Dear Desert Garden Community,

As we continue our 15 year celebration of the school’s history, it is with incredible joy that I share with you the news that on March 3, 2014, Desert Garden Montessori (DGM) was officially approved as an International Montessori Council (IMC) accredited school!  Click here for the Powerpoint Presentation summary assembled by the accreditation team after their review process of DGM.

  • DGM is only the 7th Montessori school in the world to receive IMC accreditation
  • We are the 5th in the United States to receive accreditation.
  • DGM is the only IMC accredited school in the WORLD to serve infants through adolescents.

For more details on what it means to be certified and the entire certification process, please look below the certificate!

IMC Accreditation Certificate

The IMC (www.montessori.org) is a global organization of Montessori schools and communities. Its mission is to protect the vision and legacy of Dr. Maria Montessori and the Montessori Foundation by making policy designed to promote the essential principles of best practices and authentic Montessori education. Over 600 schools in 45 countries ascribe to the IMC as “members”, but only a small percentage of schools have attempted to become accredited, because the process is incredibly difficult.

DGM is only the 7th Montessori school in the world to receive IMC accreditation, and only the 5th in the United States. DGM is the only IMC accredited school in the world to serve infants through adolescents.

What does it mean to be “an accredited school”?

Being accredited means a Montessori school is worthy of public trust, is clear in what it says it offers and actually does what it says, and actually follows the criteria of authentic Montessori best practice.

From IMC’s website: “The primary purpose of the IMC accreditation program is to ensure best practices of Montessori leadership and education, and to evaluate the world’s most respected and successful Montessori schools. Schools that are authentically Montessori in their practice are effective in their work with children and are worthy of public trust and confidence. The Best Practices standards to achieve the title of “accredited” places particular emphasis on the administration of key aspects of school operation, particularly those related to the quality and integrity of the school’s educational program and the health and safety of students and staff members. Standards establish guidelines for policies, procedures, and practices in the school, and the schools is responsible for demonstrating that it implements those policies in a manner consistent with IMC standards on an ongoing basis.

A secondary purpose of the accreditation program is to provide the public with information that can assist them in selecting a school that meets internationally recognized standards of excellence in Montessori educational practice. Going through an accrediting process demonstrates to the public that a school has voluntarily permitted its programs, facilities, policies, and procedures to be evaluated against the Best Practice standards and to be re-evaluated every 10 years after achieving accreditation.”

How hard is it to become accredited?

The accreditation process involves putting together a team within the school community to conduct a “Self-Study” – carefully examining and evaluating every aspect of the school’s health according to 500+ pages of IMC standards, including educational program quality, instructional effectiveness, operational and financial health, facilities and site utilization, and future growth potential.

  • March 2012: A team of DGM teachers, parents, and administrative staff started working on the Self-Study, all while maintaining their regular lives, jobs, and families. The team met regularly, writing, writing, writing, ways DGM met and exceeded IMC standards. In places where DGM did not meet standards or a particular policy was not yet in place, improvements were made and policies updated.
  • December 2013: The team submitted over 800 pages of text comprising the Self-Study and more than 400 pages of Appendices with outlined policies and procedures.
  • January 2014: IMC sent expert Montessori administrators to DGM to assess the school and get a true feel for the community.
  • March 2014: IMC approved DGM’s accreditation!

On top of the work put in to the accrediting process, schools applying for accreditation must pay an application fee of $5 per enrolled student and must pay every expense of the on-site visit, including airfare, accommodations, some meals, and transportation.

With all of this required to achieve accreditation, you can see why not many schools try it and only 7 schools in the world have become accredited schools!

What feedback did we receive?

Thank you to everyone who worked tirelessly to make the site-team’s visit an outstanding experience. The site-team took detailed artifacts of the visit, including photos, stories, facts, notes, and impressions. In general, the site-team agreed with our Self-Study that we met or exceeded almost every standard! Attached is the Summary of Major Strengths from their formal evaluation, presented to the IMC review board (some quotes below):

“…a tight knit community of faculty, staff, students, and parents. … Over and over one hears the use of this term [village] by parents, faculty, and staff, and they truly live it out. Stories abound throughout the school of how they support and nurture each other through good times and bad. The longevity of both the families and the faculty are testimony to the strength of the community and leadership of its founder.”

“A culture of kindness and ‘mindfulness’ abounds and permeates each classroom, office, and meeting place.”

“The [Infant Nido] environment boasts a truly authentic Montessori approach to infant care and the faculty and staff are dedicated to that philosophy. The infants are amazingly independent….”

“…most importantly, [DGM] has the vision and leadership of its founder who has dedicated herself to creating a truly remarkable school. … The leadership of the school is clearly what forms and informs the essence of this outstanding place.”

Looking forward to hearing from you, let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.

Shetal Walters
Executive Director, DGM

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