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Montessori Education Program Celebrates 50 Years

By Rod Jones

The Montessori education program at Oklahoma City University is celebrating its 50th year with a conference June 11.

The conference will include demonstrations of Montessori instructional techniques by guest teachers from across the country, including a hands-on clay demonstration by a teacher from the Chicago area and a music composition session by a teacher from Colorado.

The conference will also honor the OCU program’s founder, Margaret Loeffler, and one of its most influential leaders, Dorothy Pape.

Registration is $50 and includes lunch. Contact OCU professor Charlotte Wood-Wilson via email at [email protected] or call 405-208-5372 to register.

OCU’s Montessori Teacher Education Program started during the 1963-64 school year and was accredited in 1966. The program integrates contemporary thinking in early childhood education with the insights and methodologies of Dr. Maria Montessori, a physician and educator whose views of children’s development and strategies for learning have been implemented in cultures around the world for more than 80 years.

Wood-Wilson, the current director of the OCU program, estimates that nearly 500 students have earned their master’s of education degrees in Montessori from OCU. She said the program has several notable alumni in the field including former American Montessori Society presidents, school leaders and book authors, thanks to the efforts of program founders Loefller and Pape.

“These ladies were ahead of their time,” Wood-Wilson said. “We’re one of the oldest programs in the country, and our graduates have helped pioneer many of the tools and practices used in early childhood education.”

Conference participants may also tour OCU’s new permanent learning space. The classroom features areas for each part of the Montessori curriculum including language arts, sensorial, math and practical life for demonstration and practice purposes.

Some of the conference activities and demonstrations will include:

  • A hands-on demonstration of using clay in the classroom — how to reclaim clay and how to use the clay in your own backyard
  • Activities to make classrooms a more peaceful place for both teacher and child, including books, music and more
  • Writing and composing music for social studies, geography and math activities in the classroom with young children
  • Making dumplings, based on lessons learned during a pilot once-a-week program at Wesley United Methodist Church
  • Pre-weaving activities for children ages 3-6, culminating in a child-friendly loom. Demonstration will include hands-on weaving activities
  • Outdoor classroom activities
  • Interactive art display based upon a book by Julie Karlonas. Participants may browse and experiment with a variety of art media and learn how it can be set up to be self-selected by young children
  • Interactive display of this year’s OCU student projects
  • Vendors — several local and out-of-state vendors have been invited

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