Maria Montessori was an Italian physician most known for her development of the educational method that is named after her. Montessori was born into a well-educated family on August 31, 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy. Challenging gender stereotypes, Montessori graduated from medical school at the University of Rome with high honors, becoming the first female doctor in Italy.
During her time spent teaching at the University of Rome, she treated children from all different socioeconomic backgrounds which led to her interest in early education. This experience allowed her to practice and perfect her different style of teaching on the children that came to the free clinics.
By 1925, there were over 1000 Montessori schools opened in America. The Montessori way encouraged teachers to “follow the child” and use the child’s interests and natural intuition as the guide. Although, interest in Montessori schools declined for a few decades, there was a resurgence and new found interest for the teaching method during the 1960s. Montessori’s work in childhood education led her to receive two nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. She died in 1952, but her legacy lives on as she was a pioneer in the development of young children.