The Institute of Montessori Education

California Conference

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The Institute of Montessori Education expands to California!

TIME will launch its services this Fall with our signature Montessori Back to School Conference in both Oakland and San Diego!

We are excited to partner with TIME to bring professional development, networking, and fun to California. If you have not attended a TIME event in the past, get ready for a great experience.
— MaryEllen Kordas and Mirko Sever, TIME Consultants
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San Diego, California

September 28, 2019 hosted at Community Montessori Charter School located at 1816 Oak Hill Drive, Escondido, CA

Oakland, California

October 12, 2019 hosted at Urban Montessori Charter School located at 5328 Brann Street, Oakland, CA

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Marta Donahoe

AMS 2019 Living Legacy

Montessori's Plan for a More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible; Peace and the New Human

Montessori knew that we must begin with the youngest children to cultivate a pathway to a better world. The scaffolded experiences she prescribed are supported by current research in education and child and adolescent brain development. Work in mindfulness and attachment enhance Montessori’s work and give us more developed tools for working with the effects of technology and trauma on the children and adolescents in our schools.

In each plane of development (from birth the age 24) there are specific aspects that serve as the groundwork for the next plane; beginning with the development for focus and concentration and joy in work, in the elementary years, a fascination with the intricate nature of things, and as an adolescent, a sense of community and a love of humanity. The Montessori method creates that foundation, and neuroscience enhances those key aspects that support focus, security, curiosity, compassion, and the executive functioning of the brain.

In this talk, Marta examines Montessori's chart of The Constructive Rhythm of Life and finds the threads that lead to the development of the New Human. The New Human is the person who has had a fully implemented Montessori education, and the person Montessori believed would have the capacity to bring peace to the world.

Marta Donahoe, MEd, has been a Montessori educator since 1979 when she studied with Martha McDermott and Hilda Rothschild at Xavier University. She has worked in private and public Montessori schools since then, teaching and guiding young people ages six through eighteen. For 18 years Marta coordinated the development and implementation of the middle and high school Montessori program at Clark Montessori and from that pioneering experience, assembled a team to develop CMStep (Cincinnati Montessori Secondary Teacher Education Program). She served as its executive director until 2017. She studied organizational development and Flawless Consulting with Peter Block and consults with Montessori schools all over the country, working mostly with adults who work in Montessori middle and high schools. In the early 90’s she received a Teacher of the Year Award when she taught in an upper elementary program. In 2008 she was a finalist for the Hawkins Teacher of the Year Award for her work at Clark Montessori Jr&Sr High School. In 2014 she was named an Ohio Distinguished Montessorian, and in 2016 she received an award of recognition from Xavier University for her contribution to Montessori Education. Marta has a master’s degree in Education from Xavier University and holds AMS credentials for ages 6-18. She serves on the editorial board of Montessori Life. She is a frequent presenter at Montessori conferences and has published a several articles in Montessori Life and The NAMTA Journal. Marta is a certified instructor with Mindful Schools. She lives with her husband in Asheville, NC.

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Kathy Leitch

Executive Director, International Montessori Council

Montessori, Mindfulness, and Neuroscience…What do they have in common and Why does it matter?

Utilizing Montessori pedagogy, ancient teachings, and current neuroscience research Kathy will explore the impact that kindness, compassion, and inner peace have on educating world citizens in the 21st century. She will share how we can create a culture that transcends borders by infusing Montessori’s premise of peace and respect in every corner of our learning communities. You will learn why it is essential to prepare yourself and your environment to create a culture of peace. We will consider how this preparation significantly influences many identified keys to success, such as focus, self-regulation, curiosity, resilience, and cooperation. Kathy will share her passionate belief that education, far more than learning skills and content, is about the development of human potential. You will leave with a new appreciation and understanding of Montessori’s legacy of establishing peace through education!



Kathy Leitch has been active in Montessori education for over 30 years. She is the Executive Director of the International Montessori Council (IMC) and founder and head of Renaissance School in Fort Myers, Florida. Kathy graduated from Barry University and earned her Montessori Credentials from the American Montessori Society for Infant – Toddler (birth -3) and Early Childhood (3-6). Kathy also serves as a Montessori Teacher Trainer, International Workshop Leader, and School Consultant, and is a certified Parenting Instructor and Stress Management Facilitator.

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Geoffrey Bishop

Executive Director, Nature’s Classroom Institute

Where the Sidewalk Ends Real Discovery Begins

Nature, as it is connected to a child’s development is a fundamental and important aspect of educating the whole child. Studies have proven that a child’s connection to the natural world enhances their ability to focus, to concentrate, to create, take risks and to imagine. This connection has far-reaching health benefits in the areas of social and emotional health, well-being and physical health. Nature is as an important part of our health, physically, socially and emotionally as any other academic or social pursuit.

This session will energize and revitalize your need to reconnect your children to nature, to re-embrace the natural world and to discover the importance of that connection. Geoffrey will highlight different activities and curriculum ideas you can use to re-engage their children and connect them to the natural world. We will look at Art and Nature, silence and listening connections, literature and writing exercises that bring nature to the four front and engage students in an environmental way. We will look at play and the benefits that the natural world with its loose parts, excited children to play in a focused and creative manner.



Geoffrey Bishop, hails from Australia. After his childhood spent on his family’s sheep station he went to an agricultural boarding school for five years, and then to University in both Sydney and Melbourne where he studied Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. For the next 10 years he traveled the world, visiting over 80 countries, where he spent most of his time trekking in rural areas, learning cultures and understanding his place in the world. In 1996 Geoffrey started Nature’s Classroom Institute of Wisconsin, Inc. Geoffrey’s passionate and sustained focus over the past 15 years has been on organics and sustainability in schools while promoting getting children back outdoors and helping adults understand the importance of instinctive play in the natural world.

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Susan Tracy McDaniel

AMI and AMS Infant and Toddler Montessori Credentialed Expert

Susan Tracy McDaniel is a Lecturer in the Infant & Toddler Education program at Seton Montessori Institute in Chicago. She has served infants and toddlers as teacher for over 20 years, and she is a frequent speaker and consultant. Apart from Seton, Susan is the Director of the Learning Together Parent Education Center in Palatine, IL. She holds AMS and AMI credentials in Infant & Toddler Education. Susan received a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University in and a M.Ed. in Education from Loyola College.

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Charles Terranova

AMI and AMS Early Childhood and Elementary Montessori Credentialed Expert

Charles Terranova has been active nationally and internationally as a classroom teacher, teacher educator, administrator, and speaker. Charles has worked in both independent and public Montessori schools and has consulted with a number of Boards of Trustees, Heads of Schools and teachers. He presents regularly at local and national Montessori conferences. Charles holds AMI and AMS Early Childhood and AMS Elementary I-II Certification. For the past 25 years, Charles has served as a field consultant, supervising teacher, and course instructor at Seacoast Center Montessori Teacher Education Program and Cambridge Montessori Institute Teacher Education Program.

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Robyn Breiman

AMS Early Childhood and Elementary Montessori Credentialed Expert

Robyn is a Montessori teacher educator, school consultant, field consultant, lecturer, workshop presenter and accreditation visitor in the US and internationally. A Montessorian for over forty years, she's taught 3-6, 6-9 and 9-12 and was Head of School at The New School, in Cincinnati OH. Robyn served on the AMS Board of Directors for 6 years, until 2018. Currently, she works with AMS' Emerging Leaders Fellowship program. Robyn earned a B.A. in English (SUNY Binghamton) and M.Ed. (Xavier University). She has AMS credentials for Early Childhood, Elementary I and Elementary II. Robyn serves as METTC's program coordinator and practicum coordinator.

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MaryEllen Kordas

AMS Administrator Credentialed Montessori Consultant

MaryEllen Kordas has been active in Montessori education for over 40 years. She served on the board of the American Montessori Society and recently as president and as a member of the MPPI Council (Montessori Public Policy Initiative). She is on the management faculty at Westside Montessori in New York. Mary Ellen developed and led the first AMS-accredited school in California which is one of the largest single-campus schools in the country, with a staff of 70 teachers and administrators serving 500 children from Toddler level through 8th grade. She currently provides consulting services to school leadership and boards through MEK Consulting.


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Sonia Villegas

Cultivating Joy in the Montessori Classroom TODDLER (San Diego)

Ms. Sonia Villegas holds an AMI 0-3 diploma and an AMS Early Childhood diploma. She earned her BA in Montessori Education in Mexico and is finalizing her MA on Education based on Competency. She has twelve years of experience working as a Montessori guide.

Workshop Overview

This workshop provides the opportunity to reflect on the joy in our personal lives, how far we cultivate it and bring it into our classrooms every day. Participants will learn to identify and protect those daily signs of joy while facing stressful situations from a different perspective in order to cultivate peace and calm in the classroom.

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Shawn Edwards

Tools for a Positive Classroom Culture EARLY CHILDHOOD (San Diego)

Ms. Shawn Edwards holds an AMI, Elementary Training and certification from the Washington Montessori Institute. She is a Positive Discipline coach and trainer and also holds a master's degree in Transformational Coaching and Leadership from the Wright Graduate University for the Realization of the Human Potential. For the past 13 years of her 30 years in Montessori, she has been leading schools in the for-profit and non-profit sectors and also worked for a Montessori charter school in Houston, Texas for two hears. Her visionary leadership focuses on developing the authentic, full potential of all constituents.

Workshop Overview

Shawn Edwards will facilitate experiential activities that will support your ability to foster positive perceptions and skills in your students. Additionally, you will learn to recognize and respond to the need behind any child's behavior and practice using language techniques that will empower and encourage cooperation and joy in your classroom.

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Claudia Mann

Keeping Cosmic Education at the heart of your Classroom: A Blueprint for Sharing your Passion while Developing Skills ELEMENTARY (San Diego)

Claudia Mann found Montessori education and it has been the gift of a lifetime! From her first memorable experience as a young musician sharing flute playing to her retirement from LePort Encinitas Head of School in 2018, she has seen many benefits of Montessori education changing lives of children, young people and adults. She received her Elementary I (Xavier University), Elementary II (CME/NY) and Secondary I (Houston Montessori Center) certifications between 1987 and 2003. Her teaching career began in Cincinnati and took her to a variety of places. She participated in founding two Montessori Schools: Montessori de Santa Cruz in Tubac, AZ and Chaffee County Montessori School (now Salida Montessori Charter) in Salida, CO. Her work with teachers has included teacher training, mentoring, and coaching. It brings her great joy to serve teachers, administrators, schools and parents as they strive to live the Montessori vision.

Workshop Overview

Do you feel the pain of preparing students for high stakes testing while holding true to the heart of Montessori Cosmic education? I did! And so do countless of your colleagues. Based on both personal classroom experience and that of many teachers I’ve worked with, I’ve prepared this interactive workshop to give you structure for designing your classroom activities to connect cultural, science, and history with reading writing and math.

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Letty Rising

How to have a hard conversation and deliver bad news ADMINISTRATION (San Diego and Oakland)

Letty Rising is Montessori trained at the elementary level (ages 6-12), and has experience working in public, private and charter schools as a teacher and school leader. Letty most recently has been working as a Head of School and Montessori Coordinator for elementary programs, and is currently providing mentoring, coaching and professional development opportunities worldwide.

Workshop Overview

What do you when faced with the idea of having a tough talk or telling someone something they do not want to hear? Do you hide in your office and hope the problem will take care of itself? Or, do you rake someone over the coals, leaving your office in tears? There is a middle path between avoidance and interrogation. This workshop will delve into strategies and tips on how to lean into the hard conversations with kindness and grace, how to let someone go compassion, and how to turn a conversation involving negative feedback into positive action.

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Molly Oto

Growing with your Toddlers TODDLER (Oakland)

Molly Oto AMS credentials in both Infant/Toddler and Lower Elementary 1. She earned her BA in Child Development from San Jose Sate University and spent 8 years in Social Services caring for children in protective custody. She has been a Montessori educator at Valley Montessori School in Livermore, CA since 2003 and is the proud parent of a VMS graduate. In addition to teaching her inspirational students, Molly has served on the VS board as a faculty liaison and on two AMS accreditation teams. She spent a year in a public Montessori charter before returning to VMS. She loves to share information with parents, community members and friends about the importance of Montessori education.

Workshop Overview

Growth begins in an authentic Montessori classroom on Day 1 and continues throughout the school year – from the age and developmental level of the students, to the materials on the shelves, to the relationships between teachers and parents. Lets ponder together gow much language to use, how many materials to set out, and how often to change them. We will talk about ways to model empathy and patience and share ideas of how to empower parents to bring Montessori into their homes. Please bring your favorite work to share.

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Ellen Rutgers, MEd.

Building a Community of Writer’s ELEMENTARY (Oakland)

Ellen Rutgers, MEd., is an Upper Elementary teacher with an AMS credential from CME (NY). She currently teaches at Eagle Peak Montessori School in Walnut Creek. She graduated from the Center for Montessori Education in 2009. Ellen participated in the Boston Writing Project, inspiring her to create a writing environment in which students develop their own authentic voice. Ellen is originally from the Netherlands where she taught language in the Montessori Middle School in Amsterdam.

Workshop Overview

From time memorial humans have expressed themselves through writing. At the beginning of each school year, children receive an impressionistic lesson dedicated to the Story of Writing, one the Five Great Lessons, in which great emphasis is placed on the innate ability of humans to commit their thoughts on paper. This Great Lesson lays the foundation for all language lessons to follow: reading in different genres, writing in different genres, language study, and the study of foreign languages. When children enter the Upper Elementary Classroom, they have mostly passed the decoding phase, and new worlds are opening up for them through the written word.

In this presentation we will address how to create a writers’ community where children feel safe to write from the heart, to use their imagination, and to articulate their thoughts, in such a way that they look forward to share their work with each other and support each other to hone their writing skills. This workshop will give participants the tools to instill the love of writing in their students.

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Mandi Han MA

Children with Challenging Behaviors: Strategies for Reflective Thinking EARLY CHILDHOOD (Oakland)

Mandi Han MA, is a passionate educator with over 25 years of teaching experience ranging from K-2 grade, Montessori ages 3-6, early intervention and ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis). She earned her Master’s Degree from St. Mary’s College of CA. Her work integrates ABA strategies in Montessori classrooms. This work has led her to be a keynote speaker for East Bay chapter NAEYC, parent trainings and numerous in-services for schools in the East Bay.

Workshop Overview

If you have a concern about a particular child or would like guidance on how to support children’s challenging behavior, this workshop is for you. We will explore how behavior is a form of communication and the contributing factors that often create challenging behaviors. We will look at refining our observation using a specific observation strategy to determine the function and discuss applicable strategies used to minimize problematic behaviors.