Assistant trainer Ann Velasco and former trainee Pily Pantoja during a lesson at the Southwest Institute of Montessori Studies.


The Southwest Institute of Montessori Studies is hosting a teacher training program in Ahwatukee, and applications for interested teaching students are being accepted.

Nesting at Keystone Montessori in Ahwatukee, the training runs through the course of a school year and includes instructions, observations and student teaching.

The institute started in 2011, and is currently training about eight teachers in the Montessori approach.

“It’s an approach that aims to educate the whole child. It’s not just an academic program, it’s life skills and leading them to a high level of independence,” said assistant trainer Ann Velasco.

With a strong need for teachers in Montessori schools around the Valley, Velasco said every teacher that comes through the training easily finds work.

The actual training is set up in a room much like a typical Montessori classroom for elementary or adolescent grades with one-on-one instruction and lots of materials. Teachers are essentially taught a Montessori lesson and they shadow the approach.

According to Velasco, the Montessori approach puts the child “front and center while the teacher takes the background.”

“(Teachers) are there to guide the child, offer them alternatives, but really letting the child take the lead,” she said.

Since the approach to teaching and student learning is largely different than traditional instruction, Velasco said most of her teachers in training explain their time in the program as “life-changing.”

In working with students on a smaller and more personal scale, teachers get to know their students well, cater lessons to their strengths and individual development.

“It’s really interesting to watch them in action” Velasco said.

The institute is located on the Keystone Montessori campus, 1025 E. Liberty Lane. Applications for the training program are now being accepted for next fall from teaching students preferably with a background in education.

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• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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