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Ursula Thrush Peace Seed Grant


The American Montessori Society Peace Committee awards annual Peace Seed Grants to help fund projects that promote peace education.

The grants are presented in memory of educator Ursula Thrush, whose dedication to the concept of peace through children inspired many to advance peace education in their classrooms and communities. Among her numerous achievements, Ursula founded the Maria Montessori School of the Golden Gate in San Francisco and helped establish The Science of Peace Task Force and the Montessori Peace Academy.

Peace Seed Grants are financed through donations to the AMS Peace Fund.

Applying for a Peace Seed Grant

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2016 awards.  Applications for the 2017 Ursula Thrush Peace Seed Awards will be available in the fall.

The successful applicant will –

  • have a Montessori background;
  • indicate how she will be accountable for the use of funds;
  • agree to share the outcome of the project with the AMS community.

The proposed project should be designed to –

  • further peace education;
  • reach a significant number of children and/or educators;
  • accomplish its goals in the year following receipt of the grant.

Apply Now

Recipients of Ursula Thrush Peace Seed Grants


Shelby Bobsky, Eduardo Mata Montessori Elementary School, Dallas, TX
Shelby received $700 to help advance a peace curriculum in Mata Montessori, a Title I and Title II school whose students represent a blended multilingual culture.

Kelly Atwood Bodthe, Paz Montessori Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Kelly will use her $300 peace grant to purchase peace materials, such as books, flags, and puzzle maps, for her new school in Oaxaca.

Samara Christman, The Children’s Tree Montessori School, Old Saybrook, CT
Samara was awarded $250 to help create a meditation space in her child’s school. The space will include a peace pole inscribed with the languages prevalent in the school and wider community.

Christine Daisy Hann, Silver Oak High School, Hayward, CA
A $1,200 grant will support the participation of Silver Oak students in the Mosaic Project, which works toward a peaceful future by uniting children of diverse backgrounds, providing them with community-building skills, and empowering them to become peacemakers.

Lucienne Salazar Saldívar, Colegio Montessori Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico
Lucienne will use her $600 grant to support her school’s participation in the Montessori Victoria Little Free Libraries, which are “take-a-book, return-a-book” gathering places where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories via publically placed wooden boxes.

Tara Smith, Montessori Pathways School of New England, Exeter, RI
A $250 Peace Seed Grant will support the creation of a harmonious garden, with stepping stones, flowers, and more, where the school’s peace pole can reside.


Chris Ambroso, Near North Montessori School, Chicago, IL
Chris was awarded $700 to help with an exchange program he and his Middle School students are doing with Nuestros Perqueños Hermanos, a Montessori-based program in Honduras.

Ana María García-Blanco, Escuela Juan Ponce de Leon, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
A $700 Peace Seed Grant will help Ana María director, train local Middle School students to be peace ambassadors at Escuela Luis Lloréns Torres, which is located in a depressed, high-crime area of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Laura and Andrew Garvey, teachers, Good Shepard Montessori School, South Bend, IN
A $500 grant will help fund a keynote speaker for an academic conference being organized by Laura and Andrew Garvey’s Middle School students for their local community.

Marissa Hartwig, teacher, Children’s House Montessori School, Boca Raton, FL
A $1,000 grant will enable Marissa to assist with the rebuilding of schools devastated by a typhoon in Cebu, the Philippines.

Batool Khan, teacher Khawaja Public School, Karachi, Pakistan
Batool was given $400 to provide safe, outdoor play experiences for children who have had little previous opportunity to do so, because of the dangerous situations where they live; and to design a research study to observe the students and their behavior.

Linda Salenbien, director, Montessori Children's House of Lenawee, Adrian, MI
Linda received $600 to build a Peace Garden for a multi-age, variously-abled group of children and their local community.

Cheryl Shank, teacher, Sacred Heart Montessori Camden, NJ
Cheryl will be awarded $500 to provide robust outdoor and nature-based education for children in a high-crime, impoverished part of NJ.


Vera Alexander, parent, Thacher Montessori School, Chestnut Hill, MA

Project: “Montessori 4 Autism—Releasing the Inner Child”

Vera was awarded $1,100 to support her Montessori 4 Autism website (for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders), as well as her related advocacy work. This grant was underwritten by Lesley Nan Haberman of The Family Schools in NYC.

Pamela Leudke, Montessori School of Kleinburg,Ontario, Canada

Project: Peace retreat in Tanzania

The AMS Peace Committee gave Pamela $1,100 for her work in Tanzania with the Montessori Outreach Program of the Olive Branch for Children charity, which reaches over 900 children. The money will fund materials for making peace poles and other items to be used in an intensive peace retreat the program is hosting this summer. It will also go towards translating materials into Swahili.

Lanam Kijange, Olwal Montessori School, Uganda

Project: Physical improvements for a school in Uganda

Lanam was given $1,100 by the AMS Peace Committee to bring improvements to the Olwal Montessori School in the Amuru District of Northern Uganda, where he is an elementary teacher. The school currently exists in a temporary thatched grass hut. Lanam will use the money to plaster the walls, lay a cement floor, and more.


Eileen Janaro, John XXIII Montessori Children’s Center, Front Royal, VA

Project: Expanding to include children with special needs

Eileen was awarded $1,300 to train the staff of John XXIII Montessori Children’s Center to work with children on the autism spectrum or who have ADD and to purchase materials that will allow the Center to serve them. Children with special needs and typically-developing children will be able to learn in a Montessori environment together, building compassion and teaching peace in the children’s formative years.

Stephanie A. Johnson, parent, Montessori Private Academy, Rockford, IL

Project: Partners in Peace

Stephanie was awarded $1,000 develop a curriculum for “Ambassadors of Peace,” which will teach students healthy, proactive conflict resolution skills. Montessori Private Academy students will craft presentations on successful peer conflict resolution and parents will be educated about appropriate techniques to use at home. The project will be documented in a “How To” manual that will allow other communities to benefit.

Michele Scott, executive director, Hilltop Montessori School, Birmingham, AL

Project: Peace Garden

Michele was given $500 to establish a “peace garden” to grow produce from nations represented by the students at Hilltop Montessori, which currently include Russia, Pakistan, China, Colombia, Puerto Rico and India. With events open to the surrounding community, the garden will celebrate the diversity now found in Birmingham, once known for racial intolerance, and will promote knowledge of the cultures, customs, and food of the students’ countries of origin.


Joyce Brown, founder/director, East Fort Worth Montessori Academy, Fort Worth, TX

Project: "Breaking the Cycle of Poverty through Sustainable Montessori Programs"

Joyce was awarded $1,100 to prepare teachers in the Gambia and Sierra Leone to use sustainable, holistic Montessori methods and peace education with orphaned, HIV, and other special populations in child care centers and community homes. Teachers and local artists will make Montessori materials and create a meditation labyrinth. Vegetable and herb gardens will supplement community nutrition and generate school income.

Kyndra Irwin, primary after school care director, Montessori Center School, Santa Barbara, CA

Project: “Picturing Peace”

Kyndra received $1,100 to develop a creative collaboration between the Sikkim Rumteck Orphanage for Tibetan Refugees in northern India and the Montessori Center School. Elementary students at these sites will observe and practice peaceful conflict resolution. To develop their own capacity as peace educators, the children in each school will select one conflict and document its resolution in a photo board book to share with the other school.

Linda Bechtle, executive director, Midwest Institute for Native American Studies, Evanston, IL

Project: “Incorporating Native American Education in the Montessori Classroom”

Linda was given $1,100 to fund original artwork by Potawatomi artists to illustrate curricula about traditional Native American culture and history for Montessori elementary students and teachers. This project is intended to combat erroneous stereotypes about indigenous peoples of the United States by providing Montessori teachers with accurate, sensitive, and engaging activities for their students.

Victoria deLilla, director of teacher education, South Florida Montessori Education Center, Lake Worth, FL

Project: “The Children’s Garden—Nurtured by Nature”

Vicki received $1,100 to support the publication of her book, Nurtured by Nature, which describes a group of children starting a garden and discovering their connection to the earth. This manual encourages replication of prepared outdoor environments—Children’s Gardens designed by children with their teachers—that allow children’s empathy to grow, not only for each other, but for all plants and animals and the earth itself.


Itala Zabala, president, Fundación SKAS-Despertar Centro Educativo, Quito, Ecuador

Project: “A True Awakening”

Itala was awarded $2,200 to develop small business opportunities for students in this South American Montessori school, many of whom have special needs. Her project aims to build on skills already taught at the school, such as cooking, carpentry, and horticulture. Students will sell their goods at a local mall—and gain firsthand experience in running a business.


Alyson Peterson, founder, Montessori Island School, Livingston, MT

Project: “Peace Garden for Sustainable Agriculture”

Alyson received $1,100 to expand the school’s Peace Garden, part of an ongoing initiative to create sustainable local agriculture. The enlarged garden will yield a bounty twice over as students sell their crops at a local farmer’s market and donate the proceeds to Heifer International, which provides livestock and training to impoverished families so they may generate income in sustainable ways.

Michele Melvin, founding directress, Montessori Habitat School, Champagne, IL

Project: “Spirit Stirring: Fostering Appreciation for Humanity and Exploration of Cosmological Role in Montessori Middle School Students”

In a project that melds research and spirituality, Michele developed 16 experimental methods of nurturing the spiritual development of adolescents, including appreciation of humanity and of their own role in the universe. She has been testing the efficacy of these methods in her own middle-school classroom; this $1,100 grant allows Michele to broaden her research to additional middle schools across the country.


International Peace Seed Grant:

Laure Kominar, Hillfield Strathallan College Montessori School, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; and Janice Mayhew, Lakeview Montessori School, Tecumseh, Ontario, Canada

Laure and Janice received $1,100 in support of their proposed trip to Mbeya, Tanzania, to provide Montessori teacher education and material-making workshops. The classes will further the work of The Olive Branch for Children charity, which has established Montessori-based nursery schools in 25 remote villages.

Domestic Peace Seed Grant:

Claudia Mann, director, Chaffee County Montessori School, Salida, CO

Claudia was awarded $1,100 for her Garden of Peace, a project that reaches out to many corners of the community. Among other things, the projects aims to help her students identify the interconnectedness of all living things; to involve students from other schools and seniors from the local Garden Club; and to provide herbs to organic restaurants and vegetables to the Harvest Fair.


First Place: Tracey Bernard, Farmington Valley Academy Montessori, Avon, CT

Tracey was honored for her proposal to train several dozen Sri Lankan educators in peace education skills and to develop a peace curriculum in the English, Sinhala, and Tamil languages. An additional goal of the project is to offer training in conservation agriculture.

Honorable Mention: Julie Ikenberry, founder, Little Oak Montessori School, Lyle, WA

Little Oak students are creating a communal Peace Quilt to be displayed in one school in each of the human-inhabited continents. Participating students will contribute handprints, photos, and statements about peace, courtesy, and grace, and will also create a booklet about the year-long project.


Victoria Montessori School, Entebbe, Uganda

The grant was awarded in support of the Uganda Montessori Peace Education Initiative, a plan to bring peace education to 6 schools in war-torn northern Uganda. The initiative’s ultimate goal is to help students embrace peace and become advocates for a culture of harmonious co-existence.


Catherine McTamaney

Catherine was awarded the Peace Seed Grant in support of her work on The Tao of Montessori—Reflections on Compassionate Teaching, published in October, 2005 by iUniverse, Inc.


Youth Visits the United Nations (YVUN) Project

This new program brings students from middle schools across the country to New York City for 2 days of immersion in the workings of the United Nations. This is the first of what is envisioned as an annual event. (Note: YVUN was subsequently renamed Global Citizens Action Project, or GCAP. For information about GCAP, e-mail

AMS is grateful to Lesley Nan Haberman and The Family School in New York City for their generous support of Peace Seed Grants throughout the years.

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