Announcing New Innovation Initiatives at the American Montessori Society

August 24, 2022—Innovation has always been a part of AMS’s DNA. It’s been over 115 years since Maria Montessori opened the Casa dei Bambini and in that time, we’ve seen endless advances in technology, education, and society as a whole. It would be nearly impossible for Montessori to imagine a world with high speed internet or Zoom classrooms. In this ever-changing world, the need for high-quality, high-fidelity Montessori education remains. And so long as the classroom and program doors remain open, the American Montessori Society will be supporting you, our educators, administrators, teacher education program directors, instructors, and coordinators, adult learners, and families as you innovate, grow, and cultivate bold new ideas for the future.

We are now teaching children who will be alive in 2100 and we have a responsibility to prepare ourselves for a future we cannot predict and to equip our students with adaptable life skills for whatever tomorrow brings. The child who constructs themselves today will grow up in a different world than Maria Montessori’s students. As such, it is our duty to constantly challenge our practices and look toward the future of Montessori education with curiosity for the opportunities that await.

Introducing the Dr. Marlene Barron Innovation Fund

Effective immediately, the American Montessori Society is proud to announce the formation of a brand new giving fund: the Dr. Marlene Barron Innovation Fund. This new fund joins the four preexisting funds managed by the American Montessori Society (Annual Appeal; Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Scholarship Fund; Living Legacy Scholarship Fund; and Peace & Social Justice Fund). (Learn more about AMS giving.)

The purpose of the Dr. Marlene Barron Innovation Fund is to honor the legacy of long-time AMS member and ardent supporter, Dr. Marlene Barron. Marlene’s passion allowed our community to challenge current thinking and perceptions as a way to elevate Montessori pedagogy. Her efforts to grow the Montessori Movement both in the United States and in China simply cannot be overstated. Monies raised through this fund will support the new AMS Innovation Fellowship Think Tank and Labposium program and events as well as other new initiatives designed to move Montessori education forward in new and exciting ways.

The Fund in Action


As stated, the Dr. Marlene Barron Innovation Fund will support the funding of new initiatives, programming, and events to support forward thinking ideas and projects of the American Montessori Society.

In the fund’s first year, money raised will support the launch of the AMS Innovation Fellowship Think Tank—a free, one-year program that offers a deeply immersive and transformative experience for Montessori leaders who are committed to driving meaningful change for the Montessori community while also protecting the integrity of Montessori pedagogy and practice.

The Think Tank will bridge research-based concepts and creative ideas into practice. We are thrilled to launch this initiative and feature a global cohort of Montessori leaders from schools and teacher education programs in an effort to exchange knowledge and craft innovative approaches to bring AMS and our individual organizations to the next level of excellence. Learn more about the Innovation Think Tank.

Also launching in 2023 is the inaugural AMS Leadership Labposium. (The name Labposium reflects the event being part LABORATORY and part SYMPOSIUM.) At the 4-day, in person Labposium, participants will study keys to accelerating innovation in Montessori schools and teacher education programs through team collaboration, interactive programming, and special workshops and group projects. This event was designed for AMS school leaders and teacher education program directors and coordinators for one simple reason: innovation is not a luxury, but rather a necessity. Learn more about the Labposium.

Thank You to Our Donors

After Dr. Barron’s passing on June 1, 2022, the American Montessori Society was contacted by Dr. Pamela Rigg, program director of Montessori Teacher Education Center of the San Francisco Bay Area and long-time AMS supporter, volunteer, and donor. Pamela wrote, “The purpose of this fund is to secure financial resources for research, pilot programs, speakers, and workshops that challenge ‘what is’ and suggest a ‘but what could we be?’ or ‘yes, and then we could…’ or ‘hey! Let’s relook at this.’”

Thanks to Pamela’s initiative and to additional donor funding, the American Montessori Society has secured $200,000 to launch this fund.

A special thank you goes out to our early supporters:

  • Dr. Pamela Rigg
  • Wen-Chiao Lo
  • Monica Wang Su-Yu
  • Jui-chin (Kareen) Wan
  • Vivien Wang
  • EMTTA (Etonkids Montessori Teacher Training Academy)
  • Ralph Yau Chun Ming

Donate now to the Dr. Marlene Barron Innovation Fund. 

Honoring Dr. Marlene Barron

Dr. Marlene Barron lived a bold and dynamic life from her early days as the founder and head of school at Staten Island Montessori School to her work at West Side Montessori School, West Side Montessori School Teacher Education Program, CHAMP (Central Harlem Association of Montessori Parents), and New York University.

She was a big thinker and a trailblazer, something that was formally noted when, in 2018, she received the Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch Trailblazer Award from AMS. This award recognizes individuals who have made significant advances in raising the profile of Montessori education and Dr. Marlene Barron certainly fit that description.

Marlene first visited Asia in 2003 and spent the next nearly two decades actively working to support the Montessori Movement there through summer workshops in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Seoul, Daegu, and Tokyo and regularly taking trips to China, South Korea, and Japan to speak at conferences and work as a consultant. She also served as the academic advisor of Etonkids Educational Group; co-director of Etonkids Montessori Teacher Training Academy (EMTTA); and associate dean and director of research and development for Shanghai Montessori Education Academy.

We honor and thank Dr. Barron for her endless contributions to the Montessori Movement and we are grateful for the opportunity to memorialize her through this new fund. Read more about Dr. Marlene Barron’s legacy.

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