AMS Recognition Awards
Paying tribute to members of our community is integral to the AMS mission.
Every year, through a variety of awards, the American Montessori Society honors individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the Montessori Movement. AMS is proud to honor and recognize the ways in which they move Montessori forward.
“An ordinary teacher cannot be transformed into a Montessori teacher, but must be created anew, having rid herself of pedagogical prejudices.”
Maria Montessori, Education for a New World
AMS Living Legacy Award
Each year, the American Montessori Society Living Legacy Award honors an individual for their lifetime of dedication and service to AMS and the Montessori Movement. While recipients of other AMS recognition awards may have made an impact in just one area, the Living Legacy has had several if not many impactful roles in Montessori; for example, as a school or program administrator, teacher, author, researcher, mentor, presenter, lobbyist, union steward, education activist, board director, committee or commission member, and/or community leader.
Since the inception of this award in 1993, the Living Legacy honoree has played a critical role in helping to raise monies for AMS Teacher Education Scholarships, such as by serving as an inspiring speaker for fundraising events created for this purpose. The Living Legacy also delivers an address at AMS's annual conference, The Montessori Event.
Your donation in honor of the Living Legacy supports a cherished AMS practice: the awarding of scholarships to aspiring Montessori educators at AMS-affiliated teacher education programs.
- 2024: Gay Ward
- 2023: Susie & David Shelton-Dodge
- 2022: Juliet King
- 2021: William Maier
- 2020: Ana María García Blanco
- 2019: Marta Donahoe
- 2018: D’Neil and Michael Duffy
- 2017: Alice Renton
- 2016: Carolyn Kambich
- 2015: Maria Gravel
- 2014: John Chattin-McNichols
- 2013: Joyce Pickering
- 2012: Chandra Fernando
- 2011: Sonnie McFarland
- 2010: Judi Bauerlein
- 2009: Marie M. Dugan
- 2008: Betsy Coe
- 2007: Dottie Sweet Feldman
- 2006: Aline D. Wolff
- 2005: Celma Pinho Perry
- 2004: Bretta Weiss Wolff
- 2003: Sr. Anne McCarrick
- 2002: Sr. Anthonita Porta
- 2001: Ruth Corey Selman
- 2000: Carole Wolfe Korngold
- 1999: Beverly A. McGhee
- 1998: Margaret Farmer
- 1997: Joy Starry Turner
- 1996: Margaret Loeffler
- 1995: Effie Weinberg
- 1994: Virginia Varga
- 1993: Sr. Carolina Gomez del Valle
Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch Trailblazer Award
AMS recognizes individuals who have made significant advances in raising the profile of Montessori education through this annual award. It is named in honor of education visionary Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch, whose vigorous efforts were vital to the founding of AMS and the growth of the Montessori Movement.
Words from Our Recipients
Dr. Juliet King
2022 AMS Living Legacy Recipient
I had been teaching almost twenty years when I discovered Montessori. But once I did, there was no turning back! I wanted to share it with as many children as possible, especially those children who would not normally be privy to this wonderful way of learning.
2021 AMS Community Service Award Recipient
We all know that our work as educators is world-changing as we impact the lives of the children, families, and our colleagues with whom we come into contact each and every day. One way that our influence can go well beyond our own classrooms and schools is through involvement in our global membership organization. Join me in finding new ways to get involved at AMS! Together we move Montessori forward!
2021 Nancy McCormick Rambusch Trailblazer Award Recipient
My admiration for Nancy McCormick Rambusch has grown as I have read her writing and heard stories from those who knew her. It seems fairly certain that without her dogged determination to establish a more culturally relevant approach to Montessori education in America, I might not have discovered Montessori education.
2021 AMS Living Legacy Recipient
After 45 years of this work, I cherish this opportunity to thank AMS for giving me—and all of us—a platform where I—where we—can work together, think together, dream together of ways to get better and better at fulfilling Montessori’s vision of a world that is worthy of our children.
2022 AMS Service Award Recipient
I’ve grown so much from the people I’ve been in community with examining gender, race, and other equity and social justice issues through the AMS affinity groups I’ve facilitated and in other professional capacities. I want to especially thank the BIPOC, the queer and trans folx, the folx with disabilities, and so many others who have laid down roots with their knowledge, passion, vulnerability, and vision. I am only able to serve because I have learned from you. There’s so much work left to be done. It’s been a hard couple of years, but we need to keep pushing. When our privilege gives us space to ease up, we can’t allow ourselves to become complacent. I hope to see spaces continue to grow where we can transform ourselves, our classrooms, and our schools in order for every child to be free to express themself fully and fearlessly.
Douglas M. Gravel Benefactor Award
AMS acknowledges those whose generosity has contributed to the sustainability and growth of the organization through an annual award named in honor of the late Douglas M. Gravel, one of AMS’s most consistent and generous benefactors. Doug, along with his wife, Maria Gravel, provided strong and unwavering support to the American Montessori Society from its earliest days.
- 2023: Pamela Zell Rigg and the Original Founders of the Dr. Marlene Barron Innovation Fund
- 2022: Suzanne Jennett Gusemano
- 2021: MaryEllen Kordas
- 2020: Kathy Roemer
- 2019: Judith McCartin Scheide
- 2018: Karen Kenison
- 2017: Elizabeth Bronsil
Dr. Maria Montessori Ambassador Award
This award honors individuals who, through their work in a variety of arenas such as the arts, sports, government, and higher education, are fostering a landscape in which Montessori education cannot only thrive, but flourish.
- 2023: Ashley Judd
- 2022: Wynton Marsalis
- 2021: Chelsea Clinton
- 2020: Derrick Gay
- 2019: William D. Smith Jr.
Watch Ashley Judd's Acceptance Speech from 2023
Community Service Award
AMS Community Service awards honor outstanding volunteers and recognize the impact they have made to AMS.
- 2023: Amelia McTamaney, Marilyn Stewart, Michelle Hartye, Sandra Stevenson, and Susan Kambrich
- 2022: Josh Vogt, Iris Lee, and Rye Josloff
- 2021: Anna Perry, Phyllis Povell, and organizers of Montessori Everywhere nonprofit group
- 2020: Mary Ann Boyd, Pam Dunbar, and Marge Ellison
Montessori Innovator Award
This annual award honors up-and-coming individuals for their original and inventive contributions to the practice and experience of Montessori education. Recipients demonstrate mastery of the delicate task of introducing new ideas/approaches while remaining ever true to the philosophy and practice as articulated by Dr. Montessori. Learn more about how AMSHQ is practicing innovation every day.