By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 26, 2011 at 11:56 AM

The North American Montessori Teachers' Association hosts a double-themed conference in Milwaukee at the Hyatt Regency this weekend.

In addition to discussing "Strengthening the Montessori Culture in the Public and Private Sectors," the conference, which runs from Thursday through Sunday, will also look at "The Essential Montessori Mathematics."

The conference arrives here at the perfect time.

First, because this Friday – formerly a day for the state-wide teachers' conference, which has been canceled – is a professional development day for educators. That means a number of teachers from Milwaukee's public Montessoris like Craig, Fernwood, Lloyd Barbee, MacDowell, Kosciuszko and Maryland Avenue (there are also district Montessori charters like Highland Community School and Montessori IB High School) will be available to attend.

Milwaukee also has a Montessori training institute, a range of private Montessori schools and this year Wauwatosa opened its first public Montessori program.

It's also good timing because there is a big push to implement a new district-wide math and science curriculum this year in MPS, so math is on a lot of people's minds in the district.

"The conference is on math and that is important in that it is an area that our schools need to improve upon," says Craig Montessori principal Phil Dosmann, who has been heavily involved in the MPS Montessori community for decades. Dosmann's wife and two daughters also teach in the district's public Montessori schools.

"While our outcomes at eighth grade are very good, we need to address math instruction at the lower grades. In light of the district's comprehensive math and science plan this is a good time to have this conference. There are national AMI trainers who are presenting, so they can give a general theoretical approach to how the Montessori student learns and internalizes mathematical concepts."

Schools will send some teachers to the conference, while other educators will take part in a collaborative professional development session on literacy and math with staff from all the MPS Montessoris. Then, they will all reconvene and share knowledge. 

"This is a wonderful opportunity for staff to gain a solid review and insight into our Montessori mathematics curriculum to support instruction in the classroom," says Joe DiCarlo, principal at Maryland Avenue Montessori on the East Side.

"The staff attending the NAMTA conference will bring back the information and knowledge they gain from the Montessori speakers and break out sessions and share it with the rest of the staff during November staff meetings. During these collaborative staff meeing sharing sessions, the connection between how the Montessori math curriculum is implemented in the classrooms while covering the common core state standards in math will also be discussed."

The conference also gives Milwaukee a chance to show off its public Montessoris, which – as one of the largest groups of public Montessori schools – are a national model.

Dosmann says, for example, that he's giving a tour of his school, on the Northwest Side, to representatives from a public Montessori program in Alaska on Thursday.

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 OnMilwaukee.com 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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.