Little school, big vision

TEXT: KATIE TURNER | PHOTO © LA PETITE ÉCOLE MONACO

Two schools in two very different settings: one in a remote part of Laos, with 232 children whose only chance this is at an education; another with 60 pupils starting school in Monaco. Neither group could hope for a better start.

The visionaries behind both projects are Aviv Pode and Stephanie Ayre – co-founders of La Petite École Monaco. Pode spent years volunteering in the humanitarian world before becoming a father and turning his hand to education. “To me, it’s all about helping people,” he says, “All the profits we make here are ploughed back into worthy causes, be it opening a new school or funding an animal shelter.”

The staff are directed by Stephanie Ayre and inspired by the child-led Montessori method of education. “Our teachers are constantly aware of each child’s mindset, and adapt the daily programme so that all academic and other activities are completed every day – but adjusted in order to accommodate the children and not break their desire to learn.” says Ayre.

With children from all over the world attending, every class has an English teacher and a French teacher plus two teaching assistants. “It’s remarkable to see the progress the kids make from day one in both languages, especially as for many, neither is a language they speak at home,” notes Pode.

The school’s extra-curricular activities are all included and range from music, yoga and science, to sport, classical ballet and art. “Most of the children choose at least two after-school activities and that’s not forgetting birthdays,” says Pode, “Each child gets a school party, we are big on birthdays!”

La Petite École Monaco is a school with a vision and the building was previously an art gallery. It is now completely kitted out with eco-friendly and sustainable materials and has a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. There is no plastic in the classrooms and all the food on site is organic.

With an advisory board drawn from as far afield as Hong Kong, Dubai and the UK, there is input on every possible element of a child’s education.

“Of course it’s the best school in the world! I sent my own daughters there,” says Pode with a smile.

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