Submitted by Margaret J. Kelley
Our former Head of School Paula Lillard Preschlack says with a laugh that her older sister Lynn Lillard Jessen convinced her to begin her Montessori journey by enticing her with bowls of ice cream and asking her, “What else are you going to do?!”
More than twenty-five years later, we can all be grateful that Paula didn’t choose something else to do! Paula spent almost three decades taking three Montessori trainings, teaching at the Primary and Elementary age level, leading Forest Bluff School as a Head of School, raising her own two children in a Montessori home, working with parents, reading countless books on development and Maria Montessori, and continuing her own education through conferences and conversation with other educational, developmental, and Montessori experts. She also continued to write and give talks in order to share this information, as well as her knowledge and observations, with this special community.
After twenty-five years at Forest Bluff, Paula has moved to the next chapter of her life, writing a book on what she learned about Montessori in action. On February 7, her book “The Montessori Potential: How to Foster Independence, Respect, and Joy in Every Child” will be released to the public! This book is a culmination of her work so far, not only sharing the theory of Montessori, but offering lively anecdotes and engaging conversation that bring the theory to life.
Her book serves as more than just an explanation of the Montessori curriculum. In it, she describes how it actually works, with examples from real classrooms, and what triumphs and struggles schools face every day as they implement this approach. Her insights into Montessori’s practical application are invaluable. It is a call to action for parents, teachers, administrators, policy makers, and all interested community members. Paula shares, “This book is for educators, reformers, concerned citizens, and parents, who want to learn how to recognize authentic Montessori education and to learn how—exactly—the approach works so well for children.”
Paula’s book walks the reader through the essentials of the Montessori framework, what an ideal Montessori school looks like, why authentic Montessori matters and what challenges it faces, how Montessori is integrated into public schools, and what Montessori looks like for parents at home. Her entertaining stories about real life students and teachers make these important points accessible and memorable.
Order Paula’s book anywhere where you buy books, and join her for a virtual book launch on February 7 and for a book signing at Gorton Community Center with Lake Forest Book Store in Lake Forest, IL, on April 28 from 5-7pm. Check her website for virtual and in-person speaking events across the country this year, or contact her to speak at your school or community!
Paula’s book plays an important role in bringing the potential of a Montessori education to the greater world. Nora Flood, the Education Lead at Wend Collective, writes, “This is the most comprehensive book I have read that illustrates the history of, framework for, and power of the Montessori approach. Preschlack’s writing has helped me understand, and in turn articulate, why every child deserves a Montessori education!”
Michael G. Thompson, coauthor of Raising Cain and The Pressured Child, writes, "In her passionate and beautifully written new book, Paula Lillard Preschlack explores not only the potential of the Montessori approach but also the potential of children to grow into fully engaged and joyous learners. In a time when we see children as fragile and in constant need of our anxious supervision, Preschlack sees them as independent, adaptable, and resilient. Educators and parents and politicians need to read The Montessori Potential to remind themselves of what children can do if we create learning environments for them that unlock their strengths."