Reflections: Serendipity / Serendipità - Making fortunate discoveries by accident, in Italian and English

The word “Serendipity” looms large in my thoughts when I reflect back on 2013.  For those that know me, Montessori has not been central to my career to date.  What has is a commitment to playing a positive role in the improvement of quality of life in America’s urban communities.  For me, this means having highly functioning governments, in particular schools, that can address the needs of their constituents, especially children in poverty.  So, when Megan Hubbard and Austyn Brickler and I sat down in February to discuss the creation of a Montessori Public Charter School, my perception of Montessori was vague at best.  But what I’ve come to see under their expert tutelage is that a high-performing Montessori school hits all of the marks that I look for in a school, and expanding public Montessori options is a strategy that we are confident will play a strong role in closing the opportunity gap for DC schoolchildren:

But this post isn’t about our school.  I was on Facebook the other day (something I really don’t do very often), and stumbled upon this posting by my Sicilian cousin.  Daniela and I only met once, way back in 1995, so I thought it a remarkable coincidence (again, perhaps serendipity?) that she shared a posting from “Maria Montessori.” Her posting was the Italian translation of Dorothy Law Nolte’s 1954 poem, “Children Learn What They Live.”  My favorite lines are:

  • If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

  • If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

  • If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

Our hope for Lee Montessori PCS is to provide a fair, kind, and secure environment during the 8+ hours per day that students spend in school - for our students, teachers, staff, parents, and communities.  Thanks Daniela, for introducing me to this poem – next time, maybe post something in English so that I don’t have to spend 14 seconds figuring out what it means?  Or maybe I just need to spend more time in my Duolingo app…

To learn more about Lee Montessori, visit our website,, email us at, or email me at


Chris Pencikowski
Acting Head of School
Lee Montessori Public Charter School


Posted on December 3, 2013 .