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352 West m in st er Ave. Ven ice 90291 (310) 314-9976 laclair ef on t ain e.or g




Cal en d ar


B i r th d ay s: Cel ebr at e O u r M ay D ar l i n gs!

p 29 M ovem en t


A L i f e of Pu r p ose

p 30 A r ch i t ect u r e


Rol l i n g w i th Rol ly Pol l i es

p 36 Fl ow er of th e M on t h

p 10 W el l n ess Cl ass p 14 N ew Fl avor s


p 24 Ch ess!

p 38 A r t & M u si c P40 Su m m er Cam p s

p 16 Pai n ti n g D evel op m en t

p 42 W AV E Aw ar d s i n H on or of O u r Teach er s

p 18 B ey on d th e Gates w i t h M m e D u m as

p 44 Joi n th e Con ver sat i on

p 20 Bu tter f l i es: T h e Pu r p ose B eh i n d th e Beau ty

p 46 Su p p or t ou r Com m u n i ty


Fr i 5 Ci n co d e M ay o Cel ebr at i on , A K Cam p u s T u e - T h u , 9 - 11 A K Par en t -Teach er Con f er en ces T h u 11 W AV E Aw ar d s 6- 9p m Fr i 12 Fam i ly D ay CC 9:30 - 10 :30 am , A K 5- 6p m Su n 14 M oth er ?s D ay T u e - T h u 16 - 18 CC Par en t -Teach er Con f er en ces T h u 18 Ch i l d r en ?s A r t Ex h i bi t at Ven i ce L i br ar y 6- 9p m T h u 25 Bi r th d ay Cel ebr at i on s 12:30 p m CC / 1p m A K M o n 29 M em or i al D ay, SCH O O L CL O SED


BI RT H D AYS Ad el i n a A str i d Anya Ay va D av i n a Ed w ar d El i ot t Fr eja


Gi d eon I sl a Jol ei gh K al i an a M ila N at h an i el W y att Z oe

C el eb r at e

M ay B i r t h d ay s!

M ay 25 12:30 p m C am p er C am p u s 1p m A b b o t K i n n ey C am p u s Pl ease r em em b er t o go easy o n t h e su gar an d n o n u t s... 5

CreatingaLifeof Purposefor Childrenwithour Earth, Friends,Families &Teachers


Our family of children at Ecole Claire Fontaine is growing exponentially with more little ones being born this year than ever. T hank you to our beautiful mothers and families who inspire and fill their children with encouragement and purpose. T his month we celebrate our Earth, Mothers and Teachers!


ROLLINGWITHPURPOSE W hen children understand the purpose of life for all of the critters in the garden, it becomes easier to understand that they deserve gentle respect. Many of our ECF students are particularly enamored of rolly pollies, a.k.a. pill bugs or armadillidiidae. I magine you are a tiny crustacean crawling through the damp soil that you need to be able to breathe, when suddenly excited fingers reach down and pull you from the moist environment you must inhabit in order to survive. Not only that, but now you are being referred to as a bug. But you?re not a bug! You are a proud crustacean, an isopod related to shrimp. Rolly pollies look like tiny armadillos and are the only crustacean that can live outside water. How do we know that they are crustaceans? T hey have blue blood, which means they process copper. Hemoglobin in humans and other animals contains iron and turns their blood red. Although blue blooded, rolly pollies have likes and loves just like the rest of us. T hey love to eat ripe strawberries and seedlings, but not thicker leaves, so they do not pose much of a danger to most of the plants in your garden. Fantastic for adding vitamins to soil, they are attracted to the rotting fruit and moist environment of the compost bin. I f you do not want to take the leap and have a dedicated compost bin, you can still attract hoards of rolly pollies... 8


Slice a cantaloupe in half, and place it upside down in the garden; you will have many hungry critters to observe.

for birds, frogs, newts, toads, spiders and even some small mammals.

Mom rolly pollies carry their babies in a little sac on their bellies, and do not even need a dad to procreate. T he babies are self-sufficient as well, and are able to feed and care for themselves immediately after leaving their mama?s pouch. T hese babies, so many of whom are born during the spring season, will molt and shed their outer skin many times as they grow.

However, the ecological benefits of rolly pollies keep on giving. L ike earthworms, snails and millipedes, they return organic matter to the soil where it is further digested by fungi, protozoa and bacteria, making nitrates, phosphates and other vital nutrients available to plants. T hey promote restoration by accelerating the formation of topsoil, which in turn allows other plants to grow.

Keeping a delicate ecological balance includes feeding others, and this brings rolly pollies to what might appear to be their final assignment of life: they are a favored lunch

W here would our garden be without rolly pollies? Be gentle with the critters, dear children. We all have a purpose. 9



Our daily teachings include personal responsibility. W hen children are empowered to meet some of their own needs, a new sense of pride is born.

Ecole Claire Fontaine?s monthly Wellness Class highlights our daily teachings around personal responsibility. W hen children are empowered to take care of some of their own needs, a new sense of pride is born. I n Wellness Class the children learn to pour their own water into clean cups, and remember options such as asking an adult if they cannot find a clean cup, or washing one themselves just as they wash their hands. Gwendoline asks the children to explain their process. ?We take a clean cup, pour water, drink my water and put the dirty cup in the bowl!? Bravo! Being silly, the teacher asks, ?Should I put my dirty cup on the tray?? Children giggling shout, ?No, in the bowl!? ?Are you sure we don?t put it on the tray?? L aughing, ?No! I n the bowl!? Dexterity and coordination are improved as children are empowered to take on simple physical tasks to care for their own needs, such as pouring water from a pitcher, taking themselves to the bathroom and putting on their shoes. We have found, for example, that by reminding the children that it is not safe to run with loose laces, and that they must tie their own shoes, or to ask for help, after the third time it becomes routine. Do you remember learning to tie your own shoes? W hat a sense of accomplishment. I n Wellness Class the children talked about germs; the good kind that we need, and the bad types that make their tummies hurt. ?How do we keep away the bad ones?? ?Tell them to go away!? "Hmmm? I ?m not sure that germs and humans speak the same language. W hat else can we do?" Many ideas are exuberantly exchanged: ?Wash our hands!? ?Don?t spit!? ?No licking!? After some muddy practice of washing hands from finger tips to wrists, on both sides, in between fingers and on the nails, the children used a nice hand towel for drying, straightened it up, and moved confidently on with their day. At ECF we dilute our castile soap as instructed by Dr. Bronner, and take seriously research that shows that our modern overuse of anti-bacterial products and harsh soaps make it difficult for us to maintain the beneficial bacteria that once existed naturally on our skin. With all of this washing, please remember to not bathe your children when they are ill? feed them vegetables and vitamins, and let the little ones sleep.


What childrenneedtostaywell:


Art Cuddles Food Fresh air Laughter Love Music Play Purpose Sleep Vitamins


Botany, Baking and Gardening intersect purposefully at Ecole Claire Fontaine. W hile experimenting with flavor, the children love adding rosemary and garlic to their bread during Baking Class. Some home bakers are using skills learned at school to bake bread sticks with sesame seeds.





Thechildrenbegintodrawcompletecircles. Duringthis phaseof development external andinternal forceswithinachildarecoming together andfunctioningasawhole?body,soul andspirit.



BEHINDTHESCENES: ?Bonjour, garden?

les enfants!? Welcome to the

As we parents and teachers have experienced, Madame Joelle Dumas is cultivating a place of magic for our children where their expressions, voices and curiosity are honored, transforming them into richer human beings for the betterment of the world.

Creatingaworldwithpurpose wherechildrenareableto discover their own...

However, when the last child is picked up and the gates are locked for the night, Joelle's work for the children continues. I n addition to introducing a visionary educational philosophy in the verdant gardens of our campuses, she focuses on all of the students in our community. W hen we catch up with her, she pushes her hair back from her cheeks, smiles slightly, puts her hands on the table, and begins, ?D?accord, ma belle? ? Nearly always in motion, there is one project that she would love to focus on at this moment: T he WAV E Awards. As Chair of the Venice Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, Mme. Dumas is hosting the WAV E Awards, a spectacular evening honoring teachers who inspire their peers and students. T he event is described as so moving that there is not a dry eye left in the house. However, in Madame's world there is always more to be done... fluent in French, English and Spanish, she moves between the three languages while inserting her own flair that attracts ever more people to her work. 18


Known for enhancing Franco-American relations throughout the city, she is highly decorated by the French government as an exceptional educator and community leader. We even unearth a hint of royalty... Mme. Dumas was awarded the prestigious title of ?Chevalier? or ?Knight? of the ?Palmes Academiques,? by the French Ministry of Education for bridging culture and education between France and the U.S. T his adds to her cooperation with the French Consulate, Alliance Franรงaise and L os Angeles Accueil. T he list of titles becomes dizzying with the inclusion of Executive Director of Cultural Affairs for ?Movement of French Abroad.?

Hosting the Frano-American community

Never forgetting ECF, you may see her picking up a few extras for lunch at the Farmers Market in Venice on Fridays, but most of the shopping is done early Sunday mornings when she buys 50 pound boxes of organic produce to keep the children healthy for the week. On Saturdays, Mme. Dumas can frequently be found with her hands in the soil at Westminster Elementary?s ?W E Garden? program in support of our neighborhood schools. Her work moves forward creative, respectful teaching of children, and the development of Abbot Kinney?s vision for Venice as a Mecca of art, culture and education. Many an evening has been spent with the Venice Neighborhood Council, while others find her attending conferences on education with ECF teachers. She has also taken part in research with the Getty Museum, UCL A and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Mme. Dumas?many projects are all aimed at creating a vibrant community for children to find their purpose. End.

Attending conferences with ECF teachers

VCCEC honoring area principals



W hen butterflies emerge from a chrysalis they need time for their wings to dry and straighten, as they are incredibly crumpled, damp and delicate. T he children are learning that everything will be fine if the babies are allowed to just hang there undisturbed. We need to let them be for a while. T he children on both campuses have raised butterflies this season, waiting patiently for the moment they were ready to fly. T he gardens are planted with milkweed, to attract more. Milkweed, with its long, green leaves, is the food for the larva, but it has more than just that purpose. T he plant can reduce parasite infections in the monarchs, which suggests that the mamas lay their eggs on this particular plant because it helps their babies stay healthy.


ThePURPOSEBEHINDtheBEAUTY Researchers conclude that this is an indicator that monarchs have ?evolved the ability to medicate their offspring.? Milkweed is toxic to other critters so they certainly do not want to eat a baby butterfly with a belly full. W hile the caterpillars take their food from the milkweed, grown up butterflies mostly feed on nectar, pollen, spoiled fruit and (sshh? poop!). Butterflies are as fantastic and fascinating as all creatures are. Monarchs are pretty easy to spot with a four-inch wingspan of bright orange, black stripes and white polka dots. ` You may have noticed grownup mothers migrating to us here in sunny Southern California to warm up for the winter. But in addition of moving for the love of travel, the monarch butterflies are serving an even grander purpose in our ecosystem as they pass through: carrying pollen from plant to plant, laying eggs on milkweed, and helping fruit, vegetables and flowers to produce new seeds. T hey also show us the health of our environment because they are particularly sensitive to climate change, pollution and harmful chemicals. Our world depends on all of us. Happy Earth Day Month!


WELOVE NewBooksinMay Madeline and the Old House in Paris French Ducks in Venice Nellie (published in 1948) 22


READING StudyingMythology D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths T he McElderry Book of Greek Myths D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths 23




Ecole Claire Fontaine chess teacher, Pedro Casillas is playing six simultaneous games of chess with 10 children and remarkably, no one seems slowed down. T he skill of patience is being obtained. ?I t is part of the game to think ahead.? Pedro has taught some 800 students from two to 17 years old over the course of the past decade. ?I t helps kids? brains, their behavior, the way they are in life? it?s very interesting to watch the development,? Pedro remarks. ?I see the changes.? One marvels at how he is able to teach a room full of three and four olds such an amazing skill. Ever humble, Pedro says, ?I don?t do anything, the chess does it.? Smiling at the simplest mention of chess, Pedro expresses himself as an artist does.

?Every game is different; none are the same. I t?s a creation like the painting on the wall. I n a one-hour game your brain is gone; it?s like if someone is painting or making music, this is chess. T his is my passion.? W hen Pedro enters the Abbot Kinney Campus on Mondays and Wednesdays to teach class, children shout, ?Chess!? and begin chasing him, ready to think, plan and play. ?I t?s amazing. T hey will know this forever.? Each student has a geometric board and lays out their pieces to make a pattern of moves. A diagram hangs in the room to follow if they have forgotten. Pedro is at once patient, fun and efficient in teaching, and the children move through entire games to the end. ?You put me in check, so you say, ?check?!? Children laugh, "Check!"


T he pride ignited in the children is moving to witness as they explode with, ?I won! I earned a trophy!? Pedro also explains that chess helps with disappointment and moving forward. ?Sometimes they cry and get mad when they lose. I work it out with them and then next time they manage differently. All of our mistakes make us learn. T hat is how I learned? ? Pedro, himself, did not study chess in a classroom, but instead describes his youth in Guadalajara, Mexico. ?I started by just watching people playing in the park," he explains.


T hen I bought a book and I just kept going, learning.? he adds, forever smiling when he talks about chess. I n addition to being the ECF chess instructor, Pedro teaches up to 30 children at a time at Beethoven Elementary and also offers private lessons. Among his students is a child who began at two years old, and four years later is still going. A member of the Chess Federation, Pedro has also competed at the Millionaires Chess Tournament in L as Vegas where he came in number 35 out of 436 international players. ?Not too bad,? he smiles.

I nvented in Afghanistan in 600 AD, the benefits of chess to brain development include analytical, critical thinking and visualization skills. Children who play chess have enhanced verbal and mathematical abilities, concentration, memory and problem solving skills. Emotionally, young chess players are seen to have a heightened ability to perceive, control and evaluate their own feelings and those of others.

By using both sides of the brain, chess also increases cognition and creativity. As Benjamin Franklin famously wrote in On the Morals of Chess, the game enhances circumspection, observation, caution, percipience and forethought. Effusively, Pedro adds, ?T here are thousands of games played in chess and none of them are exactly alike. T his makes people good in life; it effects how we respect other people, and how we can make a better world.? End.


Periodically, Chess teacher Pedro awards trophies, medals and stickers as prizes. Some of the children are proud enough to crow, "I cooperated well and I won a trophy!" Others are so touched by their accomplishment in this remarkable class that they give their trophy its own pillow at home. Pedro is beginning a new eight-week series of private lessons: contact the ECF office for details and to buy a nifty rubber chess board ($20). Class at school is held on Mondays and Wednesdays on the Abbot Kinney Campus during the morning sessions. 28




Architecture: BuildingwithPurpose



While making clayhuts, the children discover basic differences and similarities between regions and cultures


The AfricanHut in Architecture Class


BuildingOur CommunityBlockbyBlock


Architecture,Building, GeometryandShapes: BrainsareBustlingwith Possibilities&Purpose.


L IL Y O F T H E LILYOFTHE V A L L E Y VALLEY T he f l ow er of t h e m on th of M ay r ep r esen ts

H appiness... H umility... SweetnessH appiness, H umility & Sweetness


Supporting our Community







Join Us for Summer Camp in the Sun! Children laugh, learn and play in our beautiful Gar den campuses near Venice Beach. Activities include Art, Baking, Botany, Choir, Cooking, Dance, Embroidery, Gardening, Gymnastics, Music, Poetry, Science, Soccer, Swimming and Surfing... and, of course, L anguage... French, Spanish, English!

Or ganic meals are prepared daily with love in our kitchens. For childr en fr om all over the wor ld ages 2 to 7 40


Sleep under thestars! SwiminAlpineLakes! CozyupinaSwiss Chalet!

T his is a magical family-owned boarding school in Switzerland where our own Madame Dumas first taught as a young visionary. T ucked into the Alps, Chantemerle allows children to experience sleeping in the forest and swimming in fresh Alpine lakes.

Camp Chantemerle! Ages6-16 June25thto August 6th Art, Dance,Music, Language,Sports Theater and FieldTrips!

I n addition to free-time fun, the children engage in music, theater, language & sports. Art classes are held next to ballroom dancing and circus skills workshops in preparation for an all-school talent show. Here, children learn a deep understanding of community. Contact: en/ summer-camp/


Supporting our Community

As Nelson Mandela reminded us, ?Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.? Remember to buy your tickets to the WAV E Awards where we honor the great importance of teachers in this ever changing world. Buy your T ickets, Donate & become a Sponsor waveawards


Supporting our Community T he 2017 Ecole Claire Fontaine winning teacher for being an inspiration to sister teachers and students alike is Science & Botany extraordinaire, Emilie. She will be honored beside excellent teachers from 14 local schools, art institutions and organizations on May 11th from 6-9pm. We want you there to be with us, to cry and laugh with us, and to share our love and respect for the most honorable of professions. See you soon.



Join us for the first in a series of conversations with candidates; As you may be aware, the runoff for the L A Unified School District Board seat is on May 16. Votes for the L AUSD board elections are among the most important ones we cast. T he seven members of the board govern all of L AUSD, the second largest school district in the nation, serving over 700,000 students and overseeing an almost $8 billion yearly operating budget (almost as large as the budget for the entire City of L os Angeles!). Voting in this election is the most impactful way we can influence the direction of L AUSD and the education of millions of our children. T he race for the board seat in District 4, where many ECF families live and where our school is located, has been especially competitive. Recently, one of the two candidates in the runoff, Nick Melvoin, approached the Venice Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, which Joelle chairs, about hosting a listening session for members of the community to ask questions directly of the candidate. We enthusiastically agreed, and reached out to the other candidate and incumbent, Steve Zimmer, to set up a similar event with him too. T he mission of the V CC Education Committee is to be our community's forum for education, and the connective tissue between Venice residents, businesses, and education. Making it possible for members of community families to engage directly with the people who aspire to represent us on such a vital matter -the education of our children -- is at the core of this mission. So, on behalf of the Venice Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, we invite you to attend a conversation with Nick Melvoin on Saturday, May 6 from 12-2pm and Steve Zimmer Monday May 8th at 1pm (invitation attached).We encourage you to bring friends and family who seek to learn more about this important race. Sincerely, Karen JoubertECF Coordinator


Supporting our Community A Fr ench Photogr apher in Venice Beach Jean-Mar c Deltombe

photogr aphy exhibit May 5 - July 5 @T r im 1424 Abbot K inney ECF Oceanogr aphy teacher T im will host the Oceanar ium's annual

Gr union Run par ty


Fr iday, May 26th at the Venice Beach Br eakwater beginning at 10pm W E Gar den at Westminster Elementar y Satur day, May 13th fr om 10am - 1pm 46

Join ECF Embr oider y teacher Geor gina Reskala and other s for an Ar tists

pop-up event at

the Abbot K inney Campus on Sunday, May 14th fr om 11am - 2pm As a new class pr epar es to move fr om the Camper Campus to Abbot K inney, we would love your par ticipation in suppor ting the par ents dur ing the tr ansfer by answer ing a few questions & offer ing gentle guidance. Please contact the office. Merci

Join ECF Fr ench Choir teacher AnaĂŻs De L a Mor andais of Enchante in cooper ation with the Fr ench Conser vator y for a beautiful

evening of music Belle Qui T ient Ma Vie, Satur day, June 10th at 5:30pm. T ickets $12-20 ar e on sale at Electr ic L odge or by Clicking H er e



©EcoleClaireFontaine2017 48


ECF May 2017  

News Magazine for children's French language and art school in Venice, CA

ECF May 2017  

News Magazine for children's French language and art school in Venice, CA