The Ukrainian Montessori project has been in place since 1993. Since that time many articles have been published describing the process, the benefits, and the success of the project. These articles describe the model Montessori school that has been established in Kiev, a school that continues to have well developed Montessori classes for the Early Childhood 3-6 year age range. The articles also tell of the process of developing a Montessori training center that trains Montessori teachers at the Early Childhood level. Once the training center was put into place and with this Montessori schools began opening around the country.
Since this time the relationship between Princeton Center Teacher Education and the Ukrainian Department of Education has remained strong as, together, we develop new programs: The Toddler program for 18-36 month old children and the Elementary program for the 6-9 year old students.
Since 2006, PCTE has sponsored and trained one teacher at the Infant/Toddler level and five teachers at the Elementary level. In the summer of 2006, Iryna Lebedyeva, Olena Naumenko and Oksana Yarosh came to PCTE with the task of taking training and returning to pioneer the Toddler and the Elementary programs.
The two programs would take shape in different ways. The Toddler program was a grassroots project and was established by acquiring the space along with the furnishings. It quickly filled with children; siblings of the currently enrolled as well as children of the faculty and staff.
The Montessori Elementary program provided a more complex situation. It was an established elementary class that had been conducted with a traditional approach. To shift to the Montessori method would take time, support, and explanation.
After her training in 2006 Olena Naumenko began to emerge as a person the teachers, the administration, and the parents could turn to with ideas questions and guidance. In 2008, she returned to PCTE to attend an administration tract designed to provide training as a department specialist.
During the years of 2006-2008, with the help of the dedicated teachers and administration, the transition continued gradually but with such success that in 2009 the three remaining elementary teachers, Viktoriya Andros, Oksana Perminova and Anastasiia Maznichenko were sent for training. Viktoriya and Oksana have been teaching at Ukrainian Montessori School of Kiev for many years and Naystia joined the faculty in 2008. Olena returned as a translator.
The summer with these talented women was truly amazing. They were always ready for their work and were constantly joyful and engaged. As I prepare for my annual visit I feel the excitement rising. I look forward to seeing some of the magic I witnessed this summer spill over into their classroom!