Daily Herald

Celebrating education

Glendale Heights woman succeeds in creating Montessori Education Week

By Hafsa Naz Mahmood
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Friday, March 02, 2007

Zeenat Hussain of Glendale Heights is especially excited about Montessori Education Week this year — mainly because she helped develop a proclamation to declare the week in the state of Illinois .

Talk about perfect timing.

This year is the 100th anniversary of Montessori Education Week, which runs through Saturday.

Hussain contacted Governor Rod Blagojevich’s office in November, and roughly a month later accomplished her goal.

“My main reason for setting out on this endeavor was my strong belief in this method and philosophy, and its countless benefits for our children,” Hussain said.

In the early 1900s, Maria Montessori developed an innovative philosophy of education that continues to influence learning across the country. The Montessori program uses materials, techniques and observations that support students’ natural development and encourage learning, independence and self-confidence.

“I think it’s a huge honor that people would recognize Montessori because it does so much for our children,” she said. “I think more and more people need to be aware of the wonders of this philosophy and that there’s an option other than traditional education.”

Hussain said the unique thing about Montessori schools is that kids literally experience things. For example, they touch something that’s smooth and rough, rather than just hear or read about it.

“It really follows the child’s developmental level,” Hussain said. “If a four year-old is ready for something more advanced, they’re able to provide the experience for this child to flourish.”

Hussain was a Montessori teacher for nine years and taught two- to six-year-old students. She currently is taking a break because of her own young children.

But her passion runs deep.

Hussain and her husband attended Montessori schools, she’ll make sure all her children do and she said she’ll always be involved in one way or another, whether it’s at the teaching level or at a school she opens one day.

“I feel like it’s in my blood,” she said. “I really believe in it.”