By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 02, 2023 at 12:26 PM

Milwaukee Public Schools, which has the largest group of public Montessori schools in the country, is launching its own credentialing center at the former Lee Elementary School – now called Grant Gordon Learning Center – 921 W. Meinecke Ave. 


The district officially opened a model Montessori classroom, lecture space and a teacher material-making room at the center that will help train staff for the programs, which are located at Bay View (at two sites), Craig, Fernwood, Lloyd Barbee, MacDowell, Maryland Avenue and Riley Montessori Schools. Highland Community School is also chartered through the district.

More than 3,800 students are enrolled in the district’s Montessori program, which celebrates the 45th anniversary of MacDowell transitioning to a Montessori school in 1978.


The training rooms will be stocked with the materials utilized by the Montessori method in elementary level classrooms.

Italy’s first medical doctor, Maria Montessori, created the method to allow children to learn naturally according to their natural curiosity in a self-guided, hands-on environment.

Finding sufficient teaching and administrative staff that is Montessori trained and credentialed has long been an issue in the district, often preventing expansion of Montessori programs to meet demand for spots from families. A number of the programs have wait lists and students from outside the City of Milwaukee enroll in MPS to access these programs, too.


According to a release, MPS will fund the credentialing tuition for 40 MPS employees with bachelor’s degrees who commit to stay in the district for at least three years.

Applicants can be hired for openings in the district before starting the credentialing program, which starts in January.

Montessori accreditation organizations generally train and credential teachers at the primary (K3-K5), lower elementary (grades 1-3, upper elementary (4-6) and adolescent/high school (7-12) levels.

These MPS rooms, however, will only be used for the two elementary levels, which will be trained by Hartford, Connecticut-based Montessori Training Center Northeast. The district is focusing on the elementary levels, where there is currently the greatest need.


Adolescent and high school level teachers will be credentialed at Craig Montessori on the Northwest Side via the Cincinnati Montessori Secondary Teacher Education Program.

The staff trained at MPS will be credentialed by Association Montessori Internationale.

Courses will be held on evenings and weekends to accommodate trainee work schedules.

If you’re interested in the training program, there will be informational virtual meetings on Monday, Nov. 13, and Monday, Dec. 11 at 4:30 p.m. More information is here.

Milwaukee’s public Montessori programs have been so popular that MPS hired a district-wide Montessori coordinator a few years ago. That role is currently held by Abigail Rausch.

The most recent program to launch was a bilingual English/Spanish program at Riley, 2424 S. 4th St.

MacDowell Montessori, 6415 W. Mount Vernon Ave., has the district’s only Montessori high school program.

There will also be an open house on Thursday, Nov. 2 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. so that members of the public can see the rooms.

Wisconsin Montessori Association Conference

In related news, the WMA will hold its annual conference Saturday, Nov. 11 from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Fernwood Montessoi, 3239 S. Pennsylvania Ave., in Bay View.

There will be workshops and a keynote on "Building Independence" by Southwest Institute of Montessori Studies AMI Elementary Trainer, Gabriella Lopez.

And administrator roundtable and school tours will be held the day before, Friday, Nov. 10.

Find complete details and registration info at

(Disclosure: The author has, in the past, served on the board of the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee and on MPS’ Montessori Advisory Committee. He is a longstanding member of the School Engagement Council at Maryland Avenue Montessori.)

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.