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Trine to launch state’s first Montessori teacher education program

Oak FarmBuilding on the strength and growth of its Franks School of Education, Trine University will launch Indiana’s first Montessori teacher education degree program to help meet the growing need for teachers with Montessori credentials.

Trine’s Montessori teacher education program will be one of only a few undergraduate programs in the nation offered at the university level, and will provide training that leads toward state-recognized Montessori licensure for both undergraduate students and teachers already in the field.

“While Montessori schools continue to grow, there is a state and nationwide shortage of credentialed teachers,” said Anthony Kline, Ph.D., dean of the Franks School of Education. “In addition, teachers who lack Montessori credentials must complete rigorous training during the summer. This can place a financial strain on schools and the educators receiving the training.”

“Trine University’s Montessori teacher education program will ensure a pipeline of high-quality teachers trained through a Montessori lens to focus on whole-child development. We strongly believe that Montessori training will enhance graduates who teach in traditional school settings as well.”

“We look forward to the impact this new program will have, not only on our university, but on future generations of children who will benefit from a Montessori education and educators trained in the Montessori Method,” said Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine University president.

The Montessori Method of education was developed in Italy by Maria Montessori in the early 20th century and is designed to build on the way children inherently learn. Now practiced worldwide, Montessori education is known for individually paced learning and fostering independence, and encouraging empathy, social justice and joy in lifelong learning, according to the American Montessori Society.

The university has begun the search process for hiring a director for Montessori education at Trine, and will announce a timeline for program launch once that person is in place.

Undergraduate students at Trine will receive training to earn Indiana Department of Education licenses in Elementary Generalist (K-6) and Montessori within four years. Through Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) accreditation and American Montessori Society (AMS) affiliation, graduates also will earn credentials to teach students ages 6-9 in Montessori settings.

Current teachers will be able to earn Montessori credentials through summer training programs at Trine and at Oak Farm Montessori School in Avilla. Credential offerings may range from infant to secondary, based upon need. The program could include graduate-level credit that would lead to a Master in Montessori Education degree.

Oak Farm Montessori School, founded in 2000 by Lorene Dekko Salsbery, also will serve as Trine’s primary partner for observation, practicum and student teaching opportunities for students. A variety of local Montessori education settings also may provide clinical opportunities.

Trine’s new Montessori teacher education program is made possible in part through a grant from the Dekko Foundation. The foundation, which seeks to foster economic freedom through education, will provide $385,000 toward startup costs, which include salary for a program director and redesigning a classroom on the Trine campus to mirror a best-practice Montessori environment for elementary-age learners.

“As Trine University prepares its students to succeed, lead and serve, and also looks for new ways to enhance the quality of life in Indiana, we are grateful for generous partners like the Dekko Foundation,” said Brooks.

“The educators who complete this program will be grounded in the principles of child development and how to provide high-quality learning environments for young people that will assist them in building knowledge, skills and character so that they can grow up to be self-sufficient and ultimately economically free,” said Tom Leedy, president of the Dekko Foundation.

Top photo: Children work independently or with teacher Debbie Kovets, front left, in the Lower Elementary 2 classroom at Oak Farm Montessori School in Avilla. Trine University will launch Indiana’s first Montessori teacher education program and will redesign a classroom on the university’s main campus to mirror a best-practice Montessori environment for elementary-age learners, with help from a Dekko Foundation grant. The university also will partner with Oak Farm Montessori School for observations and student teaching, and to offer provide opportunities for current teachers to receive Montessori credentials. 

Right photo: Students in the Lower Elementary 3 classroom at Oak Farm Montessori School in Avilla work with guest teacher Carlee Murphy, as other students work independently in the background. (Photos by Dean Orewiler)