As founder and director Ecole Claire Fontaine, Madame Joëlle Dumas is cultivating a place of magic for young children where their expressions, voices and curiosity are honored, transforming them into richer human beings for the betterment of the world. The vision for Ecole Claire Fontaine as an Art, Language and Nature school came to Joëlle in childhood dreams while she played with her sister, Anne, in France.
For the past 30 years she has introduced visionary educational methods to teachers and children in the verdant gardens of two Venice campuses. With a team of 35 teachers, assistants and cooks, Mme. Dumas’ work moves forward the creative teaching of children while respecting their innate wisdom. With her school and community projects, she is an integral part of the development of Abbot Kinney’s vision for Venice as a mecca of art, culture and education.
Mme. Dumas is decorated by the French government as an exceptional educator and community leader. She was awarded the prestigious title of Chevalier of the “Palmes Academiques,” by the French Ministry of Education for bridging culture and education between France and the U.S. She was nominated Executive Director of Cultural Affairs for “Movement of French Abroad.”
Furthering Franco-American cultural understanding, she works cooperatively with the French Consulate, Alliance Française and Los Angeles Accueil. She is also the proud recipient of the Legendary Women Artists of Venice Award and the Spirit of Venice Award.
By chairing the VCC Education Committee and bringing together public and private schools of the community, Mme. Dumas expands her commitment to ensuring that a meaningful education is available to all children. Programs such as the WAVE Awards and the Jacket of Excellence Awards, support students and teachers. The VCCEC acts as an “architect of bridges” between the business and educational entities, the VCCEC creates a pipeline of communication for the betterment of Venice.
You will often see her outside the school gates, guiding visitors or groups of children through the neighborhood. As a lifelong learner, she frequently attends conferences and seminars, recently speaking at the WISE Conference on Education Futures in Paris.
Prior to chairing the VCCEC, she has been a board member of the Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Venice Neighborhood Council, now envisioning becoming a member of a new VNC Children’s Committee. She has also taken part in research with the Getty Museum, UCLA and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.
Before moving to the U.S. 30 years ago, Mme. Dumas earned a teaching degree from the University of Bordeaux, taught at a Swiss boarding school, the Chantemerle International Institution, tutored children in Chemistry and Latin, and owned & operated a construction company.
Fluent in English, French and Spanish, the trajectory of Mme. Dumas’ career has been one of passionate movement, forming the Claire Fontaine philosophy. The realization of her vision is changing the world by empowering all children to achieve their utmost potential, one child at a time.