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Traveling Montessori Teacher Gets AMI Certified

She did it. Now we can get back to our regular programing … whatever that is.

Montessoir classroom
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PRAGUE, Czech Republic- She did it. She passed. My wife is now a real Montessori teacher.

Well, she was a “Montessori teacher” for years, taking a string of decently paying lead teacher jobs in China — even setting up programs for schools there — but she wasn’t ever certified. This, technically, isn’t that big of a deal, as the teaching system was never copyrighted or trademarked — so any bozo with a bag full of cash can start up a school, buy some pink blocks, and call it Montessori.

However, there is a such thing as certified schools and teachers, and there is a ranking system to the certifications:

AMI — This is the top level of certification, as it descends directly from Maria Montessori herself and her family is still involved. It’s a little cultish, it’s a touch intense, but it’s the real deal.

AMS — They are probably the best of the rest. My understanding is that they broke off from AMI to modernize some of the methods, but in doing so there is a wide range of variation between the different schools and training programs. What I don’t get is that Montessori’s methods were intentionally designed to be culturally and temporally universal — they get to the root of the human animal and how it develops and learns — and the fundamentals of this never change, anytime, anywhere. If you don’t believe this then it’s my impression that you may want to seek out a different educational method.

MACTE — A British (I believe) system that’s less intense and more removed from the source than the above two …

Why am I writing this? None of you give a shit about this.

Let’s just say that my wife no longer has the asterisk next to her name. Before now, telling people what she did for work was always a sheepish affair for her. She would say that she was a Montessori teacher and the other person’s eyes would light up and they woukd invariably ask, “Are you certified?” or “What type of certification do you have?” and she would get all bashful as she would tell them the truth: she was a hack who learned while working as an assistant preschool teacher when she was a teenager in Bangor and then on the fly by watching YouTube videos and experimenting in China.

However, through her time of teaching in China she sort of thought of Montessori as just a job in teaching that paid well, rather than a career. She studied education in university, and it was the closest thing that matched her philosophy that would allow her to rake in more than enough cash while moving around the world. But this seems to have changed now. After going through thus past year and a quarter of intensive study on the front line of the educational system, she bought in more and more, eventually realizing that this was really what she wanted to do and how she would define herself:

My wife is now a 100%, bonafide, Montessori teacher. When people ask her about her affiliation she will say AMI with pride.

It wasn’t an easy journey to get here. My wife wrote around a thousand pages of essays and methodological processes and observation notes. She drew hundreds of pictures and constructed hundreds of graphics. The stack of notebooks that she submitted is over two feet tall. This is no exaggeration — I may actually be low balling it. It took both of us to carry them home the other day. We may need to buy an additional suitcase just to fly out with them. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen someone compile so much work in a single year.

Meanwhile, while my wife is attending classes and compiling her albums, I’m watching the kids. I had to take a year off of what was previously my main job, as it wasn’t possible to meet my quotas otherwise. I had to pull in the reigns on the freelance jobs that I would take. I turned down at least three high-paying speaking engagements. My travels were restricted to the times in between her modules and observations, and basically only amounted to a couple small forays to neighboring countries and one six-week research trip to the Middle East and Southeast Asia. I put a big part of myself up on a shelf for a year so she could go to school … but it ended up being one of the bests years I’ve had in a while.

It’s over now. My wife passed her exams, she passed her practical, her albums were accepted. She did it, and has the piece of paper to prove it.

We went to the graduation ceremony yesterday. I got to watch my wife walk across the stage and get her diploma. I don’t believe I’ve ever felt prouder of someone before.

She can now get back to work. She has a well-paying job lined up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

This transitional year is in the books.

I can now get back to work doing whatever I do.

Filed under: Czech Republic, Family, Jobs and Professions

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3703 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

11 comments… add one

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  • Rob July 1, 2019, 2:08 am

    Congratulations to your partner in this life! Another step forward for the both of you! This is a happy occasion.

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    • Wade Shepard July 1, 2019, 2:02 pm

      Thanks Rob! She is definitely happy about being done. Me too. And the kids!

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  • marysoderstrom July 1, 2019, 7:28 pm

    Wonderful! So glad this journey has reached a stopping point. Celebrate before you all carry on to the next adventure.

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    • Wade Shepard July 3, 2019, 11:05 am

      Thank you! We definitely did 🙂 My wife was so happy. We all were!

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  • julie July 1, 2019, 7:44 pm

    Congratulations to both of you. You have a real partnership in life, a rare and beautiful thing.

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    • Wade Shepard July 3, 2019, 11:04 am

      Thank you!

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  • Trevor July 1, 2019, 10:19 pm

    people do give a shit about this!!! good job !!!!

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    • Wade Shepard July 3, 2019, 10:59 am

      Really?!? Excellent! My wife would be happy to hear that!

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      • Trevor July 3, 2019, 8:25 pm

        Tell her man !! Or Zoom her or what ever that skype replacement app is called. Lmao

        No seriously . People must be impressed that she passed!! I cant be the only one

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  • Nicole June 20, 2023, 7:23 am

    Love your article on your wife , well done to her ! I myself am studying montessori AMI and I completely agree it’s really intense , I have studied other diplomats but this one is definitely one of the most challenging , so you have any articles on how your wife was able to travel and teach ? I would love to do that when I graduate

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    • VBJ June 20, 2023, 11:40 am

      That’s cool! You’re going to have so much fun after you graduate. We ended up moving to NYC and she worked at a Montessori school on the Upper East Side for a few years but will be changing to a school in Brooklyn next year.

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