Spiritual Vitality in Diverse Montessori Environments

November 10, 2021



Join us for a panel discussing the ways in which Montessori is an educational philosophy that nourishes the spirit of the child in a way that liberates them to activate their full humanity and compels those serving the children to do the same.  The spiritual impetus behind this activation is the type of social activism we need to restore justice, equity and liberation for all. This panel of Montessori educators represents this religious diversity. The panelists represent African spirituality (Koren Clark), Buddhism (Lucy Golden), Christianity (Martha Ochoa), Islam (Maya Soriano), Judaism (Andy Lulka), and Native American indigenous spirituality (Siobhan Juanita Brown) respectively plan to come together to talk about how their religious faith intersects with their Montessori practice and how they support a community of Montessori children and staff of diverse religious perspectives and practices given the fact in order to truly welcome all faiths and cultures the prepared adult must grapple with the Catholic notions of morality inherent in much of Dr. Montessori’s writing. There is not one path towards activating the spiritual nature of an adult or child. The paths are just as religiously diverse as humanity itself.

Meet the panelists

Dr. Lucy Canzoneri-Golden is Co-Founder/Co-Director of Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School located in Miami Florida.  Dr. Canzoneri-Golden is a pioneer in the field of teacher-led educational reform, providing a refreshing alternative to top-down, expert-led initiatives that dominate urban education today. Dr. Canzoneri-Golden began her teaching career in Harlem, New York at the Central Park East Schools under the leadership of Deborah Meler before relocating to Miami, Florida in 1988.  Dr. Canzoneri-Golden has always sought out innovative techniques for teaching and learning. Dr. Canzoneri-Golden recently obtained a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. As with Montessori education, culturally relevant pedagogy and anti bias anti racist curriculum resonated profoundly with her; therefore, it was a natural progression for her and her business partner to join in doing research in analyzing and researching the perspectives of parents teachers and administrators on how culturally relevant pedagogy and anti bias and anti racist curriculum  operate in three urban public Montessori schools.

Martha A. Ochoa Hurtado (pronouns: She, Her) was born in Mexico and grew up in Oakland, California.  She has been in education for 30 years.  She completed her lower and upper elementary Montessori credentials and training, as well as the masters in Montessori education program at St. Mary’s College of Moraga, California. After 26 years as a Montessori teacher, Martha embarked on a mission to mentor and support schools and teachers through her consulting services.  She is the founder of AWE (Another Way to Educate), which is her personal education consultant project. The mission of AWE is to address inequity and social injustice in the curriculum through teacher mentorship, training and organizational guidance. She is involved in grassroots community efforts and projects ranging from addressing the school to prison pipeline, gender & race inequality, systemic racism and poverty.


Andy Lulka (she/her) is a third generation Montessori advocate, as well as a Montessori alumna and parent. Andy is a certified Casa guide and holds an M.Ed. in Integrative Montessori Learning with a focus on early adolescence. Born in Mexico to a family with both Ashkenazi and Sephardi roots, Andy immigrated to Canada as a child. As a teenager, Andy began publishing writing and speaking about Montessori, as well as Holocaust and antisemitism education from intersectional perspectives. She has been a lead Casa and Middle School guide, played various roles in Toddler through Upper Elementary and in administration, and has designed curriculum and programs for children and adults. Andy is now dedicated to providing opportunities for professional development online, and has moderated the largest online professional development and support group specifically and exclusively for Montessori teachers since 2012.

Siobhan Juanita Brown (Keesuty8ee Elm) is from Roxbury, MA and lives on her ancestral homelands of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe where she is a founding member of the teaching team at Weetumuw Katnuhtôhtâkamuq, a primary and elementary school for Wampanoag children.  Prior to joining the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, she worked extensively in Arts Education, piloting community based, youth development programs ensuring access to arts for Boston youth. Siobhan holds a BFA in Performing Arts from Emerson College, and is a graduate of the American Repertory Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University.

Koren Clark, M.Ed is a (6-9) Montessori trained guide, and certified Montessori coach who has taught for over 20 years. Clark is AMS Montessori certified, California state certified and holds an administrative credential. With a masters in Montessori education and a Ba in Sociology from UC Berkeley, Clark has studied and done international educational research in Zimbabwe, Germany and  Egypt. She has been a presenter at the Montessori for Social Justice and American Montessori Society conferences.  Clark has led multiple professional development workshops for Montessori schools and organizations across the nation and serves on the board of Montessori Life and the Black Montessori Education Fund. Clark is the designer of Know Thyself Inc (a Montessori material and professional development organization) and a partner for Wildflower schools where she helps teachers develop liberated teacher-led Montessori micro-schools. 

Maya Soriano is passionate about education as a vehicle for social change.  Maya has worked in urban public and charter schools in both Los Angeles and Minnesota.   Maya completed her AMI Primary training at the Montessori Center of Minnesota and later earned her Master’s of Education from St. Catherine’s University.  She opened Lirio Montessori in 2018 with her teacher leader partner, Susana Rodriguez.  Lirio Montessori is a teacher-led two way immersion Children’s Housel that is part of the Wildflower School network.  Lirio is one of the first Wildflower charter sites and is located in the heart of South Minneapolis with an emphasis on accessibility and serving students of color.  After seeing how the teacher-led model could greatly impact communities and support equity minded educators, Maya co-founded the Wildflower Equity Initiative which focuses on increasing Montessori teachers of color pipeline as well as supporting teacher leaders of color that are interested in opening Wildflower schools in Minnesota.  She now works at the Wildflower Foundation where she has the privilege to support emerging teacher leaders and their coaches as they engage in the work of opening more teacher-led schools.