American Montessori Society 2022 Recognition Awards

JANUARY 24, 2022—AMS recognition awards honor individuals who have made exceptional contributions to our organization and the Montessori Movement. We offer our congratulations to the 2022 recipients, and profound thanks for all that they have so selflessly accomplished in pursuit of our shared mission to build a better world through Montessori.

Juliet KingAMS Living Legacy Award: Juliet King

The American Montessori Society Living Legacy Award goes to an individual whose dedication and leadership has made a lasting impact on the AMS community.

Dr. Juliet King, (she/her) with her respectful and soft-spoken demeanor, reflects and models what it means to be a Montessori educator. Juliet is fiercely passionate about Montessori, social justice, and using the former as a vehicle to promote the latter. She is the co-founder and co-director of Coral Reef Montessori Academy, an AMS-accredited school in Miami, Florida and a civil rights activist, community advocate, and lifelong educator.

Wynton Marsalis

Photo credit: Joe Martinez

Dr. Maria Montessori Ambassador Award: Wynton Marsalis

The Dr. Maria Montessori Ambassador Award honors an individual who, through their work in a variety of arenas, is fostering a landscape in which Montessori education cannot only thrive, but flourish.

Wynton Marsalis (he/him) is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator, and advocate for American culture. He presently serves as the founding director of Jazz Studies at The Juilliard School and managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC). At JALC, he has developed and executed twelve youth education programs, and spearheaded the development of Frederick P. Rose Hall—an education, performance, and broadcasting facility erected in 2004. Marsalis has written and co-written nine books, including two children’s books. Born in New Orleans, LA to world-renowned jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr., Marsalis became entrenched in music from a young age. Since his debut album in 1982, Marsalis has produced 114 records, won 9 Grammy Awards, and sold over 7 million copies worldwide. To this day, he remains the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards in 5 consecutive years (1983 – 1987), and the only jazz artist to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music (1997).

Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch Trailblazer Award: Raife Cebeci & Nancy Rose

The Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch Trailblazer Award recognizes individuals who have made significant advances in raising the profile of Montessori education.

Raife CebeciRaife Cebeci (she/her) started her career opening two Montessori community schools in the 1990s. Later, she established The International Montessori Schools which began as one local school in a suburb of Philadelphia in 2004 and has since expanded to five additional locations across Pennsylvania and Delaware. She also serves as the executive director of the Montessori Institute for Teacher Education (MITE), housed within the IMSchools system. In 2012, she began traveling to her home country of Turkey to nurture the growth of Montessori education in the region, opening a laboratory school and teacher training program, the first and only AMS-affiliated program in Turkey. Apart from school administration, teacher training, and general advocacy, she has also provided extensive consulting and startup services to Montessori schools across Turkey. She has translated Montessori books and articles into Turkish, and worked extensively to develop Montessori Turkish language curricula and materials. Most recently, she has written and published the first children's book on the pandemic titled Cosmic Virus Covid-19. She is also a member of the AMS Global Committee.

Nancy RoseNancy Rose (she/her) was a co-founder and academic director of the Montessori Teacher Training Program of the Rockies in Denver, CO, and has served as a faculty member and a guest lecturer for several colleges, universities, and other AMS teacher education programs for more than 50 years. In the 1980s, she had the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” included in the AMS non-discrimination statement and is a nationally recognized LGBTQIA+ leader and advocate in the Montessori community. Her work includes the co-founding of the AMS Peace and Social Justice Committee and she has been involved with AMS as a member of the 1870 Society, a frequent conference presenter, and a past board member.

Douglas M. Gravel Benefactor Award: Suzanne Jennett Gusemano

The Douglas M. Gravel Award is given to someone whose generosity has contributed to the sustainability and growth of the American Montessori Society.

Suzanne Jennett Gusemano (she/her) is head of school at First Steps Montessori School, a Ministry of St. John the Divine located in the heart of River Oaks in Houston, Texas. In the 1980s, Suzanne was an instructor at the Houston Montessori Center and in the 90s spent time in field consulting. She has also spent time in Bolivia training other adults in Montessori education, supervising and mentoring new Montessori educators, and consulting for other Montessori schools. Suzanne has presented numerous workshops specializing in Gross and Perceptual Motor Development, Classroom Designs and Space Utilization, and Fun in the Classroom. She is a former board member of the Harris School, former member of the Montessori Administrator’s Network, and current board member of the Houston Montessori Center. Suzanne has worked in Montessori education for over 4 decades and been an adamant supporter of AMS throughout that time.

Montessori Innovator Award: Jane Nelsen

The Montessori Innovator Award honors up-and-coming individuals for their original contributions to the practice and experience of Montessori education.

Jane Nelsen (she/her) is a California licensed marriage and family therapist and author or co-author of 16 Positive Discipline books, including the latest, Positive Discipline in the Montessori Classroom with Chip DeLorenzo, and numerous experiential training manuals for parents, teachers, couples, and businesses resulting in Certified Positive Discipline Facilitators in over 80 countries. She earned her EdD from the University of San Francisco, but her formal training has been secondary to her hands-on training as the mother of seven, grandmother of 22, and great grandmother of 18 with Barry Nelsen, her very supportive husband. She now shares this wealth of knowledge and experience as a popular keynote speaker and workshop leader throughout the world.

AMS Service Awards: Iris Lee, Josh Vogt, Rye Josloff

The American Montessori Society Service Awards honor members for their vigorous support of the work of AMS; for example, via our committees, commissions, affinity groups, discussion groups, affiliation groups, accreditation teams, or the board of directors; as participants of AMS initiatives or programs; or hosts or facilitators of AMS events.

Iris LeeIris Lee (she/her) is an international consultant working with Montessori organizations and educators from around the world. She has rich experiences coordinating the Montessori Conference in Shanghai, China, and has been working with diversity groups, speakers, schools, and vendors to provide professional platforms for all learners. She supported AMS as the China operations coordinator and created connections for AMS members and the public, especially in the areas of professional development events, AMS membership, teacher education, school improvement and accreditation, and sponsorship.

Josh VogtJosh Vogt (he/him) is an 11th and 12th grade social studies teacher at James N. Gamble Montessori High School and a guide with Cincinnati Montessori Secondary Teacher Education Program (CMSTEP), both in Cincinnati, OH. He has presented at the AMS Secondary Symposium and serves as a facilitator of the AMS White Antiracist Discussion Group.

Rye JosloffRye Josloff (they/them) is an Upper Elementary teacher at First State Montessori Academy in Wilmington, DE. Rye has been an active member and co-facilitator of both the White Anti-Racist Discussion Group and LGBTQIA+ Affinity group for AMS. Rye has also been committed to working with educators to increase understanding and support around diverse gender identities in classroom and school environments.

Recognition Award Recipients

We dedicate a place to Montessori educators who have inspired, mentored, innovated, served, and supported the Montessori Movement. We are proud to honor and recognize the ways in which they move Montessori forward.

View Award Recipients
Come and pay tribute to those Montessorians who fueled the Montessori Movement.