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Santa Monica Montessori School Providing excellence in education since 1960

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Student Catalog

The mission of Santa Monica Montessori Institute is to continue the work of Dr. Montessori, building a foundation of peace through education and a network of teachers and administrators who will model her legacy.

Maria Montessori was a doctor of medicine and one of the foremost educators of our time. After her graduation from medical school in 1896, Dr. Montessori became interested in the study of children who were deemed unable to be educated. In 1907, she opened the famous Casa dei Bambini in Rome, Italy. Dr. Montessori opened this school based on her discovery that children follow a developmental pattern of human potential from the moment of conception.

Dr. Montessori’s teachings and work are born of exacting research and study throughout her life. They are founded in medical principles and grounded in spirit. Dr. Montessori devoted herself to life, not just an education system. It is for that reason she did not want herself aligned with the word “method”. Dr. Montessori has proven that the child is universal and all children of all countries of the world are born with the “absorbent mind”. Montessori education has proven itself in every known culture of the world regardless of race, creed, religion or nationality.


The Santa Monica Montessori School was established in 1957 by the screen actor Tom Laughlin. The School was then known as the Sophia Montessori School. The school was purchased by Ruth Dresser in 1960, and the name was changed to Santa Monica Montessori School. At its new location, the school increased in size and expanded its program through 8th grade. With assistance from internationally known Montessori educators, Claude Claremont, Francesca Claremont and Mario Montessori, Dr. Dresser established the Santa Monica Montessori Institute in 1960. The school moved to the present location in 1990 at 1909 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica, California. In 2003, Pamela J. Crisman became the Head of School and Director of the Santa Monica Montessori Institute and continues to uphold the philosophy and values of Montessori education.

Program Statement

The teacher training program introduces the teacher trainee to the materials in the context of the prepared environment of a Montessori classroom for early childhood students ages 2 ½ to 6. The materials are presented and then reinforced with practice and requiring meticulous preparation on the part of the teacher trainee. In addition, there is a significant body of work in which the teacher trainee must demonstrate accomplishment. The teacher trainee is required to prepare curriculum manuals, write papers, prepare formal notes on their texts and pass formal written and oral exams. Because our Institute has a Montessori School as its foundation, the teacher trainee will be required to record observation hours on both teachers and students commensurate to their certification level.

The teacher trainee will be expected to understand the laws of the State of California as it relates to child care and child safety. They must also demonstrate the ability to work with a team of teachers and with their lead teacher in a cooperative and supportive manner.

The Santa Monica Montessori Institute will only certify Montessori Early Childhood teacher trainees who demonstrate competence in the classroom interacting with children in all environments necessary to guiding a Montessori child.

The Santa Monica Montessori Institute instructors have over 10 years of Montessori classroom experience. SMMI enrolls up to 20 students for the early childhood Montessori teacher training program. The classes have one instructor per class.

The Santa Monica Montessori Institute offers a teacher training course in the Montessori methodology that consists of a 9 ½ month course, or a six week summer course, and a 9 ½ month internship. The internship may be completed concurrently with the September through June training course or immediately following the summer course. The student may complete the internship the following school year. The school operates on a quarterly basis, allowing a student to enter at the beginning of any quarter, thereby completing the training at that same time the following year.