Famous Montessori Graduates & Supporters

“[Montessori…]: the surest route to joining the creative elite, which are so overrepresented by the schools’ alumni that one might begin to suspect a Montessori mafia” Read the 2011 Wall Street Journal Article by Peter Sims, Author of Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries.

Jeff Bezos

Founder, Amazon.com

Amazon’s founder, who proudly cites his Montessori roots, is a study in contradictions: analytical and intuitive, careful and audacious, playful and determined. Critics note his extraordinary ability to learn from others, one hallmark of a Montessori education.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Nobel Prize winner for literature

Nobel Prize winner for Literature attended Montessori de Aracataca for 5 years and credited his time there with making him fall in love with language. He said that a Montessori Education gave him the desire to "kiss literature" and: "the taste instilled him to go to the school, not only see literature but to write it.".

"I do not believe there is a method better than Montessori for making children sensitive to the beauties of the world and awakening their curiosity regarding the secrets of life."

— Gabriel García Márquez, Living to Tell the Tale

"It took me a long time to learn to read. It did not seem logical to me that the letter “m” was called “eme”... It was impossible for me to read like that. Finally, when I arrived at Montessori, the teacher did not teach me the names but the sounds of the consonants. So I could read the first book I found in a dusty chest ... It was unstitched and incomplete but it absorbed me in a very intense way."

— Gabriel García Márquez, Living to Tell the Tale

Thomas Edison

Inventor

"I like the Montessori method," Edison has been quoted saying, according to historians at the Thomas Edison National Historic Park. "It teaches through play. It makes learning a pleasure. It follows the natural instincts of the human being. The present (education) system casts the brain into a mold. It does not encourage original thought or reasoning."

Anne Frank

Author, diarist from World War II

According to her friend Hanneli Goslar, Anne showed aptitude for reading and writing at an early age. A talent that was nurtured in her Montessori school. She frequently wrote at school, was outspoken, energetic, and extroverted, telling all, from a young age, that one day she wanted to be a published author.

Beyonce Knowles

Grammy winning Singer/Songwriter

In Houston, at St. Mary of the Purification Montessori, Beyoncé’s talents first emerged. In a school that valued both art and academics, a top student and world-class performer was born. Today Beyoncé has been nominated for more Grammys than anyone in history and is one of pop music’s most highly-regarded figures.

Peter Drucker

Author, Businessman

 “For thousands of years people have been talking about improving teaching—to no avail,”Drucker wrote in his 1973 book Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. “It was not until the early years of this century, however, that an educator asked, ‘What is the end product?’

“Then the answer was obvious,” Drucker added. “The end product is not teaching. It is, of course, learning. And then the same educator, the Italian physician and teacher Maria Montessori (1870-1952), began to apply systematic analysis of the work and systematic integration of the parts into a process.”

Julia Child

Author & Chef

 Julia was a world-famous television chef who clearly enjoyed her work. She exuded a sense of fun, and inspired others to try new things. She also credited her Montessori experience with her love of working with her hands, finding fun in her work, and her joy of working with others.

George Clooney

Academy Award-winning Actor, Director, Humanitarian

Good preschool pays off: Harvard economists say kindergartners with great teachers earn more later (and are more likely to attend college and own a home) than others. So what defines “good”? Turns out Montessori’s approach—unfolding students, not molding them—guides the most successful teachers. George Clooney? Montessori pre-schooler.

Alexander Graham Bell

Inventor

 Both Alexander and his wife Mabel Gardiner Hubbard were significant supporters of the Italian Montessori early childhood teaching method and helped established early Montessori schools in North America

Helen Hunt

Academy Award-winning Actress

Helen Hunt, winner of some big time honors (Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe all in one year—a feat nearly unmatched in history) is one cool Montessorian. Which makes her observation all the more interesting: “If there’s a message, it’s that the unlovable and unattractive parts of ourselves should be embraced. The only real currency between people is what happens when they’re not cool.”

Jacqueline Kennedy

Former First Lady of United States

As a child, the former First Lady attended Miss Chapin’s School for Girls in Manhattan. Miss Chapin was a pioneer in education for girls; she attended Dr Montessori’s New York lectures in the 1930s and enthusiastically included Montessori methods in her classrooms.

Katherine Graham

Former owner of Washington Post, Editor

Katherine attended a Montessori pre-school where the newspaper owner first learned to read and write, instilling a love of the written word that would stay with her whole life. "The Montessori Method- learning by doing-once again became my stock in trade..." from the book: Personal History by Katharine Graham.

Dakota Fanning

Actress

Dakota Fanning attended a Montessori school in Georgia before she moved to California to become an actor. “I learned to read at two. I was in a Montessori school and they teach you to read really, really young.”

Woodrow Wilson

Former U.S. President

Woodrow Wilson, President of The United States of America had a Montessori classroom installed in the basement of the White House during his term of office for staff to send their children to and his daughter trained as a Montessori teacher. Margaret Wilson was on the committee that brought Dr Montessori to the USA in 1915.

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Joshua Bell

World-renowned Violinist

He began taking violin lessons at the age of four after his mother discovered her son had taken rubber bands from around the house and stretched them across the handles of his dresser drawer to pluck out music he had heard her play on the piano. He is the owner of a Stradivarious violin valued at over $3.5 million.

Helen Keller

Political activist, author, lecturer

Helen was awarded the presidential medal of freedom and was one of gallup polls most widely admired people of the 20th century. Maria Montessori said that if, deaf and blind, Helen Keller became “a woman and writer of exceptional culture, who better than she to prove the potency of [the Montessori] method?” 

Anne Sullivan Macy (Helen's teacher) quote: 

"To that wonderful woman, Dr. Maria Montessori, belongs the honor and the everlasting gratitude of mankind for having systematized these ideas of education and recorded them in her book, a book that is at once a thrilling human document, a scientific text book, a prophecy and a torch unto all those whose work it is to teach little children. Dr. Montessori learned, as I learned, and as every teacher must learn, that only through freedom can individuals develop self control, self dependence, will power and initiative. There is no education except self-education. There is no effective discipline except self-discipline. All that parents and teachers can do for the child is to surround him with right conditions. He will do the rest; and the things he will do for himself are the only things that really count in his education."

T Berry Brazelton

Pediatrician, child psychiatrist, author and harvard medical school professor emeritus

Dr. Brazelton’s positive, child-oriented philosophy of parenting has influenced countless families to raise children who are “confident, caring, and hungry to learn”. Brazelton attended a Montessori school as a child and now supports Montessori philosophy through his lectures and publications.

Prince William

Duke of Cambridge

At the insistence of William's mother the late Diana, Princess of Wales, both of her sons William and Harry were educated the Montessori way. Diana herself was a nursery assistant at the Young England Kindergarten school in Pimlico, whose principal Miss Kay holds a Montessori Diploma.

Jimmy Wales

Co-Founder, Wikipedia.com

As a child, Wales was an avid reader with an acute intellectual curiosity. This he credits to the influence of a 'Montessori inspired' method within the school's philosophy of education. According to him he "spent lots of hours poring over the Britannicas and World Book Encyclopedias"

Prince Harry

Duke of Sussex

At the insistence of William's mother the late Diana, Princess of Wales, both of her sons William and Harry were educated the Montessori way. Diana herself was a nursery assistant at the Young England Kindergarten school in Pimlico, whose principal Miss Kay holds a Montessori Diploma.

Will Wright

Computer Game Designer, best known for SimCity

Will Wright (born January 20, 1960) is an American computer game designer and co-founder of the game development company Maxis. He is best known as the original designer of computer games such as SimCity, The Sims and Spore.”Montessori taught me the joy of discovery…It showed you can become interested in pretty complex theories, like Pythagorean theory, say, by playing with blocks. It’s all about learning on your terms, rather than a teacher explaining stuff to you. SimCity comes right out of Montessori—if you give people this model for building cities, they will abstract from it principles of urban design.”

Larry Page & Sergey Brin

Co-Founders, Google.com

Google ran one of its famous doodles on Friday in honor of Maria Montessori. No surprise, really. Both of the company's founders went to Montessori schools. 

In 2004, ABC's Barbara Walters asked Larry Page and Sergey Brin about the secret to their success. Both Mr. Page and Mr. Brin had college professors for parents. She wondered if that familial connection to learning played into their success. They said no. Their parents helped, but really their Montessori education was the key. Brin and Page specifically pointed to the curriculum of self-directed learning – where students follow their interests and decide for themselves what they want to learn. 

"I think it was part of that training of not following rules and orders, and being self motivated, questioning what's going on in the world and doing things a little bit differently," says Page, who's now CEO of Google. 

The transformation from college friends to twin billionaires took several turns. Google may have never taken off if Brin and Page didn't keep asking themselves: What else can I do? What do I find interesting? How can I make that happen?

As Forbes pointed out last year, Google "wasn’t launched by Larry Page and Sergei Brin as a brilliant vision, but rather as a project to improve library searches, followed by a series of small discoveries that unlocked a revolutionary business model." The Forbes article credits Montessori education for allowing them to keep tinkering. "Overall," it says, "there was resonance with the idea that education concerns inspiring students to become life-long learners with a love of education."

This model has seeped into Google's corporate culture, as well. The company is famous for its 20-percent rule. Employees should spend one day a week working on something that isn't in their job description. Basically, be self-directed. This Montessori ideal has led to many major Google products: Google Maps, Alerts, Reader, and many more.

Yo Yo Ma

World-renowned Cellist

Internationally renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma was Montessori educated.  He also chose to send his daughter Emily to a Montessori school.  In an interview Yo Yo Ma stated, “Structure is an absolutely important part of the creative life, and Emily got this from her Montessori experience.”

Anthony Doerr

Pulitzer Prize Winner in Fiction

This internationally-acclaimed American author was once a Montessori student of The Post Oak School in Houston. The sense of wonder that infuses his luminous, precisely-crafted prose is evidence of the gifts, and the love of nature, that were nurtured in him from childhood. Click here to read an article he wrote about his Montessori experience.

Taylor Swift

Grammy Award-winning Singer/Songwriter

Taylor Swift is a former Montessori student. As a youngster, she attended the Alvernia Montessori School in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. She attended preschool during the 1994-1995 school year, then kindergarten during the 1995-1996 school year.

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