I received the following question by email:
"I am just now getting into all this Montessori stuff and I have LOTS of decisions to make. I am now located on the West coast, but will be relocating to the East Coast in a couple years. I am stuck between AMI vs. AMS training and was wondering which one you do/did? From looking at their websites, it appears as though AMI is more popular on the West Coast than on the East Coast? I have been away from the east coast for years, so I was wondering how Montessori is accepted over there and what your experience was with AMI vs. AMS?
This is not an area of expertise for me, but I tried to help with the following answer. If you have insight to share, I know it would be appreciated. Please share your experience in the comments.
Congratulations on your decision to (maybe?) pursue Montessori training! I am an odd duck on this subject, because my training is lesser-known here in the states - it is neither AMI nor AMS. My certification is from Montessori Centre International (MCI), which is a training center based in London that was started in 1998 when Montessori St. Nicholas. joined together with the London Montessori Centre. There was an MCI training center in Denver, which is where I completed my training.
I did, however, intern under AMS certified teachers and have only taught in AMS affiliated schools since my internship, so my knowledge of AMS vs. AMI is based solely on things I've read and what I have learned from other teachers. The whole of my teaching experience was in Colorado and Texas, so I'm not particularly knowledgeable on the East Coast vs. West Coast subject either. AMS is more popular in Colorado, which may have to do with the fact that it is home to a large AMS training center (Montessori Education Center of the Rockies, or MECR), and from what I gathered in my short time there, is also more common in Texas.
My thought from the experience that I do have in the Montessori community is that passionate teachers are always needed. The philosophical differences between AMI and AMS are minor, but they do exist. To me, the most important thing would be which one you feel is more aligned with your style of interacting with children, as I would expect that you could find a job regardless of whether your training is more popular in the area where you live. While I have had to explain what my training was to every interviewer I have met with, I have had no shortage of job offers. If both programs are equally feasible for you, I would recommend that you observe in at least two AMS schools and two AMI schools, talk with teachers, and make your decision from there.
I'm sorry that I'm not more help on this particular issue. I will post your question and my answer on my blog and see if anyone else can jump in and offer some insight! Good luck to you!