Announcing the AMS 2021 Living Legacy: Biff Maier
APRIL 6, 2020—Since the pioneers helped the Montessori Movement find its place in the United States during its resurgence in the mid-to-late 20th century, William “Biff” Maier has been around as well, defining what it means to live the mission. He was on a first-name basis with all the key players, including Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch, founder of the American Montessori Society; and Douglas and Maria Gravel, co-recipients of the AMS Lifetime Achievement Award, who worked alongside her. He can still recount animated tales of what that era was like for Montessori.
In his 47 years of Montessori service, Biff has been a guide and head of school at the New School in Cincinnati, founding member of the Elementary training program at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education/New York (CMTE|NY), co-director and treasurer of the Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collaborative (METTC), chair of the Teachers Section of the AMS Board of Directors, and director of faculty and curriculum development at Lexington Montessori School in Massachusetts.
The Building Blocks to Our Living Legacy:
- 1972 – Biff graduates from Duke University with a BA in psychology
- 1977 – At Xavier University, he simultaneously earns an AMS credential in Early Childhood and completes his MEd in Montessori education. He also takes a position as a Montessori guide at the New School in Cincinnati.
- 1979 – Studying at Xavier, Biff receives an AMS Elementary I credential.
- 1982 – He earns an AMI Elementary I – II credential while studying in Bergamo, Italy. He also meets Mario Montessori while in Bergamo.
- 1983 – After working as a guide for 6 years at the New School, Biff is promoted to head of school.
New adventures on the East Coast
- 1983 - Biff joins the faculty of the Center for Montessori Teacher Education/New York (CMTE|NY) as the creator of the Culture curriculum.
- 1986 – Biff becomes assistant head for elementary and founding head teacher for the Upper Elementary program at Lexington Montessori School in Lexington, MA. Biff will assume several additional positions there including, in 2000, director of faculty and curriculum development, which he holds to this day.
- 2008 – He becomes a visiting faculty member at the Centre for Advanced Montessori Studies of Vancouver (CAMSV) in Vancouver, British Columbia.
- 2013 – The Montessori Teacher Training Collaborative (METTC) is formed with Biff as co-director and treasurer.
Serving the American Montessori Society:
At annual AMS conferences, attendees scan the schedule looking for Biff. With a larger than life personality and an incredible knack for storytelling, Biff delights the audience with inspiration for the future we are creating by sharing the insights of the past.
In the years since, Biff has…
- …participated as a “Montessori Voice” at The Montessori Event 2019 in Washington, DC
- …served as chair of the Teachers Section of the AMS Board of Directors.
- …assisted on AMS accreditation visit teams.
- …helped conceive and launch an AMS Touring Symposia program.
- …chaired the AMS 2004 National Conference in Boston, MA.
- …offered workshops, seminars, and consultations to Montessori schools in over a dozen states.
- …presented in Italy, Sweden, and China on the topics of Montessori and education.
- …acted as a keynote speaker at a Montessori conference in Shanghai, China.
To Teach Another:
Whether in his home country or oceans away, Biff’s riveting addresses and sense of humor have inspired the next generation of Montessori leaders. In many ways, that began with his work to support Montessori Elementary training centers in the United States.
As noted above, in 1986, Biff supported another Living Legacy honoree, Carole Korngold, as she developed the Elementary program at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education/New York (CMTE|NY), in New Rochelle, NY— one of the first training centers in the country.
During his time at CMTE|NY Biff worked as Elementary curriculum coordinator to develop albums for Elementary history and biology. He also participated in Elementary training courses in New York, Arizona, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, and Canada.
When Carole Korngold retired, CMTE|NY discontinued the residential Elementary training program and Biff and other Elementary faculty transferred the program to the newly created nonprofit organization, Montessori Teacher Training Collaborative (METTC), hosted by Lexington Montessori School in Massachusetts.
Biff, along with Robyn Breiman and Michael and D’Neil Duffy (still more Living Legacy honorees) are co-directors of the program. Biff is also the treasurer of METTC.
What It Means to Inspire:
From the students he has guided through yearlong projects at the New School in Cincinnati and Lexington Montessori School, to the thousands that flock to his lectures and seminars around the world, to the teachers he supports in the METTC program, Biff Maier defines what it means to mentor and inspire.
Perhaps none have experienced that in a more personal way than his family. Biff and his wife live in Arlington, MA, and are the proud parents of 2 Montessori graduates. His son is exploring a career in law in New York City. His daughter lives in Paris and has made him a grandfather, something Biff declares as one of the greatest joys of his life.
It is not only for his depth of knowledge and deep insights into Montessori philosophy, but because of his passionate work for all things Montessori, that we lift Biff up today and honor him as our American Montessori Society 2021 Living Legacy.