An Interview with Aviv Pode, Co-Founder of La Nouvelle École in Geneva
La Nouvelle École ‘The New School’ is a modern and forward-thinking school where an eco-friendly environment, organic food, and personalised learning are blended with creativity-based activities. We caught up with the school’s Co-founder, Aviv Pode, who shares insight into the school’s unique teaching and how it prepares students to become tomorrow’s leaders.
Aviv Pode, an educational entrepreneur, humanitarian, environmentalist, and father of two girls aged 5 and 8, has been busy. In the past three years, Aviv has founded three eco-friendly bilingual Montessori pre-schools, in Paris, Geneva, and Monaco.
As a father who’s passionate about education, Pode understands the importance of providing a nurturing and safe educational environment for children, which is the core focus at La Nouvelle École.
With the new school opening in Geneva, Pode, together with co-founder Stephanie Bordry, have created a unique and exclusive French / English bilingual school that has its foundation in the Montessori philosophy; education that is personalised and based on hands-on learning in small groups and an integrated curriculum.
In addition to education, having an extensive background in philanthropy and not-for-profit organisations, Pode is in charge of the school’s humanitarian and environmental initiatives such as building public schools in developing countries, planting trees, and rebuilding animal shelters.
For parents who aren’t familiar with the Montessori style of teaching, how would you describe the teaching method and the advantages?
The Montessori philosophy is broad but in essence, the method aims to develop children’s self-confidence, independence, curiosity, and creativity. We apply handpicked concepts to create an ideal environment and integrated curriculum using an adaptive, personalised, and kind approach to learning such as using eco-friendly wooden materials, providing a healthy organic and balanced diet, and highly individualised monitoring in order to strive for excellence, self-confidence, and creativity.
How do you ensure each student is nurtured at La Nouvelle École?
Our philosophy is to teach children using a personalised and kind approach. Each child will benefit from individualised learning to enable their maximum potential. In an ordinary classroom, for example, children may have to wait for other children to catch up in their learning. Our method enables children to run forward academically at their own pace. We also want to nurture the love and natural curiosity of learning. Through fostering this natural curiosity, children will become lifelong learners.
How important is your focus on healthy nutrition?
Providing a low sugar, healthy and balanced diet with no artificial or industrial components encourages not only good nutritious practices but also promotes optimal learning and focus. The menu changes daily to expose the children to a diversity of tastes, textures, and culinary cultures. We believe the children should enjoy nutritious, balanced, and delicious food to ensure their health and for optimal concentration and learning.
How is your school providing a supportive and inspiring learning environment?
Our school strives to inspire in every facet from individualised and adaptive learning to the actual physical learning environment. The design of the school, for example, comprises natural, eco-friendly furniture and materials. The rooms are without strong colours or other distractions such as tv screens and plastic toys to encourage optimal and uninterrupted learning.
We teach in small groups to ensure the children experience a kind and personalised approach while encouraging maximum progress and participation so that every child can run forward academically and meet their objectives and creative pursuits.
Can you tell us about your eco-friendly initiatives?
La Nouvelle École aspires to be a positive contributor to the planet and caring for the environment is a core value of our school. With the devastating bushfires in Australia to the extreme drought in Central and North Africa, we wanted to contribute our resources by planting over 5,000 trees in Australia and Africa in cooperation with One-Tree-Planted, providing clean drinking water and sanitation solutions to remote communities through Water For People and supporting climate change research through TogetherBand.
At our school, we have ensured that the furniture, toys, and learning materials are eco-friendly and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. We also integrated an eco-curriculum into the daily program, exposing and involving our little learners in bio-diversity, plastic pollution, wild-life preservation, and teaching the children about the importance of being positive contributors to their communities and the planet.
One of the core goals of La Nouvelle École is to stimulate learning through creativity-based activities. Can you give a few examples of the kind of activities you offer the students?
The creative programs at the school are very diverse and aim to expose the children to as many different types of hands-on subjects as possible such as science activities, personalised music lessons, classical ballet, Yoga, art, and gymnastics. Our holiday programs are also available during most holiday and school vacations. Every week we have a different theme, from “Little Inventors” to “History week”, “Earth week”, “Famous artists” and much more. While our priority in enrolling for the holiday programs is reserved for our students first, our holiday programs are open to any child between 3 and 7 years old.
Can you tell us about your humanitarian and environmental background and how they have been incorporated into the school and what activities you are doing?
I served as a regional coordinator in “Latel”, a humanitarian organisation, conducting food collection and distribution campaigns, educational programs in schools, and operation of food warehouses.
After participating in a disaster relief mission following the 2003-2004 tsunami in South East Asia, I was so affected by the experience that it led me to further volunteer and carry out humanitarian aid work all over the world. In partnership with Mission Enface, I built three schools in Laos serving 232 children and recently became an official partner and contributor to Save The Children, a global non-profit organisation to protect children in disaster and conflict areas.
I believe that social responsibilities start in school and our daily learning programs such as Earth Week, gardening, charity, wildlife preservation, plastic pollution, biodiversity, and recycling all help to encourage our children to make positive choices early in life while educating them about the world around us.
What impact do you see your philanthropic actions, including your involvement in not-for-profit organisations and working as a volunteer for humanitarian aid organisations, are having on your schools?
We use resources from the school to promote initiatives and take action around the world. We know that the initiatives we contribute to such as tree planting in remote areas help to reduce greenhouse gasses and combats deforestation. However, on a personal note, physically volunteering whether through food collection and disaster relief, distributing tents to refugees, or people affected by natural disasters marks you for life and instills a passion for doing more. This has influenced our core belief to educate about social and environmental responsibilities in a kind and positive way.
Why should parents consider sending their children to La Nouvelle École? What experience can they expect their children to receive?
As a parent, there’s no greater satisfaction than knowing you are providing your children with the best possible learning environment and investing in their future while seeing them enjoy every single day in a kind, positive and encouraging surrounding.
I wanted to combine the investment of tools for learning and bilingual teaching in a way that is respectful, adaptive, positive, and fun. I wish every child and parent could benefit from what I as a parent and my daughters benefited from attending our school.
To learn more about how the highly trained staff at La Nouvelle École supports and guide the children in developing their confidence, self-confidence, and natural love of learning so that they can become lifelong learners, visit https://www.la-nouvelle-ecole-geneve.com/