Press Release Jan 24, 2012

For Immediate Release: January 24, 2012

Alef Bet Montessori adds Jewish elementary program
School becomes first in Maryland to offer this accredited dual curriculum

NORTH BETHESDA, MD – Beginning in the Fall of 2012, children ages 6-12 will finally have the opportunity to enroll in an AMI/USA (Association Montessori Internationale) accredited elementary program that provides Montessori-method instruction in both general and Jewish studies.

The first of its kind in Maryland to offer Montessori education in the two curricula, the program will include math, English, science, geography, art and music, along with Hebrew language, Chumash (Torah study), Mishna (Oral Law) and Tefila (prayer) in the hands-on, individualized, child-directed approach for which Montessori is known.

Other programs in the state have attempted to integrate Jewish learning along with Montessori general studies at an elementary level. Alef Bet Montessori stands out in that it is carrying over the Montessori approach into the Jewish studies subjects by introducing AMI-trained staff and specialized materials from a curriculum that has proven successful in schools in New Jersey.

At its campus at the Aish Center for Jewish Learning in North Bethesda, the school currently provides this fully integrated approach of Montessori learning in Jewish and general subjects for its toddler class (ages 18 months to 3 years) and two primary classes (ages 3-6 years).

“I have always envisioned adding an elementary program to the school,” says Head of School and Founder Ayelet “Ellie” Lichtash. “It finally felt like the right time to make that happen.” Her sights are set on leasing one of two county-owned buildings within two miles of the current location to house the elementary program.

The Montessori Classroom for Elementary-Age Students

The Montessori elementary environment responds to the elementary-aged child’s expanding view of the universe. Children learn in a multi-age groups – 1st-3rd graders together and 4th-6th graders together – just as they did as 3-6-year-olds in the Montessori primary program. The classroom will contain materials that are consistent with and a continuation of those from the preschool and kindergarten programs. Children can use the elementary-age materials in more complex ways suited to their developmental progress. In addition, many new materials will be introduced as the children move toward abstract thinking, developing their imaginations to embrace concepts larger than the immediate environment. The program is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits and respect for children’s natural psychological development, as well as technological advancements in society.

“We are all different,” says Lichtash. “It’s hard to educate children on one assembly line and expect all to react the same. In our program we gear for different learning methods, such as visual, tactile, sensorial and more.”

What is Montessori?

The Montessori Method, named after Dr. Maria Montessori, who first developed it more than 100 years ago based on scientific observation of children, recognizes children’s natural curiosity and desire to learn. The method aids children by emphasizing independent activity without the unnecessary help of an adult.  Learning is a process of discovery and self-correction in the class environment.

Background on Alef Bet Montessori

Alef Bet Montessori, then known as Aish Montessori, opened in 2005 with eight children and has grown to its current size more than 50 students. Through the celebration of Shabbat, Jewish holidays and learning about spirituality, love and kindness, Alef Bet aims to develop the self-identity of its students.

The school holds certifications from AMI/USA ( and is a proud member of Independent Education (, as association of independent private schools in the Washington, D.C., area. The school is currently located on Old Georgetown Road in North Bethesda less than one mile from the I-270 spur and only 2 miles from the Beltway. With the addition of the elementary program, Alef Bet Montessori will serve children ages 18 months to 12 years from Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Montgomery, Frederick, Howard and Prince George’s counties in Maryland.

Background on Ayelet “Ellie” Lichtash

Lichtash is committed to the high standards of Montessori education. She is a member of the board of Montessori Administrators and Montessori Schools of Maryland and was recently appointed to serve as the national representative of AMI/USA at the meetings of the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) in Washington D.C.

Lichtash is also working to create an affordable Montessori training center in Israel at Seminar Hakibutizm, Tel Aviv. Lichtash has partnered with Prof. Ruth Yakir, Director of International and Graduate Studies at Seminar Hakibutizm and Sally Oren, wife of Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, in this endeavor. They hope to initiate the Israeli training facility for master’s degrees in Montessori education in August 2012. This is the first step in Alef Bet’s Global Education initiative, in which students and teachers gain international enrichment and experience through an exchange program.

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Ayelet “Ellie” Lichtash

Head of School

Phone: 301.881.9010 x 16

Email: Contact Us