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CMSM Course Descriptions

CME|NY Course for Montessori School Administration and Leadership (CMSM)

Coordinators: Marie M. Dugan and Beverly Smith

Course Content Hours: 165 (summer academic content hours--divided into three weeks (three parts) with each part consisting of 55 academic hours. CME|NY offers 2 weeks (2 parts of 110 hours) one summer and 1 part the following summer (55 hours).

Practicum Hours: 1,080 hours working for 9 consecutive months during a full academic year, for a minimum of six hours a day, five days a week in your own school setting.

This is a comprehensive program to assist current and future heads of Montessori schools to operate within the philosophy and best practices of Montessori education while giving practical and necessary tools for the smooth operation of a well functioning, healthy, Montessori school. The program offers a comprehensive study of Montessori philosophy and current research of Dr. Maria Montessori's writings as well as a study of all areas of the Montessori curriculum, including lesson and material in each curriculum area and age grouping from birth through secondary. (Part I)

The learning is both practical and instructive and prepares each Head for the specific challenges, needs, and aspirations for his/her own school, whether the school is an  independent, pubic, charter school or a child care center.

Participants gain knowledge in school finance, legal and licensing requirements, curriculum administration, personnel supervision and evaluation, program planning and development, as well as parent relations, building a healthy board, school policies and short and long term planning. (Part 2, Part 3)

The Practicum consists of 1,080 hours, lasting a full academic year, with the administrator working at the practicum site at his/own school, a minimum of six hours per day, five days a week, for nine consecutive months. Assignments and assessments are integrated throughout the practicum year. A required case study is presented in the second summer. The practicum site must contain at least one Montessori classroom that meets the environmental set-up, materials and age range of children as required for its level.  Administrators work at their own school during the practicum.

The Administrator/Intern receives three site visits from CME|NY faculty during their practicum, with observations and evaluation reports submitted to the participant and CME|NY. Program Development/Leading a Montessori School (Core)

(Course begins in Part 1 and continues in Part 2 and Part 3)

What differentiates a Montessori school from other schools?  The operating tenet of a learning community that exists in harmony with Montessori principles sets the tone for a Montessori school.  This core course provides the school head with the knowledge, understanding, skills, and practical applications for the creation of such a community.  The faculty, comprised of highly recognized and experienced Montessori educators, serve as role models of good leadership--attentive, understanding, patient, encouraging, community builders, conflict handlers, role models, and mentors.  Topics include: developing and leading a Montessori school—both starting a new Montessori school and expanding an existing one--AMS school accreditation, and professional development of self, teachers, and staff.  The course covers all aspects of the professional relationships with others, including working with teachers, parents, boards, and communities.  As observation is a key to Montessori philosophy and practices, Adult Learners receive both academic content of observation tools and techniques and opportunities for observation. Montessori Philosophy (Foundational)

(Course begins in Part 1 and continues in Part 2 and Part 3)

This foundational course is key to the Adult Learner’s understanding of the history of Maria Montessori, her life, work and relationship to current research in child development and education and the continued relevance of her work today. Topics include planes of development, Montessori concepts and theory, including peace and cosmic education. The importance of personal growth though self-evaluation and on-going professional development is experienced through the transformational effects of participation in this course. How to clearly articulate Montessori philosophy provides the school leader with skills necessary to implement and develop their own Montessori programs. Montessori Curriculum (Foundational)

(Course begins in Part 1 and continues in Part 3)

This foundational course provides Adult Learners with an overview of Montessori curriculum, materials, and lessons for all levels of Montessori education from birth to Secondary.  Those who already have a Montessori credential in one or more levels will still benefit from this important course as it provides specific information for the Adult Learner in their role as head of school.  For those without a Montessori credential, this course offers an exciting experience of the layered connections and threads of Montessori curriculum, as it moves from birth through secondary. Learning to assess and evaluate the Montessori curriculum provides the school leader with skills necessary to support the success of their own Montessori programs. Educational Leadership

(Course begins in Part 1 and continues in Part 2 and Part 3)

What makes a great leader?  What qualities of leadership can be developed?  How do we support ourselves in our leadership role?  This inspiring course offers Adult Learners the opportunity to engage personally and professionally to identify their needs and articulate their aspirations, and assists them in honing and refining their leadership skills and style to meet their goals. The learning is practical to better prepare each Adult Learner for the challenges and opportunities available to them -- whether they serve in a public, independent, or charter school, or a child care center. Led by some of the most dynamic leaders in the Montessori community today, topics include:  Leadership styles, leading and managing individuals and groups, communication skills, modeling, and mentoring. School Operations

(Course is divided between Part 2 and Part 3)

In order to run a successful school, the Adult Learner needs to be comfortable, competent, and capable in all aspects of school operations.  For those with a background in teaching, school operations often pose the most challenge; yet, these essential elements are not only necessary to smooth operations, they can transform a school.  The course is presented by lively and energetic Montessori leaders who teach much needed real-life skills in the following practical aspects of school operations:  financial management, marketing, enrollment, recruiting, hiring, termination, legal issues, strategic planning, and fundraising.  Whether the Adult Learner serves in a public, independent, or charter school, or at a child care center, this course provides tangible and attainable practices to help each meet their own aspirations for themselves and their school community.


Paula Polk Lillard:  Maria Montessori – A Modern Approach, 1973, Schocken Books, Inc., NYC

Maria Montessori:  From Childhood to Adolescence, 1973, Schocken Books, Inc., NYC

John Chattin-McNichols:  The Montessori Controversy, Delmar Publishers, Inc., Albany, NY

Rita Kramer:  Maria Montessori: A Biography


Peter Block:  Flawless Consulting, A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used

Susan Cain: Quiet: The Power of Extroverts

John W. Gardner:  On Leadership, 1990, Simon and Schuster, NY

Daniel Goleman:  Primal Leadership – Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, 2002, Harvard Business Publishing, Boston

Daniel Goleman: Social Intelligence, The New Science of Human Relationships, 2006, Bantam Dell Div. of Random House, NY

Margaret Howard Loeffler:  Montessori in Contemporary America (Heinemann, NH)

Jane Roland Martin:  The Schoolhome: Rethinking Schools for Changing Families (Harvard, MA)

Andrew Solomon: Far from the Tree (Random House, NY)


CME|NY prepares our Adult Learners to be proficient in the following AMS competencies for the Montessori Administrator specialist:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of Montessori curriculum, its implementation, and expectations for Montessori teachers
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of and an ability to communicate to parents and faculty the sequence of a Montessori curriculum and a rationale for the materials used in Montessori classrooms
  3. Demonstrate observational techniques in order to assist and evaluate the quality of the Montessori program, the teaching staff, and its effectiveness with children
  4. Demonstrate effective evaluation procedures for working with Montessori staff
  5. Demonstrate a strong understanding of the Montessori philosophy and child development
  6. Demonstrate an ability to communicate Montessori philosophy to parents, community, and other educational professionals
  7. Demonstrate an ability to communicate program goals to staff through professional development in-service programs
  8. Demonstrate school leadership in all areas of operation
  9. Develop a comprehensive and fully-functioning Montessori community
  10. Demonstrate knowledge of school/child-care governmental regulations

Description of CME|NY’s Course for Montessori School Management and Leadership (CMSM) New Practicum Model

CMSM Part 4: Practicum

 After a participant completes two out of three of the didactic components (Parts 1, 2, 3) of the course, s/he moveay begin the Practicum Experience (Part 4).  The Practicum includes five elements designed to guide learners in the application, practice, and mastery of leadership and school management skills.  When successfully completed, the participant will demonstrate the AMS competencies for the AMS credential in Montessori School Administration.

Parts 1, 2, 3 of the course consists of 165 hours of on-site didactic curriculum with a variety of assignments designed to deepen the participant’s knowledge and understanding of Montessori philosophy, practice, school management, and educational leadership.

Elements of the Practicum (Part 4)

  • Leadership coaching with CMSM faculty: 12 hours
  • Pre-Approved Training/Professional Development: 55 hours
  • Three guided visits/observations to AMS-credentialed school leaders
  • Three On-Site visits with the participant by CMSM faculty
  • Case Study Project and Presentation 

These practical experiences fully engage participants in an individualized course of study to reach their unique objectives as they fulfill the AMS competencies, while guided by a trusted CMSM adviser.  The Practicum requires approximately 195 hours of dedicated time over the course of a nine-month academic-year experience (approximately 22 hours/month).

Leadership coaching with CMSM faculty (24 hours total-12 advisory hours & 12 hours self-assessment)

This element consists of 12 monthly, scheduled phone or FaceTime coaching sessions with a CSMS adviser. The purpose of the coaching sessions is to provide guidance and support in planning a meaningful practicum experience, goal setting, self-reflection, and evaluation. Over the course of the practicum, the advisor documents the adult learner’s demonstration of the AMS competencies.

The adviser will guide the adult learner by using a series of tools that reflect best practices in leadership and school management so each participant is able to assess and evaluate her/his own progress and mastery.  These self-assessment tools include an assessment on the AMS School Management & Leadership competencies, The Strength-Finders Assessment, and a Benchmark for Quality Improvement, based on the AMS School Accreditation Standards. 

 Pre-Approved Training/Professional Development (55 hours)

The 55 hours of training are pre-approved by the CMSM adviser with content dedicated to meeting specific leadership development needs and goals through various professional workshops.

All curriculum and practicum training hours are linked to the AMS competencies.  CMSM participants receive a strong and consistent academic foundation in Parts 1-3.  In Part 4, the professional growth, application, and practice through didactic coursework is adapted and customized to the needs of each adult learner.  Thus the practicum creates an ideal experience for ongoing learning and development, as well as individualized practical application.

Participants carefully plan and select additional hours of training and professional development based on their specific needs and goals. This might include AMS webinars, participation at local and/or regional conferences, specific workshops and/or training sessions of interest, therein giving the participants opportunities to build a network of peers in their own communities.  This aspect is critical for gaining greater understanding of the local educational landscape, building community advocacy for Montessori, and ensuring heir continuous professional growth as a school administrator.

Three Guided Visits to AMS-Credentialed School Leaders (18 hours)

With guidance from an adviseor, each participant will select three AMS-credentialed leaders in Montessori School Management to visit during the Practicum experience.  These leaders, graduates of the CMSM program (whom we call “Preceptors”) will receive an orientation from the CMSM administrators in the purpose, suggested content, and outcome of the guided visit.  The purpose of these visits is to focus on the unique Montessori school management and leadership goals of each course participant.

Three On-Site Consultation Visits (18 hours)

During the course of the Practicum, a participant receives three field consultation visits from a CMSM faculty member.  The purpose of these visits is to observe, interact, and provide guidance to the adult learner in their own school environment.  Depending upon the needs and goals of each participant, all three visits may be conducted by a single faculty member or two of the three visits may be by one faculty member and the third by different faculty member or the participant may have three separate visits by different faculty members.

Case Study Project (80 hours)

The academic yearlong case study project requires the participant to design, implement, and evaluate a leadership/school management challenge within his or her own school.  The purpose of the case study is to guide the adult learner through a disciplined process of identifying a problem, defining the problem establishing goals, objectives, and a plan, implementing the plan, engaging partners/community, using qualitative and quantitative data, evaluating the outcome. The participant then reports to the cohort during her/his second summer, with a presentation of the outcome and lessons learned as a leader and change agent.  The emphasis of the case study experience focuses on telling the story: what worked, where it missed the mark.

Just as Montessori environments offer a climate of acceptance for the errors of children to support their ongoing love of learning and discovery, adult learners must also learn to recognize and embrace failures and mistakes in a way that strengthens their understanding and skills, while engaging in continuous learning and improvement, without feeling a sense of failure. We can help our Administrators to accept missteps and to face their challenges as learning opportunities. Thus CMSM is an environment of acceptance rather than judgment so that each and everyone in our community can be uplifted to persevere.

The case study presentation is a concrete demonstration that leadership is a journey. While the quest to meet specific goals is important and is the direct focus of the project, the underlining experience is to uplift leadership, enabling participants to recognize for themselves and then voice to their peers not only what they lead, but how, and -- most importantly-- why. Thus, the ends and the means join in this formal presentation that brings the cohort together as they contribute to something greater than themselves. The success of the process is contagious and speaks to the transformative nature of our course. The cohort is inspired and uplifted by the words and work of their peers. The next group to enter the practicum sees possibility and hope ahead in overcoming their own difficult challenges and/or becoming change agents at their schools.

Graduates emerge from our course refreshed, rejuvenated, some might even say, exhilarated -- and with new knowledge and practical skills, as well as the deep satisfaction of knowing their work and leadership is effective.

Center for Montessori Education|NY
1 Radisson Plaza, Suite 904
New Rochelle, New York 10801
p. 914.363.8663 | f. 914.363.8668

Our office hours are Monday-Thursday 9:30 am - 5:30 pm.
Please call to set up an appointment if you wish to meet with us in person.