Magazine article Montessori Life

National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector Reflects on Its First Year

Magazine article Montessori Life

National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector Reflects on Its First Year

Article excerpt

The National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector

The National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS) is currently celebrating its first year and a half of operation. Our fledgling organization has pushed an ambitious agenda, centered on strengthening and expanding Montessori in the public arena. The idea for a center devoted explicitly to supporting public Montessori was first proposed in late 2010, when AMS executive director Richard Ungerer recognized a steadily growing interest in Montessori in the public sector, as well as the increasingly acute need to support high-quality public Montessori programming, and launched an exploratory process.

Over the next 16 months, many people worked to make a center for public Montessori a reality. The conceptual framework was fleshed out, and startup funding was procured. Marie Dugan, former AMS executive director, shared the idea with Judy Scheide, a trustee of the Scheide Fund. In August 2011, Scheide made a $500,000 gift to AMS, designated for the sole purpose of launching NCMPS.

At that point, efforts shifted from conceptualizing the center to making it operational. That process entailed inviting dozens of individuals with expertise in the arenas of public Montessori and school reform to two daylong gatherings. Their input led to the development of two foundational features. First, a center for public Montessori should welcome all public Montessori schools, regardless of affiliation. Second, four distinct but related action areas should be the focus of the center's efforts. These action areas are: Research and Dissemination, Convening and Networking, Technical Assistance, and Advocacy.

In February 2012, the new center was named; shortly thereafter, Ungerer, with input from AMS staff and a search committee, selected ethnographer and Montessori scholar Jackie Cossentino and me to be the founding leaders; and on March 1, 2012, the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector officially opened for business.

NCMPS's mission is to make highquality, fully implemented, Montessori education accessible to all children, through public district, magnet, and charter schools. Both the foundation and the enactment of our work is usable knowledge. We aim to provide broad-based support to practitioners, parents, and policymakers, through the management of a continuous cycle of generating, using, evaluating, and refining knowledge related to strengthening and expanding Montessori education in the public sector. …

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