Background in Montessori

In 1970 I was trained in the Montessori Method of education. It was not an ordinary training course. It was
as close to being trained by Dr. Montessori herself as was possible. My trainer was Mr. A. M. Joosten.
When he was fourteen years old, with the agreement of his mother, who was a close friend of Dr.
Montessori’s, he went to live with Dr. Montessori and her son. He became fascinated with and dedicated
to her educational approach. It became his life work.

When World War II broke out, Dr. Montessori was in India. She was forced to remain there during the war.
Being Italian, she was considered an enemy alien. She was allowed to continue her training courses, but
otherwise was under house arrest.

During this time Mr. Joosten remained in Europe. When the war was over Dr. Montessori was free to
return to Europe. She wrote to Mr. Joosten and asked him to continue her work of training in India. This
he did, and it was in India, from him that I received my training in the Montessori Method.

He was an inspired and inspiring teacher. I found that in India, thanks to his dedicated work, the name of
Montessori was very well known. A young child was often referred to as a “Montessori child” even if they
did not attend a Montessori school.

I was one of the top students in my class. Because of my scholarship, my obviously inspired interest, and
my developing dedication to Montessori education, Mr. Joosten asked me to stay on the next year as an
assistant to the course. While there I not only learned everything more thoroughly by teaching it to
others, I also received specialized advanced instruction, including student teaching.

In 1973 I returned to the United States, and with my now ex-husband, started a Montessori school in
northern California. After three years we created a non-profit community service organization with the
Montessori Children’s House as its primary activity. A year later I applied for and received funding for our
program from the State of California Department of Education. We developed a child care component in
addition to Montessori education. This program at that site continues to receive this funding.

In 1986 I was invited to return to India to create 100 schools similar to the one I had started in northern
California. This is an open-ended invitation. As I was seriously considering this proposal, I decided that
before I could do this I had to share something with my community. During my years of teaching I had
discovered powerfully positive ways of interacting with children. I didn’t see this effective approach with its
simple techniques practiced around me. I knew that if I left without sharing and teaching others what I had
discovered, I would be betraying the children with whose help I had discovered these “secrets.” The
efforts to share turned into my books and a mission in life.

Now I have entered the public school domain. I have found my approach very effective even with the
autistic students I have been teaching in Middle School. If given the opportunity, I have the background,
the knowledge and the skills to help move the public school system in the fully positive direction everyone
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