After working as a French teacher and head of several Franco-American schools in Berkeley, San Francisco, Seattle and New York, Yves Rivaud partnered up with one of his former colleagues from the Lyceum Kennedy, and decided to open a bilingual school in Manhattan in 2009.
France-Amérique: Why did you decide to acquire a building on 22nd Street, just a stone’s throw from Madison Square Park, in 2009?
Yves Rivaud: New York was in need of a new Francophone school in 2009. The two existing schools at the time no longer had the room to cater for all the French immigrant families, and the parents had begun complaining to the Consulate. The EINY opened its doors in September 2009, and welcomed 22 students from nursery to 5th grade. The school then founded a middle school in 2012, and a new nursery, pre-k and kindergarten in 2015, and now teaches a total of 166 students. We had a waiting list until 2013, before the boom in private language schools offered parents a wider choice of teaching institutions.
Why did you choose a “50/50” bilingual model for the curriculum?
French high schools in the United States are too French. When I arrived in California to teach French at the Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley in 1987, I discovered the Lycée Français de San Francisco didn’t teach English in elementary school! We offer a fully bilingual education at the EINY. I had a very clear idea in mind before we even opened the school. Children do not become bilingual in six months, but if they have the right supervision they can become bilingual in four or five years. Guiding students is essential. With this in mind, all of our classes are taught jointly by a Francophone and an Anglophone teacher. They do not interpret, they do not repeat themselves. They complement each other. French and English are constantly combined.
How do you reconcile the school’s “family” image and the high tuition (31,500 dollars per year)?
Scholarships from the French government and the school itself mean we can maintain economic, racial and social diversity. We currently have 36 scholarship students. When the parents have immigrated for work, the employer handles the tuition of children over the age of three. And paying 30,000 dollars for a kindergarten student may seem shocking for French families, but American families see it as an investment. French language and culture have an excellent reputation in the United States, and are seen as a key to a child’s future. The rigor of French education and its highly academic approach are actually seen as real advantages by Francophile parents.
The EINY does not yet have a high school. What options do students have after 8th grade?
Our elementary curriculum was approved by the French Minister for National Education and the Agency for French Education Abroad in September 2011. This means our school is now connected to the French education system, as well as to 497 schools in 137 different countries, including 55 in North America. The approval of our middle school curriculum is also underway. After leaving the EINY, our students are able to continue their education in an American high school or a French high school, whether in France or elsewhere. Students returning to France often apply to a bilingual school. As you can see, bilingual education does not scare the students. Quite the opposite, in fact!
Please note that EINY applications are still open for the 2016/2017 academic year. Contact Adela Sinclair, director of admissions, at email@example.com for more information.
Ecole Internationale de New York (EINY)
+1 (646) 410-2238