The Montessori Event Series: Through the Eyes of a Veteran Montessori Educator
“I have attended many other Montessori and education conferences over the years, but the AMS Event is the most exciting and fulfilling, rich with information, filled with interesting people to meet. . . it always raises my awareness of something new in the Montessori world and the education field in general.”
Head of School
The Wetherill School, Gladwyne, PA
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Having 25 years of experience in the classroom along with 16 years of experience as an administrator, Marie Conti is head of school at The Wetherill School in Gladwyne, PA. She exudes love, great care, and tireless passion for Montessori methods and her school.
Marie has dedicated her entire career to Montessori education in a variety of capacities such as working with both children and adults, being a classroom teacher, and then stepping into her administrative roles. Throughout her years of experience, she “still firmly believe(s) Maria Montessori’s dream that if we start with the children, the world may someday become a peaceful place where all of humanity can get along. It’s [her] life goal to keep working to fulfill [Maria’s] dream.”
Not only is she attending the event in person, she is also presenting the workshop The Art, Beauty, and History of Architecture. She explains, “I hope the attendees will gain some insight into this often-forgotten topic and learn a bit about architecture throughout history as well as some materials, activities, and lessons they can share in their Early Childhood or Elementary classrooms. Architecture and architectural history have been an interest of mine for many decades and I’m so pleased to be presenting this workshop!”
Making The Montessori Event an annual priority, Marie is full of fantastic memories, words of advice, and strategies that will help even veteran attendees synthesize information to take back to their schools.
The Event Encapsulated
Connected. Inspired. Renewed. Invigorated. Enlightened. Hopeful. Proud. Aware.
Take a second to imagine the gravity behind each of these feelings. Marie recalls her years of attendance with such joy and importance, that anyone would jump at the chance to attend The Montessori Event. Between the smaller sessions and the keynote speakers, this event is a wealth of information, important conversations, and tangible strategies for educators and administrators.
Though Marie doesn’t attend specifically for the keynote speakers, she’s seen some incredible humans over the years including but not limited to Mr. Fred Rogers, Jonathan Kozol, Maya Angelou, Greg Mortenson, Andrew Solomon, Brené Brown, Rick Steves, Bryan Stevenson, and a virtual interview between former AMS staff member Marcy Krever and Wynton Marsalis. Remembering moments of auditoriums full of educators being moved to meaningful tears and collective experiences of uncomfortable discovery, the keynote speakers bring their passions to inspire and educate Montessori professionals far and wide.
Advice for New Attendees
Between trying to learn as much as possible, meeting hundreds of new people, remaining in the present moment, and the cost of attendance, new attendees can become overwhelmed rather quickly. Never fear, Marie has excellent points of advice for those new to the Montessori Event.
A Priceless Experience
As a new teacher, she struggled with saving enough to cover the cost of travel and attendance. Though Montessori does an excellent job of keeping the costs relatively low for the overall payoffs, the price tag can understandably be an inhibitive aspect for new teachers.
Her tip? Ask for funding and then fundraise what’s left. She recalled a brilliant story of her early teaching days when her school simply asked the parents and guardians for donations, and the new teachers were able to attend at little to no cost. Naturally, families want their students to succeed, and they are able to recognize that The Montessori Event is a huge opportunity for teachers to continue their education and further their techniques, dedication, and passion for the teaching profession.
Don’t Be Shy; Come Say Hi!
Marie wants new attendees, especially those traveling solo or staying away from the event center, to know that everyone is extremely friendly and helpful. Don’t be intimidated to talk to strangers and ultimately make a friend across the country. Everyone has one thing in common—love for Montessori, and that is reason enough to create community.
It’s Okay to be Overwhelmed
It’s a jam-packed weekend! You get what you pay for, but that also comes with a dose of overwhelm with all of the invigorating ideas, strategies to take home, and concepts to mull over. Marie suggests that each attendee fully immerse themselves in the experience and stay in the present moment. When staying present, you will soak up each session and then be able to collect your thoughts in the following weeks.
What to Take Away from the Event
Jokingly, Marie said that she forgot one word about how the Montessori Event makes her feel, “exhausted.” Even the most attentive, passionate, and planned educators will feel delightfully tired after such an incredible, moving weekend.
Leaving attendees with one final piece of advice, Marie suggests that educators shouldn’t allow the new ideas, initiatives, and information to overwhelm them. Educators will be able to carry those ideas with them forever and implement the ideas as time continues. Start small by incorporating 1 – 3 ideas into the classroom or school culture instead of trying to do a complete 180 with teaching methods.
On the other side of the excitement and overwhelm is the chance to use everything from The Montessori Event. As Marie explains, “The Montessori Event is the most exciting and fulfilling, rich with information, filled with interesting people to meet. It always raises my awareness of something new in the Montessori world and the education field in general.”
About the Author
Kat St.Pierre (she/her) is a former 8th grade English teacher turned freelance content/copywriter. Passionate about being kind to others, the planet, and herself, she loves using her voice to amplify important conversations and educate with empathy. Contact her at email@example.com or www.katstpierre.com.
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The opinions expressed in Montessori Life are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of AMS.