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Belmont Launches New Montessori Teacher Education ProgramsCertification Tied to Undergrad, Master’s Programs – Unique in Tennessee

Belmont University today announces the launch of a new teacher education program that is unique in Tennessee. Belmont’s Montessori Teacher Education Program will, starting June 2005, offer Montessori teacher preparation. Students enrolled in the program will earn certification in early childhood education (for ages 2 1/2-6) while also earning college credit that can be applied toward an undergraduate degree or a graduate degree (Master of Arts in Teaching).


There are three levels at which the program is offered. The undergraduate-level program includes 30 credit hours of Montessori certification, including a one-year internship. The graduate-level program includes that plus 9 credit hours of core education courses. If the student also takes advantage of the additional option to obtain Tennessee Pre K-3 state licensure, a six-week placement in a grade 1-3 classroom is also required.
The program is the first Montessori teacher preparation program of its kind in Tennessee and offers three major benefits:
■ Montessori certification as well as university credit;
■ Tennessee state teacher licensure for Pre K-3 as well as Montessori certification; and
■ Available both through Belmont’s University College for non-traditional students as well as through the University’s graduate program.
There is currently no place in Nashville offering a program leading to Montessori teacher certification that is affiliated with the American Montessori Society and approved by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education. Belmont’s Montessori Teacher Education Program has applied for accreditation of its early childhood certification course through the AMS and MACTE. Both approvals are expected this fall.
The coupling of a Montessori teacher education program with university degree programs will result in Montessori-certified teachers who also have a broader knowledge of education and child development, says Dr. Merrie B. King, Montessori Program Director at Belmont.
“It’s beneficial for the students to get not only the Montessori perspective but also to get the research and study aspects that a university has to offer,” says Dr. King, the former longtime owner and director of Ithaka Montessori in Franklin, Tennessee. “They’ll get the specifics of the Montessori philosophy and approach, and they’ll gain knowledge of the broader context of education and the latest research on child development.”
Belmont University’s Montessori Teacher Education Programs will be offered in a summer-intensive format beginning in June 2005, with students able to complete the program in 18-24 months by completing a four-week summer seminar in June 2005, a fall weekend seminar in October 2005, a spring weekend seminar in March 2006, a four-week summer seminar in 2006, and a 10-month internship at a Montessori school.
Housing will be offered on the Belmont campus for students who do not live in or near Nashville.
“The way we’re offering it in a summer-intensive format with an academic year internship makes it accessible to working adults – and people from out of town too, because we’re offering housing on the Belmont campus,” says Dr. King.
There are approximately 13 private and two public Montessori schools in the Nashville area.
About Montessori Education:
Nearly 100 years ago, an Italian physician inspired the birth of a worldwide educational movement. Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy’s first woman physician, became interested in education while caring for mentally challenged children in a psychiatric clinic in Rome. There she combined sensory-rich environments and hands-on experiential techniques in the hopes of reaching children previously labeled “deficient and insane.” The experiment was a resounding success. Within two years, the children were able to pass Italy’s standardized public school tests. More importantly, Montessori’s innovative practices had elicited positive learning behaviors from children previously left behind by society.
In 1907, Montessori continued shaping her learning model by opening “A Children’s House” for pre-school children living in the slums of San Lorenzo. With her scientific background to guide her, she observed how young people learned best when engaged in purposeful activity rather than simply being fed information. She drew upon her clinical understanding of children’s cognitive growth and development in constructing an educational framework that would respect individuality and fulfill the needs of the “whole child.” Dr. Montessori’s pioneering work created a blueprint for nurturing all children –learning disabled to gifted—to become the self-motivated, independent and life-long learners that are the ultimate goal of today’s educational reform movement. Since that time, Montessori’s philosophy, materials and practices have spread around the globe and have been implemented in a variety of cultural settings. – From the American Montessori Society website.

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