The Poggi Family
The Poggis are a bilingual, bicultural Anglo-French family. They have two children, Emmanuel who is in Terminal ES and Beatrice, in 3eme. Based in France, they have been fortunate to have several expatriate experiences living in interesting places like Poland, the Baltic States and England. The children attended a French nursery school in Warsaw, followed by an American/International School in Riga and then a typically English prep school in the UK. The Poggis say they chose Ermitage because “they were very understanding about this diverse academic background while recognizing the need to consolidate the skills for a really bilingual education for both Emmanuel and Beatrice.”
Emmanuel and Beatrice have had many unforgettable moments at the school. “Emmanuel had the honor of meeting the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, when he went to the Round Square Conference in Wellington College in 2011 and more recently I think he will always remember his solitary night in the bush in Botswana! However, the ICU2 trip to India will stay forever engraved in his mind’s eye. On a more mundane level, I shall remember waiting outside the back gates of the Primary, meeting so many interesting, like-minded, well-travelled Mums! The children also have very fond (and funny) memories of many teachers all of whom have left their indelible mark on the Poggi family.”
The Poggis believe that “Ermitage produces leaders and achievers, students who are educated to think for themselves and to express their opinions confidently through classroom discussions or in extra curriculum activities like Model United Nations. As for thinking and helping others, the school’s ethos is always to be service and community-minded. The Passport Scheme is one of the pillars of this particular philosophy. Ermitage is much more than a French school.”
Ermitage graduates “are taught to be free minded, independent learners and responsible citizens of the world. They will be comfortable wherever they go because they have had that invaluable opportunity to look outside the box, to be curious and non-judgmental about others. In today’s world this is an asset for life.”
The Poole Family
Rhianna and Olivia are in CM1 and CE1 respectively and both have been attending Ermitage since Petit Section. English is the primary language spoken at home, though the girls are now bilingual and switch between English and French with incredible ease.
One of the reasons the Pooles selected Ermitage for their daughters is because at Ermitage, it’s normal to be different: from a different country or a different culture, children learn to understand each other’s differences.
Both girls have had a number of memorable experiences at L’Ermitage. Rhianna recently had the honor of being asked to be one of the school ambassadors at the school’s “open day” where she enjoyed herself thoroughly. In addition, Rhianna and Olivia both participate in lunch time clubs including Irish Dancing, German, Textile and Science. They particularly love to dance!
The Gratzmuller Family
For the Gratzmuller family, “internationalism” signifies above all else an openness to the wider world, in all its variety and richness. It is the capacity to observe, to understand and, most of all, a desire to discover other cultures, languages and customs.
Thomas entered Ermitage in 7th grade (after completing 6th grade at the French Lycée of Budapest) ; he is now in 10th grade. Emma has been at Ermitage since 6th grade, and is now in 9th grade. “When our children joined Ermitage, they hardly spoke English. We took the challenge to place them in the bilingual section, though they could have started in the Francophone section; we really believed in their ability to learn the language. We received enormous help and support from their teachers; sometimes it seems almost as though they believed in our children’s ability even more than we did! It was a challenge, but eventually they caught up with the rest of the class. Today, after only three years at Ermitage, they are both studying as Anglophone students in the OIB program.” In addition, Thomas and Emma speak Hungarian fluently.
Thomas and Emma also took part in the Passport Program which encouraged them to think more about others, to approach life with an open mind, and to learn how they can contribute to making the world a better place. « In addition to a thorough, rigorous curriculum, we have found the teaching of human values such as tolerance, sharing, respect and solidary to be indispensable…In addition, as parents, we are grateful for a program that teaches such important values to our adolescents. As we watch them develop into young people with open minds, we know we have made the right choice.”
The Cook Family
The Cook family has been a part of Ermitage since 1997. They have four children, Juliette (currently in her first year of university at McGill in Canada), Natalie (IB2), Adrian (Seconde) and Margaux (CM2). Juliette was the first of her siblings to integrate Ermitage at the age of three. Her mother Dianne has been teaching English at the school since 2002.
Dianne believes her children have had very meaningful experiences at Ermitage, from simple daily exchanges with teachers, parents, and other students, to more significant milestones such as class presentations, shows, parties, and school trips. “We will simply say that Ermitage has played a crucial role in the history of our family so far! Our kids have had a good education, have been happy at school, and have made many great friends there.”
The Cooks say that Ermitage nurtures and implements the Round Square “IDEALS” during the school day through the diversity of the student body and teaching staff, through activities offered by the school – including CAS and initiatives like 'Love in a Box' as well as day to day interactions amongst students both in the class and during recreation.
“Juliette participated in the Round Square trip to India and had a rather eye-opening experience. The theme of her conference was 'lead from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge' and it was during this time that she made life-long friends from all over the world. Nathalie participated in the Round Square trip to South Africa and truly had a life changing experience. She is convinced that she is destined to go back one day to live and work there. The theme of her conference was 'no existence without co-existence' and although she thoroughly enjoyed the workshops and the people at the conference, it was the pre-conference safari that was the most inspirational.”
The Monty Family
Zoé, Léo and Tom have been at Ermitage since the Petite Section. Zoe is now in 7th grade, Leo is in 5th grade and Tom is in 2ndgrade. They speak mostly French at home, except on Wednesdays when they speak English with their maternal grandmother.
The Monty family chose Ermitage first and foremost because of the level of English taught; they were then convinced by the school’s philosophy, and its attentiveness and openness. They find Ermitage to be a smart school, that has found a way to balance discipline and open-mindedness, which respects programs and extracurricular activities, and where qualified, enthusiastic teachers stoke their students’ desire to learn.
Zoé, Léo and Tom often participate in the school’s extracurricular activities. “School trips and visits are always a success! Elementary school field trips give younger children a chance to experience being far from their families in a safe, reassuring environment; in addition, the breadth of activities from morning until evening don’t give them a chance to be homesick. They discover monuments, landscapes, workshops…and of course shops and evening events! Léo was recently selected along with 11 other students to travel to Germany as part of the Coménius program, which is an exchange program between European schools. He will be staying with a host family and attend Armin-Maiwald-Schule, He is very proud.”
The Koch Family
Thomas, Nicolas, Maxime and Alexia Koch speak three languages and are deeply interested in cultures different from their own. They joined Ermitage in 2003, after spending four years in Poland. At Ermitage, they followed the Baccalaureat with International Option (OIB) program. Since then, the three eldest have successfully graduated with their Baccalaureat, and two of them are currently pursuing studies in the UK.
The Koch children have taken part in multiple school exchanges abroad, in Canada, in the United States, including Boston and New York, and in China.
“Maxime’s most powerful traveling experience was probably his trip to China. He discovered that Chinese high school students work between 7 to 22 hours every day of the week, including Saturdays. With his correspondent, he sat in class with 50 other students, one of 50 classes of his grade-level at the high school. He learned about the discipline and the daily life of a Chinese student…We have also welcomed many foreign students to our home, whether American, Canadian or Chinese: these experiences are very enriching because when you live with someone, you discover their customs, and their hobbies.”
When the Koch family joined Ermitage, they found a school that provides close, individualized attention, international mindedness, a rigorous academic program, and a pleasant, stimulating environment where students’ curiosity is stoked and encouraged. “My three sons are Ermitage graduates, and several of their teachers have had profound influence on their life: by their passion and the quality of their teaching, they gave my children the desire to learn and to continue building their lives in an autonomous, responsible way. My children have all selected higher studies with a strong international component.”
The Barth Family
The Barth family’s three children are young but well-traveled! The two eldest, Etienne (6 years old) in first grade and Mathilde (5 years old) in Grande Section, have both been at Ermitage since 2009. The Barths describe their family life as a “melting pot” combining a variety of influences. Indeed, they speak three languages at home; French, which is the main language, and also English and Arabic. “The children’s grandparents live in Alsace (France), Lebanon and Germany. Every summer they spend two months in Lebanon and we regularly travel in France, and also to Luxembourg, England and Canada. At home, the mix of languages is very natural and hearing a new language is not a problem for them.”
Etienne and Mathilde have had a variety of enriching experiences at Ermitage so far. “But it’s really the small everyday things that our children experience in two languages and share with friends of different nationalities, languages and cultures that is most enriching for them. Our children enjoy going to school and love their school, and that’s the best indicator for a parent.”
The Barth family chose Ermitage because of “the quality of the teachers, who respect each child’s rhythm and uniqueness, and whose diverse backgrounds allow for a rich combination of pedagogical methods. We also chose the school for its openness to other cultures, and the blend of nationalities our children are able to experience every day.” In addition, “we find that the teachers are able to introduce the Round Square IDEALS to the little ones by teaching them to respect each other, to respect adults, to help others, to discover nature and respect plants, etc.”