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University of Hartford and Montessori Training Center Northeast Celebrate 10 Years of Partnership with Open House Event


Posted 10/13/2017
Posted by Mildred McNeill


(l-r) Greg Florio, executive director of the Capitol Region Education Council; James Walton, principal of The James Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation; Nora Flood, Education Director of The James Walton Fund; Tim Nee, Director of the Montessori Training Center Northeast; Paige Bray, University of Hartford Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education; Fred Sweitzer, University of Hartford Interim Provost; and David Goldenberg, Interim Dean, University of Hartford’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions.

(l-r) Greg Florio, executive director of the Capitol Region Education Council; James Walton, principal of The James Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation; Nora Flood, Education Director of The James Walton Fund; Tim Nee, Director of the Montessori Training Center Northeast; Paige Bray, University of Hartford Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education; Fred Sweitzer, University of Hartford Interim Provost; and David Goldenberg, Interim Dean, University of Hartford’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions.

(Hartford, Conn.) The University of Hartford UHart) and the Montessori Training Center Northeast (MTCNE) celebrated 10 years of partnership and their recent milestones with an open house on Wednesday, October 11 at MTCNE’s newly renovated facility at Butterworth Hall on UHart’s Asylum Avenue campus in Hartford.

The partners have been awarded $4.8 million from a fund directed by James Walton of the Walton Family Foundation to establish an undergraduate Montessori education program at UHart and conduct research about Montessori educator preparation over the next five years. In addition to program support, the grant provided funding for MTCNE to renovate and relocate to historic Butterworth Hall, built in 1917. The first students in the undergraduate program began this fall.

The open house was a celebration of the partnership and an opportunity to showcase MTNCE’s new location.  Also present was James Walton to celebrate the commitment to Montessori research and educational programming.  In awarding the competitive grant in June, 2017, the Walton Family Foundation recognized the decade-long partnership and the success of their collaborative master’s program, which incorporates Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) teacher training delivered by MTCNE into the graduate education curriculum. Currently, UHart and MTCNE offer the only program in the northeast that combines Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) teacher training with a graduate degree.

“The University of Hartford has a long-standing history of community partnerships,” University Interim Provost H. Frederick Sweitzer said, “and this is one of which we are most proud, especially now that it is a three- way partnership with the James Walton Fund.”

James Walton explained that he developed an interest in Montessori teaching and training as he was finishing college and looking for ways to solve some of the biggest issues facing society today. “This partnership has a vision to find the most viable and competitive approach to training more and better Montessori teachers. We are thrilled to stay engaged with Hartford and to learn from all the innovative solutions that are being piloted here.”

The recently established Center for Montessori Studies also is located in the century-old Butterworth Hall. It is an intellectual community contributing to Montessori education and the broader implication of Dr. Maria Montessori’s theories on human development, learning, and social reform also established a century ago.  The Center supports the research, teaching, and practice for the benefit of the partnership’s students and the broader Montessori community. 

“It’s the perfect place for us to do our training of future Montessori teachers, who are carrying on a century-old methodology that still has great importance in the development of the child,” said Tim Nee, managing director of MTCNE.

The Walton Family Foundation grant is one of the largest educational grants awarded to UHart in its 60-year history. The funds are being used to establish the program, provide tuition assistance to eligible students who reflect a commitment to degree completion, and conduct research to evaluate the effectiveness of the new program as well as potential implications for Montessori educators and educator preparation. The grant is designed so that the Montessori bachelor’s degree becomes a tuition-based, self-sustaining program by the end of 2022. 

Paige M. Bray, director of Montessori studies at the University, said, “The tuition assistance dollars provide essential access to Montessori teacher education and underscore our commitment to degree completion. In addition to access, we already see this program contributing to a greater diversity of people in Montessori education.” 

“MTCNE's partnership with the University of Hartford is rare in how deeply it supports students, by integrating the undergraduate, graduate, and Montessori education in one.  And the Montessori community of Connecticut as a whole is intertwined with the training center and with each other, providing access to a large swath of children, including those for whom Montessori is not typically available.” Said Alyssa Schwartz AMI-USA Executive Director

The bachelor’s degree program began in the fall semester of 2017 for both early childhood and elementary education with a Montessori concentration. Training with the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) at MTCNE is incorporated in the curriculum so that graduates will earn a bachelor’s degree and an internationally-recognized AMI diploma. In addition, graduates will be eligible for Connecticut state teaching certification. The program is open to applicants who are adult learners, career enhancement candidates, community college transfers, and incoming first-year students. Visit hartford.edu/montessori for application and tuition assistance details. 

About the Partners

The University of Hartford, centrally located in Connecticut, provides a distinctive educational experience across seven schools and colleges for one of the most diverse student bodies in New England. The University’s faculty are attracted by the opportunity to mentor, challenge, and support students as they pursue degrees in more than 100 programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, business, engineering and technology, education, and health professions. The University’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions prepares students to earn career-relevant degrees in deeply collaborative and scholarly environments. Students participate in real-world learning and research with faculty mentors early and often in their academic careers. ENHP partners with local, regional, and international organizations which play an integral role in the development of our students. Learn more at hartford.edu.

The Montessori Training Center Northeast (MTCNE) is a recognized AMI-teacher training center managed by the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC). The center provides AMI-teacher preparation courses in primary and elementary Montessori education. CREC opened MTCNE in 2003 in response to an urgent need of an AMI-teacher training center in New England. Located in Hartford, MTCNE serves as a central location in the northeastern part of the United States for Montessori activities by offering AMI-teacher training, program consultation and support for alumni and area Montessori schools. Learn more at crec.org/mtcne.

James M. Walton is the principal of a philanthropic initiative and an investment strategy, dedicated to supporting human potential. James is deeply inspired by Helen and Sam Walton’s belief that there is no limit to what individuals can accomplish "if given the opportunity, the encouragement and the incentive to do their best.” James is engaged with the Walton Family Foundation’s K-12 Education Program, and also independently runs his own philanthropic initiative. His personal philanthropy is committed to promoting diverse instructional models, such as the Montessori Method, that serve the individual needs of each student. His focus is equity for all children, and he is deeply committed to a governance system for public education that honors democracy, communities and a diversity of outcomes. James runs an investment strategy, currently New Company, LLC, that enables people to fulfill their potential through the arts, volunteering and local community. He is the grandson of Helen and Sam Walton, founders of the Walton Family Foundation and Walmart.

(l-r) Greg Florio, executive director of the Capitol Region Education Council; James Walton, principal of The James Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation; Nora Flood, Education Director of The James Walton Fund; Tim Nee, Director of the Montessori Training Center Northeast; Paige Bray, University of Hartford Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education; Fred Sweitzer, University of Hartford Interim Provost; and David Goldenberg, Interim Dean, University of Hartford’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions.

(l-r) Greg Florio, executive director of the Capitol Region Education Council; James Walton, principal of The James Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation; Nora Flood, Education Director of The James Walton Fund; Tim Nee, Director of the Montessori Training Center Northeast; Paige Bray, University of Hartford Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education; Fred Sweitzer, University of Hartford Interim Provost; and David Goldenberg, Interim Dean, University of Hartford’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions.