On August 31st, 1870, Maria Montessori was born to Alessandro Montessori and Renilde Stoppani. She would begin her amazing life as a Roman Catholic Italian woman in Chiaravalle, Italy. From an early age, Maria excelled in the classroom. Like her mother, and unlike many other women in her time, she would become well-educated. At age 13, Maria was enrolled into a technical school. After graduation in 1886, she went on to enter the Regio Instituto Technico Leonardo da Vinci. There, she studied math, natural sciences, and languages. At this institute, she discovered a strong desire to pursue a career in medicine. When she applied for the medical program at the University of Rome in 1890, she was denied. She did not give up, but instead went on to study physics, mathematics, and natural sciences at the university. After two years of studying she received her Diploma di Licenza. As time went on, she became able to enter the medical program at the University of Rome. She presented her thesis in 1986, and was awarded her full medical degree. Maria Montessori became the first female doctor in Italy.
Maria Montessori began her career after medical school as a medical assistant at Santo Spirito. She was then given a promotion as a surgical assistant. In 1897, she joined the staff at the University of Rome where she continued doing research after receiving a full medical degree. In 1904, she became a professor at the university. Soon after, she decided that she would begin the process which would deem her an extraordinary woman to this day. Maria Montessori founded a whole new approach to teaching children. By embracing a child’s natural desire to learn, a Montessori way of teaching allows a child to embrace the desire to learn in a hands-off environment. This way of learning allows the teacher to step down from the pedestal and understand the benefits of a child exploring their own skills and teaching themselves. Maria Montessori questioned the validity of a teacher providing lectures, and promoted a teacher stepping back and helping children help themselves in order to thrive within the classroom and throughout their lives. Maria Montessori revolutionized education in a way that would have lasting effects seen in today’s society.
Maria Montessori took an inspirational leap for all women. Through her development of a this revolutionary way of teaching, Maria has proven that hard work can have lasting effects on society whether it comes from a man or a woman. Maria persisted through her education, and did not give up when she was denied a fair chance at an education because of the fact that she was a woman. Her efforts can be found right here in New Paltz, New York at the Montessori of New Paltz located on Plains Road.