I would like to say a special thank you to the two people who each in their own way, helped me achieve the dream of creating the French American School of Arizona.
Joao Bras Jorge and Yvonne Harbulot are both holding a very special place in my heart. Yvonne did unfortunately not see the school for she left us after losing a battle to Cancer.
I met Joao Bras-Jorge in April 1998. He was planning to create an international school and was looking for someone who had experience with young children to join him in this new venture. I immediately liked his idea of a bilingual Franco-American school.
I took the responsibility of the relationship between our school and the Maricopa Health Department. In addition, I also took care of the younger children.
His method for teaching French was “one person, one language.” It was his vision to teach foreign languages to children and he had proven the effectiveness of this method with his own children.
Being of Portuguese origin, he spoke this language to his children. His wife spoke to them in French and the English language was their everyday language. I was impressed by the fact that his children, who were at the time 2 and 5 years of age, were already fluent in three languages.
We opened for “Summer Camp” in July 1998, and when school started in September, two new teachers joined us.
We started with fifteen children and five different levels. Teaching was done in both languages, in accordance with French and American programs. The children’s progress was spectacular. Each year, the number of children increased. Other teachers came to join the team as needed.
A few years later, Joao left the United States to return to France when his Wife’s professional contract ended.
Shortly after his departure, I became headmaster of the International School. I shared the responsibility with Yvonne Harbulot who had joined the team earlier to teach Kindergarten.
When I left the school and Arizona on my way to Utah, in 2008, the International School had 150 children in attendance.
Today, I rely on the experience gained during these 10 years and Joao’s philosophy to create my own school: The French American School of Arizona.
Joao was a great inspiration and he continues to motivate me with this project.
Incredibly quickly, she became passionate about this new project and contributed greatly to the success of the school.
We worked together for many years with the desire to always provide the best for these children.
We shared the academic direction of the school for several years. Yvonne took care of the elementary section and I directed the pre-school as well as the before & after school programs.
During my year in Utah, we kept in touch and it was during these conversations that the idea of opening a new Franco-American school came to me.
I came back to Arizona and I was very happy to see Yvonne one last time before she left us. She was very ill, but she kept her passion for the children and this amplified my motivation to create my school.
Yvonne was a colleague, a friend, and a great inspiration. The French American School of Arizona is alive partly because of the encouragements I have received from Yvonne and I dedicate this school to her because without her strength and guidance, I probably would have never had the courage to create it.
Thank you Yvonne. God bless you.