"This is their mission,” said Beth Bronsil, director of Montessori education. “They’re the first ones to do this in Taiwan.” Six students had previously worked in private Montessori schools and five had already opened schools of their own.
Under the guidance of Bronsil, Xavier has become an international leader in Montessori education and the first school nationally to offer a master's in Montessori education. In the past 14 years, Xavier has graduated 125 Korean Montessori teachers and has been active in helping its public school system set up 11 Montessori programs in Seoul, Korea. Bronsil wants to see the same results in Taiwan.
“Even though we work with small groups, in Taiwan I see it evolving,” Bronsil said. “I believe in making these people independent. We show them how to open their own programs after we mentor them. We teach them how to fish.”
The students, who began their study in 2002, are the second group from Taiwan to attend Xavier and the first to study elementary Montessori education. Four students remained in the U.S. for two years to earn their degrees while the remaining seven split their time between the U.S. and Taiwan. The latter group had to cancel their 2003 visit, however, due to the SARS outbreak.
“This program is so rewarding for them because the teachers and students in Taiwan work so hard," said Bronsil. “They’re enthusiastic about their work and do high quality work.”
Bronsil also said that having Taiwanese students in the program has had a positive impact on other Xavier students. “It stretches students in different ways,” Bronsil said. "They have to be aware of another culture—how, to approach and share.”
Although they walked in the May commencement ceremony, the students will not finish their studies until this December. For more about Xavier's Montessori education program, visit the University's web site.