Montessori Conference Kicking Off in Sarasota

Todays News


The Montessori world descends on Sarasota through this weekend for the 22nd Annual International Montessori Education Conference. The event will bring 400 school leaders from 11 countries to the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. 

Tim Seldin, president of the Sarasota-based Montessori Foundation, says the event shows Sarasota’s increasing importance to education philosophy. “And Montessori is becoming an increasingly influential voice in the world of education,” he says.

The Montessori education philosophy, named for founder Maria Montessori, focuses on a child-centered approach and observations of children.

The conference, which launches today and continues through Sunday, will be produced by the foundation and by the International Montessori Council, which also calls Sarasota home. The Foundation relocated to Sarasota from Washington, D.C. in 2002 and the Council serves largely as the membership arm of the organization.

Filmmaker Jan Selby will premiere the documentary Building the Pink Tower at the conference this evening. The film explores the growing influence of Montessori schools, of which there are now more than 5,000 in the United States.

The event will feature keynote speeches by Seldin and Council Executive Director Kathy Leitch, along with workshops on how the Montessori method in teaching problem-solving, leadership and elementary mathematics, along with addressing problems like “Motivating the Unmotivated Child” and administrative issues like creating hospitality within a school.

Seldin, who likes to call Sarasota a “Montessori city in some ways,” says the region provides a perfect venue for the event thanks to cultural amenities and international appeal.

The community serves as home to the Newgate Montessori School Sarasota, a lab school for the foundation, an institution Seldin says has attracted more than 100 families to move to the region. 

“Sarasota is a center of innovation and the arts,” Seldin says. That serves the school well, he says, because the Montessori method is also about cutting edge innovation, not with technology but with human education and developing relationships with students and the community.

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