October 15, 2016
Dear Montessori Leaders,
With so many exciting events, opportunities and happenings in Illinois Montessori it is difficult to know where to begin the conversation.
If you’ve read President Denise Monnier’s greetings on the home page, http://www.illinoismontessorischools.com, then you are up to speed with recent information on returning AIMS Board members as well as newly elected ones. I continue to feel grateful for those Montessori school leaders who are willing to serve as AIMS board members, donate time and energy, and contribute beyond the doors of their respective schools. These leadership qualities are so essential in order for AIMS, as a professional membership organization, to be the life force to advance Montessori education in Illinois.
The summer was busy with planning for the 2015-16 academic year. The big news is that AIMS joins the American Montessori Society (AMS) as a local partner for March 10- 13th, 2016, Chicago AMS International Conference.
So many of you have already stepped up and joined the local committees, which Denise and I much appreciate as local co-chairs. Thank you! Thank you! If you haven’t volunteered, please contact either Denise or myself, and we will find a role for you – we need everyone to ensure this will be the biggest and best Montessori conference to date.
Because of the AMS conference in March, 2016, AIMS will not host the annual February conference. AMS offers over 250 sessions, professional development, and extraordinary networking for your teachers that rarely occurs elsewhere. It is a special opportunity for the Montessorians in our community. Several schools have already shared their plans to close their schools on that Friday so all teachers can attend. I urge you to send as many teachers as possible; and I believe you, too will enjoy the increased number of conference sessions on leadership.
Currently, we are told that the room block at the Sheraton downtown, has already sold out, and preregistration is ahead of Philadelphia at this time!!! Let’s make the Chicago conference BIGGER AND BETTER!!! We have the bandwidth with your help and support!!
The Friday night AMS Gala proceeds will be shared by AMS and AIMS this year, AIMS will assume a major role in this annual fundraising event, by increasing attendance, selling sponsorships assisting with the auction, as well as planning for this exciting evening. We ask that you plan to attend the event and help us ensure a great and profitable evening. Watch for the invitation! Mark your calendar for Friday, March 11th.
At AIMS, we continue our work on Illinois policy and advocacy to advance opportunities for Montessori for the children of Illinois. In conjunction with my own national work with the Montessori Public Policy Initiative (MPPI), MPPI will host its first D.C. Retreat on Public Policy. Denise Monnier, Anne Matern, Debbie Senoff-Lanford, and I will represent Illinois. The unprecedented MPPI Retreat is sponsored by AMI/USA, AMS and the Trust for Learning. The event includes state groups/coalitions that are representing public and private Montessori schools and span across national Montessori organizational membership. The Illinois team will share in a two day national discussion of topics of importance to Montessorians such as the national education landscape, recognition of Montessori teacher credentials in licensure, child care regulations, QRIS and access and equity for children through Montessori education. Over 80 invited state representatives; national Montessori organizations and state policy makers will be in attendance. This is an incredible opportunity: we expect to leave with more information and connections across the country to support us as we address some of the challenges we experience here in Illinois.
Tuesday, December 1st, please join us for a one-day AIMS symposium on Montessori in Illinois: Paths to Favorable Regulatory and Policy Impacts. The Board has listened to your voices and added this important professional development event to an already full school calendar. The symposium is dedicated to the convening of Montessori school leaders and regulatory agency representatives. We have secured speakers from ExceleRate, DCFS and ISBE to speak on related topics. Please register ASAP, this day is for you.
Several of us at AIMS, continue to be highly visible and active in the early childhood and public school community. For example, Lisa Kambich represents AIMS at the DCFS Day Care Advisory Committee meetings; Denise, Anna Perry and I try to attend on a regular basis the Illinois Early Learning Council meetings sponsored by the Governor’s Office, and Denise is in regular contact with the ExceleRate (QRIS) office with Gail Nelson as Director. I attended the National BUILD/QRIS conference in D.C. in July with over 55 Illinois EC policy/regulatory leaders. We are networking and attempting to exert our influence in helping non-Montessorians understand and appreciate the value of Montessori education.
For the policy and advocacy work, I urge you to join AIMS by clicking on the membership application - http://www.illinoismontessorischools.com/apply.
AIMS needs to ensure that we represent high quality Montessori schools when we speak to legislators, policy makers and regulatory representatives. If your school, for some reason, does not yet meet the membership criteria, please complete the census, http://www.illinoismontessorischools.com/survey, so we know you are out there, and that your school is moving in the direction to ensure high quality Montessori implementation in your school. We are happy to talk further and provide coaching for full implementation of Montessori pedagogy and curriculum. We always need more excellent Montessori for the children of Illinois.
Please join us in a great year to advance and celebrate Montesssori education. Big thank you to John Barrett, AIMS IT professional and webmaster. Big, big thank you to Denise Monnier, my partner in thinking, planning and action for AIMS work.
And a big congratulations to Carolyn Kambich, the 2016 AMS Living Legacy. We honor her as her contribution spans numerous decades and we are so proud to have her as a long-standing member of our Chicago community.
It is an honor and privilege to serve you.
Sharon Damore, Ed.D., Executive Director