Association of 

Hello Fellow Montessorians!

I hope you have all had some relaxation time over the summer and feel reinvigorated for the beginning of the new school year.  I know summer can be a busy time, especially for Heads of Schools and Administrators, but it can also be a time for reflection and thinking about any changes for the coming school year. For the AIMS Board, summer is a perfect time to meet and set our strategic goals for the coming school year. The following is a brief overview of changes and goals that were discussed at our summer planning meeting. Many thanks to George Markham, Denise Monnier, Libby Wolfe, Carol Martorano, Sharon Damore and Lisa Kambich for their participation.

AIMS Board

I would like to offer thanks and appreciation to two long- standing board members whose terms have expired. Carol Martorano (Educational Director, Montessori Academy of Chicago), our long- standing treasurer and who helped set up registration for the AIMS conference. While Carol is no longer treasurer I know she will stay active and assist with registration for the 2014 conference. I would also like to thank Judy Tyson, (Director of Tiny Tots Villa Montessori), corresponding secretary. Judy offered a perspective to the board regarding the challenges of running a small school. I appreciate Judy’s insight and value her input into our board.

Coming onto the board this year is Cheryl LaCost, Head of Brickton Montessori. Cheryl will take over the treasurer position and is helping us update upon our accounting procedures. Cheryl is working closely with George Markham, 1st VP, and our accountant to set up new structures to manage our accounts. We are so pleased to have Cheryl in this role.

Also new to the board is Denise Monnier, Head of Fox Valley Montessori. The board has agreed that the position of Corresponding Secretary be replaced with a Communications Secretary.  In that role, Denise will help find speakers for the membership meetings, work on website content and develop strategies to improve communications with our membership. We are so grateful to Denise to take on this role.

Continuing in their Board roles are George Markham, 1st VP and Lisa Kambich, 2nd VP.  George (Head of Montessori Academy in Batavia) has been working all summer to file our tax returns, looking into our non-profit status as well as taking on a leadership role in the coordination of our winter conference. George is a tireless volunteer and I so appreciate his willingness to tackle this important work.

Lisa Kambich, 2nd VP (Deerfield Montessori), is charged with annual membership and is setting up a committee to look at ways to expand our membership. We know there are many schools that currently do not belong to AIMS and the power of our group lies in increasing our numbers and representation.

Libby Wolfe, secretary (Chiaravalle Montessori School), is a fabulous keeper of our meeting minutes as well as taking notes during our board meetings. Many thanks to Libby for continuing to serve our organization.

AIMS Executive Director

Finally, I want to thank Sharon Damore, our part-time Executive Director.  Sharon continues to represent AIMS both at the state and national level. She has raised our organizational profile within the Montessori community and is a tireless worker on behalf of our members. This year the board determined that shifting Sharon’s focus from the conference, which George and members would now handle, to advocacy is the best use of our limited resources. Sharon will update you more on her work, but briefly she is helping to keep abreast of the impacts of QRIS (ExceleRate as it is know in Illinois) and the impact to our schools and participate in the AMI/AMS national coalition initiatives. She has also attended various policy meetings that have relevance to our schools.  All in all Sharon has been busy and her work brings an enormous value to our members.

I would also like to extend my thanks to John Barrett who has helped us with our website to make it user friendly and assisting us with keeping the information current.

AMI Congress-Portland

This summer Sharon, along with myself, attended the AMI Congress in Portland. The Congress was a wonderful experience with 2,300 in attendance from all over the world.  Sharon was able to participate in meetings with leaders of both AMI and AMS. This exposure is good not only for Illinois but helps us to forge relationships with different states so our intellectual resources, and assessment of Montessori best practices can be pooled to attain better outcomes for the children we serve.

One standout meeting that took place at the Congress was the Montessori Leaders Collaborative session.   This group represents a number of Montessori organizations (from AMI, AMS, The Montessori Foundation, NAMTA, Montessori training centers, Montessori programs internationally as well as third party facilitators) with the goal of inter-organizational communication and collaboration on behalf of Montessori schools. I was heartened to finally see the leaders of the Montessori movement sit down and work together towards outcomes that not only benefit us but as one voice for Montessori.  We look forward to a more peaceful partnership amongst these various groups. For more information on MLC go to

National Advocacy Project – Illinois State Coalition

AMI and AMS are now in a collaborative partnership to strengthen the Montessori voice for Advocacy and Policy through the establishment of state coalitions, organized with Montessorians regardless of national affiliation.  The two organizations support grass roots efforts through shared resources with staff, volunteers, and communication tools.

Illinois has been selected as one of the new state coalitions.  A small steering committee has been established with members:  Patty Eggerding, Co-leader, AMI (Southwest Suburban Montessori); Debbie Senoff-Langford, Co-Leader, AMS; Sharon Damore, and Anna Perry (Chair, AIMS Policy Committee).  Illinois has been asked to identify an issue and the committee has agreed on QRIS (ExceleRate).   Working on understanding of the new Quality and Improvement System, and its implementation is being currently undertaken by the group.  Also, as part of the coalition work, Anna is co-directing, with Natalie Danner, University of Illinois, a census of all Illinois Montessori schools in the fall, which should give the coalition better stats on the children and families served in Illinois.  More to come!

School News

We would like to congratulate the following new heads of schools from our area. I hope I haven’t missed out on anyone, but if you know of any additions please send us on the information so we can post the news!

Robyn Springer Chiaravalle Montessori -Evanston

Cheryl Lacost -Brickton Montessori -Chicago 

Jeff Bell -Beacon Montessori High School- Evanston

Rita Nolan- Montessori School of Englewood-Chicago

We would also like to say farewell to Ed Hollinger (Head of Chiaravalle), who is taking up a new High School principal position in No. Carolina and to Mark Neidlinger (Principal of Drummond Montessori), who is taking up a position as principal in a Montessori school in Michigan.  Mark has been involved with CPS and Drummond Montessori for the last 20 years and has certainly left his mark on integrating Montessori education into the CPS system to which we are very grateful.   We wish both colleagues every success in their new schools.

Finally I would like to welcome you all to our upcoming meetings.  As AIMS continues to expand its scope of work, to ensure we are meeting the needs of our member schools, we depend upon your voice and input to help us set the future direction.  Please mark your calendars with the dates below.  Any school able to host a meeting please let me know. All dates and venues will be posted on our website

Meeting Dates

Wed Oct 2, 2013

Wed Dec 11, 2013


Fri Feb 21, 2014


All day

AIMS conference  (Heads and Administrators)

Sat Feb 22, 2014


All day

AIMS conference  (open to all faculty- held at Near North Montessori)

Wed Apr 9, 2014


Have a wonderful start to the school.

In peace,

Debbie Senoff-Langford

President, AIMS

@ Association of Illinois Montessori Schools