The University of Hartford (UHart) and the Montessori Training Center Northeast (MTCNE), an AMI teacher training center in Hartford, Connecticut, have received a Walton Family Foundation grant of $4.8 million for a new program which combines a bachelor’s degree with an AMI primary or elementary diploma and creates a nearly-direct pathway to a Connecticut public school teaching certificate.
Connecticut already offers a teaching certificate pathway for AMI diploma holders with a bachelor’s (the Unique Endorsement #110). The endorsement typically requires twelve additional Masters-level credits (in special education, reading, and early childhood education or math) and allows teachers to work in any of Connecticut’s four public Montessori schools. Endorsement holders can take additional steps (but need no further coursework) to qualify for a full teaching certificate, which has reciprocity with many other states. This new program incorporates the additional credits required for the endorsement into the bachelor’s degree. The precise pathway from this bachelor’s degree to the full certification is still under discussion, so this new pathway effectively puts Montessori teacher training almost, but not quite, on par with conventional teacher preparation.
MTCNE graduates have been eligible for the Unique Endorsement since its inception, as a bachelor’s degree is a standard criterion for admission. However, this program opens a pathway for students without a bachelor’s to complete that degree and the AMI diploma at the same time, and to access financial aid. Full-time tuition in the University of Hartford’s bachelor’s program runs about $38,000. Already, nine students (four full-time, five part-time) have been admitted to the program, and $138,000 has been awarded in scholarships thus far. UHart has committed to maintain the percentage of Walton scholarship aid granted to each student across their time in the program, so a student receiving 50%support this year can expect that to continue to ensure program completion. UHart also offers a Master’s in Education program for AMI diploma holders, but this requires a bachelor’s degree for entry. The Elementary Masters does support the Unique Endorsement while currently Primary does not by itself confer the Unique Endorsement or a conventional teaching license.
The project is funded by the James Walton Fund, an independent philanthropic initiative run by James Walton. Walton is the grandson of Helen and Sam Walton, founders of the Walton Family Foundation and Walmart. Walton has supported other Montessori initiatives in recent years, including organizational development work for the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (which publishes MontessoriPublic).