Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program

This story is about the start of a beautiful friendship between sixteen people who came together from all across the nation.

The American Montessori Society Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program (ELF) is designed to establish new generations of Montessori leaders who will support the work of their organization and the American Montessori Society.

This is where we come in.

A cohort of sixteen members is selected from applicants throughout the U.S. I am truly honored to have been the one chosen to represent Texas for 2020-21.

The 16 members initially met at the Montessori 2020 event in Dallas, TX from March 10th to March 12th, 2020.

I would like to appreciate all the AMS board members, speakers and mentors who made this event successful by taking the time and making the trip to attend the Emerging Leaders Fellowship program event.

I would also like to salute all the enthusiastic Cohort 4 members who proved their determination during the three day rigorous training.

On our first day, Michelle Hartye who has been running the show since before we were even selected, welcomed us warmly. Her hospitality, friendliness and wit made us all so comfortable that it felt as if we had known her for years. Come for her hospitality, stay for her speed at which she gets things done.

Each day we were greeted with a luxurious continental breakfast. Michelle opened the program with introductions to Robyn Breiman (Yay! I’m so honored to be her mentee,) Dane Peters and Josh Shanklin. Later we were each paired with one of the cohort members to introduce ourselves to each other and then to the rest of the group. This was a great way to get us talking to each other.

Community building activities with Robyn Breiman followed the introductions. She made us all fall in love with our own names and identities by using actions, musical scenarios and then she took us on a picnic!

I love picnics!

After lunch Dane Peters gave a presentation on model leadership with confidence, emotional intelligence and happiness. This was followed by Dr. Gay Ward speaking on how to research and implement our year long capstone project.

Dr. Gay Ward

American Montessori Society President, Munir Shivji opened the second day. He spoke on the development of teachers, discussed the expansion of our horizons as we sharpen our saw (our life,) by identifying the North Star with the help of our goals, tools, the whats and the whys.

Munir also addressed professional growth plans as a Montessori teacher, highlighting the levels and attributes of the beginning, early experiences, experienced and master guides.

I had never heard of anything quite like it before and found his wisdom to be truly invaluable.

AMS President Munir Shivji

Cohort 4 was combined with Cohort 3 members in the afternoon as Joshua Shanklin spoke to us on reinventing organizations. He discussed the development of human consciousness and Kegan’s theory of adult development.

Later Josh dispersed us into small groups to develop teal schools. Guess what? Within two hours each group came back with a developed teal school that Josh was super excited about. He told us that he looked forward to seeing 6 standing teal schools before we plan to meet again in Boston next year 😉

Joshua Shanklin, Director of Learning and Professional Development

Our day wrapped up by listening to Denise Monnier, while Dr. Sharon Damore joined us via zoom. They shared all the incredible work being done by MPPI (Montessori Public Policy Initiative.) Dr. Damore founded Metro Consulting, a boutique search firm specializing in Montessori leadership placement.

On the final day of this rigorous training, we were privileged to hear Dr. Nicole Evans. She brought her powerful personality to the room by opening the session with a breathing exercise and started with the acknowledgement of the land. We were all so engaged as she encouraged everyone to share the best and worst traits of various heads of schools. Many laughs were shared during this. Although I consider myself supremely lucky to have Rebecca Bernard as our Head of School – a  true definition of a leader, someone whom I’d follow into a burning building (love that phrase Dr. Evans!) My head of school truly has all her staff under her wing and makes us realize everyday how she has set the bar so high for what to expect from a great leader.

Dr. Nicole Evans, Executive Director of Urban Education

Dr. Evans has been a principal at the City Garden Montessori that is an ABAR (anti bias anti racist) school. I was equally blown away by listening to Amira Mogaji last year at the TIME conference, as she shared her mission as the head of school at City Garden Montessori.

I feel so honored and privileged to be guided by the best of the best during these 3 days of the Emerging Leaders Fellowship training and to be a part of such highly qualified group of learners.

The canceling of the Montessori Event was disappointing but we were still able to make so many new connections. I am proud to call my cohort members my new friends.

I anticipate countless opportunities to learn and grow and I look forward to connecting with all of you through our zoom meetings.

Best of luck to the Cohort 4 family!

My amazing trainers, Pauline Novak and Peggy Krug

4 thoughts on “Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program

  1. Sharmeen
    Wow! Thank you for that recap of our experience. It brought me back to remembering all the things we learned and talked about those three days. It was a nice reminder because it seems like all we have heard since we returned home is about the pandemic.
    It was a great three days of learning and making new friendships, and we all need to spread the word about this program!

  2. Thank you for documenting the beginning of this wonderful journey we are embarking on! I am so excited to be a part of this group and have already benefitted from collaborating. Our coordinators, speakers, mentors, and colleagues have given us much to think about and do. We can truly make an impact on many levels of our Montessori community. Cheers to your blog!

  3. Carissa thank you so much for your kind words. I enjoyed writing about this positive experience during these testing times. It made me think of each one of you and brought a smile <3

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