The University of Kansas Center for Montessori Research has its roots in the commitment of the American Montessori Society (AMS) to advance Montessori research. In 2008, after forming a research committee composed of active researchers, AMS had the foresight to fund a grant for a part-time research coordinator to focus on collecting and disseminating relevant research to members. Over 10 years, AMS expanded its efforts to include funding research mini-grants, hosting research poster sessions at its annual conferences, organizing poster sessions for International Montessori Congresses hosted by the Association Montessori Internationale, and launching the Journal of Montessori Research.
In 2014, the AMS research coordinator’s role expanded to that of senior researcher, and her appointment to assistant research professor at KU created new opportunities to expand Montessori research.
The Sorenson Legacy Foundation was also instrumental in foundational efforts, ultimately leading to the creation of the KU Center for Montessori Research. In 2015 and 2016, the foundation funded a gathering of researchers hosted by Westminster College to foster greater collaboration among institutions across the U.S. around research related to Montessori education. The result was the creation of the Montessori Research Working Group and subsequent annual retreat gatherings. The individuals participating in these events formed the backbone of what would become the Center for Montessori Research’s affiliated researchers by laying out the framework and important considerations for such an initiative. The work of the Montessori Research Working Group continued with funding in 2017 from the Brady Education Foundation.
The growing KU connection to Montessori research led to a collaboration with AAI to respond to a request for proposals issued by the Brady Education Foundation for a five-year Montessori impact study. Upon receiving the grant to serve as the coordinating site, AAI formed the KU Center for Montessori Research under the direction of AMS senior researcher and KU faculty member Angela Murray.
AMS’s investment in long-term research, KU’s infrastructure, and funding from both the Sorenson Legacy Foundation and the Brady Education Foundation were crucial in the formation of the Center for Montessori Research in spring 2018.