Magazine article Montessori Life

AMS Board and Office: The President's View

Magazine article Montessori Life

AMS Board and Office: The President's View

Article excerpt

I recently spent a lovely after- noon in Livermore, CA, visiting Valley Montessori School. Head of School Mary Ellen Kordas arranged for me to see Valley's fabulous nearly-new facility (which is about to expand again!) and meet with many of her tal- ented faculty. In the course of an engaging conversation about Montessori education and the role of AMS in promoting quality Montessori education, it became clear to me that the faculty's image of the AMS office did not match reality! The common perception seemed to be that AMS was headquartered in a large modern Manhattan office building and that a large staff ran the operation. Nothing could be further from the truth: AMS is housed in a relatively small rental space and has a total staff of only about 20 people! Yet our small staff works hard, and serves close to 12,000 members. I have since discovered that this misperception is relatively common.

Another misperception I regularly encounter concerns the purpose and function of the AMS Board of Directors. AMS is a nonprofit organization, governed by a board of directors. The board's major responsibilities are as follows: set the mission of AMS; recruit, evaluate, and support an able executive director; set policies and procedures for organizational integrity; provide oversight; and create and maintain a strategic plan so that the society's goals are clear and the executive director can manage the staff to meet those goals in a manner consistent with the AMS mission.

The board meets three times a year (November, March, and August) for 2 to 3 days, and often works with jampacked agendas. The composition of the board and our overall guidelines for operation are outlined in our bylaws and our "Policies and Procedures" manual, both reviewed regularly by the board and by legal counsel.

The AMS Board of Directors has one employee and, under most circumstances, relates to only one employee: Richard Ungerer, executive director. In turn, Rich recruits, works cooperatively with, supports, and supervises the rest of the AMS employees. The board's relationship with the executive director is collaborative and dynamic, with the board focusing on governance and strategy, and the executive director focusing on day-to-day management and efficient, productive operations. …

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