Dr. Maria Montessori was a groundbreaking educator who began her career as a medical doctor in the late 1800s. Interested in psychology, she worked in clinics after medical training and adapted methods and materials used by French psychologist Jean Itard and Eduoard Seguin to work with children deemed intellectually disabled. Her approach helped these children to learn effectively and happily, and score on par with children in Italian public schools. Montessori became curious about how such methods and materials might fare when used by children called “normal.” She volunteered to care for the children of poor factory workers in public housing in the San Lorenzo section of Rome. In 1907 this first “casa dei bambini” or children’s house was founded.
The results were extraordinary. As word spread of the “miracle children” who loved to work and learn, and who were cooperative, kind, curious, and self motivated; Montessori urged her admirers to look to the children and their natural, healthy development, rather than to her. Montessori began to lecture and train teachers worldwide, along with her son Mario Montessori. Her books and methods continue to inspire adults to work with children’s inner drives and natural characteristics to help them reach their potential. This universal approach to development has been embraced all over the world, in public and private school settings, in non school settings (e.g. in refugee camps and homeless shelters), in work with infants, young children, adolescents, and the elderly.
Dr. Montessori founded the Association Montessori Internationale in 1929 in order to preserve and further her work.
At the behest of the Montessori family, Margaret Stephenson founded the Washington Montessori Institute (WMI) in 1962, the first training center in the United States affiliated with the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). WMI has trained nearly 3000 teachers in the last 57 years. In 1991, WMI partnered with Loyola University Maryland to create the first program that combined the AMI diploma with an M.Ed. Once again, WMI is an independent training center with an exemplary team of AMI trainers who continue WMI’s tradition of providing the highest quality training for a career in Montessori education.