Did you know that all the faculty at MSSA complete at least 15 hours of professional development a year? Many complete more than 15 hours of professional development, including attending classes, workshops, webinars, and professional reading. It’s important for our community of adult learners to “practice what we preach” as education is not a static profession, and there’s always more to learn about learning, teaching, neuroscience, and human behavior.
All of our classroom teachers in Primary, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary have earned certification from accredited Montessori programs; additionally, a number of our classroom assistants have their certification as well. Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society (AMS) are the two largest organizations that certify teachers, and we have teachers with certification from both programs. Montessori certification is equivalent to a master’s degree in terms of work and study and having certified Montessori teachers ensures that we have high fidelity to Montessori philosophy and practices.
We have several faculty who are currently earning their Montessori certification. Lower Elementary Classroom Assistant Lauren Talley is working on her Lower Elementary certification, and to have a deeper understanding of the rising Middle School students and their curriculum, Middle School Science Teacher and Level Lead Julie Hartung is earning her Upper Elementary Montessori certification. Lower Elementary Teacher Sumi Chaudhuri added Lower Elementary Montessori Certification to her Primary Montessori Certification this past year as well. Head of School Dan Ahlstrom will complete his certification program for his Administrator’s Credential this Fall, and Program Director Theresa Powers will finish her program next Fall; the Administrator’s Credential is offered through the Houston Montessori Center and certified through AMS, of which MSSA is a member school.
Many of our faculty have advanced degrees, including UE Classroom Assistant Shannon Petti, who recently earned her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Early Childhood Education, as well as Athletic Director and Coach Leticia Obregon, who is earning her Doctor of Education in Sports Coaching and Athletic Management. Currently, several teachers and classroom assistants are taking part in two online courses: Positive Discipline in the Montessori Classroom, which is being offered in conjunction with a newly published book of the same name, and Helping Children find their Calm, which is being offered through The Montessori Foundation. Upper Elementary Teacher Anne Shadle was part of a summer class cohort focusing on dyslexia and Montessori classrooms, and Lower Elementary teacher Teresa Treat is currently earning the AMS Elementary Reading Certificate through a program designed for Montessori teachers who are interested in applying the most recent research-based strategies for teaching reading in their Montessori classroom.
Our Middle School teachers and Specialists have degrees in their field, and also complete their professional development in their specialized subjects as well as Montessori philosophy. Our Music department teachers regularly attend the Kodaly Educator of Texas workshops, and music instructor Becca Morgan has presented throughout the state of Texas sharing her experiences and knowledge in early childhood music and music literacy workshops. Our coaching staff is currently working through a training an AMI-certified Montessori Sports course and recently completed courses on concussion and heat illness prevention from the National Federation of State High School Associations Learning Center. Art Teacher Margo McCarthy has participated in many McNay Museum professional development workshops, and Middle School English teacher Shauna Cardenas recently attended a Museum Day for Educators at The McNay. This is just a sampling of professional development that MSSA faculty is engaged in. MSSA is fortunate to have a committed faculty who are active participants in their own learning, as we focus on our mission of guiding children to be passionate learners, independent thinkers, and engaged citizens.