AMS Recognition Awards

Paying tribute to members of our community is integral to the AMS mission.

Every year, through a variety of awards, the American Montessori Society honors individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the Montessori Movement. AMS is proud to honor and recognize the ways in which they move Montessori forward.

AMS Living Legacy Award

Each year, the American Montessori Society Living Legacy Award honors an individual for their lifetime of dedication and service to AMS and the Montessori Movement. While recipients of other AMS recognition awards may have made an impact in just one area, the Living Legacy has had several if not many impactful roles in Montessori; for example, as a school or program administrator, teacher, author, researcher, mentor, presenter, lobbyist, union steward, education activist, board director, committee or commission member, and/or community leader.

Since the inception of this award in 1993, the Living Legacy honoree has played a critical role in helping to raise monies for AMS Teacher Education Scholarships, such as by serving as an inspiring speaker for fundraising events created for this purpose. The Living Legacy also delivers an address at AMS's annual conference, The Montessori Event.

Your donation in honor of the Living Legacy supports a cherished AMS practice: the awarding of scholarships to aspiring Montessori educators at AMS-affiliated teacher education programs.


  • 2024: Charles Terranova
  • 2024: Gay Ward
  • 2023: Susie & David Shelton-Dodge
  • 2022: Juliet King
  • 2021: William Maier
  • 2020: Ana María García Blanco
  • 2019: Marta Donahoe
  • 2018: D’Neil and Michael Duffy
  • 2017: Alice Renton
  • 2016: Carolyn Kambich
  • 2015: Maria Gravel
  • 2014: John Chattin-McNichols
  • 2013: Joyce Pickering
  • 2012: Chandra Fernando
  • 2011: Sonnie McFarland
  • 2010: Judi Bauerlein
  • 2009: Marie M. Dugan
  • 2008: Betsy Coe
  • 2007: Dottie Sweet Feldman
  • 2006: Aline D. Wolff
  • 2005: Celma Pinho Perry
  • 2004: Bretta Weiss Wolff
  • 2003: Sr. Anne McCarrick
  • 2002: Sr. Anthonita Porta
  • 2001: Ruth Corey Selman
  • 2000: Carole Wolfe Korngold
  • 1999: Beverly A. McGhee
  • 1998: Margaret Farmer
  • 1997: Joy Starry Turner
  • 1996: Margaret Loeffler
  • 1995: Effie Weinberg
  • 1994: Virginia Varga
  • 1993: Sr. Carolina Gomez del Valle
Marta Donahoe Accepting Living Legacy Award
2024 AMS Living Legacy recipient, Gay Ward (and family), at The Montessori Event 2024 in Orlando, FL.
Marta Donahoe Accepting Living Legacy Award
Susie & David Shelton-Dodge (and family) receiving the 2023 Living Legacy award at The Montessori Event in Boston, MA.
Marta Donahoe Accepting Living Legacy Award
Juliet King accepting the 2022 AMS Living Legacy award at The Montessori Event in Nashville, TN.
Marta Donahoe Accepting Living Legacy Award
Tatenda Blessing Muchiriri accepting the Montessori Innovator award at The Montessori Event 2024 in Orlando, FL.
Marta Donahoe Accepting Living Legacy Award
Marta Donahoe accepting the 2019 AMS Living Legacy award at The Montessori Event in Washington, D.C.
D’Neil and Michael Duffy, 2019 AMS Living legacy recipients.
Chandra Fernando accepting the 2012 AMS Living Legacy award in San Francisco
Marta Donahoe Accepting Living Legacy Award
Dot Thompson (middle) accepting the Nancy McCormick Rambusch Award at The Montessori Event 2024 in Orlando, FL. (Pictured with Anita Hanks (right) and Amira Mogaji (left)
D’Neil and Michael Duffy
Carolyn Kambich accepting the 2016 AMS Living Legacy at The Montessori Event in Chicago, IL
 Sonnie McFarland
Sonnie McFarland, 2011 AMS Living Legacy recipient accepting praise from fellow Montessorians in Chicago, IL
Martha McDermott
Martha McDermott accepting the 2019 Nancy McCormick Rambusch Trailblazer Award at The Montessori Event in Washington, D.C.
D’Neil and Michael Duffy, 2019 AMS Living legacy recipients.
D’Neil and Michael Duffy, 2018 AMS Living legacy recipients. The Montessori Event, Denver, CO
D’Neil and Michael Duffy, 2019 AMS Living legacy recipients.
John Chattin-McNichols accepting the 2014 Living Legacy award at The Montessori Event in Dallas, TX
D’Neil and Michael Duffy, 2019 AMS Living legacy recipients.
2015 AMS Living Legacy recipient, Maria Gravel, with friends and relatives

Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch Award

AMS recognizes individuals who have made significant advances in raising the profile of Montessori education through this annual award. It is named in honor of education visionary Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch, whose vigorous efforts were vital to the founding of AMS and the growth of the Montessori Movement. 


Words from Our Recipients

Dr. Juliet King

2022 AMS Living Legacy Recipient

I had been teaching almost twenty years when I discovered Montessori. But once I did, there was no turning back! I wanted to share it with as many children as possible, especially those children who would not normally be privy to this wonderful way of learning.

Anna Perry

2021 AMS Community Service Award Recipient

We all know that our work as educators is world-changing as we impact the lives of the children, families, and our colleagues with whom we come into contact each and every day. One way that our influence can go well beyond our own classrooms and schools is through involvement in our global membership organization. Join me in finding new ways to get involved at AMS! Together we move Montessori forward!

Mary Schneider

2021 Nancy McCormick Rambusch Trailblazer Award Recipient

My admiration for Nancy McCormick Rambusch has grown as I have read her writing and heard stories from those who knew her. It seems fairly certain that without her dogged determination to establish a more culturally relevant approach to Montessori education in America, I might not have discovered Montessori education.

Biff Maier

2021 AMS Living Legacy Recipient

After 45 years of this work, I cherish this opportunity to thank AMS for giving me—and all of us—a platform where I—where we—can work together, think together, dream together of ways to get better and better at fulfilling Montessori’s vision of a world that is worthy of our children.

Rye Josloff

2022 AMS Service Award Recipient

I’ve grown so much from the people I’ve been in community with examining gender, race, and other equity and social justice issues through the AMS affinity groups I’ve facilitated and in other professional capacities. I want to especially thank the BIPOC, the queer and trans folx, the folx with disabilities, and so many others who have laid down roots with their knowledge, passion, vulnerability, and vision. I am only able to serve because I have learned from you. There’s so much work left to be done. It’s been a hard couple of years, but we need to keep pushing. When our privilege gives us space to ease up, we can’t allow ourselves to become complacent. I hope to see spaces continue to grow where we can transform ourselves, our classrooms, and our schools in order for every child to be free to express themself fully and fearlessly.

Douglas M. Gravel Benefactor Award

AMS acknowledges those whose generosity has contributed to the sustainability and growth of the organization through an annual award named in honor of the late Douglas M. Gravel, one of AMS’s most consistent and generous benefactors. Doug, along with his wife, Maria Gravel, provided strong and unwavering support to the American Montessori Society from its earliest days. 


Dr. Maria Montessori Ambassador Award

This award honors individuals who, through their work in a variety of arenas such as the arts, sports, government, and higher education, are fostering a landscape in which Montessori education cannot only thrive, but flourish.


Community Service Award

AMS Community Service awards honor outstanding volunteers and recognize the impact they have made to AMS.


Montessori Innovator Award

This annual award honors up-and-coming individuals for their original and inventive contributions to the practice and experience of Montessori education. Recipients demonstrate mastery of the delicate task of introducing new ideas/approaches while remaining ever true to the philosophy and practice as articulated by Dr. Montessori. Learn more about how AMSHQ is practicing innovation every day.


See our latest awards announcement.