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175 Western Ave S. Saint Paul, MN 55102

History

The traces and threads of our history are intermingled and intertwined to create a spiral of growth that is an ever moving, ever changing weaving of environment, time, schedule, teachers/children/parent’s thinking, program, identity of the school, Montessori & Reggio philosophies, professional development, creativity, expressive languages and many other aspects too numerous to name.

Building a Foundation For Growth 1986-1993

 

  • MacDonald Montessori Child Care, a Minnesota  non-profit was founded by Beth MacDonald on March 3, 1986.

  • Beth had worked at this school from 1984-1986 when it was Twin Cities Montessori Center 

  • Our program was a combination of a Montessori learning classrooms (1/2 day) and a program of art, music, drama and creative movement the other half of the day.

  • We began hearing about the Reggio Emilia philosophy in 1989 when Beth MacDonald attended a conference in Hawaii for child care directors. 

  • We were immediately intrigued with the infant-toddler and preschool programs of Reggio Emilia, Italy. 

  • Their beautiful environments and passion and respect for children were compelling and provoking.

  • We began reading everything we could find about these schools.

 

Encounter with Reggio Emilia: Provocation for Change 1994-1999

 

Between 1994 and 1996, we were excited, motivated, fascinated and nothing in our environment or behavior changed. We were paralyzed. We knew at a very deep level that entering the Reggio philosophy would mean profound changes in our school and ourselves and consequently there would be grief and loss of what we knew and were secure with. 

 

  • We went to our first Reggio Conference in Washington DC at The Model Early Learning Center in June, 1994.

  • The conference was the first time we encountered Amelia Gambetti, Carla Rinaldi and Vea Vecchi from the Infant – Toddler Centers and Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy

  • At the end of the conference we went up to Amelia Gambetti and invited her to come to Minnesota and visit our school. She agreed and came to MacDonald Montessori School for the first time four months later in October.

  • During Amelia’s first hour of visiting our school, she Commented, “ I can breathe the good feelings in this school.” This observation was very important to us. We had worked hard to make our school a supportive environment for parents, children and teachers.

  • Beth MacDonald traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy in the summer of 1996 to attend the Summer Institute with 210 educators from all over the world. “ I stood in the piazza of the Diana school and cried as I absorbed the beauty of the environment.” In 1991, the Diana school had been named by Newsweek magazine, “ the best in the world.” She also visited an Infant Toddler center in Reggio, and knew that a dream she had held since 1986 should and could be actualized – an infant room at MacDonald Montessori.

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The 100 Languages Exhibit: Motivation for Transformation 2000-2006

 

  • Sensing we were becoming disconnected from our Montessori roots. We reconnected and were reenergized by reflecting on the Montessori philosophy, materials, classroom management. We invested in Montessori materials in the classrooms and engaged in discussions about how to integrate the Reggio philosophy and the Montessori philosophy. We were beginning a difficult dance between the two approaches.

  • From the beginning of her visits to our school in 1994, Amelia Gambetti had been encouraging us to host THE HUNDRED LANGUAGES OF CHILDREN exhibit in Saint Paul. An idea that we felt we were unprepared to do…a task larger that our abilities. It was always a dream and a goal for the future.

  • In 2001, at a Minnesota Reggio Network meeting at our school, we were approached by Jeanne Vergeront, a consultant to the Minnesota Children’s Museum to see if we would partner with them to bring the Exhibit to Saint Paul. We embraced the idea wholeheartedly with a great deal of fear and caution. We met with Kelly Finnerty, , from the Children’s Museum and Amelia Gambetti to discuss in detail the financial requirements and community- wide support needed to accomplish this endeavor.

 

Embracing Collaboration: A School Community 2007-2011

 

  • With the emergence of the collaboration team and the new role of the studio teacher and clay specialist offered new provocations to our program. 

  • When Sonya Shoptaugh came to our school for  professional development days, I asked her what she saw as the next step for our school. She said, “The teachers are so inspired by the Reggio philosophy but they need consistent collaboration time to meet weekly. This kind of consistent collaboration is the key to your school moving forward.”

  • We went to our accountant to see if we could financially support 3 additional teachers to be hired to function as a team of teachers that would come to each classroom on a weekly basis for 2 hours so that the regular classroom team of teachers could meet together and to provide each classroom team with an additional 2 hour prep time on a  biweekly basis.

 

Evolution: School of Infinite Possibilities 2012-present 

  • Development of small group areas – Kaleidoscope room, natural materials area, music area, building area, cozy conversation area on the landings