Montessori education is a powerful, inherently differentiated model that supports students from diverse racial, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and with varying needs, all over the world. At UMCS we believe that Montessori education should be accessible to every student. UMCS is part of a growing movement to bring Montessori pedagogy to public education, removing barriers to accessing this approach. Public Montessori education expanded rapidly over the past several decades, with approximately 570 public Montessori schools in the United States. However, public schools still comprise fewer than 20% of all Montessori schools in the US.
Hand in hand with our support of removing barriers for students to access Montessori education is our mission to reduce barriers to teachers accessing Montessori teacher training and certification. Montessori certificates require an investment of time and money that makes them difficult to access. Our students are best served by having teachers in the classroom who reflect the diversity of our student body, and we strive to recruit and support a racially, culturally, and economically diverse staff. In hiring practices, UMCS supports promoting from within, providing training and mentoring for staff in support roles, such as our aftercare program and classroom support staff, to obtain their California teaching credential and Montessori certificate in order to secure Lead teacher roles. From its earliest years, UMCS supported the professional development of our staff by subsidizing training programs that allow our teachers to achieve higher levels of credentials. UMCS has supported five staff members who have obtained their Montessori credentials.
Last year, UMCS launched the inaugural cohort of the Oakland Montessori Teacher Residency, an initiative developed to create Lead Teachers ready to serve in public Montessori classrooms. The training includes three summer intensives, along with coaching and additional meetings throughout the school year. This training was designed to offer more than just the traditional Montessori training, also including added equity work with organizations like Embracing Equity and attending the Montessori for Social Justice conference. After successful completion of the program, participants will receive their Montessori credential. In its inaugural cohort, six existing UMCS staff members accepted their invitation -- each of whom identifies as a member of the Global Majority. All six are currently Lead teachers in classrooms at the school. Funding is provided through the UMCS budget.
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