In Memoriam: Jacqueline Mary Cossentino (1964 – 2019)

DECEMBER 18, 2019—Jacqueline Mary Cossentino died Saturday evening, December 14, 2019, in her sleep, at home in West Hartford, CT, after battling colon cancer. She was 55-years old.

Jackie’s steadfast commitment to Montessori began as a parent, but extended far beyond that as a researcher, administrator, and university professor. Perhaps she is best known in our community for her role as executive director and co-founder, in 2012, of the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. NCMPS is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping public schools deliver high quality, personalized education through Montessori.

Jackie dedicated 26 years of her life to a career in education. She served as head of an independent Montessori school, and principal of a large, urban public Montessori school, which enabled her to develop an internationally recognized body of research on Montessori culture and practice. Her work appears in American Journal of Education, Teachers College Record, Journal of Teacher Education, Curriculum Inquiry, and in other practitioner journals.

Jackie was a middle and high school English teacher, a professional developer for schools, districts, and museums, and a professor of educational leadership at the University of Maryland. She was also a lecturer in the master’s program of Loyola University’s Washington Montessori Institute.

Dedicated to the advancement of the Montessori teaching profession, Jackie served on the board of Montessori Northwest, an AMI teacher-training center in Portland, OR.

She received a BA in History from Smith College and an MEd and EdD from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Jackie is survived by her husband, Keith Whitescarver, and their son, Jack Whitescarver; her father, John Cossentino, and his wife and Jackie’s stepmother, Donna Cossention; her stepbrother, Kris Davis, and his wife and their children; and her stepsister, Tracey Collins, and her husband. Jackie was preceded in death by her mother, Carmen Cossentino.

She was a longtime friend and colleague to AMS, and we grieve her loss. Our hearts go out to Keith and Jack, and everyone else in their circle of friends and family.

“She continued working and loving life up to the end, giving a presentation last weekend in Charlottesville. She was a fabulous spirit. I will miss her greatly.” —co-founder and former executive director of National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector.


A memorial service for Jackie will take place Friday, December 20, at 1:00 PM, at St. James Episcopal Church, West Hartford, CT. The service will be followed by a reception and celebration of Jackie. Flowers can be sent to Sheehan-Hiborn-Breen Funeral Home, 1084 New Britain Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06110.


Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the National Center for Montessori in the Public Center, which will continue to carry forward Jackie’s life’s work.