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Montessori Partners Serving All Children (MPSAC) is an initiative of the Montessori Center of Minnesota (MCM). Through MPSAC, MCM forms partnerships with local communities to increase access to high-fidelity Montessori early childhood education (0-6 years), and to strengthen bonds between home, school, and community in a culturally responsive way.

MPSAC Partner Programs include community-rooted schools as well as less conventional educational settings. Each MPSAC Partner brings its community’s values, strengths, and traditions to the partnership. Each community has unique needs and goals—such as language and culture revitalization—and brings powerful perspectives and resources to the MPSAC community. Partner Programs enhance the lives of children and families by providing much-needed high-quality early childhood education to under-resourced children and families through their unique mission, independent funding, and staffing. These programs influence the educational landscape at MCM and in the greater community, and assist and empower each other and MCM via participation in quarterly MPSAC collaborative meetings.

MPSAC as a collaborative has grown and evolved. Current Partner Programs (see more below) include Acacia Montessori, Cornerstone Montessori, Cosmos Montessori, Jubayr Montessori, Lirio Montessori, Montessori American Indian Childcare Center, Morning Glory Montessori, Siembra Montessori, Starflower Montessori, Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, and Water Lily Montessori.

Major Milestones in 2023

As a collaborative, MPSAC spent the last three years developing pathways to deepen our collective work and to partner authentically in service of children and families. Evidence of this work is a reinvision of partnership agreements which centers strengths of all partners and communities. The new agreements recognize the evolution of support needed for organizations in both the start-up and sustainability stages of growth. Additionally, the MPSAC collaborative’s quarterly meetings center on strengthening relationships to address challenges in the early childhood landscape and amplifying the wisdom and stories of MPSAC Partners.

On a sad note, Roxana Linares Arrieta, Executive Director of Centro Tyrone Guzman, passed away at the end of August 2023. The impact of Roxana’s leadership and vision to bring Montessori to the Latine community can be seen in every aspect of programming throughout the organization. From the children who attend Siembra Montessori and the maternal health and home visiting program to the youth and elder initiatives, Montessori principles have been woven into the fabric of the organization's programs and structure.  Roxana's incredible work and legacy at Centro Tyrone Guzman was recently highlighted in a feature on the Minnesota's Kare 11 news program.

Partner Programs

Acacia Montessori is built upon friendships that demonstrate the power of diversity and collaboration. We have a special focus on Somali culture which includes translated language material, books, food, music, and stories. Our Somali enrichment is a focal point designed to launch all children on the journey of cultural exploration with confidence and curiosity. It is our hope that our cultural enrichment will grow with our school and that children and families will share with us their unique expression of culture. We want to transform the lives of all of our families by providing an environment that supports the development of the whole child at school, home, and within a vibrant community. We endeavor to model to the children, and to the greater community, respect for our differences and gratitude for our similarities. It is our hope that children at Acacia Montessori will know that they are deeply loved and valued members of the Apple Valley community and that with this knowledge, they will enter their community with confidence and grace.

Birth to Five Early Childhood Program, an initiative of the Montessori Center of Minnesota, is a free, interactive program that provides developmental support rooted in Montessori principles and positive parenting practices to families and children up to age five who face social or economic barriers to accessing high-quality early childhood programs. Families come together to build relationships, interact, explore, discover and learn with one another. Birth to Five is a collaboration with Opportunity Neighborhood and Ames Lake Community Center.

Cornerstone Montessori School is a hidden gem in the heart of the Ames community neighborhood in East Saint Paul. Located across from the Boys and Girls Club and adjacent to one of Saint Paul’s largest low-income housing communities, Cornerstone is intentionally located in an ethnic and economically diverse neighborhood. Cornerstone mirrors this diversity through ongoing efforts to serve families within a 5-mile radius of the area, regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender and racial identity, household structure, national origin, religious beliefs, or ability. Cornerstone hires and retains staff from diverse backgrounds, reinforcing its commitment to the community and providing children with role models who look and sound like them. Cornerstone takes a holistic approach, providing quality Montessori education and developing guidelines and policies that support development of the whole child, and maintaining partnerships with families through events. Cornerstone opened in 2008 as a pilot program of the Montessori Center of Minnesota (MCM). It is recognized and appreciated for preparing high-quality Montessori environments where children aged 16 months to 6 years can develop independence naturally, while gaining life and literacy skills that will support them well into their youth and adulthood. Cornerstone believes that, when given the right conditions to thrive, every child has the chance to tap their unique potential. The program has worked hard over the years to build a culture where all families and staff feel welcome, safe, and celebrated for their unique identities; the entire staff contributes to the important work of bridging the disparities for marginalized communities who often lack access to quality educational opportunities. Cornerstone is committed to maintaining its high-quality Montessori standards, to giving everyone what they need to thrive as children, staff, school, and community, and to advocating for the reduction of systemic disparities and educational inequities that impact families.

Cosmos Montessori collaborates with families to offer an authentic, equitable, and accessible Montessori education serving children ages three through 3rd grade. We support dual language (English & Spanish) acquisition and cultural competency development through a holistic approach within a nurturing and multicultural environment. Through such an environment, students learn to become responsible members of a diverse, inclusive, and cooperative community.

Hamdi Mohamud is developing Jubayr Montessori School, an early childhood Montessori program for the Somali community, that is the compliment to her current after school program serving the Somali community in Bloomington. The Montessori school will focus on language and cultural revitalization. Montessori Center of Minnesota is currently working with Mohamud to establish the program.

Lirio Montessori is a dual immersion (Spanish/English) Children’s House located in south Minneapolis in the Powderhorn neighborhood. Lirio serves children ages 33 months to 6 years old, and is committed to supporting all children in realizing their fullest potential while feeling empowered with the necessary skills and confidence to serve as leaders and change agents in their communities. Lirio Montessori is part of the Minnesota Wildflower Montessori Charter School and a Montessori Partner Serving All Children partner program.

Montessori American Indian Childcare Center has been serving the East Metro American Indian community since 2014. In the time spent working with children, families, and the community, our non-profit organization has grown and evolved in purpose, direction and experience. Governed by a 7-member Board of Directors, we continue to evolve and to pursue opportunities that create and improve access to a high-quality early learning experience for the American Indian children and families we serve. Our inspiration is consistent as we advocate, educate, inform, and raise awareness about the success of an Indigenized Montessori approach that acknowledges the cultural strengths and assets of the American Indian community.

Morning Glory Montessori (MGM) will be a safe, nurturing, Black-led environment for toddlers through 3rd grade. MGM will be the first school of its kind to blend faith through the Christian lens of liberation theology, African-American culture and history, and Montessori pedagogy. No school with this unique and powerful curricular confluence exists in Minnesota or anywhere. Over five years in the making, MGM is eagerly preparing to open its doors in the fall of 2023. In collaboration with the leadership of IMPACT LIVING Ministry, MGM is designing an environment and developing an original holistic curriculum reflective of and rooted in the richness of African-American faith tradition, culture and history. In the future, the F.A.M. curriculum (the acronym stands for Faith, Afrocentric, Montessori and is a colloquial abbreviation for “family”) will be made available to other African-American faith communities and educators locally and beyond.

Siembra Montessori is a program of Centro Tyrone Guzman, located in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. Siembra transitioned to a Montessori program in 2012 when they became a MPSAC Partner. Siembra serves Latine children 33 months to 6 years a majority of whom speak Spanish at home. Siembra’s mission is to support the academic and socio-emotional development of Latine children in the Twin Cities by providing a high-quality, dual-language learning environment. Siembra staff inspire children to become independent, responsible and engaged learners. As a result, Siembra children are proud of their Latine culture, they are respectful and compassionate with each other, and they learn to take care of nature and their environment so they can be good citizens of the world.

Starflower Montessori School will serve children ages 16 months to 6 years in North Minneapolis. Starflower Montessori School is an authentic Montessori environment that affirms the identities of every child and frees them to rise to their highest potential. We are a community embedded school that welcomes and nurtures children and families in a culturally sustained environment. We cultivate mind and body in away that allows children to create justice in the world around them. Our vision is to develop well-rounded children who flourish in all that they do on an academic, social, and emotional level. Children will be excited about learning and build deep relationships with one another. All families will be confident that their children are in loving hands and are receiving an excellent education.

Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation (TVCDC) is a Lakota grassroots-led nonprofit in the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Our Lakota Language & Education Initiative is an effort to reclaim, revitalize and sustain the Lakota language and lifeways through a multigenerational and multifaceted approach. Through our Lakota Immersion Montessori, Elementary Montessori, Parent Education, Elder Preservation, and Curriculum Design & Development, we work directly with the families and communities in the Pine Ridge Reservation to bring back our language and life ways through high-quality and innovative Lakota educational services.

Water Lily Montessori provides a courageous space for children to develop self-confidence, personality strengths, and pride in their abilities. At Water Lily, the classroom is intentionally constructed to maximize independence, nurture exploration, and foster equitable community engagement with peers and adults.

Evaluating Our Work

In our work with the young child, we always dwell in the possibility. Conscious evaluation of results is essential to our work at the Montessori Center of Minnesota and we now have data to show that the possibility can be a reality. In 2012, we commissioned a three-year evaluation of then four MPSAC affiliate partners.  In all three years, data showed no statistically significant disparities related to ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or language spoken in the home, with children performing mostly in the average and above average range. During 2014-2015, we saw a statistically significant growth in African American children’s proficiency in mathematical thinking over the course of that school year, with an improvement from 60% of children scoring proficient in the fall to 93% scoring proficient in the spring.  Read our full evaluation report here.

One of the most important outcomes of our program evaluation is validation of the social justice mission of this work. Program evaluation evidence has borne out that the Montessori approach works for all children, regardless of culture or socioeconomic status. Our work has provided a foundation upon which others may build similar work around the United States and the world.  

We contribute to the efforts of Access Montessori to increase access to the benefits of Montessori education and family support services to our most vulnerable children. We are a focus of the Following the Family study, which examines the process of how high-quality Montessori education and attention to the entire family can serve to ameliorate the social and education effects of poverty.  Finally, we are a “chapter” in the full-length documentary film, Building the Pink Tower, which reimagines school through the lens of the possibilities of Montessori.

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