Maria Montessori (1870 –1952) was the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree. She was an educator, humanitarian, and devout Catholic, best known for the philosophy of education. She believed that each child is born with a unique potential, only waiting to be revealed. Born in Le Marche, Dr. Montessori developed the Montessori program for the elementary years, now known throughout the world. She adapted the traditional teacher-taught subjects in the arts and science so that the children could use materials to guide their open-ended research and to follow their interests. The elementary child, when allowed to work independently instead of being taught in groups led by a teacher. This passionate and caring woman paved the way for top of the line, student-based education as we know it.