Meet Bill Conway

Meet the team behind MSCA! Get acquainted with our board directors and staff who make it all happen behind the scenes. Discover what drives their passion for MSCA and their vision for its future.

Meet Bill Conway

"[Montessori has] such a high regard for the child as the hope and promise of a bright future. It is both an education pedagogy and an ideal that guides how we view life."

Board Director and Chair of the Education Committee.

Current working position: 
Education Consultant and AMI Administrator Course Trainer. 

Tell us about your Montessori background:
When I was 16, I read a piece by Maria Montessori about adolescent education. She talked about this third plane of development (ages 12-18) when interest in academics gets lost in the more enticing social world. She described this as a natural developmental occurrence and stated that schooling should respond accordingly. Being an adolescent myself at the time, this made perfect sense; schooling responds to the learner.

I went on to university, determined to become an educator who may be able to be a different kind of teacher. I spent most of the next 30 years in leadership roles where I had some opportunity to influence my school’s approach to education, but there was always a barrier that couldn’t be crossed – until I rediscovered Montessori in 2006. A visit by some Montessori educators to the mainstream school I was leading on the North Shore of Sydney eventually became the catalyst for my immersion into Montessori education.

The Montessori educators from a nearby school were searching for a school site, knowing we had just vacated one after building a new school. It seemed like an ideal marriage to draw in a Montessori school next door, as finally, I could incorporate Montessori principles into the school I was leading. However, my board was not as enthusiastic as I was, so instead of leasing the site to the nearby Montessori school, I found a principal position in another nearby Montessori school (Montessori East) and started my real journey learning more about what I believed made perfect sense.

I attended two Montessori training courses (auditing), read books, and visited several high-quality Montessori schools around the world. This stimulated my interest in how best to adopt the Montessori principles into school leadership, and I subsequently assisted in developing a course curriculum for Montessori school administrators. I continued my work as principal of Montessori East until 2020, after which time I could devote more time to training and other work. 

What do you love about Montessori?
There is such a high regard for the child as the hope and promise of a bright future. It is both an education pedagogy and an ideal that guides how we view life. Her writing inspires me and helps me remain optimistic about the world when so much seems truly depressing.

What are your hopes for MSCA?
MSCA was established with a solid base on which to build an organisation. I hope to further our work in establishing genuine Montessori practice in schools and centres, spread a clear and positive image of Montessori education to the wider community, and create a national community of Montessori educators, students, and parents who feel welcome and united.

What is your favourite Montessori quote and why? 

“The children are now working as if I did not exist”.

This quote celebrates children’s potential to self-construct and self-determine their learning. It reminds us not to overstep our responsibility as educators—to be gentle and respectful guides rather than dictatorial instructors delivering our lessons. It has often been the needed ‘stop sign’ in my work with children.

About Bill.

Bill is the former principal of Montessori East (2007–2020), located in Sydney, NSW. Raised in the US and Kampala, Uganda, Bill spent more than 25 years of his career as a head of school, 10 years classroom teaching and three years as a school counsellor. Bill is an international Administrator Course Trainer for the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and assisted in the development of the course curriculum. Bill also serves on the board of the Montessori East Foundation and consults with schools in Australia and Thailand. In 2021, he completed a Masters in Business Empathy (an alternate MBA) and served as the chair of the Programme Planning Committee overseeing the most recent AMI congress in Bangkok, Thailand. He has four children living around the globe and two beautiful granddaughters living in Kodiak, Alaska.