Sara Suchman

Sara Suchman

Notes from the Executive Director

No Matter the Outcome

NCMPS is committed to human flourishing and, as a team of individuals, we have each chosen to serve this commitment through education and, specifically, Montessori education. This means a commitment to walk with children on the road to human flourishing by seeing each child as an individual with their own unique path and cosmic task, observing them with fresh eyes, and creating an environment to support their full potential. 

At a time when we as adults are pushed to make sense of our world by seeing each other through labels and categories, a push we feel especially strongly through this election, we call on the same skills we have learned through our work with children–to see each other as individuals, not labels; to observe with an eye towards possibility, and to create a world stripped of systemic barriers and racism so that all may thrive.

NCMPS was founded with the unique mission of serving Montessori education in the public sector, reaching children and families affected by racism, poverty, and structural inequality who would not otherwise have access to this type of revolutionary education. We are unwavering in our commitment to equitable and accessible public Montessori implemented intentionally and introspectively, and feel gratitude for all those with whom we walk on this journey. 

Sara Suchman

Executive Director

Committing and Recommitting

“Generations from now when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind–an American who knew that change could not wait for some other person or some other time.”President Barack Obama, 2010

Black Lives Matter.

We want to shout it from the rooftops, chant it from the streets, sing it in our hallways, and lullabye it to our babies until there is no question in anyone’s mind about the value of a life, the human obligation of dignity and respect due to Black people in this country and throughout the world.  But it is not enough to verbalize it—we must act on it starting with ourselves.  Dr. Montessori insisted on deep reflection on one’s self as a guide. We must do the same.   

When my school-age daughter recognizes and acknowledges both that she feels safe when she sees someone in uniform and that the feeling of safety comes from her “white girl privilege,” that is better than not recognizing it, but it does not change the fact that others don’t have that same experience. Being safe and empowered in your home, neighborhood, city, state, country and world should not be a privilege, it is a human right. How do we get there? 

We have read and joined in the statements of unity and support, anger, commitment, and recommitment, that have come forth from most every organization in our spheres. This is better than not having statements, but it does not change the fact that heart-felt statements have not added up to the change we need for all children. Not yet.  

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, cruel deaths in a long history of brutality and murder, have created a movement we cannot allow to dissipate. We can and we must say “Never Again” and we must work to make it so. And, when we do this work publicly, we further catalyze the collective work. Below are steps that NCMPS commits and recommits to in our work to bend the arc of history towards long overdue justice:

  • Building a board that represents the racial and ethnic diversity of the communities and children we serve. 
  • Acknowledging the work of Montessorians of the Global Majority and compensating them for their labor.
  • Partnering with Montessorians of the Global Majority at Embracing Equity for anti-bias anti-racist training. 
  • Through an internal Equity-by-Design team process led by NCMPS’s Race and Equity Specialist, Maati Wafford, creating an equity framework that supports policies, practices, and priorities that are grounded in anti-racism and disrupt white supremacy. 
  • Seeking input from diverse communities in reviewing tools, trainings, and protocols for bias, racism, and classism, and to check for culturally expansive practices and materials.
  • Naming racism and believing the Black experience. We do this by holding each other accountable for manifestations of racism such as implicit bias, microaggressions, and color-blindness.
  • Granting paid time off for civic engagement, including for voting on election day.
  • Sharing publicly the work we are doing.

NCMPS was founded with the unique mission of serving Montessori education in the public sector, reaching those children most negatively impacted by white supremacy who would not otherwise have access to this type of revolutionary education. However, it is not enough to say “we do Montessori.” We are all, Montessori in her time and we in ours, shaped by the racist systems in which we are raised and socialized. Working hand-in-hand with the communities we serve and in collaboration with people of the Global Majority throughout the Montessori community, we hold our mission to support equitable and accessible public Montessori with introspection, intentionality, and the responsibility to do so as revolutionaries.

Sara Suchman

Acting Executive Director

With gratitude to Trisha Moquino for her support and review.

Be a Revolutionary!

A teacher must begin by studying his own defects, his own evil tendencies, 
rather than by being excessively preoccupied with a child’s tendencies.

—Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

In this on-going, yet presently heightened time of race-based brutality, murder, and psychological trauma, we all find ourselves needing/wanting different things.  

As a black woman, racism white supremacy impacts me (Maati) in ways that are unique to me and my personal life experiences.  It dictates the ways in which I raise my children, how I approach equity work, physically move in public spaces, and navigate relationships with colleagues.  It influences how I teach children and my engagement with families in my school community.  My experience with racism white supremacy impacts the insights I bring to Montessori philosophy, how I view the world, and ultimately how I fulfill my cosmic task.  

NCMPS holds the vision of an education system committed to human flourishing for all children. With this vision as our guide, NCMPS works to make Montessori education rooted in equity available, accessible and sustainable for all families, children, staff, and teachers across the country. Public Montessori schools serve large numbers of the children and adults most impacted by racism and minoritization, and we are committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with these schools and their communities in the fight to overcome injustice.

There may be times when our actions, whether professional or personal, feel like but a drop of water in an ocean of wrong. And, yet, despair is not an option. The luxury of despair is a privilege in itself. So we at NCMPS commit and recommit each day to being better revolutionaries and allies, listening when others speak, speaking out when others can’t, and getting up when we stumble. 

Together, we encourage you—as a member of the Montessori community, as a world citizen, and as a human being—to reflect on and center your own self-care during this time in a way that will allow you to do any or all of the following:

Unapologetically interrogate/mitigate biased thinking. 

Openly challenge  privilege and be receptive if/when that privilege is challenged by another.

Authentically elevate your practice of anti-racist anti-bias teaching.  As Montessorians we have a moral imperative to dismantle systems of oppression that destroy the hearts, minds, and lives of children and families. 

Lastly, we encourage you to strengthen your advocacy and commit to deeper levels of allyship while practicing radical love!  This is a type of love that involves community building, demands truth seeking, and requires that we shed light on evil tendencies, fear, and deception beginning first with ourselves. 

Remember, you are a part of a collective. Please utilize and share the resources here!

Justice for George Floyd

Talk to children about racism

Resources for People of the Global Majority

Take Action 

Anti-racist Resources

Register for a Webinar that addresses Entitlement of White Women

An educator in a system of oppression is either a revolutionary or an oppressor.

—Lerone Bennett, Jr.

Our world provides us with endless opportunities to make daily choices about where we stand. Will you choose to be an oppressor or will you choose to be a revolutionary? Please remember that exercising the privilege not to choose is also a choice that speaks volumes!

In Solidarity,

Maati Wafford, NCMPS Race and Equity Advisor

Sara Suchman, NCMPS Acting Executive Director

And the NCMPS Team

Of all things, love is the most potent

In so many ways, this is not business as usual. And, yet, when so much has changed, what Montessori teaches about child development, fundamental needs, and human flourishing has not changed. Rather, it offers us a northstar to turn to as we move forward in serving students and families. And, Montessori schools have moved into this new space with commitment, grace and love. After an initial rush to action, we are seeing schools and teachers leaning intentionally into what matters most to children–belonging and connection to community, purpose and accomplishment in work. We are humbled and awed as we watch schools and teachers across the country rising to the occasion of following the child from afar as they:

  • Move mountains so that all children can access not only educational resources but also food and shelter, as they work to address inequities that, always present, are further exacerbated
  • Prioritize social-emotional support to their families and students, creating community and individual connections through whatever means necessary
  • Work hand-in-hand with parents to offer students developmentally appropriate structures that work for both parents and children, starting from the beginning–as though the first days in a new classroom
  • Commit to these structures fostering functional independence, and balancing freedom with responsibility
  • Create rich choices in lessons, projects, research, experiments, reading buddies, discussion groups, circle time, and song to provide experiences that are interactive, connected to community, and personally meaningful to students

This time will pass and children will return to their classrooms. As a community we fear what they may have lost academically, emotionally and spiritually. But when we open our ears and hearts to the creativity, ingenuity, dedication and love this community is showing up with every day, we are also buoyed by the hope in newfound ways of connecting, learning, and adapting.

One test of the correctness of educational procedure
is the happiness of the child.

—Maria Montessori

Sara Suchman, Executive Director