AMS Sees You—ALL of You

A Message from Dr. Timothy J. Purnell, AMS CEO

Tim Purnell | January 21, 2019

After a year of touring member schools and programs, listening and learning from educators throughout the United States and abroad, I am proud to say that AMS is a strong organization of talented Montessori champions. We are a community that values peace and social justice, equity and inclusion.

But as 2019 dawns, I am keenly aware that more work needs to be to ensure that AMS, our schools, and our teacher education programs are equitable and diverse.

Our AMS board and staff leadership enter this new year with a strengthened commitment to being a model for and ensuring the advancement of principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion by creating an environment in which all feel welcomed, respected, valued, and empowered (AMS Strategic Priority #1). This is directly in line with Dr. Montessori’s teachings, which inform a practice for peace and social justice in our classrooms, as well as our workplaces and homes.

Here are some of our initiatives related to equity that are either already in progress, or soon to roll out:

  • New staff: AMS will be creating a director-level position to address the advancement of inclusion, diversity, and equity in our organization and community. This includes our professional development offerings, commission reviews, awards, grants, standards—and much more. A first task, recommended by our Peace & Social Justice Committee, will be the development of an equity audit instrument that we will use internally at AMS, and also make available to our members. We will inform our work through dialogue and research that you can be a part of.
  • Professional development: This spring, our board of directors will engage in professional development training with Dr. Derrick Gay—the internationally recognized expert on diversity, inclusion, and global citizenship, who has worked with us in the past. Watch for an interview with him in the spring issue of Montessori Life. And, avail yourselves of our growing library of equity-related webinars, such as the on-demand options on anti-bias training, and this Tuesday’s live presentation on social justice and cosmic education.
  • Articles: We’ve launched a series of articles on diversity and inclusion in Montessori Life. Part 2, in the current issue, addresses identity formation in Montessori students and educators.
  • The Montessori Event: If you’re attending our conference this March in Washington, DC, you’ll be able to choose from more than 20 events focused on inclusion and equity: workshops, networking sessions, a documentary, a keynote, and a community care initiative.

The AMS Peace & Social Justice Committee is also helping to inform our work in inclusion and equity. Committee members recently came together for a weekend of intensive facilitated engagement, alongside AMS staff and a diverse group of invited community members. Participants worked to define areas of focus for AMS, and made suggestions about operationalizing inclusion and equity, such as by engaging in radical listening, expanding access to programs, and supporting research.

What is Montessori’s role in a truly equitable world? How do we embrace and administer Dr. Montessori’s mandate to live peacefully?

These are not simple questions, nor are there simple answers. The work may be difficult, but the goals are achievable. A more equitable world is within reach—not only for AMS, but also for our schools and teacher education programs—and each and every one of us plays a role in getting there.

At the Golden Globes ceremony last Sunday, actor Sandra Oh, the first woman of Asian descent to host a major awards show in the United States, said, “I wanted to be here to look out into this audience and witness this moment of change.… Trust me, it is real. Because I see you, and I see you. All of these faces of change.”

The dignity of being recognized is a powerful sentiment.

I want to leave you with this: AMS sees you—ALL of you. We see the work you do every day for your students. We see your passion and your joy. And we stand with you as you build a world that is more inclusive and just.

Tim Purnell Signature
Dr. Timothy J. Purnell
Chief Executive Officer