Association of 

Thank you for making the 2017 conference a great event!

Special thanks go to our Major Sponsors:

AIMS thanks the 2017 Conference Sponsors:

Welcome from AIMS President Cheryl LaCost

Dear Fellow Montessorians,

I hope your school year is off to a good start, with refreshed staff and eager students.  Last Tuesday, we held our first AIMS meeting for the year hosted by Rogers Park Montessori School.   I know I look forward to the opportunity to connect with fellow heads at our quarterly meetings.  If you were not able to join us, we have posted the agenda, minutes, and reports from the President, Executive Director, Treasurer as well as the slides DCFS presented at their regional meeting earlier this month.   To access them, go to the AIMS website ( log-in on the right hand side by using your school’s contact email address and password and then go to the "AIMS Member Info Page" tab on the left side of the screen.  The log in information should be the same information you used to renew your membership.  If you are having difficulty recalling your email address for membership or still need to renew, you can contact Blythe Silva, our head of membership, at   

Some highlights for this year include changing the venue for our regional conference to Illinois Benedictine University in Lisle, will allow us to increase the number of attendees from 500 to 750.  We are also hopeful this will allow those that might be less comfortable driving into the heart of the city due to traffic and parking related issues an opportunity to attend.   Our conference will be held on February 24 and 25 with information on registration coming in the next month.

Another initiative is piloting the use of Zoom, a webcam based service, to broadcast our meetings to those that would like to attend, but are not able to set aside the time to travel to and from the meeting.  The AIMS board utilizes Zoom and we believe it is an effective way for us to meet.  While we know it will be more difficult for those on the phone to take advantage of the networking opportunity, we hope it will allow them to hear the latest information as well as our guest speaker.

If you are interested in hosting one of our meetings, please contact Denise or me.  Our host school provides the lunch, generally for around 30- 40 people, and a tour of their school at the end of the meeting. Our contact information is provided at the end of this letter and the remaining meetings for the year are:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Denise and I welcome questions and ideas for how to continue to increase the value of AIMS as well as our conference for the membership.  We look forward to hearing from you and wish you a wonderful year.

Contact Information:

Cheryl LaCost 

President, AIMS             

Head of School, Brickton Montessori School 


Phone: 773-714-0646    

Denise Monnier

Executive Director, AIMS

Head of School

FoxValley Montessori School

Phone: 630-896-7557

Best regards,

Illinois Montessorian Michael LaFranzo (Carmel Montessori Academy) Has Passed Away

The Illinois Montessori community mourns the loss of Michael LaFranzo.  LaFranzo, age 71 years, passed away Sunday, September 18, 2016 at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, Geneva, IL. Born in Chicago on June 20, 1945, living in Elburn, Il the past 31 years. 

Michael was an US Army Veteran during the Vietnam War, serving in Military Intelligence. He retired as an Electrical Engineer with Rockwell International as the Director of the Allen Bradley Division.

Preceded in death by his parents, Jacob and Angeline (nee Rocchino) LaFranzo.

Survived by his loving wife of 48 years, Carmen I. (nee Fox) LaFranzo; two sons, Michael Mark (Sarah) LaFranzo and John Jacob (Andrea) LaFranzo; six grandchildren, Hannah, Barbara, Brian, Julie, Kimberly and Michelle LaFranzo; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins also survive. 

Michael will be remembered as a loving and caring husband, father, grandfather and friend.

Visitation will be held at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 710 West Marion Street Joliet on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 from 4:00 to 8:00 P.M. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 10:00 AM with Rev. Peter Jankowski, Celebrant.

Interment St. Patrick's Catholic Cemetery, Joliet.

For information call (815) 744-0022 or visit WWW.CHSFUNERAL.COM.

EdWeek Highlights the Work of Montessori Research Interest Group Members Mira Debs and Katie Brown!

A great piece in EdWeek highlights the work of group members Mira Debs and Katie Brown! This story was highlighted as the first story in ASCD's "SmartBrief" email today!

Support an Aspiring Montessori Teacher: Your Donation Can Now Have Twice the Impact!

Every year, AMS offers competitive scholarships to aspiring Montessori teachers who attend AMS-affiliated teacher education programs. The scholarships are made possible by donations made in honor of the AMS Living Legacy—this year, Carolyn Kambich.

In an exciting development, the Kambich family has agreed that for every dollar donated to the AMS Teacher Education Scholarship Fund in Carolyn’s name, they will make a matching grant, up to a total of $10,000!

I am writing to urge you to give today in support of aspiring Montessori teachers—and have your donation dollar doubled.

Scholarship recipients will be selected next month, so timing is tight—please don’t wait, act now!

We are grateful to the Kambichs and to our community for the generosity shown in helping to support the Montessori teachers of tomorrow.

State representatives and organization leaders meet to advance Montessori education

The Montessori Public Policy Initiative (MPPI) brought together leaders and state representatives from 26 states in Washington D.C. for a State Advocacy Retreat to learn about and discuss current policy trends and issues in early childhood and K – 12 education. This is the first time MPPI has brought representatives together from all over the country with the purpose of positioning states to effectively and pro-actively affect public policy. Illinois was represented by Sharon Damore, AIMS Executive Director and MPPI Council Member, Denise Monnier, Debbie Senoff-Langford, and Anne Matern.

Illinois’s Carolyn Kambich Selected as American Montessori Society 2016 Living Legacy

On March 14, at the Annual Meeting of the American Montessori Society in Philadelphia, PA, it was announced that Carolyn Kambich has been named the AMS 2016 Living Legacy. We at AIMS couldn’t be more thrilled! The American Montessori Society Living Legacy is an annual tribute to an individual whose dedication and leadership has made a lasting impact on the AMS community, and the selection of Carolyn as the new honoree will shed a bright light on Montessori in our state. 

Carolyn’s involvement with Illinois schools spans decades, including as founder of four Montessori schools that are still in operation—and thriving. Known as the Deerfield/North Shore Montessori Schools, all are AMS-accredited and serve infants through sixth graders.

While opening her first Deerfield school, Carolyn worked with others in the Illinois Montessori Society to pioneer the Montessori movement in Chicago. IMS was instrumental in advocating for Montessori education in the state of Illinois and in supporting teachers and parents. Eventually the needs of the constituents changed, and IMS was restructured as AIMS (Association of Illinois Montessori Schools) under the guidance of Carolyn and her husband, Tony Kambich. Carolyn also served as a president of AIMS. Today, AIMS continues to expand and influence the educational landscape of Illinois and supports the American Montessori Society at the national level.

Over the years, Carolyn has helped to train and mentor many Montessori teachers. One of her greatest contributions to the community is the legacy of all of those teachers and the schools they have founded.

For more details on Carolyn’s rich legacy in the Montessori world, we direct you to a dedicated page about her on the AMS website. 

And, to Carolyn Kambich herself, we offer our heartfelt congratulations!

Congratulations Countryside Montessori

AIMS would like to congratulate Countryside Montessori on being named Business of the Year by the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce. It is wonderful to see one of our AIMS Member Schools being recognized for the great work that they do in their community. Also, take a look at this video on Montessori made by one of their students!

Opportunity for Experienced Educators

McCormick Center at National Louis University coordinates the administration of the environmental rating scales that are now utilized to evaluate early childhood classrooms  in the Illinois ExceleRate (QRIS) Program. They are advertising for full-time program evaluators. This initiative could certainly use some experienced educators to lend some expertise on Montessori practices.  If you know a Montessori educator who is retired or looking for an interesting opportunity, please refer them to this website.

Multi-Age Grouping Guidelines from the American Montessori Society

As you may know, the School Accreditation Commission and AMS Board of Directors have been considering the subject of multi-age grouping over the past year.
Last fall, the AMS School Accreditation Commission created a Multi-Age Grouping Task Force (composed of some commissioners, the chair of the Teacher Educators Section, and some AMS Board members) to recommend a definition of optimal age groupings for all levels of Montessori education and to recommend whether or not a variance should continue to be granted to schools undergoing the AMS school accreditation process if they do not meet the specified age groupings.
The AMS Board of Directors, School Accreditation Commission, Teacher Education Action Commission, and many of our members believe clear communication of and adherence to Montessori principles and standards are essential if Montessori education is to become widely accepted as a quality education choice.
The process was inclusive of the various points of view of our many stakeholders. The School Accreditation Commission considered the discussions and recommendations of the Task Force; research and articles; original writings of Maria Montessori, Nancy McCormick Rambusch, and others; and best practices of accreditation agencies, and made recommendations to the AMS Board of Directors.
At its October 2014 meeting, informed by the recommendations of the School Accreditation Commission, the AMS Board of Directors approved the following decision:
Criterion 3.5 of the School Accreditation Standards and Criteria requiring multi-age groupings at the Infant & Toddler, Early Childhood, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Secondary levels will be upheld for accredited schools and schools seeking accreditation, with no option for a multi-age grouping variance to be granted for classrooms with alternative groupings.* Age groupings must be as follows:
· Infant & Toddler: Children from birth to 3 years of age may be grouped in varying multi-age configurations. A stand-alone classroom serving only 3-year olds does not satisfy this Criterion.
· Early Childhood: a 3-year age group within the range of 2.5 years to 6 years
· Lower Elementary: 6 years to 9 years
· Upper Elementary: 9 years to 12 years
· OR Elementary I-II: ages 6 years to 12 years
· Secondary: the school must offer an age grouping of either 12-14, 14-16, 16-18 years of age OR 12-15, 15-18 years of age
Of utmost consideration and importance was the understanding that multi-age groupings are central to how Montessori is delivered in our schools, how teachers are prepared by our teacher education programs, and which schools are available as practicum sites for our adult learners. The above Criterion is required only for currently accredited schools or schools intending to pursue the process of AMS school accreditation. It is not required for schools at the Initiate, Associate, or Full member levels. Likewise, it is not required for schools that serve as practicum sites for adult learners.
We recognize that the decision may have ramifications for schools that are not yet accredited by AMS and that some schools will be unable to meet this multi-age requirement for accreditation. We are taking this matter extremely seriously and are exploring another standards-based path to recognize quality programs, with a goal of serving and supporting our schools as fully as possible. The criteria for this path is being written and we hope to have it completed sometime early- to mid-2015.
In this age of increased attention to school choice, standards of quality rating by states, and increased scrutiny of teacher preparedness and quality, defining and adhering to quality is of the utmost importance. AMS is here to support our community as we navigate these challenges, find ways to validate quality schools and teacher education programs, and deliver exceptional education.
I hope you will share this communication with your members. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.
Carla Hofland
Director of Member Services
American Montessori Society
116 E 16th St.
New York, NY  10003
*Schools with multi-age grouping variances previously approved by the School Accreditation Commission are grandfathered such that they may maintain the age-grouping(s) for which the variances were granted with a designation that they adhere to a non-traditional Montessori age grouping.

Living Montessori

NBA superstar Stephan Curry is a Montessori grad! His mother runs a Montessori school…check out the video AMS has released!

Reading Corner

Daniel Goleman (author of “Emotional Intelligence”) has a new book out called “Focus: The Hidden Ingredient in Success” that addresses the major issue of today’s children’s inability to concentrate. Here is an interview with Goleman done by NAIS’ Independent Teacher magazine.



"We cannot create observers by saying 'observe,' but by giving them the power and the means for this observation and these means are procured through education of the senses."

The teacher must derive not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe natural phenomena. The teacher must understand and feel her position of observer: the activity must lie in the phenomenon.
Read more at"

AIMS Events

Wednesday, May 03, 2017 • The Chicago Children's Museum

Other Events

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@ Association of Illinois Montessori Schools