SCOOP MAGAZINE electronic - Page 6

Marta Donahoe,
2019 AMS Living Legacy
“How do you measure the way in
which young people care about
each other and support each other?” asks Marta Donahoe.
It sounds like a rhetorical question,
but in a world where education is
largely measured by standardized
test scores, it’s an important topic
for Montessori educators.
In 2010, Donahoe was faced with
this question head-on when the
school she started in 1994, Clark
Montessori, became a finalist in
the nationwide “Race to the Top”
Commencement Challenge. Each
competing school made a short
video showcasing its students and
their accomplishments, in an effort
to bring then-President Obama to
speak at its graduation ceremony.
The Clark Montessori students designed, produced and submitted
the video themselves, and suddenly, their school was in the national
“It really helped validate the work
we do that’s more invisible to the
rest of the world,” says Donahoe.
“In lots of ways, you’re always
swimming upstream and moving
against popular culture. Our kids
aren’t going to a school that has
bragging rights like class rank or AP
classes. That’s by design, of course,
but it takes a kind of strength of
character for kids who have choices
about where they might go to keep
coming to a school where you’re
not speaking that same language.”
As the AMS 2019 Living Legacy, Donahoe has a long history of trailblazing in the Montessori community.
She began as a Montessori teacher back in 1979. Although she first
worked with younger children in
a private school, she felt called to
work in public schools with older
students and more diverse populations. After Cincinnati’s Board of
Education approved a proposal for
a Montessori middle school in the
early 1990s, it came time for someone to spearhead the project.
“I was so beside myself with wanting to do it [that] I didn’t want people to know. It was almost embarrassing,” says Donahoe. With two
other teachers, Donahoe worked
long hours to start the school. After
several years as a junior high, Clark
became the first public Montessori
high school in the United States.
“We really had no intention of starting a high school,” says Donahoe.
“I told [a few students that] if they
really wanted the high school, they
had to research. The class was working on a project to choose a local issue they wanted to impact, and the
group decided to research what a
Montessori high school might look
like, and maybe they could take it to
the Board of Education. They did!

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