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A Conversation with HOS, Michelle Morrison

By December 29, 2022January 10th, 2023All Programs, HOS Blog

Princeton Montessori School

“Nurturing Potential. Igniting Passion.”

Five cornerstone multi-age programs are offered: Infant, Toddler, Primary, Elementary, and Middle School


By Mark Cohen, Senior Vice President of Independent School Division.

Malvern Bank’s Independent School Division focuses on the specific needs of independent schools in our service area: the Philadelphia Main Line, New Jersey, and Delaware.

I recently spoke with a Malvern Bank client, Michelle Morrison, Head of School at Princeton Montessori School in Princeton, N.J. I wanted to learn what sets Princeton Montessori apart from other schools in the region.

Mark Cohen

Michelle – what is “The Montessori School Philosophy”?

Michelle Morrison

The Montessori philosophy is challenging to explain in an ‘elevator speech’ but in a nutshell, the Montessori approach is a child-centered, individualized approach to education that relies on special self-correcting materials at the young levels and a carefully prepared environment that allows for more independence for the child. This philosophy was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, who was a brilliant and passionate Italian physician and educator who devoted her life to understanding how children develop socially, intellectually, physically, and spiritually. She discovered universal patterns of development which are found in all children regardless of their culture or the era in which they live and — when honored — these truths about child development propel children to learn naturally, joyfully, and spontaneously.


Other than being a Montessori School, what sets your school apart from other schools that educate and guide infant and toddler, primary, elementary, and middle school children?


Our methodology is based on the science of child development and centered around the idea that the teacher is the “guide on the side” and not the “sage on the stage” as we know learning is natural, personal, and best accomplished when a highly prepared environment and skilled education guide allows children to self-construct their knowledge, personality, passions, self-awareness, and academic and practical life skills. Visitors to a Montessori school classroom often remark how profoundly moving to it is to observe children who are self-motivated, harmonious, collaborative students deeply engaged in concentration and experimentation with educational materials.


Your school recently installed solar panels that provide 90% of the school’s energy needs. How do these solar panels reflect the school’s operation philosophy and Maria Montessori’s idea about “humanity’s relationship with nature”?


Dr. Montessori lived through World Wars I and II and saw first-hand the destruction of communities, civilization, and parts of the natural world and realized that the way toward peaceful coexistence was through the education and development of children. Her foundational education as a scientist led her to appreciate the wonders and healing nature of the natural world. She observed how children responded to being in nature and caring for living things and concluded that the adults in a child’s life must first and foremost build experiences for the child that result in a meaningful bond between the child and nature. Once this bond is formed, she believed, the child will take great care with the earth, understand its limited resources, and come to know the connection between the land and our food sources and the interconnection of all living things.

Our solar array demonstrates to our school community that Princeton Montessori is taking great care with the earth. The panels will offset more than 3,000 metric tons of CO2 in the next 20 years – and, depending on future utility prices, will save the school more than $720,000 in electricity bills during that time.


Your website indicates that “Diversity” and “Community” are important features of the Princeton Montessori experience. Please explain why they are important.


Diversity and inclusiveness are central to Dr. Montessori’s vision of a more peaceful world. She understood that when humans live and work alongside each other in the community, they are less likely to dehumanize each other or be afraid of our differences. As a scientist and a global citizen, she was fascinated by what connects us as humans, across cultures, religions, and other distinct characteristics of communities. She built rich and moving social science curricula but also called for the teacher to bring the children out into the world to experience these marvels that make up our world. By beginning with the family unit and then the school community, and finally a child’s greater community and the world beyond, Dr. Montessori believed our definition of “community” could expand across nations and among all living things and the natural world.


Your website features the quote: “Nurturing Potential. Igniting Passion.” Please explain the significance of these words to Princeton Montessori and its students.


Montessori educators believe that each child holds great potential and a hidden passion that will unfold as they move through childhood toward adulthood. It is our intent to nurture that potential and ignite that passion through carefully observing the child and crafting a personalized experiential education that will allow the child to “discover him- or herself” and construct the adult he or she is to become. Our educators measure their work against this noble mission.


How has Princeton Montessori School’s relationship with Malvern Bank helped the school achieve its mission?


Malvern Bank has been a trusted and supportive partner to our school and has been interested in our mission, our philosophy, and our community. It has been a breath of fresh air to work with bank professionals who truly care about the well-being of their clients, are forthright and honest, and create programs that speak to their mission and values in their approach to their clients. This has allowed our school leadership and governance to focus on our good work, knowing we are in good hands and good financial standing due to our Malvern relationship. Malvern was instrumental in securing our PPP loan and helping us turn that loan into a grant when the pandemic hit, and they reached out regularly to see how we were faring. They have supported our school initiatives and invited us to be a part of their greater Malvern community.

If you are looking for a trusted and supportive financial partner, please contact me. A conversation about how Malvern Bank can help your school may be the “breath of fresh air” you’ve been looking for.

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