Our Story

The Montessori Public Policy Initiative (MPPI) was born out of a shifting education policy landscape in the late 90’s and early 00’s that created dissonance between fully-implemented Montessori and newly created regulations and rubrics designed to improve early childhood education. While the goal of bringing high quality education to all children is one that Montessorians share with the broader education community, Montessori educators missed the opportunity to inform the conversations that sought to articulate and regulate quality in the hopes of improving early childhood offerings. The result was a policy landscape in which several essential components of high-fidelity Montessori were often in conflict with regulations. At the same time, Montessori was expanding dramatically in the public sector, highlighting the need for recognition of the Montessori teaching credential, crosswalks to state standards, program evaluation tools that align with the Montessori model, and increased education of charter boards and school districts regarding how fully implemented Montessori classrooms operate.

Teachers, administrators, and existing state Montessori associations began tackling advocacy work individually and reaching out to their national associations for assistance dealing with new policy obstacles. The American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Association Montessori International (AMI/USA) had begun to work on public policy issues independently, but soon recognized the need to work jointly if progress was to be made. It was in this context that AMI/USA and AMS formed MPPI in 2013 to be the unified voice in advocacy and a platform for coordination of public policy efforts.

Since then, MPPI has formed and supported Montessori advocacy coalitions in 40 states. Montessorians throughout the United States and across multiple affiliations have been working together to successfully modify policies that were enacted without our input. Montessori educators have a profound understanding of the environment as a teacher, of the ways that confidence, concentration, independence, and self-regulation undergird all aspects of development, and of the life-long impact of a child-centered education. Our public policy successes ultimately mean that more children have access to these gifts of a Montessori education.

Our Team

Wendy Shenk-Evans | Executive Director

As a veteran Montessori school administrator and Montessori parent, Wendy has seen the transformational impact that a Montessori education can have in the lives of children. Her passion for making this invaluable educational approach accessible and available to more children inspires her public policy work with MPPI.

While serving as a head of school in Washington, DC, Wendy successfully advocated for policy changes to help Montessori programs in the District flourish. She became involved in national advocacy efforts in the early stages of MPPI’s work. Now, as MPPI’s Executive Director, she supports state level advocates, collaborates with leaders across the Montessori community, advocates and builds coalitions with other national education organizations, and offers trainings and workshops both domestically and internationally to prepare Montessori educators to be effective advocates.

Denise Monnier | Director of State Advocacy

Denise Monnier is a Montessori parent, advocate, and advocacy coach, striving for public policy that supports universal access to Montessori education. More than 15 years of teaching in and leading Montessori schools made her deeply aware of the need for equity in and access to high quality education. Denise‘s journey into education policy began when she founded an early childhood outreach program. Later, as the head of Fox Valley Montessori School in Aurora, Illinois and through her involvement in the Association of Illinois Montessori Schools where she currently serves as Executive Director, her advocacy efforts turned to statewide and national advocacy. Her work with MPPI is centered around supporting our state advocacy groups and equipping them with the tools and training they need to be effective advocates for children.

Vyju Kadambi | State Advocacy Associate

In her nearly 25 years as a Montessori educator, Vyju has served as a Montessori teacher, head of school and school founder.  She has worked in both private and public Montessori schools and strongly believes that there needs to be greater access to high quality Montessori education for all families.  She is AMS credentialed for Primary and Lower Elementary and holds an AMS certificate in Administration and a master’s degree in Education from Xavier University.

Vyju focused on advocacy while serving on the United Montessori Schools of Indiana board of directors, working with Montessori leaders and licensing specialists to reduce policy obstacles to quality Montessori education.  She was instrumental in creating and implementing a verification program for Indiana Montessori schools. 

Our Board

Munir Shivji

Munir Shivji

Executive Director, American Montessori Society

Dr. Ayize Sabater

Dr. Ayize Sabater

Executive Director, Association Montessori International/USA

Jessica Davis

Jessica Davis

Assistant Head of School, Bloomington Montessori School, President, Legislative Advocacy Chair, and School Validation Coordinator for the United Montessori Schools of Indiana

Heather Gerker

Heather Gerker

Teacher Educator, PhD Student in Education Policy and Teacher Education; Co-founder Kentucky Montessori Alliance.

Sheba Kapur

Sheba Kapur

Elementary Level Coordinator West Side Montessori Teacher Education Program, New York State Montessori Alliance Board Member

Gracie Martinez

Gracie Martinez

Board Member, Pacific Northwest Montessori Association

Tim Nee

Tim Nee

Director of Satellite and Special Projects at Montessori Training Center Northeast, AMI/USA Board Member

Alyssa Schwartz

Alyssa Schwartz

Head of School, Cornerstone Montessori School

Martha Teien

Martha Teien

Executive Director, Mountain Montessori; former President, Colorado Montessori Association

Trisha Thompson-Willingham

Trisha Thompson-Willingham

Vice-President Virginia Montessori Association, Consultant

Work with MPPI

We’re not hiring right now, but if you’re interested in working with us in the future, feel free to drop us a note!