Fairbanks Montessori School, Fairbanks, AK

“The child is both the hope and a promise for mankind.”

-Maria Montessori

Child working

Maria Montessori Bio

Dr. Maria Montessori was the first woman in Italy to attend medical school and be certified as a medical doctor. After graduating from medical school, she began working with disabled children who were being cared for in asylums for insane adults. Montessori began studying the educational theories of Edouard Seguin and Jean Itard, and then returned to the university to study the major theories of education that had been developed over the prior 200 years.

In 1906, Montessori accepted a position caring for young children in a slum of Rome called San Lorenzo. She was named medical officer of the Casa dei Bambini, or “Children’s House”. Her first class consisted of around 50 children suffering from poverty and neglect, all of whom were being cared for by one inexperienced adult.

Montessori began her work by teaching the older children how to help with everyday chores. She also provided them with some of the same materials she had developed for the disabled children. Through careful observation of the children, she made adaptations to fit their needs. She had carpenters build child-sized chairs and tables that could be moved without adult assistance. She allowed the children to move freely around the room, and she brought mats so they could lie on the floor while doing their work. Dr. Montessori developed classroom materials that supported their learning in the five curriculum areas the children were naturally attracted to: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, and Science & Geography.

Her teaching methods were extraordinarily successful. Her students excelled not only academically, but behaviorally as well. The children’s response to the environment Montessori provided resulted in a school community infused with learning and mutual respect.

Awareness of Montessori’s work spread across the globe. She received praise and support from many well-known individuals, including Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. She was invited to the White House and lectured to capacity crowds at Carnegie Hall. After a lifetime of serving children, Maria Montessori died in Holland in 1952.

The team at Fairbanks Montessori is committed to the Montessori Method of teaching. The classrooms are organized into the five curriculum areas mentioned above, the materials carefully ordered on the shelves. Children are observed carefully. Lessons are given individually based on the teacher’s assessment of each child’s needs and abilities. Their knowledge is constantly enhanced through interactions with each other and lessons carefully introduced at the proper time and in the proper sequence.