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AMS 2016 Living Legacy: Carolyn Kambich

Leave your words of congratulations for Carolyn below. Carolyn Kambich

The AMS 2016 Living Legacy is Carolyn Kambich. Born into a family of first-generation Scandinavian immigrants, she saw early in her life the power of a strong work ethic, determination, and the importance of mentors. Her parents were self-educated individuals who loved music and were avid readers. At the urging of one of her high school teachers, she applied for and was awarded a scholarship to Northern Illinois University, graduating with a BS in elementary education. It was at NIU that she met her husband, Tony. 

In 1965, after hearing a Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center speaker in Deerfield, IL, Carolyn organized a Montessori study group. With encouragement from Dr. Urban Fleege, founder of MMTTC, Carolyn and an interested local parent, Terry Fine, placed an ad in a local newspaper (under “Miscellaneous for Sale”) to gauge interest in a potential Montessori school. The response was 200 phone calls!

Deerfield Montessori School, championing not only Montessori pedagogy but also a philosophy of diversity and inclusion, applied equally to students and staff, opened in September 1966.  Subsequently, Carolyn opened four more Illinois schools in the Deerfield, Highland Park, Riverwoods, and Glenview/Northfield area. The four schools still in operation (the Montessori Center of Highland Park closed in 1986) are known as the Deerfield/North Shore Montessori Schools, and all are AMS-accredited schools, serving infants through sixth grade. Second-generation Montessorians Lisa, Tony Jr, and Doug Kambich are at the helm. 

Carolyn herself best states the school spirit: “As I reflect upon the growth of our schools, I often say, ‘our parents’ problems became our new programs.” She guided the school from the half-day program to expand to include full-day Montessori for 0 – 3 and 3 – 6, as well as full-day non-competitive camp, at a time when these programs were unheard of in the area. And, somehow she found time to complete her AMS credential, Early Childhood, at MECA Seton (now Seton Montessori Institute).

While opening Deerfield she worked with others in the Illinois Montessori Society to pioneer the Montessori movement in Chicago. IMS was instrumental in advocating for Montessori education in the state of Illinois and in supporting teachers and parents. Eventually the needs of the constituents changed, and IMS was restructured as AIMS (Association of Illinois Montessori Schools) under the guidance of Carolyn and Tony Kambich. Carolyn also served as a president of AIMS. Today, AIMS continues to expand and influence the educational landscape of Illinois and supports AMS at the national level.

Carolyn’s work at the international level has been focused on bringing authentic Montessori to Africa. Accompanying her husband on a Rotary International project in Uganda in 1997, she spoke with a group of Ugandans, who wanted this education for peace. Thus began her efforts to bring Ugandans to the United States for teacher training and internships in her schools.  By donating materials, raising money, and investing sweat equity, she helped the Victoria Montessori School in Entebbe, Uganda, along with Kampala Montessori and Olwal Montessori in Uganda. Yearly visits help support the quality of these programs, two of which have been recipients of AMS Ursula Thrush Peace grants. Carolyn’s other international work includes speaking with teacher and parent groups abroad to inspire and support fledgling Montessori efforts.

In recent years, Carolyn’s life has come full circle as she has reached out to Northern Illinois University to build a bridge between Montessori teacher education and the University. In partnership with NIU, she hosted and conducted a series of Montessori workshops, and is currently in conversation with university officials about how this work might be expanded. Locally, Riverwoods Montessori School now hosts the MMTTC Elementary teacher education sessions. Current interests include inspiring and mentoring others.

Carolyn Kambich continues the Montessori legacy, with Tony at her side. Her work with Montessori education has spanned decades and crossed continents. She truly embodies the pioneering spirit of Dr. Montessori.


Add your tribute

I am so happy with your work, what I can say may May God Bless the work of your hands, and continue using it to provide the best education to the whole world

Abejja Harriet, Parent of Aber Peace Kijange & Agenorwoti Patience Kijange in montossori school Entebbe Uganda

01 /12 /2017 - Entebbe, Uganda

As a staff member of Deerfield Montessori Schools I am so thrilled that you have been recognized for all you have done not only with Montessori Education in Illinois but also internationally. I have worked with you and I know how much the children, families and staff in your schools mean to you. You are always finding new ways to expand the children's minds and always observing each child’s growth to see what else can be done to inspire them. I think more people need to hear your story of how it all began because you certainly can teach us all many lessons – 1) take chances, 2) if you have a vision, follow through,3) never give up and 4) always stay true to yourself. I can say that I am truly honored to be working with you. You are one of a kind, Carolyn – truly inspiring!

Cheryl Plencner, Staff member at Deerfield Montessori Schools

03 /04 /2016 - Chicago, IL

Carolyn, you have done so much for Montessori not only in Illinois but in other parts of the world. You have enriched so many lives with your expertise and commitment to Montessori tenets and the whole child. You are very compassionate educator as well. We are so happy for you in this honor; it is well deserved!

Ling Family (Illinois), have four children educated in her wonderful Montessori programs

12 /14 /2015 - Libertyville, IL

Congratulations!upon your achievement you really have earned it because of your hard work.Stay safe.

Nyakoker Sonia, FORMER MONTESSIORI STUDENT FROM VICTORIA MONTESSORI SCHOOL EBB

10 /18 /2015 - Uganda

Congratulations!upon your achievement you really have earned it because of your hard work.Stay safe.

Nyakoker Sonia, FORMER MONTESSIORI STUDENT FROM VICTORIA MONTESSORI SCHOOL EBB

10 /18 /2015 - Uganda

CONGRATULATIONS CAROLYN!!! You have taught us how to learn in Montessori way.We are very proud of you and Tony for always coming see us in Uganda.MAY GOD BLESS YOUR WORK.

Anena Isabella, Pupil primary five Victoria Montessori School and friend.

10 /17 /2015 - UGANDA-ENTEBBE

Congratulations Carolyn!!!!👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 You deserve this honor because you're hardworking and dedicated. Your work has crossed continents 🇺🇬🇺🇸🌍🌏 and is truly amazing. Thank you for all the help with Victoria Montessori School, Entebbe. May God bless you more and more!!!

Achola Linda Kijange , Former Montessori student, Friend

10 /15 /2015 - Palatine, IL, United States

Congratulations Carolyn for the greatest work you have done for the children of the World!! You have been a mentor and Inspirational personality in Montessori Education. Victoria Montessori School is proud of you and the entire family for the greatest work you have done to bring the Good news of Montessori Education in Uganda/Africa. Your inspirational work has touched many lives of children in Victoria Montessori School and the orphans from Northern Uganda that have gone through Victoria Montessori School.May Almighty continue to Bless your work!

Christine and Joseph Olanya , Mentor and our Inspirational personality in Montessori Education

10 /15 /2015 - UGANDA-ENTEBBE

We congratulate A.M.S for finally having recognized Carolyn Kambich a Living Legacy 2016.She has been the person who inspired the Montessori Education in Uganda Africa.She has put in a lot of her time, resources and knowledge to see that Montessori education grows and develops in Africa.Her contributions can not be listed all here. WE WISH HER MANY REWARDS FOR THAT RECOGNITION.

Christine Lawino Kijange, MENTOR IN MONTESSORI EDUCATION IN UGANDA

10 /15 /2015 - Uganda

We congratulate A.M.S for finally having recognized Carolyn Kambich a Living Legacy 2016.She has been the person who inspired the Montessori Education in Uganda Africa.She has put in a lot of her time, resources and knowledge to see that Montessori education grows and develops in Africa.Her contributions can not be listed all here. WE WISH HER MANY REWARDS FOR THAT RECOGNITION.

Christine Lawino Kijange, MENTOR IN MONTESSORI EDUCATION IN UGANDA

10 /15 /2015 - Uganda

Dear Carolyn, Congratulations on your receipt of the Living Legacy aware this year. You have certainly been instrumental in our ability at the Academy to launch and run a successfully accredited Montessori school! Thanks to your guidance and attention when we first thought of starting the Academy, we have learned great lessons on running a successful school program. I remain grateful to you for your kindness and friendship over the years. I am honored to call you a friend and a mentor. I look forward to each time I get to see you!

Fosca Shackleton White, Inspiree

09 /24 /2015 - Chicago, IL

Dear Carolyn, Congratulations on your receipt of the Living Legacy aware this year. You have certainly been instrumental in our ability at the Academy to launch and run a successfully accredited Montessori school! Thanks to your guidance and attention when we first thought of starting the Academy, we have learned great lessons on running a successful school program. I remain grateful to you for your kindness and friendship over the years. I am honored to call you a friend and a mentor. I look forward to each time I get to see you!

Fosca Shackleton White, Inspiree

09 /24 /2015 - Chicago, IL

Congratulations Carolyn. Your work is inspirational, thank you.

Debbie Diesing, admirer

08 /18 /2015 - chicago, IL USA

Congratulations Carolyn. This honor places you in outstanding company with all prior recipients of the AMS Living Legacy Award. Our family is not only proud of you, we are in awe of you as we reflect on those many students (over 10,000), Teachers (over 1,000), Parents and Foreign educators and leaders you inspired with your examples of "Service above Self"

Tony Kambich Sr, Husband

04 /13 /2015 - Winnetka, Illinois USA

Congratulations Carolyn. This honor places you in outstanding company with all prior recipients of the AMS Living Legacy Award. Our family is not only proud of you, we are in awe of you as we reflect on those many students (over 10,000), Teachers (over 1,000), Parents and Foreign educators and leaders you inspired with your examples of "Service above Self"

Tony Kambich Sr, Husband

04 /13 /2015 - Winnetka, Illinois USA

Thank you Carolyn for sharing your passion for Montessori education internationally. Your work here and in Uganda is changing lives. I am inspired by your diligence and involvement in the lives of others.

Kathe Streeter, Fellow Montessori Educator

03 /24 /2015 - South Bend, Indiana

And as an inspiration her influence has made bigger circles than one can measure with spiritual and intellectual input. Thanks for guiding me and supporting me with information, Carolyn! Being kind and generous to everybody without aspiring to own advantages is fundamental Montessoris cosmic theory.

Judith Heilmann, gratefulness

03 /24 /2015 - Erfurt/Germany

Mrs. Carolnyn Kambich and Tony Kambich have ever been my greatest mentors since 1999.They recruited us, my sister Christine Kijange of Victoria Montessori school & Kmapala Montessori School in (2012) and Olwal Montessori school in(2013) in Northern Ugadan being headed by me (Lanam Kijange)respectively. What a courageous lady she is . An inspiration to us all! (Ugandans). Not only that her work will touch East and Central African states soon as South Sudan will be bringing student teachers for training at Olwal Montessori School.God bless...

Lanam Kijange, The greatest Mentor ever!!

03 /23 /2015 - Kampala ,Uganda -Africa

Congratulations Carolyn on this wonderful honor. Your contributions to the Montessori community have been vast and it will be very special to see you acknowledged in Chicago next year. In peace, Debbie

Debbie Senoff Langford

03 /22 /2015 - Chicago, IL

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