Early childhood educators from around the world convened at Chaminade University from July 7-20 for its Montessori Summer Institute, an intensive two week “train the trainer” program about using natural surroundings and materials to nurture young students inside and outside the classroom. For many participants, this program was not only their first training in place-based education – a widely recognized model that is proven to increase student achievement – but also their first experience with Hawai‘i’s unique environment and rich native culture. Field trips and hands-on exercises expose participants to lesson plan ideas and innovative teaching techniques. The program’s curriculum included hiking, learning about ahupua‘a, working in fishponds and lo‘i kalo, and preparing a Hawaiian meal from scratch.

“People come from across the globe to take our course because it’s truly immersive,” said Program Director Jerry Richmond. “The educators experience place-based education and
Hawai‘i’s unique spirit of aloha, and it transforms how they teach their students when they go home. You’d be surprised how many local teachers, too, have never picked limu (seaweed).
People tell me afterwards that what they learn in our program really enriches their classrooms.”

The Institute, now in its ninth year, is growing steadily. Nearly a hundred educators have completed the program to date. This year, participants hail from Montessori and traditional
schools in Japan, Africa and the Philippines, as well as schools on O‘ahu. The two-week course at Chaminade’s campus in Honolulu alternates every other year with outreach trips led by Richmond. She and past program participants travel to schools in Africa and the Philippines to share Montessori principles and place-based education with teachers and students in rural and under-served areas. “We show them how natural materials can be used to teach everything from reasoning and critical thinking skills to subject matter in math, science and the language arts,” said Richmond. “By using the world around them, learning can be limitless even with limited resources.”

Chaminade University is the only institution in Hawai‘i that provides Montessori teacher training. Chaminade’s Graduate Programs offer a Master of Education degree in Early Childhood Education with Montessori Credential or Montessori Emphasis. Chaminade also accepts transfer credits from the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education for its master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees. The Chaminade University L. Robert Allen Montessori Laboratory School on campus serves children ages 3 to 6 year-round and is a practicum site for the preparation of Montessori early childhood credential teacher candidates.

Recently, Chaminade also began offering an online Montessori Certification Program for students in China through a partnership with Beijing University. The American Montessori Society reports that there are more than 4,000 Montessori schools nationwide, including eight Montessori schools in Hawai‘i, of which seven are on O‘ahu. Place-based learning is a nationally recognized model of education that has been adopted by both Montessori and traditional schools. The Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC) reports that “studies from across the United States connect place-based education with academic achievement.” The PEEC cites examples from Massachusetts to Missouri that show that students who receive place-based education have outpaced their peers on standardized tests in math and science and are more actively engaged in civic, environmental and service-learning projects.*

*Source: The Benefits of Place-based Education: A Report from the Place-based Education Evaluation
Collaborative (Second Edition). 2010. http://www.promiseofplace.org/research_attachments/PEEC2010_web.pdf
The Montessori Summer Institute is offered by Chaminade University in collaboration with Star
of the Sea Early Learning Center Peace Institute.

Chaminade University offers a rich educational experience for graduate and undergraduate students that aims to help people grow: professionally, intellectually, and spiritually. An advanced degree from Chaminade can be completed in two years. Guided by its Catholic, Marianist and liberal arts educational traditions, Chaminade encourages the development of moral character, personal competencies and a commitment to build a just and peaceful society. Visit www.chaminade.edu to learn more.

HONOLULU (July 17, 2013) – Contact: Liane Hu
Olomana Loomis ISC liane@olomanaloomisisc.com