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In a celebration of Montessori excellence, principals and leaders from across Australia, were hosted by their Perth colleagues for the MSCA Head 2 Head (H2H) conference.  This annual event, aims to build collegiality, share ideas and delve deeply into the world of leadership in a Montessori way.  

The four day experience from Thursday 21 to Sunday 24 March 2024 was planned as an immersion to allow for new learning and reflection time. There has been an exponential growth in Montessori schools in Perth compared to other states, particularly in their adolescent programs, so we had much to learn.  

Day 1 at the Montessori School Kingsley  

Day 1 started at the Montessori School Kingsley which proudly holds the title of the longest running Montessori school in Australia.  Des Reuben, Principal at Kingsley welcomed us with their school dog, she’s called Monty too! MSSK offers programs for 3-18 year olds with students in Years 11 & 12 able to choose between two IB options of the Diploma or the Careers program.  

Today’s inspiration was provided by Bill Conway; and FMS board member (see more about Bill on our website) 

Bill challenged us to consider our leadership style and the characteristics of organisations as living entities with distributed leadership and a moral alertness. 

This was followed by a session from Cathy France and Lisa Fenton sharing their schools’ journeys to develop practices to support LGBTQIA+ students and families.  

“It is the responsibility that a leader should feel not the authority of the position.”  Maria Montessori  

Day 2 started at Beehive Montessori School, Mosman Park   

With the ocean as their playground, what’s not to love about Beehive and yes, they do have bees and the adolescent students produce many products from beeswax.  Their Year 8 students have barista certificates so they made all the principals amazing coffee. The outdoor environment was wonderful and included a bike track in the birth 3 playground and a sound garden in the outdoor play area. 

“The child should live in an environment of beauty.”  Maria Montessori

Today’s inspiration was provided by Dr Helen Street who unpacked the myths, mantras and misconceptions of effective feedback.  This was highly valuable.  

After lunch it was time for some hands-on activity with a Dragon’s Den activity and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshop, presented by yours truly, exploring how Montessori leaders can embrace friendliness with error. 

“The child gives us a beautiful lesson – that in order to form and maintain intelligence – we must use our hands.”
Maria Montessori 

Day 3 Rockingham Montessori & Margaret River Montessori School 

Day 3 was off to Port Kennedy to tour Rockingham Montessori’s new campus which is located in Harvey Norman’s.  Yes, you heard correctly.  This site has been transformed for 3-12 years students as the strive ahead with their goal to provide Montessori education for any child wishing to access this approach at any point of entry.  Their adolescent’s site is just a short walk away with their original campus 15 minutes away.  All situated in low socio-economic areas, when the primary site reached capacity, commercial sites were sourced as traditional school campuses were impossible to find. 

Next we visited RMS’ adolescent program, established 13 years ago and now with over 140 students.  Located in a commercial area in a transformed warehouse, it truly is an inspirational place for adolescents to learn.  

This alternative way of providing Montessori education is a game changer.  

The action-packed day continued as we headed to the Margaret River School.  First stop was the campus they have purchased to grow their adolescent program, a commercial honey making facility, Metricupo. 

Set across two sites, both connected by the Wadandi Track and nestled in the beauty of the Margaret River region, MRMS has Primary and secondary school programs.  The Margaret River campus is close to the town centre set on four acres of natural bush within ephemeral wetlands.  The Metricup campus, still to be developed, is just down the road.   It will soon be home to their growing adolescent program.  Set on 102 acres of pristine farmland complete with dam, sheep agistment and plenty of space for permaculture projects.  The scope is phenomenal.  

All in all, this year’s H2H provided an energising blend of inspiration and immersion in Montessori leadership.   

I would like to take this opportunity to thank MSCA for organising the event and taking us on our own odyssey. Appreciation must also go to all the principals who opened their schools and shared their experiences.   

An extra special thanks to Vanessa Aikins, Principal of Rockingham Montessori School, for being our trusted bus diver!

The timing is so fortuitous for us here at FMS as we gather our thoughts on our strategic directions.  

We see the figure of the child who stands before us with his hands held open, beckoning humanity to follow.”
Maria Montessori 

Denice Scala

Author Denice Scala

B.A, M.Ed, Dip ED, Dip RSA, Cert. Neuroscience. Principal, Forestville Montessori School. Denice Scala is an executive leader with extensive experience in key strategic roles requiring business transformation and innovation. As a passionate advocate for the power of education to enrich lives, Denice moved from classroom teaching to leadership positions in 1992 and since then has held international in roles in Scotland and Australia as Principal, Head of Junior School, and Head of Learning Support. She has an impressive working knowledge of early learning, primary, middle, and secondary schooling including gifted education and special needs. Her Masters in Gifted Education led her to work extensively to find ways to cater for gifted students. This led to providing professional development opportunities for educators to assist in their understanding of the characteristics of gifted children and the complexities of growing up gifted. Denice’s unparalleled grasp of current educational realities is equally matched by her big picture thinking combined with practical solutions to navigate change. Denice’s passion for Montessori education led her to undertake the AMI Introduction to Adolescents Course, to audit the AMI 6-12 Diploma, and to also currently undertake the AMI School Administration Certificate Course.

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