From the moment our school community was conceived, this question has guided our journey. It was certain that bringing AMI Montessori education to the children and families of Madison was not the starting point nor was it the end goal. The question, at that time, was not whether or not to make this community a public school. The question in September, 2011, was, “How do we make this the most accessible Montessori school to reach as many families as possible?”
No one outside of this city could surmise how this form of education wasn’t already a possibility for families here, and at the same time, so many people in this city, while championing the cause, were skeptical of change being any sort of outcome. This skepticism saddened us, but it did not slow us down. Each step forward we asked, “What’s next?” And we kept moving.
This forward motion was not the journey of a couple teachers who wanted to see things change in Madison. This forward motion was the work of Fratney Miller, Ali Muldrow, Tim Peeremboom, Georgia Lieber, and Nick Kamphaus. This work was the forward motion of MMSD Board of Education President, James Howard, Mary Burke, Ed Hughes, Michael Flores, and Dean Luomos. This forward motion was the collaborative work with district administration including Jen Cheatham, Kelly Ruppel, Dylan Pauly, Mike Berry, John Harper, Silvia Romero-Johnson, and many more.
As each board member made a request for more information or different language, we returned to conference rooms to tailor the contract to each individual request, all with the goal of accessibility. All the while we continued to ask, “What’s next?” What is the next phrase or set of numbers or perfect boundary that will meet the needs of these board members before they will accept this change as a possibility for children and families who have historically been priced out of Montessori? We continued to ask, “What’s next?”
Each change we made was meant to be for the masses of people who wrote and spoke about this opportunity for their children, and we learned on Monday, August 21, 2017, that the changes we were making were for four people who didn’t want another opportunity for the oppressed, the marginalized, the poor, the homeless, those at risk of unnecessary expulsion and suspension, or those with exceptionalities.
Four people will not exclude a city. Four people will not stop this forward motion. Four people will not stop us from asking, “What’s next?”
The current contract is still in negotiations, and there are multiple options to create public, AMI Montessori in Madison. When we learn of the next board meeting when the contract will be discussed, we will help to inform the public. When we learn of more details regarding alternative options for creating a public space for AMI Montessori education in Madison, you will be the first to know. As always, we will continue to share information when we have it, as we are aware of your commitment to this cause.
The only people who haven’t asked about the next steps have been well-intentioned, protectors of our hearts. Though we appreciate the connection with our human family at any time; now, like any moment of darkness or light, we must look to the children. All of the children. We take time each day to share our gratitude to the families who have given us the opportunity to work and learn with children each day and to be inspired by children who we don’t even know. To the families who wrote letters, who traveled to speak, who call us weekly to say, “Keep going!”, who drive hours each day to be a part of a community working so hard for something, and the extended families who support them. Thank you for this opportunity for change. Thank you for the children.
And thank you, children. Each day a unique and exceptional soul opens a crack in any shadow overhead, showing us the light and the power to keep moving forward, and to continue asking, “What’s next?”
Melissa M. Droessler & Carrie Marlette
Heads of School