Welcome to the 2015-2016 academic year! I trust that you all had some time to rejuvenate over the summer, and that your school years are off to a smooth beginning.
Each summer, the AIMS Board meets for strategic planning in order to prepare for the coming school year. I would like to acknowledge the board members, some new, some returning, for sharing their time and experience in this process . Thank you to Vice President Debbie Kelley, Treasurer Cheryl LaCost, Secretary Carol Martorano, Head of Membership Blythe Silva, Communications Director Karen Zehnal, members Debbie Senoff-Langford, Linda Zehron, Audrey Perrot, Jeffery Katz and Executive Director Sharon Damore for their participation.
This year will be a busy one for AIMS, and different than the past few years as well. As you know, Chicago is the location of this year's annual AMS Conference: Montessori Principles, Values and Perspectives. The AIMS board and AIMS member school volunteers will be taking the lead on all of the local committee work preparing for the conference and ensuring that it runs smoothly. AIMS will also be taking a large role in the annual gala fundraising event, selling sponsorships and assisting with the auction, as well as planning for this exciting evening.
With the AMS Conference here in Chicago, I am especially excited that this year's Living Legacy is also from the area, Carolyn Kambich. Carolyn’s involvement with Illinois schools spans decades, and includes founding four Montessori schools that are still in operation—and thriving. We are all so happy to honor her and her great work this year.
One of the primary functions of AIMS is to monitor and disseminate pertinent regulatory and legislative information. Illinois is in a period of flux in this aspect, and the AIMS board has decided to take on presenting a day of pertinent information for heads, administrators and teacher leaders on December 1st, Montessori in Illinois: Paths to Favorable Political and Regulatory Impacts. We are grateful to Audrey Perrot and Near North Montessori School for agreeing to host this event. Watch the AIMS website for more information about content and registration.
The AIMS Membership application process will be available on October 1, 2015. This year, all of last year's AIMS members will be able to access their membership information pre-populated, and will only need to make entries for changes to their information. I can't thank Blythe Silva, our Membership Director, and John Barrett, our IT Director, enough for all of the work they have put into streamlining this process for our Member Schools.
Finally, I would like to thank our AIMS Executive Director, Sharon Damore. This past year she has worked on several important initiatives that strongly affect our members. Sharon chaired our AIMS conference committee last year, putting on a successful and profitable conference for Illinois Montessorians. Sharon has also continued her policy work, representing AIMS at the Early Learning Council and working with the Montessori Public Policy Initiative to organize a retreat of state leaders this October. Sharon will share more details in her letter from the Executive Director.
Sharon has joined me as local co-chair of the AMS conference and will continue to provide leadership guidance for the Illinois State Coalition as well. This committee is moving towards stronger representation in the Illinois Early Learning Council and keeps the Montessori community in the dialogue as the state pushes to improve early learning opportunities across the board.
I would like to invite you to join our scheduled meetings for 2015-16. We will meet in October, February and April, with December being the month for our Montessori in Illinois: Paths to Favorable Political and Regulatory Impacts event. Attending AIMS meetings regularly is a great source of information from both the board and other member schools and provides a venue for the board to stay in touch with member needs. We are lucky to have such a strong state organization and that strength comes from the support and feedback from our members.
Meeting dates for the year are:
Montessori Academy of Chicago
Montessori in Illinois: Paths to Favorable Political and Regulatory Impacts
I am looking forward to another year with AIMS and the excitement on having AMS in Chicago. We are at an important time for Montessori education as so much is changing in the greater educational community. I am honored to serve in this position and will work to continue to improve the benefits AIMS offers to our member schools.
Montessori in Illinois:
Pathways to Favorable Political and
The Association of Illinois Montessori Schools (AIMS) will host a one-day symposium on Illinois policies and regulations that impact Montessori schools. Targeted audience will include principals, Heads of Schools, other administrators, and teacher leaders in Montessori schools in Illinois. Participants will gain knowledge and increase solutions for addressing challenges from regulations affecting their schools and Montessori programs.
The day will include information and opportunities for dialogue about ExceleRate (QRIS); Illinois State Board Education (ISBE) Registration and Recognition Program; DCFS regulations; and options for Accreditation/Recognition as well. Experts will be invited from regulatory agencies as well as utilization of talent within the AIMS membership.
Together, we can work to ensure a favorable political and regulatory climate for Illinois’s high quality Montessori schools to thrive!
Registration Fee: $149.00
Capacity Limited to 100 administrators
Illinois’s Carolyn Kambich Selected as American Montessori Society 2016 Living Legacy
On March 14, at the Annual Meeting of the American Montessori Society in Philadelphia, PA, it was announced that Carolyn Kambich has been named the AMS 2016 Living Legacy. We at AIMS couldn’t be more thrilled! The American Montessori Society Living Legacy is an annual tribute to an individual whose dedication and leadership has made a lasting impact on the AMS community, and the selection of Carolyn as the new honoree will shed a bright light on Montessori in our state.
Carolyn’s involvement with Illinois schools spans decades, including as founder of four Montessori schools that are still in operation—and thriving. Known as the Deerfield/North Shore Montessori Schools, all are AMS-accredited and serve infants through sixth graders.
While opening her first Deerfield school, Carolyn worked with others in the Illinois Montessori Society to pioneer the Montessori movement in Chicago. IMS was instrumental in advocating for Montessori education in the state of Illinois and in supporting teachers and parents. Eventually the needs of the constituents changed, and IMS was restructured as AIMS (Association of Illinois Montessori Schools) under the guidance of Carolyn and her husband, Tony Kambich. Carolyn also served as a president of AIMS. Today, AIMS continues to expand and influence the educational landscape of Illinois and supports the American Montessori Society at the national level.
Over the years, Carolyn has helped to train and mentor many Montessori teachers. One of her greatest contributions to the community is the legacy of all of those teachers and the schools they have founded.
For more details on Carolyn’s rich legacy in the Montessori world, we direct you to a dedicated page about her on the AMS website.
And, to Carolyn Kambich herself, we offer our heartfelt congratulations!
AMS Opens Call for Presenters: 2016 Conference in Chicago
Did you present at the AIMS conference? Have you ever considered presenting at the AMS conference? Now is your chance. Click here to find out more about the 2016 AMS conference and how you can submit a proposal for speaking at this national conference of your Montessori peers.
Congratulations Countryside Montessori
AIMS would like to congratulate Countryside Montessori on being named Business of the Year by the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce. It is wonderful to see one of our AIMS Member Schools being recognized for the great work that they do in their community. Also, take a look at this video on Montessori made by one of their students!
McCormick Center at National Louis University coordinates the administration of the environmental rating scales that are now utilized to evaluate early childhood classrooms in the Illinois ExceleRate (QRIS) Program. They are advertising for full-time program evaluators. This initiative could certainly use some experienced educators to lend some expertise on Montessori practices. If you know a Montessori educator who is retired or looking for an interesting opportunity, please refer them to this website.
Multi-Age Grouping Guidelines from the American Montessori Society
As you may know, the School Accreditation Commission and AMS Board of Directors have been considering the subject of multi-age grouping over the past year.
Last fall, the AMS School Accreditation Commission created a Multi-Age Grouping Task Force (composed of some commissioners, the chair of the Teacher Educators Section, and some AMS Board members) to recommend a definition of optimal age groupings for all levels of Montessori education and to recommend whether or not a variance should continue to be granted to schools undergoing the AMS school accreditation process if they do not meet the specified age groupings.
The AMS Board of Directors, School Accreditation Commission, Teacher Education Action Commission, and many of our members believe clear communication of and adherence to Montessori principles and standards are essential if Montessori education is to become widely accepted as a quality education choice.
The process was inclusive of the various points of view of our many stakeholders. The School Accreditation Commission considered the discussions and recommendations of the Task Force; research and articles; original writings of Maria Montessori, Nancy McCormick Rambusch, and others; and best practices of accreditation agencies, and made recommendations to the AMS Board of Directors.
At its October 2014 meeting, informed by the recommendations of the School Accreditation Commission, the AMS Board of Directors approved the following decision:
Criterion 3.5 of the School Accreditation Standards and Criteria requiring multi-age groupings at the Infant & Toddler, Early Childhood, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Secondary levels will be upheld for accredited schools and schools seeking accreditation, with no option for a multi-age grouping variance to be granted for classrooms with alternative groupings.* Age groupings must be as follows:
· Infant & Toddler: Children from birth to 3 years of age may be grouped in varying multi-age configurations. A stand-alone classroom serving only 3-year olds does not satisfy this Criterion.
· Early Childhood: a 3-year age group within the range of 2.5 years to 6 years
· Lower Elementary: 6 years to 9 years
· Upper Elementary: 9 years to 12 years
· OR Elementary I-II: ages 6 years to 12 years
· Secondary: the school must offer an age grouping of either 12-14, 14-16, 16-18 years of age OR 12-15, 15-18 years of age
Of utmost consideration and importance was the understanding that multi-age groupings are central to how Montessori is delivered in our schools, how teachers are prepared by our teacher education programs, and which schools are available as practicum sites for our adult learners. The above Criterion is required only for currently accredited schools or schools intending to pursue the process of AMS school accreditation. It is not required for schools at the Initiate, Associate, or Full member levels. Likewise, it is not required for schools that serve as practicum sites for adult learners.
We recognize that the decision may have ramifications for schools that are not yet accredited by AMS and that some schools will be unable to meet this multi-age requirement for accreditation. We are taking this matter extremely seriously and are exploring another standards-based path to recognize quality programs, with a goal of serving and supporting our schools as fully as possible. The criteria for this path is being written and we hope to have it completed sometime early- to mid-2015.
In this age of increased attention to school choice, standards of quality rating by states, and increased scrutiny of teacher preparedness and quality, defining and adhering to quality is of the utmost importance. AMS is here to support our community as we navigate these challenges, find ways to validate quality schools and teacher education programs, and deliver exceptional education.
I hope you will share this communication with your members. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.
*Schools with multi-age grouping variances previously approved by the School Accreditation Commission are grandfathered such that they may maintain the age-grouping(s) for which the variances were granted with a designation that they adhere to a non-traditional Montessori age grouping.
NBA superstar Stephan Curry is a Montessori grad! His mother runs a Montessori school…check out the video AMS has released!
Daniel Goleman (author of “Emotional Intelligence”) has a new book out called “Focus: The Hidden Ingredient in Success” that addresses the major issue of today’s children’s inability to concentrate. Here is an interview with Goleman done by NAIS’ Independent Teacher magazine.
"We cannot create observers by saying 'observe,' but by giving them the power and the means for this observation and these means are procured through education of the senses."