Virgil de Voldère - Founder & Director   
Elise Gosetti - Admissions   

See Also: Artists in Residence at La Petite Ecole

Emilie Colas - Head Teacher, Upper West Side
Sophie Gilden - Co-Teacher, Upper West Side
Eliane Zerbo - Assistant Teacher, Upper West Side

Aliya Quentin - Head Teacher, Tribeca
Cristina Brolli - Atelierista, Tribeca

Stephanie Quairel - Chef & Cooking Instructor
Nathalie BryantTheater Instructor
Clara Warnaar - Musician in residence

Virgil de Voldère 
Founder & Director

Virgil is the co-founder of the Virgil de Voldère Gallery a private contemporary art gallery. From 2005 to 2012 the VDV Gallery was a primary market gallery located in Chelsea representing a group of young and mid-career artists working across various media. These artists have gone on to achieve international recognition and exhibit their works in institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum, the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris and at the Venice Biennale.

In September 2008, Virgil launched a French dual-language program at P.S. 84, a public school on 92nd Street and Central Park West, with the help of the NYC Department of Education, the French Embassy, EFNY (Education Française New York), and a team of active parents. P.S. 84 currently offers classes in K-5th grades and a French after school program for children and adults, providing over 300 families with French dual-language education. 

From 2009 to 2011, Virgil has held a seat on the Upper West Side Community Education Council (CEC3, former School Board) and concentrates on promoting second language education in public elementary and middle schools. Since 2013 Virgil is now on the board of EFNY (Education Francaise New York) to help promote the creation of new French Dual Language Porgram in NY City public school.

Virgil de Voldère has a BA in Art History and Intellectual History from the Gallatin School, New York University. Born in Paris, Virgil moved to New York in 1998 and lives on the Upper West Side with his family. 

Emilie Colas
Head Teacher, Upper West Side

Emilie Colas grew up in Lyon, France and studied at Lyon University Claude Bernard. She received her Master’s Degree in speech and language therapy. She has experience in early childhood education, as she worked in a preschool for her graduate internship. She began to practice speech therapy in Paris, both with families and with educational teams from the surrounding elementary schools. In addition, she spent two years working in a pediatric hospital, where she was responsible for a small group of children with special needs. Last September, she relocated to New York City with her husband, a PhD candidate at Columbia University.

Emilie enjoys teaching and interacting with young children. In her work as a pediatric speech therapist, she mainly focused on children ages 4 to 8 years. Also, her graduate studies included courses on child development, child psychology, and child neurology. Bilingualism and multiculturalism are a main part of her background. Emilie published an article about these topics on New York in French website

Emilie’s favorite hobbies include reading and she describes herself as an avid reader. In addition, she is also practices her own art through drawing and painting. She enjoys being in the nature and often goes hiking and diving.

Sophie Gilden
Co-Teacher, Upper West Side

Before growing a merry mustache at La Petite Ecole, Sophie was a teacher at Buckle My Shoe, a downtown nursery school where she taught French and art to babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

Sophie hails from the southwest of France and grew up in Bordeaux. She studied English at the Sorbonne in Paris. As a radio reporter and a journalist, Sophie held several radio shows on the French national radio France Inter, and worked for ten years at the cultural desk of the daily Liberation until she met her husband, an American photographer.

She came to New York and started a new career as a teacher.  Raising a bilingual daughter had been her first rewarding teaching experience, and sharing her energetic passion for the French language with other young children felt like a natural calling. Sophie is now convinced that there is no occupation more uplifting and more inspiring than working in the company of young children.   

Sophie enjoys small museums, the music of words, unknown landscapes, color, and fantastic found objects. She has three Russian Blue cats and very green thumbs. As a gardener fond of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, Sophie wants to excite children's natural curiosity and imagination, and encourage them to plant the seeds of their own jardin with lots of silly songs and dances, and plenty of beautiful recycled art. 

Aliya Quentin 
Head Teacher, Tribeca

Born in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, where after Urdu, English is the other main language, Aliya learned French for the love of it. She got her Master's degree in French literature and teaching from Quaid-e-Azam University. Then, she started teaching French at Alliance Française d'Islamabad. In the meantime, she met her French husband and then moved to Nigeria, Africa where she again taught at Alliance Française de Jos for four years. 

When they returned to France, she completed a Licence degree in English, and by the time she had her third child she moved to New York and started working at PS 84 on the Upper West Side. At PS84 in the French-English Dual-Language program she worked full time as an assistant or a substitute in Kindergarten and first grade for 3 years teaching children aged 5, 6 and 7 years old. Since September 2012 she is head teacher at La Petite Ecole in Tribeca.

Her greatest achievement is everything she learned through traveling and living in such varied cultures from Asia to Africa and from Europe to America. That’s why, she understands the challenges of learning a second or even a third language, as she herself went through this experience and has taught French as a foreign language for ten years. 

During her free time, she loves to discover New York and North America with her husband and children. 

Cristina Brolli
 Atelierista, Tribeca

Cristina Brolli grew up in Rimini, Italy. She studied languages (English, French and German) in high school, then painting and photography at Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. She participated in many exhibitions and worked a few years at her father's pottery atelier producing little faience sculptures committed by Tonino Guerra (Federico Fellini’s playwright). In 1990 she moved to Rome, where she worked as a ceramist, then she moved to Brussels (1994-2003), Milan (2003-2006) and finally New York. At that time Cristina opted for a different form of art: her three trilingual children. She was amazed how naturally her children were learning French, English and Spanish beside Italian. Once the children grew up, Cristina went back to photography. She participated in different workshops: New York -ICP, Spazio-Labo-Brooklyn and in Italy Festival “Internazionale”, Ferrara. She was invited at the SiFest in Savignano sul Rubicone (FC - Italy) with her latest work "HomeMade". What she thinks now is: "How beautiful it is to put art, childhood and languages together!!”

Clara Warnaar

Musician in residence

Hailing from a family of French-speakers and artists, Clara felt immediately drawn to La Petite École as the perfect place to teach.

 With a Québecoise mother, and film musician father, Clara attended Le Lycée Français de Los Angeles from an early age and then moved on to the Interlochen Arts Academy to pursue her studies in classical percussion. Since then, she has studied at the Manhattan School of Music, the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and the Banff Centre. In recent years as a private teacher and for the Harmony Project, she has discovered a great joy in sharing music with children of all ages. At La Petite École, she encourages the curiosity of young children to explore sound by learning the art of listening. Activities include making instruments, creating sound effects for cartoons and using the accordion to sing and teach French songs.

 An advocate of contemporary music, Clara has premiered dozens of works in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. She has performed in orchestral, chamber, solo and world genres, and is a composer as well. She is a member of the Ensemble Mise-en and the Moveable Feast Orchestra.

Hélène Godec
Theater Instructor

Hélène Godec is an accomplished French actress who has made regular appearances in television, film and theater.  She graduated in 2000 from one of the most prestigious French national art schools, L’ENSATT (L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Techniques du Théâtre).  She earned as well a degree in theater (Licence d’Etudes Théâtrales) from the Sorbonne University.

Godec has played various leading and recurring roles in many popular French television series including Sections de Recherches, Léa Parker, Boulevard du Palais, Central Nuit, Le Tuteur, and Paris Enquêtes Criminelles (analogous to the American Law and Order).  She has appeared in films with such distinguished French actos and actresses as Cécile de France, Vincent Perez, Vincent Lindon, Nathalie Baye and Patrick Bruel.  Godec directs her own theater company in Paris that seeks to support young playwrights and bring them public recognition.

Godec’s background as an actress has led her to a parallel career as mentor and consultant in both public speaking and early childhood education. 
For over ten years she has taught adults and children alike, working with business and management schools in Paris (the Institut Supérieur des Sciences Techniques et Economies Commerciales, or Institute of Higher Education in Marketing and Commerce and SUP DE CO, the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce) as well as French Art Institution (conservatoire d’Art dramatique), Paris City Hall (Mairie de Paris) private and public schools (pre-k to 7 grade).

Godec  has two bilingual children and she believes theater is a medium to learn languages while having fun and build self-confidence.