Arbor’s Role in the Global Montessori Community – Alison Sherrill, Elementary Coordinator

One of the things that we are most proud of at Arbor – aside from our students, families and staff – is that we have become a benchmark for Montessori in the world.

Every year, we host Montessori student teachers from around the globe who come observe in our classrooms and learn from watching our students and our teachers. (In order to become a certified AMI Montessori teacher you must complete a mandatory number of observation and practice teaching hours.) Last year we had visitors from Haiti, Japan, Mexico and Israel.

Another milestone for us was when the president of AMI came to Atlanta last year on a visit from AMI headquarters in Amsterdam. He asked to visit only one school in the metro Atlanta area: Arbor.

I’d like to share the unique bond that we’ve forged with a Montessori school in Israel. The school is named Derech Hayeled, “The Way of the Child,” and is in a suburb a Tel Aviv. It is the first Montessori elementary school in Israel. (School logo below.)

It all started when AMI elementary teacher trainee Dmitry Ostrovsky observed once and student taught twice with our elementary teachers. He is a passionate teacher who is committed to bringing AMI standards to his school. Dmitry introduced me to his head of school, Nir Raveh. I then started consulting with Nir through email and the wonders of video conferencing in April. This resulted most recently in my taking a consultation trip to the school last month. (Here’s a photo of Dmitry and his family.)

During my week in Israel I observed in all five classes, worked with lead teachers on classroom management and their prepared environments, consulted with English teachers (who must teach not as a foreign language but as a second language), met with the Board of Trustees to discuss the needs of a Montessori school, led a staff development meeting and gave a talk to parents at the kickoff meeting to start their new school year. For some of these parents it was the first time they were able to hear from and ask questions of an experienced Montessori educator.

I was able to share with staff and parents all the positive happenings within their school. I could see the joy in the faces of the children and even with the Hebrew language barrier, I could tell how much the teachers love their students. The teachers and administrators are working very hard to create the very first AMI elementary Montessori school.

Building these bonds with Montessori schools around the world enhances our children’s experiences as well. They learn about other cultures and understand the interconnectedness of people throughout the world. Our staff have the opportunity to grow professionally and personally as well through their interactions with these visitors.

Creating these global connections is what Maria Montessori believed could change the world and promote peace: “If we really aspire to better things, at spreading the light of civilization…it is to the children we must turn to achieve these ends.”

My work with Derech Hayeled may take me back during our spring break. I look forward to seeing the progress of the school and sharing its news with our community.