Welcoming Our New Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Staff: Bryan Jackson and Maati Wafford

OCTOBER 26, 2020—Two years ago, the American Montessori Society Board of Directors voted to make inclusion and equity a strategic priority of our organization. With this in mind, we were thrilled to recently receive a major grant to support our efforts in this area. 

Through these funds, we now welcome two new members to our staff. Both will embark on initiatives also made possible by the grant, such as developing content, materials, and resources designed to interrupt bias, dismantle oppressive systems, and elevate marginalized voices in the AMS and wider Montessori communities.

Bryan JacksonMeet Bryan Jackson 

Senior Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 

MA (teaching and curriculum), Columbia University
Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate, Georgetown University

With 15 years of progressive experience as an educator, administrator, and nonprofit director, Bryan has dedicated his career to the service of others. He is driven by the importance of social justice practices in our educational institutions.

As the director of racial equity & inclusion at OAR (Offender Aid and Restoration) of Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church (Virginia), he built the organization's first racial equity program and first school centered criminal justice initiative. 

Additionally, Bryan is the founder of Attach Consulting, working to transform organizations into antiracist entities. Through Attach Consulting, he has co-facilitated race equity training for the Washington Nationals baseball team and the Arlington Public Library System. Bryan is driven by the importance of social justice driven practices in our educational institutions.

He was a founding staff member at Gems World Academy, in Chicago, IL, where he increased enrollment for students of color by targeting geographical areas of high populated families of color and exposing parents to the independent school model. While working at the Chicago International Charter School, Bryan was instrumental in creating a trauma-informed school culture that led to a 50% decreased suspension rate. And, at the Latin School of Chicago, he increased student reading and math skills by 95% by implementing skills assessments to ensure instruction met needs. Bryan was also recognized for his passion and excellence in teaching when he was honored as one of only ten educators in the state of Illinois to receive the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Education.

Bryan comes from a Montessori family: his mother-in-law is a current Montessori teacher and his wife is a Montessori alum. They will be continuing that legacy with their son, who will soon be entering preschool.

Reflecting on the person he strives to be, Bryan Jackson quoted the anti-apartheid revolutionary and former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Maati WaffordMeet Maati Wafford

Director of Anti-Bias, Antiracist Education

AMS-credentialed: Early Childhood, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Administrator
MSW, Howard University

Many of you may remember Maati Wafford from her presentation at the AMS Black Lives Matter virtual rally in August, where she spoke about the importance of Black Lives matteringwatch her full video here

But Maati has been deeply intertwined in the fabric of Montessori for many years, so you may have crossed paths with her in other venues, too; for example, in her recent work with the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, where she provided ABAR (anti-bias, antiracist) professional development training to Montessori teachers, assistants, and administrators across the country.

Maati was also an adult educator for the Institute of Advanced Montessori Studies, an AMS-affiliated teacher education program in Silver Spring, MD, where she was responsible for Montessori course design and development to include anti-bias and culturally competent curricular content.

As director of diversity, equity & inclusion for the AMS-accredited Barrie School (also in Silver Spring), Maati led a team in crafting and actualizing the school’s 3-year diversity plan, creating a community model and intentional space for faculty to deepen ABAR instruction. Her leadership focused on building trust for engaging in direct, honest, and productive conversations about rooting the complex art and science of teaching in equity and justice.

A believer in “authentic, heart-centered Montessori,” Maati is founder of Radiant Mind Solutions, which provides K – 12 teachers and schools with culturally responsive professional development designed to inspire and enhance lifelong liberated learning. 

Said Maati: “It is imperative that school leadership move past maintaining the status quo. This includes interrogating admissions practices and hiring biases and balancing the need to create and maintain a vibrant economic model for fiscal sustainability while also demonstrating an awareness of the intricate landscape of diverse people, backgrounds, and perspectives. It is a humbling opportunity to immerse myself in this important work.” 

 

Please join us in welcoming Bryan and Maati to AMS.