American Montessori Society 2023 Recognition Awards
February 27, 2023—AMS recognition awards honor individuals who have made exceptional contributions to our organization and the Montessori Movement. We offer our congratulations to the 2023 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.
AMS Living Legacy Award: Susie & David Shelton-Dodge
The American Montessori Society Living Legacy Award goes to an individual whose dedication and leadership has made a lasting impact on the AMS community.
Susie and David Shelton-Dodge have been on the forefront of the Montessori Movement since the 1970s, supporting countless students, teacher educators, and other community members with generosity, grace, and determination to continue the provision of equitable, authentic Montessori practice. Currently, Susie is the director emeriti and Early Childhood practicum coordinator, and David is the Infant/Toddler practicum director and conference coordinator at Hope Montessori Educational Institute in St. Louis, MO.
Read more about the 2023 Living Legacy recipients.
Dr. Maria Montessori Ambassador Award: Ashley Judd
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.
Ashley Judd is a Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated actress, feminist, and social justice humanitarian. She is the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Goodwill Ambassador, advocating for the sexual and reproductive rights and health for girls and women worldwide. She has traveled to 22 countries, visiting brothels, refugee camps, hospices, and slums. Her New York Times bestselling book, All That Is Bitter & Sweet, chronicles these sacred stories with which the vulnerable and resilient have entrusted her. Ashley graduated from the Honors Program at the University of Kentucky and earned an MPA from Harvard`s John F. Kennedy`s School of Government. Her paper, Gender Violence: Law and Social Justice, was awarded the Dean’s Scholar Award at Harvard Law School. She has been Leader in Residence at the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard`s Kennedy School. She serves on several boards, including the International Center for Research on Women, the Rape and Incest National Network, and is Ambassador for Culture Reframed (focusing on the public health crisis of pornography). She is a public speaker and OpEdauthor, including her recent contribution to the New York Times about her beloved mother`s death by suicide and the need for privacy laws in such tragedies. In 2019, the United Nations honored her as Global Advocate of the Year.
Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch Trailblazer Award: Mary MacIntosh
The Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch Trailblazer Award recognizes individuals who have made significant advances in raising the profile of Montessori education.
Mary MacIntosh, MEd, is an experienced Montessori educator whose roles include classroom teacher, head of school, Montessori teacher education director, and instructor. Currently, Mary is the senior director of Montessori programs at MSS and the academic director for Trinity Montessori Education Center, both in Shanghai, China. She also enjoys her connection with the adult learners as an instructor in the Infant and Toddler and Early Childhood levels. Her insights on best practices in Montessori pedagogy and instruction create a strong foundation for teacher education courses and ensure adult learners have the opportunity to learn and practice the skills necessary to lead Montessori classrooms. She was an AMS board member and currently serves on the AMS Teacher Education Action Commission (TEAC). She served as a member and team leader for the teacher education program with the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education. Mary is a regular presenter for local and national Montessori organizations and is a Montessori consultant to schools. Mary is AMI-credentialed in Early Childhood.
Douglas M. Gravel Benefactor Award: Dr. Pamela Zell Rigg & the Original Funders of the Dr. Marlene Barron Innovation Fund
The Douglas M. Gravel Award is given to someone whose generosity has contributed to the sustainability and growth of the American Montessori Society.
Pamela Rigg began her Montessori journey in 1966 in the fourth AMS teacher education program under the directorship of Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch—innovator extraordinaire. Dr. Pamela Rigg has been the program director and founder of Montessori Teacher Education Center San Francisco Bay Area since 1981. She was a past AMS Board Member and Treasurer from 1989 – 1997. She holds Masters degrees in Early Childhood Education and in Educational Psychology, as well as a doctorate in Math, Science, and Technology. Dr. Rigg is AMS-credentialed in Infant & Toddler, Early Childhood, and Elementary I.
Karren Jui-Chin Wan
Karren Jui-Chin Wan is a faithful practitioner of Montessori education in Taiwan, who has dedicated her whole life to Early Childhood education for more than 40 years. She founded Cadalin Education group in 1999, striving to incorporate the best Montessori education and the most scientific methods to provide a prepared environment to help children explore and fulfill their inner needs. Today, Cadalin has been developing and expanding its territory to mainland China, which allows it to benefit more children across the Pacific Ocean. In order to carry on the spirit of Montessori education, Cadalin Global Education (CGE) was founded in 2018 in Taiwan. Karren Wan serves as the program director of CGE. She spent lots of her time and efforts providing the Early Childhood educators with AMS 0 – 3 and 3 – 6 certified Montessori training programs as well as conducting seminars and workshops for the parents and teachers who are interested in Montessori education.
Monica Su-Yu Wang
Monica Su-Yu Wang is the founder of the Montessori Education Foundation Association (MEFA). She enjoys working with children as Montessori says to, “follow the child” and enjoys working with adults, as Montessori says, as an “aid to life.” She believes that Montessori is lifelong learning and is currently learning the development of ages 6 – 12.
Ralph Yau is the founder of Infinity Montessori Academy, an AMS-affiliated teacher education program and a school for children and parents. He started the Montessori Parent Education Movement in Hong Kong in 2006. Through the publication of a series of essays and continuous dedication to parent education classes, he has served tens of thousands of families in Hong Kong and throughout Asia. He has also devoted his time in the classrooms, spending each and every valuable day with beloved children. He has a rich life experience: he has been a TV news anchor & reporter, high school teacher, and Chinese medicine practitioner. He incorporates different fields of knowledge into Montessori Education, including Chinese philosophy and medicine.
Vivien Wang is chair and CEO of Etonkids Education Group. She started her career as a lecturer in statistics at Xi’an Jiao-Tong University. She later earned her MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management with a concentration in Marketing, Finance, and Management. After Kellogg, Mrs. Wang worked as an investment strategist at Merrill Lynch’s Wall Street Head Office and has since conducted business seminars at the China Europe International Business School, Peking University, and Tsinghua University. Mrs. Wang possesses extensive experience in multinational management and operations, having worked throughout the United States, London, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Mrs. Wang founded Etonkids Education Group in 2002, with a collaboration of alumni from Harvard University and the Kellogg School of Management, as well as American Montessori Society (AMS) experts, and quickly built it into China’s leading provider of Early Childhood education. She has received numerous awards for her contributions to education in China, including being named as part of the “Top 100 Educators in China.” She is the vice president of the Preschool Education Committee of the Chinese Association for Non-Government Education, chair of the Asia Montessori Education Association, and member of the Chinese Development Committee of AMS and National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Wen-Chiao Lo is a lecturer for several universities, head of her own Montessori school, and committee member of preschool program evaluation in Taiwan. She has also spent time training adults in Montessori education, supervising and mentoring new Montessori educators, and consulting for other Montessori schools in Asia. Wen-Chiao works for AMS teacher education programs in China. Wen-Chiao was enlightened by Marlene Barron since she was studying at New York University and working at West Side Montessori School in New York, NY. Later on they did many training together in China before Marlene Barron passed away.
Montessori Innovator Award: Dr. Valaida L. Wise
The Montessori Innovator Award honors up-and-coming individuals for their original contributions to the practice and experience of Montessori education.
Dr. Valaida L. Wise (Val) is the president of Dr. Valaida Wise Consulting Inc. The firm is dedicated to supporting organizations as they work to improve a sense of belonging and engagement in their respective spaces. Dr. Wise is also a faculty member in the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, where she teaches courses on research design, social justice, diversity, and equity. An educator for more than 30 years, Dr. Wise has been a Montessori teacher and Montessori teacher trainer as well as the head of 3 independent schools. As a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University, her research efforts focus on the successful implementation of an equity lens in schools and in the workplace. Dr. Wise received her bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology from Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY; a Masters of Art in Teaching in Early Childhood Education with a specialty in Montessori Education from Trinity College in Washington D.C., and earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from George Washington University, also located in D.C. Dr. Wise holds an AMS Early Childhood Montessori certification. She is a sought after public speaker with articles published in a variety of books and national journals.
AMS Service Awards: Amelia McTamaney, Marilyn Stewart, Michelle Hartye, Sandra Stevenson, and Susan Kambrich
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.
Amelia Alonso McTamaney is the former head of school of Christopher Academy, the oldest Montessori school in New Jersey, and past director of the Christopher Academy Teacher Education Program. She is presently the chair of the Board of Trustees of Christopher Academy. She has spent most of her career in Montessori education and has participated in many Montessori organizations including as a founding member and trustee of NJMAC and MACTE/IAME. Amelia served on the steering committee for the AMS/NCME merge as well as commissioner to AMS School Accreditation Commission. She has also served as trustee and board chair of Mount Saint Mary Academy and as a trustee of Georgian Court University. Both of these organizations have also honored her with Service Awards. Amelia has worked quietly behind the scenes for AMS and Montessori since 1976 having helped both governments and society understand, accept, and recognize Montessori education.
Marilyn Stewart is a proven leader, strategic thinker, strong motivator, child advocate, and parent partner. At the end of the 2023 – 2024 school year, she will retire after 25 years as head of school at The Red Oaks School in New Jersey. Marilyn brings great energy, deep knowledge, and strategic vision all she does and she invests so much of herself into seeing every student grow and flourish at Red Oaks. Marilyn has served on the AMS Board of Directors (including as president) and has held other positions such as president and founder of The Stewart Group, an educational consulting firm based in Montclair, NJ; a middle school director and director of development at The Calhoun School in New York, NY, and as a teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools. Marilyn has also served as a trustee of the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS) where she served as chair of the NJAIS Professional Development Conference. She is a member of the New Jersey Montessori Association Corporation (NJMAC) and was treasurer 2004 – 2006. She holds a MEd from Goucher College and a BA from the University of Pittsburgh.
Michelle Hartye, MEd, was first a teacher and then head of school at Penn-Mont Academy in Hollidaysburg, PA. For over 30 years, she helped the school grow into the vibrant community that it is today, adding AMS certified teachers and a Toddler and Elementary program, as well as leading the school through its first AMS accreditation. Michelle began volunteering with AMS when she piloted the AMS accreditation program through her own school and later became a member of visiting teams for 25 years. She’s a founding member of the AMS School Accreditation Commision (SAC) and she chaired the commission for several years. Michelle is also a past AMS Board Member (2008 – 2013). Michelle helped to create and develop the AMS Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program and has directed the program for six years. In March, she is stepping down to welcome a new director to the program. She holds an AMS Early Childhood credential.
Sandra M. Stevenson
Sandra M. Stevenson is the deputy director of photography focusing on international, climate, and health and science issues at The Washington Post. She is an award-winning writer, visual editor, and curator in photography. Before joining The Post, she worked at CNN, the New York Times, NBC, the Black Filmmaker Foundation, and the Associated Press. Stevenson was a contributing writer in the book, “Unseen: Unpublished Black History from The New York Times Photo Archives” and was the picture editor and co-curator of the book, “This is 18.”
Susan Kambrich, MEd, EdD, has been a Montessori educator since 1989. Prior to becoming head of school at Twin Parks Montessori Schools in New York, NY, she was head of school at Woodland Hill Montessori School in Rensselaer, NY for 20 years. Susan began her career as a teacher. She taught in the Lower Elementary program as head teacher at the Montessori School of Albany (MSA) from 1995 – 2000. While at MSA, Susan also served as Elementary education coordinator and teacher board representative. She also taught as an Upper Elementary teacher at Hudson Montessori School in Hudson, OH, and as a Primary teacher at Woodland Montessori School in Madison, WI. She has taught public school kindergarten and a Toddler program, and taught at a Montessori summer program at Fairbanks Montessori in Alaska. Susan trained to be a Montessori teacher at Washington Montessori Institute in Washington, D.C. She is AMI Montessori certified to teach ages 6 – 12 and AMS certified as a Montessori Administrator. Susan has served on several boards and on board committees, including the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS); the American Montessori Society; the HVCC Teacher Education Advisory; and the Albany Institute of History and Art. She has presented at regional and national Montessori and educational conferences and serves on accreditation teams for Middle States of Colleges and Schools, NYSAIS, and AMS. Susan has also been on the faculty for CME | NY’s Administrator course.
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.