The preschool team
The preschool team
“It’s not success that makes you happy, it is happiness that makes you succeed.”
I am not Montaigne and to me, this quote has a value and a meaning in both ways.
I have combined my 2 years of training with my family life (I have a husband and 3 children), and at last I am at the final step of my dream: opening in autumn 2015 a bilingual English/French nursery school called Stepping Stones.
I designed painted furniture for children, and animal frescoes for diverse floors of a children’s hospital, to brighten there long stay. I also painted landscapes in creches, such as the optical illusion of an open window, to widen their space and horizons.
Common to my private and professional lives is that I am a mother and I want to bring balance from an early age to everyone.
I taught French to young English-speaking children, and that gave me the motivation to open my own school: a customised school, a real welcoming place, a transition to primary school to be done respecting the well-being of everybody.
Stepping Stones wants to make of those 3 years (3-6 y/o) a time during which, step by step, the child will experience socialisation, education, learning languages, autonomy, self-esteem – all useful skills in preparation of primary school. The setting is bright and aerated inside, and with plants and trees outside, in the intimacy of a family house.
Children are attended by a strong bilingual team of young teachers that will train their knowledge, harmony and balance necessary for a good start in life.
This dedication will be inspired by each child’s individual needs, with a direct collaboration with parents so that strong links can be drawn between the family world and the educational and pedagogical framework of each individual.
My aim is to lead new generations to have solid moral and intellectual basis, to allow stability, peace, serenity, reflection and not aspire to a race towards power.
This might seem ambitious, but childhood traumas, as well as joys, lead to what the adult will become. It’s therefore better to build a monument, rather than vainly trying to restore a broken construction!
“The one who wants to succeed finds the means” Like in this proverb, I have deployed all the necessary means to achieve my dream for a childhood as fair as possible.
I believe my present and future willingness will help me succeed.
Every teaching experience can offer the teacher something to learn as well, and I have always learned the most from my youngest students, who gobble up knowledge and react so genuinely, so earnestly, to everything one might present for them to discover. As we strive to refine and develop our teaching methods, tools and approach, hoping to help make available every possible advantage for each child, the Stepping Stones project is the closest I’ve found to an ideal setting.
Though I was born in New York, I’ve lived, studied and worked in various parts of the world, and there were always two or three different languages being spoken simultaneously in the background. I’ve taught adults and children of all ages in many different settings, most recently at the Preschool section (Maternelle) of the Lycée français in Brussels, before coming to Stepping Stones. The possibility of immersing young children in a fully bilingual environment, while proposing a programme that is rich, diverse, flexible, and tailored to the needs of each child, is truly a privilege, and the results are bound to be rewarding.
Education and childcare – and the Montessori philosophy in particular – define my life journey.
Following a Master’s degree in Pedagogy, I started teaching at a secondary school, while at the same time organising and leading private language courses. No matter what type of course or age group, my work has always had one thing in common: I always focused on the student’s needs with deep respect for their individualities.
Having had children of my own, I naturally started to integrate the principles of Montessori education in our home. At that point, I realised it was time for me to follow my heart’s desire and expand my qualifications to specialise in early childhood. Two and a half years later, I obtained a full Montessori diploma at the Montessori Centre International in London.
While studying, I also homeschooled my children (a daughter and later a son) and organised parent-toddler groups. This gave me precious insight into how family relationships and constellations condition the child’s best possible educational outcome, and the value of close cooperation between the school and the parents.
I am passionate about Montessori pedagogy and the child’s development, but I also reflect the latest developments in neuroscience and psychology in my work. I am happy to use my knowledge, experience and observation of each child to prepare and organise the classroom environment at Stepping Stones. My utmost goal is to give every child the possibility to maximise their full potential.
Colombian by birth and mother of two daughters, I first arrived in Belgium when I was seven years old.
I studied marketing and after a career where I learned a lot, traveled a lot and developed my character, I turned to a much more satisfying profession which is working with young children.
When I was younger I looked after several children of all different ages, each one with their own peculiarities, who taught me a lot and made me realise I enjoyed caring for them.
I also worked with a team of five riders and five monitors at the La Cambre Pony Club, for two lovely and fulfilling years where I worked with children aged 3 to 7.
Then I trained as a Montessori teacher and this approach has had a great impact on my understanding of the way in which my children, and your children, function and learn, and beyond that, my understanding of life and of human beings. I am learning every day how to accommodate each child and how to adapt each teaching method to better suit each child, in order to better help each child overcome their difficulties and to better encourage them as they develop.
At Stepping Stones I’ve joined a motivated team that shares this same passion with me.
As a mother of two children, I know the importance of learning. After training as a childminder, I was able to discover the wonderful world of teaching where every day is an ocean of discovery for children. I am now also training as a Montessori teacher.
As I work with the youngest children, I quickly realised that the awakening of the senses is an essential step in the learning and development of children. It is also important to instil social values such as sharing and respect at an early age.
The last 4 years I was an English Elementary Teacher in a 6-12 Montessori class.
A Montessori guide maintains individual and collective balances in all time.
The school framework is defined with benevolence and consistency in order to create a group synergy between the pupils. Within the group, each child will flourish and grow up by discovering himself /herself.
After 4 years my attention has switched to early childhood education, especially the 3-6 sections.
I believe that it is necessary to create a positive, dynamic, and nurturing environment around children from an early stage of development.
Montessori teacher, but not only…
I have a degree in Foreign Languages (English, Spanish, Russian).
I have been married for 10 years and I’m the father of 2 children.
Our family is a right example of a multicultural family since my wife is Russian.
I practice soccer, long distance running, and indoor rock climbing.
And now I am a French teacher within Stepping Stones!
Living across Asia, the Middle East and Europe, I studied Business Administration and worked in Schools Administration for 5 years before getting married. I now have 2 lovely sons and along this journey I discovered my passion for early childhood education. After receiving my International Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy in London (specialized in early childhood education), I worked in multiple schools in Belgium as a supply and part time teacher for 5 years following different education models, including the Montessori system.
Throughout my career, I have learned a lot about children’s development and how each child develops in a unique way. I believe that the Montessori method encourages each child’s individual growth and development as a learner and person. Through this pedagogy we learn to respect the pace and personality of each child and help them gain self-esteem and confidence.
Outside of school, I am passionate about arts and crafts, spending time with my family and have recently discovered a flair for creating video content for children.
Rhythmics & Music Appreciation
Arnaud Degimbe is a musician, dancer and teacher, graduated from the “Émile Jaques-Dalcroze” Institute for Rhythmics and Teaching.
He also trained in modern dance at the “Dans Centrum Jette”.
For the past several years he has taught creative dance at the Lycée français in Brussels, both in their preschool and primary levels.
“Dancing is like talking in silence. It’s saying a lot of things without saying a word.”
– Yuri Buenaventura
The challenges of dance in schools, an alliance of culture and education
Based on the playful and creative practice of dance, the workshops aim to introduce dance, to stimulate the child’s creativity and imagination by developing his or her motor habits. They integrate each child and take into account their awakening to dance and their personal development. The practice of dance is also intended to reinforce social behaviour, to encourage self-expression, to refine the quality of listening, to develop mental faculties (concentration, attention, self-control, confidence in one’s possibilities).
Dance is a way of introducing the arts into the school. For the child (as for the adult) it is a natural means of communication, a means of personal expression but not (yet) an art. It is not about transmitting techniques specific to a particular choreographic style, but about exploiting and reinforcing an expressive impulse that children instinctively have towards dance-like movements. Beyond the artistic, dance is therefore thought of as an education of the senses, of perception and sensitivity, associated with pleasure and the discovery of bodily capacities without embarrassment or apprehension. It will be used as an instrument of knowledge and harmonization but also to reveal and balance the inner self. Dance is a way to release emotional tensions. Through an inventive and constructive method, I try to broaden the individual palette of each person and thus enable them to develop harmoniously for themselves. Through movement, children express themselves and something true and essential.
Tim de Fontaine
Tim de Fontaine was born in Braine l’Alleud in 1995. Although he began to study music as a young teenager, his passion for piano, guitar and composition has remained a constant in his life. When he was 17 ans, he began to study at the Jazz Studio in Antwerp. A year later, he moved to London to pursue his studies at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance. He then did a Master’s in composition and production at the University of Westminster.
In 2018 he returned to Brussels to work in various recording studios as a musician and producer. In parallel to his musical career, he studied mechanical engineering at KUL (Catholic University of Leuven).
After two years giving private lessons, he discovered the world of children and musical appreciation. Since 2021 he teaches musical workshops and gives piano lessons at Stepping Stones.