My Experience in Loyola's Master's in Montessori Education Program
Tell us a little about your background. Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Southern California. I currently live in San Clemente, Calif. I am a 0-3 trained AMI Montessori Guide, and have been working with babies, toddlers, and their families for the last decade.
Why did you choose to pursue a M.Ed. in Montessori Education at Loyola?
I love Montessori and have worked in Montessori Education for about a decade. I wholeheartedly agree with supporting a child’s natural progression of development through education.
Second, I have always wanted to pursue higher education, so once I discovered the post-diploma M.Ed. program at Loyola it felt like the perfect fit for me.
Third, I wholeheartedly believe in being a lifelong learner. I knew it would inspire me in my position in admissions at LePort Montessori. I am also blessed to have a company called Baby Tour Guide Inc., where I offer Infant Development & Montessori consulting, courses, and resources. Honoring my educational evolution and modeling continuous growth is important to me.
A significant portion of this program is remote learning. How was that beneficial to you?
I felt that the remote learning was incredibly helpful. Since I worked full time, remote learning made it easy to obtain my master’s degree while still adhering to my responsibilities at home.
You completed the degree in just one calendar year. How did this meet the needs of your schedule?
I was working full time in a Montessori classroom while going to school full time to obtain my bachelor's in child development, so I figured I would challenge myself to do it again!
When it came to higher education, my dad always said, “The time will pass anyway. And why not have a degree at the end of it?”
This program involves a significant amount of action research in the Montessori classroom. Your practicum instructor recommended your project as one to highlight. Can you tell me more about the research you did, why you chose to do it, and how you plan to use it?
My in-school position is in admissions, which made discovering a research project topic a tad tricky. Our research question had to be something completely within our jurisdiction. In my position, I work with all initial inquiries for a group of 10 Montessori schools—with the goal of educating and increasing the likelihood of the family taking an in-person tour.
So, I decided to research school choice. Specifically how I can reframe my initial conversations to increase the family’s likelihood of touring our schools in-person.
After diving into the literature and doing my own teacher research, I discovered that school choice—what parents are looking for—varies on a wide variety of factors like age and location.
I have already used this research a lot in my work! I have not only been able to add research-based value into my initial conversations, but I have been able to contribute to company conversations with this research. For example, what I found in the literature and in my own teacher research is that parents of infants were more likely to inquire about how the babies are cared for, if the babies are happy, what teachers do when kids cry, etc. Whereas parents of toddlers seemed more interested in socialization for their kids, and parents of preschool age children seemed to be more interested in school preparedness. Also, parents of elementary age children seemed most interested in academia and success in the next educational phase—like how elementary age kids perform in middle school and high school after attending our program.
I have also been able to use this research to consult clients. I’ve noticed myself continuing my research in my mind as I work with families and aid in their transition into a school setting.
Do you plan to publish your research?
I actually just started to consider it. Since my project centered on school choice and admissions, I think that my findings could be useful to other Montessori schools. It also could be a tool for further exploration within this field. I would love for my research at Loyola to be able help deepen our understanding of the initial parent-school relationship within our educational communities.
What advice do you have for teachers considering The Master’s in Montessori Education program at Loyola?
I would say that if you are considering obtaining your Master’s in Montessori Education, Loyola is the best place to do! It is completely doable for anyone, whether you are working in the classroom, working as an administrator, or working in support offices. The professors at Loyola are inspirational, the content challenges your perspective, and at the end, you’ll end up an evolved Montessorian. The one to two year program passes quickly and at the end you will have a master's degree.
Bianca Solorzano is a 2020 graduate of Loyola University Maryland’s Center for Montessori Education’s Master’s in Montessori Education program.