Teaching the Teachers
Montessori master’s program attracts teachers, career changers from around the globe
When Jenna Raleigh graduated from Missouri State with a business degree in 2006, she wanted to travel. Work in outdoor education in Montana and Colorado led her to a position with the Catalina Environmental Leadership Program, just off the California coast. There Raleigh taught students about sustainability through hiking and snorkeling—and discovered her vocation.
“I realized that what I believed in teaching shared the same philosophies as Montessori education.” She landed a job with the Chesterfield Montessori School in St. Louis, Mo., her hometown, and the school offered to sponsor her as she earned her master’s in education through Loyola’s Montessori program.
There she joined students from all over the country—and the world—for the program in Columbia, Md., where the Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola is based.
Like Raleigh, each student has a story. A few started their journeys knowing they wanted to teach using the Montessori approach. Those are the exception. Many more are surprised to find themselves on this path. They are physicians, chemists, lawyers, educators, and artists who are making a career change.
“For almost all of them, it’s not that this is a logical step on their career path,” said Sharon Dubble, Ph.D., director of the Center for Montessori Education at Loyola. “They’ve gotten bitten by the Montessori passion.” The students come from all over the United States and from around the world, from countries such as India, Korea, China, the Philippines, and Argentina.
“They really want to make a difference,” Dubble said. “They see this as a way of working with the natural process of development with children.” Montessori education emphasizes all aspects of a child’s development—intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
Since the Washington Montessori Institute moved to Loyola in 1998, the Montessori program has become the largest in Loyola’s School of Education, with about 300 students in the program at any time. The program also includes seven affiliated Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) institutes throughout the country. The first university to offer a graduate program associated with AMI, Loyola incorporates the AMI teacher training course within a full degree program to offer the most rigorous standards for Montessori teacher preparation. “That’s another reason Loyola’s program attracts people from across the country and the globe,” Dubble said.