Starting a school isn’t a pipe dream

RashidahLovickby Rashidah Lovick, North Carolina Montessorian

On June 26 and 27, 2015, 75 Montessori teachers, administrators, researchers, and advocates from across the country convened on the tranquil campus of Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. This diverse group of dedicated individuals gathered for Montessori for Social Justice’s second annual Public Montessori Unconference, which was hosted by Westminster’s Institute of Montessori Innovation. Based on participant input and expertise, 16 workshops were conducted on topics ranging from culturally responsive teaching to how to start your own school, as well as a day-long NCMPS workshop on Montessori and Assessment.

I feel extremely grateful that I was able to make the journey from my home in Raleigh, North Carolina to be part of this event. I am an African-American, AMS-certified primary teacher with a background in traditional, private Montessori schools. I came to the Unconference because my heart’s desire is to bring Montessori education to underserved communities, and my dream since adolescence has been to open a school in the inner city. I hoped to be inspired and educated by this unique gathering of like-minded Montessorians, and I was not disappointed.

This weekend in Salt Lake City proved to be transformational for me as I listened to and observed this incredible group of passionate, pioneering educators and advocates who freely and eagerly shared their success stories and struggles, their questions and concerns. In one workshop, I watched as the director of a soon-to-be-opened inner-city public charter school received valuable advice from colleagues. In another session, I witnessed special education teachers generously sharing some of their hard-earned insights and tools. In other settings, I was challenged by dialogue between African-American, Latino-American, Native American, and White Montessorians on social justice issues.

I also discovered that every school represented, whether public or non-profit, has its own fascinating developmental path, and every conference participant has a unique story. I was amazed and inspired by the stories I heard of courageous Montessori teachers starting schools in the basements of homes and churches, or of groups of discontented parents and teachers successfully creating charter schools in their communities. Here in this gathering my ambition was not a pipe dream but an attainable goal, not unusual but necessary. I realized that I had just become a privileged member of a growing movement to make Montessori education accessible to all.

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6 thoughts on “Starting a school isn’t a pipe dream”

  1. Thanks for sharing your insight. I enjoyed meeting you and wish you the best of luck!

  2. Our daughter goes to a Montessori school and we have become total converts because of it. Our city is fairly small but it now has two public Montessori elementary schools, one public Montessori middle school, and someone I know will be opening another public elementary school next year. Word is definitely getting out about what a great concept it is. I wish you the best of luck with your endeavors!

  3. Greetings Rashidah, We wish you strength, courage, and lots of support on this journey. It is people like you who will help create the wonderful opportunity of Montessori education for ALL children regardless of race, social class, etc.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your blog on this experience. I too want to start a Montessori school here in St. Louis that will be diverse, inclusive and in the city. I am just beginning my journey. Next summer, I start my Montessori training with a combined degree M.Ed. in education. I just received the flyer about the upcoming 3rd annual conference and it sounds like something that maybe I should consider attending. In the meantime, I am gathering all the information I can to make this dream a reality. Thanks again for sharing your experience.

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