The Montessori Institute, Denver - An Interview with Andrea Fleener M.Ed. '02
Can you share with the audience how the Loyola University Maryland M.Ed. program supported your pathway to becoming an AMI teacher trainer?
From the first moment I sat in elementary theory lectures at Loyola University Maryland, I knew that being a trainer was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to inspire just ONE person the way that I was feeling inspired. I committed, then and there, to have the strongest classroom practice and implement my AMI training as fully as possible. So really, my path to trainer started in the lecture hall in the Loyola Timonium Campus! My M.Ed. has allowed me to contribute not only in Montessori circles but also in my work in the public sector and with university partnerships. Even people unfamiliar with AMI or Montessori education recognize the rigor of an M.Ed.
While in the classroom, I volunteered for many years on the AMI-EAA (Association Montessori International – Elementary Alumni Association) board and committed myself to professional development. I also read albums for AMI training courses and supervised student teachers. These opportunities gave me a chance to see the difference between that which is pedagogical and that which was the personal style of different trainers. It also helped inspire and encourage me in the classroom the longer I was away from my training! Once I felt I had solid classroom experience from which I could speak, I entered the training of trainers’ program!
During the training of trainers’ program, we wrote many academic papers supported by my work at Loyola University Maryland. The literature reviews required for my Loyola program were strong foundational practices for my academic writing. Also, the training I received from Dr. Kay Baker and Greg MacDonald at Loyola was an incredible asset as I revisited and referenced that work. Beyond that, however, I had many colleagues that I met through the Loyola program, which supported and encouraged me along the way.
From your vantage point – what is the most exciting part of training tomorrow’s Montessori guides?
The most exciting part of training tomorrow’s Montessori guides is building relationships from which I can continue to learn and grow. I feel incredibly lucky to work with many educators implementing Montessori education in various environments, languages, and cultures! Connecting with and learning from my students enables me to be stronger as an instructor with each future cohort.
What are you most excited about with your new AMI teacher training model?
What excites me most about this training model, and my partnership with TMI (The Montessori Institute), is the accessibility distance learning provides. It is still hard work! And there is a lot of work! However, the more flexible format allows students to fit the training into their lives rather than pausing their lives to take the training. Additionally, we are building a community of support, growth, and learning without being in the same space all the time, which is incredibly powerful! Regardless of what fantastic opportunities are taken as a result of having an AMI diploma, with hopes of many students also receiving their M.Ed., these students will be able to take their cohort with them...digitally!
Andrea Fleener is a graduate of the Loyola University Maryland Montessori M.Ed. Program and currently serves as an Elementary Trainer at The Montessori Institute in Denver, CO.