AMI 0-3 Diploma Graduate Profile: Melissa Chandler

Melissa Chandler left a corporate career to have children and commenced her AMI 0-3 Diploma when her children were young to learn more about the philosophy and pedagogy. This put Melissa on a new path of transformation. In 2022, Melissa was appointed as Principal at Barrenjoey Montessori School.

Why did you do the AMI 0-3 Diploma? Were you already in education or were you in a different industry? 

I had left my corporate career to have children and was a stay at home Mum when I saw the AMI 0-3 Diploma course being advertised. My children were attending a Montessori school and I had attended a Montessori pre-school myself so I was very drawn to the idea of learning more about philosophy. I didn’t realise at the time the path it would set me on.  

What is your biggest takeaway after completing the course? 

The potential of each child is limitless.  

What was the biggest challenge while doing the AMI 0-3 Diploma? 

Time management. Its a juggle to attend lectures, study, complete the 250hrs of observation, be available for your family, work and allow yourself some rest.  

What was the most enjoyable aspect of doing the course? 

Being with like-minded people- listening, connecting, collaborating, laughing, growing with them.  Every class was a soul nourishing experience for me and I have formed life long friendships as a result. 

How has the AMI 0-3 Diploma change the way you work in the Montessori environment compared to before you did it? 

I wasn’t working in an Montessori environment before I completed the AMI 0-3 Diploma so its hard to know but  I can reflect on an urgency to know everything early on in the course, over time you realise that you will never know everything and its important to be open to learning each day, from each child and the people you work with in different ways.   

As a parent, has the knowledge gained from the AMI 0-3 Diploma affected the way you are as a parent? If so, how? 

I am more aware of different developmental stages children go through and how as an adult I also need to be continually changing.   

How did the AMI 0-3 Diploma change your life? 

This is so difficult to answer as it has changed my life in so many ways and I get very emotional thinking about it. I can remember being so worried that doing the course would mean giving up time with my children, who were just little at the time, and that this would have a negative impact on them.  Instead, they took so much interest in what I was doing, and I realised it showed them that I had a passion and was working hard to complete something meaningful—that was a huge learning for me.  Also, as a stay at home Mum at that time who had a successful career before children but a carreer that I wasn’t interested in returning to, the course allowed me to open myself up to learning again, but in an effortless, enjoyable way because it was something that I was deeply interested and passionate about.

To feel that passion for learning later in life was extremely enriching and unexpected. The 0-3 community in Australia is very unique, it is extremely supportive and welcoming.  I felt this from the very first information session I attended, here was a group of people who I had never met before yet they were encouraging and filled with passion and really just wanted others to experience the same change that they have had. I’d never experienced that before.

I recall telling a previous graduate at the information session about how my husband and I didn’t have extended family in Australia and it would be difficult for us to find care for our children to allow me to do the course.  Without hesitation she wrote down her phone number and told me I could call her anytime and she would help us. That type of generosity was extremely moving and unexpected.  To now be part of that group and be in the same position to support others as they complete the a Montessori diploma is very meaningful. 

What advice would you give to someone who is considering doing the course? 

 We often talk about the ‘transformed adult’ and there is really no other way to describe what happens when completing this course.  If you truly open yourself to the possibility and opportunities this course can offer, it will change your life—but it comes with compromise and sacrifice. Support from family, friends and work is paramount.  

Our next AMI 0-3 Diploma commences online this September 2023 with AMI 0-3 Trainer, Julia Hilson. The course is in blended format (online and in-person) with the in-person blocks in Melbourne. To find out more see: AMI Montessori 0-3 Diploma.