Posts filed under Graduates | Testimony

A Poem for Our Elementary Graduates

Elise Huneke-Stone, Montessori Northwest's Director of Elementary Training, composed a poem for the two elementary courses she's had the privilege to lead.

"It really speaks to us, because almost every line and image can be sourced back to one of our Montessori elementary key lessons." says Elise. 

We thought you might derive meaning from this composition as well. A selection from the poem is included below. Following the link on the bottom of the page will download a printable PDF version.

A Cosmic Education by Elise Huneke-Stone

For Montessori Northwest Elementary Courses 1 and 2, and for the rest of us who are part of this line. 

This is a line, and this is a line.
Pronouns shadow the shape of their antecedents,
liquids fill every hollow, the river carves and carries,
you listen to the stories that others have heard before you.
On their convergent lines, the children of geometry smile,
and the fundamental needs of humans are met
in the voice of the verb, on the agent of an arrow,
on a tiny drop of heat and light,
in the little life cupped in the seeds we sow.

Congratulations to our Recent Graduate!

Congratulations to recent MNW Elementary Graduate, Robert Rivera, for receiving a scholarship from the AMI MES Fund!

AMI/USA established the MES FUND, INC., the first financial aid fund to benefit AMI teacher trainees, in honor of Margaret Elizabeth Stephenson, who devoted her life to AMI teacher training in the United States. The fund, which is administered and supported by AMI/USA, honors her legacy and extends her contribution to touch future teachers.

The fund awards partial scholarships in the form of tuition reduction towards AMI training in the United States to selected students. AMI/USA hopes, through their support of this fund, to ensure that qualified individuals seeking AMI training will be able to pursue that dream, regardless of their financial circumstances.

We found his quote particularly inspiring:

“I’ve had the privilege to create a community who strives to prepare children to create our world’s future. My trainer, Elise Huneke-Stone, was trained by Miss Stephenson, and I’m honored to continue this cosmic legacy. Dr. Montessori’s vision, Miss Stephenson’s dedication, and Elise’s passion have shaped my love for our work. As I join the community at the International Montessori School Hong Kong, I hold in my heart that the MES fund has made this dream possible.”

Interested in learning more about this scholarship and there other recipients?

Welcome to A-to-I Course #5!

The first three years of life are a critical foundation for development. The AMI Assistants to Infancy training provides the knowledge and confidence needed to support infants, toddlers, and their families in both in-home and school-based settings.

The AMI Assistants to Infancy course offers a comprehensive study of Montessori theory and practice to work with children aged birth to three in home environments and toddler classroom environments. During 625 hours of teacher preparation, students thoroughly explore Montessori philosophy, human development, Montessori infant and toddler activities/materials, and expectations for Montessori professional communities. (learn more here)

Please say hello to the new Assistants-to-Infancy Course (#5) that started this week. Such a wonderful bunch of enthusiastic people!

Thank You!

MNW's 2013-2014 Elementary and Primary Academic Year students.

A huge “Thank You” to our incredible Montessori community for sharing your wisdom and experience with our 61 primary and elementary MNW students during observation and practice teaching this year!

We couldn’t do it without you; and, thanks to your patience and generosity, when each of these students has a class of 25, that’s 1,525 children who can have a Montessori education next year!


Alcuin School
Bethany Village Montessori
Camas Montessori School
Cascadia Montessori School
Chestnut Grove Montessori Children’s House
Childpeace Montessori School
Community Roots School
Corvallis Montessori School
Franciscan Montessori Earth School
Good Shepherd Montessori
Harmony Montessori
Hershey Montessori School
Laurelhurst Montessori School
Lewis and Clark Montessori Charter School
Lighthouse Montessori
Little Oak Montessori School
Meher Montessori
Montessori Children’s House of Portland
Montessori House of St. Johns
Montessori in Redlands
Montessori School of Beaverton
Montessori Pathways
Northwest Montessori
Ottowa Montessori School
Pacific Crest Montessori School
Pioneer Meadows Montessori School
Portland Montessori Collaborative
Portland Montessori School
Puddletown Montessori School
The Renaissance International School
Sellwood Montessori School
Squamish Montessori
SunGarden Montessori School
Sunstone Montessori School
Three Tree Montessori School
Tiny Revolution Montessori School
West Hills Montessori School
Whole Child Montessori Center

Practice Makes Better...

Here we see current Primary students Yuko and Savannah (top and bottom), as well as Elementary student Samuel (center photo). Pictures courtesy of the Portland Montessori School

Here we see current Primary students Yuko and Savannah (top and bottom), as well as Elementary student Samuel (center photo). Pictures courtesy of the Portland Montessori School

Montessori Northwest is noticeably quieter this week, as our Primary and Elementary students have left the training center and are spending time in local schools.

Observation and practice teaching offer students the opportunity to continue their study of the child in AMI Montessori classrooms. During observation sessions, students observe the children’s interactions with the materials and each other, as they apply to developmental principles. During practice teaching, students give lessons to children under the supervision of an AMI Primary-trained host teacher.

These two quotes from students sum it all up:   

“Practice teaching is going well…Overall it's really sweet and splendid, but a little daunting at the same time. My host classroom is amazing, and  I am sure it will feel more natural soon!” 

“I presented the bow tying frame, and it was so cool to see the look of utter joy on her face when she did the entire frame!  Then I got to see her do it two more times!  So great to see what we’ve been talking about all year in training come to fruition!”

Thanks again to the dozens of school who host the students of Montessori Northwest--your contributions are appreciated!

Assistants to Infancy, Applied in the Home

A few days ago, a recent MNW graduate, Ms. Junnifa Uzodike, shared some pictures of her son. Beyond their obvious cuteness, they also demonstrate some great Montessori principles that can be applied in the home. To better explain what you see here, Gloria Singh, Assistants to Infancy Course Assistant, has contributed a few notes.

On the bottom left we see her child looking at himself in the mirror, getting visual feedback about himself and also getting a view of the rest of the room--very beneficial when a baby can't move well independently to see what's around. Babies really enjoy looking at faces, studying the expressions, watching lips move in talking--even their own.

In the background, you can see the toys organized simply, with very easy access for the child.

We also see the baby very busy at the weaning chair and table, in this case he likely used it to pull himself up into a standing position so that his hands can be free to explore whatever has captured his interest. Non-walking children use the smallest chairs with arms--the arms give lots of support if their sitting is still unsteady and also helps them to stay at the weaning table until they are done with their eating.

A chair without arms at a table is best for children who have begun walking, because it is much easier for them to get into the chair without having to maneuver around the arms and they likely will not have learned to pull out the chair to make room for their bodies to get into it.

Have you ever watched a young child work out how to sit down in a chair? It's quite an event to witness. "How to Sit in a Chair" is a Practical Life activity that we learn to demonstrate for young children on the A to I course.

We also talk a lot about how simple, uncluttered, and appealing an appropriate environment is for young children--a few toys that get rotated, a mixture of materials (fabrics, wood, metal, etc.). You can see this here too.

Want to learn more about MNW’s Assistants to Infancy Course? Click here for additional information.

Watch the Power of AMI Teacher Training

This 20 minute film gives an overview of Montessori education from birth through age 12, contains interviews with people training to become Montessori teachers as well as teachers in their classrooms. It's a nice introduction to Montessori and the training process for anyone considering becoming a Montessori teacher.


The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) was founded by Maria Montessori in 1929 to protect the integrity of her work. Today, AMI continues to uphold these standards by offering high-quality, authentic and rigorous teacher training through its affiliated training centers.

The AMI diploma is used in over 110 countries as a mark of teacher training excellence. Graduates of AMI training courses must demonstrate understanding of educational theory, child development, observation techniques, use and presentation of the Montessori materials, and ability to create appropriate activities for children. The practice teaching component solidifies this learning through hands-on work in Montessori classrooms.

AMI courses are conducted by AMI trainers, master teachers who have completed the Training of Trainers program and have a profound understanding of Montessori theory and practice.

In the past ten years, Montessori schools have nearly doubled their student enrollment, and positions at AMI-recognized schools go unfilled. Your AMI diploma allows you to pursue your Montessori career with the confidence that comes from extensive training and foundational knowledge.

Options for undergraduate and graduate credit are available through colleges and universities affiliated with individual training centers. Explore our Teacher Training section to learn more. 

Foundation Work in Elementary

Elementary students at Montessori Northwest have a unique Foundations Course integrated into their learning experience. Several times throughout the year, they hear from MNW’s Primary Trainers to learn about the first plane child. The focus of these lectures is the work of self-construction as it relates to foundational theory, physical, emotional, and social development. These areas of focus, along with the development of literacy and numeracy for the child under age six, create a “foundation” for what is built upon in the years that follow. 

We asked a current Montessori Northwest Elementary student to share her thoughts on the Foundation Course. Here’s what she so eloquently said:

There are 23 of us, all eager to learn about Montessori education for the Elementary children. But in order to understand the 6 to 12 year olds, we need to understand their previous experiences.  The integrated Foundation Course is our opportunity to learn about the child in his formative years, the child who will become our Elementary learner.  From lecture readings to dramatizations, from the exploration of the environment to Walking on the Line, from Maria Montessori’s discoveries of the child to the trainers' profound knowledge and wisdom, we truly immersed ourselves in the world of the 1st plane child.  Through our work on the Foundation Course, we were all able to learn about and to communicate our understanding of the 0-6 year old, the trained adult who supports this child and the prepared environment. 


With this foundation in place, we have an understanding of how the child’s absorbent mind and sensitive periods guide him in becoming the person he is, and how the adult and the environment can positively serve that child’s potential.  Our task, as elementary teachers, is to collaborate with him in his next stage of development.

From a personal standpoint, having previously undergone the primary training, I had the opportunity to re-visit and reflect upon principles of practice.  What stands out in that reflection is the importance of understanding the difference between child work and adult work, and the significant implications of that understanding.  Our Montessori theory tells us that the child is internally-motivated and process-oriented, whereas the adult is externally-motivated and product-oriented.  The child’s work is to self-construct so that he can ultimately be a productive member of an adult society. 

As is often the case, understanding the theory is the easy part.  The challenge lies in the practice.  As Montessori educators, we have the clear advantage of working in an environment that supports and guides the child’s self-construction. Within a structured frame-work, we allow them to work at their own rhythm, with developmentally- appropriate materials that are freely-chosen so that they can respond to their inner directives. That being said we are still adults who can fall into the pitfalls of our agendas and timelines.  In our spiritual preparation we must regularly examine ourselves to ensure that we are staying true to our Montessori principles of following the child, and not imposing our adult expectations on them.  In doing so, we will create a psychological atmosphere that tells the child that he is in a safe place to do his work, with adults that are on his side.  The result will be children who are among things, joyful, benevolent, trusting, and non-competitive.  These characteristics are in fact manifestations of the child’s natural state.

Many adults and parents believe otherwise.  They think of children as having tantrums, being whiny, uncontrolled and generally demanding.   Unbeknownst to them, these negative behaviors are defense mechanisms that the children build to defend themselves against adults who are imposing their adult rhythm on the child.  When the child is able to follow his inner laws of development, he will drop his defense mechanisms and choose pro-social behaviors. 


It is our task to advocate for young children by finding accessible ways to inform parents and caregivers on the child’s need for a process- oriented, self-directed learning opportunity.  Of course, this has to be done in a way that does not critic nor judge, but rather inform in a compassionate and supportive way.  We live in a society where there are many working parents who are under high demands from the working world, and we do not want to add to their stress.  We do however want to stress the importance of temporarily altering our adult characteristics for the sake of the child’s developmental rhythm and needs, and ultimately for the sake of a better world because put simply: happy children make for happy adults. 

Our future work as Montessori educators will be charged with many wonderful and eye-opening moments with children, but it is also one that comes with a great deal of social responsibility.  I think we can take comfort in knowing that the child will be our ally if we trust his human potential and stay true to the Montessori principles. 

Yours in training--Maryse Cohen 



Meet our Graduates - Fang


 A little about you:
My name is Fang Luan, orginally from China. I worked at Hunan University of Technology in Hunan, China for two years before moving to United States. I had four years teaching experience at St. Alcuin Montessori School in Dallas, TX as a Mandarin Chinese teacher. I never expected this trip to US (2006) became my first step to know about Montessori education. 

Describe the course workload:
In general, the workload is good for me. I always typed my notes on the same day that I received the lecture or demonstration! Do not procrastinate, then you will be fine. Good typing skills, some basic computer skills and amateur photography background or certain drawing skills are a plus. 

How well did the course prepare you to be a Montessori teacher?
I had six years' teaching experience before the training. I had many years of schooling, including my Master's of Education in United States. However, there are no other classes that have better prepared me for early child education. This course prepared me not only finding a job but also finding myself. I have never been this confident about my future career.

Did you enjoy your training at MINW?
I decided to come to the Primary training after over a year's serious thinking and research. I moved from Dallas, TX all the way to Portland, OR. I absolutely loved the primary training at MINW. This course is extremely organized and informative. The trainers understand both children and adults. All the staff are helpful, friendly and professional. I could not ask for a better training. I really did enjoy the course. I am organized myself in my daily life but the training goes into more details regarding organization. It fit me very well. 

What were some unexpected challenges?
The big challenge for me was the distance to school. I was in Texas while I rented an apartment and signed a nine-month lease. But just like the coin has two sides, the long distance to school gave me a chance to observe ordinary people everyday and to relax after a day's absorption. 

What were some unexpected highlights?
The co-training was not expected but it turned out great. I was lucky to see two different styles and gain insights from both. 

Would you recommend this course to others?
I would absolutely recommend this course to others, no matter if you don't know what you want to do in the future, or you know exactly what you're going to do after graduation. It is a retreat for yourself to immerse in learning. It is a shortcut to invest your time and money in understanding children of other people or your own children.

Any advice for incoming students?
Just enjoy being as a student. If you can, don't take a part-time job. Enjoy nature, diversity, and festivals in Portland, OR.

Posted on October 4, 2013 and filed under Graduates | Testimony.

Meet our Graduates - Polly


A little about you:
I was an EFL teacher and was in the process of applying for a Primary Teaching course in England when my friend introduced me to Montessori. I hadn't heard that much about it and after observing at a school in London and speaking to the Montessori trainers, I felt this was the course for me!

Describe the course workload:
Although it was a lot of work, more than I expected, I really enjoyed it. As much as possible I tried to type up the notes on a daily basis to keep on top of things and that really helped. Other times I let myself have a night off and do something fun!

How well did the course prepare you to be a Montessori teacher?
I now have a new perspective not just of how I perceive children, but also of the role of the teacher. Ginni and Sarah have given me a strong theoretical understanding of child development and the Montessori materials and how we work with them in the classroom. It was great to have the opportunity to be in the same classroom for observations and practice teaching. I was able to get to know each child and able to make the connections between what we learned at during the lectures and what I observed during my practice teaching and observations.

Did you enjoy your training at MNW?
Absolutely! I can honestly say it has been a life changing, eye opening experience. I not only feel proud that I worked so hard during the course, but also honored to be a part of a form of education that respects the child and challenges me as a teacher to be as good a role model  as I can be!

What were some unexpected challenges?
Working on the weekends. This made me a little sad at times, but it had to be done!

What were some unexpected highlights?
I didn't expect to meet so many amazing people. Like minded and wonderful!

Would you recommend this course to others?
Yes. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Need I say more!

Any advice for incoming students?
Find a nice, relaxing cafe with a plug socket for your computer and get your typing up to speed!

Posted on July 1, 2013 and filed under Graduates | Testimony.

Meet our Graduates - Emily


A little about you:
Some of my earliest and happiest memories are from my years as a Montessori primary student. Those memories called me back to Montessori and affirmed the importance of this work. I was lucky enough to attend Montessori through 8th grade so I can confidently say this education shaped who I am today.

Describe the course workload:
Previous trainees had described the intensity of the course, but I still was surprised by the time required to create the quality of teaching manuals, papers, and materials that I envisioned for myself. As a former Montessori student, I had a level of familiarity with the concepts and materials that clearly aided my understanding of the content of the course.

How well did the course prepare you to be a Montessori teacher?
I feel very prepared on many levels. The thorough exploration of Montessori theory in the lectures and our own theory paper created a solid foundation for the practical application when working with children. The practice with the materials and time in the classroom gave me a sense of what to expect and the confidence that I have access to the resources to succeed in the classroom.

Did you enjoy your training at MINW?
This was a wonderfully rich and exciting year for me. On a personal level it affirmed my own strengths and gave me an insight into my own educational experience. MINW is a collection of amazing and dedicated individuals who create a welcoming, accepting environment for all the trainees and the greater Montessori community. This made it such a joy to learn and grow in their presence.

What were some unexpected challenges?
My challenges were on a personal level. I had some unexpected difficulties during the time in the training. While it was a challenge to balance this and the coursework, the training helped me stay positive and focus on what is important in life.

What were some unexpected highlights?
The Mardi Gras parade was a wonderful memory and a reminder of the spirit of Montessori. It was a fun event and the whole community joined together to participate. I think it showed me the importance of sharing culture and celebrating our differences in a tangible way. I hope to do this often with children.

Would you recommend this course to others?
The more people who deeply understand Maria Montessori’s vision for education the better. It gives me hope to feel her ideas spreading and becoming more mainstream. It is important for all of us to communicate what we know to others in a way that they can understand. I hope to see many more of my friends and Montessori classmates taking the training. It is relevant to all professions!

Any advice for incoming students?
I think making the course the number one priority will allow for a richness of experience and growth of character unlike any other experience. The people you will meet and the opportunities you will have are such an important part of the training itself. If you have many other commitments, it may be difficult to take advantage of all the MNW community has to offer.

Posted on July 1, 2013 and filed under Graduates | Testimony.

Meet our Graduates - Patty

Patty Standring thumbnail.jpg

A little about you:
I have a B.A. in Fine and Performing Arts, and danced in four dance companies. My two children, and now my grandchildren as well, experienced a Montessori education. I worked in Escrow for twenty years, but have discovered my passion in Montessori.

Describe the course workload:
The workload included very interesting literature that sometimes kept me up late at night, because I wanted to read more than was required! The workload seemed comparable to a full load of credits in college, plus a few more.

How well did the course prepare you to be a Montessori teacher?
By the end of practice teaching I found my comfort level with the children in my host classroom. Everything that Montessori wrote and Ginni [Sackett] lectured on was in my thoughts as I observed in class.

Did you enjoy your training at MNW?
I always looked forward to the lectures given by Ginni Sackett, and really enjoyed the Reading Seminars as we shared ideas from the literature in an informal manner. I met some incredibly intelligent and compassionate people that share a similar passion for giving young children an education that is best suited to their psychological and intellectual needs. I knew by the end of this course that I had joined a community that I will enjoy being part of for years to come.

Any advice to incoming students?
Sharpen up your typing skills, and start reading the required readings, not so much to keep up, but to solidify your decision for the course. The Absorbent Mind motivated me to observe a Montessori classroom, and a conventional Primary class, and I immediately signed up for the Fall at the Institute!

Would you recommend this course to others? If so, why?
I would definitely recommend this course to anyone who wants to teach young people. I am surprised that Montessori education is not a requirement in the public schools, as advanced as we are in the U.S.

Posted on July 1, 2013 and filed under Graduates | Testimony.

Meet our Graduates - George

George and John.jpg

A little about you:
I graduated with a B.S. in mechanical engineering, and worked with Nike for 15 years in their computer and technology area. I also volunteered in a non-profit Chinese school and youth group ministry before registering for the Montessori training. Montessori has always fascinated me about the way it works and its difference in approach to educating children from conventional education. I never have any experience with Montessori education, and found out about MNW completely by chance. It certainly changed my perspective of the world.

Describe the course workload:
The workload is reasonable. Theory instruction and lesson demonstration is taught at a consistent and carefully moderated pace. The most difficult part is keeping up with lessons through various distractions in daily life. The friendly Montessori environment and helpful classmates and trainers were always there to help when I fell behind.

How well did the course prepare you to be a Montessori teacher?
Daily classroom activities were amazingly well thought out. For example, thoughtfulness in the sequence of Montessori theory instruction and lesson demonstration inspires me how Montessori methodology is applicable to almost all aspects of life, both in the controlled classroom environment and out in the busy world. Also, I see consistency in pace of instruction as a good training to help prepare me for the heavy workload in a Montessori classroom.

Did you enjoy your training at MNW?
Yes, I surprised myself that I actually looked forward to attending the next day of school throughout the school year. From the first day, we were given a very clear set of expectations, we were then led in baby steps through the assignments as we learned more. Also, the application of Montessori theory is evident everywhere in the training center, from setting up of lunch room to the respect everyone gives one another in our interactions.

What were some unexpected challenges?
I did not realize that every single day at school, when we forgot ourselves through the fun watching our trainers demonstrate how to give lessons, and listened with intrigue to the theories and their application, there was some kind of expectations lurking from behind. I heard it, but it sank in only when I was preparing my first album (teaching manual) for submission.

What were some unexpected highlights?
Designing my own materials that can be used in classroom was certainly a delight. Shopping for the "Phonetic Object Box" trained me to look at objects through the lens of the children. Just like what Ginni and Sarah said: it's never going to be the same as before, it was so delightful when I find the perfect item to add to my classroom.

Would you recommend this course to others?
If seeing is believing, experiencing is heartfelt understanding. Through interaction with my trainers and classmates, I feel concern and care that I want children to feel in Montessori environment; through practicing with actual Montessori materials I remembers how to intuitively give lesson using the materials. I could never have imagined the dedication of Montessori teachers without experiencing the training myself.

Any advice for incoming students?
Advice given in the Student Handbook is a great place to start.  It is a good reference for almost everything from preparation for the class to checklist for to do lists. Organization skill goes a long way towards helping us complete albums for submission, and have a better experience doing so. Like a child watching presentations, I was expected to interpret all the demonstrations by myself. Developing a personalized experience relating to the theories and materials helps in making them become alive within us.

Posted on July 1, 2013 and filed under Graduates | Testimony.

Meet our Graduates - Alden

A little about you:
As a young male with no children, I'm a little unusual in the Montessori world, so I'm often asked how I made the decision to work with 3-6 year-olds. The abridged version of the story is that I was looking for a career which I could reconcile with my desire to contribute to the creation of a better future, rather than simply a means of acquiring money. I'd settled on teaching, when, serendipitously, my then-girlfriend's grandmother suggested that I look into Montessori. The more I read about the theories and methods employed by Montessorians, the more convinced I 

Posted on July 1, 2013 and filed under Graduates | Testimony.