#CapstoneConnections – Bianca Solorzano ’20

Bianca earned her M.Ed. in Montessori Education through our post-training pathway.

First, tell us a little about your background. Where are you from and where do you live now?

I was born and raised in Southern California. I’m still living in SoCal in a coastal city named San Clemente. I am a 0-3 trained AMI Montessori Guide, and have been working with babies, toddlers, and their families the last decade or so.

Why did you choose to pursue an M.Ed. in Montessori Education?

I chose to pursue [this degree] for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I love Montessori. I have worked in Montessori Education for about a decade now and wholeheartedly agree with supporting a child’s natural progression of development through education.

Second, I have always wanted to pursue higher education, so once I discovered the post-diploma M.Ed. track it felt like the perfect fit for me.

And third, I wholeheartedly believe in being a lifelong learner. I knew it would inspire me in my position in Admissions at LePort Montessori. I am also blessed to have a company called Baby Tour Guide Inc., where I offer Infant Development & Montessori consulting, courses, and resources. Honoring my educational evolution and modeling continuous growth is super important to me.

A significant portion of this program is remote learning, local to you. Did you find this helpful or detrimental?

I felt that the remote learning was incredibly helpful. Since I was working full time, the remote learning made it easy to obtain my master’s degree while still adhering to my responsibilities at home.

How about the timeline—you completed the degree in just one calendar year. How did this meet the needs of your schedule?

Actually, I was also working full time in a Montessori Classroom while going to school full time to obtain my BS in Child Development, so I figured I would challenge myself to do it again!

When it came to higher education, my Dad always said, “The time will pass anyway. And why not have a degree at the end of it?”

Moving on to your research…This program involves a significant amount of action research in the Montessori classroom. Your practicum instructor recommended your project as one to highlight. Can you tell me more about the research you did, why you chose to do it, and how you plan to use it?

My in-school position is in Admissions, which made discovering a research project topic a tad tricky. Our research question had to be something completely within our jurisdiction. In my position, I work with all initial inquiries for a group of 10 Montessori schools, with the goal of educating and increasing the likelihood of the family taking an in-person tour.

So I decided to research school choice, and specifically how I can reframe my initial conversations to increase the family’s likelihood of touring our schools in-person.

After diving into the literature and doing my own teacher research, I discovered that school choice (what parents are looking for) varies on a wide variety of factors like age and location.

I have already used this research a lot in my work! I have not only been able to add research-based value into my initial conversations, but I have been able to contribute to company conversations with this research. For example, what I found in the literature and in my own teacher research is that parents of infants were more likely to inquire about how the babies are cared for, if the babies are happy, what teachers do when kids cry, etc. Whereas, parents of toddlers seemed more interested in socialization for their kids and parents of preschool age children seemed to be more interested in school preparedness. Also, parents of elementary age children  seemed most interested in academia and success in the next educational phase (like how Elementary age kids perform in middle school and high school after attending our program).

I have also been able to use this research with my consulting clients. I’ve also noticed myself continuing my research in my mind as I work with families and aid in their transition into a school setting. 😊

Do you plan to publish?

I actually just started to consider it. Since my project centered on school choice and Admissions, I think that my findings could be useful to other Montessori schools and really any schools within their Admissions processes. It also could be a tool for further exploration within this field. I would love for my research at Loyola to be able help deepen our understanding of the initial parent-school relationship within our educational communities.

What advice do you have for teachers considering our program?

I would say that if you are considering obtaining your Masters in Montessori Education, do it at Loyola! It is completely doable for anyone; whether you are working in the classroom, working as an Administrator, or working in Support Offices. The [Loyola] professors are inspirational, the content challenges your perspective, and at the end, you’ll end up an evolved Montessorian! Plus, the 1-2 years will pass anyway. So why not have your Masters in Montessori Education at the end of it?

Bianca’s cohort poses with their research instructor, Ms. Jessica Haddaway (top row, second from left)

~
Loyola University Maryland
Strong Truths Well Lived

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#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

Strong Truths Well Lived

#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

Strong Truths Well Lived

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.

Peace,

Jack

#CapstoneConnections – Carrie Lang (Faculty Spotlight)

Lang

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

Strong Truths Well Lived