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EVENT: Teacher Leader Stories on December 15

Would you like to co-design and lead a Montessori micro-school with your community?

Join us in December as we host Veronica Vital from Cosmos Montessori and Eileen Fell from Clover Montessori. Cosmos is a public charter that is part of the Minnesota Wildflower Montessori School. It is a multicultural, Spanish and English bilingual program supporting language acquisition and cultural competency in children ages three through third grade. Clover is a primary program located in the heart of Mt. Airy, a socioeconomically and racially diverse neighborhood of Philadelphia. Clover uses a graduated tuition structure to make its high-quality Montessori program accessible. We look forward to seeing you at this storytelling event!


Celebrating Wildflower Seedlings 2021-22

Every year, a new group of Wildflower schools peeks through the soil for the first time. Each new school is the culmination of a lifetime of learning and dreaming for its founders; collectively, they are a remarkable and diverse group of educators with visions for a more beautiful world. In the following pages, you will read the stories of 16 Teacher Leaders whose skills, passions, and life experiences sparked the creation of beautiful, community-embedded Wildflower schools. 

Download Wildflower Seedlings

We hope you’ll enjoy learning about the inspiring concepts and unending dedication that teachers bring to the work of starting and operating their schools. This past year’s group includes Wildflower’s first schools in San Francisco and Philadelphia, the first Indigenous language reclamation school created in partnership with a tribal community, the first school linked to a Montessori teacher training program, and the first school set in a community-based special education services provider. 

Together with those who came before them and shared their wisdom, they are now part of a growing network of Wildflower schools across the United States and Puerto Rico. Collectively, they represent beautiful examples of the hundreds of educators who are energizing a liberatory education movement in their own communities.

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EVENT: Teacher Leader Stories on November 17

Wildflower Teacher Leader Stories series continues!

In November, we are featuring Zani from The Riverseed School, which opened its doors this fall as the first DC Public Charter School site, and Jeana from Azalea Montessori, a primary and elementary school in Ohio with an immersive nature-based program. Come listen, learn, connect, and ask questions directly to Zani and Jeana!


EVENT: Teacher Leader Stories on October 20th

Curious about starting a Wildflower school with your community? Are you passionate about multilingualism? Join us in October to hear from Alejandra and Séverine who lead beautiful language immersion Montessori programs in California and Massachusetts.  As always, bring your dreams, questions, and wonderings. Can’t wait to see you there!


June TL Stories: Jill and Eric

Educators from around the country continue to come together to share big dreams of creating tiny schools with their communities. During the June gathering for Teacher Leader Stories, educators Jill Evans of Goldenrod Montessori (Cleveland, OH) and Eric Oglesbee of River Montessori High School (South Bend, IN) shared their unique entrepreneurial advice for emerging Teacher Leaders.

Eric Oglesbee is one of the founders of River Montessori High School, a first-of-its-kind replicable, mixed-income, Montessori high school. He discovered Montessori as a parent and left his career as a college professor to become an advocate for the expansion of Montessori and the creation of the small-scale Montessori high school.

Jill Evans, founding Teacher Leader of Goldenrod Montessori, never dreamed she would open a school. Still, her path as a business administrator turned educator led her to discover the beauty of the Montessori method, and–after learning about Wildflower–she said it was like a light bulb went off. She decided then and there to start the School Startup Journey, eventually launching Goldenrod in the heart of Cleveland’s Shaker Heights neighborhood.

Jill and Eric offered their unique entrepreneurial advice to emerging Teacher Leaders. Jill described how they invested in community outreach from the outset:

“We are involved in community events in our neighborhood. That’s how we got the word out about our school. We went to every community event we could think of and were visible in our neighborhood. Before we opened the school, I would open the door and let people come in, greet them, and let them know what we were doing.”

Eric advised emerging Teacher Leaders to operate with a sense of urgency without rushing: “Rushing to get the doors open if you haven’t created a good foundation will lead to all kinds of cracks that will be ten times harder to solve when you have kids in the building and families you’re serving because reputation only gets built once.”

To join an upcoming Teacher Leader Stories event, please register for the July 21 or August 18 sessions.

Montessori for Our Collective Liberation

Wildflower Schools – Minnesota hosted a virtual town hall with a panel of Black and Indigenous education leaders and institution-builders from around the United States. The panelists shared the life experiences, spiritual preparation, and practical skills they build upon to use Montessori education as a tool for racial justice and liberation.

Koren Clark–a Wildflower partner and founder of Know Thyself Inc.–described education as the practice of holding space for the child’s mental, physical, and spiritual transformation: “What Montessori requires that teachers do is to mirror their own work of inner transformation–to hold space for the spiritual transformation of these precious beings.” 

Janice LaFloe–founder and director of the Montessori American Indian Childcare Center–described how she discovered in Montessori the same respect for the sacred nature of children that she learned through her upbringing. Montessori’s concept of the spiritual embryo of the child echoes Ojibwe cultural star knowledge–the idea that every child has a path that they designed for themselves before they are born.

Siobhan Brown is a citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, a teaching artist, and a founding member of the Weetumuw School. Her advice to educators committed to liberatory Montessori education is to be your whole self at all times and under all circumstances:

“There is nothing about your heritage, race, or identity that needs to change to be in this pedagogy. It is designed to reach everyone. And if you feel it is not–-if there is a training program or something that is not inclusive or anti-racist–speak up and find allies who will support you. These training programs need you to be you. All of the training programs within the pedagogy need to be called in, particularly when they are complicit in the active erasure of Black and Brown children, their experiences, and their aspects of identity.”

Siobhan’s colleague, Dr. Nitana Greendeer is the Weetumuw School’s Language Development Director and lovingly describes their educational practice as “Wampassori.” She shared that their Montessori environment includes language and culture to help students understand that their culture and brilliance are one and the same. 

Dr. Ayize Sabater, Executive Director of AMI USA, shared how his experience as a Black parent prepared him to nourish children when school systems and broader society too often didn’t recognize their brilliance or humanity. Pastor Jessica Jackson shared Dr. Ayize’s experience as a Black mother. As she works to launch Morning Glory Montessori, a faith-centered Montessori school for Black boys, she is focused on staying free, staying well, and staying open: 

“I can’t usher in liberation for anyone if I’m not free myself …If children don’t see us as free and see us well, how can they understand what liberation is?”

For more brilliance from the compelling panel, watch the full recording below. If you are interested in starting your own liberatory Montessori program in Minnesota or want to learn more about Wildflower schools, you can reach out to Brandon Royce-Diop ([email protected]).

Our Grief

"To be loving is to be open to grief, to be touched by sorrow, even sorrow that is unending" - bell hooks

We hold the Uvalde community in our hearts as we mourn the devastating loss of 19 children and 2 teachers – so soon after 10 people in Buffalo were viciously gunned down in an act of racial terror, another person was killed in a house of worship, and after so many others have died due to gun violence. The seemingly endless mourning can feel overwhelming. We stay standing, not only for our children, but ultimately for our shared humanity. Standing, holding space, taking action, and mourning may look different for each of us. We share the following resources in community, in grief, in hope and in active work toward a better future.

Wildflowers Grow in Philadelphia

Teacher Leaders Eileen Fell and Jake Cohen at Clover ribbon-cutting in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia

Wildflower is launching schools in and around Philadelphia! Known for its diverse neighborhoods and history, Philadelphia is a city filled with possibilities. As a racially and economically diverse city, Philadelphia is rich with the history and opportunities to grow schools that can address its educational inequities while upholding the values and traditions for which the city is known. It is a fertile ground and culture to adapt the liberatory principles of Montessori to the needs and values of its diverse neighborhoods.

Clover, our flagship school, opened its doors in 2021. In the heart of Mt. Airy, Clover is a Montessori preschool celebrating early childhood in a joyful, equitable, and inclusive community. Clover provides a child-centered approach to learning that celebrates each student’s individuality, autonomy, and innate curiosity, empowering children to be global citizens who seek justice. In their combined two decades of teaching, co-founders Eileen Fell and Jake Cohen found the Montessori programs they’ve worked in to be largely inaccessible to lower income families. Seeking the vibrancy that accompanies a diversity of experiences and identities, Eileen and Jake partnered with the Wildflower to found Clover Montessori on a tiered tuition model in which families pay according to household income. Clover had its official ribbon cutting recently, and Jake and Eileen commented that it was a celebration not only of a school, but also of a principle–that all families deserve access to a high-quality Montessori education.

This fall, two more teams will launch their schools that are accessible to families from all backgrounds and where children are supported, challenged, and affirmed. Carmen Montopoli and Madeleine Nutting will open Hyacinth Montessori, the only independent Montessori elementary school in Center City Philadelphia. Hyacinth is located in West Philadelphia, a diverse, widely mixed-income area of the city. Building upon the long legacy of educators who envision Montessori as a liberatory pedagogy, Hyacinth approaches Montessori with an anti-bias, anti-racist lens that welcomes all families and encourages healthy identity development. Their tuition structure welcomes families as contributors rather than customers, and they work with each family to determine an income-based tuition cost that is sustainable for them. They will create a permeable boundary between school and home, and encourage interaction between children, families, and the broader community.

Spicebush Montessori will also open this fall for children ages 3-6 in Concordville, Pennsylvania. Leah Walker and Kirsti Forestt went to Montessori schools growing up and always knew that they wanted to open their own school. Kirsti says her goal “has always been to make Montessori education far more accessible than it currently is, and for many years working in private Montessori schools, I’ve felt like I wasn’t reaching the children I wanted to reach.” They are passionate about social emotional education for young children and will infuse the Quaker values of SPICES (social justice, peace, inclusion, environment and simplicity) into the curriculum. Their school will be located in the Concord Friends Meetinghouse which was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1977. The meetinghouse was built in 1728!

While growing schools specifically in the Philadelphia region, I have expanded my own understanding of community and culture. With the guidance of Dr. Erika McDowell, we are reconfiguring the Pennsylvania hub to become the Mid-Atlantic hub that includes Central and Southern New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Wilmington, DE to honor the shared values and influences of the region. For so many of our stakeholders, this expansion feels right to continue in the spirit and integrity of the Wildflower mission. This expansion also added three more Wildflower schools to our local network: Dahlia Montessori, Lily Montessori, and Sea Lavender Montessori, spanning across Southern New Jersey. With so much growth and opportunity, we are intentionally exploring not just the neighborhoods and areas to launch new schools, but also pathways for BIPOC educators to lead these expansions. In partnership with Rising Tide, we have launched a fellowship to certify and prepare BIPOC educators to become future Wildflower Teacher Leaders.

We began in Philadelphia, and we are moving in the spirit of brotherly love to serve the surrounding region. It is a moment of harvest, and seeing how our new schools and hub are evolving validates the mission and values alignment between our work and the momentum of the region.