Rochester, New York

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Our History & Our Work

The History of The Montessori Intervention Programs, Inc. (MIP)

About the Founders

  • John F. Erhart, MD, a child psychiatrist, who has worked for over twenty years with children with high-intensity needs, sought to apply his education and experience in more-effective ways to promote emotional well-being and enhanced learning for children.
  • To help those facing emotional and developmental disabilities, Ms. Monica Smith, a London-trained Montessori teacher, desired to apply Montessori theory and practice outside the traditional Montessori classroom settings.
  • Dr. Erhart and Ms. Smith realized that goals common to the professions of Psychiatry and Education have historically sought to enhance growth, health, and the well-being of individuals and their communities.

Child Psychiatry & Montessori

  • Child and adolescent psychiatry involves physicians who are uniquely qualified to blend knowledge about human behavior and development from biological, psychosocial, and cultural perspectives with scientific and collaborative methods to promote mental health.
  • Montessori principles and practices, based on the lifework of Maria Montessori, MD (1870-1952), stem from a background in biology, psychiatry, and anthropology. The Montessori understanding of the child offers a broad vision of education as an aid to life, and has applications far beyond traditional classrooms settings.
  • While current assessments and treatments provide for a wide range of interventions, Child Psychiatry can best assist children with special needs through using a truly child-centered approach. The integration of sound mental health practices with Montessori principles allows optimal growth and well-being of children with emotional and developmental disabilities. The analysis and design leading to new and more comprehensive approaches for such children is made possible through a collegial relationship between Psychiatry and Montessori.

Association Montessori Internationale (AMI)

  • For over eighty years, the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), founded by Dr. Montessori in 1929, has upheld, safeguarded, and perpetuated the quality of Montessori philosophy and methodology.
  • In 1999, Renilde Montessori, Maria Montessori's granddaughter, proposed the Educateurs sans Frontières (EsF) initiative, which incorporates the full dimension of Dr. Montessori's teachings. This was an invitation for Montessori-trained individuals to become educators without boundaries and expand from the classroom into the community to work with other professionals.
  • Inspired by the noble EsF initiative, Dr. Erhart and Ms. Smith sought consultation with noted Montessori scholars, including esteemed trainers in Britain, France, Italy, and the United States, in developing ways to adapt core principles and practices, drawing on decades of Montessori empirical experience world-wide. Child psychiatrists and other specialists with expertise in the comprehensive management of children with emotional, learning, and neuro-developmental conditions were actively engaged in exploring options for program development.

The Creation of MIP

  • Dr. Erhart and Ms. Smith feel the Montessori approach clearly embraces a child-centered understanding of individuals. The application of Montessori theory via the expertise of Child Psychiatry allows new, more effective, approaches for children and their families who are affected by disorders of feeling, thinking, and behavior.
  • In 2000, Dr. Erhart and Ms. Smith co-founded The Montessori Intervention Programs, Inc. (MIP) as a not-for-profit organization, independent of the Association Montessori Internationale. MIP, based in New York State, fosters the integration of sound mental health practices with Montessori principles.

Hear more about this special education program designed to help children with Autism Spectrum Conditions and other Special Needs by emailing us today at, for a consultation.