#CapstoneConnections: Diana Goshorn ’16

From Bogota to Baltimore…! We are honored to catch up with alumna Diana Goshorn, who describes her non-traditional journey to becoming a Montessori teacher and earning her M.Ed.:

Where did you grow up?  I am originally from Bogota, Colombia.  I arrived in the States in 1986.  I was 19 years old and spoke very little English!

What drew you in to Montessori?  My cousin’s daughter went to a Montessori school when she was around 3 until 5 in Kansas City.  I did some research and I loved what I found out.   But I was not able to attend training for other 20 years.  I went to get my college degree first even though I was in my late 30’s.  I’m a late bloomer, as my husband calls both of us! 🙂  I received my master’s degree six months before I turned 50!  I am so happy that age has not limited me to go after my dreams!

What sparked your interest in our master’s program?  The affiliate program with The Montessori Institute in Denver made it very attractive to have both my AMI 0-3 Diploma and a Master’s degree in Education.  It was a no-brainer! 

Do you have any memories of your capstone summer in Baltimore that you’d like to share?  It was my first college experience, since I didn’t go to college through the usual route.  I loved it.  I met so many wonderful and smart people; and the professors were inspiring and motivating.  I loved the discussions in the classroom with Dr. Snow in Educational Research, and Dr. Andree Rolfe in Special Education.  My Capstone paper was a study on how parental practices with infants influence the children’s adaptation process as they enter a multi-child Montessori Nido. The research helped me understand the children and their parents better.  It definitely informed my practice.

How has the M.Ed. influenced your career?  It has given me more experience and confidence in my practice as a professional.  It gave me tools to do more research and to engage other professionals at a higher level of conversation.  It also served as a networking base since I met so many bright and committed people.

Thank you, Diana, for sharing your story with us!


Loyola University Maryland

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#CapstoneConnections- Pily Pantoja

Pily Pantoja

Today’s reflection comes from Ms. Pily Pantoja, who is currently enrolled in our post-diploma M.Ed. program (beginning after the Montessori training). Pily began our program online in the Fall of 2018, and has just completed the in-person summer session here on campus.

I completed my AMI primary training in 2012, just before my training center, SIMS in Phoenix AZ, had the master program linked to the training. In 2018, I learned from the training center that Loyola University Maryland opened a Post- Diploma program, and I was very excited to hear this. I thought it was a great opportunity to continue learning about Montessori education.

The Post-diploma program has given me a better perspective of the Montessori Methodology in the four planes of development A to I, primary, elementary and adolescents. This has helped me to have a broader and complete vision in my primary classroom practice.

I really recommend and encourage everyone who wants to learn more about Montessori Education to enroll in this program. It has so much to offer and I am sure [you] will use what [you] learn here for the rest of [your] career.

The classes I took in the summer were very rich. I feel I have more tools and a better understanding to help children with disabilities. I am in the middle of developing research to help students in my class and I have a clear plan about how I want to see myself in 10 years. All thanks to my teachers over the summer. The classes on campus were very intense but they are worth every single effort. The knowledge of the teachers and their willingness to help us, making themselves always available, are priceless.

The experience I had on campus for a month was incredible. I met people from all over the world and made great friendships that I feel will last forever. The city of Baltimore is beautiful and has amazing places to visit on the weekend. I really enjoyed my time on campus, in the city, and with people.


Loyola University Maryland

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Welcome to the ….. Wait what – we’re finished?

A Letter from Director Jack Rice, to the Montessori Class of 2019:

I hope that you enjoyed your time on campus. I’m sure something inspired you while you were here. It could have been the friendliness of Evergreen, the excitement on everyone’s face as they welcomed you every day to the shared experience that is Loyola. It may have been Dr. Rolfe’s enthusiasm for learning, Dr. Wozolek’s passion for research, or Dr. Snow’s devotion to lifelong learning. Or maybe the special moment came at our emerging leaders event, realizing for the first time that the star on the stage, was you.

I get the biggest kick out of watching your journey, seeing you arrive on campus a little tired, a wee bit stressed, and a tad ambivalent of the learning that lies ahead. Never forget that feeling. Bottle it the next time you engage with a timid student who doesn’t want to face the unknown and doesn’t want to look silly. Learning is a risk. Always appreciate that journey and support your young scholars; you will not give them the answers, but they will know that you understand their fears and that you have their back.

So, it’s time to say goodbye and for you to re-soak that sponge that you have wrung empty over the past 4 weeks.

After all, there is a world to set on fire with curiosity … and we have your back.



#CapstoneConnections – Carrie Lang (Faculty Spotlight)


Here we are, already preparing for another full summer capstone session of graduates and it’s only February! But we’re taking a breather to share with you another fantastic faculty member who also happens to be a graduate of our program: Carrie Lang! Carrie earned her Certificate of Advanced Study in Primary Montessori Education through the Washington Montessori Institute. 

Can you give the readers a brief introduction to yourself; what brought you to the Montessori world? 

My mother was a Montessori teacher.  She taught in the DC and Baltimore area for ten years.  After spending a few years in the outdoor education field, I went to my mother for career advice.  She immediately steered me to Montessori training.  I took my elementary training in Milwaukee.  After a few years in the classroom, I wondered why so many of my 1st-year students were struggling with reading?  I decided to go back to school receiving my primary training in 2007-08, which included my C.A.S graduate program.  During this experience, I strengthened my Montessori practices to support children’s skills in the classroom.

What were some of the highlights and challenges you experienced in going through the C.A.S. graduate program as a graduate student? 

The C.A.S graduate program was a great experience.  After completing my primary training, I continued to look for more ways to engage students in reading.  I began to research more into the Montessori reading curriculum as well as other reading programs within the education field.  I also started examining longitudinal reading studies of these programs, and the effect on student growth.

 Has the C.A.S. advanced your career in Montessori?  

Yes, this program has had a significant impact on my career as a public Montessorian.  As a guide and instructional coach, by broadening my mind to the different reading programs I can use and share with my colleagues, I’ve found ways to support our community and the broader Montessori world.  I’m forever grateful for this program and the staff at the Loyola University of Maryland.   Now, as a faculty member, I hope to continue supporting students from around the world.

How does it feel to be back now as a faculty member; and what is your favorite part about teaching?  

I love working with the summer Montessori program.  It gives me a chance to collaborate with a diverse group of Montessorians from around the globe.  As a Capstone Program faculty allows me to facilitate a wide range of conversations that hopefully challenge each student as they continue their careers in the education field.

What kind of needs are you seeing most in the Montessori world and how do you think we can actively work to address these needs? 

This is a great question.  As a public school Montessorian, I continue to watch the education field evolve; we find ourselves serving children and families with diverse needs.  As a Montessori community, our goal has always been to strengthen student outcomes through a hands-on, collaborative, 100-year-old curriculum created by Maria Montessori and her colleagues.  Her philosophy has stayed true to its roots, while also evolving to the ever-changing society over the years.  In 2019, we continue to engage students and families around the world.

As we move forward, our school communities need to continue working together asking questions and finding answers to topics including but not limited to social justice, strengthening student outcomes through our strong curriculum, while also engaging in conversations on how we’re meeting the needs of our children, while staying true to our philosophy.  As we work together, making sure our voice as a Montessori community is taken seriously in the greater Montessori world, I have hope that Maria Montessori’s view will continue to shape the educational field.

Thanks for sharing your story, Carrie!


Loyola University Maryland

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#CapstoneConnections – Jennifer Robinson (Faculty Spotlight)

ICYMI! The most recent issue of our CME newsletter featured one of our new Post-Diploma M.Ed. faculty, who is also an alum:

JRobinson - copy cropLoyola is thrilled to welcome back graduate alumna Jennifer Robinson, who is currently teaching MO.638 Child Growth and Development online this Fall in our new post-diploma M.Ed. track.

Jennifer was introduced to the work of Dr. Maria Montessori in 2012 after previously receiving her B.F.A. from IADT. Following her life long passion for children, Jennifer started her Montessori training during the Summer of 2012 at The Montessori Institute in Denver, CO and opened a new Infant Community that Fall. She is now on her 7th year of practicing Montessori as a Guide in an Infant Community.

Jennifer received her M.Ed. from Loyola University Maryland in 2016 and is currently a proud faculty member. She is a presenter at Montessori Teachers Institute for Professional Studies, and enjoys educating others on the philosophy behind the Montessori Method.

“Completing my M.Ed. on Loyola’s beautiful campus is an experience I will never forget. I will always be grateful for the opportunity and proud of what I accomplished.

As a student, I felt as if there was always more to explore, learn, and create. As an instructor, the feeling remains the same. You simply cannot help others delve into an idea, without also doing so yourself.” ~Jennifer


Loyola University Maryland

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#CapstoneConnections – Vanessa Brink ’18

fullsizeoutput_1bHappy Fall, Readers! In the midst of the new academic year buzz here at Loyola, we’re saying our bittersweet farewells to the 2018 graduates setting sail. This month we’d like to highlight Vanessa Brink ’18, who shares her reflection on both traditional and Montessori approaches to education, as well as her experience in the Loyola graduate program.


My Journey as a Teacher:

Education, particularly education for the young developing child, has always been very important to me. Even as a child, I recognized there were teachers who cared to understand the children they taught, and those who simply taught ideas and didn’t take into account the individuals in front of them.

During my almost 15 years of teaching in private Catholic schools, where I had a fair amount of freedom within the curriculum I taught, I was constantly reflecting both on my childhood and on the experiences in the classroom. I knew that each child was very different and unique, each child learned in their own way and each child had their own particular interests that developed through their own personality, character, talents, interests, and strengths. I had never met two children who were alike in every way.

Traditional school, however, allows for adults to make comparisons and ratings of children according to an interestingly ambiguous and abstracted ideal of what a child should be and what a child should know. I was beginning to tire of an educational system that worked within a framework of comparison between children to the esoteric ideal. Was there education that valued the individual over the standards? Was there an educational pedagogy that recognized children were not made for standards, but that standards were made for children, and the standards are simply guidelines, not always requirements?

Finding AMI Montessori has been a coming home of sorts, because the method both recognizes the common reality of human nature: self-creation through the five senses, the human tendencies, the sensitive periods, the planes of development, the physical and spiritual nature of the child, the concrete to abstract knowledge, the simple to the complex ideas, the art and the science of methodology. Yet within the framework of commonality, the glorious acceptance of differences is kept intact, in some sense sacred. The Montessori method allows each child to breathe, to develop or self-create, with recognized differences such as personality, character, interests, stages of development, desire, temperament, abilities.

AMI in particular offers such a rigorous training in the Montessori method that I have felt very well equipped as I work with my primary children. The theory classes gave valuable insights on Maria Montessori’s understanding of human development and the adult’s role within that context, as an observer and guide rather than as an author and ruler. The presentations were thorough and our many hours of practice and album work reinforced the correct use of the materials well.

My Loyola Experience:

Quite candidly, I was initially attracted to the Loyola M.Ed. program because of the status symbol that comes with a Master’s degree. Not the personal status symbol, but status of Montessori education as a viable and competitive option within the current milieu of early childhood, primary, lower and upper elementary and high school education. For Montessori to be available to all children, Montessori guides need degrees that are respected by institutions and by parents who choose the Montessori pedagogy for their child’s development.

After deciding to pursue the Master’s program, it became clear that the classes offered in the Master’s program were a perfect addition to the AMI training. The class on Action Research gave many valuable insights and tips for data collecting and record keeping. It also made clear that if Montessori education and the universally prolific difference it makes on children’s early development is to be understood through research, Montessori guides will be key instruments offering supportive data.

The Special Education class gave amazing insights into detecting and discerning signs of children with disabilities at all levels of development. I found this class hugely helpful because there are nuanced signs that can indicate numerous disabilities. Our professor made it clear what signs indicate what kinds of disabilities we may see, and how to observe and record those signs. This class was profoundly insightful and gave hope to the possibility of Montessori guides being aids for children with disabilities. There were several recommendations, both by the professor and colleagues who have taught children with disabilities, of what possible actions could be used within the Montessori environment for children with disabilities.

The capstone project was helpful in aiding me to think of my five-year goals. I found my advisor gracious, humorous, pointed, directive, and open-minded. This helped me think through future possibilities according to what is important to me in terms of Montessori education.

Beyond the academic material, I really enjoyed meeting fellow Montessorians from all over the world. There were several colleagues who brought humor and songs, sorrows and challenges, and ultimately joy and inspiration. For me, I came into the program thinking I would bury my head in books (which I did), and hole up in my room for hours studying (which I did), and hide in a nook in the library (which I did); but what was most helpful was getting to know others in my cohort who brought joy and life to the course with their perspectives and histories and talents which inspired the love of community, learning, and working.

My Advice to Current Students:

The program is intense and the theory is important, but this is only possible because there are people interested in being in the same place at the same time. For those of you joining the Summer 2019 Cohort, remember to take advantage of the opportunity to meet each other. You will be invaluable to each other’s lives. In the short month, you will meet some amazing friends and develop an international support system. Be sure to allow yourself time to rest and relax with good company. And above all, remind yourself that you are there for the children you will get to serve in the future. You are truly fortunate to get to guide these developing children, and they are fortunate to be served by you.

“Every contribution able to bring out the latent power of love, and to throw light upon love itself, should be welcomed with avidity and considered of paramount importance. I have already said that prophets and poets speak often of love as if it were an ideal; but it is not just an ideal, it is, has always been, and will ever be, a reality …. It holds the universe together because it is a real force, not just an idea.” Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, pg. 290, 295.


Loyola University Maryland

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Voices from the Evergreen Cohort

humanities 3This summer, we were thrilled to launch our first cohort of post-AMI-diploma students into the M.Ed. Evergreen pathway. This pathway is offered as an alternative to those who either have already completed an AMI diploma, or are currently training at one of our partner institutes but missed the deadline to apply for the graduate program. Beginning with the on-site summer intensive at Loyola’s main campus, students earn an M.Ed. in just one calendar year. Once leaving campus, they will engage in online courses spanning all four planes of development, then pursue action research in the classroom. Here’s what our students and Director have to say so far:

I am grateful that you started the Post-diploma program for students like me, who finished their Montessori training a long time ago. While I was doing my Montessori training, I was still new to this field and wasn’t very sure if I wanted to commit myself to this career. Recently, I found a master’s program concentration in Montessori is what I want for my future! I am understanding the concepts better, and always want to find out more after class, knowing I will serve my students better.  I love this feeling! ~Andrea

I am thoroughly enjoying my courses. I’ve learned so much about special education, just in three days, that would have been so useful to know years ago. Also, my research course is really exciting in that all of the methods in research I’m learning here will help me to write the research paper in the spring. The access to online databases has been incredible; so much information is out there and I love having this access. ~Keri

I am excited to be a part of the inaugural Post-Diploma M.Ed. program at Loyola. I see this as not only an opportunity to attain my Master’s degree but also as a way to build off of my previous experiences in Montessori education and take them a step further.  I am confident that furthering my knowledge of action research and refreshing my understanding of Montessori theory will offer both practical and pedagogical support to my daily work with Montessori educators.  I see my work in the program as a recommitment to the profession I began over 20 years ago, and I look forward to reviewing, renewing, learning and growing through this process. ~Nikki

Our post diploma students have invigorated our intensive summer session. These experienced Montessori Teachers provide wisdom and balance to our discussions. As they move through the program, they will focus on the deep connections within Montessori and amongst the entire educational landscape. I believe the experiences they will share and the community they will form will create the conditions necessary for each of them to become transformational Montessori leaders. ~Director Jack Rice

Learn more about the Evergreen (Post-Diploma) master’s program by visiting our website or contacting Montessori@loyola.edu.


Loyola University Maryland

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