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Meet Céline Chouteau of Phoenix Global Green School in East Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Céline Chouteau.

Céline, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a French Secondary School teacher certified by the French Ministry of Education. After about 20 years working as a Librarian in Public libraries and as a Secondary School Media Specialist teacher in High School in Paris, I’ve been committing myself to become a specialist in developing information and documentation related to the Environment and Global Warming and sharing my knowledge and awareness with children.

For several years, I’ve been working on topics like the decline of bees, the renewable energies, over-fishing, biodiversity, greenhouse effect, junk food and health issues, Monsanto, etc. and displaying to my students beautiful photography posters of Yann Arthus-Bertrand each year, showing his movie Home, and promoting to the Educational team Earth Days or Earth Hour events.

I’ve been following Al Gore and The Climate Reality Project, using websites like WWF and Leonardo di Caprio for my students. In 2005, I’ve been profoundly touched and moved by Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in Walk the Line and decided I had to meet him one day. The documentary Earthlings as well as “Nos enfants nous accuserons”, (Our children will accuse us) by Jean-Paul Jaud were two of the many reasons I became vegan for several years and still not eating any meat or fish until now.

Knowing that the United States was one of the most consuming countries, I decided that I wanted to come here so I could meet Joaquin Phoenix in the same time. At this time, I was living like in a “Fairy Tale”. First, I was trying to contact the French community in Los Angeles to see if people could help me to find a room where to stay ONLY for a Summer. During my searches, I found an ad for a ‘Librarian” job at the Lycee Francais of Los Angeles and replied to it. Within about 6 months, I saw Walk the Line, I got the job, I moved to Los Angeles within 15 days and I met Joaquin! All these important events were successively happening on a 15th!

At the Lycee Francais, for two years I was one of the leader’s project and worked on an interdisciplinary project called “Environment and Film” with 4th graders and I developed a huge library about Sustainable development. We showed the 5 minutes movie to all the Campus! This project was amazing but it was not enough! I had to go further! So the idea of creating my own school logically grew up in my head…

It took me seven years between the idea of the Green and Multilingual School and its opening. I won the Green Card Lottery which was, I let you guess, on a 15th of July! In 2012, Phoenix Global Green School was born!

I started to teach French to a group of 6 children. Then after 4 years, we have 20 families and are searching for a bigger place to welcome more students.

Celine is a very dynamic, challenging Teacher and School Library Media Specialist certified by The City of Paris Public Libraries and the French Ministry of Education as a member of the Faculty with more than 17 years of experience. She recently completed her Basic and Advance Early Childhood Certificate at UCLA, in only one year.
Coming from Secondary School Education in Paris, she has also several years of experience with French and American classes in the United States (preschool and elementary schools), using French and/or English as language of instruction. She has been teaching Painting, Arts & Crafts, French traditional children’s rhymes and songs, gardening, storytelling, and French classes. She worked in collaboration with an American Ecology teacher, French Music and Art teachers… As a project leader, she also supervised an Environment and Film Project (music video) that involved collaboration with a team of classroom teachers.

With a Second major in Secondary Education with a concentration in Library Science, a Master’s Degree in Arts she completed at La Sorbonne, Paris, and, working for many years in Youth-service and school libraries, she has an excellent knowledge in children’s literature, Arts and adult Literature, and has been open to an encyclopedic knowledge, collaborative and directive skills while she is following school curriculum (Preschool, Elementary, Junior and High school).

Since several years, gathering her many years of experiences, researches and personal involvement, she decided to be vegetarian and, as a next challenge, to create and develop a “green school and sustainable program” concept, including a multilingual learning setting.

My project of opening my own school was born. It took me 7 years to build the project and to actually opening the school.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
People’s mentality in France are actually less open than in Los Angeles regarding being vegan and promoting organic food.

There are still some families that are asking why we have decided to be vegan (more French families actually). For me, it’s just an evidence, a final path that you will have to follow anyway if you decide to simply open your eyes/develop your awareness on the Global Warming situation, on the animal treatments and on the solutions that you can take in your daily life to reduce the pollution, the methane gas from the overcrowding population of cows, to fight against Monsanto and other diseases that exist nowadays.

Of course, as I was previously working in West LA, my first year in East LA, I didn’t know anyone and had to walk in the neighborhood and to leave my card on people’s front door mat to have people get to know me. It took a full year to recruit enough families and many long Open house days on Saturdays to have people coming and visiting my School which is in a house setting! Also, at that time, the owner of the house was actually harassing me every day: she actually knew my project but she was just a crazy person! Every day, I didn’t know if I could make it for the next month. Consequently, I had to move after one tough year and found another bigger house where this time I met amazing owners that just loved my project!

The difficulties when you open your own school (here I don’t have any help or real support from the French government) are mainly to find the qualified people that you need for a unique school concept.

Phoenix Global Green School – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
“Acting locally and Teaching with the awareness of a Global ecosystem”.

Our establishment stands for a Unique Philosophy & Healthy Program, by offering to our children a Multilingual and Environmental Education & Literacy Program, which is taking place in a Gorgeous & Green setting. Being located in a residential area and having a “like at home” feeling, we offer a peaceful & various indoors space (3 different classrooms settings) as well as a huge backyard contributing to nurture healthy minds and bodies, so that our children will be able to live a positive, productive and happy life.

We are proud of the Excellence quality of our School Program including the Unmatched Food Program that is part of the Education.

With its Wildlife Habitat Certificate, Eco-friendly environment and teaching, a very low ratio 1:4, Phoenix Global Green School is an Avant-Gardist Green & Multilingual Preschool offering a French immersion program as well as Spanish and Chinese/Mandarin classes for ALL its students. Offering not less than three different languages (if not four as English, the forth & native language, is also used at a slight percentage) and considering our Food Program as part of the Education, we are also offering Drama, Dance, Music, Ecology, Sciences, Arts & Crafts, Social studies, Discovery of Instruments, Baking, History, Geography, Gardening, Piano and Guitar classes, activities performed by high qualified native & passionately involved artists/teachers continuously seeking for a balanced program following our children’s needs, between Free Play and Guided activities.

While our administration uses 100% recycled paper, we are also using eco-friendly cleaning products and supplies.  Our school material as well as our teaching curriculum are conscientiously planned and set up in a manner so that children can learn more about their environment and already reduce their footprint impact. We are always looking for second hands material and if not, mostly wooden made or Eco-friendly toys and games. We are reusing for example cardboard, two sides of paper, old socks or plastic bottles or egg boxes parents give us to build up projects. During Ecology, Gardening and Sciences classes and simply by playing in the garden, we are learning how to plant seeds, to take care of them, what they need to grow, observing them growing, observing our Fruit trees, making jam with the peaches, using our lemons for making lemonades or part of our salad dressing and observing Wildlife. This is always priceless to see children picking-up a fruit they have found in the garden to bring it to our cook to prepare it for all of us at Lunch time! Teachers are always looking for projects to reuse rolls of toilet paper, left over of paper, or packaging to create Art!! Being green at PGGS is not only about reusing & recycling, it’s about creating and being simply part of our way of life.

We are providing an unmatched healthy & daily prepared Organic & Vegetarian/vegan Food Program with fresh fruit and vegetables from our local Farmer’s Market: kale, roasted seaweeds, homemade bread & soups, quinoa, fresh smoothies, cranberries, a large variety of seeds, beans and lentils, sunflower seeds paste, tahini, berries, are among our amazing ingredients we are serving every day. For birthdays, children are baking their friends’ Birthday cakes! We have our own garden area where our children can grow vegetables and fruit…

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
When parents tell me that their child was tasting a regular cupcake and that they didn’t like it because it was too sweet and that they prefer strawberries, I think this is a success.

Also, when a child arrives at our school and the parents tell us he/she doesn’t like vegetables and that after one year eats all of them and even mushrooms, this is another success.

At the end of the school year, we are organizing a performance and you can see that our children are able to sing perfectly in French, in Spanish and in Mandarin without any accent, this is a success.

After three years, our students can understand everything in French and are able to respond with full sentences, this is success.

When a parent tells me that since his son started school, he’s been barely sick: this is success.

Convincing families that we can go all the way to the California Science Center by bus and metro and that they accompany us, this is success as well as it is a memorable experience for children to travel in the metro!

The success is also when you are able to build up a real community of parents that are helping each other, organize play dates, share pick-up times which is another carpool system; this is success.

This year our main theme was Discovery of the World and all the families volunteered at least one time to share their knowledge with the children: this is a success!

Opening a bigger place to welcome more children will be an amazing success for the school as it will help to spread our philosophy and change people’s life!

Pricing:

  • $1425.00 monthly, Full time Program.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Phoenix Global Green School

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