Announcing AMS New Director of School Accreditation

On July 9, 2018, Melanie Thiesse will join the American Montessori Society as our new Director of School Accreditation.

May 25, 2018

Dear Fellow Montessorians,

Melanie ThiesseI am delighted to share the news that on July 9, 2018, Melanie Thiesse will join the American Montessori Society as our new Director of School Accreditation.

Over the course of several months, we met with outstanding candidates, including several leaders from the Montessori community with whom we already have valuable relationships. What a pleasure to have had this time with all of these committed individuals, and learn more about their passions and ideas for the future of Montessori!

Some of us already knew Melanie, who has had over 20 years of professional experience and volunteer/advocacy work in Montessori education As a group, we were unanimously impressed with her breadth of experience, her achievements, skills, strategic relationships, and perspectives about Montessori. We look forward to working with her and are confident that you will appreciate her drive and thoughtful ideas as much as we do, and that your work with her to achieve and sustain quality Montessori programs will be fruitful and inspired.

Most recently the curriculum coordinator for the AMS-accredited Westmont Montessori School in Mendham, NJ, Melanie had this to say about AMS school accreditation:

“Having worked in Montessori schools since 1993, I have seen firsthand the tremendous difference that accreditation can have on school communities. I have seen how accreditation lifts all stakeholders to a set of standards that inspires them to volunteer, learn, and work as a community for the betterment of each other. The process of accreditation not only provides the affirmation that particular standards are in place, but also brings a community together and validates its efforts.”

Melanie has been a lead teacher and school administrator in AMS and AMI schools both public and private, an adult educator for an AMS-affiliated teacher education program, and a chair or member of numerous onsite school accreditation teams for AMS and Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. In addition, Melanie has served as secretary for the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Montessori Corporation and a consultant for the Montessori Public Policy Initiative (an AMS/AMI collaboration), for which she co-authored “Montessori and the Early Childhood Environmental: A Crosswalk for Educators and Advocates.” And, Melanie has been a frequent conference presenter—including at our most recent annual conference, in Denver, where some of you may have heard her thoughtful and creative ideas on Montessori and Makerspaces.

For the past several years, Melanie has been zealously involved in Montessori and public policy. Among her many achievements has been successfully spearheading efforts in New Jersey to obtain recognition of Montessori credentials as equivalent to state certification. In addition, she worked with leaders to clarify and revise, for Montessori schools, Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scales (ITERS) and Early Childhood Environment Rating Scales (ECERS) requirements. Melanie served as elected board member and vice-president of the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District, as well as on the Board of the Somerset Country Education Services Commission; and she has been a member of the New Jersey Council for Young Children Education Standards Committee and the Professional Impact New Jersey Clearinghouse (a state teacher credential organization).

Melanie has an MEd in Montessori Education from St. Catherine University. She is AMS-credentialed (Elementary I) and NCME-credentialed (Elementary I–II).

Below is a letter written by Melanie to you, our Montessori community.


Dr. Timothy J. Purnell
Executive Director

Letter from Melanie Thiesse

May 25, 2018

Dear AMS Community,

I am honored to have been named the new Director of School Accreditation for the American Montessori Society, and look forward to working personally with each of our accredited and member schools to help ensure fidelity to high-quality Montessori.

I was 13 when I first stepped foot into a Montessori classroom and, although I didn’t get to experience the Montessori classroom myself as a child, I was amazed by the environment and what it brought out in my younger siblings. It was this experience that inspired me to devote my life’s work to providing opportunities for children to experience this phenomenal educational method.

I was fortunate to spend 17 years in Montessori classrooms, primarily as a lead teacher at the elementary and adolescent levels. I was in awe of these learning communities that provided nurturing environments that engaged children and adults, encouraged learning and continued growth, and built lasting relationships. I was a part of these caring communities in private and public schools, both AMS and AMI; and in Arizona, North Carolina, and New Jersey—all quality Montessori programs that truly inspired. My experience in different schools, across different states, has given me the perspective to understand the unique challenges that each school faces to provide authentic Montessori education to children from all backgrounds. In my work, I hope to make school accreditation attainable for more schools regardless of their size or affluence. I believe that all children should be given the opportunity to experience the amazing communities we can provide.

I’ve also spent 7 years in school administration where, in addition to coordinating accreditation efforts, I became involved in state advocacy for Montessori education. I found that reaching out across the Montessori vs. traditional education lines that often divide us, was imperative to this work. Volunteering for committees and advisory boards, I built relationships with state decision makers and educated them about Montessori philosophy and the research that has been done to validate our work. Through these efforts, I was successful in having the Montessori curriculum and teacher credentials for the Infant & Toddler and Early Childhood levels recognized by the state of New Jersey. I am passionate about advocating for Montessori education and am looking forward to the opportunity to do more of this on a larger scale with AMS, increasing the value of accreditation even more for its schools.

As a member of my community, I also volunteer my time to local educational efforts. I sit on several boards including as the secretary of the New Jersey Montessori Association Corporation (NJMAC) and vice president of my local Board of Education, the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District. I also serve as the New Jersey representative for the Montessori Public Policy Initiative.

So, as I enthusiastically embark on this new adventure as your Director of School Accreditation, I hope to be a part of fostering an environment for our schools that engages, encourages continued growth, and builds lasting relationships.

Melanie Thiesse, MEd