Ms.Uma Shanker, the Director of Indian Montessori Training Courses – Chennai, (IMTC-C), holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the Madras University. She began her career in the field of education when she completed her Montessori-teacher training under the directorship of Mr. S. R. Swamy in1984 in Kolkata and received her AMI Diploma in Montessori education. Uma Shanker received her Certificate to be an independent Director of Training from Indian Montessori Centre (IMC), Bangalore in 1997 and set up the first Montessori Teacher Training institution in Chennai in 1998. At present she is Director-General of IMC, Bangalore, in charge of the Montessori Directors’ Training Course. (MDTC). A member of the Central Governing Council of IMC for over 15 years, she has also served as its Secretary-General.
Working with children in Calcutta and Madras, Uma Shanker realized that this was her true vocation and became convinced that the Montessori Method offered the ideal environment for all children, to work towards their development. When she realized the importance of having trained teachers in the classroom, she decided to qualify herself as a teacher-trainer. Uma saw her role as that of a facilitator to help the adult-students look at the child from Montessori’s point of view and from thereon it was an exciting journey exploring ways to dream and discover the possibilities of extending oneself to help future teachers transform themselves to serve the child. She firmly believes adults have to be prepared intellectually, technically and spiritually and this can only be achieved through intense and relevant training.
Uma Shanker has undertaken pioneering work in taking the Montessori method of education to the underprivileged children by conducting teacher training courses and workshops for several NGOs including Sneha in Nagapattinam, SOS Village, Tambaram, Sri Ramacharan Charitable Trust (SRCT) and Nishkam Trust at Chennai. SRCT has set up and now manages near 60 environments in Chennai Corporation Schools and Balwadis. She has led a team that has trained a large number of teachers of Greater Chennai Corporation.
Uma Shanker has authored a book titled, “Your Child and You”, a guide to parents. She has also written a booklet titled “A Guide to Montessori Education for the Early Years, published by Indian Montessori Centre, TN Chapter. The book deals with Montessori education for the 2½ to 6 years and address questions frequently asked by parents. Her articles have also been published in the press. Uma Shanker has presented several papers in National and International conferences. In 2016, she presented a paper at a UNESCO education conference. More recently, in November 2019, she presented a paper in Kuala Lumpur at a conference organized by the Montessori Association Malaysia.
Uma Shanker is the recipient of the Lady Kalyani Sivaswami Ayyar Best Teacher Award.
In 2019, she received the first Maria Montessori award instituted by Shri Ramacharan Charitable Trust, for her pioneering work to formulate the Montessori education and training courses in Tamil.
Ms. Shobhana Vaidyanathan, Director (Training) at IMTC-Chennai, joined the organisation in 1999. She is a gold medalist in Home Science from Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University, 1980. She completed her Montessori-teacher training in 1981, at Hyderabad under the directorship of Mr. S. R. Swamy and received the AMI diploma. During her tenure at IMTC-Chennai, Shobhana Vaidyanathan received her Certificate to be an independent Director of Training from IMC, Bangalore in 2008. Shobhana completed the Education Leadership Programme conducted by the Kuruvilla Jacob Initiative, Chennai.
Shobhana has 25 years of working experience with children in Montessori environments. She passionately believes it is the only method that addresses the developmental needs of ALL children. She shares with the adult students of IMTC-Chennai, her 25 years’ of varied experience of working with children – at Lumbini, Hyderabad, Abacus Montessori School, and Maitri, in Chennai. Founder Principal of Maitri, she has the distinction of integrating children with special needs in the school.
Shobhana has gained deep insights into the doubts and difficulties adults face while working with children through her other experiences at Namma Bhoomi (a project of Concerned for Working Children, Bangalore) and SOS Village School, Tambaram. As a member of the IMTC-Chennai team, she has been a consultant for various Montessori Schools to help them set up Montessori environments and provide in-house training for their teachers. She conducts workshops for organizations and schools to spread awareness of the Montessori Method and philosophy.
Shobhana Vaidyanathan was honorary Vice-Chairman of Indian Montessori Centre – Tamil Nadu Chapter and has been the Convenor of the Maitri conferences held at Chennai, an IMC initiative to create awareness regarding the Montessori movement. She has presented papers at national conferences including one on “The Social Question of the Child” at a National seminar organised by the Department of Elementary Education, NCERT , New Delhi. Single-minded and energetic, Shobhana Vaidyanathan is a stickler for work and wholeheartedly gives her time and energy to any task that she undertakes.
Gunasekharan Kavitha, Associate Director (Training) at IMTC-Chennai, is a graduate in Physics from PSGRK – Coimbatore and holds an Honours diploma in Network Centered Computing from NIIT. She completed her Diploma in Montessori primary-teacher training (primary) from IMTC-Chennai in 2005 and later completed the Diploma course in Montessori elementary-teacher training from Navadisha Montessori Institute in 2011. Since 2013, she has been associated with IMTC-Chennai’s Elementary-teacher training programme and became the Associate Director in 2018.
Kavitha has a varied and dynamic experience working with children since 2005. Her work with children started in Abacus Montessori School, Perungudi, Chennai where she worked in the primary and the elementary environments, passionately learning the differences in the children’s developmental needs with both the age groups. She has trained adults in the Montessori Method for the rural schools run by Relief Foundation and Sriram Foundation in 2012. Kavitha established Aakam Montessori Learning Centre at Pallikaranai in 2013, where the children (3 to12 years) from varied strata and education systems, discover the “Joy of Learning” with the Montessori method and philosophy. The children have been her mentors in understanding the philosophy at a deeper level and that which is practically applicable.
As a trainer of adults at IMTC-Chennai, she has the responsibility for the design and execution of the elementary course in its practical and pedagogical aspects. Under Elements of Elementary, an initiative to bring the Montessori Elementary community together she has conducted workshops in Chennai and Bangalore. She continues playing her role as a Montessori Facilitator with children and in coaching adults to be worthy of the children to serve them better.
Kavitha is a University first in music from Annamalai University in grade 5 and holds an International graduate Diploma in Counselling and Psychology from Banjara Academy.
R.Hema, completed the Montessori primary-teacher training course in IMTC Chennai in 2004 and received the Diploma from IMC, Bangalore. She qualified herself further by completing the Montessori elementary-teacher training course at IMTC-Chennai in 2018. Hema joined IMTC-Chennai in 2008 and as an assistant faculty member, now supports both the primary and elementary courses at IMTC-Chennai. She also supports IMTC’s courses elsewhere in Tamil Nadu.
Hema’s passion to work with rural children set her on a journey to start a Montessori House of Children with an NGO called Rise Foundation in Thimmanguthu, a village near Coimbatore. In 2008, she moved to Chennai to join IMTC-C and has continued to work and support children in many ways directly and indirectly. Hema works with Kalvi Trust for Research and Education to support Chennai Schools, Corporation of Chennai by supporting the Montessori teacher-training. She helps schools to set up Montessori environments and assist teachers to equip their environments with materials. At IMTC-C, Hema is ever ready to go the extra mile, especially to facilitate learning for the students who enroll with Tamil background.
J. Bhuvaneshwari is an assistant faculty member at the IMTC-Chennai, since 2013. She is a graduate and her interest to work with children resulted in her working as a primary teacher between 1997 and 1999. Interested in acquiring the skills and the required to work with children more efficiently, led her to complete the Post-Graduate course in Child care and Education in 2008 Later she completed the Diploma course in Montessori-teacher training from IMTC-Chennai in 2013. Bhuvaneshwari’s meticulous way of working has been a strength to the voluminous work involved in the assisting of the training programme. She is soft spoken yet very determined and firm in helping the students to complete the course work.