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AMS 2019 Living Legacy: Marta Donahoe

Marta Donahoe Living Legacy 2019Starting with an internship in a Montessori classroom, in 1979, Marta Donahoe’s career in education has covered a range of ages, 6–18, and environments—public and private schools, as well as teacher education programs. She earned her master’s in education from Xavier University, where she studied with Martha McDermott and Hilda Rothschild. She was trained at the Early Childhood level and holds AMS credentials at the Elementary I–II and Secondary I– II levels.

Marta’s breadth of influence is perhaps best exemplified by her impact on the educational landscape of Cincinnati—where, in 1993, she began taking steps toward opening a public Montessori Middle School program. As part of the planning team, she visited other programs for children of that age range, both in the U.S. and abroad, and consulted with experts on Montessori Secondary education. By 1995, Cincinnati Public Schools was ready to open the doors on what would become Clark Montessori Junior High School and, a few years later, Clark Montessori High School, the first public Montessori high school in the country. For 18 years, Marta coordinated the development and implementation of Montessori programs there.

After being invited, in 2003, by the government of Seoul, South Korea, to present teacher education workshops on  Montessori Secondary principles, Marta assembled a team to design a Secondary Montessori teacher education program back in Cincinnati, based on what the Clark pioneers had learned. In 2005, the Cincinnati Montessori Secondary Teacher Education Program (CMStep) began training its first cohort of teachers, with Marta serving as the program’s first executive director—a position she maintained until 2017; she is currently CMStep’s director of professional development.

Marta has worked with the Ohio Montessori Alliance and recently served on the board of the Avanti Montessori Charter Management Organization. She studied organizational development and Flawless Consulting with Peter Block and consults with Montessori schools all over the country, working mostly with adults in Montessori middle and high schools. She is a certified instructor with Mindful Schools and has incorporated mindfulness into the fabrics of Clark Montessori and CMStep. Marta trained teachers in Puerto Rico and worked closely with them to establish their own Secondary training program. And,a frequent presenter at Montessori conferences, Marta also serves on the editorial advisory board of Montessori Life and has published several articles in both Montessori Life and The NAMTA Journal.

Marta lives the belief that all of us benefit from interacting in positive, productive ways and that a high-quality, rich education is the right of all people. She believes and lives the notion that “Everybody does better when everybody does better.” Marta and her husband have 3 grown children and 6 grandchildren. They enjoy hiking and biking near the waterfalls and in the woods around Asheville, NC, where they live.


Add your tribute

Congratulations, Marta! You are a true Montessori trailblazer. Thank you for taking risks to improve education through Montessori. God Bless, Mary Lyman

Mary Lyman, She mentored my teachers at CMStep.

07 /15 /2018 - Indiana, USA

Dear Marta, you are so deserving of this award. Your kind and generous spirit made me a fan of yours from the first time I met you twenty plus years ago. You are a beautiful example of someone who truly lives the Montessori philosophy and I admire you greatly. Congratulations and sending you lots of love from my Montessori spirit to yours. Judy Dempsey

Judy Dempsey, Friend, colleague

07 /12 /2018 - Fort Lauderdale

Congratulations Marta! I am so very grateful for the work that you did in creating the first public Montessori school. In alignment with Maria Montessori's original vision you made sure that income or race were not barriers for young people to be supported in a learning environment that cultivated a strong sense of community, creativity, self-awareness, and engagement in creating a better world. Thank you for protecting quality education for all youth. The dynamic, magical, tender, restorative and academically rigorous learning environment stretched my empathy and curiosity just a much as it stretched intellect and academic ambition. So necessary! Truly the stuff of building a more just world! Very excited about your future and the impact that your work has had on so many students, educators, and school systems.

Latonya Maley, class of 2006

06 /21 /2018 - Chicago, IL, USA

Hi Marta, congratulations! Thanks for everything you do for our secondary teacher program in Puerto Rico. Thanks for listening and guiding me, while visiting us. Looking forward to meet with you again!

Esther Rubio Negrón, Alumni - INE - Secondary I and II Puerto Rico

06 /17 /2018 - Puerto Rico

Hi Marta, Since we first met in 2008 when you were working with the CMTE/NY Administrator's Course, I have valued your presence and contribution to whatever we were exploring. Our first middle school teachers at Golden Oak Montessori charter school were trained at CMSTEP. They created a wonderful program based on their training and mentoring with you. Congratulations for all that you have contributed to the Montessori movement and to the meaningful education of young people and their teachers. You will find me meandering in the hills and valleys of Marin County, California these days. I look forward to meeting you on the trail in the future. Deirdre Fennessy

Deirdre Fennessy, friend and colleague

06 /08 /2018 - MILL VALLEY

Dearest, Marta, In a brief moment of second-sight I was able to see my life having NOT met you. I was a barefoot banjo player making corn husk dolls in the backwoods of North Carolina. A decent existence, for sure, but thanks to you, I teach. And learn. And the light you saw in me, and sparked in me, I get to share that light. And i learned to see and spark the light so often hidden in young people. As a result the World is a better place, by far. My gratitude is beyond words, though it is sung by a wordless song from my heart. I love more than I can ever possibly express!! Way far beyond this lifetime!!

Brandt CP Smith, Like family, only better.

06 /07 /2018 - Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, Earth, Outer Spiral Arm, MilkyWay

Marta, I so appreciate all you have done for the Montessori community in Cincinnati. Through your leadership, teachers and students have blossomed and become their best selves. We will always cherish those years our Lesley attended Clark Montessori. It was a life changing experience for her. She in now truly a citizen of the world. Love, Cathy and Jim McNair

Cathy McNair, Friend

06 /07 /2018 - Cincinnati, Ohio

Marta, congratulations on this well earned recognition! Your efforts to create Clark had an enormously positive impact on my life and many others. My high school community is still the strongest group of friends I have to this day. Thank you for all you’ve done for Montessori education (making it stronger and accessible to children unable or uninterested in attending private schools) and the community of Cincinnati!

Nick Warndorff, Clark Montessori Alumnus, class of 2002

06 /07 /2018

Your legacy reached the small corners of my country. You were the mentor of a small group of puertorricans and that transcended to impact teachers of the public education system of Puerto Rico. Today we honor you for everything you give to the world. You were and will be the one who showed us the way. With an inmense love!!!

Lourdes Campos, She has been my mentor and facilitate the develpment of the secondary program in my country.

06 /07 /2018 - Puerto Rico

As a shy 6th grader I walked into your office to talk to you about why I, a non-Montessori student up until that point, should be considered for a place in Clark Montessori's Junior High the upcoming year. In that moment I was filled with excitement about who I could become if given the chance to attend what I thought (and still think) was the greatest school in the world. I am forever grateful that you gave me the opportunity to become a part of not only the Clark Montessori community, but the Montessori community in general. My 6 years in Montessori changed me for the better: I learned to be inquisitive and curious about the world around me, to look for the good in people, and to work hard even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Weekly Peer Leaders meetings in the basement of your house cemented friendships and relationships with people I still love and care for today, while also teaching me that promoting positive community culture can happen in big and small ways. Without you there would be no Clark Montessori and without Clark Montessori I know a lot of kids like me would still be searching for their place and their people in the world. Thank you so much for all you have done for me and for many other students and teachers...all around the world!

Elena Jordan-Keller, Former Student at Clark Montessori

06 /07 /2018 - Cincinnati, OH, USA

Marta, I am so happy to have had the experience and time to work and learn from you. Your saying "everybody does better when everbody does better" is a staple in the adolescent classrooms I have worked in. Your kindness has shaped me into a caring and thoughtful educator for young people. I am so excited for you to be honored as the living legacy, you continue to inspire those around you and people you come in contact with.

Tori Pinciotti, Cmstep

06 /07 /2018 - Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

It has been an amazing gift to learn from you and to work with you. You are an inspiration who has changed countless lives and you continue to inspire and make a difference through this big work.

Cait Minnick, Student and coworker

06 /07 /2018 - Richmond

My mentor, my partner-in-crime for many years, my friend! What a deserving honor this is for you - The Montessori world is lucky to have your hard work and dedication for all these years! Love you!

Barb Scholtz, Friend and Colleague

06 /07 /2018 - Cincinnati, Ohio USA

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