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Our thoughts on Montessori and education

Legacies of Love: Honoring the life and contributions of Aline Wolf, Michael Dorer, Mary Colarullo and Pilar Leto

February comes with a heavy heart for the Montessori Community as we have lost four remarkable
people whose life work leaves an indelible mark on all who knew them. For many decades, Aline Wolf,
Michael Dorer, Mary Colarullo, and Pilar Leto generously shared their love for children, life and learning
with spirit and creativity.

Aline Wolf

Aline Wolf was a pioneer in Montessori education in America. She and her husband, Gerald, founded Penn-Mont Academy, the first licensed Montessori school in Pennsylvania in 1961. Aline was also instrumental in bringing Magret Homphray and Phoee Child, St. Nicholas Montessori trainers from England, to the US to train teachers. The trainers came every year for four years and each year Aline took the course again.

By the fourth year, Aline was asked to participate as a lecturer. This began Aline’s decades of inspiring contributions as a Montessori lecturer and teacher trainer. Aline ‘s publication, A Parent’s Guide to Montessori, is likely one of her most widely read books, as it has been a staple for parent education at schools since 1969. From my perspective, Aline’s greatest literary contribution among her twenty-seven books published is Nurturing the Spirit in Non-sectarian classrooms.   This book, along with Aline’s many lectures on peace education, has and will continue to inspire educators and children to seek an inner calm within themselves and with that peace make the world a better place. Aline passed away on February 4, 2024, at the age of ninety-five. Her legacy of love and spirit lives on through her books as we strive to carry her torch of peace.

(Read more of Aline’s Story and check out her books at https://www.montessoriservices.com/ideas-insights/aline-wolfs-montessori-journey)

Michael Dorer

Michael Dorer may be best known as a Master Montessori Storyteller. Michael’s presentations were always filled with humor and wit, whether sharing his brilliant understanding of Montessori math, his passion for the cosmic curriculum, or organizational strategies for the elementary classroom.

Michael stumbled into Montessori when he happened upon a Montessori day care while walking down the street. He had no idea that entering that school would mark a turning point in his life. Intrigued, he began to volunteer at the school and was offered a scholarship to attend the first Montessori Primary (3-6) training offered in Minnesota. He later received his Montessori Elementary Diploma in Bergamo, Italy and received School Leadership credentials from both the American Montessori Society and the Association Montessori International.

In 1978 he expanded his Montessori contribution to include serving as teacher educator and graduate professor. As Director of Center for Contemporary Montessori Programs at St. Catherine’s University, Michael and his faculty developed the AM2 Master’s degree program which still provides Montessori credentialed teachers an opportunity to delve deeply into education and Montessori at a graduate level.

Michael took his expertise in Montessori higher education to Westminster College in Salt Lake City and later to Sarasota University. His conference presentations and webinars through the Montessori Foundation were always impactful, weaving theory and practice into tales that were truly inspiring.

Michael shared his passion for storytelling in his book, The Deep Wells of Time: The Transformative Power of Story Telling in the Classroom. This book, along with his others, Grammar Tells a Story, and the beautiful children’s book, Hatching the Cosmic Egg, are truly a gift to the Montessori community. His legacy lives on through his creativity and stories.

(For more about Michael got to, https://www.montessoriservices.com/authors/michael-dorer)

Pilar Leto

Pilar Leto, while not a Montessori teacher by career, made a significant contribution to the Montessori community in her many Montessori conferences and workshop presentations alongside her husband, Frank Leto. Pilar also performs in the “Kids Will Be Kids,” DVD Music and Movement series leading children through a variety of fun dance and exercise moves accompanied by Frank’s singing, steel drum, ukulele, or other instruments. 

Pilar was the Artistic Director of Odara Dance Ensemble in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was a choreographer, producer, dance teacher, and performer. Over her career, Pilar also served as an administrator in Montessori schools and was committed to supporting Montessori in her community. 

Pilar was a joyful and vibrant human being who touched the lives of everyone she encountered. Passionate about sharing her love for music and dance. Our hearts and souls are moved by her legacy of creativity.

Mary Colarullo

Mary Colarullo was a quiet, gentle person who had a magical way with children. She began her career as a Montessori educator in the early 1970s with an AMI Primary Diploma. For over 40 years, Mary dedicated her life to serving children, teaching in Montessori schools in Florida and California. In the later years of her career, Mary also served as a Montessori teacher and educator. She loved passing on the gift of Montessori to new teachers and supporting them as they began their journey.

Mary was the original Sensorial Video Instructor for the Center for Guided Montessori Studies, as well as a residential instructor, field consultant and served as the CGMS Practicum Coordinator. Through this work, Mary was able to impact hundreds of teachers.

 With news of her passing in early February, many parents and teachers commented that Mary was one of the kindest people they have ever met. Parents also acknowledged their gratitude for how Mary had made a difference in the lives of their children and families. Mary’s colleagues and teachers she supported in training shared their appreciation for the opportunity to learn from her.

These wonderful individuals have truly made the world a better place. And their stories are important for all educators as they highlight how a contribution of love and service touches many lives and ripples on long after we are gone. We honor Aline, Michael, Pilar, Mary by continuing their work in whatever way we can. The threads of their contributions woven into our own is the hope and the promise for Montessori and humankind.

Elementary Level Assistant Course Coming Soon!

Starting March 18th 2024, Earn an IMC Elementary Assistant Certification upon successful completion of this twelve week course. Join other professionals as you study the history and philosophy of the Montessori Method. An elementary certified Montessori teacher will be your guide and facilitator as you learn about the elementary curriculum for ages 6-12. Expect to spend approximately 8 hours each week. This includes weekly assignments, an hour long live class, journaling and compiling a final project as you work through each week. 

Check back at https://www.cgms.edu/programs/ for program details and updates!

Beyond The Classroom: Volunteer Opportunities for Upcoming Montessori Conferences

At the heart of Montessori education lies a commitment to nurturing young minds and fostering a love for learning. The Center of Guided Montessori Studies understands the importance of collaboration and continuous learning in achieving this goal. Montessori, at its core, nurtures a love for learning by fostering an environment that supports exploration, independence, and a profound connection with knowledge. That’s why we’re excited to invite passionate individuals to represent CGMS as volunteers for our upcoming Montessori Conferences!

Why Represent CGMS?

Volunteering at our conferences provides a unique chance to immerse yourself in the world of Montessori education, connect with like-minded individuals, and contribute to the growth of an enriching learning community. As a volunteer, you’ll gain insights from renowned speakers, engage in thought-provoking discussions, and be a part of an educational experience that transcends boundaries.

Perks of Volunteering:

  • Gas Reimbursement: We understand that your time is valuable, and we appreciate your commitment. To make your journey more convenient, we offer gas reimbursement to our dedicated volunteers.
  • Travel Accommodations on Special Occasions: On select occasions, we go the extra mile to show our gratitude. Volunteers may enjoy travel accommodations, ensuring you can fully immerse yourself in the conference experience.

Please be aware that conference volunteer assignments are usually organized with proximity to the venue in mind.

How to Get Involved:

Ready to embark on this exciting journey with us? Signing up is easy! Simply click here to fill out the volunteer registration form and become a member in our Volunteer database. We appreciate volunteers from different locations. Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of something extraordinary and contribute to the vibrant community at the Center of Guided Montessori Studies.

Join us as we pave the way for a brighter future in Montessori education. Your dedication can make a difference!

Frank Leto Offers Free Making Music in the Home Program

Frank Leto, a multidimensional artist and certified Montessori Guide, has long been loved by parents and schools for his children’s music. A talented instrumentalist who plays Brazilian percussion, Afro-Cuban percussion and Trinidadian Steel Drum, in 2007 he contributed the music curriculum to The Center for Guided Montessori Studies’ Early Childhood certification program. 

Mr. Leto has announced that as of April 1st, his Kids Will Be Kids is a 3-part DVD series of original music will all be available to stream on you tube for free.

“My hope is that this will encourage kids, who are staying safe indoors, to stay active and bring music into their daily routine at home,” he says.

The materials include:

  • Singin’ & Learnin’ – includes 9 circle time songs/videos and musical activities (ages 2-6)
  • Movin’ & Groovin’ – includes 9 exercise and gross motor movement videos set to the energetic and exotic rhythms of Frank’s Steel Band (all ages)
  • Move Your Dancing Feet – includes 7 songs/videos featuring multicultural dances from around the world (ages 4-10)

Below is more information about each video series as well as the link to stream each series of videos. He hopes that people will share this and that teachers will add this to their classroom’s virtual programs.


Kids Will Be Kids: Singin’ & Learnin’ by Frank Leto

Frank Leto’s Singin’ & Learnin’ video series is perfect for toddlers and kindergarteners. This collection of songs focuses on interactive finger plays and games. Set in a classroom environment, children sing and learn about colors, body parts, facial expressions and more! It’s like having a music class in your own home! Frank Leto is a music teacher who has composed award-winning songs for young children. He incorporates his 30+ years of classroom experience into a program that inspires children to sing and dance from the very first note. Singing’ & Learnin’ includes the following songs: 1. Come On Everybody 2. Colors 3. What Can We Do Today? 4. Coconut Soap 5. You Can Tell How I Feel 6. Lady Bug 7. Tip Toe 8. Echoes and Rhythm Exercises 9. I Have Two Thumbs Visit www.frankleto.com for more information or to purchase Frank Leto’s educational and multicultural music for kids!

Kids Will Be Kids: Movin’ & Groovin’ by Frank Leto

Movin’ & Groovin’ is a movement program for children of all ages. Pilar Leto leads children through a variety of exercises and fun movement activities. It is a great tool in the fight against childhood obesity and keep kids moving when indoors. Longitudinal research has proven that using songs, rhymes, and games with children can enhance language, early sensorimotor skills, and brain development.

Movin’ & Groovin’ by Frank Leto is set to the exotic sounds and rhythms of a Steel Band. This exercise and gross motor movement video gives children a great workout! The program begins with a warm up (stretches for the whole body), followed by three songs aimed at giving children a cardiovascular workout. Dances, games and a simplified version of the limbo keep the children moving until the focus is on balance and coordination. All this is followed by a cool down to relax the body and mind concludes the activity. Movin’ & Groovin’ includes the following songs: 1. Room to Move 2. Jumping Jack 3. Here to There 4. Jump Jump Jump 5. Doing the Swim 6. Zig Zag 7. It’s Limbo Time 8. Tightrope 9. Cool Down

Kids Will Be Kids: Move Your Dancing Feet by Frank Leto

Frank Leto’s Move Your Dancing Feet is a movement program for children ages 4-10 that explores multicultural dances from around the world. These 7 original songs will provide a fun and educational activity to let you kids move while staying safe indoors! Pilar Leto leads children in movement while Frank Leto plays a variety of instruments from a nearby grass shack! Join in the fun as children learn the Hawaiian hula, Brazilian samba, Jamaican reggae, Trinidadian calypso, Cuban rumba and Puerto Rican salsa. Move Your Dancin’ Feet involves children in exciting, multicultural movement activities. Each song/video provides a unique set of activities that are always engaging and fun for children. Includes the following songs: 1. Move Your Dancing Feet 2. Maria Loves To Dance 3. Reggae Kids 4. Calypso Jump 5. Under The Sun 6. Sambalele 7. This Is A Rumba


Visit www.frankleto.com for additional information and to purchase Frank Leto’s educational music for children. Cd’s are also available for download at cdbaby.com

A Message to Montessori Families

Dear Montessori Parents,

Around the world, Montessori school communities are facing unprecedented challenges. The present crisis threatens the lives and learning of children, the well-being of families, the livelihood of parents and teachers, and the very existence of our schools. As partners in our children’s education, we have an opportunity and responsibility to face these challenges together.

Here are some of the things we can do to ensure that our children’s learning and school community continue to thrive during and beyond these challenging times.


  • Make a commitment to take care of ourselves. Let children see us practicing calmness, positive thinking, and safe health habits.
  • Support our children’s Montessori school community. Maintain our connection and frequent communication with our children’s teachers, using a variety of online technologies and tools.
  • Ask our Montessori teachers for advice on how we can help our children stay calm and constructively engaged at home so that we can balance parenting and family time with our work responsibilities.
  • Most Montessori schools depend upon tuition to pay teachers and operating expenses. If you are experiencing financial challenges, work with your school’s administrators, recognizing that without your support, children’s learning will be impacted, teachers may leave, and the school could close. Montessori schools take years to organize and develop. They are an essential part of the community, offering a precious alternative to the educational status quo.
  • Help our school community search for alternative sources of funding, including private donations, grants, low-interest loans, and endowments.

Montessori is a way of life. Families find a sense of community and support in Montessori schools that their children attend which is all too rare in the world today.

Children excel when they feel safe, empowered, and truly heard. Our schools nurture students’ innate curiosity and creativity, imagination, and sense of engagement. Montessori graduates never lose the joy of lifelong learning. Every day we see our children blossom.

We believe that the gift of a Montessori education will pay outstanding dividends. As adults, our children will build a better world.

Our motto is, “We’re here to help.” Please let us know how we can help your school community move through these uncertain times with compassion, courage, wisdom, and love.


Tim Seldin


The Montessori Foundation


Kathy Leitch

Executive Director The International Montessori Council