The Institute of Montessori Education
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TEXAS Conference

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Debby Riordan

Executive Director, AMI: Association Montessori International / USA

The Impact of Montessori: Revealing the Vegetables in the Muffin

Montessori is often discussed through the narrower lens of the standards and procedures of the Montessori method of education, but when one steps back, the impact of Montessori is much deeper and broader than these discussions might indicate. These typically more tangible aspects examine the “effectiveness” of Montessori education relative to other education delivery styles, but what about the intangible gifts of Montessori? What about those aspects that aren’t easily seen? What about the transformations of not only students and practitioners of Montessori, but of those who indirectly experience it? What truly is the greater impact of Montessori on the world, and why is it important today? Debby Riordan, Executive Director of the Association Montessori International of the United States (AMI/USA) shares her thoughts in this keynote address on the critical nature of this work that extends beyond the mechanics of the Montessori method itself.

Previously to becoming Executive Director of AMI/USA, Debby is the founding head of Southlake Montessori; an AMI/USA recognized school in Southlake, Texas.  Debby started her Montessori journey as a parent and served on school committees and Boards before deciding to undertake AMI Elementary teacher training.  Since receiving her diploma, she has served as an elementary guide, an assistant head and founding head, all with  AMI/USA  accredited  schools.  Her passion for  Montessori  inspired  her  to additional service beyond her school communities.  Debby is co-chair for the Montessori Alliance of Texas steering committee, a collaboration of AMI and AMS schools that advocates on state requirements and regulations.  She has presented at AMI/USA refresher courses on topics related to advocacy and parenting.  Debby founded Montessori360, an education consulting firm grounded in AMI Montessori education.  She holds a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Developmental Psychology from Ohio State University.  Debby currently serves on the MES fund board.  Previous to her work in Montessori, Debby worked in marketing and research, skills which will compliment her new position well.


Dr. Timothy Purnell

CEO, American Montessori Society (AMS)

Using Your Montessori Voice to Build a Better World.

Tim will discuss the key elements needed to create a lasting, inspirational Montessori movement in both your community, and the world. He believes Montessori educators are passionate change-makers, each fulfilling their own journey with the shared goal of a brighter tomorrow— one in which we respect and honor each and every person. He will share his thoughts and reflections on how we can stand united to amplify our voices to reach the masses and secure a humanity filled with grace and courtesy! This is our movement-- a movement for a better world.

In addition to his work at AMS, Tim is adjunct professor at Montclair State University in the Health Science department. He is also an executive board member for both District Administration, a national publication for school-district professionals, and Hope + Future, an organization that provides students with training to become the leaders of tomorrow. Previously, Tim served as the superintendent of the Somerville (New Jersey) schools and on the New Jersey State Board of Examiners, superintendent of Harding Township, and as a principal, vice principal, and science teacher. Striving for excellence in education has been of utmost importance throughout his dedicated career, as he has served as an educator, administrator, superintendent, and now chief executive officer. Tim is a nationally recognized presenter and keynote speaker. He has also held numerous honors and awards throughout his career. He was one of just 100 educators selected to attend President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative at the White House. In 2016, he was selected as the NASS National Superintendent of the Year. He was previously honored as the 2015 Highest Rated Professor in the nation, and he received the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation School Leadership Award for studying public education in Italy.


Amira Mogaji, EdD

AMS Administrator Credentialed School Leader

American Montessori Society (AMS), Board Member

Chief Academic Officer, City Garden Montessori School

Every Child Belongs

Montessori spaces are for all children. The inclusive Montessori environment is a space where students, guides, and families build relationships based on the whole person and their intersecting identities. The diversity of the community strengthens these environments. The work of ensuring that all students have equitable access to the educational program in Montessori environments regardless of their identities is paramount and must be intentional. Lucky for us we have a blueprint: How can we utilize the Montessori learning triangle (child, teacher, environment) to prepare teachers and environments and develop a plan of inclusion that ensures equitable access to the Montessori program and facilitates all students achieving their human potential?

Amira Mogaji, EdD, is currently the principal of AMS accredited Northglade Montessori Magnet School in Kalamazoo, MI. and will soon serve as the new Chief Academic Officer at City Garden Montessori School in St. Louis, Missouri in the Fall. Amira is a member of the AMS Board of Directors and board member of the Montessori for Social Justice Board of Directors. Amira serves as an AMS Board liaison for the AMS Peace and Social Justice Committee and she is also the Chair of the AMS Board of Directors Diversity and Inclusion Workgroup. She serves on the AMS Directorship Committee and the AMS Emerging Leaders Fellowship Committee. Amira also serves on the Kalamazoo Public Schools Anti-racism team, has served as a Culturally Responsive Education (CRE) facilitator and is a member of the ERACCE: Eliminating Racism and Creating/Celebrating Equity regional team in Kalamazoo, MI. AMS-credentialed (Administrator).


Charis Sharp, PhD

Executive Director, Latin American Montessori Bilingual Charter School

Board Chair, Montessori Public Policy Initiative

Senior Consultant, Metro Consulting

Dr. Charis Sharp has over 25 years of experience in education, with extensive training in organizational development, leadership and Montessori administration. Her early career focused on teaching in both public and private schools where she quickly found a love of working with adult educators. She conducted numerous professional development programs and taught in the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Antioch University – Seattle. She has direct experience in school administration including fundraising and marketing, community development, and as head of school where she first connected with the Montessori community. Additionally, Charis has considerable knowledge and experience in organizational development, professional development, teacher training, school accreditation, and non-profit governance. She holds a Masters in Teaching from The Evergreen State College, a Masters in Whole Systems Design from Antioch University, and a Doctorate in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. She has served on several state and national education boards and committees including the Washington Federation of Independent Schools, the Pacific Northwest Montessori Association, and Montessori Public Policy Initiative, in Washington D.C., where she currently serves as the Board Chair.


Jackie Grundberg

Executive Director, Montessori Consulting Services

AMS Lower and Upper Elementary Credentialed

Jackie Grundberg is a Montessori AMS credentialed 6-12 elementary guide with 11 years of Montessori classroom experience. She earned her Bachelor’s in environmental biology, M.Ed. in instructional technology and state teaching credentials in secondary biology. In the Fall of 2019, she will launch “Backpack Sciences,” an exciting membership program to help elementary educators implement monthly ready-to-go, hands-on science lessons based on her experiences as a wildlife biologist. All lessons incorporate Montessori and inquiry-based philosophy. She is also currently an Instructional Guide, Field Consultant, and Practicum Advisor for the Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS). Montessori Consulting Services is another company she owns where she conducts parent education workshops and private consulting.


Denise Monnier

Director of State Advocacy, Montessori Public Policy Initiative (MPPI)

Executive Director, Association of Illinois Montessori Schools

Denise Monnier is an advocate and advocacy coach, working towards public policy that supports universal access to Montessori education. After teaching in and leading Montessori communities for more than 15 years, she was deeply aware of the need for equity and access in high quality education. Denise gained policy knowledge and experience through founding an early childhood outreach program, and then turned to statewide and national advocacy. Denise was a head of school in Aurora, Illinois for 7 years. She is a past president and current executive director of the Association of Illinois Montessori Schools and the Director of State Advocacy for the Montessori Public Policy Initiative, and has a Masters Degree in Fine Art.


Kitty Bravo

Director of Education, Center for Guided Montessori Studies

AMI Early Childhood Credentialed

Kitty Bravo has been a Montessori Educator for over 30 years, with experience as a teacher, administrator, board member, teacher educator, and consultant. She received her AMI Primary Montessori Certification in 1977 at the Montessori Institute of Atlanta and has a BA in Human Development from Eckerd College.

In 1984, Kitty founded New Gate School in Sarasota, Florida (originally called Countryside). During her tenure as Head of School, Kitty supported a faculty in the development of programs for toddlers through middle school program. She left her New Gate administration position in 1997 to pursue other professional challenges, but returned to New Gate in 1999 as an instructor in their teacher education program. Kitty also served as the Director of Teacher Education for The New Gate Center for Montessori Studies for 4 years.

Over the last ten years Kitty has worked as a Montessori consultant and instructor for several Montessori teacher education programs. She has also held administrative positions at three Montessori schools. She has served as a board member at New Gate School, is currently a Board Member at Renaissance School, and serves on the Advisory Board for Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf. Kitty has also presented at several AMS and IMC conferences and has traveled as far as India to work with Montessori Schools.

Kitty’s teacher education and consultation work has given her the opportunity to see the many faces of Montessori. She has worked with newly establishing schools, large and small private schools, as well as working extensively with public magnet Montessori programs and charter Montessori schools. Kitty is committed to providing support to teachers, schools and families as they strive to develop positive environments for children. She is passionate about preserving the legacy of Maria Montessori and believes strongly in Montessori’s mission of transforming society through our children. To this end, Kitty has made teacher education her primary professional focus and is truly committed to supporting CGMS students on their important journey of becoming extraordinary Montessori teachers.


Pamela Green

Director, Ananda Montessori Children’s House, North East, Pennsylvania

Montessori Consultant

Pamela Green, a Mother, Montessori parent, educator and consultant in homes, continues to be taught and guided by the children and families she serves. Along with being an educator for over 26 years, she has also attended births in homes and in hospitals as a Birth Doula and assistant midwife since 1990. She currently is Founder and Director of Ananda Montessori Children’s House, where she facilitates a Montessori Parent-Infant and Child Program, as well as teaches Pre-birth education classes, and parenting workshops.

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Every year, the American Montessori Society (AMS) bestows a Living Legacy Award on an individual whose commitment and leadership has made an extraordinary impact on the community. The 2020 honoree is Ana María García Blanco. An educator who has transformed the future of public Montessori in Puerto Rico.

Meet Ana María in Dallas!

Pictures from TIME’s Montessori New Year’s Conference in Houston, Texas on Saturday, January 26, 2019

Pictures from past TIME Conferences

2018 Montessori New Year's Conference keynote presentation

2018 Montessori New Year's Conference keynote presentation

TIME's past Montessori conference Keynote Speaker, Dr. JoAnn Deak

TIME's past Montessori conference Keynote Speaker, Dr. JoAnn Deak

Texas Montessori TEP directors present community service awards to Montessori educators

Texas Montessori TEP directors present community service awards to Montessori educators

I HEART Montessori

I HEART Montessori

TIME's past session attendees

TIME's past session attendees

Conference attendees

Conference attendees