MEd, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Montessori Secondary Teacher Education Program (CMStep), and colleagues to explore this question and to gain guidance for future endeavors in this important work.
When:        Saturday, April 25, 2015, 9:00am-12:00pm
Where:      Montessori Education Center of the Rockies (MECR), 4745 Walnut Street, Boulder, CO 80301
Register by clicking here. Professional development certificates will be awarded to attendees.
What:    A meet-up to build community, share successes and challenges, and strategize on expanding Montessori education for all children. Please click here for further details.
Sponsors: Westminster College Institute for Montessori Innovation, The National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector and Montessori for Social Justice
When:        June 26-27th, 2015
Where:       Westminster College, Salt Lake City, UT
Contact:     Nancy Lindeman at or Kacee Weaver at                     
"Montessori in the Mountains"
Conference Retreat

September 25-27, 2015
YMCA Conference Center and Resort, Estes Park, CO
Registration brochure is online at Click on RETREAT tab.

Join Montessori teachers and administrators from Colorado and beyond for a stimulating fall weekend of professional development and personal renewal in a beautiful mountain environment. CMA will host the Welcome Reception from 7-9:00 pm on Thursday, September 24th.
  • More than 70 workshops and panel discussions.
  • Noted presenters will include: Jennifer Morgan, Louise Chawla, Betsy Coe, Marta Donohoe, Judi Bauerlein, Susan Tracy McDaniel, Tanaya Winder, and Frank Leto, as well as local favorites: Dee Coulter, Alice Renton, Donohue Shortridge, Betsy Hoke, Kathryn Ross, Sonnie McFarland, and Betsy Lockhart. 
  • Sessions for Infant through Secondary levels.
  • Up to 15 hours credit for professional development.
  • Exhibit Hall (Alison's, ETC, Laughing Star, Great Extensions, Bluestem, Big Picture Science, Montessori Foundation, and more!)
  • Schools Showcase
  • Receptions and Dinners
  • Music, Yoga, and and Dance
Register before May 24 for Early Bird rates and the best choice of workshops. 


What Feeds Their Souls

By Rachel Averch

One unfortunate contradiction that I often notice in education is that, in an effort to help children succeed, educators can quickly fall into the trap of focusing on children's deficits and unwittingly undermine a child's true success in the process. Out of fear, teachers can become fixated, for example, on a child falling behind in Math or Reading, and encourage a family to drill the child intensively in that area at the expense of other things that the child naturally loves. Or, perhaps focus settles heavily on how to "fix" the child who is aggressive while the child is also gifted with a corresponding and highly developed sense of justice that goes unnoticed. Even a child who likes to argue has a gift that should be nurtured and perhaps, with the right guidance and support, will evolve into a successful future in law or politics.

As a system, the traditional model of education, is built on finding children's weakest points, and trying to fix them. But master teachers know better. Montessori teachers know better.

The true task of education is to focus on children's strengths, not weaknesses. No one has ever become great by focusing on what they do poorly. Our job is to notice those subtle activities that fill each child's soul with joy and strength. You may be tempted to confuse that which a child is good at with what makes him/her joyful. Be careful of this. They are not necessarily the same thing. 

A child who is very good at addition may find it leaves them depleted. So ask the child how the activity makes them feel, and then focus on those things and activities that bring them joy.

Giving a child who lights up when analyzing information the opportunity to crunch data and make charts, or giving a child who loves to paint the real tools of an artist to paint with, like canvases, watercolors or oil pastels, can help feed their souls. These tasks fill them up with joy, and giving them support to identify and nurture this type of joyful activity provides a clear and beautiful message: "When you are doing the things that make your heart sing, you are at your best". Knowing that the things that make you feel excited and joyous are actually useful and valued by others gives children energy and limitless intrinsic motivation.

So, embrace this message for them with every ounce of your being. Nurture, feed, and be curious about each thing which makes your children tick. Once you start noticing and focusing on these strengthening events for the children, you will see them everywhere. 

Sometimes, it isn't a specific task itself that gives them joy, but rather a certain characteristic of that task that speaks to them. While one person may love to garden because they like the feeling of dirt in their hands and planting seeds, another may like it because they are nurturing a living thing, and yet another may love it because of the tangible product of the vegetables at the end. The true expert on this will, of course, be the child. So ask the children what it is they are enjoying about their tasks. Help them to notice the things that bring them joy and to seek out more of that in their lives. 

As you begin to understand what it is about a task that a child loves, you can expand upon that in other areas of learning. Perhaps the child who likes repetitive tasks will enjoy circling every "e" in a magazine article, for example, to help them learn their letters. Perhaps an artistic child will enjoy drawing out the activities on the classroom schedule, or learning their math facts with 3-dimensional objects. Once you start hunting for the treasures of how to feed their souls with every experience, the possibilities will be endless and the learning will explode.

You will, of course, not neglect providing a well-rounded education for every child and ensure that they are practicing the skills they need to be successful in life regardless of whether or not they find them fun. The focus of your time and energy, as well as the focus of their time and energy, should always be on how to make even those activities more fun for that particular child. Put your attention on what makes each child joyous, because that is the soul speaking out to say that this is what it is here to do.

Finally, don't forget to apply this lesson to yourself as well. As the "Prepared Adult" in the classroom, it is your responsibility to model for the children what this looks like. What makes you joyous? Seek it out and ask yourself that question about every activity you do. Then, do more of that! Don't forget to bring those activities into your classroom, as well, so that the children can experience the thrill of being taught how to do something special that their teacher deeply loves. What better gift to yourself and to your students than to spend your time deeply engaged in activities that fill your soul with joy as well? 

Article Submitted By: Rachel Averch, Montessori Children's House of Denver


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Contributed by: Gina Abegg
April's rich new growth reminds us again of the importance of loving and caring for the earth. Children, always closer to the earth than we adults, respond well to the lessons of caring for our earth, air, and water, and protecting these resources through reducing our use, finding creative new ways to make treasures out of trash, and how to recycle waste so that it can be used again. With waste "patches" dotting our oceans and mountainous landfills, this is a lesson that is important that children and adults learn and practice. Earth Day truly needs to be everyday.

Many easy lessons can be taught about reducing our use. Try cutting paper into different sizes, using both sides, counting how quickly cups of water can be filled, turning off lights when it is a bright day, and collecting rainwater to share with our flowers. 

Children enjoy finding creative new ways to make learning materials, gifts, and toys out of used items.

Consider your school having a recycle center with containers for the different supplies for making sculptures, crafts, and gifts. Small items can be used for creating collages and mosaics. Gifts can be wrapped in paper made from painted or printed newspapers. Old paper can be made into new to create book covers, cards, etc. A game can be created to sort recycled items into categories. Two great resources for recycle craft activities are Early Childhood Activities for a Greener Earth by Patty Born Selly (Redleaf Press) and Fun with Recycling by Marion Elliot (Southwater). 

To encourage recycling, place labeled recycle containers besides wastebaskets through the school. If there is a curbside collection program in your community, work with this. Otherwise, rotate families taking donations not used in crafts. Teach how objects can be remade and reused. Count and measure contributions.

Resources for activities and ecology organizations your school can work with are in Green Philanthropy for Families/160 Simple Earth Honoring Gifts, Action, Activities, and Projects by Helen, Justin, and  Alexis Deffenbacher, Green Philanthropy for Families.Org Publications, and 101 Ways You Can Help Save the Planet Before You're 12! by Joanne O'Sullivan (Lark Books).

Article Submitted By: Gina Abegg, The Compassionate Way Consulting

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, Jackie Cossentino, Tim Seldin and Phil Gang!  
Without members like you, CMA's work to ensure Montessori training for QRIS quality raters, advocacy for testing options for public Montessori schools, and the passing of House Bill 1276 allowing breakable waivers for Montessori schools wouldn't be possible...
If you aren't already a member, click here to sign up now. 

Upper Elementary Students at St. Vrain Community Montessori School Celebrate Three Years of Running Nonprofit Store to Benefit Sister School in Tanzania

Contributed by: St. Vrain Community Montessori School (SVCMS)
Upendo Emporium: Supplies for Change is a thriving nonprofit store run entirely by the Upper Elementary students at St. Vrain Community Montessori School (SVCMS) in Longmont, Colorado, now in its third year of operation. Since the founding of Upendo Emporium, all store profits have been sent to Upendo School in Usa River, Tanzania. These profits have funded Upendo School's first library shelf, an ultraviolet water purification system, science materials, sports equipment, art supplies, classroom furniture, books, and much more.

The SVCMS connection to Tanzania began with Betsy Hoke, the founder of Evergreen Montessori School. In anticipation of her first trip to Africa, she asked SVCMS Upper Elementary students to sew waterproof book bags so that her Tanzanian students could bring home books to read to their families for the very first time. Upendo School students sent back letters in thanks for these book bags, and pen pal relationships have flourished ever since. SVCMS students met in the summer of 2012 and voted to create a school store to raise money for their new pen pals' school and by the fall, Upendo Emporium: Supplies for Change was ready for business. 

Student enthusiasm has helped Upendo Emporium grow in unexpected ways since its founding. What began as a service project has grown into a culture of empowerment as students are given opportunities to recognize and applaud the talents of their peers. Some students, inspired by the clear difference they are making in the lives of their pen pals, have started their own philanthropic businesses under the umbrella of Upendo Emporium. Others have found their creative voices in writing advertisements and product descriptions for the Emporium's catalog. Still others have mentored each other through decimal and money work, and role-played customer service situations in order to help young students earn Business Licenses.

After three years in business, Upendo Emporium fosters a sense of empowerment both in Colorado and in Tanzania. Montessori philosophy is at the heart of Upendo Emporium's work: competent, confident students are driven by authentic, collaborative learning that is characteristic of their age and place in development; their work is purposeful and relevant, and students know they are making a contribution; and through service, the students build their own community and feel a connection to the world community. Students in both Colorado and Tanzania now think as entrepreneurs. SVCMS students recently sent art supplies to Tanzania and their pen pals sent back bookmarks and friendship bracelets they made made, which Upendo Emporium now sells. SVCMS students are developing new environmentally responsible product lines and delving into opening the store to adults with fair trade items like coffee and chocolate. This year, the students are working towards their goal of sending Montessori materials to Tanzania to supply their first through third grade classrooms. The future of Upendo Emporium is in creative, capable hands and will continue to change lives, both in Colorado and in Tanzania.

For more information on Upendo Emporium at SVCMS, please call: 303-682-4339 or email


Member Schools can now sport the CMA "Member Program" Logo on their websites!
If you are a CMA member school or organization in good standing, it’s worth sharing that information!   That you have chosen to partner with other Montessori programs in the state gives additional credibility to not only your school, but Montessori education in general.
You are invited to add this “CMA Member Program” logo to your website, or use it in print publications.  We ask that you complete a “CMA Logo Use Application Form”, and send a signed copy to CMA via email to: Upon receipt of a signed agreement, we will respond to your email with a digital version of the program member logo shown below for your use.  
Campus Director 
Montessori Children's House of Denver
Denver, CO

Position Description

MCHD is currently accepting applications from Montessori Certified Directors as it begins its search for a committed and passionate, collaborative Montessori leader to fulfill the role of Campus Director, taking over leadership at one of MCHD's Campuses as the current Campus Director prepares to retire. This role is supported by MCHD's collaborative administrative team which will be available to support the incoming Campus Director's transition into the MCHD community.

The Campus Director oversees all daily campus operations and leads their campus within the overall school community in the implementation of the Montessori Philosophy and MCHD's Vision Statement under the support and guidance of the Executive Director.

Position Requirements
Director's Qualifications and Montessori Certification through a MACTE accredited teacher training program.

BA and 2 or more years of lead teaching experience preferred. Click here for more information about the Montessori Children's House of Denver.
Start Date: July 2015
Please email or fax resume to Attn: Michelle O'Donoghue, Executive Director. 
Email: Fax: 303-355-8629  Phone: 303-322-8324 x 121

Montessori Full-Time Assistant for a Primary Classroom
Mountain Montessori
Avon, CO

Position Description

The right person will work cohesively with the lead teachers in a classroom of 20 children, ages 3-6. The job duties range from organizing materials and cleaning the workspace to facilitating the learning process for each child. Click here for more information about Mountain Montessori.

Please send your resume to Martha Teien, Executive Director, if you would like an interview!
Phone: 970-748-3128
Mountain Montessori
77 Metcalf Road, Suite 101
Avon, CO 81620

Young Child's Community Classroom Assistant
Mountain Shadows Montessori School
Boulder, CO

Position Description

Classroom assistants are responsible for the well-being of the children in the classroom as well as supporting the teacher with a variety of tasks Some of these tasks include: classroom organization, cleaning, playground supervision, Montessori material making, and more. The assistant is principally supporting the lead teacher rather than directly teaching children. This role requires someone who is responsible, detail-oriented, and skilled with children ages 1-3 years. In addition, the classroom assistants support evening childcare during Parent Education Nights and other evening meetings at MSMS, as well as Activity Days offered during Parent Teacher Conferences. 

Position Requirements

Applicants must hold a Colorado Early Childhood Teacher certificate. No exceptions. 

Start Date

This Young Child's Community Classroom Assistant position is effective immediately and concludes on July 31, 2015. Applications will be reviewed immediately.

Please contact Tom Ferland
Phone: 303-530-5353
Mountain Shadows Montessori School
4154 63rd Street
Boulder, CO 80301

Mountain Shadows was founded in 1976 and is located in a beautiful, renovated farm house on over 12 acres of land in Boulder County. Our program supports children using the internationally accredited Montessori model distinct for its hands-on academic materials, individual and small group lessons, and emphasis on supporting the development of the whole child -- academically, socially, and emotionally. Click here for more information about Mountain Shadows. 
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.
Get Involved with CMA... 
Articles & Images Needed - Submission deadline: the 3rd Friday of each month.
  • Are you a published author or photographer? Would you like to be? Submit your original work to CMA by the 3rd Friday of each month with the possibility of having your photographs and/or article selected for one of the future newsletters. Submit photographs and 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). 
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!
From Pinterest and Flickr

Key Wind Chime
From Pinterest and Inner Child Giving

Recycled Crayons
From Pinterest and Meet the Dubiens

CMA Board of Directors
Kathryn Ross - President
RB Fast - Vice President

Lyn Mead - Treasurer
Rachel Averch - Secretary
Sheila Wolfe

Katy Myers
Karen Farquharson
Jim Barrett
Martha Teien
Lionel Espanoza

April Board Meeting:

Board Training Event only
(no board meeting being held)

Contact us by e*mail
Join CMA Today!

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.
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Would you like to have an article you have written published, or do you have any great 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 for the coming month's newsletter.
Edited by: Katie O'Neill