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Alumni Update

By May 12, 2022May 13th, 2022Alumni

Defne (Arslan) Magnetta

We recently received an update from an alum who attend Princeton Montessori School in the late ‘1980s and 1990s, Defne Magnetta.

I attended Princeton Montessori from 18 months old through 5th grade (1987-1997), after which I transitioned to public school. I went to Johns Hopkins University to obtain my undergraduate degree in molecular and cellular biology, after which I spent one-year doing basic science research on diabetes and obesity at Harvard’s School of Public Health. I subsequently began medical school training at The Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. It was during medical school in Cleveland that I met my husband, Michael, and together we moved to Pittsburgh to complete our residencies (mine in Pediatrics and his in Radiology). We remained in Pittsburgh for a total of 6 years – during that time I also completed a fellowship in Pediatric Cardiology and we welcomed our daughter, Nora, into the world. Finally, my desire to keep on training led my family to Chicago, where I spent an additional year specializing in Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplantation. I now work at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago as a cardiologist and my husband is across the street at Northwestern. Nora is 3.5 years old and about to start her Montessori career in Chicago.

I have always loved school, from the age of 18 months to my mid-30s, and I attribute this to my Montessori beginnings. As an inquisitive, curious child, I needed to be in an environment that allowed individualized learning and self-guided aspiration. This has carried through to my career. In medicine, there are numerous facts, but there is also a lot of uncertainty and nuance. Every day, I am faced with complex decisions that necessitate problem-solving, collaboration, and novel thinking. I believe Montessori not only prepared me for these challenges but also showed me the value of such work.
I have many wonderful Montessori memories – too many to name! As a toddler, I enjoyed the food activities (a little too much, I am told), and when I was older I remember learning about different cultures with guest visitors. Every year, I looked forward to the Opera, and I still have the t-shirts from several of the productions.
The photos below were taken while Defne was in her Toddler and Primary years at the school! 

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