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The Association Montessori International/USA (AMI/USA) is a national non-profit organization that strives to propagate and further the teachings and work of Dr. Maria Montessori in the United States. As the United States office for the Association Montessori Internationale, the Association Montessori International/USA oversees recognition of eligible Montessori schools, assists in recruitment and organization of Montessori teacher training, and organizes professional development opportunities in the United States. The organization also maintains a member database of about 45,000 teachers, school administrators, parents, and interested individuals.
The Association Montessori Internationale is the oldest Montessori organization in the world. Dr. Maria Montessori established AMI in 1929, with the headquarters in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The international head office of AMI is still located in Amsterdam. The organization was founded to maintain the integrity of her life's work and to ensure that it would be perpetuated after her death: "The AMI was to function not only as organizer of courses and overseer of teacher training, not only as a way of keeping the various worldwide Montessori schools and societies in touch with each other and disseminating information about the movement's ideas and activities, but also as a firm controlling rights to the publication of Montessori's books and the manufacture and sale of the materials as well as recipient of training-course fees."
Mario Montessori, Maria’s son and personal assistant, was given the task of safeguarding the Montessori movement after Maria Montessori's death. "At [Montessori's] death she appointed Mr. Montessori as her successor in the task of directing and coordinating the work of the Association Montessori Internationale... A responsibility laid upon Mr. Montessori's shoulders was the delicate task of safeguarding the integrity of the Montessori movement, in the many countries where it is active, by recognizing under the aegis of the Association Montessori Internationale only such "Montessori" schools and training courses as faithfully interpret, both in spirit and practice, the Montessori principles."
Mario Montessori sent Margaret Elizabeth Stephenson to the United States in 1961. A trainee of Maria Montessori herself, Miss Stephenson (as she is referred to), first operated as Mario’s personal representative in the United States. As the movement grew, Mario granted her request to set up a branch office of AMI in the United States. AMI/USA was founded in 1972 and directed for its first ten years by Karin Salzmann. In 1988, Virginia McHugh succeeded Jon Osterkorn as Executive Director of AMI/USA.
Today there are thousands of Montessori schools across the United States, however, "there is no litmus test for calling a school a Montessori school. Even if one uses an accredited school, the different Montessori organizations have very different accreditation criteria, with some adhering more closely to Dr. Maria Montessori's methods than others... In this book, I describe Montessori education as conveyed in Dr. Montessori's writings and in the training courses of the Association Montessori Internationale. Although most Montessori schools surely support many of these principles, implementations vary widely."
The past twenty years have seen a vast increase in the amount of scientific research confirming the Montessori method: "Maria Montessori, through observation of children, developed materials that engage both the hands and the mind of the child. Science and research, especially in the past twenty years, have come to prove that Montessori's observations accurately describe the learning needs of children and have shown as well that the principles Dr. Montessori envisioned do create joyful learners."
The mission of the Association Montessori International of the United States (AMI/USA), as stated on the organization's website, is to bring the principles of Dr. Maria Montessori to the education of children, to help them attain their full potential in our society. AMI/USA collaborates with affiliates such as the Elementary Alumni Association (EAA) and the North American Montessori Teachers' Association (NAMTA).
School Recognition Program
A certificate of recognition is granted to a subset of Montessori schools who prove that they meet a set of specific Montessori standards as derived from Maria Montessori’s original research and methodology. Schools must apply annually for one of the following levels: recognition, affiliation, and association.
AMI/USA facilitates two conferences each year. The annual refresher course and workshops cater to all AMI trained professionals, as well as classroom assistants, administrators, and, beginning in 2009, parents. Additionally, each fall AMI/USA sponsors a public school forum for school districts with AMI Montessori programs.
AMI/USA facilitates membership benefits to AMI members living in the United States. Membership to AMI through AMI/USA is offered on an individual basis; schools and institutions are not eligible for AMI membership. Membership benefits include a yearly subscription to AMI and AMI/USA publications, including the quarterly AMI/USA newsletter AMI/USA News and the bi-annual AMI scholarly journal Communications. Members also receive a preferred rate on AMI/USA publications, and receive a discount from AMI approved Montessori materials distributors.
Teacher Training Program
AMI/USA works in partnership with AMI Montessori training centers to help ensure the caliber of AMI teacher training is maintained in the United States. "The standards of Montessori practice were originally delineated by the Association Montessori International (AMI) in 1929. They represent an integrated body of materials, methodology, psychology, and philosophy that provides Montessori teachers with a common reference point."
Hershey Montessori Institute at Lake Erie College
The Montessori Institute
The Montessori Institute Northwest
Montessori Institute of Atlanta
The Montessori Institute of Milwaukee The Montessori Institute of Milwaukee- Kansas City (Satellite)
The Montessori Institute of North Texas Montessori Institute of San Diego
Montessori Institute of San Diego- Miami (Satellite)
Montessori Teacher Training Center of Northern California
Montessori Training Center of Minnesota
Montessori Training Center of New England
Montessori Training Center of St. Louis
Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University Maryland
Montessori Institute Northwest - Portland, Oregon.