Remembering Jackie Cossentino
This article appears in the Winter 2020 issue of MontessoriPublic — Print Edition.
Jacqueline (Jackie) Mary Cossentino, co-founder and Executive Director of the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, passed away on December 15 last year after a brave eleven-month battle with colon cancer. She is profoundly missed by her husband Keith Whitescarver, their son Jack, and many relations, friends, and colleagues who were deeply inspired by her passionate nature and her tireless work for public Montessori.
Jackie first came to Montessori through her son Jack’s experience in a Montessori school. At the time a professor of educational leadership at the University of Maryland, she began research into Montessori pedagogy and took on leadership roles in both private and public Montessori schools. Elsewhere in this issue, we’ve reprinted an excerpt from her scholarly work, and a bibliography.
In 2012 Jackie co-founded, with her husband Keith and AMS Executive Director Rich Ungerer, the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. She served as its central inspiration and driving force until her death.
Jackie’s influence on those around her was immeasurable. In the days and weeks immediately after her passing, deeply moving remembrances and tributes flowed into NCMPS and spilled out on social media. We’re sharing a few of those here to let everyone know how powerful her impact was on people’s lives and on the Montessori movement.
Jackie was a bright light and leader in the Montessori world. She was eloquent, passionate, honest, and a visionary.
She was a tremendous source for good for so many in our profession—intelligent, visionary, passionate, kind, inclusive and insightful. Her work has made an incalculable difference to raising the possibility for and quality of high-fidelity Montessori practice for children in public schools. But more than that, she was a lovely, joyful person. We have all improved because of her tremendously important work.
Jackie was a connector who cared for others and appreciated the beauty of the every day…the world is a richer place for having had her in it.
She was an incredible force for good and will be missed dearly. We are thankful to have known and worked with her.
Ah, Jackie, we miss you dearly… such a bright light! Her light continues to live in each of us as we go about continuing her good work in the world….we grieve and give thanks for her presence in our lives.
Jackie’s passion, love, and commitment to making the world a better place was evident in all of her outstanding work.
Her vibrancy and passion for our good work was an inspiration to so many—she inspired us all.
Her life’s work continues in the many projects she initiated and in the hearts and minds of all of us.
Jackie was a strong, committed, passionate voice for Montessori education. She will be missed greatly.
What a tragic loss to the Montessori public sector. She made a lasting contribution, a great work for all of us to carry on.
Jackie was such a great contributor to Montessori in the Public Sector. Such a huge loss. I am grateful for the work she did to bring more equity for children.
Jackie’s strong intellect and deeply caring heart have graced Montessori practices for several decades. She was committed to sharing her insights and determined to do all she could to support every child.
Public Montessori may not have gotten as far as it had if not for Jackie.
Jackie did such fabulous work and really moved important initiatives along. The work she leaves behind is really important.
She was responsible for an astounding amount of progress for Montessori education. She helped us to expand our thinking and stretch both within and across organizations. We were stronger with her and she will be missed.
Jackie has been a force in Montessori education and her death is an enormous loss for our community. Few have contributed as much as she has and in so many ways. To say she will be missed is a huge understatement.
She was an amazing leader and educator committed to helping as many children receive an exemplary education irrespective of their backgrounds, an education that affirmed each child’s infinite worth and boundless creativity and imagination.
Jackie was such a gift to the world. I’m so grateful that she found her cosmic task in public Montessori and was a trailblazer and a cheerleader. Her legacy is long and wide and deep.
Jackie did such big work for a better education for children across the country.
David worked in private Montessori for more than twenty years as a parent, three-to-six year-old and adolescent teacher, administrator, writer, speaker, and advocate. In 2016 he began working with the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. David lives in Portland, Oregon.