Announcing the AMS 2024 Living Legacy: Gay Ward

Gay WardApril 17, 2023—For over 2 decades, Dr. Gay C. Ward has been advocating for the American Montessori Society, advancing research and mentoring the next generation of leaders. Currently, Gay is a professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) where she works as a Montessori consultant and academic faculty in teacher education and Montessori studies.

AMS Involvement & Honors

Dr. Gay Ward earned her AMS Elementary I credential at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH, and taught Elementary students in the United States and in Australia. She has been a member of several AMS committees, including, most recently, the Elementary Writing Course and AMS Instructor Academy.

In 2015, Gay received the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Lifetime Achievement Award for Scholarly and Creative Activity and in 2016, she received the Dennis Shapiro Innovation in Montessori Teacher Education Award from MACTE. She also was honored by the Wisconsin Montessori Association with the Education Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021. We are proud to bestow this new honor of AMS Living Legacy upon Dr. Ward.

Advancing Montessori Locally & Globally

In addition to speaking at many AMS conferences (and coordinating networking sessions, reviewing proposals, and more), Dr. Ward has presented and taught in AMS programs in South Korea, Taiwan, and throughout the United States. While living in Australia, she became deeply involved with the Australian Montessori organizations.

Locally, Gay helped plan and launch a Montessori public charter school in River Falls, WI, and served on the school’s site council. She currently serves on the board of a Montessori private school. She has been a board member and administrator conference facilitator for the Wisconsin Montessori Association and she received a federal grant for supporting teachers of diverse communities in the Milwaukee Public Montessori Schools.

Gay had a vision to create the first national and international Montessori doctoral program. She gathered experts, guided the development process, and, with the support of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) and the American Montessori Society, she made it a reality. She was on the development committee and is currently on the faculty of this innovative program. Previously, when creating the Montessori master’s program at UWRF, Gay supervised the approval process of over 40 Montessori graduate courses.

Research & Mentorship

Dr. Gay Ward has always been passionate about research. In 2013, she joined the AMS Research Committee and served as the co-chair from 2015 – 2018. She also served as an editor for the Journal of Montessori Research. She is committed to supporting teachers in becoming researchers and she collaborated on the first AMS Action Research Course and has facilitated numerous workshops on action research at The Montessori Event.

Gay has co-authored articles on action research, reading development, narrative development, choice in learning, and joyfulness. Her current research focuses on equity-based assessment practices in Montessori.

In addition, Dr. Ward has co-authored Reading Development: A Handbook of Assessment and Instruction, a language textbook widely used in Montessori Early Childhood and Elementary reading and language arts courses and has written articles in AMS’s quarterly magazine, Montessori Life and the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) award-winning, peer-reviewed journal, Young Children. Gay has also developed literature-based social justice packets for Montessori teachers. She was a contributing author to the recently published Bloomsbury Handbook of Montessori Education (2023).

Whether guiding researchers and Montessori programs at UWRF or guiding AMS Emerging Leaders in their own capstone action research projects, Gay deeply cares about fostering the next generation of educators and researchers. She has served as a mentor for the AMS Emerging Leaders Fellowship program and volunteered hundreds of hours mentoring over 30 participants.

An Unstoppable Force for Education

Dr. Gay Ward believes in innovation and collaboration as the key ingredients to making big dreams a reality and she does this with her infectious enthusiasm, dedicated professionalism, and brilliant spirit.

She has dedicated her career to the advancement of Montessori, and we are honored to recognize her as the 2024 Living Legacy.