MACTE is pleased to share our Spotlight on Program Directors series. These profiles are a chance for program directors to share about their teacher education programs and their own personal stories.
Name and Title: Kathie Sweet, Interim Director of Montessori Education
Program Name: University of Nebraska Kearney Montessori Teacher Education Program
Program Website: www.unk.edu
Tell us a little about your program.
We are located in Kearney, NE. Our program began in 2018 with an endowment from LaVonne Plambeck upon closing Mid-America Montessori Teacher Training Institute. The vision of the UNK Teacher Education Montessori Program is to carry on Dr. Plambeck’s legacy of preparing teachers to enter the Montessori community with AMS credentials, through an accessible program with degree options. Our courses are held online, with 3 weeks in-residence in Omaha, NE in the summer. We offer Early Childhood (21 credit hours) and Elementary I (24 credit hours) at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Options are available for a Montessori minor for undergrads and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Montessori.
What excites you about the future of your program?
We are excited to grow our program to prepare Montessori teachers in the Midwest and beyond.
What has MACTE accreditation meant to your program?
MACTE accreditation identifies UNK Montessori as a high quality teacher preparation program. We are proud of this accomplishment and continue to strive for quality instruction and mentoring.
What was your path to Montessori?
I began as a Toddler directress in Chicago. Upon moving to Omaha, NE I became employed with a public school magnet program and completed my Early Childhood and Elementary I AMS certification with Mid-America Montessori Teacher Training Institute. I was employed as a teacher trainer with Mid-America for 14 years and have been with UNK since 2019.
What are your top reading recommendations?
Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius
To Educate the Human Potential
Maria Montessori Sails to America: A Private Diary, 1913
Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work, E.M. Standing
Describe your perfect meal.
Steak and potatoes and a great salad bar.
What is your dream destination? What would you like to do there?
I had a penpal in Australia from the time I was in sixth grade and have always dreamed of going there and meeting her in person. I would also love to visit Montessori schools there.
For those considering becoming a Montessori teacher, what advice would you give them?
Forget a lot of what you learned in your traditional education training, but not all of it. Keep what works with Montessori, but make yourself open to embracing the philosophy. It’s about the child, not you.