Although Dr. Maria Montessori is best known as an educator, she was a medical pioneer as well, becoming, in 1896, the first woman doctor in Italy. She began her work with children in psychiatric hospitals and in the slums of Rome, but soon came to believe that the educational principles she was developing applied to all children. She opened the first “Casa dei Bambini” or “Children’s House” in 1907 in San Lorenzo, Italy. 

Her revolutionary ideas spread quickly, and training centers opened throughout the world. The Montessori Method came to the United States in 1912, but didn’t experience rapid growth until the early 1950s. This was largely due to the efforts of Nancy McCormick Rambusch, an early childhood educator and founder of the American Montessori Society, who was moved by an increasing concern over the quality of American education.

For a complete history of the Montessori educational movement, click here.