Famous Montessorians

Jeff Bezos

Amazon Founder

Amazon’s founder, who proudly cites his Montessori roots, is a study in contradictions: analytical and intuitive, careful and audacious, playful and determined. Critics note his extraordinary ability to learn from others, one hallmark of Montessori education.

George Clooney

Academy award-winning actor, director, producer, humanitarian, United nations messenger of peace

Good pre-school pays off: Harvard economists say kindergartners with great teachers earn more later (and are more likely to attend college and own a home) than others. So what defines “good”? Turns out Montessori’s approach—unfolding students, not molding them—guides the most successful teachers. George Clooney? Montessori preschooler.

Sean "P Diddy" Combs

Grammy award-winning musician, rap recording artist and CEO of bad boy records

The multi-talented hip hop artist Sean “P Diddy” Combs says he feels fortunate to have attended Mount
 Vernon Montessori School during his childhood, recalling that, “I feel like I was nurtured into wanting to be somebody special”.

John & Joan Cusack

Actor and screenwriter, and Academy award-nominated actress, respectively

This sister-brother team, each of whom also has a hefty solo reputation, are not conventional heroes. That the former Montessorians’ work is described as “idiosyncratic”, “offbeat” and “fiercely original” is consistent with their belief in “a kind of Joseph Campbell theory of pursuing bliss. Whatever excites you is what you should be doing”.

Peter Drucker

Author, Management consultant, “social ecologist”, awarded the presidential medal of freedom

Peter Drucker, once a Montessori child, is one of the most influential management gurus in history. His work focuses on human relationships as opposed to numbers-crunching; his books are filled with lessons on how organizations can bring out the best in people, and how workers can find dignity and community in their work.

Dakota Fanning

Actor

This youngest-ever Screen Actors Award nominee, history’s youngest Academy member, recalls: “I learned to read at two…in a Montessori school where they teach you to read really, really young.” Montessori kids are not technically taught to read (reading skills just emerge in the right environment, we think), but they work at their own pace in age-diverse groups—not in curriculum-dictated lockstep with same-age peers. For Fanning, autonomy led to early achievement throughout her life.

Anne Frank

Memoirist & author

Anne Frank’s famous diary is a natural extension of her school experience. She—like all Montessori students—learned to cultivate observation skills and record her thoughts in a journal early on. Diary of a Young Girl has been translated into 67 languages and is one of the best loved books in the world today.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Viennese artist & architect

This world-renowned Austrian painter and architect attended a Montessori school in Vienna, which influenced both his affinity for vibrant colors and his love of nature. He collected pebbles and pressed flowers as a child, demonstrating an early interest in small, precious things—which later manifested itself in his work.

Helen Hunt

Academy award-winning actor

Helen Hunt, winner of some big-time honors (Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe all one year—a feat nearly unmatched in history) is one cool Montessorian. Which makes her observation even more interesting: “If there’s a message, it’s that the unlovable and unattractive parts of ourselves should be embraced."

Beyonce Knowles

Singer, songwriter, actress and fashion designer,16-time Grammy award-winner

In Houston, at St. Mary of the Purification Montessori, Beyoncé’s talents first emerged. In a school that valued both art and academics, a top student and world-class performer was born. Today Beyoncé has been nominated for more Grammys than anyone in history and is one of pop music’s most highly regarded figures.

Yo Yo Ma

United nations Peace Ambassador, winner of 15 Grammy Awards, Presidential Medal of Freedom & National Medal of the Arts

A child prodigy cellist and Montessori student, Yo Yo Ma learned early to follow his own interests and think outside traditional definitions. Today, critics call his artistic style “omnivorous” in reference to his versatility, his notably eclectic repertoire and his musical iconoclasm.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Former first lady and Doubleday editor

As a child, the former First Lady attended Miss Chapin’s School for Girls in Manhattan. Miss Chapin was a pioneer in education for girls; she attended Dr Montessori’s New York lectures in the 1930s and enthusiastically included Montessori methods in her classrooms.

Taylor Swift

Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter

Taylor Swift, country music’s youngest-ever Entertainer of the Year, attended Alvernia Montessori School in Berks County Pa. The singer is widely described as “the product of homegrown values”; New York Times calls her “one of pop’s finest songwriters, country music’s foremost pragmatist, and more in touch with her inner life than most adults”.

Will Wright

Video game pioneer, creator of the Sims

The videogame innovator says Montessori was the “imagination amplifier” that prepared him for creating The Sims, Sim City, Spore and Super Mario Brothers. “SimCity comes right out of Montessori… It’s all about learning on your own terms.”