2017 Conference Keynote and Workshops

Keynote speaker

Trisha Moquino is the co-founder of Keres Children’s Learning Center (KCLC), a language immersion Montessori founded in 2012 on the Cochiti Pueblo in the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. Trisha is from the Cochiti Pueblo, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, and Santo Domingo Pueblo. She has degrees from Stanford University and the University of New Mexico, and she has Primary and Elementary Montessori certifications from the United Montessori Association and the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies.

Trisha did her Master’s Thesis on the idea of KCLC in 2000 and started working on KCLC in partnership with the KCLC Board of Directors and the Cochiti Pueblo Tribal Leadership/Tribal Council in 2006. At Keres, Trisha teaches in both the Primary (Keres Immersion Classroom) and Elementary I (Dual Language Education-Keres/English) classrooms there. In 2016, Trisha and colleagues hosted a Native Language Symposium on Montessori in Santa Fe as part of the La Consecha Dual-Language Conference.

Her children and family are her inspiration for continuing to work towards creating a holistic model of education that is inclusive of our own Indigenous language, culture, and worldview and that elevates our Indigenous knowledge in the overall learning of our children.

MSJ 2017 Workshops

Friday Workshops

Crossroads Anti-Racism, Chicago, IL

Introduction to Structural Racism

JoAnn Mundy, of Crossroads, facilitates and baby-whispers at our 2016 gathering in Cambridge.

This introductory day-long workshop, used by City Garden Montessori School to train staff and community stakeholders, is to explore racism as a systemic, institutional problem of power that goes beyond personal prejudice. Participants will experience first-hand Crossroads effective methodology for facilitating productive conversations about race. They will also be be introduced to a strategic methodology that can assist people effectively organize to dismantle racism in their institutions.


Dialogue: Racism, led by Cherry Steinwender & Barbara Hacker of the Center for the Healing of Racism, Houston

This 3 hour workshop, intended for MSJ participants who attended last year’s Crossroads “Introduction to Structural Racism” workshop, is a structured space to continue the conversation. Teams of facilitators from different heritages create a safe, respectful environment where participants can explore the issues of racism and its repercussions. Information is provided by the facilitators on such topics as defining prejudice and racism, where racism originates, how racism is perpetuated, the forms of racism, and positive means for overcoming racism and healing its wounds. Participants are then encouraged to dialogue within guidelines that promote real listening and understanding.

Saturday Workshops

Koren Clark, Wildflower Schools Consultant, Oakland, CA

Cosmic Intimacy- Human Growth and Development

Scientists are always discovering that there is more to learn about the cosmos and the universe. Could there be more that we can learn about our own bodies?

Understanding who we are is a natural first step in sharing who we are with others.

In this presentation teachers will learn how to present the important topic of intimacy within the framework of human growth and development. Educators will find out how to help children learn about the functions of the five aspects of who they are beyond the body, mind and spirit. Ultimately, educators will be given tools to help children look “into me see,” and understand the ontology of intimacy within their cycle of growth.

Faybra Hemphill and Nicole Evans, City Garden, St. Louis, Missouri

Establishing the ABAR “Lingua Franca” in Montessori School Communities – 

The Anti-biased and Antiracist (ABAR)  discourse takes the conversation on Diversity and Inclusion, and the application of Culturally Responsive Teaching methodology to deeper levels. ABAR requires us to think critically about the influence of social constructs, specifically race and racism on education as a system, and the effect that these factors have on our institutions of learning. Furthermore, we are challenged to grapple with our own biases in respect to our personal identities, and position of authority as educators. A strong foundation in the ABAR discourse is salient to the effectiveness and growth potential for modern-day Montessori communities.  

ABAR-centered community experiences aim to cultivate collective understandings of bias, privilege, and systemic inequities. The initial task at hand in sustaining strategic ABAR work is establishing the Lingua Franca, the common language. Accurate, and candid  definitions of bias, racism, and equity, are key components in having meaningful discussions, and devising effective plans to address the needs of our communities.  The journey toward establishing sustainable, ABAR-centered Montessori discourse reflects a continuum. It involves the willingness to critically self-reflect, to assume good will in others, and to practice radical candor in frequent community dialogue.

Faybra Hemphill and Dr. Nicole Evans of City Garden Montessori School in St. Louis Missouri will offer a perspective on how to develop the common language, how to enact community agreements (ground rules) on applying the terms and definitions, and strategize implementation of programs that make the lingua franca accessible to our school communities.  The willingness to go on the journey, thought-provoking dialogue, and structural accountability affords the essential capacity  to dismantle racism, diminish  biases, and create Montessori communities in which all people have access to freedom and opportunity.

Daisy Han and Castle O’Neill, 
Wildflower Schools, Cambridge, MA

Grounded In Our Purpose Through Montessori Storytelling 

Dismantling systemic structures that promote inequity is complex work which requires transformation of oneself and transformation of others. In order for Wildflower to define root causes of oppression that have been baked into our biases, we had to look in the mirror and self-assess the ways in which we were practicing equity and they ways in which we were not. We are eager to honestly share our story with you. We hope that our story will allow for everyone to learn, in real-time, the history of how Wildflower formed in a way that was filled with good people wanting to do the right thing and caring about justice but without deep grounding in equity practice and thinking.

With the introduction of new voices with a very different set of experiences, we began to talk about equity. During this presentation we will delve into the conversations we had, the challenges we experienced in getting everyone to understand each other, the process of making a shared commitment to learn more, and more. We would like to open up our story to the larger Montessori for Social Justice community as a case study to analyze and advise. We hope to implement the suggestions from the community and come back and present again next year to share the next leg of the journey with everyone. Sadly, many Montessori schools are where Wildflower was 9 months ago — well meaning but not actually understanding the issue. Our hope is that we can show how we are getting ourselves going and that that might be of real value to others in the community.

Hannah Richardson & Elizabeth Slade, National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS)

A Montessori Coaching School Model- Coaching as a means of constructing school community

Over the past 4 years, NCMPS has worked to develop and refine a school wide coaching model specifically aligned to the work of Montessori education in the public sector. In essence, coaching offers us the opportunity to support one another in a way that encourages us to be our best selves so that we can serve the children with integrity. The model focuses on structural, technical and cultural aspects of supporting professional and institutional growth.

The direct aim of this workshop is to share practices of coaching that build staff and student culture in Montessori public schools. It will be an opportunity for Montessorians to learn about what it means to be a coaching model school and to consider practical steps that could be taken at their own school aimed at supporting a vibrant and productive school culture.

Annie Frazer, Montessori Partnerships for Georgia
Montessori for All Communities: How Montessori Partnerships for Georgia is Expanding Access to Montessori Education
Montessori Partnerships for Georgia, founded in 2014, works to make Montessori education broadly accessible by supporting communities that want Montessori education for their children and don’t have access through the tuition-driven private model. In this workshop, we’ll share our successes and challenges so far and facilitate a conversation about ways to make Montessori education an option for all families in your own city or state. Our work and this workshop support the creation of a statewide anti-bias/anti-racist Montessori community, through directly addressing the economic, racial and geographic barriers families face in accessing Montessori education for their children.

Mira Debs, Yale University

Public Montessori Book Workshop

How has public Montessori developed in the United States over the last century? Who has it included and excluded? Why have public Montessori spaces sometimes proved contentious? Following last year’s presentation on public Montessori history, Mira Debs will present an overview of her public Montessori book manuscript, Diverse Parents, Desirable Schools: Public Montessori, Fit and Conflict in an Era of school choice. The rest of the session will be conducted writer’s workshop style with participants giving feedback and asking questions to improve the manuscript. Participants who register in advance for this workshop will be sent a preview copy of the manuscript in April.

Tiffany Jewell, Montessori School of Northampton, Northampton, MA

Eliminating Assumptions and Buzzwords: Embracing Anti-Bias Work In Our Montessori Classrooms and Communities

Learn about Anti-Bias Education and why we need it in our Montessori classrooms and communities today. You will be introduced to the four goals of Anti-Bias Education and create and share a vision for the future of Montessori students, teachers, and administrators. We will discuss why using the terms “diversity” and “inclusion” are not enough. Our focus will be on how to build a community of learners ready to embrace Anti-Bias Education and take action towards positive change within ourselves, classrooms, schools, and communities.

Katie Brown, National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector

The DC Montessori Teacher Residency: A Model for Urban Public Montessori Schools

Even the most superb Montessori teacher training cannot equip teachers with all the skills they need to be successful in urban public schools. The DC Montessori Teacher Residency promotes success and retention for novice and aspiring Montessori teachers by providing additional support in areas like special education, family engagement, cultural competence, trauma, and English language acquisition. This program is designed to strengthen the teacher pipeline in high-need urban schools, diversify the Montessori teacher pool, and improve classroom quality and teacher performance. In this session, participants will learn about the supplemental coursework developed for residents, as well as how residency schools are supported in moving toward a culture of continuous improvement. We will also discuss lessons learned from the pilot year of the program, and invite discussion around the possibilities for this model. This session supports the creation of anti-bias/antiracist Montessori communities by modeling a program to develop a more diverse public Montessori teacher workforce, a corps of teachers who are well-equipped to meet the needs of students in diverse public schools.

Kathy Minardi,  Whole School Leadership

The Peacemaking Circle Process

The circle is the fundamental geometry of open human communication, and is the most ancient form of gathering in inclusive community. It has been used since the 1960’s in restorative justice work, and explored among those dedicated to community building practices. The Tlingit tribes of the Northwest have been one source of circle process and the Quakers have also contributed to this field. I will create a real peacemaking circle process that those who attend will experience. Participants will discover that the process builds trust and understanding while lessoning the power differences of roles and positions. They will experience the deep listening that is required and the stories that unfold in richness. The process is not about changing others, but is about one’s relationship with oneself and to the community and to the wider universe. We will also stop to take meta-cognitive teaching and instructional breaks in order to reflect on how to facilitate the process successfully oneself. So we will be doing the process while learning to facilitate the process simultaneously. Peacemaking circle may be facilitated among elementary and adolescent children, and is a powerful tool among the adult communities of staff and parents. It is a proactive tool used within a society challenged by racism and other challenges of equity and inclusion.

Maggie McCaffery and Alaina Szostkowski, Mayflower Early Childhood Center, Minneapolis, MN

Montessori’s Hidden Curriculum and Radical Reconsiderations

This workshop will be an opportunity for the spiritual preparation of the adult. Because Montessori is a culture unto itself we draw strength and purpose from particular meanings of central ideas. As such, it is paramount to trouble the central concepts and expose the hidden curriculum (e.g. Eurocentrism, coloniality, white supremacy, etc.). We will be contesting the settled meanings and asking if they truly apply to the experience of all children- particularly children of color. Our intention is to open the discussion with a short presentation of the findings of Maggie’s self-study on her personal journey through anti-racism and it’s implications in the Montessori Children’s House. We will follow this with a combination of reflective exercises and tough questions to discuss critiques of the central concepts of freedom within limits, work, and the universality of The Child. In doing so, we hope to encourage reflection on the implications of decisions that educators make. The session will close with a collaborative radical reimagining of the Planes of Development. We believe that as the Prepared Adult is an integral part of the Prepared Environment, this type of work will foster the creation of anti-bias/ anti-racist Montessori communities.

Serving the Whole Child: A partnership between Montessori Center of Minnesota’s Program Montessori Partners Serving All Children and St. Catherine University

Unraveling Structural Racism

Structural racism is deeply embedded in the fabric of our society, restricting opportunities for children of color and American Indian children. Early education communities need to provide quality early and comprehensive intervention to assure equity of opportunity for all children and enhance anti-bias/anti-racism in the community. Serving the Whole Child is a community-university partnership aimed at addressing health and education disparities for low-income families of color and American Indian families. This partnership serves children aged 3-6 in culturally centered high quality Montessori early education programs, and seeks to connect families to community resources and enrichment activities. Serving the Whole Child allows Montessori guides and University faculty and students to participate in interprofessional education activities. One key area of interprofessional education and family enrichment focuses on embracing diversity through learning with and from multicultural communities. These conversations and experiences aim to unravel the generations of structural racism, better preparing children, parents, guides and university student and faculty for a future of equity for all. The workshop will share our story, describe current disparities in the Minnesota communities served through the partnership, discuss historical trauma concerns, present our diversity and multicultural preparation, and facilitate a discussion to advance equal opportunity for young children and their families.

Erica Adams, Stonebrook Montessori Charter School, Cleveland, Ohio

Our First Year: A Public Charter Montessori Reflects

Stonebrook Montessori, a public charter in Cleveland OH, opened in 2015, initially enrolling children ages 3 through 8. After its first year, the staff community reflected in a series of interviews: what was the start-up “experience?” What characteristics did we observe in the children? What were the challenges around race and culture? What have we learned and how will we adapt? This session offers reflections and insights gained from Stonebrook’s first year as well discussion around others’ start-up experiences.

Terry Ford and Jai Brisbon, Lumin Education, Dallas, Texas

Community Organizing: Developing Parent and Organizational Leadership

Lumin Education works to transform education by starting young, involving parents, and creating learning environments to inspire children from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. As we transform education, we transform communities by creating outstanding schools that empower, enrich, and support children and families.
Community organizing is a thread woven into the history of our work since our founding in 1978. This is our story of engaging authentically with families to develop parent leaders and staff leaders to speak and serve as advocates for their children, their neighborhoods, and communities. Come as we share four stories from our four campuses of community organizing and join in a discussion about how families can become involved in local actions, policies, and neighborhood initiatives.

Colleen Payne, Montessori Country Day School, Houston, Texas

Trauma Informed Classrooms the Montessori Way

Children come to the classroom from many places with many experiences. Research shows that more than half of them will have inevitably had adverse childhood experiences. These traumatic experiences shape their behavior, impact brain development and can create social and emotional concerns that last through out their lifetime. When educators understand the impact of trauma they can better meet the needs of students who benefit from specific support models to be successful. This workshop will give an overview of the impact of trauma on young children and help teachers create trauma informed classrooms that are responsive to those children’s unique needs. This information will be vital to Montessorians hoping to help children recover from the impact of racist, homophobic, xenophobic speech and acts and those who are teaching children who may have witnessed or been a victim of any kind of violence.

Britt Hawthorne, Wilson Montessori Magnet School, Houston, TX

Freedom with Discipline: Revamping Outdated Procedures and Routines

Do your students have freedom? Classroom management should reflect a just classroom, developing student’s character, independence and dignity. In this session we will tackle long-standing classroom management techniques desperately needing revision. Teachers will walk away with concrete techniques such as conflict resolution strategies, think sheets, revamping the Peace Area, procedures and routines in order to empower students and develop their citizenship

Karen Farquharson, Montessori del Mundo, Aurora, Colorado

Supporting English Language Learners

Enrollment of English Language Learners is increasing across the country. Teachers are often overwhelmed by the needs of these students or may feel unprepared to help them succeed in the classroom. In this session we will explore specific strategies for supporting English Language Learners in the classroom. Participants will learn and practice skills for Sheltering Instruction and explore methods of modifying traditional Montessori presentations to better support second language learners oral language development while maintaining fidelity to the original intent of the lesson. Supporting our immigrant and bilingual students is key to creating an anti-bias/anti-racist school and national community.

Sara Cotner, Magnolia Montessori for All, Austin, Texas

Academic Equity: How One School is Striving to Reduce Disparities in Reading Achievement

How do we fully implement Montessori in a way that ensures strong academic, social, emotional, cultural, creative, and physical outcomes for all children and any variations in those outcomes are not determined by race or socioeconomic status, so that all children are able to create opportunities for themselves in the world as they seek to pursue their cosmic tasks?Disparities in reading performance between children from high-income communities and low-income communities plague our country, and reveal themselves even within our best public Montessori programs.This workshop will focus on how our school is working to eliminate educational inequity in elementary reading scores, including implementing the DRA reading assessment and data cycles at the beginning, middle and end of the year; cultivating a growth mindset within our children; running guided reading groups during the work cycle; delivering strategy mini-lessons before read alouds; conferring with and coaching children during independent reading; connecting with families about how to support their children at home; and creating additional time for reading intervention during tutoring, including the use of parent/guardian volunteers.Sunday Workshops

Kimmie Fink, Welcoming Schools
Preventing Bias-Based Bullying
Many students who are harassed are targeted because of their identity, including race, national origin, gender, actual or perceived sexual orientation, religion or ability. The most frequently reported bullying in elementary schools is gender related. Participants will learn how to foster ally behavior, utilize the Bully Circle, implement critical intervention steps, and use the Welcoming Schools website to access lesson plans and books to engage students in discussions about preventing bullying.

Welcoming Schools is a comprehensive, research-based approach to improve elementary school climate with training, resources, and lessons on: embracing family diversity, creating LGBTQ-inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying, creating gender-expansive schools, and supporting transgender and non-binary students. Learn how this approach creates respectful elementary schools and increases student success.

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