Environmental Education and Montessori – April 7, 2021

This session featured a fantastic panel discussion around environmental education resources and Earth Day celebration ideas with a Montessori focus that will support each student’s individual learning journey and enrich their relationship with the natural world.

Panelists included:

Valerie Olson – Head of School at St. Croix Montessori School, BA in Elementary Education, AMI Primary Diploma
St. Croix Montessori School is located on 15 beautiful acres that include an animal farm with alpacas, mini donkeys and chickens all of which are taken care of by the children and families within the SCMS community. With more than 20 years of experience, Valerie will share information about the impact that the schools’ farm animals have on children, and how they are able to run a farm program.

Sarah Kozicki – AMI/USA Director of Communications & Digital Strategy, BS in Environmental Studies and Applications
Sarah has explored school gardens as a solution to “Nature Deficit Disorder” and as a multidisciplinary learning tool for children, especially those with neurological and sensory differences. She is a recipient of the Edward J Meeman Award in Environmental Journalism. Her article “Cosmic Education in the School Garden” appeared in the Fall 2018 AMI/USA Journal. You can listen to her April 1 interview on #UMustLearn, a Washington, DC radio program. 
Sarah Fondriest – Head of School at The Del Ray Montessori School, BA in Psychology, MA in Education, AMI Assistants to Infancy, Primary, and Elementary Diplomas, AMI Consultant
Sarah will share resources and strategies on incorporating a school garden in a Montessori school. The Del Ray Montessori school garden program is featured in the “Cosmic Education in the School Garden” article by Sarah Kozicki.

Sheena Foster – Sustainability Consultant, BA in Urban Sustainability with a concentration in Urban Agriculture
Sheena has a keen interest in the impact that climate change has on peace, security, and food systems. She has worked in 4-H programs on youth environmental education and as an urban agriculture instructor. In addition, Sheena has worked with LearnServe International leading youth trips abroad, focused on international community development, environmental conservation, and justice.

Kristi McAlister – Founding Head of School at Centennial Montessori School, BA in Developmental Psychology and Biomedical Ethics, MA in Urban Education, AMI Primary Diploma
Kristi, who is also a Montessori mother of 5, a Montessori teacher, and a former Montessori child, will share information about the school’s outdoor classrooms, both as used in typical years as well as during their 100% outdoor pandemic year. 

Dallas Nelson – Director of the Lakota Language & Education Initiative for Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, BS in Sociology, BA in American Indian Studies, MA in Lakota Leadership and Management, AMI Primary Assistant certificate, working towards AMI Primary Teacher Training certificate, and AMI/USA Board of Directors
The Thunder Valley CDC implements programs such as the Workforce Development Through Sustainable Construction, the Food Sovereignty Initiative, and other community projects. Dallas is an advocate for Indigenous Education, Language Reclamation and the ongoing movement to create systemic change within Indigenous Communities and joins us to share an indigenous perspective on environmental education.

Annie Breitenstein – MA in Education, Curriculum and Instruction: Outdoor Teacher Education, BA in Science, Biology, 0-3 Program Coordinator and Guide at Keystone Montessori, AMS Infant-Toddler Diploma
Annie joins us to share resources, lessons and ideas on incorporating environmental education into Montessori programs.

Click here to read the notes for the session!

See AMI/USA’s Environmental Education Resource Library for more resources!

Below are the Resources Highlighted by our Panelists: