Montessori Leadership Institute




Instructor: Tim Seldin

This course is a special program that is customized and run for the entire board and leadership of individual Montessori schools. It includes a series of six live online seminars with Montessori Foundation President, Tim Seldin.


BoardThis program can make a tremendous difference for your school's future. It is designed for both board members and administrators. It considers the unique nature of independent/private Montessori schools, and the Montessori principles that should guide every discussion and decision that we make. We will cover the fundamental principles of serving on a nonprofit board, the roles of board members in an effective school, the Montessori way to run meetings and make decisions, and the cycles of sustaining an effective board and administrative team, budgeting, setting policy, relating to the staff and parent community, the board's role in evaluation, and serving as ambassadors of the school in the larger community. We will also touch on fundraising, setting tuition and fees, committees, officers of the board, accreditation, and how the board can ensure the integrity of the school's Montessori program.

This course can be followed by a second customized program on organizing for the process of self-study, accreditation, and strategic planning.


Week 1 Clarity is the key to success as a school

1. Introduction to the concept of a World Class Montessori School

2. A historical perspective of Montessori Education

3. Clarifying what it means to be a Montessori School

a. How a school differs from other businesses

b. How a Montessori School differs from other schools

c. Perspective - Abundance vs. Scarcity

4. The Nine Areas of School Operation - an overview of the nine areas covered in this course

5. Defining your school's identity

a. What are core values, vision, mission and aims and why are they important?

b. Achieving clarity regarding core values, mission, vision and aims.

c. How some Montessori schools lose their way - missions and market forces.

d. Defining a schools identity based on core values.

e. Drawing up a Blueprint for your school.

f. Using a Best Practice process to guide decisions.

Assignment: Is your school a highly effective Montessori community or a shopping mall of independent business operators (the classroom)? How consistent are the programs and experience that parents and children have from class to class, and from one level to the next? What percentage of families tend to leave mid-year, and why? How many people leave at the end of a school year before graduation? Why?


Week 2: What does it mean to be nonprofit? What is the role of the board?

1. What does non-profit status really mean?

a. Your articles of incorporation and bylaws

b. Your legal duties to the government as board members

c. Who “owns” the school? Parents? Teachers? Students? The community?

2. The various types of non-profit boards

a. Boards that Boards whose members are actively engaged in administrative roles as the school is first organized

b. Boards that see their role as supporting the founding head

c. Boards made up of present parents, who focus on short-term issues.

d. Boards that tend to think strategically and are capable of capital fund raising

e. Board whose primary function is to raise money

3. Roles and responsibilities of trusteeship

a. Fiduciary responsibility

b. Establish the school's vision and mission (they are guardians of a trust)

c. Hire the Head of School

d. Set policy

e. Supervise and evaluate the Head of School’s performance, and participate in ongoing evaluation of the program as a whole

f. Monitor the finances and approve the budget

g. Look at the long-range vision and plan for the future

h. Serve as good will ambassadors in the community

i. Lead fund raising efforts

4. Because Montessori schools have a fundamentally different ethos than most bodies governed by boards it should be governed in a different way—a way consistent with Montessori philosophy and beliefs.

a. Montessori Philosophy as it applies to Governance

b. Key aspects of Montessori philosophy that a Board member would need to grasp in as a basis upon which to understand the remainder of the suggestions.

Assignment: How much do you and your fellow board members understand about Montessori now? How well does your board and administration operate in ways that are fairly consistent with Montessori principles?


Week 3 The Organization and Make-up of a Montessori Board to ensure clarity, consistency, and institutional memory

1.  Roles and functions of members of a Montessori Board.

a. Differentiated role between board and Head of School

b. Relationship to faculty and staff

c. Relationship to parents

2. The makeup and roles of a Montessori board

a. Size of effective boards

b. Terms of office

c. Term limits

d. How are members chosen?

e. Who make the best board members?

Present parents?

Past parents?

Teacher members or representatives?

Should the Head serve on the board?

Outside community members?

People of great wealth and community influence?

3. What any good board does

a. “Cradle” the vision

b. Explicitly address fundamental values

c. Force an external focus on the marketplace and how well we are serving our “customers”

d. Enable an outcome-driven organizing system - mission framed in terms of outcomes

e. Separate larger issues from small

f. Force forward thinking

g. Enable proactivity

h. Facilitate diversity and unity

i. Be accountable to constituencies without simply reacting to them in a knee-jerk manner

j. Define a common basis for discipline to reinforce board roles and operation

k. Delineate the board role in given day-to-day and extraordinary situations

l. Determine what information is needed to govern responsibly

m. Balance under-control and over-control

n. Use board time efficiently

4. What an effective board avoids

a. Time spent on the trivial

b. Short-term bias

c. Reactive stance

d. Reviewing, rehashing, redoing

e. Leaky accountability - Board bypassing the CEO to deal directly with staff

f. Diffuse authority - Everyday staff and administrative decisions made at board level

5. How board typically try to correct their roles

a. More involvement - Hands-on governance

b. Less involvement

c. Board as watch dog - keeps a “wary eye” on staff performance

d. Board as cheerleader

e. Board as manager

f. Board as planners

g. Board improves communication with staff

6. Why these 'prescriptions' often lead to disappointing results unless fundamental changes are made in the school culture


Week 4: Managing an Effective Montessori board process - Board Ethics

1. The Montessori Way of Meeting - The process of running an empowering and effective meeting

2. Officers of the Board

3. Committees and task forces

4. The role of the board in a strong Montessori community

5. Characteristics of effective members of a Montessori board

6. How to choose new board members and orient them into their new role.

7.The responsibility of the Board to establish high ethical standards for the school.

8. Conflicts of interest

9. Seeing oneself as representing a specific constituency or point of view

10. Making decisions based on one’s personal experience or situation, not looking at this in terms of the best interest of school as a whole institution and thinking in terms of the long run

11. Aggressive, dominating behavior and attitudes in meetings.

12. Keeping certain things confidential

13. Speaking to the stakeholders with one voice.

14. Board self-evaluation

15. Annual board professional development: Board and administration workshops, retreats? Should faculty and staff participate?

16. What do you do if a board member is either a source of dissention, fails to perform his or her commitments, or otherwise violates the ethics of board membership?

Assignment: How is your board made up now, and how effectively is it currently working to serve the needs of your Montessori education program, not as a business per se.




Week 5 Developing an Effective Working Relationship Between The Board and Administration, and the larger school community

1. How the head of school can and should inform, consult, and support the Board.

2. How the Board can coach, guide, and support the Head of School.

3. Everyday relationships between Board members and the faculty and staff

4. Ways to allow the school’s stakeholders to feel heard, understood, and develop confidence in the Board and Administration:

a. Community meetings

b. Open Forums – Coffees

c. Surveys

d. Ongoing Self-study and program evaluation

e. Developing a grievance process

Assignment: Describe how this works now in your school.

Assignment: Describe and explore one or more situations that you have seen or heard about where a Board became embroiled in issues of conflict, breaches of confidentiality, or lack of time and follow through to meet the basic expectations that the board had for members.


Week 6  Open Discussion of Issues That Face Your School and/or Board

Numerous contributors with experience as board members and heads of school recount challenges they have had concerning boards and how they met those challenges.

Assignment: An written wrap-up and reflection on essential issues needing further attention, your challenges, and opportunities


Coming up: The next course will look at strategic planning and preparing for school accreditation.




Tim SeldinTIM SELDIN, M.Ed. is the President of The Montessori Foundation and Chair of the International Montessori Council. His almost forty years of experience in Montessori education includes twenty-two years as Headmaster of the Barrie School in Silver Spring, MD, his own alma mater (age two through high school graduation). He has also served as the Director of the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies and as Head of the New Gate School in Sarasota, Florida. He earned a B.A. in History and Philosophy from Georgetown University, an M.Ed. in Educational Administration and Supervision from The American University, and his Montessori certification from the American Montessori Society. Tim Seldin is the author of several books on Montessori Education, including his latest, How to Raise An Amazing Child; The Montessori Way with Dr. Paul Epstein; Building a World-class Montessori School; Finding the Perfect Match - Recruit and Retain Your Ideal Enrollment; Master Teachers - Model Programs; Starting a New Montessori School, Celebrations of Life, and The World in the Palm of Her Hand.



Registration Fee:  $4,000 for the entire board and administration of one school


Member Schools of the International Montessori Council (IMC): $3,750


To discuss the possibility of arranging this program for your board:

Contact Tim Seldin at 1-941-729-9565 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated (Saturday, 13 September 2014 14:37)





12 week courses

*Revised and updated *

Building a World Class Montessori School

Overview of Montessori principles and curriculum

(for non-Montessori trained heads of Montessori schools)



6 week courses

Building enrolment and community

Starting a Montessori School from the Ground Up

Curriculum theory & Montessori applications



12 week courses

*Revised and updated *

Building a World Class Montessori School

Overview of Montessori principles and curriculum

(for non-Montessori trained heads of Montessori schools)



Montessori School Boards




IMC Members please note that your user names and passwords are for the IMC area of the website: or click on the logo above.

At The Montessori Foundation, Montessori

educational Leadership is our

focus. We've been here to

help Montessori schools,

large and small, since 1992.

Many of you have been friends of

The Montessori Foundation

for years. Many have asked

how you can help. Now you can!

Find out how.

Authentic High Quality Montessori Schools